Monday, December 22, 2014

What makes you go on?

Something Inside So Strong is a 1987 single written and recorded by Labi Siffre inspired by a documentary on Apartheid South Africa in which he saw white soldiers filmed shooting at black civilians in the street. More than 10 cover versions of the song have been done to date with the song popular carrying a political and sociological thread as does much of Siffre’s lyrics and poetry. It won an Award for best song musically and lyrically, and has been used in Amnesty International campaigns, television advertisements as well as Alice Walker's film against female genital mutilation. What magnifies the message in the song is the fact that Labi shot the music video from the exact prison cell where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years behind bars giving it a stronger and deeper meaning and perspective. As one listens to each word in this song and places themselves in that prison cell and imagines the clock ticking in seconds, minutes and hours, as days turn to months and years to decades, one cannot resist to stop, reflect and imagine that there could be no better way to justify why Mandela managed to survive behind bars for so long. There was indeed something inside him stronger which the prison cell could not enclose, crush or break, and it was bubbling under even though the outer man was slowly ageing and dying. Being in a prison cell is not always physically being behind bars. Sometimes it is a mental state in which one is seemingly free but instead bound and constrained by their view of what they can achieve in life. We all have something inside us so strong and it is this that drives us to wake up everyday and do the things we do, even though we may feel like not getting up sometimes. That which is inside us pushing us to still aspire, dream, hope and push on. To still try again after failing and hope for a better day and different result. What barriers have been built in your path and what prison cell are you sitting in today? Do not despair if you do not yet see light at the end of that tunnel. Just remember that you have something inside you so strong which will sustain you until you see that light someday. As a new year dawns in just over a week, let that which is inside you drive you to do more in the coming year. Here is wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy new year. Sing along to Labi's song below and know that you are going to do it anyway.

The higher you build your barriers the taller I become
The farther you take my rights away the faster I will run
You can deny me, you can decide to turn your face away
No matter 'cause there's

Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Though you're doing me wrong so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh, no, something inside so strong
there's something inside so strong

The more you refuse to hear my voice the louder I will sing
You hide behind walls of Jericho, your lies will come tumbling
Deny my place in time, you squander wealth that's mine
My light will shine so brightly, it will blind you
Brothers and sisters
When they insist we're just good not enough
When we know better
Just look 'em in the eyes and say
I'm gonna do it anyway


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rafts and yachts, just life

I met a man who had massive, luxurious, beautiful yacht I had never seen before and I could not help but marvel. I stopped to stare and enjoy its beauty and as I admired and envied him to have such a yacht, he told me to come sit next to him and he began to tell me a story. "I was born and given a raft. I did not even know what a raft was, how it works or what I was supposed to do with it, but with time I realized I was surrounded by people who knew all answers to these questions and they taught me some raft lessons. They helped me to find branches which I could use to move the raft forward and showed me how steering the raft could work well for me. I was taught that I could not remain in that same raft with time as the length of my journey was unknown and so were the waters to be charted with the possibility of pirates being clearly apparent. I was told it may be a short or very prolonged trip I was taking, and the seas could be as calm as a cradled child or as vicious and unrelenting as a runaway hurricane, so I had to make the most of the journey by preparing for the worst while enjoying the best.

I had to improve on my raft if I was to become better poised to enjoy my ride. Indeed as I rowed I started to see other people slowly emerge from the shadows with all sorts of boats, dinghies, cruise ships, yachts you name it. I wondered how I would get to where they were with this underdeveloped, ugly little raft I had. I had no idea the stories I would hear from those I came across. Some had been born into owning massive luxurious boats, others once had big boats but lost them along the way and started rebuilding new ones. Others still had started off with a raft like me and developed it to a cruise ship, an ice breaker and even aircraft carriers. So I began the journey on the raft and started to learn the skills needed to maneuver the seas while building a bigger boat. I ran aground quite often, crushing into icebergs which seemed harmless from the surface, losing everything in the process, only to get up, get over it and get going. Do not see this yacht here only, but see the story behind this yacht as well. It has not come easy, nor cheap.

The story of this yacht is a story of gain and loss, failure and victory. It is a story of despair and hope, joy and pain, groaning and laughter. The one thing I have held onto no matter what I have lost, is hope. Without hope I would not be where I am today" A tear trickled down his wrinkled cheek as he said this reminding me of the wisdom in his words. "You will see people with all sorts of boats as you journey along young man, but keep your eyes on your boat and your course, while acknowledging the achievements of others. When u admire my yacht, also admire with it my courage, strength, vision and hardwork. Oh yes remember my opportunity costs, that which I gave up to have this yacht. Do not wish their boats were yours nor hate the fact that they have better boats than you. Their story is probably more painful than yours and maybe they are better qualified to handle the boat they own than you are. Be content with your raft at any point in time, and never lose sight of the kind of boat you want for yourself in the future. Who knows, one day you could just be the owner of this yacht if you master your vision well enough. Everyone gets a raft or yacht of some sort to start off with. Develop your own raft and preserve your yacht the best way you can. It is within your hands to do it".

Image credit

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Return on child investment (ROCI)

Investing in children is something many people are aware of and always talk about. Children are our future and need nurturing, education and development in all areas to become future leaders and custodians of our world. On a trip to Uganda Kampala in October this year, I came across Lloyd Lamm a Regional Banking Executive in Pennsylvania. As we spoke during a networking event, I got to find out from Lloyd about an organization called Ready Nation formed in the USA to strengthen business and economies through better policies and investments in children and the youth. The organization is spreading out of the USA and he was a Keynote speaker at a summit that week with business leaders and politicians aimed at educating them and creating awareness on the importance of developing children to keep a nation strong into the future. Ready Nation focusses on early childhood development and also addresses transition from school to work while protecting high educational standards, child health, nutrition, welfare and other child related activities. The organization has until recently been America focused but has now moved into Peru, Netherlands and Uganda. Lloyd showed passion and purpose as he spoke about this voluntary work he does outside his paid job and also being his first time in Africa. His passion was confirmed by his assertions that the feedback he got from the audience had been overwhelming as they warmed up to the cause for which this organization stands and the need to set up programs and policies that enhance the rights of children. Early investments in child education yield a return that far exceeds the return on most public projects that are considered economic with studies showing that given early child care and education programs, every dollar yields a return on investment to society at large of between $7 to $17. Doctor Christine Hajek, a neuropsychologist with UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh says it is easier to build strong children than try and repair broken ones.

Except from The Children's forum
What is the impacts on children who participate in high quality early care and education (ECE) programs?
• Improved academic, social-emotional, and character development
• Improved grade promotion and high school graduation rates
• Improved employment rates
• Higher salaries
• Reduced criminal activity
• Less likely to rely on the welfare system
What can be expected for at-risk children who don’t receive high quality early care and education programs?
• 25% more likely to drop out of school
• 40% more likely to become a teen parent
• 50% more likely to be placed in special education
• 60% more likely to never attend college
• 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime

When you are passionate and purposeful about something it becomes apparent and shows to those you engage with. It is then easy for others to get excited and passionate as well. Let us invest in this profitable area of our societies for which there are great long term benefits. Great lesson on passion and purpose from Lloyd. Will you be passionate and purposeful about something today?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Iron, fire and masterpieces

My paternal grandfather was a woodworker and blacksmith and made farm implements for many people in the community. Most holidays, I went to the farm and would be amazed at how he took iron and shaped it into a plough, hoe or axe, or took a piece of wood and shaped it into a yoke or a mortar and pestle. I realize nowadays that we never took pictures of all this artwork that he worked on at the farm as this was decades ago before taking a picture did not mean taking out your phone and now all that remains are memories. On many days he got up very early in the morning and left for the farm forest with an axe only to return with a block of wood. He would have already seen the final product as he chose the tree to cut. He also knew the type of wood that would produce a masterpiece and he knew how to work on it to get his product. In Africa, the art of wood, stone and metal is quite popular and has been commercialized with overseas markets being quite fond of the handmade artwork from Africa. What pains me in hindsight, is the amount of art that is buried in the graves of Africa because it was not handed down nor immortalized as is done with artworks in developed nations. As a note, the picture below that says "Home" shows a piece made from iron which I crafted while doing metal work in my teen years. I guess I had a bit of my grandpa in me though the quality may not be as good and I never got to pursue the trade. It has become one of the most priceless items I possess given the work I put into it. The issue of succession planning is not an inbuilt concept in many
communities and most times, good businesses go to the grave with the founder and inventions are not taken seriously as they fade with the inventor. However, going back to my grandpa, he used a specialized heating device which created a mini furnace to soften the iron so that it would be easy to bend and shape to anything he wanted. It came out of the "furnace" red hot and he would then hammer it until it conformed to his desired shape. While I was watching, I had no idea what he had in mind sometimes, but he knew exactly what the outcome would be. Sometimes life is like a block of wood or iron and you are the one to work on it. It is within your mind and hands to determine what it is you want to create out of your life. People may not get it initially while you go out into the world to find raw material for use to create your own masterpiece. Not everyone knows what you are doing, planning to do or where you are going, but you know exactly what you have in mind. Sometimes for you to get that exact shape and end result you want, there has to be a lot of heat and heavy pounding. Only after a lot of hard work, shaping, heating and sweating do people start marveling and seeing what it is you were trying to achieve. Some may even start suggesting creative ways to complete the work. So continue toiling with passion and purpose. Pound that iron until you get the desired masterpiece at the end. Iron never gives in easily without heat, and so make sure you have got enough fire power to shape your world.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

No Buts - just a thought

"I slept like a baby, woke up ready to conquer the world, enjoyed my power breakfast and dressed in my best suit for the day, with everything set for a great productive and victorious day, but the traffic law breaking taxi driver spoiled everything and I ended up in the hospital.

"I had a horrible night punctuated by nightmares tossing and turning all night and in streaks of sweat. I woke up grumpy, tired and barely had breakfast. When I finally jumped out of the house the car would not start and so I was late for work, but that show on radio changed everything and I ended up having an awesome day."

Two totally contrasting statements talking about how a day can end up between two different people, good or bad. This is a typical day that the best of us goes through in a lifetime. I am not dwelling on that, to the contrary, the use of the word 'but' is my key point. In the two statements above, everything changes after 'but' and hence there is need to breathe before the tide turns. Hence some will give weight to it by breathing out the but, sing it and drag it out as if it is a long word, yet it is only 3 letters. It is a word that we take for granted when we speak. We use it everyday whether to avoid unwanted appointments (I would have come, but....), or to give and excuse (I wanted to finish the report today, but....), reveal misunderstanding (..., but I thought you said I should....), to kill a dream (..., but I am not good enough), or justify wrong doing (I would not have hit him, but....). How many buts do you give in a day and are they all supposed to be there? When someone uses a but, it is an argument or objection against something. It is a word that contrasts with what has already been said, and so basically when someone says but, you can almost know what follows. When you return from an interview and they call you back with feedback and say something like "you were great and you have solid experience which aligns with what we are looking for, but...." then you know you probably did not get the job. Interesting word is it not? It is almost a pre-emptive word for the person it is directed to. You may as well put the phone down after you hear 'but' right? Wrong, because it goes both ways in fact and can be pre-emptive in both a positive and negative way. The same person who says the above could say "we felt that you were weak in one or two areas and you need more experience and training within this area, but...." now that is a but you want to listen to because it can be a negative to a positive. I mostly love the use of buts when I listen to inspirational stories. He grew up without parents but.....or she lost her sight but....or she lost everything but.... If I was to give my own experience I would say I failed my driving test twice, but I had to press on and break the block of fear until I succeeded. The buts we can eliminate are those that stop us from doing what we set out to achieve. Those buts where we blame our past/history, upbringing or other people for failing to pursue what we want and need to. What buts have you spoken to justify not pursuing a dream lately? Are you aware when you say but. If there was a "no buts challenge" would it be something you can sign up for and possibly win?  Just a thought.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Simple complication

When something is complicated, it consists of many interconnecting parts or elements and is intricate. It is something or someone not easily understood or explained a man perhaps?…ok bad example and may need an expert of some sort to break it down. Take aerospace engineering or mathematics where one cannot just delve into and easily understand what goes on without some kind of training, support and coaching. I even remember myself mentioning at some point in my academic life that mathematics was complicated because of the equations and formulae. These are complicated fields which very few put on top of their “to study list” as confirmed by the number of rocket scientists who will read this post. “You do not need to be rocket scientist to..…..” is usually used as a blackmail statement to  coerce someone to understand a concept deemed simple by the other person. A complication often arises in the medical industry when in the process of trying to achieve a desired outcome during a normal and simple day to day procedure, an un-expected problem occurs whether by accident or due to unknown factors. This then leads to more work and time to complete the procedure successfully if there will be a good ending otherwise a fatality occurs as a result of the complication as the doctors may not be aware of how they can remedy the situation. I will not talk much about these professional and academic types of complications. save to say "its complicated" is a good way to avoid explaining something you really do not want to explain to someone at that time. I will rather be the lay man that I am and talk about a simpler type of complication I found in today’s world. Since the above types of complicated have been in existence, the world has changed quite a bit. It has become necessary to have another type of complication in an already complicated world and this relates to relationships. You just need to go on to Facebook or various other social media platforms and view a couple of relationship statuses to believe me. I am not sure whether it is really that hard to explain the relationship, or there is no effort at all to try and explain. I will steer away from the other one where it is rather an alibi to lure unassuming “friends” and assume it is hard to explain. One can now easily get away with “it’s complicated” in many a discussion meaning there are too many interconnected relationships going on there to explain clearly to someone, or are there? How complicated can a relationship be? Where pedigree and lineage is concerned things can also get really complicated apparently. I thought one is either your father, aunt, grandpa, brother, mother and so forth, but I had to change my view. I had no idea it can even be more complicated than aeronautics and derivative financial instruments, forget mathematics. If you do not believe me, listen to an animated rendition of Ray Stephens' song below and maybe you will get a feel of why it can be hard to explain relationships. Laughter is always the best medicine and as comics say, people enjoy laughing at themselves most, so go ahead and have a good laugh.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Derivative strength

Kindly bear with me on this brief introductory paragraph. In finance, a derivative is a product usually a financial asset, which on its own is valueless but obtains or derives its value from another underlying asset which carries the value. An example is owning the right to buy shares (long call option) in a business. The gains or losses you make on this right will depend on the price of the share on the market. The higher the company's share price, the more money you make on the option you own as shown in the diagram on the right. A more simpler definition of a derivative is something which is based on another source. A more simplified example of the concept is money which can be backed by gold or silver held by a Central Bank or issuing authority and also called commodity money. Money today is mostly fiat money which is has its value backed by government regulation or law giving it legal tender status, although commodity money is also still used.

 Source: Federal Reserve Website
 As of September 2014, a $100 bill costs about 13 cents to make, but carries a value of $100 with a sliding scale for other notes as shown in the table on the left. The paper in your hand buys you goods worth $100 and derives its exchange value from both legislation and collateral in form of government securities. Moving on swiftly from the financial stuff without losing you along the way, imagine being more valuable because you have a backing for your value, or being more powerful and stronger because you have a backup source like a standby power supply for those moments when your own power or value is low or down. How many times have you been surprised by the value someone adds to you after you have initially written them off by outward appearance? It is because that person has packed up value backing her up, which makes it possible for her to unleash value. You can also have a source of value and strength, which lifts you up and backs you up when you are down and out. I believe it is possible to have what I will call derivative strength.

Derivative strength? 
Most people call it confidence, but I thought I would twist it around and call it derivative strength. The departure point for this name being that life can be so draining sometimes and your own strength is easily depleted to the extent that you even feel as if you are of no value around others. It is in those moments when you need strength derived from various back up sources or from something outside yourself. During an argument, if you have strong background on a matter you can confidently stand and defend your stance based on having either experienced or read up a reputable source that supports your position, and you can draw on that knowledge in need no matter how many people are against your view. Remember the phrase "I got your back"? Those who have had a notorious sibling within the same school will  immediately understand, and this is where derivative strength comes in. When you can step on some toes and big brother will come in, back you up and make sure you remain safe. When you can "get away with murder" and have others asking who you think you are, and those in the know just whisper that this kid must be left alone and cannot be messed with. In another sense, one can have a back up which can  be the source of strength to go through a difficult patch in life. Strength or hope that makes you look trouble in the face and still laugh through it all. When life challenges seem greater than what one can reasonably take on and survive, that is when you need to draw on your derivative strength from another source, not necessarily from within yourself.

Image credit

Strength from what you have seen, heard or been indoctrinated in through your relationships, experiences, religion and from the HOPE of knowing that nothing lasts forever including challenges, but in order to get to that point where you have derivative strength, you need to have put in a lot of work into that backup source. Unlike money which costs less than the value it carries, derivative strength costs a lot for it to sustain you when you need it. At the risk of mentioning the obvious, when someone needs take part in a physical activity requiring strength, there is both physical and mental preparation that occurs to ensure that one can handle the strain required to achieve the fete. There is discipline, an eating plan and rigorous training that goes with preparing for that event so that when the time comes, there is enough mental and physical power built up and stored to carry out the challenge. Solar power works on the availability of sunshine first, which is then converted and stored into energy for use when required. Antarctica has 6 months of winter and a similar period of summer, and it is during summer that solar energy harnessing is feasible and then stored up for the winter. In much the same way, you need to have taken in some 'sun' in the form of seminars, lessons learnt, counsel, knowledge, advice, wise words and other pieces of solid backup so that in need of energy, you can draw on them and survive the cold winter. Life has very cold winters which are guaranteed but you don't get your money back if they don't come for anyone to face during a lifetime. It is therefore imperative to work on your backup sources and ensure that you have derivative strength for that day when you will need it. What are your thoughts on having derivative strength and how do you think you can build up your own sources of strength which you can tap into when you are down on your own strength and need underlying strength to boost you for the day, week, month, year or even the rest of your life?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Reminiscing the constants

One morning I recognized the song of a bird I had always heard sing since I was a little boy growing up in the village herding cattle during school holidays. It sounded exactly the same as it did those many years ago and at that moment, my mind raced through time pulling out memories consistent with that bird song. It is rare to hear a distinct bird song in a built up urban area, and in the hustle and bustle of a city where everyone is always in a rush, coupled with the blinkers that the city gives one. I realized how priceless a moment it was for me just listening to that bird sing. Many things have changed since the time I used to hear this bird sing when I was young. I have grown and changed in many ways in terms of stature, goals, dreams, aspirations and circumstances, but the way I felt when I heard that bird sing seemed to resonate as unchanged within me. I reminisced through time and space hearing voices, seeing faces and places corresponding to the song.

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change, as Bruce Hornsby and Tupac sang in "The way it is" and "Changes" respectively, however as much as they confirm my assertions, they would both be shocked to see the changes that have occurred in the world, particularly relating to the issues they sang about, with more tolerance being the general norm in the vast of communities and with respect to many areas of society. There are certain food items which you know for their special 'distinct original taste' and when you crave for them you expect that exact taste and no other. People often say 'just like my mama or grandma used to make it'. What role do changing tastes play if people still desire old school tastes from when they were younger? Does taste change with time because everything changes also? Coca cola has become famous for its secret beverage formula/ingredient distinct from any other and if you were to want to drink a coke you would specifically ask for a coca cola and not just something similar. Think of flora and fauna, the way flowers brighten up a room, the jacaranda trees lining up a street in spring or the way a dog barks, a cock crows, cow moos or a bird sings. There is a certain consistency to these elements of life since creation, and I believe we implicitly enjoy the status-quo without eagerly expecting changes and we do not even need to think about it. The way the sun rises and sets or the day starts and ends. Change is talked about as both a necessity and an inevitable in today's world, but I am glad we also accept that there are constants we should maintain. Those things that have not changed through time, since we have known them. The consistent variables that have carried on though time the same way and which serve as foundations and beacons of life.

Experiencing history

National Museum of African Art
Many people, including fellow writers and bloggers have travelled sometimes on flat tires and slow boats to places of interest and heritage sites just to adore and immerse themselves in culture, art, history and creativity that perhaps would not be seen had it not been preserved by others watching over it. The museums, art galleries and world heritage sites which carry beauty and art that was, before we were and will be for years to come, given acts of parliament passed to preserve them. These now remain as constants of our humanity which in itself possesses components that change all the time. The only lobbying that happens is for these historic components of life to be strongly preserved as many enjoy their consistency. The constants are constants only as far as we make efforts to preserve them for future generations. 'Man' has therefore realized that certain constants of life become extinct if not preserved, think rhino for a moment and the ongoing efforts to save them.  In Egypt King Tutankhamun's tomb was undisturbed for 3,000 years and remained intact, but in the 90 years since its discovery, the ancient burial chamber has deteriorated abruptly as a result of tourist visits. Now an exact replica of Tutankhamun's tomb has been created as a way to preserve the original which will now be locked away as it was weathering and depreciating too quickly due the breathing of masses of tourist visitors affecting the atmosphere in the chambers. While this defeats the whole point of having history and culture, it is a matter of principle necessary to ironically maintain the same history intact that now cannot be seen in its original state. Everyone loves the constants of life and pays a price to experience them. These constants have a way of reminding us of our roots and history as well as background including people who come into and out of our lives. Besides the cliché "the only constant in the world today is change", what is your view on change in light of the above? Could change be overrated in today's world and do you have something within your life which you long would remain constant and never change?

Image credit

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Consumed with acronyms

  1. TGIF!
  2. B.t.w I need to ask you something important
  3. Please R.S.V.P if you will be attending.
  4. The Q & A session should be roughly about 30 minutes.
  5. I will get back to you w.r.t the discussion we had.
  6. FYI our AFS show that YTD profits fell due to factors TBA.
  7. It is a G55, 4dr, 4WD, 5.5L, AMG SUV with massive horse power.
  8. Can we sit down and see how we can proceed i.t.o of the deal structure.
  9. When you get to the ATM, please check a.s.a.p if the funds have been deposited.
I spoke to a colleague at the office last week and realized how acronyms have become such an integral part of our lives. You can have an on-going conversation with someone using acronyms, yet another person can not join in and follow the conversation, and that is how this post came to be. There are organizational, technical, process flow, conversational and many other types of acronyms. Above is just a short list of some of the daily acronyms we use without even blinking or thinking about them. Mostly clean with a few bad ones floating around here and there when things do not go according to plan, but on this blog I will stick to the ones above. We are a world consumed with shortening everything, more so if the length of some pieces of clothing nowadays is any comparison, but that is besides the point. The world has become so efficient at communicating, with calculated streamlining of the way we communicate to ensure optimal use of letters and words. Why take the whole alphabet when you can simply use three or four letters and say the same thing? Not sure whether it is efficiency of pure laziness though, especially if one has to analyze social media type communication where typing may need to be quickened in some way or else the essence of the discussion can be lost to delayed responses. In social media lingo acronyms therefore tend to be the normal conversational mode as much as some business type informal communication have bits and pieces of acronyms as well. There is now an acronym for virtually everything, from short ones like "how are you doing - HUD" to long ones like "I agree with this comment so much IAWTCSM", which most writers and bloggers will never use talking from experience. Anyway that is a topic for another day.

Unwritten rules
One cannot dispute the fact that some acronyms have become more of normal words themselves so much that the full version of the acronym can easily be forgotten. Most people who frequently get event invites will know what to R.S.V.P is, but can you imagine trying to tell a friend to "Répondez s'il vous plait"? That is the un-abbreviated statement but unless you both did French lessons, it will get you two stares, first for failing to say the French properly and second for saying something you should have known they clearly do not understand, even though ironically the person will easily recognize when you mention the acronym as a word. On the flip side, some acronyms are just that, acronyms. It is more intriguing when one uses acronyms in verbal rather than in written communication. Can you imagine saying statement number 2 verbally? Statement number 9 however, can easily be spoken verbally without sounding awkward. So there seems to be some unwritten rules in the use acronyms. How does society set these unwritten rules of what works and what does not, and how do the rules evolve over time? Is there a limit to the use of acronyms within your own daily life or do you use them passively without thinking about them? Maybe you have been so consumed and overzealous with acronyms and have had to explain in full to an acronyms novice. How do you feel about the invasion of acronyms and how much have you embraced them as part of your communication toolkit?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Enjoying every moment

The plan
More than 10 years ago together with friends and families, we planned a holiday to the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe in Chimanimani to unwind, reboot and forget the hustle and bustle of city life. We booked and confirmed accommodation and it seemed a great plan. We left home around about 10pm or so for the more than 400km trip. Everything went well until we reached the so called holiday destination and saw the state of the accommodation. It was nowhere near what we expected and the decision to leave was unanimous and immediate. Now, this was around 1am that we were making this decision which meant finding alternative accommodation, hours away from home and in the middle of the bush literally. We had to start from scratch to find a place to stay, and our clever planning and plotting of alternatives took us to a 4x4 off-road trail where one of the cars got stuck in a river at around 3am in the morning. Who wants to get out of a car at that time of day and into cold water in the dark without knowing what lurks beneath and push a car, I ask with tears in my eyes? Well, I would want to say not me, but in hindsight, it is something possible. Manpower was abundant with enthusiasm and zeal found wanting. After much discontent, murmuring, witch hunting (for the person who chose the route of course) and a bit of cursing, we managed to get of the sticky situation and re-routed to several places without success of finding anything. Seeing that the prospects of finding a place were almost non-existent, we drove back to a town we had passed through earlier called Marondera (no holiday destination) which is around 70km from Harare and got there in the dawn of morning. Long story short, we managed to find a place and hence our holiday plan survived against all odds albeit not in the preferred bush setting planned.

What about the ride?
Years later my friends and I have reflected back on this holiday and have had a good chuckle while talking about what happened that day. I realized something about life and about myself. We often plan our journeys but do not plan to enjoy every moment, no matter what comes our way during the journey. We plan to enjoy the desired outcome at the end, but not the journey itself, nor the incidentals that may occur as we take the journey. During the mishaps that we encountered during our holiday, none of us thought, "hey this is fun, lets enjoy it!". It was not fun! We did not enjoy the mishaps, only to realize years later, that we actually did have an adventure and would laugh about it. I also realized that for me, the best holidays are the ones with a bit of unplanned detours, uncertainty and improvising, not the clearly planned ones where everything just falls into place, I do not remember them as much. So the lesson there is you must enjoy every moment as you do anything, be it planning an event, taking a long trip or a short one like going grocery shopping or anything you may do. There is the cliché, life is a journey, enjoy the ride, and it holds so much meaning. How easy it is to forget when things do not work according to plan that they are probably working to a different plan than we had, and many a time, we cannot revert to the old plan, which means not enjoying what is happening implies that you become a miserable person. Maybe that detour is your intended plan? Well it actually ends up as part of the plan does it not? But if you do not enjoy the moment, what a miserable day, week, month, year or God forbid, life you end up having.

My tips to enjoying every moment
  1. Determine to enjoy every moment of your life. Not easy, hence - determine!
  2. Focus on the result and devise an enjoyable process to get there. Think differently.
  3. Laugh first, then think about how to get out of that mess. Do not get angry! This I do many times in traffic.
  4. Be alert to mishaps that can make an experience bad and have counter actions ready. If you have none, refer to number 1.
  5. Just think, whether you enjoy or not, time does not stop. Rather make every second count. Do not get even a single grey hair while being miserable.
If the above tips do not work, turn around, go home and enjoy a cup of coffee. Seriously, do not wait for the destination to enjoy the ride. Not to take away from benefits of good and proper planning as well as a flawless holiday or trip, but do enjoy the ride together with the moments of getting stuck in the mud, breakdowns, slow boats and flat tires when they happen. It is part of the journey and adventure and truth be told, you it will make for a good story with friends and family when you return, and they will probably enjoy that part more. Well people are different I would say, many prefer flawless plans, order and smooth rides, but what do you do when your plan does not work out? Do you block all form of initiative towards making it work in another way by failing to embrace what is before you? I have decided to enjoy every moment as I take on anything in life. Believe me, I am not being the ostrich here oblivious to the difficulty inherent in this. It is not easy to laugh when a great plan has to change leading to more work and hours into something, whether it is your fault or not, but all I am saying is it makes life better when you try and enjoy the unexciting, uninspiring and unenjoyable.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Your own hidden record

On 10 November 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, then managing director of the Guinness Breweries, went bird shooting in County Wexford, Ireland and got into an argument regarding the fastest game bird in Europe, but could not confirm between the golden plover or the red grouse. With the reality of many other such unconfirmed debates surfacing, he came up with the idea that led to the first Guinness Book of Records being commissioned in August 1954, listing world records, both human achievements and extremes of the natural world. Since the launch of the book, people have gone all out to discover what they can do, which no one else can and each event or year is a chance to raise the bar and break a prior record. The book itself holds a world record, as the best-selling copyrighted book of all time and is one of the most frequently stolen books from public libraries in the United States.

Snapshot of 2015 records
So what are some of the highlights of the new world records released in 2014?

A Danish trick-golf artist secured his place in the Guinness World Records 2015 book for creating the world’s longest usable golf club. It measures 4.37m in length and has been used to drive a ball a distance of 165.46m. Do not even ask me about my handicap because I am in fact handicapped in that area.

Circus artist Nancy, made it into the Guinness World Records 2015 book for the farthest arrow shot with the feet. She is able to shoot an arrow 6.09m onto a target measuring just 13.97cm. Compared to her, my body is as rigid as a piece of dry wood. Don't bend me.

Nick from California has an entry in the Guinness World Records 2015 book for having the longest tongue, measuring 10.1cm from its tip to the middle of the closed top lip. I saw him eat ice cream on the news and I will say no more. You can see the photos of the above highlights here.

You as a record holder
Life is competitive from the day one is born and 'man' is always trying to be the best in his/her sphere of influence. Numeracy dictates that number 1 is better than number 10, unless it is a bank balance of course. With the Guinness Book now leaning away from fascinating statistics and more towards bizarre stunts, you probably know weird stunts only you or someone you know personally can do, but maybe some are best performed without an audience? There are many 'unorthodox unsung world record holders/breakers' out there. If you just had the slightest smile or even laugh, you know what I am talking about. It could be on the best or worst side, but it is still a record right? Would you say you have something you do better than anyone else around you, forget the world for now. I bet you have something you are so passionate about, it has become second nature, effortless with excellence in execution. Those subliminal, subjective things which cannot be clearly defined by a world ranking. This is usually echoed by those you interact with as shown by real life examples you may identify with below;

"Ashi you are the best when it comes to cracking me up.............".

"No one in the world can encourage and get the most out of  people like Max............"

"Bill you are so full of wisdom for any situation and you just know what to say............"

"When I need a good laugh, I know to call on you Jacqui......."

You do not need to be in a book of records to make a difference to those around you as best at something. They know you are the best because they see and feel the impact and reach of what you do, the world does not. You could be the best mom, wife, dad, friend, cook, writer, counselor, comforter, listener, story teller, whatever it is. Have you noticed that some jokes are best told by someone specific within your circles, who does it best with the gestures, expressions, voice effects, the works, and you will laugh all over again? Another person can try, but could mix up and forget lines with the laughing being directed at how bad the joke has been told. You don't need world recognition or payment to be the best, but there are more subtle benefits. Your loved ones reminisce about you with nostalgia and a deep sense of longing and adoration. You are remembered and missed when you are not there. Sometimes it is these priceless, inconspicuous, subtle parts of our interactions that matter more than money and world recognition. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Unblinker your view

In an experiment initiated by a Washington Post columnist, Joshua Bell donned a baseball cap and jeans during the morning rush hour of 27th January 2007 and played as an incognito busker at a Metro subway station in Washington, D.C. Now this is a rather old story which you may have come across already, but I want to share some thoughts I picked up. While he played, 1 097 people walked past, but only 7 people stopped to listen to him for a minute or more, while only 1 person recognized him. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written and this with a violin worth more than $3 million. His almost 45-minute performance raised $32.17 from 27 passersby (excluding $20 from the passerby who recognized him). Three days before this, he had earned incomparably more playing the same repertoire at a sold out concert in Boston with an average cost per seat of $100.  Joshua Bell is one of the most acclaimed classical musicians of today. He is an American Grammy Award -winning violinist and conductor and was named an Indiana Living Legend receiving the Indiana Governor's Arts Award. He also received the Avery Fisher Prize, given once every few years to classical instrumentalists for outstanding achievement.

Blinkered society?
In a previous post entitled Hidden treasures walking past, I spoke about how every day we walk past hidden treasures or value that we seldom recognize because we do not make small effort to find it. The experiment above begs many questions among which are; What matters more, experience or the value inherent in the experience? Are we a heavily contextual society that only defines excellence, beauty and value by the environment and atmosphere in which we find it? Oh, but of course, it was the wrong setting, wrong audience, timing and performance outfit. It would seem to me that we have blinkers on, which make us perceive, view, see, and place value selectively. I do appreciate that people are more willing to pay for an experience, and Joshua himself alludes to the fact that performing in a noisy subway proved more difficult, as he would perform optimally when there is pin drop silence. Does excellence, perfection and beauty lose value because of context? The point was made, we do not perceive beauty or excellence for what it is, but for how we perceive it and what we have been told and made to believe it is. Under normal circumstances, headlines would have put it out there and billed the performance as a rare must see act, thereby creating hype and a sense of value, but well, no one said it was Joshua Bell performing, did they? A priceless performance for free, and it went unnoticed. What a thought provoking experiment this was. I love this experiment and what it sought to bring out in human behavior. For me, the lesson is to always 'stop and smell the coffee' as it were, without downing the cup quicker than the sugar settles. This is my challenge to you, as much as it was back then, to avoid missing the subtle excellence, beauty and value around you because it is not disguised in the packaging you expect. I believe that value within matters more than the external packaging it comes in. After all some of us rip off the gift wrapping from gifts we receive in the rush to see the gift contained therein.

Removing blinkers
A blinkered view is one where there is narrow, limited and partial awareness or vision. It is important to keep your eyes and ears open to what can be rather than what seems to be. Time is a rare commodity in our day and age, but what is life without embracing the beauty and value around us, while caught up in the rat race? Here is a few points to avoid missing excellence around you.
  1. Always keep time and space for something new to come up each day. It will make you see what others do not see.
  2. Avoid the familiarity syndrome where everything seems like dejavu, and you have been there, done that, seen or heard it before.
  3. It is not out of fashion to stop and appreciate in some way that act on the street seeking their breakthrough, they are making an honest living.
  4. Try not to have your whole life filled with work and business activities. Create free time for your mind to break out of the rut.
  5. Have a child like perspective which seeks to discover and learn always.
Second chances...
With the experimental legacy of being the subway performer who received no recognition lingering, Joshua Bell is now focusing on turning that legacy around. He is planning another public performance in the Main Hall at Washington's Union Station on the 30th of September 2014, in aid of National Young Arts Foundation, accompanied by nine students he mentored and with the goal of promoting music education. This will also coincide with the debut of his new album. I believe it will be a more memorable performance with the attention it deserves and the desired legacy.

Image credit

Monday, September 22, 2014

Heart shaped head

The Scottish referendum has come and gone and the union of the United Kingdom prevailed.  It was described as a matter of head versus heart as people reminisced being part of a strong and mighty family unit with Britain, while flirting with the possibility of becoming an independent country. Head being the logical and rational part that assessed all the pros and cons and the risks of breaking away, and heart being the emotional part seeking to try something new with confidence and zeal to go it alone and explore possibilities. I would argue that the heart also meant staying within the union and being part of a 300 year old family unit as this would be an emotional side of deciding. Which would mean there were two hearts involved on opposite sides plus a single head. The referendum helped people reflect on the meaning of Scotland to them and what they wanted for their homeland going forward. When asked what Scotland meant to him, a certain gentleman said, "It is home, the place I miss when I go to places that are more fabulous than Scotland". I liked this statement a lot as I identify with it. This was the heart speaking, as he did not need to make a logical assessment of data and facts to make this conclusion. In fact the statement acknowledges that there are better places than home, but home is chosen any day and anyway. Scientifically, human beings are considered to be wired towards the heart, in decision making as this is the easiest way out.  If one tries to use the head in decision making, it means a lot of effort in assessing data and facts to come to a rational decision. Heart simply decides using a process of how one feels. Since according to my theory, the head was also supported by a heart on the same side of staying in the union, the head won or should I say the heart won? A majority of Scots chose to stay in the union, with fear of the unknown probably being the deciding factor in this case.

Here are some quotes on the workings of the head and the heart.

  • If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart - Nelson Mandela

  • A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart - Jonathan Swift

  • A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination - Nelson Mandela

  • There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart - Charles Dickens

  • I think there is only one quality worse than hardness of heart and that is softness of head - Theodore Roosevelt

  • Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together - John Ruskin

  • Keep your head and heart going in the right direction, and you won't have to worry about your feet- Unknown quotes 
Both the head and heart are needed in decision making and they are equally important, as some of the quotes above allude to. Every decision goes through a process based on either the head, heart or a combination of both, and being naturally inclined to make heart based decisions, most people take the easy way out and decide on how they feel. Be it buying a car, especially buying a car - statements like "can you hear the engine roar, oh check out that mean grill". Of course! And how about fuel consumption, and does it actually stop when you need it to? Out the window. More so where love is concerned, where most follow their heart more than their head. Many a friendships or family relations have been torn apart as a result of someone who is using the head, fighting a heart based decision. How though, can you fight a heart issue using the head? It is a foregone conclusion for many is it not? The heart does speak louder than the head in relational issues it seems. Over to you for now. Are you logical and rational, assessing all facts and figures and options methodically, or emotional and nostalgic, going with your gut feel? I thought about it and found that depending on situations, I use a mix of head and heart, with heart trumping head along social lines. How does head against heart pit each other in your life?

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

The great reach

When you stretch out your hand and touch or grab at something you reach for it. When you drive, ride, fly or walk and arrive at a destination, you reach the destination (this is very clearly stated by the voice in the system if you are using a GPS). When you affect and influence people across a wide geographic spectrum, you have a reach covering that audience. You reach for something, reach a destination, reach a person, reach a milestone and reach a goal. What an interesting word, REACH. Reach is a very rich word, is it not?  I was just wondering how reach applies to my own life and that of everyone else around me. What am I reaching for, who am I trying to reach and what destination will I reach with where I am facing and at my current pace? The answer was a plain and simple one. I must be on a correct path be moving not stagnant. Couple of times I have been driving and tried to reach for something in the back seat, but because I cannot simultaneously remove my eyes off the road, I miss it a couple of times, and end up stopping the car so that I can get the item. Either I reach in the wrong direction, or my reach is too short to where the item is, both which deny me my goal. If you reach out to the wrong thing you will not get the result you want and you may even get burnt, literally or figuratively, if you reach the wrong destination, you may need to re-trace your steps and re-route to the correct one. If you reach the wrong audience you may receive negative criticism and be discouraged thinking you did the wrong thing.
Everyday reach
Reach is something we do everyday of our lives knowingly or unknowingly, spoken or unspoken. In the morning I reach for the towel after a shower or bath, then reach for the shelf, rack or drawer where my clothes are. I then reach for the cereal box up in that high cupboard for a healthy breakfast and then reach for the car keys as I rush to drive out. We reach different places, the office, our house, church, conference venue or a function. We reach out to different people, our family, friends, workmates and other people, maybe because we are extroverts or we just care about them. We are always reaching for something or someone, and sometimes we find out and make peace with the fact that certain things are out of reach, and we realign our intent to reach with our possibilities. Inevitably however, at some point we reach the end of our lives. This is one destination we do not intentionally reach out for, but we find ourselves there anyway. Now the question that comes is, when you reach that point in life, would you have reached where you were going and in the process, the people you wanted to reach? I not only want to reach milestones, but I also want to reach people and places. It is a decision I have reached as I thought about the effect of reach on my life. Now you can reach your own conclusions and maybe continue on your current path, or change direction and start reaching for your goals and also reaching out to the people you need to reach in your life. Enjoy the journey and hopefully smile when you reach your destination.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Seeing is being

If I see it I can become it for my sight drives my ambition
I cannot desire what I have not seen within or outside of myself
That is why I rise up everyday to a new day and a new world

The dreams I dream matter to me and the visions I see awaken me

Whether my eyes be open or not is no hindrance to my sight

For I can still connect, share, inspire, belong, pursue and become

The people around me, their journey and success inspires me

They are building blocks of a creation process towards greatness
They give rise to energy that propels me to step towards my destiny

My destiny is firmly rooted within me to create and overcome fate

I will soar over, above and beyond, like an eagle scanning a veld 
I will dream dreams, travel places, see what I have not seen before
I will get up, lift my eyes, take a step to explore and inquire
I possess the door to my destiny, for what I see stimulates me

Let me see the creative triggers which will ignite the passion within
Come they as man-made, natural, accidental or galactic occurrences
And I will have renewed excitement, ambition, passion and drive
To be more, do more and live more. If I can see it, I can be, I can do.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Let your tears flow

Emotional being I am, for I shed tears every once so often justified or not. I cry because I am happy, on cloud number nine, or for sorrow when I am at my lowest ebb and overcome with emotion. I cry in moments when I feel helpless, hopeless, confused and life seems so complex and unbearable, with perceptively no way out of a dark situation. I cry at thoughts, fears, concerns, reflections as my mental state lingers around my life journey and I need to vent tears that will take me to sleep when I cannot by myself. Shedding a tear does not change or lessen the burden of my situation, but it is an act that respects not logic nor conforms to boundaries, whether of race, color, gender, religion or geography. It is an act which flows deep from my human nature, and in the same way that your blood is red no matter who you are, tears are colorless and transparent no matter who you are, cutting across humanity to confirm and affirm our vulnerability, susceptibility and unity in diversity. 
They have no respect for hierarchy and dignity, time and place as well as company surrounding you. The more you suppress them sometimes, the more they flow. Even with your eyes closed they continue flowing, to declare that you cannot deny your presence, existence and humanity. Even the most hardened of criminal, gangster or thug, has shed a tear or two at some point in their life. They are human after all. Tears like a substitute soccer player, wait on the sidelines of your life, getting ready for the moment of deployment into action. They are there lurking patiently as if preying and waiting for the right button to be pressed after which they flow. To one person tears come as easy as saying the alphabet, while for another they are as difficult to find as the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, but at some point a tear is shed, and with it memories of a person, moment, experience or loss.
Let your tears flow, for they speak of your life experiences, who you are, where you have been and where you are going. Do not restrict nor confine them forever, for then you will never know how human and vulnerable yet strong and resilient you are. Let your tears speak your life story and path, and I will dare comfort you knowing that you have been here, written and left a story. A story of sadness and joy, pain and endurance, trial and success, tribulation and delight, decrease and increase, loss and breakthrough. You have not come and gone like the wind, but you have grown, learnt, matured, thrived, struggled, fought, conquered, overcome, risen above and become. Let your tears flow and let them tell your story.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

For whom the bell TORs

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls,
        It tolls for thee.         
Extract from Meditation XVII by John Donne

A tor linguistically is a hill or rocky peak but for this post I coined a different meaning to it as you will see as you read on. The world has lost a lot of TORs to date and hence we are more diminished than before according to John. What is a TOR? Well below are a few.

AdvocaTOR - someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. Lord Slynn - peace and justice, Lauren Bacall - optimism and positivity and Maya Angelou - tolerance, equality and peace.

AncesTOR - everyone has ancestors from whom one descended, the forebearers. We are the mark they left behind, albeit a diluted version of them.

InvenTOR - a person who invents a process or device. The list of inventors is endless with many sadly being late. I was not aware that paper was invented by a Chinese person Cai Lun, (50–121 AD). Check out for a listing of invenTORs.

CommunicaTOR - someone skilled at conveying information, ideas, or public policy and probably the TOR that inspires us bloggers and writers the most. William Shakespeare is highly regarded as one of the greatest communicaTORs in the world with his influence still lingering on more than 400 years later. It is agreed that he could entertain, enrage or impart vast wisdom with a few words.
InnovaTOR - a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products. Steve Jobs, the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple was a charismatic and design-driven pioneer of the personal computer revolution and his innovative approach to the technology sector will live on for generations to come. 

MenTOR - an experienced and trusted adviser who works alongside someone usually younger. Dr. Benjamin Mays, a distinguished African American minister and scholar, mentored Martin Luther King Jr. to become the icon he was.

OraTOR - a public speaker, especially one who is eloquent or skilled. Here names such as Winston Churchill and again Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind, as these were both great orators. Winston Churchill is known to have been a master of restraining emotion, while emphasizing argument and content.

I was not the least amused that Author is a THOR, but THOR still does good for mankind, does he not? There are all the TORs in our lives and I will add there are the good, the bad and the ugly, but I chose the good ones above. Those that form the frame of reference within us and make us who we are. The ones who have gone before or are walking alongside us in our journey. The ones we look up to or aspire to be like, or those that simple make the world a better place whether we know them or not. As John Donne said, whenever one of these die, we are all diminished in one way or another. Who are the TORs in your life, or are you being a TOR yourself? The question however that begs an answer is, are we birthing more TORs today than we are losing or have lost, or do we rely more on past TORs through their influence on us?

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Anti-age your dreams

I love to hear when kids talk about their aspirations, dreams and fantasies which they so clearly articulate without the possibility  that it cannot be done, especially when they brag between themselves trying to out-dream each other. They have this un-blinkered view of life without a grain of doubt to the possibilities that exist before being toned down, conditioned and acclimatized to 'life' by those who have gone before. I will have a big plane, one will say. I will have a space ship big enough to carry a million people to the moon, another responds. Well, I will be a queen and you will all bow and serve me yet another will say, to which an interjection will come from another aspiring to be the superhero the queen calls upon to save the world. With time come blinkers of all sorts. Downfalls and failures, bad relationships, negative talk, reality-checks and the so called real world happens. The dreams start falling by the way side one by one and become just that, dreams, if at all they linger. The bucket that was once full of possibility, becomes lighter and lighter with continuous offloading to pessimists, sneering at those dreams and watering them down to a drench leaving one feeling like they came out of a storm. The excitement slowly wanes, with it the dreams and visions fade away leaving only disillusionment.

Is it possible?
Well it is not all doom and gloom, as sometimes this is only a cycle where one needs to find themselves again and discover who they are what they can do and what they want to achieve in life. Taking back control of one's vision, dreams, and aspirations can occur at any point in life once a resolution has been made. How does one do this? Well there are several ways to resuscitate dreams but I will list five.

  • First up is to dream in the first place. Dreams can come true, so the cliché goes, but how can a dream come true if it has not been dreamt in the first place. Have an environment of nurturing dreams, an imagination, a hunger a thirst to start something. Different people have different ways of stimulating their imagination, creativity and dreams and one must find this environment and nurture it. For some it is finding peace and quiet coupled with meditation, yet for some it is taking long walks and drives, while others still it is travel distant or new places where they can unclutter their minds. Find your bed of dreams and take a nap.

  • Who is in the front row of your show? Keep people who dwell on your strengths and not your weaknesses and help you stimulate your dreams close. Those who highlight what you do better than them and catapult you to pursuing something big for yourself. Dreams are killed by scoffers and jeerers, sneerers, gibers and mockers (could be a few new English words there), who have nothing positive to say about your dream.

  • Are you walking or are you a caged bird that stands on the graveyard of dreams? You need to take a step towards your desired dream. It is said a dream is just a dream until one wakes up and pursues it. So you need to make that dream a reality through steps aimed at realizing the dream. It may be renting office space for a business, writing the first paragraph of a book, putting out an advert for services you want to render. Whatever it is, take that first step of faith towards it.

  • Review and constantly align your progress to your target to ensure that you are on track, making adjustments if necessary for the dream to remain realistic, achievable and feasible.

  • The last point is to always keep the baby in you alive, that childlike perspective and outlook to nurture your dreams. A child never stops dreaming and never stops believing in possibilities so never grow up on your dreams.
Look in the horizon and resuscitate those dreams that died within you and go for that dream!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

People grow, but mountains do not

 Having grown up staying in both urban and rural settings in Africa, I recall the mountains that I used to see when I was young and how intimidating, domineering and overbearing they seemed at that age. Visiting the same places and looking at the same mountains now, they are less intimidating and have become seemingly smaller as I have grown older over the years while they have remained the same. It is exactly the same mighty mountain which seemed impossible to conquer at some point but now it is even tempting to climb and explore, and is not as scary anymore. The mountain has largely remained the same, maybe even losing its mass to weathering, but I have not been static. I have grown both in stature and perspective in the way I view my surroundings and the world at large.  This seems like the story of life where a problem (mountain) on first encounter can be quite insurmountable and impossible to handle, but the same problem encountered again at another time becomes easier to handle and overcome after the first experience and coming full circle to the second one. The problem would however still probably be exactly the same as before. Mountains come in many types, shapes and sizes both literally and figuratively in life, with mountains of relationships, careers, finances, academics, health and many others. We all face a mountain at various points in our lives, but we do not face the same mountain with the same perspective twice, unless we are not growing. With growth we can recognize mountains that we or others have faced before and be able to draw on our experiences or those of others to conquer them second time around.

Growing oneself
Consistent and continuous growth is one way to overcome mountains of life and start Breaking the block of fear that would once have ruled us. It is imperative to grow oneself not only passively in age nor physically in stature, but also actively, mentally and emotionally in perspective in order to be able to conquer the mountains of life that keep trying to hinder our success. In a gym, there is progression that occurs for a body builder from the day he/she starts a work out plan. Supposing its a man, he starts off with small weights avoiding the heavy ones and possibly wondering how others are lifting those heavy dumbbells. He then progressively increases the kilograms or pounds with time as the body adjusts and grows to handle more. It is much the same that happens in life that the first time one faces a mountain they do not have enough muscle to overcome it and may crumble under pressure, but with time one gets used to the mountain and can even helps others overcome while dealing with much bigger mountains at the same time.  It is more difficult for a younger person to handle relationships, for example, than it is for an older person, because of the growth that has occurred within the older person through time. Most of the mountains people face are typically the same and have been faced by another person before. Life is about enlargement and growth through mostly learning and education, trial and error and shared experiences. Reading is always mentioned as a good way to grow oneself and this cannot be ignored. Trying new things and exploring is a good way of facing mountains and learning how to deal with them in future. Listening and applying the testimonies of others gives a perspective of how a mountain can be conquered with the benefit of hindsight. The brain is enriched in one's life through stimulation and sustained curiosity, without which no mental growth occurs. No two brains are alike, even for identical twins, there are mutations that occur in brain cells causing them to be different with time. It is therefore how each person develops their brain that determines the kind of mountains they can overcome. I know that as I have explored and enlarged my perspective of life together with my dreams, aspirations and goals, certain mountains that used to intimidate and scare me have become small and irrelevant to my life and I have ventured to climb many of those mountains I would only look at from a distance. Have you got mountains that have needed your own personal growth through time to take them on and come out victorious?