It’s a sunny day and everyone is happy. We are all gathered by the pool having a lovely braai as we celebrate the summer. The sweet smoke rises as the delicious meat slowly cooks over the fire: we all eagerly wait. Drinks flow as our favourite music plays; the kids jump in and out of the pool while the adults make conversation, form alliances and reinforce deals and ideals. Yes it’s a perfect picture; except that shortly after this scene I could have an episode of melancholy – a deep, dark sadness that comes without explanation.
As a person prone to melancholy, I often wonder where the root of this sadness is lodged. Sometimes it even comes after a successful meeting or event and I begin to berate myself for not being good enough or for being a failure. In those moments, I am not brave and I completely ignore all the good things in my life and just focus on the negative. What is going on? Am I impatient? Am I ungrateful? Have I lost faith?
In my case, these spells last only a few days at most and recently, they’ve become shorter but I still worry about it. What would happen if there was no one around to tell me the truth when these attacks happen? Right before my first live show, I started getting nervous and began feeling like I had made a big mistake and was questioning everything I have worked hard for, but the voices of reason around me allowed a ray of light to pierce through the dark clouds with words like: “No! I will not accept that you are a failure.” “No! I will not let you question what you have built because you are feeling sad and cannot tell your left foot from your right”. “No! Let’s get on with work because we have done some amazing things together”. “No! I will not let you drag me into your pity party”. I couldn’t help but laugh. What happened? Was this harsh brush with love bringing me back to my senses? How do I bottle these words of wisdom for the next time?
In all honesty, I know that it will happen again but this time I feel a little confident that God has used the honesty of people around me to reinforce a song I knew as a child. “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done”.
Till the next time,
Every person’s life is a link in a chain. From our families to the communities that hold our societies together, we form a perpetual link that holds humanity together. Whether our families and communities succeed or fail depends on the quality of decisions made by the individual members; a chain is only as strong as its weakest link goes the old adage.
But what makes a decision good or bad? Surely individual experiences are so diverse that a general rule for good or bad decisions cannot apply across humanity? Rest assured that this is not what I wish to establish in this article. What I want to share is an observation that was brought to my attention at the inaugural Cornerstone Men’s Conference by the keynote speaker, Bishop Simon Peter. Speaking on fatherhood, he said that fathers do one of three things: they perpetuate a cycle or they break a cycle or they start a cycle. Take a moment and think about the role your own father has played in your life. Is there something to emulate and perpetuate? Is there something to deal with and break? Or is there a void that demands a fresh start?
I believe that the quality of your decisions depends on the context that informs them. Looking over my own life, I realise that there was mostly negativity to perpetuate. I therefore found myself needing to break the cycle of failure, absenteeism and selfishness started by my father(s) – a story for another day – and start a new cycle that lays a foundation for others to build on. Most people do not want to think of life in this way because of the responsibility that such thinking brings. The truth is that our lives do form part of a chain and we need to make a habit of thinking of them as such. Our unique voice is where we fit in the cycle – are we perpetuating, breaking or starting a cycle. God put us where we are because he knows the best place for our skills. Our craft is how we shape our skills-set and acquire the knowledge needed to carry out our task. So look around you, your family, your community and your country. What are you going to do about the situations you do not like? What decisions will you make?
My desire is that the younger generation of my family will have relatives they can look up to and a family business they can use to hone their skills; they will have traditions worth perpetuating. This is the context from which I view every sacrifice I have made.
Till the next time,
Last week I started on the topic of writing; exploring three elements that I believe are central to any writing ambitions. I would like to go further and state that the three elements are general principles, which can be applied to many more creative pursuits including entrepreneurship. Over the next few weeks I will explore those three elements and argue their merits in setting goals, talent management and decision-making. The elements in the order I present them here are; habit, voice and craft.
Habit deals with progressive and consistent action that is designed to build in you the discipline needed to succeed whatever your ambitions may be. The main point behind habitually performing progressive daily actions however small is that it cultivates a mindset that respects small beginnings and a willingness to try. Think of how even the great Usain Bolt was a baby learning to walk long before he became the fastest man in history.
Voice refers to developing your personal tastes and preferences and the confidence to pursue them regardless of how odd they might be to people around you. Perseverance in your habits will ultimately make you comfortable with your own abilities. Think of the Wright brothers who believed in the possibility of flight or Nelson Mandela who believed in the liberation of the South African people. Their causes became the voices that distinguished their work. Voice gives you confidence and is the light that God designed for you to share with the world.
Lastly, Craft encompasses a willingness to learn. Craft is what directs your habits and builds on your voice. Craft is the acquired knowledge and understanding needed to exploit your voice. A lot of people are interested in doing something special, to change the world or live an interesting life, but few are dedicated to these ends. A demonstration of dedication is the amount of time one devotes to acquiring knowledge in their area of interest. Education is meant to open one’s mind to the beauties of universal knowledge and lead to a path of continuous learning – a means to an eternal end and yet people have mistaken education to be an end in itself. Qualifications are misconstrued to mean competency at the expense of insight and imagination. The shock is hitting home as we see more and more unemployed graduates who are incapable of applying their knowledge to make a meaningful start on careers and businesses. Education is meant to teach you craft and cannot give you a voice. It gives you an understanding of the world around you and how to best apply your voice in it. This is why I keep repeating these elements with the hope that by thinking about them, people may be inspired to find a better use for their education other than just earning a living.
Next week we start with setting goals.
Till the next time,