Habitat for Humanity: Leading the R(Heart) Way

I may be turning 40 later this year, but arriving at Habitat for Humanity’s West Oakland workshop feels like my first day of school. I have some life changing relationships with Habitat South Africa in Cape Town thanks to 365 Ubuntu Climbs – but the slate’s clean here.

The same old mind games of nerves and demons like ‘will I be good enough’ to help coming up.

I’m put at ease immediately as Gus introduces himself and welcomes me to the workshop. It’s a place to volunteer with their Playhouse program, and has become my ‘Carpenters Apprenticeship’. I’ve always wanted to learn to work with my hands and specifically wood.

The number 1 rule & reminder of why we here

What better way than to learn while helping a company with its mission


‘We provide affordable homeownership opportunities to qualifying
households. To qualify, you must show a need for housing, be willing to partner with Habitat by contributing sweat equity in the construction of your home, and demonstrate the ability to pay.’

Handouts disempower. They’re give Hand Ups to start a new cycle of hope.

‘Our Playhouse Program is one of the many innovative fundraising tools we use to work with community volunteers to broaden our impact and empower more families through affordable homeownership. Playhouse volunteers spend a full or half day at our Oakland or Milpitas workshop, getting playhouses ready for assembly. Once completed by sponsoring groups, playhouses are donated to children through partnering organizations like Blue Star Moms. We provide all the tools and training necessary to put together the start of a child’s dream playhouse!

A circular economy of love.

Volunteerism’s taught me more than just carpentry – Gus’s been sneakily teaching me an important component of leadership that the world needs – heart.

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS

Imagine running a company with a ‘staff turnover’ of 95%? And still achieving your objectives, seems unreal right?

And yet they continually achieve their aim to get Playhouse sets ready for corporate team builds (literally!) to raise money and build homes.

In 2018 they completed 550 in the Bay Area alone!

It’s a remarkable feat and I now understand how he leads this.

Nervously waiting to hear what I’ll be doing and already contemplating making a catastrophic mistake, Gus takes me and another volunteer through the full playhouse program, safety, who benefits and why it’s important. My heart center is immediately triggered, and I know I’m in the right place.

He leads us to a section with the sides of the playhouse laying on sawhorses, freshly painted from the morning shift.

Whew…. Painting – I can do that!

I’m quickly introduced to the ethos of the workshop when I see a massive spill of grey paint.

‘Don’t worry about that or about dropping paint yourself. If you do – our rule is simple: you have to make a heart with it’

What an amazing idea!! I instantly see five hearts in my vicinity. Such a simple but transformative way to turn mess into love. Lesson 1 and I’m not even an hour in, and a universal truth about leadership given right away.

I realise this now being back multiple times, Gus treats every new person with gratitude and appreciation taking time to explain everything in enough detail as needed to make people feel included in a finished product of purpose that few get to experience.

It was a simple task, painting; but I already felt great fulfillment as each stroke provided the base paint for future artwork.

HEART FOCUSED

Wanting to share my appreciation on what I’ve learned from Gus and his team made me think deeper than just highlighting surface reasons for their success; and creating another ‘follow this number of things’ list to be a successful leader.

There’s enough of those out there.

Communication, patience, gratitude, being an expert in your field and catalysing a team are all important components yes – and consistently demonstrated by him; but something extra special weaves them together.

It’s his heart.

It’s been a privilege to watch leadership like this in action which, week after week, brings complete strangers together at various stages of the playhouse life cycle – learning new skills and working together to produce a focused outcome.

Gus’s humour is brilliant and an effective way he ensures us adults enjoy the process as the children we building playhouses for.

‘Remember our critics are 3 feet tall – it doesn’t need to be perfect; just safe. Have fun with it!’

Below are some great pictures to show you the timeline in the life of a playhouse. Gus has ‘taken me under his wing’ and always shows me new tools to use and how easy it is to be safe using them.

‘Tools are not dangerous, but how we use them can be. Everything’s designed to keep you safe.’

I wonder. Is his heartfelt leadership molded by this tradesman’s understanding: A poor workman always blames his tools – to become such an effective leader? It could explain his care to transfer knowledge to newbies like me to optimise our output.

Together with his creations of templates means an incredible amount of time is saved because the template is always your reference point.

Side note – it’s amazing to see how much quicker I learn through action compared with old school memorisation.

I think Gus’s also mastered the art of ‘letting go’ of what he can’t control (like this fact: with every home built – 3 new people become homeless in the Bay area) His why is so strong it permeates throughout the workshop, and he doesn’t get phased by things not being ‘100%’.

WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

The team builds* are always amazing. I particularly enjoy this nugget I always here:

Oh I’m not creative I won’t be able to draw or paint or be part of the art department

Every. Time. And I’m constantly blown away by the creativity and quality of Playhouses created and decorated according to the child’s chosen theme: Dogs, Space, Princess, Cars… you name it! Just look at the pics below to see for yourself.

Being at the builds mean I’ve met some of the families receiving the playhouses. It’s an experience too beautiful for words to capture on paper.  

It feels like being in the presence of all the best qualities humans have to offer at the same time.

Seeing a parent tearing up at the sight of a playhouse created with love for their child by strangers? Their gratitude, smiles, love and appreciation are what sit with me as I cut each piece of wood for hours on end now. I know exactly what impact that small action leads to.

Sometimes the most rewarding work is not the most glamourous.

Perhaps if we all started treating our jobs and careers like this – wanting to learn and grow while impacting other people with love – there’d be less job dissatisfaction and people would feel more connected to one another?

Just a thought – and something I’ll keep promoting!

Another thought: to think this was all learned from doing something far outside my comfort zone.

FINAL THOUGHT TO PONDER

Feeling deflated by life? Pop down to your local ‘for purpose’ business and donate your time. I know Habitat certainly appreciates it. There’s nothing like perspective to put the wind in your sails again.

Mary Gates, Bill Gate’s mom, was an incredible woman. She set the tone for his upbringing by being on numerous NGO Boards and involving him. It’s no wonder he’s formed the Gates foundation with his wife Melinda .

She expresses the most beautiful truth at the end of his latest Netflix Documentary:‘When we have these specific expectations of ourselves, we’re more likely to live up to them. Ultimately, it’s not what you get; or even what you give.

It’s what you become’    

               ————————————————————

*Team builds have up to 10 people per playhouse with each team being split into builders (4), roofers (3) & the Art Department (3) with everyone painting once initial jobs completed. Check out some pics below 

Please contact Habitat for Humanity at teambuilding@HabitatEBSV.org to arrange your own purposeful team (real) build.

Final Assembly putting the walls together, and attaching the roof

Rediscover Your Power

Face your fears with your best foot forward

Do you often feel dejected because you know there’s something inside holding you back from living the life you want? Maybe you just don’t feel good enough?

This past weekend I attended a Tony Robbins’ immersion called ‘Unleash the Power Within’.

I’ve been a big fan and known about him for 20 years, but being in South Africa meant I was always on the other side of the world for his events.

Our Venue in Dallas, Texas

Then I lived in London and he came! But timing was off as I had the pleasure of being visited by my parents for the first visit. Some of my housemates went and later I’d see them coming back with an ignited soul and eyes ablaze with passion.

That was 15 years ago; and how my life has changed since.

Sounds like a long wait for his transformative experience, but the value in my experiences leading up to the past weekend are what made it deeply rewarding.

A tough few months

365 ubuntu climbs was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Achieving something that no one’s ever done was taxing both physically and mentally; with the equal reward upon completion.

Here’s the thing though, I thought completing it would change old habits – specifically around not feeling good enough.

I was wrong.

Feeling not good enough is like thinking ‘I’ll be happy when…’ – it never arrives. You need to be happy now – and I need to feel good enough now.

On my hill training after gym today I realised something profound.

If you think achieving something monumental will give you confidence going forward – you already possess the strength to accomplish it. Which means its already inside you. The strength comes from INSIDE to finish the challenge – not suddenly rewarded at the end.

Which means no more excuses.

A new set of standards on which to hold ourselves accountable.

What does this have to do with Tony Robbins?

Everything.

With 42 years experience and a PHD in results, there’s nowhere to hide when he speaks to you. My girlfriend had gifted me a ticket and was right alongside challenging her own inner monologues through the experience too.

By his own admission he’s not your guru. This is important because he’s creating a platform for sustainable change.

It’s not about what he says – its how he gets you to challenge the limiting beliefs that’d been holding you back.

Four days of intense twelve hour plus sessions with minimal breaks (if and) is specifically designed to push us beyond what we believe we can achieve. Day one ended with a fire walk across coals reaching temperatures of 1200° (Fahrenheit – about 600° Celsius)

I came into the event knowing we were doing this. And even though as a South African that loves a braai (barbeque for my international friends) I’ve never ever thought afterwards, ‘hey, let’s throw these bad boys on the ground and do a quick fire walk’. With all this knowledge, for some reason I wasn’t phased about it.

That was until Tony started getting real with us about what can happen if you lose focus and the injuries that have happened before. ‘About 1-1.5% of you will probably experience burns under your feet like a really bad sunburn and get blisters’

Seeing the fires being prepared for the first time

When presenting numbers, I know from my corporate days to always use the bigger number (or in this case lesser) between absolute numbers and percentages to convey your message.

1% doesn’t sound bad at all – but 80 to 120 people??  My stomach lets me know apprehension has arrived.

My mind quickly darts to ‘what if I get burned? Will my travel insurance cover fire walking??!!?’

I highly doubt it!

The voice of fear was desperately trying to find a just reason to pull out.

But I didn’t come here to watch others obliterate fear.

I’m here to let go of what no longer serves me.

Walking on Fire

I believe I’ll be fine. I believe Tony wouldn’t do this haphazardly (especially in a country where suing has become a national sport)

No matter what – I’m doing this.

I listen intently to the instructions, and visualise myself at the other end of the walk exploding in ecstasy having not melted.

Shoes off, we exit the stadium and head to the parking lot focusing on our breathing and keeping our energy up. I’m secretly hoping I’ll be close to the front with less wait time, the perfect crack fear likes to exploit.

Anticipation is always worse than reality.

Alas, I’m 2/3rds of the way back. A sea of humans in the dark floating towards a waterfall.

I remember being told ‘GO!’

I remember doing my last move to get fired up.

I remember the heat of the first step.

I remember being caught on the other side by volunteers saying, ‘Wipe your feet!’ (sometimes pieces of coal can get lodged under your feet or between your toes)

I remember the incredible soothing the water being sprayed on my feet brought.

I’d done something so ridiculously outlandish.

…. And that feeling changed something deep inside.

Why it changed my Life

Before the strut, my focus was successfully reaching the other side unscathed.

As I waited on the other side for Jessie to snap a photo, my brain raced. I realised that in everyday circumstances I’d find reasons to justify why others were more capable or better than I was to achieve something.

This time, I saw those that went before me as justification why I COULD do it.

The excuses evaporated like water above the coals.

Intellectually I’ve known this since my early twenties but understanding something and deeply knowing a principle are two different things.

It’s why there’s no substitute for experience.

Walking across those coals forced me to look at fear and deal with it immediately. Seeing how it used to dictate my mental aspirations, like whether I’m good enough to teach the practices I learned from climbing Table Mountain every day, means I know choose to focus on pursuing what I know to be right.

Will there be people that think I’m ill equipped for the job? I have no doubt.

Will there be negativity toward my aspirations to empower others through teaching? Probably.

The detractors had no impact on whether I succeeded in 2018, and so why would they be going forward? The great thing about moving forward is detractors are stationery so soon enough; they’ll be out of earshot.

I never doubted I was physically capable of climbing Table Mountain every day for a calendar year. Time for that clarity to apply in all other areas in my life as well.

As with everything in life, the real value is putting this into practice.

What fears are holding you back? If you’d be happy to share I’d love to hear from you and see how we can take consistent steps together to overcome them.

Just like on those hot coals – that first step commits you to a new path of building momentum. I hope you’ll join me.

Andrew Patterson & Jessie Stuart feeling more aligned with their purpose

5 Essential Lessons for any Challenge

Orange Breasted sunbird2 climb 272 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Sunbird (male) quietly surveying the city below                      Photo Credit: Natalie du Preez

As I sit here I can’t believe nine months of the year have come and gone.

Thirty nine weeks have rocketed past and being in an extreme challenge like this, climbing Table Mountain every day, brings with it extreme learnings.

Observing  how many people focus, even 277 days into my challenge, on what could go wrong and ‘negative aspects’ – weather, injury, sickness, ‘stuck in Cape Town’, you name it, it’s been said.

It’s the perfect mirror of life.

Few think about all the positive aspects – seeing the mountain in every way imaginable; the phenomenal views from my office; the personal growth; the extraordinary people I get to meet; and the conversations that brings with it.

Ignoring the difficulties I face would be fool hardy. It’s important to understand all the aspects of a challenge including difficulties – just don’t focus on them.  This reality of potential dangers was given to me when Gert, challenging himself to climb Table Mountain every day in September, sprained his ankle badly with just five days left. It can happen that quickly.

My focus cannot waiver for one second.

What a Week

This year, last week was the second longest amount of time spent climbing the mountain – but because of the extreme weather differences; my toughest to date.

Thankfully, I only had two solo hikes and five amazing groups to pull me through. Not just any groups:

Top of Table Mountain Heritage DayMonday: two special men, Bulelani and Siyabonga, started a tour group called Corner2corner tours and arranged a group to climb up on our National Holiday – Heritage Day. Not just hike up though – clean the mountain too. They believe the mountain gives us so much that they wanted to give back to her. It was 30 degrees at 11am and after a bitterly cold month, a bit of a shock to the system. Everyone made it up and we walked off with three full bags of rubbish removed.

VML Foundation Day climb on day 270Thursday: VML, a creative agency worldwide with offices here in Cape Town, have a yearly day to volunteer with various organisations – I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of them. This day was windy, icy cold, wet and downright miserable for a tricky ascent and descent. This usually deters people, but fourteen amazing people came and challenged themselves for the benefit of others. They had wonderful smiles, never complained and helped each other get down safely. Real team spirit.

Family climb 271 365 Ubuntu ClimbsFriday: I’m blessed with an amazing family and Aunty Di and Uncle John have been terrific with their support. Having seen them (they live in Durban) in February they promised they’d be back in September and would join – this was the day. After loads of rain, they were treated to the spectacle that is Table Mountain with rivers in full flow and waterfalls galore; even paths become water features. Their spirit and tenacity to get up adds to my memories of people who’ve pushed their limits; and chatting about all their holiday ‘s overseas is how I get to travel this year: vicariously.

Climb 272 365 Ubuntu ClimbsSaturday: a fellow blogger for Future Females and friend, Natalie, joined with her husband. We had a hot day again; thankfully with a breeze. My legs were taking strain, and they were happy to stop often and get pictures (picture above is hers!) much to my weary legs delight. Hard to fathom the previous 4 days were all cold and wet, and tomorrow is going to be even hotter…

Tibetan Monks on top Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs

Sunday: Lisa, Amanda and Alice brave a 06:30 start – always impressed by people willing to do that on a Sunday. Its Amanda’s birthday too! We start early for two reasons – on hot days sunrise hikes equal avoiding the heat and we have the privilege to host four Tibetan Monks, an astrologer and a healer all the way from India at the top. It felt as if the monks were already at the top and hauling me up step by step as we ‘rushed’ to ensure we didn’t keep them waiting. Thankfully we made it up in time meeting them at the cable car. This experience would never have happened without this challenge happening and my good friend Nicci connecting us. Something I could never have predicted.

Although I’m not a practicing Buddhist – I resonate with their desire for peace and love to permeate this planet – the reason they’re here, creating colourful sand mandalas.

Experiencing another belief and cultures ritual and respect for nature and our mountain was beautiful. Seeing them in their robes and prayer flags flapping in the wind was soothing and even though I had no idea what they were saying in prayer – felt at peace.

Being the end of the month too I chose rock number nine: a physical representation of another month completed.

I was originally keeping these but before meeting the monks, had the idea to rather take them all back at the end of the year and create a memorial pile on the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail. Hearing him speak about releasing attachment reinforces the idea.

Geshe wished to hold it and shared some beautiful words with me about what I’m doing. Though our time was brief together, it was reminded of quality over quantity.

What Can You Take Away from This?

As I said extreme challenges bring extreme learning and realisations after this week some are becoming ingrained in me:

  1. Focus on today. Even the toughest week came to end and the same is true for great weeks. Simply focusing on today’s climb means I give it every opportunity to become one of the most memorable ones.
  2. Lose attachment. Weather, health, mementos, even people. Things can change so quickly and holding on to something keeps you rooted in the past. A perfect follow on to point #1 because this keeps you grounded in today and what you can
  3. Find the flow. This has been one of the unexpected challenges of the year. I had grand designs of what needed to happen and what I needed to organise; yet the best experiences have all come from allowing the climbs to happen with whomever is supposed to join. Set your intention of what river you want to use, and let it take you where it needs to. Stop trying to control everything. This becomes the difference in creating meaningful experiences as opposed to a bucket list tick box exercise.
  4. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone’s in a rush: to find a partner; to be successful, to be first, to get up the mountain. All this means is you miss the opportunities along the way to see the beauty in each step, in life. Why do people burn out? Feel disconnected? We’re rushing to this appointment while making the next. Slow down. If I’d come out the gates trying to do every climb as fast as possible my body would’ve shut down months ago. My legs may be fatigued – but my heart and soul are energised.
  5. Gratitude is not important; its essential. Every climb starts with gratitude for my health, my legs that work and are strong enough to do this every day; my eyes to see the beauty around me and my mind that is actively learning every day from this experience. Gratitude for the mountain being so close to where I live and providing me a spiritual path to walk every day and always teaching me. It takes less than five minutes to show gratitude and once you start? You realise all the ways you’re blessed. Family, partners, friends, their support, and it helps spot the greatest beauty in the tiniest moment. Beauty is not one big thing – it’s an endless string of moments.

 

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town every day in 2018 helping raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (housing) One Heart (teaching children to read) and The Sunflower Fund (increasing the donor database for blood diseases like Leukaemia) To donate visit http://www.365climbs.com

The World Needs more Doers

Well done

We live in a time when access to people all around the globe and information is as easy as opening an app on our phones. Thinking about nationalities is a dying breed – we’re all global citizens now.

While there’s a lot of negativity around the use of mobile phones and how society is being turned into ‘walking zombies’; I believe they’re still important.

It’s not the device that’s the problem; it’s how we decide to let it run our lives that is.

Anything in excess is bad; it’s why it’s vitally important for children to be educated about balance.

So should we adults not be educating ourselves about balance as well?

Times change so rapidly, most people prefer to ignore the change and pretend it’s not happening; but just as tax lawyers and accountants need to keep current with changes every year – so too do we need to keep up with changes in the modern world. In fact, we should be proactive about what the future holds.

Ignorance is not an excuse.

Every person on this planet is responsible for themselves: their happiness; their successes; their character. When we blame others for our circumstances we give away the one thing that’s our prized possession – our power.

Yes, people are born into more challenging circumstances than our own, granted, and that’s where the onus is on us born into an ‘easier’ life to work together for the betterment of all humankind.

The reality is, no one’s guaranteed an easy path in life. How many people with tons of money end up in worse positions than they started in? Or are just plain miserable? That’s because there’s a word lacking in today’s culture that people should ultimately be striving for:

Fulfillment. The feeling of being happy and satisfied. A full heart filling the mind.

We could die at any moment. That’s a fact. In that moment before you leave this earth you’ll have a chance to think about everything you wanted to achieve and how completing them made you feel; then – and in that final moment. Why wait when you can imitate that right now?

Take a moment to reflect how you feel at this exact moment about your life.

I’m sure you’re thinking about moments you were doing something. Taking action on what you love. Things your heart told you to follow.

Not what you had thought about.

Most of us confuse being busy with being a doer. Hiding behind a screen or keyboard definitely does not make you a doer.

Where can you start?

My dramatic shift in life happened when I made a decision based out of love; and not fear. When I started listening to my heart and allowed synchronicity to show me the power of doing just that. When I chose retrenchment rather than a paycheck to pursue something greater.

You don’t have to wait until something dramatic happens to you. Read books from people who have done just that and taken action on their dreams and learn from them. Don’t just be inspired – be inspired to act. Understand that even pursuing your dreams brings uncertainty and doubt around ‘should I carry on?’. Am I terrified about my new path? Absolutely. But boy am I excited about my future like never before.

Watch interviews with Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling. Find as many as you need until you understand this one major principle:

They all took action and listened to their hearts and kept trusting their gut (intuition).

What can you do to move into the ‘doing’ heart space? Think about:

1. How many ideas have you had this past week and how many have you acted upon?

2. Write down who your closest people are and whether they are talkers or doers?*

3. Who/What do you follow on social media? Are they positive role models on taking action?

4. Do you write down the ideas you have? Places you want to see? People you want to meet?

*I’ll tell you a secret that makes this easy to spot. Start becoming a doer and you’ll rapidly see who the talkers are around you.

Create accountability.

Put a marker down detailing when you’d like to achieve something, that way the years don’t continue to roll by.

I remember wanting to visit New York. It was one of three major cities that, for some reason, I always wanted to see. The other two were Paris and Rome, cities I ticked off in one European vacation back in 2005.

I’d never put down when I wanted to see New York and in 2012 – still had no plans in place. Enter the universe giving me a kick up the pants and one of the happiest phone calls I could ever receive:

“Andrew – I’m engaged, we plan on getting married in July next year and I want you to be my best man”

This was one of my great friends, Koos living in Aberdeen South Dakota, USA.

I’d never dream of missing his wedding, never mind miss an opportunity at such an honour. I agreed without hesitation and immediately, put plans in place to spend three weeks in the states and – you guessed it – stop over in New York.

Lessons from Travelling.

That stick in the ground gave me the impetus to make it happen. To plan the length of my stay and how much I’d need. To this day, it’s one of my all time greatest holidays and I learned some valuable lessons about travelling:

1. It’s the best opportunity to follow your heart every day and explore where it takes you. I’ve never been lead astray. In fact, my best experiences are the unplanned days doing this.

2. Three weeks is a great length holiday to maximise the long haul flights.

3. Splitting it into three equal weeks, doing something different in each is also a great way to maximise seeing what you want to. I.e. a week in New York gave an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the culture and city itself.

4. Poor exchange rates are just an excuse – you always find a way to make it work.

My challenge to you: Pick the top destination you’d love to see before you die. Depending on how far it is, decide the length needed to maximise the experience – and book a date now!

One of the best feelings in the world is the build up of anticipation before your trip. A month out; a week out; a day out; the moment your bum hits the seat in the aircraft – its all like being a child on Christmas eve again.

These are feelings you’ll never forget and fuel your excitement and enthusiasm for life. It gives us an understanding of tapping into our ultimate humanity.

I carry these memories with me up the mountain, making me smile at every step no matter what the weather or discomfort I may be in. Even better, I’m meeting people in Cape Town from the countries/cities I’ve visited and we share our travel stories while immersed in the beauty of one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Travel stories connect us on another level where words need not be spoken – the twinkle in our eyes says it all.

The funny thing is, once you start down the path of listening to your heart and becoming a doer – its a fantastically slippery slope and ‘doing’ happens without needing to motivate it any more.

You have a thought born out of feeling.

You put plans into action.

Then you speak about it.

That’s how you change your world. And then?

That’s how you change the world.

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day for a year, in an effort to rally global citizens and positively empower a million people in 2018. To get involved click here:

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

dreamers-who-do.jpg

Pushing my limits; What can YOU Learn?

Table mountain

The last few months have been incredibly introspective for me.

Spending the bulk of my time alone on the mountains, in preparation for climbing Table Mountain every day next year, has allowed quality ‘me’ time.

It’s been interesting to watch myself see-saw between feeling inspired and feeling disheartened. I’ve been working aggressively through old negative behaviors – specifically self sabotage. It can creep up on you quickly and once your mind has hold of it: becomes diarrhea.

No one ever said self development was easy, and as with most things we tend to want the optimum results now without walking the path. Once again I am being taught patience and to choose gratitude for the learning’s instead of beating myself up for the fact I don’t already know it.

Over sixty hikes have taught me that and more; and I’ve quickly realised the similarities of conquering an obstacle every day, to the path of life.

Here are five insights I’ve gained:

1. One step at a time

We somehow create mountains out of molehills. Obstacles always seem to be harder, longer or even insurmountable. The trick?

Just get started.

It’s just one foot in front of the other that gets you up Table Mountain. Know your end goal but don’t focus too much on it otherwise it becomes daunting. Having an understanding of smaller targets that are easily achievable (where half way is; how many turns there are going up) diverts your attention from the total task at hand.

Interestingly enough, doing it this way has resulted in some of my fastest times up Table Mountain. You become enthused about hitting and reaching the smaller milestones rather than constantly overwhelmed by what still needs to be achieved.

2. Remain focused

I’ve almost twisted my ankle on the final few steps coming down after completing nearly 7 000 steps – why? Because I became cocky in a sense of thinking ‘ag just the last few steps who needs to concentrate’ and its exactly in that moment something happens.

Never take any step for granted.

I’m learning to become mindful not mind full. Many people have asked about what happens if I get injured next year. I believe injury happens when we are not prepared, we lose focus or is a manifestation of our own self doubt in our abilities to do what’s in front of us.

That last one I know because as a twelve year old I broke my arm two days before a football final while practicing. Why? Because I didn’t believe I was good enough to be in the team and contribute meaningfully.

Watch your thoughts carefully.

Every step we take in life must be with purpose and focus towards what we want. The moment we take our eyes off what we doing in the moment or allow self doubt to creep in is when we invite the mini disasters into our life.

3. Be grounded in appreciation and gratitude

Every climb I connect with the first step of the mountain in a show of gratitude for the fact that I not only have able legs, but a healthy body to support my climbs safely.

I have family members who’ve had to spend afternoons in bed because their bodies have been a debilitating drain on their energy. Most people I know suffer with illnesses throughout the year; some have chronic back pain. Some in wheelchairs. A few examples of things that others have to deal with daily that most take for granted.

Our bodies are our temples and one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment on this planet. Being mindful of each step allows me to fully be present in my body and feel each step; how one tiny adjustment means I don’t feel niggles in my knees. It allows me to listen to my body and go at a pace that tests me but doesn’t put unnecessary stress on it.

To me, being active celebrates the gift this body I’ve been given is.

4. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable

JT Foxx stresses this point and this practice is helping me realise why it’s so important. Often the body feels under duress or that it’s tiring. I’m learning how we can push ourselves past that initial ‘pain’ which enables us to achieve more than we dreamed. This has helped on the really hot climbs where, taking an hour versus two, in searing heat doing strenuous exercise makes a huge difference.

It’s amazing that often my mind feel my body is on the brink of ‘sorry buddy – we need a break or we shutting down’ and yet; on most occasions doesn’t come and you can push through it.

I can tell you that this alone is the biggest lesson I’ve learned that will help me when those dark days come next year. When my body perhaps feels like it won’t manage and yet, will make it so long as I just start.

Uncomfortable just means we outside the range of what we know as normal. What we’re used to. Means we’re challenging what our own minds deem possible or impossible.

In our own minds.

Nelson Mandela said ‘it always seems impossible until its done’

Like I said – just take the first step.

5. Reward equals the risk we take

This is a biggie.

If you playing it safe and expecting to get massive returns; you living in a dream world. Small step outside comfort zone equals small reward on the other side.

Huge strides pushing your own boundaries and limitations means there’s an equal reward of learning and growth on the other side of that.

Ultimately we need to all learn to forget about everyone else (when it comes to growing) and focus on ourselves.

Am I better than I was yesterday?

What have I learned this day/week/month/year that helps me become a better person for tomorrow to push the boundaries even more?

Don’t just live with purpose – live on purpose. There’s a word we can all use every day that could transform everyone’s lives.

Believe.

In yourself.

In each other.

In a better world for all.

I do. So don’t take my word for it – rather watch how I create that reality and decide if you prepared to take action for yourself.

You won’t regret it. Of that I’m certain

You

You won’t regret it. Of that I’m certain.

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