Embracing Challenges as a way to answer, ‘What am I capable of’?

Admiring the view after my 297th consecutive climb up Table Mountain, Cape Town.

It’s a hard pill to swallow – but my greatest teachers have all been times of challenge.

‘Challenge’ could be supplanted by the word ‘test’, and I like to think of life challenges as going to university. I chose my degree (life path) with specific classes (life lessons) and then teachers test my knowledge on those subjects at the end of each semester (challenges).

In life, the tests don’t come so ‘neatly’ though as I make choices affecting where I live, what I spend time doing, who I spend time with – all of which inform my thoughts helping shape ideas which ultimately inspire action – if they resonate with my highest values.

One of the most profound lines I ever read was:

When you pray for patience, God doesn’t just hand it to you, He gives you opportunities to practice it.

That means I can’t ask to be better without invoking the test associated with that. This profoundly shapes my mindset, instead of seeing wisdom as the ability to download information like Neo in the matrix – my skills are crafted through time and practice. There are no shortcuts in life and as Carl Jung so eloquently warned us: “Beware of unearned wisdom”

Wanting to be a better human being is noble – but am I prepared to do the work that makes that a reality? Am I prepared to journey into the underworld on a quest that tests my fortitude?

Understanding How my highest Values Inform my Actions

I’m drawn to reflect on any number of conferences, workshops and talks where experts share strategies and tips to be healthy. I’m struck by how simple all the strategies actually are. The wisdom is there – but nobody ever said simple meant easy.

I’ve come to learn an important (albeit simplistic) understanding: people who place a high value on health will invest time working on it.

The pursuit of happiness and a desire to feel fulfilled helped create a new metaphor recently: Follow my own treasure map, otherwise how can I be surprised when there’s no treasure because it’s already been picked up?

The real trick is to learn how to look inside and read my own map. What we can learn and teach each other are the key elements to follow through on our hero’s journey: Patience, Commitment, Discipline, Perseverance, and Confidence.

The ‘secret’ is making what we want a priority – and embracing the journey.

Look at the plethora of diets and exercise gurus selling ‘the next greatest pill/book/workout/diet/food/piece of exercise equipment’. After 22 years in the fitness world I’ve come across a handful of trustworthy people honestly laying it out from the beginning in simple terms: It takes hard work, discipline and consistency.

Being healthy and fit has always been a priority for me, so I make time for it. I’ve only just discovered that one of my driving forces is not ‘how successful can I be’ but rather ‘what am I capable of?’ – I’m now translating that physical knowledge into all the other areas of my life knowing my capabilities are limited only by how far I’m prepared to push myself.

Coupled with a deep curiosity about the gorgeous world we live in helps me say “yes” to things instead of “no.” Saying “yes” creates opportunities for new experiences and allows me to explore those capabilities.

All that culminated when I had the idea to climb Table Mountain every day for an entire year. I found my treasure map and if ever there was a challenge to face – THIS WAS IT!

Breaking Down Challenges into Core Components

I love solving problems because I enjoy figuring out the process of how to do things. Below is my attempt to break down challenges into their core components to see their benefits:

  1. They’re Bigger than anything experienced before (if at all) – tests/reveals character.
  2. Clear Problem – tests ability to solve and collaborate.
  3. Time based – test resilience and perseverance.
  4. All-encompassing and inescapable – requires mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual work.
  5. Unlocks wisdom – tests true desire.

Challenge implies I will experience discomfort, requiring innovative solution-based thinking that uses my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual prowess within a certain time frame – the reward being a sense of accomplishment coupled with deeper understandings about life, relationships and who I am.

Let’s see how I can write that out using my yearly climb up Table Mountain expressed in a ‘formula’ of the core components:

Having never committed to anything remotely audacious as this, I had to commit to no days off climbing through all elements, testing my physical strength, my mental fortitude to persevere on the same route and maintain enthusiasm, my emotional strength to cope with no days off or respite, combined with the spiritual purpose to understand myself and how to build community around my beliefs and contribute to society. My reward was wisdom gained from committing whole-heartedly to self-belief and discovering a repeatable template of what I’m capable of. 366 days of experiences shaped into one deep profound realization: I’m supposed to be having fun along the way as much as I know I’ll feel at the end.

Filling each day with gratitude and searching for it’s uniqueness (even when doing the exact same thing every day) showed me how much beauty there is. Even in repetition.

My experience with COVID-19:

While initially it looked like a six week struggle, that’s turned into a year (and could possibly be longer before things return to some form of normalcy) The major challenges within it have been maintaining a healthy lifestyle while overcoming the mental challenges forced isolation brings with it (I’m fortunate though that I have Jessie to share it with). It’s testing my physicality to stay fit in unusual ways, mentally as I’m unable to build new relationships in a city I’ve just moved to, emotionally as I deal with the strain of isolation and conflicting news reports mashed in with the uncertainty of how much longer there is to go. The spiritual challenge is the deepest one, how to connect with others struggling in these times and build a community to empower those being devastated by the effects of lockdown. The reward is a shared humanity as we all reach the other side of a once in a 100-year event touching all seven billion of us. Hopefully we come out of it with a deeper sense of gratitude for what we have, an understanding of what and who is important to us, and a deeper knowing of how connected we all are and a renewed sense of vigor on strengthening our society.

Difference Between Selecting a Challenge – and Life Throwing us One

Two things stand out from the examples above:

  1. Choosing a challenge gives the advantage of knowing how long it is.
  2. Just because life throws a challenge we haven’t experienced before, doesn’t mean we don’t have the tools to face it. Past experiences provide a way to adapt our mindset on how to tackle the new one.

Mindset. A word I hear almost daily. What I don’t hear as often – is Heartset.

I believe they work in conjunction and just like a muscle at gym – can be trained.

Mindset is developing the skills to overcome the urge to give up, or surrender to challenges. Mindset is an opportunity in the good times to prepare for the bad times. We can build habits we know work during good times to mimic when we feel out of sorts. We can recognize that we are a coin with two sides that constantly flips from one side to the other. It’s how we manage each flip and absorb the lesson from each experience to grow and level up for the next challenge that lies in wait – and it’s always there. This governs what we can control mentally and physically.

Heartset is developing the ability to listen to our intuition, realizing that out inner guidance system speaks to us putting a spotlight on the correct path to follow – even when our rational mind or society says ‘no ways! You gotta go this way!’ It’s about developing a more compassionate approach to ourselves which will ultimately translate into how we engage with the world around us.  This is the seat of our emotions and soul keeping us aligned with our highest purpose and values.

Next Question – So What?

It means there’s hope! We’ve all made it this far and instead of feeling overwhelmed we can take heart from our resiliency. It means we can take time to analyze our past to build templates of success for future challenges and if nothing else – know that whatever is thrown at us we’re capable of overcoming it. I don’t know if this template is helpful, but it’s a starting place to focus on what you have accomplished and overcome already.

I love the line We will never be given anything we can’t handle – that alone has helped me through some rough times.

It also means that the more challenges I seek out with the clear intention of discovering who I am and what I’m capable of – the better equipped I become for future challenges which I can’t stress enough – are always there.

Knowing they’re there waiting for us like a hurdle in a race isn’t any reason to get disheartened – it just means the better we train the better our race will be. More importantly, the better equipped we become to assist others fresh on their journey of self-discovery.

Next to the tragic loss of life, one of the most devastating things about COVID-19 is the separation. We’re not meant to endure challenges on our own. While we always need to do the work ourselves – of course – it doesn’t mean we have to do it alone.

Never underestimate the power your kind gesture has on the person receiving it.

Knowing what help you need takes self-reflection.

Asking for it takes courage.

Applying it builds wisdom.

Would you like to apply what you’ve just taken in? Has this been helpful? I’d love to hear from you – reach out and let’s set up a call (Click here) and see how to analyze the challenges you’ve experienced and better yet:

Create one that helps you discover what you’re really capable of.

I believe we have an opportunity to build one of the most powerful communities rooted in compassion, love, and perspective.  

And that starts by building strong individuals – like you.

The world needs you and your gifts.

What is the best way to Honor the lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic?

Respect. Honor. Remembrance.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” – World Health Organization.

This post is challenging because I know how emotionally charged COVID-19 is, primarily due to the devastation felt by so many. It’s difficult to separate noise from the truth these days – so I listen to my gut as I evaluate what people say and how their actions speak to that. What does someone stand to gain from what they’re sharing? Is there any conflict of interest?

We’re over a year into the pandemic now – which allows us to examine data to remove uncertainty around ‘what ifs.’ This is critical to take emotion out of our thinking as we make informed decisions on how to move forward.

This article serves to expand the scope of understanding and alleviate any fear built up around this virus and ‘opening up.’

Setting the Stage with Context

I’m saddened by the breakdown of “trusted” sources incapable of exploring all the possibilities, especially with anything contrary to the main narrative of COVID-19. I admit, being at the epicenter in New York as it turned into a ghost of its usual self last year, I was gravely concerned. For loved ones, and humanity at large. It immediately spilled into my behavior, cleaning every item from the grocery store before packing it away.

At that stage with fear circulating about the potential death rate of COVID-19, my biggest fear grew: what about people living in shacks where social distancing isn’t an option?

As it stands, 2.9* million souls have died. That’s 2.9 million families, friends, colleagues, partners mourning a loved one. My deepest sympathies go out to each of them – especially as funerals and gatherings have been stripped from them too.  

Death is deeply personal, painful, and tragic. Never in history has our mortality been forced onto our radar simultaneously around the world. In most western culture’s death is taboo, not spoken about, never mind thought of as part of our journey.

That’s another topic entirely – but necessary to put context into our fear currently.

I applaud everyone’s genuine concern and desire to reduce deaths; however, taking a meta-view around what the lockdowns are doing has created one wish:

Can the care we exhibit to save people’s lives, be equally shown for the quality of people’s lives?

Growing up in South Africa exposed me to the reality of poverty. It’s heartbreaking. The exposure has entrenched a deeper perspective to evaluate decisions made in society more broadly and to think about its impact.

Like lockdowns.

This is where it starts getting a bit uncomfortable, maybe even heated for some. As it should! These are tough conversations to wrap our minds around, but it’s necessary to evaluate all sides, after all – isn’t that how we come to the best solutions?

I get suspicious when Facebook and YouTube start ‘deciding’ what’s suitable for us to hear and censor conversations contrary to the current narrative – like the fact that vitamin C is shown to help not just with coronavirus – but all colds and flu. Please take the time to listen to Dr. Andrew Saul talk about this censorship and details the benefit of vitamin C to save lives.

Life.

Possibly the most sacred word that encapsulates this precious gift our experience on this gorgeous planet truly is. This interview comes from someone that values it deeply – I don’t feel the same from mainstream media or governments. Shouldn’t we gladly embrace anything (no matter how simple it may appear) that saves lives?

I do wonder whether the heightened fear-based reactions to this pandemic has a deeper meaning, is it less about dying – and rather the confrontation about how we’re living? What we’re not doing with our life now?

The fear of a life unlived?

I certainly haven’t done everything I should’ve at this point in my life. I’m not immune to the human condition of failing to live up to my capabilities. Death is a reminder about why it’s necessary to work through blockages and live according to my beliefs and values. Knowing I will die – is why my focus is measuring how many people get an opportunity to use their life to express their talents?

I’ve always had a fatalistic view of life from as young as I can remember, but one traumatic event cemented this way of thinking.  

At 23, armed robbers stormed the store I was working in and robbed us. I couldn’t help notice his hand holding the gun shaking.

The first accidental shot fires off – ricocheting off the floor into my colleague’s leg. Moments later, the second shot fires off – bouncing off the floor and passing through my trouser material, narrowly missing my leg.

Next, he raised the gun – I didn’t wait to see if it was aimed at my head. I lifted my arms and bowed my head in submission – waiting for the third gunshot, wondering where it could hit me and survive.

It never came.

I could just as easily have been killed that day.

That day showed me how little control I have over what happens to me, and I started saying ‘yes’ to life more than I said ‘no.’ That created 18 years’ worth of ‘bonus’ experiences: the opportunity to experience living in the U.K. and USA, live in major cities like London, Cape Town, San Francisco, and New York; countless friends made, love shared & found with my wife, beauty felt. Almost gone in one moment.

Building an Awareness around our Outrage

Since then, my journey has incrementally developed my understanding of the lack of equal opportunities in South Africa, and frankly, throughout the world. This brings me to my wish: the quality of people’s lives.

Why does this matter?

Well – I see rage and judgment expressed about masks but is that rage expressed about people living in poverty?

We need to be honest with ourselves – In February, at the peak of the pandemic, the daily deaths worldwide were 17,704 – compare that to 10,000 children dying from starvation every day.

25,000 if you include adults.

Please read that again.

UNICEF estimates an additional 130 million people threatened by starvation through lockdowns, with an additional 150 million people pushed into extreme poverty.

I understand why the outrage is unequal – if I don’t experience it, why would it be a priority?

The reality is we have as much inequality in outrage – as we do in wealth.

I have no issue with outrage – as long as it’s not just focused on what affects your privileges. It’s easy to be outraged when we have the bandwidth to contemplate it; most people impacted by the decisions being made have no bandwidth – they’re just trying to survive and feed their families.

We are not responsible for a human being’s suffering – but we can be part of the solution to change their life once today.

We mustn’t get bogged down in comparing life’s challenges – but being aware is essential to provide context to our outrage and think about what we choose to chastise others over publicly. Is [insert outrage topic] really the standards we should hold ourselves accountable to? I understand how complicated it is to teach children on Zoom – I’ve seen it. Yet there are families without books, never mind laptops, for their children to learn.

There are 1.6 billion children out of school because of worldwide lockdowns. I imagine the quality for the majority of children learning online dropped dramatically too. Having spoken to my friend that teaches – the quantity of work just to get by is staggering.

I wonder how many ‘thank yous’ they’ve received? If you’re reading this take this as my highest gratitude for your service.

I also have the utmost respect for parents juggling work, homeschooling, stress, emotions, partners, and more. I can understand, too, if parents’ outrage is fueled by having no bandwidth to process the current circumstances. Life is unbelievably complex at the moment.

It’s an unbelievably tough situation we find ourselves in; everyone deserves our respect as we collectively mourn the loss of loved ones.

Let’s start thinking about how we honor their memories and the sacrifice these souls have made going forward. It’s time for compassion.

How do we honor those that have died from COVID-19?

I heard a beautiful purpose-led discussion with Dr. Zach Bush on the Rich Roll podcast initially aired a year ago, on March 26th, 2020. His heartfelt hope-filled epilogue directed at nurses, doctors, and practitioners on the front lines succinctly encapsulates the spirit of what I’d love us to embody:

“Life is something much greater than human. Life is a gift. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of the loss, and get better at acknowledging the gain of a life well-lived. This was a person that loved, it’s a person that has created in their lifetime. ….. a state of being that is free of fear, let them be part of the message that this virus is trying to teach us. Let them know that it is not in vain, that we will learn from this, that we have taken too many steps away from our purpose, our real nature, our real potential. Let them know that they are part of the rise of consciousness on the planet and not the collapse of biology. 

Yes, this disease is killing people. Yes, we want to protect as many people as possible – but there are alternatives that aren’t born from fear.

Let’s stop trying to box everything as right or wrong. We can simultaneously hold two opposing views: this virus creates suffering through death, and it causes suffering through lockdowns. There are over 40 million new jobless claims as thousands of small businesses close and people’s ability to earn a living is shattered.

The speed at which this virus spread across the world has shown us how connected we truly are – we can use that to spread positivity just as quickly.

Let’s break down lockdowns, asymptomatic spreading, and our own immune system as a start.

LOCKDOWNS

If lockdowns worked – the truth is we wouldn’t be in this position today. A detailed open letter to the FBI has been put together from ten prominent figures regarding lockdowns’ validity (and criminality).

We are writing this letter to request that a federal investigation be commenced and/or expedited regarding the scientific debate on major policy decisions during the COVID-19 crisis. In the course of our work, we have identified issues of a potentially criminal nature and believe this investigation necessary to ensure the interests of the public have been properly represented by those promoting certain pandemic policies.

This document is compiled by Michael Senger (lawyer), Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding (he has extensive knowledge in trading with China) Sanjeev Sabhlok, Ph.D. (from India), and Maajid Nawaz (political activist & the founding chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank that seeks to challenge the narratives of Islamist extremists) to name a few.

The full article (a 69-minute read) is available here for you to see the detail they provide to back up each point in their investigation. Namely:

  • Evidence about the origin and historical precedent of lockdowns;
  • The scientific literature and debate behind them;
  • The provenance and quality of predominant COVID-19 testing protocols and models;
  • The motivations, biases, and qualifications of confident prominent lockdown supporters; and
  • The source of public-facing communications surrounding these policies.

Re lockdowns, they say:

“Not only are lockdowns historically unprecedented in response to any previous epidemic or pandemic in American history, but they are not so much as mentioned in recent guidance offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). Judge Stickman continues:

“Indeed, even for a ‘Very High Severity’ pandemic (defined as one comparable to the Spanish Flu), the guidelines provide only that ‘CDC recommends voluntary home isolation of ill persons,’ and ‘CDC might recommend voluntary home quarantine of exposed household members in areas where novel influenza circulates.’ This is a far, far cry from a statewide lockdown”

This begs the question as to why all governments have been so quick to implement this?

ASYMPTOMATIC SPREADING

One of my biggest worries (and I imagine all of ours) was this notion that we could feel fine, have the virus, and spread it to loved ones and possibly those that are elderly or immune-compromised. Not only has this never been the case with any virus in history, but ALL the data ‘supporting’ this comes from China. No other country has been able to replicate this scientific analysis.

DATA ON CONSEQUENCES OF LOCKDOWNS

“Data from the website yelp.com has shown that over 60% of business closures during the COVID-19 crisis are now permanent, amounting to more than 97,000 businesses lost in the U.S. Nearly half of black-owned small businesses have been wiped out. Unemployment in the United States reached as high as 14.7% and highways jammed with thousands of vehicles awaiting their turn at food banks. Nearly 5% of the United Kingdom population went hungry during the first three weeks of lockdown.”

If governments are so concerned about helping minorities – enforcing prolonged lockdowns is clearly counterintuitive.

INCREASE IN SUICIDE

“In Japan, government statistics show suicide claimed more lives in October than Covid-19 has over the entire year to date.

And, despite being at virtually no risk from COVID-19, as a result of lockdowns, children have suffered the most of all. Nearly one in four children living under COVID-19 lockdowns, social restrictions, and school closures are dealing with feelings of anxiety, with many at risk of lasting psychological distress. In recent surveys of children and parents in the U.S., Germany, Finland, Spain, and the U.K. by Save the Children, up to 65% of the children struggled with feelings of isolation.

Children’s health and intellectual development have regressed.”

We are going to have to work very hard with our youth to manage their mental well-being.

Their conclusion finishes with a chilling understanding about why we all go along with it:

“For the general public, the idea that anyone might accept some outside incentive to support such devastating policies while knowing them to be ineffective — needlessly bankrupting millions of families and depriving millions of children of education and food — is, quite simply, too dark. Thus, the public supports lockdowns because the alternative — that they might have been implemented without good cause — is a possibility too evil for most to contemplate. But those who know history know that others with superficially excellent credentials have done even worse for even less.”

This is why it’s incumbent of us to speak up and share these facts with people still scared by a narrative that stands behind ‘back the science’ – but has failed to provide a report what that science is as this.

IMMUNE SYSTEM

I am not a medical doctor. In no way am I giving medical advice – I’m a concerned citizen who researches this information to share. It’s for you to ask your doctor and make your own decision.

I posted the link to the video on Vitamin C and how anything on Facebook or YouTube related to natural remedies was hidden, suppressed, censored. Why?

Why would something cheap, easy to do, and SAVES LIVES be suppressed like this??

Sadly, the main driver looks like money. What has a more significant margin – a vaccine or a box of vitamin C?

$40 for a new vaccine that hasn’t been tested against all strains, OR

$20 for 250 doses of immune support? (a daily cost of 8c)

One is man-made – the other produced by all animals naturally as a defense mechanism. Even though we lived in the epicenter in New York for a couple months, I was never fearful. I believe in the power of our immune system – after all, ours is the product of thousands of years of evolution, tweaking, adapting, and allowing the human race to still be around.

So why isn’t there a focus on the impact lifestyle has on our immune system?

I only know about this because I benefitted from my formative years being a wasteland of infections: whooping cough, mumps (which took the last of my hearing in my left ear), tonsilitis, ear infections by the dozen, chickenpox – all cast indescribable trauma on my parents spending endless days and nights worrying about me in hospital. In a heartbreaking moment enduring another whooping cough episode, I declared, ‘I don’t want to be Andrew anymore.’  I can’t imagine what that did to my parents.

Little did I know this was my immune systems Navy SEAL training to become an elite force against infections. I haven’t had a flu shot since leaving school – and might have had flu once?

Being Careful Doesn’t Make Me “Anti”

The vaccine story becomes even trickier because there are loads of factors to evaluate the risk factor. Age bracket; Health, pre-existing conditions, diet. the current number of deaths in my age group (the US only) is 0.04% – that’s without looking at any other health factors. If you have pre-existing conditions, are worried for your health or life, or in an age bracket where you feel concerned – I genuinely hope you’re able to be vaccinated soonest and feel comforted with added protection.

Again – I’m perplexed how much emphasis has been given to vaccines as THE support for our immune systems.

I understand why masks and vaccines have become people’s savior. Our immune system is complex, and also our responsibility to manage.

Society is only as strong as our weakest link. Imagine how different this past year would’ve been if we had a healthier population? There are many reasons for disease, and I hope a spotlight is shed on the importance of food being a source of medicine for our bodies. I’ve been saddened by the lack of communication in media and government about what people can do to strengthen their immune systems.

There’s a wonderful article by Harvard Medical School with 9 simple ways to build a healthy lifestyle that supports a robust immune system. There’s no silver bullet, and it’s up to each of us to decide what a healthy lifestyle looks like and means to us.

Worst of all: fear switches off the immune system.

It’s a fascinating evolutionary development. Think of your immune system as an army; when an army is at war, they need additional food and resources to defeat an enemy. That means whatever energy we have is dedicated to the effort of defeating them. Now imagine suffering from an infection and coming across a tiger. The body recognizes the tiger is a more immediate lethal threat, thus diverting all energy resources to the flight receptors  (your legs, lungs, and heart) to speedily escape!

It can’t do both.

Engaging in endless hours of fear-driven media, YouTube or T.V, listening to how many new cases and deaths is the equivalent of coming across a tiger. We’re literally cutting off our own supply chain to the army designed to defeat the enemy. That’s like living in fear of being burgled and constantly leaving your front door wide open.

What we feed our minds, is as important as what we feed our bodies.

How do we build a more engaged, conscious community?

I hope understanding the complexity of health is the start.

Becoming armed with as many facts to remove emotional bias eliminates fear-based irrational responses. Commit to listening to all sides of a discussion with an open mind – like people at The Great Barrington Declaration, which say:

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health – leading to more significant excess mortality in years to come. The working class and younger members of society are carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

My dad sent me a well-constructed video by actuaries articulating all these points. This was shared by a Biz news – one of the few media outlets with this assertion: their community’s intelligence should never be underestimated and they never overestimate their knowledge on a topic.

I love that. This is essentially what this article is all about.

Right on cue – YouTube has taken down the video citing “….removed for violating Community Guidelines” – utter RUBBISH. Thankfully, PANDA has a backup so you can visit their website (Pandemic – Data & Analytics) and see what they’re doing for yourself and peek behind the curtain of the digital dystopia YouTube are busy creating through censorship.

PANDA’s response to being de-platformed is

“After half a million views, an outpouring of emotional positive responses, no complaints about veracity & 100 likes for every dislike,  BizNews presentation, “The Ugly Truth about the COVID-19 Lockdowns” was de-platformed by YouTube.”

These are reputable sources providing facts and data to support their position. It’s worth taking the time to investigate them all.

The most impactful word I heard Nick Hudson use in his presentation succinctly captures the fear being generated:

Homosapienophobia – everyone is dangerous until proven healthy.

I am glad to confirm that asymptomatic (otherwise known as healthy people) cannot spread the virus.

I am not dismissing the disease or the deaths – simply that the methods being used are not based on reality and are doing severe damage. We can no longer ignore the other side of this coin.

How do we move forward?

With compassion. Towards everyone.

Share this information with as many people as possible to reduce the amount of unnecessary fear being circulated. There’s a reason for concern; yes. Concern is healthy – fear is excessive and detrimental.

  1. Taken from PANDA’s website:

In brief:

  1. Lift all Covid-19 specific restrictions and mandates
  2. Offer protection to vulnerable individuals
  3. End mass testing, contact tracing, quarantining, and lockdowns
  4. Ensure public transparency of all efficacy and safety data of vaccines
  5. Reassert open scientific debate and freedom of speech, opinion, and choice.

This will ease the pressure, but by no means relieve it.

Next, we need to ramp up how we think about building our communities again, incorporating the quality of people’s lives as a priority.

Evaluate our Health

We need to share as many podcasts and information about our micro gut biome (Dr. Zach Bush talks about it but check out his website too!) Spend time learning about how food can fuel and nourish your body to naturally assist your immunity. Watch that Vitamin C discussion!

Get Fit & Build Community at the same time.

Let’s honor the lives lost in the best possible way – and work together to build ubuntu into every act we take moving forward. I’ve created the 50in50 challenge to stay fit, challenge my mind, and build community by raising funds for education and housing – I’m nine weeks in. It has two aspects:

  1. Recreate each American State’s outline using my sports tracker,
  2. Climb the equivalent of every state’s elevation by the end – roughly 365 Empire State buildings, an average of nearly 2km of vertical climbing (1,2 miles) every Saturday morning.

This isn’t about how much – it’s about participating and getting support in the process. If you think the numbers above are out of reach – note that I started with 103 flights a year ago (44 minutes) creating a 12-week plan to incrementally built up my fitness, taking a further eight weeks to reach 660 flights (my current capabilities). We’re talking about building a healthy sustainable lifestyle.

It’s not about how much we do – it’s about committing to building the practice. Pledge to join whenever your state comes up (see list for each week below) while using it as a way to invite people to make investments in building communities again. No amount is too small and there’s strength in numbers, after all – for someone with nothing, our something – means everything.

All while creating a healthy lifestyle that contributes to a robust immune system.

I’m committed to demonstrating there are no quick fixes, but we can develop sustainable healthy habitats filled with purpose aligned to our true values. We can create a world where we grow and use resources to support those without hope and opportunity with a hand up. Who’s with me?

Please share with someone you know is feeling overwhelmed by everything, and if that’s you – reach out to me and let’s chat.

After all, my mother taught me well:

A problem shared is a problem halved.

VIRGINIA23 April 2021
NEW YORK30 April 2021
NORTH CAROLINA07 May 2021
RHODE ISLAND14 May 2021
VERMONT21 May 2021
KENTUCKY28 May 2021
TENNESSEE04 June 2021
OHIO11 June 2021
LOUISIANA18 June 2021
INDIANA25 June 2021
MISSISSIPPI02 July 2021
ILLINOIS09 July 2021
ALABAMA16 July 2021
MAINE23 July 2021
MISSOURI30 July 2021
ARKANSAS06 August 2021
MICHIGAN13 August 2021
FLORIDA20 August 2021
TEXAS27 August 2021
IOWA03 September 2021
WISCONSIN10 September 2021
CALIFORNIA17 September 2021
MINNESOTA24 September 2021
OREGON01 October 2021
KANSAS08 October 2021
WEST VIRGINIA15 October 2021
NEVADA22 October 2021
NEBRASKA29 October 2021
COLORADO05 November 2021
NORTH DAKOTA12 November 2021
SOUTH DAKOTA19 November 2021
MONTANA26 November 2021
WASHINGTON03 December 2021
IDAHO10 December 2021
WYOMING17 December 2021
UTAH24 December 2021
OKLAHOMA31 December 2021
NEW MEXICO07 January 2022
ARIZONA14 January 2022
ALASKA21 January 2022
HAWAII28 January 2022
WASHINGTON04 February 2022
SOUTH AFRICA11 February 2022

Want to Build Hope and Community with another Unique Ubuntu Challenge?

How would you like to look back on 2021?

As the year you explored ubuntu? As the year you created a healthy relationship with exercise? As a year you changed a child’s life by helping them learn to read? By changing someone’s life currently living in a shack? By Changing a communities capability to teach their children by building a school?

These are all possible.

It’s been quite an overwhelming year. I don’t know about you – but the sheer scale of death and economic hardship being experienced sometimes feels insurmountable.

And then I’m reminded about my challenge 3 years ago that 99.9% thought was insurmountable: Climbing a mountain every day for a year. With ‘Ubuntu’ as my guiding principle to create a more compassionate world – 744 people of all fitness levels joined me pushing their own capabilities in the process, and together we fundraised almost R1 million building a home for orphaned and vulnerable children; providing 12 of the poorest primary schools with literacy aids teaching children to read; and created 60 new donors with the Sunflower Fund to help them save lives.

My greatest lesson that year was what we can accomplish when we work together. It’s in that spirit that I have another challenge for us.

It’s called ‘50in50’.

Each week the challenge is to create the outline of each state in America tracking a walk/run/cycle across 50 Saturdays – and you can join! I don’t expect you to do it to scale! (Unless you’re Ryan Sands or Rich Roll in which case crack on) The outlines are the tricky parts as you’ll see below. I’ve decided to start this challenge on the 50th day of the year: 19th February 2021.

50 weeks may sound like a big commitment – but in reality the challenge isn’t about long we commit to something. The challenge is what we do today.

While the pandemic continues to affect the lives of so many, the importance of being healthy, having a bigger purpose to focus our energy on, and supporting each other in the process has never been more apparent. The aim is to build a community around what we can do & control our inputs even while external forces continually change and challenge us. We’re all in the same storm – we just using different boats. The way I see it, if you have space in your life raft, pulling one person in changes their life. This time I’ll be asking people to donate $50 aiding companies already doing great work to build our communities and make them stronger.

Where do these Ideas come from?

This inspiration is thanks to my friend Stephan Pieterse.  His charity fundraiser, a biennial event ‘The Gratitude Run’, was hosted virtually instead of at their usual venue Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West. This gave me an opportunity to participate in New York, even  though it’s 12 525km away. One of the 4 categories was ‘creative’ – so using my sports tracker to create a picture, I tried to create a heart with D4D in the middle (Their charity is called ‘Distance 4 Difference’). I shared this map with our friend here in New York and she exclaimed, “Oh that looks like the map of Ohio!”

Those 8 words made me ponder the fact there are 50 states – and two days later the question ‘what if I created an outline of each state?’ inspired my next ubuntu challenge. I’ve added another element just for some fun to see if I can climb the elevation gain of each state across the 50 weeks –a mere 93 967,7m or the equivalent of climbing the Empire State Building 365 times (No I won’t be climbing it every day, unless you have a contact for me to chat to about this??)

The best part about this challenge is just as you can join me from wherever you are – I can still complete my weeks challenge if I travel.  

I’ll be going in order of each states ratifying the constitution of the union – starting with Delaware. Fun Fact: It’s the home state of the current sitting president Joe Biden (46th) and he’s the first president to be elected from this state. It got its name in 1610, after the first governor of Virginia, Sir Thomas West, Lord De La Warr.

The first state outline to be done on 19 February 2021

Building Purpose into Each Step

The charities supported by the donations you can choose from are:

  1. Habitat for Humanity (RSA or East Bay and Silicon Valley area) – building homes.
  2. One Heart for Kids (RSA or New York) – building literacy.
  3. Pencils of Promise (Africa or New York) – building schools.

50in50 isn’t just building community to support one another through unprecedented times, it’s building our discipline; our commitment to helping others; compassion for others circumstances; and last but certainly not least – a healthy habit that contributes to a strong immune system.

This challenge is for you IF:

  1. You’re tired of making New years resolutions about health and/or exercise that evaporate by Valentines day.
  2. You haven’t been severely affected financially by the pandemic and wish to help others out of their hole.
  3. Want to use 2021 to create a milestone in your life of positive change.

Not only will it be fun to recreate each states map, but we’ll forever be changing the course of another human beings’ life. That’s priceless. I’ll be working closely with each charity to provide you with interesting facts about what your impact means to children finally getting a safe building to learn in; learning to read; or own their first home that has running water and their own toilet.

Rabbi Tarfon who lived almost 2000 years ago around 73CE said, ‘You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.’ Covid has certainly shown me how we’re only as strong as our weakest link, and why it’s important to do what I can to empower others.

Understanding the essence of Ubuntu means working on two sides of the same coin: personal development & working together for the betterment of mankind.  I Changed my definition of how to measure success to support this; to borrow Nelson Mandela’s words:

A beautiful part about this challenge is that, just like climbing a mountain, we all arrive at different levels of fitness – BUT – with consistency and perseverance we can track our progress as we travel through the various states creating our own United States of America.

There’s always strength in numbers so these are the ways to get involved and help:

  1. You can pick a cause and donate.
  2. Take part yourself and donate what you can (R50 or $50 a month is great!)
  3. Take part and invite 1 other friend to join as an accountability partner.
  4. Join and create your own team to represent your own state/city and see if you can finish top of the leader board.
  5. Think of people who are looking for a supportive community to build a healthier lifestyle and/or want to empower others and share this with them.

I’ll finish how I started: how would you like to look back on 2021?

Anythings possible. I hope you’ll join me in making 2021 a year to remember (for all the right reasons!)

Head over here to register in 3….2…….1…….

Taking Stock of 2018

Table Mountain Panoramic 365 Ubuntu Climb summit

It’s December – and for many that means a downhill slide into holiday mode; a panic for many parents about what to do with children on holiday and navigating the busy malls for Christmas presents.

To me, it represents 11 months of successfully achieving what I set out to do in January: 336 successful climbs up Table Mountain out of 365 with no injuries or any illnesses worth speaking about and 29 days to go…

I cannot begin to express my gratitude enough for my healthy body and legs – even though it’s something I do before every climb.

November’s a wonderful birthday month for me as well many friends and family; all Valentines Day babies methinks.

I’d always known my birthday was 56 days away from the end of the year but never calculated that meant it was the 309th day of the year.

This year I turned 39. You can’t script things like this and has been the type of amazing synchronicity experienced all year to remind me how special this year was meant to be.

And not just on one or two days – but all of them.

Sunset climbing back down 365 Ubuntu Climbs Cape Town Table Mountain

Looking back – Before you look Forward

I invite people climbing with me to take a moment to look back down the mountain; to appreciate for a moment how far they’ve come and what they’ve already accomplished.

Goals are great. They give me a direction to work towards and purpose in some cases. I’ve learned that climbing mountains gives me opportunities to learn valuable life lessons, one of which is – that the end goal and view at the top is not the be all and end all. Its about learning to value beauty in each step as much as the view at the top.

It can be a hard slog no doubt – but no one ever said you had to do the whole thing in one go. We’re allowed to stop every now again and look around.

That’s what I feel like I’m doing now with climb 337 looming. Stopping and looking around at whats come before me.

People have experienced snippets of what I’ve been through but as with most things in life, until experienced for yourself you can never truly understand.

The closer I get to the end now the further away it feels; I haven’t had a day off all year.

A wall of cloud on the summit of a 365 Ubuntu Climb Table Mountain
These kinds of majestic gems await me on some of my summits

Daily Thinking for Final Stretch

I learned when I get closer to the top and/or the bottom, my tendency is to want to ‘just get there’. This is how accidents happen. When I try push my already fatigued body and mind, I lose focus and start thinking about the end instead of the next step – so I’ve taught myself to maintain the same steady pace no matter how close to the end and excited I become.

I need to do just that for the next 28 days.

With immense excitement looming it’s hard.  When your girlfriend (who lives in San Francisco) is flying in under 2 weeks time and your whole family will be coming down from Johannesburg around Christmas time to support me; the mind has plenty to distract you with.

Distracted is dangerous, just look at car accident statistics – an estimated 52% happen within 8km of the home.

I sat with my performance coach around what data we’re going to measure this last month that can be used to analyse my efforts when I’m done. Heart rates, sleeping, emotional state, physical state you name it. We can compare these stats when I’m fresh again next month and do speed tests on the same route.

This is the most dangerous time now, these next few weeks. Keep the mind strong.

These words from him are valuable – particularly that I’ve fallen twice in ten days in exactly the same spot on the way down. Luckily just caused a stiff ankle nothing sprained.

It happens that quickly.

Distractions are compounded by every person you meet asking “whats next?!” and “what are you going to do on January 1st?”

At least the second one is easy to answer: I’m doing my 366th climb in a row and my last solo climb. This is to take stock of what I’ve accomplished in 2018 and how many people we – you and I – have helped by donating time and money to those living in appalling conditions.

Fulfillment comes from walking your most authentic path; Significance is when you can align that to empowering others in the process.

Its interesting to me how people’s reactions have flowed since having this idea.

1st Phase: That’s crazy, why on earth would you want to do that for a whole year?

2nd Phase: (usually only hear this much later on) you’ll never finish

3rd Phase: Oh you’re going to miss this when you not climbing anymore

4th Phase: Whats next??

(sidenote – asking what’s next is expected from someone who’s asked all the relevant questions and understands the persons current feelings and state of mind)

Lessons from these Questions

Very few people are ever willing to sit with someone in their pain or discomfort and challenges. The reality is no one is on this planet to save anyone else. Not when it comes to how you think and what you choose and how you act.

  1. Stop projecting

Recognising that all my responses are based on my experiences and what I would do in that person’s situation.

  1. Ask questions

Listening to understand means asking questions to learn where someone is right now.

  1. Think about the present

Its always easier to say than do but getting a gauge of where someone is right now based on what has happened, is far better than trying to play crystal ball and predict what someone’s future will be. The future is made up of tons of ‘right now’ decisions.

  1. Not my job to convince

Whether my project, religion, Politics, diets, exercise regimes – you name it. It’s not my jobs to convince people whats right for them. It’s my job to hold people accountable to learn to think for themselves and use what they know in action of service to others. What good is it knowing something great and keeping it all to yourself? Significance…

  1. Empathy and understanding

Understanding what someone is going through from their perspective means I can learn why they do certain things or behave in a particular manner. Just because something seems illogical to me, doesn’t mean its very real for them.

Misty Cable car Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs
We don’t always see where we going – but taking action every day means we’ll get there eventually

Final thoughts

One of the greatest things I’m doing, is learning from other’s behaviour. Sometimes most of these things appear innocent and not detrimental to others. And maybe it isn’t. But is it not worth behaving in a way that helps someone in your life feel completely supported and safe to share their current state of mind?

We live in a world fraught with enough pain and negativity – its time for each individual to start evaluating if they feeding that; or if they shining a spotlight on where all the beauty in this world lies.

I know what I’m choosing

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 and raising money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (housing) One Heart (Education) and The Sunflower Fund (Leukaemia) by inviting people to sponsor R1 per climb. head over to http://www.365climbs.com to be part of the Ubuntu Family.

Andrew Patterson 365 Ubuntu Climbs Table Mountain

 

Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday: How He Influenced Me

Neslon Mandela

Today would’ve been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, it coincides with my 199th hike up Table Mountain joined by Elliot (from Langa) and Raquel (Switzerland) – this makes it 100 days that I’ve been joined by people this year. My gran was Swiss and if she were alive – would’ve also been 100 today.

Life’s synchronicity is beautiful.

His first seed planted with me

I was thirteen years old when Nelson Mandela visited our school and spoke to us. The youngest boys always stood in front which that day, was our blessing.

Neslon Mandela at KES 1993 Renaissance Guy
1993 – the beginning of a sweeping change for South Africa

I was too young to fully take in the message he gave us, but thankfully able to go back into our school’s magazines archives the sentence ‘his message to the young boys was that the privilege they enjoy carries responsibility.’ Reminds me 25 years on.

Being a white male in South Africa means there’s a dark past attached to you. My journey to come to terms with that and what it means hasn’t been an easy one. As recently as five years ago, I thought ‘I didn’t personally benefit from Apartheid.’ And thought I was kind of ‘in the clear’ if you will.

This was an uneducated thought rooted in ignorance.

It took a woman by the name of Dr Jackie Naude (author of Finding the Rainbow) to come to Distell and provide a transformation workshop to begin to change this. She provided and open forum discussing a painful past from an objective point of view in a safe environment. The first time I had a detailed explanation of our past in this manner.

Understanding what the British did to the Boers (Afrikaners) by putting women and children in concentration camps (yes that’s right, the British invented this); The Afrikaners rule and desire to never be subjugated again, creating apartheid through to the release of Nelson Mandela and how he, somehow, managed to stave off a full blown civil war – a horror I can’t even begin to comprehend.

I wasn’t just understanding how we got to the present day, I started to understand how I benefitted from a system purely because of the colour of my skin.

I started to understand I was privileged.

My Journey with Privilege

I understood that one of the biggest problems with BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) was the communication around it and that it wasn’t a call to immediately thrust previously disadvantaged people in to high positions; but rather an opportunity for business to understand the previous injustices and to work together with government to rectify this over a period of time.

This is a contentious issue but effectively, business buried its head in the sand not truly understanding the requirements.

White privilege is a phrase that makes most people feel guilt or shame. I know I felt very uncomfortable so avoided public talks about it and if it came up, tried to defend myself that I personally hadn’t done anything wrong.

This is not something to defend.

It led to a profound understanding I live with today and where one of 365 Ubuntu Climbs pillars was born:

Just because I’m not personally responsible for someone else’s suffering; doesn’t mean I can’t be part of the solution to help them.

Mandela’s Deaths Impact

I was driving on the highway past the airport, a profound sadness came over me as I heard it on the news. A quick gaze right and my eyes were met with a sight I’d seen every day twice a day for two years: shacks.

We’re not doing enough…I thought.

I started thinking about the 5 000 staff at Distell and I imagined every staff member donating R10 a month – that’s R50 000… then I realised our Southern Africa offices pay R50 per person for parking; not exactly an amount that hurts your pocket. Using that amount it quickly rises to R225 000! In one year: that’s R2.7 million.

And we think we can’t do more to help others?

On the rest of my drive took questions like who builds homes? How do I find them? And who do I speak to? All rolled around in my head.

Simply sharing this idea with colleagues over coffee’s where I got my first break – ‘you should contact Habitat for Humanity’. And so, my relationship with them was born. Distell human resources department didn’t bite, but the Corporate Social Responsibility department, with whom I’d built up a relationship thanks to my work with the Sunflower Fund – did.

They got involved and built two houses which, both times, I was away on business unfortunately.

Opportunities to Think Differently

The Jacob Zuma protests in 2016 made me question how the protests were being conducted, because I saw them creating more of a divide in our country. I asked (didn’t assume) why weren’t black people joining in? A quick response around a tragedy here called Marikana, a mine where 14 miners were shot (unarmed and running away) in the back, again opened my thinking.

There were no protests organised then.

It hit home the hypocrisy around what marches were organised and that the marches against JZ were only because whites were affected by his actions.

I was seeing how its not always what we say, but sometimes what we don’t say that can be as damaging. This made me realise another painful truth on my part.

I’d never spoken to any black person (friends or colleagues) about what life was like under apartheid.

To understand today you must understand your past. “YOUR” as in country not personal. That means talking to people with alternate views and experiences to your own.

Those were some of the most heart breaking and difficult conversations I’ve ever had in my life. I appreciated all of them taking the time to go back and open wounds to share the madness and atrocities they experienced. Its why I wrote ‘South Africans – It’s time to Wake Up’

It wasn’t about trying to make things better for them; it was about opening my eyes to understand why certain protests happen now.

You might not condone an action like burning tyres on highways, but you can understand where its coming from. Instead of replying in ignorance, I now have a conversation with compassion.

None of us are in control of the privileges we are born into.

Was everything easy for my parents? Definitely not. But this is where my false sense of entitlement came from – I compared struggles without fully understanding the varying degrees of struggle.

Struggles of life are vastly different to the struggle against oppression.

Privileges come in many forms and I’ll never forget driving with my mom as a youngster and a man was in a wheelchair working tirelessly up a long hill. He was grimacing, and my mother pointed out how grateful we should be. That, as well as his determination, have stuck with me to this day.

It’s another form of privilege I have and why before every walk I take a moment to be grateful for what I have – my legs that work and are strong enough to hike Table Mountain every day.

Privilege is a word that makes people feel uncomfortable. It’s a word that today implies guilt and shame.

I used to say: ‘can’t we all just stop living in the past and move forwards together’ and now I try put myself in the shoes of those that have been oppressed. How would I feel 24 years on and nothing changed?

Its easy to want to ‘just move on’ when you’re on the right side of privilege.

Instead of feeling guilty or uncomfortable that I have privilege – I now think about how I can use it to empower others.

I can’t change the past; but I can change how I think today to make a better future for all.

It’s not about taking responsibility for Apartheid. Its about taking responsibility for the privileges it afforded me.

It’s amazing what can happen when you decide to stop carrying around negative baggage and decide to recycle it into something useful instead.

His Legacy’s gift to Us All

Together with all the freedom fighters, they gave us a South Africa to be proud of. We almost had a civil war – and came through peacefully. That should be celebrated every day.

We have the most amazing constitution in the world. Be proud of that.

The people of this country have endured some of the biggest atrocities in the world – and their spirit was never broken and are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met on three continents. Just look at how we blew the world away in 2010. The smiles in this country are unparalleled.

You don’t believe we can make a difference? Go to www.365climbs.com and make a R50 donation and challenge everyone you know to do the same – and I promise – I will show you how wrong you are. Your contribution is invaluable.

If this project changes 8 000 peoples lives and each of those go forward and changes another 10 people, and then those people another 10 and another 10 then in 5 generations we have the power to empower 800 million people. That’s fourteen times our current population. You think you can’t impact 10 lives? Join us and be a part of that.

I want a phenomenal country for all that live here. Not just a few.

Imagine if you were living in poverty and got a helping hand out of it.

Final Thought

Asking questions is one of the most powerful forces for long lasting change. I speak from experience.

Instead of making social commentary about what happens in this country – I invite you to ask better questions and then: seek out those who can answer from their experience and not from their opinion.

I hope to see you on the mountain soon.

Nelson Mandela Renaissance Guy Passion

A Week to Remember

365 Ubuntu Climbs Halfway view
After several days in rain and poor visibility – this greeted me on my halfway hike

Week 27 sees me starting on a memorable day – exactly halfway.

182 days behind me.365 Ubuntu Climbs halfway mark

182 days ahead of me. 365 Ubuntu CLimbs halfway mark up

Half way rock’s where my moment takes place (albeit that I must hike back down due to strong icy winds.) It snowed up top this morning but due to constant waves of rain predicted I chose the drier afternoon. After three days in the wet, I can safely say I loved being dry and having a view up top as well. Hard to believe I’ve climbed the equivalent vertical kilometers of 37 Mt Everest’s and raised R226 000. I’m very proud of what has been achieved with the help of all of you.

Interesting thought is that in life, we have no idea of when halfway will be. At any moment we could have less days ahead of us than we’ve got behind us.

I celebrate with two of my favourite ladies – Lisa and Jessie – at Mykonos in Sea Point. My brain still doesn’t compute that I’ve done 183 days (at that point) which is the equivalent of thirty-seven Mt Everest’s. How appropriate too then, that they’ve both done the most number of hikes; Lisa 19 Jessie 13 (at the end of her week here from San Francisco)

There isn’t enough paper in the world to talk about how special these two are and how they define support. Perhaps a chapter dedicated to each in my book is needed.

Wednesday Bonus

Joined by Carrey and her son, the four of us including Jessie on her second consecutive day, end up chatting to a tourist wondering if he’s on the right track.  William is from Holland and three days into his month-long visit.

We welcome him to join us instead of hiking alone. I’m rewarded with his tales of why he chose South Africa and that he spent a month in Nepal the previous year. I might not be able to travel this year, but with all the tourists that have joined me thus far? I feel I’ve been to many distant lands.

At 24 this man already is far wiser than his years.

Sharing his experience of acclimatizing to Nepal’s food, culture, altitude and being alone reminded me of my trip to Iceland and the value of traveling alone. His plan is to get tattoos from each place that speaks to what he learned while there.

His Nepal tattoo is incredible.  Just the story on the tiny village it was done in would be enough. Written in Nepalese, its one of their beliefs: Everyone you meet is superior to you in some way.

Gold nugget: In writing this I’m making notes to do my best to listen (not hear) more to understand what people share instead of just trying to respond with what I already know.

We head to Mojo market for a drink to chat more. San Francisco, Cape Town and Leiden only needing one beautiful thing to connect: our travels.

William enjoying the view on 365 Ubuntu Climbs Hike 185

Non-Profits versus For Profit companies

Jessie, who’s also involved in empowering others around the world by building schools with an organisation called Pencils of Promise, and I head to my dear friends 40th. I pick empty seats next to gents that own a gift store in Cape Quarter called Baraka. Incredibly, this happens to be the store where Jessie bought me gifts last year before she left.

Conversation was great all night and later that evening, one’s whole demeanour changes at the mention of my project and raising money, due to one question: ‘how do I know where the money’s going?’

Excellent question!

Simple answer: always ask – reputable non-profits won’t have any issue sharing all their info.

It’s something I’m trying to instill with people this year; to do their homework. Habitat for Humanity, The Sunflower Fund and One heart are all registered Non-Profits as well as certified with SARS (South African Revenue Service) to provide donors with Section 18A’s – a document that allows you to claim your donation back from the tax you owe.

What’s more interesting though, is where the discussion went after we answered his question. He wasn’t satisfied that not 100% of funds raised always goes to said causes. This baffles me. If 80% of funds raised goes to the cause and 20% to administration costs which allows the organisation to help people, isn’t that great? (Disclaimer here – check with each individual organisation what their percentages are – some guarantee 100% of donations go to their cause)

Why is it we so quick to judge where and what the money’s being used for with non-profits; and yet have no problem with business practices of For Profit companies?

There’ve been some serious abuses of money management in Non-profits, but there’s been just as many cases of fraud and unethical business practices in for profits.

Whether you donate money or buy from a company – is it not fair to say we know both have running costs?

Jessie put it beautifully when she said, ‘we vote with every dollar we spend’.

My wish is we’d hold more companies accountable for their business practices. We forget we have the power. If a company still tests on animals – everyone choosing not to buy their products because of that means they’re out of business.

When faced with deciding whom to donate to, here are some tools to help you separate the cheaters from the world beaters:

  1. Ask for Financials. Reputable companies will have these available for you.
  2. They are vague. Perhaps their websites don’t give too much information about what they do, how they do it, when they started, who the Directors are etc – but that could mean they inexperienced and simply use it as a funnel supplying emails and contact details instead. However, if making contact via these channels is difficult and vague, trust your gut as it will certainly alert you.
  3. Any organisation should be able to supply you with references for what they do. If a charity builds homes; ask for details of where and who received it. Again, if people get uppity with you on the phone to supply this and your gut sounds alarm bells – You have the right to say no. It shouldn’t be difficult to get info like this.

 

I said it twice already but its worth telling you again. Trust your gut.

The reality is we live in a society where scams are something to watch for, but just because one woman cheats on you doesn’t mean the rest will.  If you hear about a non-profit being ‘dodgy’ don’t paint all of them that way.

Be vigilant.

Ask questions.

Vote for a better world with how you spend your money.

See you on the mountain.

If you’d like to invest in 365 Ubuntu’s Project, please click on http://www.365climbs.com and you’ll be kept up to date with who we empower. Stay tuned for our delivery of books to help teach children to read coming up this month at two schools.

Renaissance Guy Andrew Patterson

Putting the Shoe on the Other Foot

give

There are many people ‘climbing’ their own personal mountains daily.

Today I want to transport you into the world of three people and what life is like for them; feel their daily climb.

The big difference: they can’t see the summit like an ordinary mountain so have no idea how much further there is to go.

The purpose isn’t to make anybody feel bad; nor guilty. These are wasted emotions and are signs you’re focusing on the wrong part of the equation. In fact, you should feel inspired and full of hope. The smallest actions combined with consistency can transform lives, landscapes and entire generations.

Sticking your head in the sand is one of the reasons people feel so isolated and disconnected. It’s better to know the truth and feel empowered to do something about it; than pretend nothing’s wrong and keep doing what you doing (because you can’t hide from truth no matter how isolated you make yourself)

We’re all one and working together for the benefit of all mankind is crucial and it’s where our path to ultimate peace starts.

You doubt donating R50 a month will make a difference? I’d like to put the shoe on the other foot and at the end – you tell me if that still rings true.

The following three stories all take place on the same day from different perspectives.

The Cursed Blessing

Having been in the grip of a terrifying water shortage, you’d think that the onset of Cape Town’s rainy season would be welcomed by everyone. This Tuesday saw the fifth straight day of torrential rain as the second massive cold front battered the cape of good hope.

Good hope.

That’s all Jackie was holding onto as strong winds decimated shacks all around her in the Joe Slovo informal settlement, an area with roughly 146 000 ‘houses’ – none of which have their own toilets or running water. Everything is communal.

With torrential rain and gusts of wind whipping through the shacks a simple task of going to the toilet becomes extremely dangerous dodging missiles.

These storms always bring fresh fears of flooding and destruction to these fragile homes. While those living in standard homes made of brick dance in the streets, Jackie’s street is starting to look more like an offshoot of the Atlantic ocean – with every centimeter of water rising, her heart beat rises in unison.

With such few valuables already, losing more yet again feels like a cruel punishment with no crime.

How I would give anything for four sturdy walls around me right now.

On Death Row committing No Crime

Jack used to whoop with joy when it rained like this. Back in the days when he could put on his wellys and splash about in the streets celebrating one of the planets ingredients for life: water.

Those days feel an age away. Isolated in his hospital room, his only ‘access’ to the outside world for the past few months have been his window, tv and visitors allowed in one at a time.

Your body’s at it’s most vulnerable during treatment of leukaemia and the greatest threat is infection of any kind. Quarantine starts to feel more like prison than treatment.

Being cooped up in a single room was starting to take its toll on Jack and thoughts of whether a final walk down the corridor to death was not an easier option, started drifting into his head. This was no way to ‘live’. Even though he felt weak from all the medication and treatments – he would give anything to be outside. Feel the rain against his skin. Smell the freshness in the air. See water flowing on the streets instead of down his window.

If only I could be outside.

A Dire Future

While rain was relieving many peoples panic of the immediate future, Jessica’s thoughts were further down the line.

Her daughters adult life.

She may have be watching her play outside but her thoughts were rooted in the future.

Every parent wants the absolute best for their children. Especially when it comes to education. Jessica grew up in a time when, just because of the colour of your skin, you were dictated to get the bare minimum in education. She vowed that would never happen to her daughter.

She was feeling distressed as barely a few weeks into her daughters schooling the teachers hadn’t received any materials to start teaching the children to read. No books. No educational material. Nothing.

Panic gripped her heart as the teacher looked dejectedly up at her from behind her glasses. Like dying of thirst with nothing but sea water around.

She felt like she’d been preparing for a tennis match only to arrive and being told you playing water polo.

By some small miracle – if only the school had help to teach all these children to read.

…………………………………………………..

You just read that. In fact, 80% of children in South Africa at grade 4 level can’t read this. THAT. Does not bode well for our future.

What kind of workforce will we have in twenty odd years?

Just because we are not responsible for the problems of today does not mean we can’t help with the solutions of tomorrow.

I learned this recently which, I think, is important to remember. Past mistakes (no matter how far back) give us clues as to what lies in wait for our future.

Most people know the story of the Great Library at Alexandria; it rivaled our modern day internet with knowledge and scrolls from every corner of the globe – a truly impressive collection: for the few.

Maybe most of you know it was burnt? How many know it was set alight by the masses kept out from the library? Excluded from having access to all the knowledge at that time?

Knowledge is and should be free to all to have access to. Educated minds are inquiring minds.

I don’t know about you but I want to live in a country where everyone has the freedom to expand their minds – just by picking up a book.

We can help make this happen together.

I want to live in a country where we do everything we can to provide people with the basic right to safety and access to their own toilets.

We can make that a reality together.

I want to live in a country where everybody is a donor for leukaemia (and organ donors too!) to help those who contract the disease have a second chance at life.

Now – tell me with certainty R50 a month doesn’t make a difference?

Be part of the movement.

Believe.

Giving

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 to do his part for social upliftment. Building homes with Habitat for Humanity; Empowering schools with One Heart for Kids and increasing the Leukaemia database with The Sunflower Fund. There is no amount too small (whatever number you thinking about imagine the other thousands of readers thinking the same thing – it adds up quickly) You can pledge your support at:

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs