In the previous part of this 2-part series, we covered how others face you. In accordance with your personal definition, people face you every day and create impressions of you simply by listening and watching your every move. Many opinions are not important to you or your career or business, but many are.

In this blog, in which we finish our series on Personal Effectiveness, we explore how we face others. In other words, what are the traits and attitudes by which we define our interactions and relationships with others?

I trust you will be challenged and motivated to change as and where required.


We have written 7 Personal Effectiveness blogs in the past few months. I do not intend to repeat all of the content which you can find on, but just state the headings:

Part 1: Perspective

Part 2: Altitude vs Attitude

Part 3: Purpose or Default?

Part 4: Focused or Frazzled?

Part 5: Passivity or Risk?

Part 6: Problem or Possibility?

Part 7: Choice or Chance?

I put to you that your response to these important foundations of character is a major determinant of personal definition. It would be very hard to display either side of these traits without having an impact on others. Fair to say, that we probably all display some of them and have a natural state which is dominant. Think of them as a continuum from 0-10 and score yourself honestly. Then take the scores, add them and divide by 7 to get a [average] picture of these foundations in the way you face others. If you’re happy with the result per trait and together, keep it up. If not, there is room for improvement so renew your spirit of self-development. You’re never too old to learn.

The only point I wish to make in totality is that we face others with our whole being, physically, mentally and spiritually. Especially to those who know you best, you cannot hide what’s deep inside. Beauty may be skin deep but it need not be – it can radiate from deep within us. We each have the capacity for personal beauty in our personal definition. The Good Book says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” [Proverbs 4:23 ]

Here are some other thoughts pertaining to how we face others:

  1. Academic or practical?
    Some individuals are academic. Professionals have no option, an accountant or doctor need professional qualifications in order to practice. Most graduates have a broad-based degree and then work in fields of interest or skill. Others have a trade and ply it in their own business or working with an institution. Some never qualify with any academics and simply learn to be who they are by experience. In the past, apprenticeships were very popular and produced many near-engineers and technicians. Interesting now, that trades-men and -women emigrate with ease because their skills are scare almost worldwide.

    Whatever level of academics you have used to get to where you are has little bearing on your personal definition. You may not agree, but as much as it is not possible to be an engineer without the requisite qualifications, being an engineer is not your persona. The sense of importance you place on your academic qualifications and the degree to which they “make you” who you are, requires caution. Academics are nice but not necessary in your journey from human doing to human being. They help to make you competent but so does experience; they do not make you important. I often ponder the difference between qualified and educated. I have met many qualified people but education needs no introduction; the application of education that brings with it the confidence of competence is obvious. The corollary is this, do not lament that you do not have a degree just be yourself and improve what and who you are.

  1. Showing up or showing up others.
    Personal definition does not require you to be big in the presence of small. Psychologists talk of projection – blaming others to avoid blame. It is cheap and nasty, lacing in abundance mentality. Abundance mentality became well known many years ago as an acknowledgement that “there is room for everybody.”  You do not have to squeeze out others to make a space for yourself; you can enjoy your space while others enjoy theirs. We often hear of dog-eat-dog and it has become the formula for some careers. Get to the top on the shoulders of others if that’s what it takes. Show up others and you will show up.

    Rubbish! Short-sighted nonsense! If you want to lead, you need to win the hearts of followers. You can get hands and even some heads by inducement and fear, but you will never get powerful motivation in unison with a carrot-and-stick mentality. The Lions did not become a dynamic winning team with the promise of a bonus; they drove victory after victory on passion and pride and technical skills of the game. At the helm was Johan Ackerman and they even played for him in the end. Imagine if he was the “important coach” and they were the “paid rugby players”; they would be bottom on the log.

    Want people to show up? Then you show up and give them the credit they deserve.

  1. Relentlessness and resilience
    I was on a call with a friend the other day when he spoke about being relentless. He may have read it in a self-help book but knowing him, I don’t think so. He is relentless. Obstacles produce other routes, failure is a “how not to” for the future, money is spent on R&D without regret and from every failed attempt comes a new learning. I have seen positive people, but I have never known anyone this relentless. Always driving, always learning, always thinking, always questioning, always progressing. With it, comes resilience. Even if I say he should think again, he comes back with an answer – what we have got from where we have been and what we still intend to do. A night of discouragement, followed by weeks of resilience – one business life stage after another. I wish that all his desires are realised one day; someone is going to buy his business for a huge amount. And what will some say? He’s lucky. Balderdash, he’s relentless!
  1. Can you say No?
    Some of us are only learning to say No late in life. We have been “approachable” and “there for people” for decades. Even to the point that many times others had our attention while those close to us lost out.

    There is really no excuse for that behaviour in a good personal definition. There is a formula for time management:

W + F + RE + S = T, where:

W = Work;

F = Family;

RE = Relaxation and Exercise;

S = Sleep, and:

T = 24 hours.

That’s what all of us have, 24 hours. No more and no less. That’s it, and multiplied by the days of our lives, that’s really it. Time management is not optional, it’s critical if you want to maximize personal effectiveness.

  1. Adversity

You will have it come hell or high water. It’s tough, relentless and draining. It can be short, like an accident or long like a disability. It is always associated with pain, physical or emotional. And, it is no respecter of persons.

Steve Jobs dies of pancreatic cancer with all the money in the world. And somewhere in a remote corner of the town other dies in poverty and of hunger. Adversity is a condition of Man.

I am always reminded that our right to choose is our choice of reaction. Given the same malady, one will crumple and another thrives. How many have entered business and failed, some to rise from the ashes and others to collapse in despair? Both faced with similar circumstances and both only left with the power of their reaction. Personal definition is hued with the way you deal adversity. The power to empathise with others is often born from our own grief. We understand what we have personally endured and survived, we identify with what we can imagine and hear from others. Spare a thought for those nearly broken in their adversity; before you criticize be aware of your own frailty in adverse circumstances. But, always use adversity for the better.

I wrote this to someone I love dearly and trust you will find it meaningful:

My prayer for you is that you will experience hardship with dignity. Hardship is the bedfellow of life. An illness, an untimely death, an accident, a retarded child are all sent to test the mettle of which we are made. Dignity and courage raise us to godliness in the face of confusion and pain. It is in the face of opposition and hardship that we record our finest hour and demonstrate our finest character.

  1. To believe or not to believe, that is the question

Sex, politics and religion were taboo when I grew up. I’m so glad that has changed and that we can discuss these topics in the open.

Religion is often suppressed in personal definition as something private. In fact, I am beginning to find that atheism is being raised quite early in conversations. “I am not religious”, I find, is an early statement in the formation of friendships and a noteworthy part of personal definition. In turn, in this modern world in which we live with all its personal and Press freedoms we hold dear, we should be able to say, “I am Christian or Buddhist” etc so as to define an element of our humanity and therefore our personal definition.

Whether it’s faith or fancy, the point I would like to leave with you is that your belief systems matter. Whether to guide a decision to be made or to serve to beacon a wrong or right decision already made, what you believe is a fundamental driver of how you face others.

A sense of personal definition demands a sense and even, display, of what you believe. Whether you speak it or remain silent, live it or default to it under pressure, your faith will shine through and will define you. Don’t allow a default setting to define you – define yourself and provide others a degree of certainty in your inter-personal dealings.

We all face others every minute of the day. Putting your best foot forward can work for some but eventually, the real you will reveal itself. No matter what that looks like, you will self-analyse afterwards and form your own impression. Others will be doing the same, rightly or wrongly, instantly and over time. Personal definition, like I have once described for Purpose, becomes the boundaries in which you are you. Most times you never think about it intentionally but over time, you will have become known to yourself and others in a particular way. If what you and they see is authentic and down-to-earth, good for you. If there is any plasticity, you owe it to yourself to improve. At the end of the day, you were born for a purpose and no matter how much or how little greatness has been thrust upon you, you have a responsibility to yourself and to others to be the best you can be.

In conclusion, as  coach I am often asked for my opinion of a particular behaviour. Should I stand up for my rights? Should I eat humble pie? Is what I am doing right? What could I do better? Questions that require an affirmation or an alternative approach from me. My answer is always: “Is what you are going to do effective in achieving what you want to achieve?” You see, we can do whatever we want to do but unless we achieve a desired outcome, what is the use? Surely, it is better to understand what we want to achieve, what is sustainable and meaningful and how these outcomes would best be achieved? Then we advance and we manage the process as things unfold trying our best efforts to achieve what we want. In such a  case, my way or opinion is unimportant in the scheme of things. And so it is with personal definition; what you wish people to think of you and how you wish to face them is all that matters. And the questions is not whether you are right or wrong but rather, is what you are going to be defined as effective for the way you want to live your life? Will you achieve what you want to achieve?

It truly is up to you to be the man or woman you want to be.

Great success, as you drive to great success!

Yours in Property.


All good things have to come to an end. At least that’s what my Mom used to tell me. Coming out of World War 2, I can imagine such a view but it does not really have to be true.

However, this is the last of the Personal Effectiveness series that I have enjoyed the privilege of writing. This last one is unapologetically long and therefore divided into two parts. The reason is not that it’s a summary of what’s been before because that’s accessible to anyone interested in a re-read, but rather, because it’s about a topic of huge proportions – Personal Definition [which, I may abbreviate to PD]. Just page 1 of cell phone Google, gave me 13 sites and 8 related articles. The temptation is to read one and regurgitate its content as my paraphrased version. But, as I’m wont to do, I’d like to cover a few of my own thoughts coupled with 60-something years of experience, education, and travel; in short, Life. So throw your thoughts into the imaginary ring and let’s share together.

If you wondered about Wikipedia, “Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual…….. [and]………often involves the application of one’s name to various products.” If you wondered, Personal Definition is mentioned as personal branding, but the reason I use the term is simply that in our minds, branding can be quite hazy. The fact is, those who know you and matter, have a very distinctive view of who you are and what you do, as it relates to them – indeed, you are defined as a person in their mind.


For some of you, thinking of yourself as a brand is strange. On the one hand, it’s not like you “to put yourself out there” and for others, it’s too “American” or simply “not something you would ever do; it’s vain”. I hear you but as we interact, sell, serve, get married, participate in sport [or not] and just go about our daily business, we are creating a brand, a way people know us, a sense of predictability [or not!] and a knowing, of ourselves and by others. Why else would your dog hide when you’re in a bad mood or alternatively, Mugg n Bean have a doily reading: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” You see, you can ignore the heading and just think of yourself as “Me” but others, if asked to describe who you are, would have much more to say about you, good, bad and indifferent. You simply cannot ignore your brand. Call it what you like, you leave a stamp on humanity every day and over long periods of time. You are known no matter what. Silence and self-deprecation is brand building; haughtiness and know-it-all is brand building and being authentic and confident in your own skin, is brand building.

Every day, everywhere you show up, get held accountable, and get watched. You build your brand no matter what until the day you die and briefly get remembered, or lovingly get buried in the hearts of those you loved and who loved you.

What a responsibility and what a great thought!

Of course, the definition includes attaching your name to a brand or product. In our property industry, Seeff or Chas Everitt, Berry’s amazing Dad. Or, “I am Pam” to celebrate 40 years of a great lady. Many years ago, the now-late Clive Wiel, drove the concept on our new advertising media, TV, for a much smaller Checkers as it began to fight it out for grocery retailer dominance with Pick n Pay in an ad that started something like this, “Hi I’m Clive Wiel from Checkers. Trolley for trolley we will……” and the rest is history. Not an owner, but like the modern Samuel Seeff ads, my name = my brand = my company and, most of all, = My Promise.

Welcome to YOU Inc. Embrace or reject it, every moment of the day you’re being it and building it.

What does yours look like and how is it developing? Beeg question!


In 2010, we did an exercise in a Coaching class that I will never forget. We were asked to term ourselves as Dogs or Cats. The end result was good for a laugh but loaded with truth. The moral of the story? Each of us has characteristic traits and, together with their own views, others see us as they believe we are.

The question of course for personal definition, is: Do we validate ourselves in the opinion of others? Yes, I think of myself in another person’s estimation or, No, I am my own person. I believe all of us at some stage have validated through others. Just think of when you fell in love; the fact that she loves you makes you feel very good. In fact, you think, she has good taste choosing me! Hopefully, we grow to maturity from that thinking but wanting recognition and affection is very often a need for the admiration of others. Many think the human race has this basic need; just read parenting books to see it, though balanced with consistency and discipline. The opposite is also true. Criticise me, break me down and see no good and I could take on that persona. Sad but true for many.

As an aside for the latter, an anonymous quote: “What you think of me is not my business.”

From this comes the issue of dependence, independence, or inter-dependence. No better author than Stephen Covey comes to mind on the subject and you are encouraged to read his books starting with Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Dependency is fragile and very dependent on the stronger party. Dependent upon you, if you let me down, I am broken; unable to “find myself” from under your shadow. The person trapped in this state is unable to be their own person until they recognise their own worth and manage the relationship accordingly. An old book, I’m Ok, You’re Ok, covered this relationship very well. In turn, it highlighted the benefits of not being dependent, being able to be “Ok” in the presence of any company.

On the other hand, is independence. It is not freedom but rather an attitude of not requiring the other party, from government, your employer or an individual. Being “off the grid” is popular these days – no Eskom, Rand Water and even food Retailers – as we “go it alone”. Not needing others may have limited appeal but sooner or later, you need someone or something. So independence is a pipe-dream, desired but never found.

The only sustainable state is interdependence; that realization deep down that we or things, are dependent on each other. In fact, we are not only dependent but also strengthened by association. “Think team, see individuals” is an old management adage that recognises the power of people together and encourages the team as superlative to the individual – Messi and Ronaldo are good, but nothing without the ball they’re passed. So too, we exist in an ecosystem in our families, our workplaces and our communities that give as shelter, encouragement and nourishment. Alone is nice sometimes as we take the space we deserve, but extended too long, it becomes dysfunctional. Get up, pick up and show up is the mantra for success; be ready interdependently, to take the opportunities passed to you. And, pass some to others so they and experience the joy as well. Covey summarises the matter for us before we have to move on:

“Independence is the paradigm of I – I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose. Interdependence is the paradigm of We – We can do it; we can co-operate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.”

“Interdependence is a higher value than independence.”

And, very important…..

“Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.”

If you buy what I’m writing, then this leads us to a few life skills or, interpersonal relationship skills:

  1. Relate or transact?
    As you build personal definition, do you relate or transact with other people. Transaction is simple – we do a thing and “no consequences”. You give me what I want and I’ll give you what you want. Take the till at Checkers for instance. I’ve shopped, you man the till, you ring up, I pay and we part. Frankly, if I never saw you again, that’s okay. Thousands of transactions occur every day in our lives and we even have a plethora of virtual transactions now occurring on WWW.

    If only life was that simple or that shallow. But my experience is that those who sustainably succeed make Relating a habit. Nobody it too “small” and the “big” are placed in perspective – respected but not revered; such emotion belongs to very few. Relationship is long-term and premised on the importance of every person as a human being. Employees are not units of labour but associates in the business, whether it’s yours or shareholders. People matter and profits are a by-product of people rather than an expectation of management. Relationship changes your perspective of significant others. As much as we realise we cannot be responsible for everyone, we do take personal responsibility for ourselves and in doing so, are able to bring something of ourselves to many in our life’s journey. Check this out as a summary:



  1. Smirk or smile?
    I’m watching MKR on most nights now and Josh is bugging me. He always has a smirk at anyone’s fault. I heard him refuse another team help in a mass cook-out whilst his co-inhabitants of the kitchen container helped with pleasure. You know Josh’s – independent, clever, competitive and correct [always] – they adorn the hallowed halls of institutions. They rise on the backs of others and enjoy the view from the 7th floor and above.

    I never forget an initiative in Nedbank where, as part of our Values initiative, we awarded monies to worthy causes of our staff. One man, 20+ years in the bank and a Grade 8 for all of it, told the story of how he coaches disadvantaged children soccer on a rough field in Soweto. He has done it for years, keeping them off the street and giving them physical, emotional and spiritual sustenance in the process. We gave him the money to buy the team their first kit of football attire. I wondered as we signed it off – who was the hero in the story, the ones who signed off the gift or the man who would have been back on that field with the kids on Saturday even if we didn’t. I later saw a picture of the handover; he was smiling from ear-to-ear. Enough said, hope you get my drift?


  1. Help or break?
    In similar vein, do we help people or break people? Breaking people is so easy. A bad word, finding mistakes, silence in the light of performance and the famous one, pointing out what still needs to be done. “Never good enough” can be the message communicated in so many ways. Just a nod of the head is often all that it takes. It is said, that we listen to words for 20-30% of communication and feel the body language for the rest.

    Help involves involvement. It is probably the main reason for not helping. “Don’t get involved” is the mantra of many. Kind, considerate and even listening, but not involved. In fairness, I would not like to take the moral high ground on this. Sometimes the need, the time and emotional commitment is just too great and we need to be supportive but, ultimately, not get involved. However, the question is is there a point to which I could be involved? We heard it said that when one hurts, we all hurt; but is it actually true? I guess the purpose of this line of thinking is about whether I am for myself or for others and where the break-point lies. If not all about me, is there a word of encouragement or a helping hand in my sense of personal definition? I know some are committed to animals, others to the poor and homeless, others to their immediate and broader families – all giving something of themselves and, certainly from a time point of view at least, even hurting a little in the sacrifice.


  1. Teach or take?
    As far back as high school I learned the principle that teaching cements learning. So my formula was learn then teach and I even used this process when someone wanted to copy my homework; I would simply offer to help them with theirs. It often worked for both of us.

    At the heart of this question is attitude. Do you take what is given and use it for yourself? Or, do you use it for yourself and teach others then learning as well? Never mind the obvious application; I see the principle so often in Corporates. Information is power and he who has the most is the most powerful. So letting go of your information, your foreknowledge, can reduce your power [by the way, called Informational power]. So you see power held and dispersed only to the “important” people. The premise is anyone not receiving information doesn’t need to know. This power is so childish but very effective. Of course, no one exercising it would ever teach; rather “need to know” becomes the practise of these people. Now, I’m not implying confidentiality is not important [remember, “slipping” something which is confidential makes the person doing it appear even more powerful and “connected”] but the sharing of knowledge is inclusive and directional; in the end, people who feel they belong are more motivated and are willing to be lead. Leaders share information.

Rightly or wrongly, we frame who we are in the perceptions of others. For some it is validation but for the mature, the opinion of others of us is tempered by our own self-worth. I love graffiti and always read the back of Hulletts sugar packets. A recent one says: “If you know yourself, then you’ll not be harmed by what is said about you.” Sage advice from what is apparently an Arabian proverb. On the other hand, if the shoe fits, wear it. Allied to this is the humbling experience of asking a friend how they see you and listening carefully to their insights. It is also very important to realise that often what we think is our truth and the same goes for others’ opinions; truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder so be circumspect about what you let in or ignore. A lot of “truth” especially from parents and other respected people can be the source of our self-limiting beliefs.

Personal definition involves facing others. Whether it’s a glance in a train or a long-term business relationship, others define who you are in their own minds. Is their definition to your liking? If not, change it. It is in your hands.

Yours in Property.


Some serious property news on the wires at the moment!

Wasn’t the news of the rate reduction good news? On the one hand, as is the case in America, a reduction in rate can mean the economy is not firing well but, as so in our case, we had good news on the Inflation front which convinced enough members of the SARB MFC to reduce the rate. Inflation has been just over 5% in the last two rounds and that is within the target band of 3-6% as well as indicating some stability in the Rand. Point is that the situation allowed the SARB to signal a downward trend and, goodness knows, we need it. Whilst we remain in recession and, I think, will be there for another quarter at least, we’ll take what we can get.

On the political front, things seem to be moving in the right direction. It seems some brave ANC MP’s have found their voice so let’s see. The solution for SAA by selling Government’s [read PIC] stake in Telkom is a shocker of immense proportions. PIC is the government pension fund and it has a good stake in Telkom on behalf of millions of pensioners, current or future. To sell that to bailout SAA is madness, throwing good money after bad and keeping a dying dog alive. Already our new Finance Minister has had to tuck into the Emergency Fund for R2.3bn to pay out Standard Chartered who refused to roll their bond and continue funding SAA – a good credit call for a bankrupt company if not financially, then managerially. In doing so, with hours to make up his mind, he had to do what he did. BUT, the solution for SAA is to not renew the contract of its CEO in a few weeks’ time, fire the rest of board, reinstitute good governance and then sell the company to private investors [Ethiopian Airlines comes to mind, believe it or not] and recoup all or most of the capital and sureties that government has issued to borrowers. Why is this part of a property blog? Because, if this kind of miracle cure was realised, it would mean sanity is prevailing in the State-owned enterprises and a huge economic turnaround is beginning.


As a final thought, imagine a government of President Cyril, Justice Minister Thuli and Finance Minister Pravin et al. We would be a great nation again. To full circle, the other good thing about declining inflation rate is that it gives us a snowball’s hope in a fridge, of getting some real house price growth in 2017.

On the property side:

  1. Knight Frank and Wealth-X conducts research that concentrates on high net worth individuals and is about to release its report about the world’s wealthiest people and luxury items.. Cal led the Knight Frank’s Global Wealth Report, the 2017 report will be released in South Africa in August. Last year’s report placed Cape Town as third globally in terms of the annual price of property growth. However, in 2017 it seems Cape Town may have dropped from third to the fourteenth spot globally. In 2016, the City of Cape Town was ranked third in the world for the highest housing prices, falling behind only Shanghai and Vancouver. According to FNB’s latest survey: “In the 2nd quarter of 2017, the City of Cape Town’s estimated average house price growth rate remained in a double-digit territory to the tune of 13.8% year-on-year. However, while still very strong, this year-on-year price growth rate represents the 5th consecutive quarter of slowing from a 10-year high of 15.7% revised rate recorded in the 1st quarter of 2016.” Sorry for the home owners but the news is good in my opinion – being such an outlier in the context of South Africa could simply be a bubble waiting to burst.
  2. The latest FNB house price indices have indicated that house price growth is declining at increasingly similar rates. The outliers were the High and Affordable markets. No surprise there as the one has money and the other needs housing. In fact, what I hear is that the developers have a backlog of construction for already sold houses in the latter market. I don’t think that would continue but it’s good while it lasts.
  3. What will 25bps do for interest? Very little seeing it’s only a 3.6% reduction in interest costs. But we live in a country that needs good news and this reduction is good news. Will confidence flow? No, it will take more than a rate reduction to instil game-changing confidence and for that our “good” politicians are responsible.

With a few property points behind me, a further Personal Effectiveness insight. It’s brief this time but hopefully hard-hitting. Not as direct and clear as the previous versions but written from my heart. Remember, if you are striving for the pinnacle of success in your personal effectiveness, then learning from the lowly examples is good “medicine”. So read on and between the lines to be challenged once more. The Japanese used the word keizan to mean “continual improvement”. A facetious part of me wants to say, which part of continual…improvement don’t you understand? Relentless, persevering, ongoing improvement and all held to a higher-and-higher standard of performance. If you’ve just watched Froome win his 3rd consecutive and fourth out of five Tours de France, and Spieth bail himself out of a down-and-out mess in The Open, [and the Lions beat the Sharks in the dying moments of the game…. had to throw that one in!!] then you know what I’m talking about.


Here’s the story. One week ago I stood in for my wife at our church’s soup kitchen. It was cold and, far more than normal, 40 people arrived for an orange, 2 slices of bread and the customary cup of soup. About 10 women and 30 men, some neatly dressed carrying themselves with dignity and others dishevelled and obviously hungover or even, recently drunk. All well behaved, for in this environment to misbehave is to miss out on the precious, hot cuppa soup. Perhaps though, being in a church ground also called a higher standard from each present; perhaps a sign that we are all human and in another Presence, we cloth ourselves with a higher attitude than normal. Some were old and others younger. Living testament that age and social standing don’t really bear any correlation – you can be poor young and poor old, it really doesn’t matter. Some were neatly shaven and/or their hair washed. I thought to myself, where in heaven’s name do you find the water and soap to look good when the difference between a meal or not was this soup-line? What dignity drives such cleanliness or was it just luck that found an ice-cold tap that day? And there they stood, each with a story no doubt and few with anyone to listen or even care enough to pass the greeting of the day. And once they had their first helping, they immediately joined the queue for another cup of the hot brew. Eventually, even the 4th large pot ran out and people slowly went and sat on the steps to eat their bread and orange. After one hour, everyone departed; back onto the streets to whatever they called “home”.

Fascinating and sobering that one soup kitchen in our town. What made it so was not the people in the line but the fact that I was there. Being present, I wondered if choices had anything to do with their plight or if chance had just played its hand differently for them and me.

I looked at these folk and wondered where our lives were different. If our lives are the sum total of our choices to any point in time then any chance, which in and of itself, is also a choice – to do nothing, to go with the flow, to follow wherever – got added in, how did we end up where we are? Was it good parentage, the silver spoon, discipline and education, a sense of higher purpose, the decision of a Higher Being, addiction to substances, debilitating poverty? What made the difference other than choice itself? How do two people live in the same township and one becomes a successful electrician and the other finds themself in a soup line? Surely, it is not a function of race or intellect or drive or luck. Surely the primary life skill was simply to be able to identify the forks in the road and take the majority of right directions? If you think about it, how do you travel from Joburg to Durban other than by not going the wrong way and choosing the right way? Simple, you say, just choose right and wrong never enters the equation; after 40 years the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

True, but here are some closing thoughts for your consideration:

– You may have made the right decisions nine times out of ten, but be grateful that you did. There are many times if we’re honest with ourselves, that the possibility for incorrectness was just as real as the right choice. Be humble and spare a thought for those who made a mistake.

– Mistakes are only failure if you allow them to be. Mistakes are learning and knowing what not to do is often as rich as having known what to do. Life is often complex and not binary – If, Maybe, Perhaps etc are also part of decisioning. The margin for error in some decisions are so small that a slightly different direction could cause a huge mess of the end goal.

– The two bedfellows of wrong choices are guilt and regret. We all have some and we all need to deal it. Sweeping the feelings under the carpet may feel safe but sooner or later, we need to face the issue. Our weakness, our self-limiting beliefs, our arrogance or our subservience may all be reasons for failures and mistakes but learning from them is powerful.

– In the circumstances, I describe above I am always struck by the fact that one is not better than the other. As humans we spend a huge amount of time comparing – I mean let’s face it, in the morning you look in the mirror, compare yourself to the image you have of yourself and bang! it hits you :-). Perhaps, the issue is not “better” but simply, “different”. You see, if you boil it down, that man in the queue standing for his daily bread is only 24 hours removed from where I am. In a day, if I don’t lose all my money in a bad business deal or sign a surety that sours, I could develop an attitude of supremacy and privilege because I am above him. And as I do so, I become impoverished of spirit and soul, haughty and disdainful, bereft of any humanity and emotions. Sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So, the challenge goes out without further philosophical intent. Are you making choices that are enriching and true, full of integrity and a love for others? Are you getting rich in character and not just money? Is your effort worth the reward and has the reward enough depth to weather a life storm? Are you building emotional reserves in your relationships from which you can draw when you screw up and hurt another? Are you a tree providing shade and sustenance or the root that sucks everything from the ground around you?

Pretty serious stuff but worth a thought. Choice or chance – which is you and is there any need for change?

We have come through trying times of late as we have evidence of our beautiful country having been raped by greed. HLJ continues to thrive and, I would hesitate to say, because of people who demonstrate the power of good choice without the arrogance of knowing it. For the issue of continual performance in the face of economic adversity, they have a plan and a desire to be better and, if not, only to fail trying and never by giving up.

Yours in Property


In our last blog, we asked the question Risk or Passivity?

The next day these quotes arrived in my inbox and I thought they rounded-off the thinking in the Part 5 blog:

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit. 

Christopher McCandless

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. 

Thomas J. Watson

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. 

John F. Kennedy

The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow. 

Jim Hightower

So, without any mention of the property market as the Rand goes through R13.60 as I write, here are my next thoughts on Personal Effectiveness.


There are times when all of us have “downers” when Monday is blue, and our biorhythms are out of synch. It’s very hard at times like these to be positive and even to make good decisions. [Just an aside, the Golden Rule of decision-making is never to make a decision when you are not emotionally stable ie down, angry or upset.]. But, if your life has problems which never seem to go away, then Life is a problem. Without being trite, because I know people who live in this crisis every day for one reason or another, you need to revert to Part 1 and look at your Perspective and then proceed to read the other blogs. Think on them and allow their challenge to sink into your heart. Change is needed and only one person holds the key – yes, that’s you! I heard a lady say the other day that their marriage was on the rocks but when she “changed her attitude, things came right”. The words just flowed over her lips but how sweet they sounded and how effective they became. The looming Problem of divorce indeed became the Possibility of an incredible life. And knowing the life they now live, I can tell you her decision was perfect and her worst fears were unfounded.

“Sometimes I wake up Grumpy and sometimes I let him sleep”, the old saying goes. By the way, you can make this “her” as well!! So it is that some people are just grumpy – as a rule, for the least thing and to the ire of those around them. Problems pervade their space. They just can’t see the positive or think that anything can turn out right. They don’t delegate because “they won’t do it like I can” and they drudge along, over-worked and under-paid. The weather is too hot and then too cold with nothing in between. They live in the kitchen, bum in the oven and head in the fridge just so as to feel “normal”. And to that point, they are normal and they wish everyone else was “like them”.

When it comes to solutions the problem-seeker sees the problem. I often listen to 702 or CapeTalk and hear the problem-describers who call in. This way and that, bisected and dissected, in or out, complex or simple – they have the problem down to a tee. I find myself asking the heavens for one person with one piece of advice on How to Solve the problem. Just one piece of advice – Pleez! I often say: “Any idiot can tell you the problem; I am looking for people who can solve it.” Irreverent but true.

Possibility – ah, the word of hope. Not quite there, not all the details are in place but the thought process has begun and the eyes and shoulders are lifted up.

In their famous book, The Art of Possibility, Rosamund and Benjamin Zander have this to say about Possibility: “Unimpeded on a daily basis by the concern for survival, free from the generalized assumption of scarcity, a person stands in the great space of possibility in a posture of openness, with an unfettered imagination for what can be.”

So, rather than try to define it, let’s look at the quote and see some possible ways to build Possibility Thinking:

  1. THINK the possibility. How can you ever think out-the-box if the boundaries are so obvious to you? Money, time, people, support, and other resources are the boundaries we place on any problem. Perhaps the saddest of all is the boundary you place on yourself. I once studied to be an insurance salesman and Sanlam went out of their way to prepare me and make me believe I could sell policies. At the end of the course [2 weeks locked in a hotel], I was given a certificate titled: “Your worst competition is inside.” Who cares what the rest said, this has proven to be one of the most profound statements I have ever mentalized. So many people trapped inside their self-limiting beliefs.

The challenge is to genuinely lift the fences that bind us, see the possibility without restraint and then think it through. That’s what “unimpeded” and “unfettered” means. If you can do that, your “space” for thinking expands. Thinking from the box in makes the solution small; thinking from the box out, expands the plane of possibilities. So step back and then step in…..

  1. IMAGINATION rules your world. The famous saying of Albert Einstein. Inside your imagination, all the possibilities are just that, Possible. You can fly, dream, scream, be silent, paint bright colours and just paint white, all in the space of your mind. No neutral space is your imagination; it is the space of kings and queens, power and solutions, poor to rich and the force of human nature. It motivates, strengthens, drives and determines with more obvious impact than the Imaginer can even think. So much of modern-day positive psychology says, If you can think it, you can do it. Dwell on the reward of success and not the penalty of failure.


  1. SUPPORT is required. Some possibilities are just too big for one person. You may need support from others. Just a tiny current example: Our church is wanting to revive the Sunday School so the announcement went out that the newly-acquired building in the church property is going to be called The Lighthouse and people were asked to contribute. Well, the response amazed the organisers and right before their eyes, the little building is being transformed room by room into The Lighthouse. Each with its own theme depending on the ages of the children, chairs, tables, painting and artefacts all coming into place and ready for the new school term. What did they do? They asked – they guided – they released – they encouraged performance. Support in its purest form.

What is your Possibility? What solution have you imagined? Ask and you will be surprised as it takes place. Maybe I am being Pollyanna, but don’t ask and see what happens – Nothing. No ticket, no game – same every time.

  1. Let me tell you how you describe “a person stands in the great space of possibility in a posture of openness, with an unfettered imagination for what can be.” E-N-T-H-U-S-I-A-S-T-I-C. A “posture of openness” is the warrior at the ready, the high-jumper readying for the run, the sprinter in the blocks, not just anybody, but Somebody. Their entire purpose is focused on the task at hand and nothing or anybody will stand in their way. “Openness” of posture shies away from nothing, and the thought they imagine is bigger than themselves. Many of you reading this remember a time when you had such a posture and succeeded. Enthusiasm, in and of itself, hallmarked your attitude and confidence. Vince Lombardy said: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” But, of late, impeded and fettered in your spirit, you may have allowed yourself to drift into limiting beliefs and be overcome by the spectre of scarcity. Get Up! Get Out! and Get Going again! Like the L’Oreal ad says – You’re worth it.


  1. PLAN and EXECUTE. You need a plan to complement your vision. Don’t underestimate the “admin” in the excitement of your enthusiasm. Writing things down makes you think logically and with process. Nothing beats a well-documented plan and process when you’re actioning what you previously imagined. And, by the way, your Banker needs it :-)!!

The above all sounds so easy but it is not. When you’ve known the depths of despair that relationships, negative cash-flow or illness can bring, you realize that it’s tough. But try seeing the problem [think of our beautiful, tortured country] all the time and tell me that’s not tough. Do you dwell in the Problem bemoaning the present and remembering the good ol’ days or, do you wonder [imagine] what you could do to change something for someone. The story of the starfish upon which The Starfish Foundation was founded comes to mind. A little girl was walking along a beach filled with washed-up starfish. She bent down, picked one up and threw it into the sea. A man was walking by and asked her what she’s doing. Her answer: “I’m putting starfish back into the sea.” “That won’t make a difference” he said. “Yes it does to this one”, she answered, as she threw another starfish in the water. You see, when we write and talk big about Possibility and Warriors and Drive, we may see the concept in “massive” terms. But don’t do that – it’s often the small things that make a massive difference.

At HLJ we have problems; plenty of them. In fact sometimes they feel overwhelming. But we also have Possibility. It had to be like that for us to understand our Clients, our Associates our Consultants and our Employees. To date and from October 2003, our problems have always been overcome by our possibilities. It must have been so or we would have succumbed to the many problems that beset us. In doing so, we have become humble and empathetic, understanding where you’re at and always ready to encourage and support you in your business.

Yours in Property.