Personal Effectiveness [Part 6]


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.

Jack Trevena
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