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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

NEW BEGINNINGS: A RAFT OF POSSIBILITIES

I am told that, astrologically speaking, this is a time for change and new beginnings for many people in the world.  Given developments in my own life, I tend to believe it.

On the eve of a merger between our firm and the giant #BowmanGilfillan (@BowmanGilfillan), it is time to reflect on what might be possible with new beginnings (also known as "change").

The first challenge with change is to transcend the resistance to the impending change.  It took me (and my partners) some time to get over our grumpiness about surrendering our names to the new firm and what we perceived as surrendering an independence which we treasured and nurtured.  It was only once we could let those go (partly ego-driven and partly fear-driven) that we could boldly step up to the challenges of this new adventure.

The truth about our resistance is that, whilst we may be losing the name of our firm, we are losing nothing of our goodwill and reputation in the market - it's not as if we as individuals will evaporate with the firm's name - and although we may have different reporting structures, we are still free to run our part of the new firm as creatively, impeccably and in alignment with our personal values as ever.

Having risen above the resistance, I have been able to see clearly the possibilities for the group of people making up our firm: access to bigger markets, a massive network of support, better quality work, security for the future, a bigger and stronger team, developing our young team members into leading experts in their respective fields, greater learning, and, and...

It was hard to see all of that with a cloud of negativity sitting on top, but now I can hardly contain my excitement at the possibilities coming out of our merger.

New beginnings indeed, but the possibilities only emerge when the engagement with and embracement of the change is complete.  A half-hearted engagement will fog over the possibilities.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

#ENOUGH_IS_ENOUGH

Last week 4 year old #TaegrinMorris tragically and needlessly died after being dragged for a number of kilometres alongside his mother's car, which had been #hijacked in #ReigerPark.  I heard a Community leader being interviewed who said: "Enough is enough", speaking about crime in Reiger Park and this brutal act as the last straw.  And I wondered why it had had to come to this before enough was enough.

Reiger Park has had a major crime problem for a long time.  One has to think that each new crime should act as some sort of a wake-up call, but perhaps when it has being going on for long enough it somehow becomes the norm in people's lives.  Finally the brutality of this particular crime seems to have been enough to wake not just the good people of Reiger Park from their slumber, but also the rest of South Africa from its apathy.  Whether there will be a measurable crack-down in crime remains to be seen.

Which gets me to how we all tend to live our lives.  We are getting wake-up calls all the time, hand delivered by Life.  Some we respond to as soon as they arrive (or shortly thereafter).  Some we ignore until they get too big to ignore.  Take the person who pays no heed to his or her expenditure, living a life on credit.  Every bill received is a wake-up call, every time he sees the credit card statement is another wake-up call, when he gets a letter of demand it's a bigger wake-up, the sheriff delivers a summons is a bigger one yet, then sequestration and so on. 

The question for all of us is: How big does the wake-up call have to get before we notice that there's a problem?  If we could get into the habit of reading the signs and data flowing towards us all the time and respond immediately and effectively, how much greater are the chances of not losing businesses, not getting ill, not damaging relationships and so on?

So what wake-up calls have you been ignoring for a while?  And how much bigger must they get?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

MAKING YOUR TIME ON EARTH COUNT


There is an URGENCY about the way in which we spend each moment of our allotted time.

We may, naively, believe that we have been allotted the standard three score years and ten, or a bit more, but we cannot know.

All we can know is that our time is limited to a finite number of seconds.

And if, on taking our last breaths, we seek to measure our lives, surely that measurement will be against how we used those seconds and the fulfillment we attained?

The urgency is to waste no moment, to use each precious second to attain the fulfillment we seek.

At the ends of our lives, the questions we need to answer with certainty are:

Have I...
Learnt to connect fully, deeply and completely with others?
Been in a fully committed relationship, no holds barred?
Felt true love, joy and gratitude?
Loved someone so much it ached?
Transcended my fears?
Let go of my judgments of others, allowing them to be just who they are?
Dropped all expectations and celebrated Life as it happened in its fullness?
Honored and embraced my health and body?
Explored the miracles of our natural world?
Walked, danced or played in torrential rain and simply been happy?
Sipped a glass of Merlot at sunset and become one with the Universe?
Swum naked in the moonlight?
Listened to a piece of music which made me feel close to God?
Watched the sun rise over a majestic mountain range?
Rolled in the snow?
Drunk from a mountain stream?
Made love on a beach?
Felt deep gratitude for EVERYTHING in my life, past and present, including simply being alive?
Felt joyful for no tangible reason at all?
Fully grieved all of my losses?
Let go all of my resentment?
Tested my limits and learnt something new about myself?
Healed all inter-personal rifts?
Completed all unfinished business?
Accepted every aspect of Life, just as it is?
Embraced my humanity?
Truly realized my authentic self?
Made a significant difference in the life of others?
Explored all the possibilities I foresaw for myself?

If not, why not?  What got in the way?

The question for now: So, how ARE you using your precious time?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

MORE LESSONS FROM THE LABYRINTH

I've been walking in the #Labyrinth with Kazalette Kiepiel here at St Francis Health Centre.  As always, it presents itself in many ways as an allegory for Life.

As I walk, I find myself every now and then wondering how I got to a particular place and how I will ever get out of the labyrinth.  Then I am reminded that the labyrinth, like Life, brought me to the place where I am at any given moment and the labyrinth, like Life, will provide a route out again.  That is because you can never get lost in a labyrinth - either you retrace your steps to where you came from or you go forward to your destination.  Even if you are not sure where you are in your life, you need to remember that you are here now and that you cannot get lost.  As with the labyrinth, sometimes I just need to remember that I don't have to keep figuring Life out for myself, because perhaps it has already been figured out for me.

When I am walking the labyrinth, if I start anticipating reaching the centre or the end, I find myself getting impatient.  When I just enjoy the walk and place myself in the present moment, the walk become timeless and each moment becomes light.

If you've never walked a labyrinth before, I strongly recommend you find one and do so.  It really is a walk of discovery. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

MAYBE I'M HERE FOR THE FOOD...

As I write I am on my annual pilgrimage with Kazalette Kiepiel to the beautiful St Francis Health Centre near Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape.  We come here to detox, rejuvenate and reboot our systems.

Beautiful and restful as the place is with its wonderful views, inspiring walks, daily massages and other treatments, labyrinth and inherent stillness, one wouldn't describe it as a culinary delight.  In fact, in the past I have said that you don't come here for the food.  The detox regime is challenging and takes you right out of your comfort zone into a place of hunger pangs and making do with what you are given, which as it happens is not very much.

This is my third visit.  I found the first one tough, the second easier and as I sit here on day one I can't imagine why I made a fuss previously.

This time I have arrived knowing the benefits that are available, knowing how good I feel at the end of the week, how much unneeded weight I will lose, knowing that this will help me break the unhelpful eating habits I have taken on in the last year and knowing that what I am given to eat here has been thoughtfully provided with my well-being in mind, not with some sort of sadistic intent to make me suffer.

Just this simple change in mind-set - understanding that whatever challenges this place may present, they are intended for my good - has made this an expedition to be savoured and favored.  It has made day one - generally my least favorite - infinitely more enjoyable and actually a cinch.

Imagine if children could understand that when their parents put their feet down, it is from a place of love and with the well-being of the child in mind.

Now imagine that Life's challenges are for your greater good.  Imagine that everything that comes your way is offering you an opportunity to grow and bring out your best qualities, to help you attain an understanding if your highest and most noble self.  If this can be your mindset, rather than that Life or God might somehow have it in for you, how then might you approach the challenges that come your way?

Back to St Francis now.  Perhaps it IS the food I come for, even if its gifts aren't immediately apparent.
  

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

THE POWER OF RAGE

A little while ago I was in a complete rage about a decision that went against what I then wanted. The details don't matter and won't necessarily add much to this story.  However, I remember in that state of rage truly wanting to throw my toys out, to turn my back in the others involved, sabotage the process and fundamentally behave like a five year old brat.

In that rage, however, I was also able to see that brat behaviour wasn't going to serve me or the greater picture.  What it would do, however, was to give me the fuel to start considering other possibilities which I had previously discounted or not even considered as possibilities.

My rage started to prompt the flow of all sorts of creative juices about what might be possible and offer things that were so radically different from the situation I was in that I started instead to get excited about all the possibilities.  It also required me to look at the whole picture and not just the small part which I demanded should be different.

I finally got congruent about the things I was unhappy about and have since moved on.

However, what this illustrated is how powerful we truly become from a space of rage or anger.  As much as it can be a destructive force,   it can also be channelled as a fuel for powering creative possibilities.  The trick is  to reign it in and discern the destructive impulses from the creative and constructive ideas.  The other trick is not necessarily to dump your rage on others, but sit with it, draw on its power and let it disperse on its own when it has served you.

When did you last have a good rage?

Saturday, 5 July 2014

WRESTLING WITH INEQUALITY

Someone said to me that people aren't as upset by #poverty as they are by #inequality of #wealth. If you put equally poor people together they will get on relatively harmoniously, but if you put rich and poor together resentment will fester to the point of violence, robbery and sabotage.

However, the one brutal truth with which we must live is that there will always be inequality.  Life is just set up that way, and even if everyone in the world were to subscribe to the idea that we should somehow all be equal in wealth, it would simply not happen.

The thing with which I wrestle is whether there is any clear answer to how all of us in our unequal states should be with the inequality.  (I am focusing on inequality of wealth for the meantime, rather than sporting and other prowess.)  It is easy for me to say that I am at peace with and accept the fact that Bill Gates has more money than I am likely ever to have.  It is not quite as easy for my countrymen who have no electricity or flush toilets and must fetch water daily from a stream to say that they are at peace with me being better off than them.  Sure, we can put it all down to karma and say that the enlightened approach is to meditate and be in a state of acceptance: all will then be well.  I suspect that the enlightened approach comes easier to the wealthy and comfortable than the poor and miserable.

And yet the day to day reality remains the same, with low levels of employment and little hope of upliftment.

It is also easy to say that the wealthy must have compassion for the poor.  Although that may make the wealthy feel better about the wealth gap and a bit sanctimonious, feeling compassion for the poor won't necessarily put bread on their tables.

I'm not suggesting that we all need to start giving our fish to the poor, but if we could each find our own way to teach them to fish, perhaps we could start making a difference.

It's easy enough to say "not my problem", but as the whole country has seen from the recent platinum strike, the problem belongs to us all.

18 July will be Nelson Mandela day, when we are all invited to offer 67 minutes of service. This might be a good time to consider what you are planning to do with your 67 minutes.

Does anyone else feel bothered by this?  If so, what's your answer to inequality?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

THE HEALING POSSIBILITIES OF COMING CLEAN

#NewZealand cricketer, #LouVincent, has come clean and 'fessed up about his role in #match-fixing in English County Cricket.  What a refreshing change from all the B/S we have had to contend with from #LanceArmstrong and friends.

The full text of Lou Vincent's statement is at http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci-icc/content/story/756725.html.  It starts with the words: "My name is Lou Vincent and I am a cheat."  I don't think it can be said any cleaner than that.  He then goes on to spell out what he did, the pain his secret has caused him, the shame he has brought on his country, sport and loved ones.  He apologises and goes on to say:

"I can finally look my children in the eyes and tell them that honesty is the best policy - even if it feels like the hardest thing to do at times...I now believe in myself as a person again and I don't wake up every morning hating myself..."

I wonder how many of the rest of us carry dark, unspoken secrets around and hate ourselves for the subterfuge, incongruence and inauthenticity.  It seems to me that more and more often things are not as they seem.  More often nowadays, perhaps because of the invasiveness of social, print and electronic media, we find ourselves surprised or shocked by things which were beyond our contemplation.  Think of the 84 year old #RolfHarris, for instance.  He is still denying the allegations of sexual abuse of children despite a unanimous jury verdict.  Is he truly going to take this to his grave without 'fessing up and apologising?

Taking full ownership of our frailties and accepting the consequences, whatever they may be, does not mean that others get to condone those frailties, but they do give one an opportunity to make a fresh start, to start restoring self-respect and to embark on the process of self-forgiveness, whether or not anyone else chooses to forgive.  How else does one do it?