Monday, May 26, 2014

Potential vs Reality - Streams and Diamonds

Harnessing a stream
Potential is the capability that is not yet in existence or unrealised capacity. Reality on the other hand, is the state of things as they actually exist. The existence of potential does not necessarily lead to reality. A stream of water can have potential energy to light and power up a community through hydro-electric power, but if no one can harness that energy through a dam, the reality is that it is just a stream of untapped water whose value is limited. The Kariba Dam is one of the largest hydro-electric dams in the world at 128 metres and is built on the Kariba gorge between Zimbabwe and Zambia. It was built at an estimated cost of $480 million with 86 lives lost during construction. Around 57 000 Tonga people and 6 000 animals (under Operation Noah) were affected by the construction of this dam. However after all is said and done, the dam was completed in 1977 and currently supplies power to two countries, Zimbabwe and Zambia. 

Diamonds in the rough
A diamond field is a piece of ordinary land discovered through extensive exploration followed by extraction, processing and polishing of rocks to obtain desired priced diamonds. Rough diamonds are obtained from digging and extracting them out of rock and then cutting and polishing them to become high value gems which can be traded internationally. It can be said that a piece of land with diamonds underneath has the potential to earn a country $1 billion, but if the apporpriate investment is not acquired  and used on the land to beneficiate the rock, the reality is that it is a piece of ordinary land with a value much lower than the forecast $1 billion.

The personal link
Personal value is limited unless there is a process of harnessing and creating critical mass to focus strength towards something of greater value. A process of exploration of oneself, extraction of value and use of same in adding value to various areas of life to generate income. Exploration to find out what passion one has and what makes them tick. Finding out those things one can do with ease, excellence and for the benefit of others. Inherent passion as well as that gained through training and skills development. Digging and extracting hidden talent within and then taking it through the cutting and polishing process of trimming unwanted remnants and only leaving the shining, high value diamond that carries high value in the market. Many people are said to have potential, but not everyone becomes the reality they could. Moving from potential to reality is not a passive process, but an active one which requires constant effort, sacrifice and carries costs to perfect an art or a skill needed to rise from ashes to aces. The reality is that we are all created with potential to become more. We are created as streams that can power communities, however for some it remains potential. Moving from potential to reality takes effort and hard work as well as focus and vision. There will be casualties in needed unsettling changes, opportunity costs of time, lost friendships and other luxuries lost, but there will be greater value gained at the end. Will you move from potential to reality today, from a stream to a dam powering two countries, and from a rock to a diamond in the sky as Rihanna sang? I got news for you, it will not come easy.

Image credit

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Trait wish list

Life is a daily battle of trying to be better in habit and in execution of duty and actions. We are constantly fighting internal battles of reflection and questioning on whether we handled certain situations well, responded appropriately or gave it our best shot. How could I have done it better or what would that person I look up to have done in similar circumstances? A trait is a distinguishing feature of a person's character. In 1726 at the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin listed 13 character traits which he felt were desirable, but which he lacked. He thought that nurturing these in his life would bring positive change. He then worked on these desired virtues over four thirteen week cycles, fostering and indoctrinating himself with each trait daily. There are some character traits we aspire to but definitely know that we do not possess. I realise I am not very diplomatic at times in communicating and need to be more empathetic in relating with people around me. I also have been learning the trait of silence from Benjamin Franklin. Knowing when to be quiet and when to speak and listening more. If traits could be on a shopping list, which traits would you shop for? What is already in your checkout basket and how are you planning to work on making that trait a part of your life going forward? Below are the traits that Benjamin Franklin worked on. Do you identify with any, or you have your own long list?

Temperance: "Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."

Order: "Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."

Resolution: "Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."

Frugality: "Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."

Moderation: "Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."

Industry: "Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."

Cleanliness: "Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation."

Tranquility: "Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."

Silence: "Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."

Sincerity: "Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."

Justice: "Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."

Chastity: "Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."

Humility: "Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

Have a great week as you shape your person both internally and externally.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Director of life

I am a few days off with this one as Mothers' day just passed last Sunday, but it is always mum's day I would say, and there is no better way to put across the role of a mother as was portrayed in the clip below. What a way to reflect on the true role of a mother, the "no interview, no shift and no job conditions negotiated role", willingly executed without upfront agreed compensation and a long list of perquisites and benefits. I just could not resist posting this and reflecting on my own experiences with my mother. Interesting how no one, after getting the full job specification ended up wanting to take the post, thinking it was in-human and cruel to even be given such a proposed job offer, there is indeed some exaggeration or two but the point does get home. Food for thought and a great tribute to all the mothers out there.

God bless our mums.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Face the storm and ride it out

Sometimes life is like setting out to sea in a boat. Sizes of boats differ literally as well as figuratively. Some have massive yachts and cruise ships that can withstand storms better than others, who have smaller rafts, rowboats and dinghies which are unstable and can capsize at the slightest of storms, winds and rough seas. The size of a boat never stops sailors from sailing, but they do take note of their limitations and sail according to their resources and capabilities avoiding known hazards. Unlike sailors, who can choose the day and weather they can sail in, life has to be sailed out daily no matter how the "weather" looks like. One has to daily brave the storms and manoeuvre that boat without running it aground as it were, literally even.

There are days when you leave the house and plunge straight into the storm, but you know you have to face it, ride it out and return home with a sane mind. Knowledge of where you are going, how to get there and how to get to safety or be safe, is key, while always referring to a map and compass for guidance when lost. An assurance and symbol of course maintenance that brings relief and calm in life, so that when that storm comes and tries to wreck havoc, you are not as affected as someone without it. Heavy cargo adds to sinking during a storm and sailors know that to salvage a ship they jettison waste while riding a storm, so remember to take advantage of storms to jettison those things that do not add value to your life. Enjoy the post below and I hope you can relate to it in one way or another.

Lighthouse in the storm

The clouds were dark, thick and swirling,
Daytime was past and nightfall had come
A storm was rising all round and in the distance
I was lost out at sea tired in an old beat down boat
There was no-one by my side to provide courage to row
The storm rose and beat upon my little boat with no mercy
The waves came crashing on the boat tossing it to and fro

I tried to row this way and that way but went nowhere
I did not know where I was or where I was going
Then a small flicker of a light caught my weary eyes
It shone bright and disappeared before I could blink
I waited patiently looking for that shining glimmer
Once again it shone brightly across the ocean storm,
It was the steadfast lighthouse showing me the way

I regained depleted strength and might and started rowing.
I rowed as strong and fast as my exhausted arms could allow
As I got closer to the light, I realised it was the lighthouse
Incessantly, the lighthouse continued to bring me in to dock
Revealing dangerous coastlines and hazardous shoals till was safe
I have this similar steadfast lighthouse in the storm of my life today
The Lord is my light and salvation, my Redeemer, Savior and friend

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ultimate contentment

Could some of the sample statements below relate to issues that apply to you in some way?

I am too short
I cannot talk properly
I am not good looking
I have a terrible background
I knew I could not do it after all
What could ever come out of me
I am stupid and cannot do anything
I can never manage to get anything right
Everything is not working, life sucks
Everyone does not like me, I'd rather be dead

People generally avoid surrounding themselves with those who complain, because it is draining to listen to, especially if someone complains and does nothing about the problem, or it is something they cannot do anything about. I made a decision long back that I will be guided by the Serenity Prayer, accept what I cannot change, change what I can, and know the difference but try and not complain (this is work in progress and on-going). Life is better when you do not complain, but rather embrace who you are and what you can do and leverage on that to cover more ground than seems possible. You have probably seen the clip I want to show you, but before you watch this clip, I want to ask you what kind of complaints you have had about your being. The perennial recurring kind, where you label yourself a certain way and everyone knows you hate that one thing or more about you. I want to inspire you with the story of Nick Vujicic who was born with Tetra-amelia syndrome, a condition where one is born without all four limbs. Nick struggled with this condition as a young man and even attempted suicide at some point, before finally embracing his condition and embarking on a journey to make the best out of his life. Nick's story, for me is probably the greatest story of inspiration of the recent times, and what stands out more is that Nick does not blame but gives Glory to God, in spite of his condition. He does not blame anyone but makes the most of his life and moves forward. Nick has conquered areas where able bodied people may not even dare in their lifetime and this against all odds. He has a contagious smile on his face and encourages people, who should rather be encouraging him. He has turned the tables of a given life to an admired, joyous and fulfilled life in an amazing way.

On one of her shows, Oprah Winfrey told the audience to "shut your mouth" if anyone had a complaint about to be said about life on social media platforms, before showing them a clip of the story of Nick. Surely after this story, one feels a sense of selfishness to still feel incapable or constrained as a result of self pity and low self esteem, which could be justified, but not as bad as portrayed sometimes. Just as Nick did, one learns to be content with who they are, and contentment is the ultimate form of happiness, as it is internal and not reliant on what happens in one's environment. No one can take contentment away in the way happiness generally comes and goes depending on situations and occurrences. I hope you are inspired to be content and accept who you are and what you can do today and will go out there and make it happen in the same way Nick did, without seeking excuses.