Learning Perspective

 

365 Ubuntu Climbs PerspectiveOne of the gifts bestowed upon me this year comes in the form of perspective.

It’s easy to make snap judgements on what I see or hear; because let’s face it – most things I comment on (socially, politically, environmentally) are based on my own experiences and beliefs.

I’d like to share some mind shifts I’ve had through dedicating a year to climbing the same strenuous route up Table Mountain – Platteklip gorge (a route most people detest) every day.

I’m going to relate them back to the three organisations its supporting: Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund.

  1. Don’t you get bored doing the same route every day?

Stuck in a hospital room

When you understand peoples behaviour reveals who they are, then you realise this question gives me an insight into what the person asking me is going through.

The short answer is the mountain and climb are different every single day. However,your mindset determines exactly what the outcome will be. Instead of saying “You’re doing this for a year?” I say, “I’m only doing this for a year”.

First statement creates struggle; second one generates gratitude – and all with one word.

It goes deeper than this, which I discovered when I was constantly asked the question and realised I needed to think deeper about it. I realised boredom is a lack of appreciation for the gifts you have every day. Your health, your legs, your eye sight.

Just ask a Leukaemia patient who’s not just stared death in the face, but upon receiving a transplant must face up to three months of solitary in hospital to reduce risk of infection during a vulnerable time.

Three. Months.

No outdoors. Limited interaction with friends and family. Now let’s talk about boredom and whether they would trade that room for a chance to climb a mountain every day.

  1. ‘Bad’ weather as an excuse

drowned shacks

I use inverted commas there because I no longer believe there’s bad weather; just bad preparation.

I’ve climbed in all kinds of treacherous weather ranging from heat waves to bitter cold; insane winds reaching 100km/h to torrential rain. Sometimes these can be combined.

The reality is: my challenge lasts 2-5 hours (depending who’s with me and weather conditions) and then I get to go home to secure flat that’s warm and dry.

It’s over for the day.

For the thirty million South Africans living in informal houses, every storm brings with it the panic of what will happen to my home. Flooding is most often a cause from torrential rain and the first family member home from work will start ‘emptying’ the water from their shack and attempt to dry what little items they have.

Wind means there’s potential for other homes to become missiles and your homes relentlessly battered on the Cape Flats by the wind. Until it stops – there is no respite.

shackfires

We can throw in fires on the mountain. These may mean having to choose different routes, but in an informal settlement can devastate thousands of shacks. All because one person may have been reckless causing many to lose every single item they own. The mountains vegetation and life will recover and so too will most people – but the people have nowhere else to go.

Not knowing how to read; living in poverty and time before a donor is found – are all 24/7, 52 weeks a year challenges until help and empowerment are given.

  1. I Can’t leave Cape Town

 

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Children at Klapmuts primary at the handover where I had the privilege to speak about what I’m doing and why

It’s true that committing to climbing every day means I’m ‘stuck’ here. Most people we are helping can’t ever leave Cape Town; never mind just one year.

This was highlighted to me when visiting Klapmuts primary where the principal and teachers explained most children have never seen Stellenbosch (15km away) and if they do – exclaim how big the buildings are. At most they’re seven stories high.

I love that on their school hall walls they have four murals: The Sphinx; The Statue of Liberty; The Sydney Opera house – and Table Mountain.

By helping teach these children to read they have a chance at an education and a chance at going there one day. And that – is priceless.

  1. Pain and Fatigue

I’m adding this one even though it’s not part of who we support because it’s such a valuable lesson.

My legs and body having no day off was always the great unknown. Becoming fixated on the pain and weariness of my legs on each climb is easy, and then I was taught a lesson by a special man.

Lifa broke his neck playing rugby and decided the doctors were wrong when they said “you’ll never walk again” – he’s slowly but surely taught himself to sit upright; then stand; and now walk with crutches. This man is beyond special.

Having successfully navigated Lions Head up and down with friends he wanted to climb Table Mountain. The people at Petro Jackson Fund had met me and sharing my story suggested getting in touch. He did – and only because he’d made it up Lions head, did I entertain the idea.

On climb 145 we made it to the Waterfall and due to time constraints – had to deliver the bad news we were turning around. We’d never make the cable car in time and going further only risked more chance of complications to climb back down. Repeat – time was why we wouldn’t make it. Remember, he’s climbing with crutches – and with more time I believe he would’ve made it.

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Lifa’s rock is the one in line with his head – yes he got up there!

For two hours I watched the human spirit in action with determination and smiles to match. I named that rock he sat on after him and every time I go past it, I think of him and I’m reminded that whatever pain I have in my legs – it’s something he and others hope to be able to experience one day.

His achievement fans my flames and that pain and fatigue reminds me what a gift the ability I have is, to do this every day.

 

  1. Graffiti on the Mountain

Bonus lesson.

On climb 106, I started for a late afternoon climb, with enough time to see the sunset. Within fifty stairs, I saw the first of fourteen rocks spray painted. Not tiny things – entire boulders with the last reminder two thirds up.

It was disgusting and hideous to think that someone could do this. I was trying to contain my anger when something completely opposite occurred. I had two missed calls for the Safety Mountain Tracking people.

Andrew, we have a hiker in distress on Smuts track and you’re the closest – can you help us?

At this stage I was at my fittest and still feeling fresh, so I was able to climb the rest (a little more than halfway) in thirty minutes and then trail run along the eastern table to the highest point, Maclears beacon, and then down smuts track to where the five people were with two SANParks rangers.

Thankfully, because this would be crucial later.

The helicopter was unable to land on the incline and so rescue teams had to carry the woman down. I’d stupidly taken my torch out my bag thinking there was no need for it. How wrong I was.

The ranger asked if I could lead the four people back down Skeleton gorge but with fading light and no torches, I suggested radioing the cable station to ask to wait for us. They agreed and the safer option along the top was what we took. Before setting off, I saw one friend removing the woman’s jewellery and phone; it was only then I realised she’d passed away – a heart attack.

Fading light climb 106 365 Ubuntu Climbs
The cable station sits alone (middle) in the distance as I race to the distressed hikers
Life and death climb 106 365 Ubuntu Climbs
View south as I race along

Those spare minutes gained earlier enabled us to navigate the climb back up to the top table in twilight safely. Along the top, we passed two rescue teams thankfully with spare lights for the final stretch in darkness. Darkness wasn’t what made this the most difficult walk of my life though.

The four friends were in a complete state of shock and showed immense gratitude when we finally arrived back down safely.

At the bottom, I was no longer thinking about the graffiti.

Final understanding

I used to misconstrue having something that others; like legs that work, or opportunities, or money, as something to feel guilty about.

I’ve subsequently learned guilt is wasted energy. Instead I now do two things:

  1. Appreciate what I have even more
  2. Use my gifts/opportunities to empower those born into more challenging circumstances than my own.

The choice is ours.

See you on the mountain.

perspective quote 365 Ubuntu Climbs

Andrew Patterson has climbed every day in 2018 to raise money for three incredible organisations. To be part of the change you wish to see in the world head over to http://www.365climbs.com and add your voice to become part of the Ubuntu Family

How are Your NY Resolutions going?

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Milestones seem to be raining down on me this week – hopefully a great omen for a water strapped Western Cape this winter.

It’s incredible to think what’s transpired in two years since I started writing my blog; never mind the fact that I pledged to hike Table Mountain 365 times this year and as it stands: just this past week I hit triple digits for consecutive days (none missed) hiked up Table Mountain and successfully hosted my first ever fundraising event. To date:

  • 108 consecutive days hiked up Table Mountain
  • 53 days alone
  • 55 days taking 206 people up with me
  • R176 000 raised to build a home; teach a child to read and give someone with leukaemia a second chance at life
  • 682 km of hiking with 73km just vertical climbing (equivalent of 20.5 Mt Everest Summits)
  • 186 567 Calories burned, the equivalent of 2 248 glasses of wine

That second last stat is the one that doesn’t compute the most. Which leads me to my very first lesson I’ve learned these past few months.

    1. One day at a time, step by step

Goals can become overwhelming. Work or personal. What’s important is the daily action you take and thereby focus on. I’m not going to lie – 100 consecutive days hiking still seems daunting and outside the realm of reality; never mind the fact I still have 257 days left. However, now that I have 100 under my belt I have no doubt I’m going to achieve it because I have a formula that’s proven.

Breaking targets down into smaller bite size chunks is what will get you through.

  1. Be Open to the Unexpected

Rain, Lightening storms, gale force winds, fire, sore throats, people feeling sick (and being sick) on the mountain – there are no guarantees. I have a plan B and C in place for such days and thankfully, haven’t had to execute them.

Ask for the best

Plan for the worst

Be ready for anything

All these three mindsets require one important aspect: planning.

  1. Swap Expectation for Appreciation.

While training last year I thought anyone taking longer than two hours going up meant I’d have to walk up without them for my sanity.

My perceived value: was getting to the top.

Then I started my challenge and that all changed. I began to naturally fall into a rhythm of walking with whomsoever at the back. That’s when something extraordinary happened to me: incredible conversations flowed.

I understood people donating and choosing to hike up 730 vertical meters for a cause greater than ourselves is the real value of 365 Ubuntu Climbs. THAT’s what this is all about.

Individuals pushing their own boundaries and physical capabilities is the order of the day.

I appreciate every single person that’s joined me on this journey.

GPUU4656Dexter’s (far left) first time and it rained the whole way up – no complaints once!

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International guests from the UK Joining
  1. Time is not an Excuse

Many people have asked “what do you do???” or “how do you work” because of the perceived time spent hiking on Table Mountain. I even had a gent recognise me on the mountain and proclaim “I wish I was retired to join you”. Simply put, even WITH 40% of my monthly hikes being double the time I’d take if I was always on my own – I’m only hiking 10% of a month.

That’s 3 full days.

Let’s say you sleep on average 8 hours a day that equates to 10 days. That means hiking AND sleeping adds to 13 days combined. We’ll use February which only has 28 days to prove the point. IF you work 8 hours a day that’s 7 days. We’ve just hit 20 days and you still have 8 24-hour days to do what you want.

What I’m saying here is what you prioritise you will achieve.

There are no excuses.

If you have a family, that will be your priority and it will demand your time. Point is – you have time for your family because it’s a priority.

Be honest about the real reasons you not following your gut and passions.

Time is not it an excuse.

  1. Keep. It. Simple.

Spending time in nature means I observe it. The ability of flowers to grow out of cracks in cliff faces; vegetation staying green through a drought; flowers lasting three days (pink flower to right). If you want to grow – grow!

Life. Finds. A way. You can too.

Fire burns old vegetation so new seeds can prosper. There’s no good or bad it just is.

I’ve subsequently come to the decision on the mountain that, for me, there’s no such thing as bad.

What I thinks ‘bad’ today, in 6 months time becomes the best thing that ever happened to me.

The Sunflower Fund – an organisation designed to help other families not suffer the death of a loved one – was born from one sons death. It’s a tragedy beyond epic proportions for a mother; yet so many families since then have loved ones because she acted on her experience.

The ‘bad’ I see that is disturbing? Is good peoples apathy in life.

Unintended consequences

One thing you’ll never be able to predict, is the unintended consequences of you taking action. The incredible people you’ll meet – many wanting to help you. The inspiring conversations you’ll have. The lessons you’ll learn along the way, particularly about yourself and how you view life.

Life is a continuous flow whereby we’re constantly developing. No one got to the top of the mountain just standing there thinking about it. None of us have the answers first time, the ones that can share their successes are the ones that took that first step and kept going. No matter what.

The question is – how bad do you want it?

It can be scary as all hell but that’s just because its like standing in front of a dark room before you flip the switch.

I’m telling you from experience.

Flip the switch.

MOtivation

Do You get Bored?

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“How do you not get bored doing the same route every day?”

This question’s about the fact I’m climbing Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge every day in 2018.

My answer on the mountain at the time was simple: No two days are the same.

That was my instant response answer, but the question sat like a splinter in my mind on the rest of the hike; day 76 of 365 summits.

Why don’t I get bored and what is boredom? I thought I’d explore it further in this piece.

What is Boredom

There are two times we’re bored: we’ve ‘nothing’ to do and/or doing the same thing over and over.

Parents will most likely identify most with the first type. Children complaining they’re bored because they aren’t able to do what they want.

In reality, boredom’s great (and necessary) because it stimulates creativity. Being bored means you must think, go within and tap into parts of ourselves that switch off when the TV or our dumb phones are on.

Understanding Boredom

In speaking about this to a group from the UK, words flowed through me I hadn’t thought about previously.

Boredom comes from pursuing things that are not driven by purpose. (With regards to a consistent daily routine)

Climbing Table Mountain every single day for a year just for some personal record would be boring as all hell to me.

Climbing Table Mountain every day to raise money and awareness for those born into extremely challenging circumstances has purpose.

It’s your mindset.

Different day – different people

I also challenge those who donate, to climb with me on a specific day, which means to date I’ve met amazing people and had 124 people walk up with me.

Would you get bored hearing about a mans struggle with depression, how he overcame it, developed techniques to do so and now teaches children all over the world how to find their voice and speak with influence?

Would you get bored listening to parents that met in India, lived in New York, packed up a good life there and moved to Cape Town to have a better quality of life with their children?

Would you get bored listening to your best friend share her challenges she’s going through and feel immensely proud at how she thinks and deals with challenges?

Would you get bored spending a Saturday morning with your only sister and her family that traveled 1400km to support you even when her health is something that prevents her from exercising the way she wants?

Now consider the fact that the weather from day to day can be dramatically different. One day clear blue skies2018.01.13

the very next day no view from the top at all 2018.01.14

What is your mindset?

Last year I climbed Table Mountain 49 times as part of my training regime while doing other hikes in-between to enjoy different scenery based on my geographical limitations this year. Training was mental preparation as much as physical. I told myself before every climb how excited I was and created the idea that I was hiking the equivalent of the day of the year. In other words, it may have been the 50th training hike, but I told myself this is day 277 of the year, and as such this is what it feels like after that many successive hikes.

Cultivating mindset doesn’t happen by accident, so here are some tips I’ve learned.

How to overcome boredom

Thinking about this question deeply I’ve developed 5 tips to cultivate your mindset so that you’ll never be bored again.

Tip #1: When you decide to do something there’s only one option – doing it.

It’s important to plan, this includes understanding all mental challenges that await you. You can train your mind to overcome it before you start.

I developed a healthy respect for what this challenge entails and more importantly, how powerful an impact it would make for people in need by completing it.

That meant there’s only one option to me – completing 365 hikes up Table Mountain in 2018.

When you give yourself alternatives the mind has options on what to focus on. IF you want to stop smoking the only option is being a non-smoker. Once you make that decision all you must worry about is today and the next moment. Period.

When you decide to do something there’s only one option.

Tip #2: Belief.

It’s one day at a time; step by step. Every day is a building block for the future, focus on what you learn and understand today, this builds belief within.

When you get through that, you get through the next day and before you know it – you’ve completed 15, then 79 days in a row.

Some days will feel easier than others. Some days will fly by. Perhaps outside factors will make your day more challenging, but you know what? It doesn’t matter what happens, you have the strength to overcome anything.

Tip #3: Outcomes drive behaviours, hence repetition doesn’t equal boring.

How many times have you eaten your favourite meal? Watched your favourite movie? Listened to your favourite song?

Over the years I’ve become accustomed to an important philosophy: The outcome drives the behaviour

I eat healthy because I know that means my body is getting nutrients it needs.

I exercise because I know it keeps my body and organs in good working order.

Whatever we do in life, especially things that we love, there’s a danger of becoming complacent and finding it boring. That’s why I say the end result drives behaviour, not your behaviour drives the result. Understanding why you do something is what builds healthy sustainable daily actions.

Tip #4: Gratitude is the foundation

When you stop being grateful for the fact that you can hear, then it becomes easy to get bored with listening to your favourite song.

If you lack appreciation for your body being fully abled, then you’d get bored being able to climb one of the 7 natural wonders of the world every day.

It takes a minute for your life to change dramatically. Nothing is guaranteed, and nothing is owed to you. Remember that.

Tip #5: What you focus on is what you get

If you worry about getting bored – you’ll get bored. If you love each day for the different options available to you then you’ll find new exciting things to experience each day.

Each day I get excited for the new experience that awaits me. I get excited for the fact that I AM doing it again! I’d rather be on the mountain than in traffic. I understand that I’m being blessed with healthy rejuvenating calming stress-relieving energy by being in nature. That each step is changing someone’s life for the better.

I focus on all the positive aspects about what I’m doing.

Start practicing today.

You don’t need to climb a mountain every day to put these tips into practice. Take breathing as an example, although it happens automatically do you get bored breathing? Take time to be aware and experience all the different ways you can breathe:

 : while walking

: while running

: while swimming

: while meditating

: while focusing on each breath

: doing breathing exercises

: out one nostril, in the other

Boredom’s born from expecting joy to be given to us; but when you can find joy in even the tiniest moment – you’ll never be bored again.

The choice is yours.

 Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 to build homes; teach children in under resourced schools to read; and increase the database for Leukaemia. Build. Teach. Life. To be part of the movement head to https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

Love and respect. Thank you.

2018 – Start the Way You Want to Finish

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We’re already a week in to 2018 and boy has it kicked off in style.

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My very first step

The saying ‘the longest journey always begins with the first step’ has never been more appropriate for me than 04:33am on January 1st when I began my year long journey to make a positive impact for those born under more challenging circumstances than us.

What that saying never talks about though, is the support that others will give you on that journey. I had the absolute pleasure of being cheered on by my mom and Aunty San via my sports tracking app Endomondo as they were both awake in support and incredibly; met by this amazing human being at 04:15 before I started:

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What a legend – David Thompson (left)

To have somebody: Meet me. In the dark. On New Years day. At 4am in the morning.

Thats special.

It meant I started the journey of a million stairs with miscued high fives (it was dark okay!) massive hugs and sleepy smiles. In my book – I couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Why start so early? I hear you asking… well, I felt it was perfect way to begin 2018; watching sunrise at the top of the mountain. It would’ve been easy to go out partying sleep in and hike in the afternoon; but this is a year of focus and dedication and you should always start with your best foot forward.

I wasn’t even guarenteed with a view of sunrise as we were blessed with rain the previous day. As the light of dawn started to illumiate my path above, I saw Platteklip gorge, the route I’ll be taking every day for a year, blanketed in mist at the top. A mystical sight, but not boding well for a sunrise view.

I arrived up top to the mist having cleared – then reappearing below me – and the clouds above Table Mountain dancing in the wind. They parted for just enough time to allow me the opportunity as our first sunrise of 2018 appeared. All alone at the top, the same feeling I’d experienced the previous year in Iceland washed over me.

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We have the most incredible home

My first summit was complete. 1 down. 364 to go. (check out my blog here to read more about my 2018 challenge)

One week in and I already have donations coming in from around the world:

– ICELAND: I met Huni at JT Foxx’s Mega Success conference in November where he promised to support and has already followed through and I have no doubt will join me on some hikes later in the year too. He’s another amazing human being that I have no doubt will feature in more blog posts.

– NEW ZEALAND: Melanie Davey, whom I’ve never met, took the time to email me the most incredible letter of support and appreciation for my project. Words that reminded me how powerful they can be and that we need to be more mindful of what we say to others: and ourselves.

USA: Greg and Therese were hiking up on the Thursday with their daughter before the headed back to Denver a couple days later. They’d been chatting to my friend Achmat, a man who completed 131 Table Mountain climbs in 2017 and did 7 hikes in a row last week too. Walking up to them I was greeted with massive smiles and they wanted to know more about the purpose behind the 365 consecutive hikes. Upon hearing my desire to build homes; help teach children to read and increase the database for leukeamia they hunted me down on the net and found my blog to get in touch and pledge their support too.

If you haven’t guessed it yet the support has gone from a snowflake to a snowball the size of my hand getting bigger with every step I take.

6 January 2018

Enter my coach, Karel Vermeulen. We’ve only just joined forces but already his influence on my business ideas and suggestions for 365 UbuntuClimbs is being felt. All people who donate and/or help me increase the reach on social media to hit our audacious target are invited to climb up with me on one or more of the climbs; it’s a great way for people to be part of it more than just donating. They’ll forever be in history as they’re remembered in day X of 365.

Karel lets me know he’s planning on joining me and invites his friends to join on the morning of his birthday. Due to rain we move it forward to the Saturday morning instead. I’m doing videos up top every day and after we’d finished he suddenly requested Lezelle to do another one of us together.

My heart overflowed with his words and his additional pledge of R5000 over and above his donation of R1 per day; my minimum request for people to sponsor me as I undertake this grueling challenge.

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Karel (3rd from right) Lezelle (2nd from right)

Enter a chat with Lezelle post the video where she shares this experience and being part of 365 UbuntuCLimbs (her first time and the first group joining) is in her top three lifetime “awesome” experiences. She smiles as she states: “I am one of the million people you aiming to empower this year and I feel motivated for 2018”

Feeling absolutely pumped up from this, I head home where I had a catch up meeting with another new friend created through the JT Foxx organisation; Carolyne Opinde a.k.a the NGO Whisperer.

Hot tip: if you want to dramatically improve your network, head to one of the many JT Foxx events this year. There are a thousand plus motivated successful positive people attending for you to connect with.

My catch up with Carolyne leaves me feeling even more motivated and inspired with actions to complete this week. Embarking on an audacious project like this means I’ve inadvertently created a company (non-profit) which keeps me busy: learning, growing, implementing, taking action.

Interestingly I’ve created a full year working program with no days off; but importantly I get to spend two plus hours a day in nature. And truthfully, having the opportunity to execute this is far beyond what we define as work. I’m having a tremendous amount of fun!

Sometimes you might feel overawed by an idea you have or a task you need to complete. These can all be broken down into bite size chunks. 365 sounds a lot; focusing on the one I need to do today sounds much more manageable doesn’t it? Doing 3000 stairs in one go seems immense yes? Focusing on just the very next step means before you know it – you’ve completed a quarter of the climb; half the climb; the whole climb. Whatever you tackle in life:

It’s one step at a time.

To pledge your support please go to:

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

every little bit helps – just ask the people who’s lives you’re helping change.

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