Maybe it’s the side of the bed I woke up on this morning. Maybe it’s the way I feel or my bio-rhythms. Maybe it’s where I am in life, not just a place, but an attitude or approach to it. Or, maybe it’s just the truth as simply as I see it.
My Son tells me I “talk psychology”. He may be right but this blog is from the heart and speaks to a little aspect that may be interesting, called LIFE.
I read an article on White Privilege the other day and it contained a telling statement about a fish. The writer, the Deputy Head of Jeppe Boys High, said that talking to white privilege is like talking to a fish about water. It’s just there, it’s everywhere and when I live in it I cannot be blamed for not seeing it; it’s natural, pleasant, life-giving, assumed, and ever-present. To see it, I need to get out of the water and take some gasps in a waterless environment. No different to taking away my oxygen; it’s then that I appreciate it completely and can put some thought into its meaning to me.
LIFE is like that. You live it naturally and are aided in it by personality, habits, attitudes, and behaviours that that shape the way you think and the way you respond. Imagine having to think about breathing; we have a respiratory system that is managed by the command post of the “preBotzinger Complex”, according to UCLA neurobiologists. Together with the brain stem, this Complex commands the act of breathing. Let’s be honest, we haven’t given our breathing a second’s thought for a decade. In fact, unless we’re into deep breathing or experienced a lack of breath, we never think about it. Is LIFE also treated like that?
Such a thought lead me to find the address of Bill Gates’ address to a high school and I paste it here for your re-reading:
Bill Gates gave a speech at a high school about 11 things he did not and they will not learn in school.
[He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept sets them up for failure in the real world.
Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault; so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you “FIND YOURSELF”. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television and video games are NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
You thought I started off a little harsh, but what about this piece of truth? Here is the richest man in the world telling kids from Grade 8-12 about LIFE. And he’s not PC [read: politically correct] or shirking his responsibility because “he might hurt your feelings.” He’s direct and those of us who have lived LIFE, know he has a point. In fact, make that “many points”. In fact, maybe just in different words and with different accentuation, haven’t you told your teenagers the same at times that you felt they needed it?
So let’s take an honest look at LIFE and see if we can rustle up a little truth of our own. Please agree or disagree, but whatever you do and however long the list, add your own “Rules”. The purpose is not to be Smart Alec but rather for you and I to take stock of where we’re at and learn to live better lives with more realism, optimism, and energy than before. In a sense, Wake Up! it’s a new day. Be passionate about something that is bigger than you. Be kind, be good and as Abraham Lincoln said: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” and then that little attitude of gratitude – find one thing for which you can be grateful today – the air you’re breathing if you’re out of ideas – and be grateful for it/them.
So here goes a few thoughts:
- We are the sum total of our thoughts to a moment in time.
Nothing is as sobering than looking back on our lives and realising that if we had more control over our thoughts, where they could have taken us. On the negative side, we all know when our thoughts have lead us down a wrong path and caused us to behave inappropriately; that’s putting it mildly. But let’s be positive and see in our mind’s eye those great thoughts that have spawned great things. The idea for a business that is a success, to get married to a beautiful person in every sense of the word, to have kids who we love dearly, to change a job and experience so much fulfilment. Thoughts that make us walk in the rain after a long, dry spell and even though we’re 60-something. Wonderful thoughts that have a momentary impact on our LIFE but that also, when the millions of them are aggregated make us who we are. Celebrate your thoughts.
- Choices make a man [and woman, if you are]
Thoughts are not linear. I listened to AB being interviewed by Ali Bacher the other day. They discussed AB’s prowess as a rugby fly-half, his scratch golf handicap, and his ability to play hockey. But seriously talented, he chooses to play cricket – and the rest, as they say, is history. What sense, common-sense, advice, ambition, like, dislike, support, parent, school teacher caused him to take that decision and drop the others, except golf, and focus on cricket. Now we look at him with records all over his personal scoresheet, and we see magnificent “fit” and benefits to spectator and team alike. [Come back AB. The IPL is rich but the World Cup, much sweeter :-)]. In exactly the same way, we have made choices that have defined our lives. When I have a big decision to take, I often write down the scenario and the context because, as you often find, the decision seems to crash around you or is a rip-roaring success. Either way, I like to be able to look back and understand exactly what my thinking was then and reconcile to the fact that the decision seemed right at the time. Bottom-line of this tiny paragraph is that we are also the sum total of all our choices at any moment in time. So when you have a biggie to make, accumulate all your thoughts and take counsel of wise men and women, then evaluate the alternatives and choose the one that is the best for you at the time and for your future. Remember that buying soap and moving to a new town are hugely different so channel your emotions and, may I say it, your common-sense, to take the time to carefully consider the LIFE-altering decisions.
- Get over yourself
So you look back honesty at LIFE and see that it has been pitted with mistakes. Mine too has big ones that I regret. Mistakes, that in hindsight, you think “what was I thinking/doing?” Some mistakes so recent that you could reach out and touch them whilst others so distant that you can hardly verbalise them. PLEASE, let them go. Let regrets vanish like the mist over the Vaal River before the rising sun. Use every means you have – your faith, your meditation, your exercise, your sleep, your good relationships, whatever, to get over yourself. You are worthy of better and the rest of your LIFE lies before you. Don’t allow mistakes to cripple your future.
And a different spin on the same theme. I read a book by CS Lewis called Mere Christianity. An eye-opener when it comes to the universal malady of Pride. He’s so simple in his approach as to whether we are proud or not and asks that you ask yourself the question: “Am I proud?” If you say, “No”, then you are! You may not agree, or you may wriggle around the thought, but the Good Book says, “Pride comes before a fall.” The older you get the more you see the impact of pride on peoples’ lives. Pride, or arrogance, breaks relationships, threatens, claims rights that are not its own; arrogance can lead to complacency. As an historic corporate collapse, how much did pride and arrogance lend to the outcome at Steinhoff? I put to you that pride makes you bigger than you really are, “bullet proof” and highly complacent. Too many have fallen at that stage for me to be completely wrong in my assumptions. PLEASE ALSO let it go. Humility heals and teaches, humility changes attitudes, humility makes you think again and humility may ultimately save you from making a mistake that could be mission-critical to LIFE – yours and those closest to you.
In the book of her LIFE, Gail Kelly who some of us know [she was considered by Times magazine to be one of the Top 100 commercially influential women in the world], talks to the role of Learning. In fact, her title is Live Lead Learn. A different way of viewing this is to remember that no pain is wasted if it grows us. How else do we learn to walk? Babies fall far more before they learn to walk without a fall. LIFE is like that so get used to it. Nothing is wasted unless we waste the experience – that’s why it’s called Experience; we need to sense and feel some stuff before it sinks in. Resilience grows as we learn from experience and overcome obstacles on the path to success. But then the great thing is that when we understand the rule, we can teach it to others. Do you teach your children from Dr Spock et al or do you teach them from what you have learned by experience? Theory is qualifying, theory practiced and learned is education. Learn and Teach – your children, your pupils, your employees and eventually, yourself.
I’ve been long-winded as usual. Apologies. But when I speak from the heart about something that’s on my heart, I am passionate. As part of my purpose in writing these blogs, I am always confident that someone “out there” will read and need my message. May this blog be no exception to those of you who need a little perspective along your path at the moment.
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Yours in Property.