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What do you really want out of life? Now what's stopping you?

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Death of a Dictator

The local paper here made interesting reading this morning. The headline was dominated by Saddam Hussein’s execution and, in a nation that is anti-American in policy, there was little surprise as to the slant of the story. There will be enough quotes from both sides of the fence to be able to justify any position on his death. The bottom line either way is that he is gone and now we face the repercussions of his hanging-positive and negative. The idea to hang him during a Muslim festival was probably taken into consideration-if not it was a pretty stupid oversight. There will be consequences both in Iraq and abroad and they will need to be dealt with, but then there are consequences to every action. It will be interesting to see just how far they will spread or wether they will fizzle out in a short time. For example, the copper price in Zambia is currently high at least partially as a result of the increased demand for weapons manufacture; should his death escalate conflict even further my northern neighbors would be most grateful. So we wait and see…

Friday, December 29, 2006


New Year, new resolutions? While the New Year provides a time for reflection on the past year and a time to think ahead for the second, it is not the only time that it should be happening. Evaluation should be a regular part of our lives, projects and business. I’m not saying that it is wrong to do it at New Year, it just isn’t the only time.

Resolutions-decisions that induce a week of hell before we give them up and experience a brief wave of guilt that is eased by performing the action we tried to quit. Sound familiar? The reason most of them fail is that they are set in the negative-“I have to give up smoking, I have to loose weight, I must stop spending so much, I need to… I have to….”
The resolutions we make are often focused on the think we are trying to quit give up. For example- “I must quit smoking…quit smoking…smoking…smoking…hmmm I need a smoke”. Make resolutions in the positive-I am fitter this year, I am healthier this year, I have saved more this year…it’s a step in the right direction. Having done TPI earlier last month I have seen that there is so much more to the process of change. But getting out of the negative is one thing that will make a huge difference.

So what you doing this year to celebrate? I’m working at the coffee shop. Let me know what you up to-I love the feedback

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Time

I guess I knew that this Christmas would be unusual, being the first one without my mum. It was a time of deep emotional unheaval beneath the surface.No many tears though. I am still processing everything that took place, but have a peculiar peace about everything. One day I may share more on it, but not right now.

I am back in Harare and back at work today-both works in fact. Am psyching up for New Years Eve when I am on duty at the coffee shop-all night!

Just a short post this time to let people know where I'm at.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dodge, duck, roll, aim and fire! That’s what I spend Friday doing. I ended up playing network games against a few friends, mainly Call of Duty and Battle for Middle Earth II (which I still regard as one of the best games ever). I realized that I have a major flaw that I need to deal with. Once I have a working strategy, I tend to lock onto it and use it all the time-to my detriment. Once placed in a different scenario or playing against a different race, the old strategies just no longer work. Arrows work well against foot soldiers, but when the game shifts to artillery unless you change you are asking for a whole bunch of crushed fletching. Instead of looking forward and compensating, I tend to only change after a while. Sure we learn from our mistakes, but there is really no excuse when you know the information before the game starts. It’s got me thinking about where else in my life do I not think ahead. If I behave like this in a computer game where there is nothing to lose but ego, what happens when I am operating in reality. I am aware of the problem, and am working to rectify it, I will let you know how it goes.

On the other hand, tomorrow is Christmas Day. I’ll be of to the farm to spend time with my dad. I may not get a chance to post for a couple of days so MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 17, 2006


There is a unique trend in Africa, especially here in Zimbabwe. It involves placing the blame for any situation squarely on the shoulders of the western governments. I heard it described once as “the economy’s failed it’s Tony Blair’s fault, we have no fuel it’s George Bush, my wife won’t sleep with me it’s the British Government.” We laugh at the absurdity of such comments, yet the real issue is the failure to take responsibility for our actions or the lack of them.

It is one thing for someone to not admit that they were wrong in doing something, it is another to realise that your inactivity has resulted in your current state. I have been lax in getting my book out; part of it is rooted in a fear of failure, fear of criticism and just a general lack of available time to action the process. These are all issues under my control and under my responsibility-fear can be overcome and time can be made. At this point the only person to blame for a lack of publication is myself. Once I have sent it out and released it to an agent, then, and only then, does the responsibility become shared. It has challenged me to look at other areas of my life where I am apportioning a share of blame to persons and circumstances that have little to do with the root-me.

It has been a key trend in talks, sermons, conversations and books this week. Once may be ‘coincidence’ but when the same message comes through again and again it is wise to sit up and take heed.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Habitual Unease

Finished work at 4pm and found myself with ‘nothing to do’ till 7. I began feeling a little uneasy and unsure of myself at the thought of all that ‘unoccupied time’. Most evenings recently have been filled with either work or some social function that only sees me home well after dark. This deviation from my ‘normal’ habit was rather unsettling. I did, however, have a number of things that I could attend to at home, so I stepped out of my little ‘comfort zone’ and home I went. One of the outstanding tasks that awaited me there was listening to my TPI follow up CD (designed to help with the long term application of the course). Guess what today’s lesson was on-breaking habits. It was so weird listening to someone explain exactly what I had just been through and the potential limiting effect on our behavior of such ‘stuck-in-the-rut’ thinking. This is one lesson I am unlikely to forget.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ahead of the Game

Words, thoughts, comments and memories; all currently serve to trigger episodes of paralyzing grief. Often without warning, sorrow grips my heart with an icy hand, banishing all other thought other than my mother is gone and will not be back. It is especially poignant at this first Christmas without her. While I may not be able to choose the unpredictable moments when these “attacks” may occur, I have found that I can choose my response. Rather than experience the total numbness that occurs, I have visualized myself taking these episodes and using them to stimulate the positive emotion of thanksgiving. It is not necessarily easy, but it allows me to move forward.

Deciding what to do before the moment has been one of the key principles I have discovered in life. Someone who desires to remain a virgin till marriage needs to make the decision not to sleep around before the opportunity presents itself. More over, if you can make the choice a powerful conviction and not just a preference then it will stand. I have found it helpful to base such convictions on wisdom literature that you can draw principles from (e.g. the Judeo-Christian bible, the Koran etc.). Internalizing the wisdom of others into your convictions makes them less likely to fail. Let’s take the sex example. The person who decided not to sleep around because he may get AIDS will find his ‘conviction’ weak when handed a condom, whereas the person who bases their choice on the biblical command to remain pure is less likely to compromise their stand. (By the way, I am not ‘bashing’ anyone’s choice in the sexual arena-it’s just an obvious example) Likewise the person who won’t steal because he will go to jail is likely to do so if he finds a situation where he won’t get caught, whereas the person who bases his life on ‘thou shalt not steal’ will probably not. Many of us do not know on what our choices/convictions rest, or consciously make such decisions, but they are worth thinking about.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Rain Dance

It’s about to rain. The clouds are rolling in across the city and the horizon under them is a deep purple. There is an air of anticipation as the breeze ushers in the smell of fresh fallen rain. It’s a beautiful sight, one that is fully appreciated by anyone who has ever lived through a drought. The scene brings back many memories-some pleasant, some not so great; of dancing in the first rain as children, letting ourselves be soaked by the falling droplets as they pierced our clothing with their cool wetness. I’m not sure when I last danced in the rain with such freedom and abandon. There is something in society that says that adults do not dance in the rain, that it’s not a grown up thing to do. That’s the part of society that probably believes that the world should be painted gray and that we should all walk about like little robots on autopilot.

When did you last climb a tree and look out over the world from a higher elevation, when did you last sit on the floor and work on something? There seems to be a point where we loose some of the ‘child’ in us, as if sitting on the floor diminishes our adulthood. There comes a time when many of us loose the sense of exploration that we had as children when the world was new to us, and we slip into the comfort of our quiet routines. Think back and dredge up a memory of younger days, and then go and do that which you used to do. Why not? Who is there to be afraid of? And if you are still young, go out and accept the responsibility of adulthood, but do not ever loose sight of the adventures of childhood. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get wet.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thinking ahead

Friday night was a blast! All the planning, preparation and visualization paid off and we had a successful evening. The coffee shop enjoyed an 80% occupancy throughout the evening and sales were the high. It was an example of anticipating the problems before they occurred and working to provide alternative solutions. It is probably impossible to envisage every single problem, but it is possible to visualize your response to an unexpected hiccup. My traditional response is one of panic and crisis management, but I had spent the week envisioning a calm, calculated reaction to any situation-and that’s what I got. To say it was a flawless evening would be a lie, but I had a great evening. Next week is the National Ballet performance at the same venue and I am already anticipating a phenomenal evening.

This afternoon our church banner and dance team performed at the opening ceremony of the Zone 6 gymnastics competition being held in Zimbabwe. Despite limited rehearsal, we pulled of a spectacular performance. It is always a pleasure to see something that you have invested time in have a positive impact and I am already dreaming up ideas for next year. There is nothing like success as a motivator. So imagine the end result of something you have to do and hold onto that vision through your preparation and practice.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Am about to experience what is possibly going to be the biggest night I have have ever had at the coffee shop. It's the CBZ A-Academy finals tonight (think Idols in Zimbabwe-the 5 finalists will be narrowed down to one winner) and I will probably be swamped with a 1000 people pouring through the coffee shop in a short space of time. So we have planned, we have though, we have envisioned what could happen, we have done all within our power to cater for an incredible evening that flows smoothly. I am anticipating a great night! The food is ready, the drinks are cooled, the tickets are still selling, all I can do now is sit back and wait for what I have visualised to become a reality. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Well it's been a while. Have been rather busy and not near a PC in order to make a post. Spent the better part of last week on an "Investment in Excellence" course with The Pacific Institute.

I have been on courses before that are designed to motivate and inspire, but I can safely say that this one is by far the best. The course is applicable and long term-not just a flash of post course glory. It examines how your mind works and how to maximise that to enable you to set and achieve your goals.

There are many principles, some I have come across elsewhere and some that are completely new. I am still processing most of the information, so to share anything meaningful will take some time. Needless to say, it has been a life-changing experience, and I do not say that lightly.

We live in a country where the general mood in the nation is one of despair and gloom, but as we went through the course the atmosphere began to lift and everyone became a lot more positive. At points you could feel the tangible change. That feeling has not left me three days later, despite being soaked in the same negative environment. It's that powerful...

Thursday, November 23, 2006


PC still down, car broken, cell phone stolen...what do all these have in common. They are currently the circumstances I find myself in. Sounds depressing? Believe me-you have no idea. I heard Pastor Sandy Ward once say that it doesn't matter if you go through hell-as long as you go through and don't stop and have a pity party. Well pity party is over and I am pushing on. Great people started where they were, with what they had, so that's where I am at. Circumstances can be changed in some cases. More important than the circumstances, is to deal with any root causes-either internal or external. Sounds crypic-sorry, but I'm short of time in an Internet cafe and will have to expand more on this later. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blocked again

When I started this I had writers’ block. I couldn’t for the life of me think of anything to write-this is most unusual. (As an interesting aside, does the apostrophe in writers’ block refer to a single writer, i.e. writer’s block, or plural writers, the way I have used it; in the assumption that millions of budding scribes have been frustrated by the experience?)

Staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration is one way around writers’ block, another is to start typing (like I have just done) in the hope that something meaningful will flow from my fingers. For others it may take a walk outside in a pleasant garden, for others a meal enjoyed with friends. Others may find solace and ideas during a period of solitude while enjoying a cup of fresh brewed coffee. The simple fact is that each of us has different triggers and different ways of kicking back. The trick is to identify these triggers and use them to your advantage. If going for a run gives you a kick then by all means go pavement pounding, just try not to involve me (unless I can cycle alongside). This week notice those things that give you the most pleasure, and those periods of time that are the most productive for you. Ask yourself why these are most productive, maybe no-one else is around, maybe you are more alert in the morning, maybe the sight of the single secretary down the corridor…ok we’ll leave that one there. Now ask yourself why you don’t have periods like that more often and do something about it.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Handed in the papers for my mum’s estate yesterday; brought a whole fresh wave of emotion. I wish I could say that I knew how to deal with it, but I don’t. There are just some things for which I do not have answers. There have been multiple books written on the topic, some are even worth reading (C.S. Lewis’s ‘The Problem of Pain’ and ‘A Grief Observed’ are two that I would recommend), but none can really prepare you fully for the actual moment of anguish and loss. Understanding the stages of grief does not lessen the fact that you will still go though them, maybe a bit faster, but still through them. Doesn’t sound fair, but then that’s life. As M Scott Peck observed, people expect life to be fair and are surprised when it’s not. We live in an imperfect world and pain and suffering are inherent to it. Does that ease the pain? Probably not, but at least you have an idea of what to expect.

grief life Lewis

Monday, November 13, 2006

Trees of Life.

This period of time is particularly beautiful in Zimbabwe. First, as winter shifts into spring, the msasa trees’ leaves come out. For those who don’t know, the msasa leaves first appear as red and orange and then turn green, almost the reverse of autumnal senescence. This turns large areas of forest into swathes of living fire. Then about September, the jacarandas bloom. Common throughout Harare, these ‘imported’ trees transform the avenues of the city into purple tunnels, while underfoot the crunch of fresh fallen flowers is unmistakable. As the jacarandas fade, the flamboyant trees explode in rage of red, until the rains come and strip their petals.

Each tree is distinctive in its pattern of blooming, and easily recognisable. In a similar way, are there any factors that stand out in our lives? What attributes to others see, and what attributes do you wish to have evident? My mother had a special way of interacting with children, she never had to tell you that she was good with young ones; it was evident without her opening her mouth. My one secretary is similar in that regard, she loves dealing with kids, her eyes light up every time one walks into the practice-she can’t hide it. My friend Jon is passionate about music; it’s obvious in the way he talks about bands and songs and the way he plays. It’s an unavoidable part of him. He doesn’t have to tell you that he loves music, it just shows through his behaviour. Think about friends you know, what is the first word that comes to mind to describe them? Now, what do they think of when they think of you.

Positive attributes in your character will always show up. The flip side of the coin is that negative attributes will also be obvious. If you have a problem with anger, fear, or rejection, these will eventually show up. The good news is that they can be altered and changed.

‘By their fruit you shall know them’ is indeed a true and valid concept.

Harare character tree

Sunday, November 12, 2006

More Images

I have been thinking a lot about images since I last wrote. The images we form of ourselves are shaped and created by the words we speak and the other things we see. One of the reasons television and multimedia advertising is so powerful is that it allows the creation of an image in your mind without the process of words. An instant picture is transferred into your mind without you having to create it. If your do not guard your mind you are susceptible to such ‘mental’ attacks. One of the reasons pornography is so successful is that it operates in this manner.

To change the image of yourself you have to change what you say about yourself. Positive confession has power, unfortunately so does negative confession. Negative confession is often rooted in your image of where you are now, not of where you want to be. Unless you continually reflect on where you want to be, you will never see yourself there, and consequently you will never get there.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Television, billboards, magazines...images are all around us. They influence us in what we buy, wear, feel and how we behave. They help shape social norms (anyone remember the first gay kiss in movies years back and now how every sitcom seems to have a gay couple now?) Like it or not, images are here to stay and they WILL shape you.

What is your image of yourself? How do you see yourself? Is it positive or negative, does in influence others, or is yours readily influenced by external pressure? How you see yourself will determine how you act, where you be and what you become. What you are today is an expression of your internal self image. Change the inside and the outside will change. True and lasting change comes from within. Too many times we try change the outside-you can't take someone from the slums and place him in a mansion without changing him internally first-else he will turn the mansion into a slum. Don't like what you see, change your image of yourself!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Jingle Bells

Christmas music and decorations have already hit the shops as santas and angels jostle for window space. It’s pumpkins out and reindeer in. Themed music bombards the ears of shoppers, reminding them that, with just less than two months to go, time is running out.

Some regard this as an infringement on their rights, as the imposition of an outdated festival that has little to do with their beliefs and values. Christians complain at the secular materialism that has corrupted their sacred festival, while others remark that at least hymns are hear by those who would otherwise never set foot in a church, even if the ‘praise and worship’ is interspersed with renditions of ‘Rudolph’.

Whatever your standpoint, it forces you to at least spare a passing thought about the core of the festival-Jesus. Despite the trappings and traditions and the secular ‘add ons’, it is primarily a festival of faith and a celebration by millions of the incarnation of their Saviour. It is a time for family and friends, and despite the negatives (e.g. binge drinking, fuller shops, spending unnecessary amounts of money) I think that it has a lot going for it. For me it is a feast of remembrance, a time to sit back, relax(hopefully) and meditate on the past year and plan for the one to come. A time to enjoy the company of others, and for a short time forget all the mess and worries around us and enjoy a moment of peace.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Spent last night on the farm. Had to go through some of mum's old filing to get documentation needed for estate. Brought home to me the importance of having a decent filing system. Mum was organised, she just never through anything out, but to be honest I can't say I can make total sense of her filng. That said, if you ever asked her for anything, she could tell you exactly where it was. I am trying to think generationaly at work. I am writing things down in a procedures manual so that in case someone moves on it is easy for the next person to pick up the pieces. Having to decide what is necessary is interesting and helps to refine your own processes.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


As I was leaving the house this morning I noticed that the oleander outside my gate had bloomed. There is not much unusual in this until you realise that they had been in bloom for the last two weeks, and I use the gate everyday. I had been blinkered by my grief and routine, and not even noticed the beauty that had been awaiting me each day. So I start to ask myself, what else have I been blinded to the last few weeks? Check your routine. Are you missing something that you otherwise take for granted? Look with fresh eyes on your route to work. Take a good look at your colleagues. Take someone different out for coffee this week, and listen to what they have to say. Roll back the blinkers a bit and see what else is there.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Essence of Life?

Am writing this from a different PC to usual, mine crashed last week and is in for repairs.

One of the long term friends of our family is a couple who currently reside in South Africa. During my trip back from Cape Town, I stayed a few nights with them. The amazing thing about this couple is that they have been married for 62 years! They have stuck it out through thick and thin, through sickness and health and family trauma. He was abducted during the war in Zimbabwe, he has a long-standing heart condition and she is prone to falls. They are lovely to watch. They still hold hands. Aware that this could easily have been the last time I would see them, I asked them what the secret of their success was. Their answer, ‘they never went to bed angry.’ A simple but profound key; a nugget of wisdom that they consider to be one of the pivotal cores of their success.

Now, I am aware of the pitfalls of oversimplification, but what would your response be if someone asked you for the best piece of wisdom that you had? If you could distil your experiences and examples down into one phrase, what would it be? It may be something you thought up, a core value deep within your system, or it could be something you read, but I guarantee you, that if you think long enough you will find something you can pass on.

Mine, hmmm. I’ll admit it took some thinking-I have sat under the teaching of some great men. I guess for me it would be ‘Get on with it!’ Too many people have a dream or an idea that they never act on. Great people never started ‘great’. They began where they were with what they had (which was often just a great dream). The Wright brothers did not always fly, nor was the mane ‘Gates’ part of every household. If you know what you want to do-then set about doing it. So that’s my current piece of advice. It may change in the future, but probably not too soon. What’s yours?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Back at the Desk

Am back in the office. Worked at the coffee shop over the weekend and started physio again today. It is still a rough period. Had the memorial service on Thursday last week, I spoke, not the easiest thing to do.

The main thing for me has been to find an anchor to help structure my days, I'd be pretty useless otherwise. In this case, getting back into my 'normal' routine has been paramount, while my 'to do' list has helped provide focus and direction. There is much extra to do, there are all sorts of consequences from my mother's death. Things that have to be sorted out. I am, however, not foolish. I know that I will have good and bad days, so I won't try force anything. The list merely serves to show me what I can do when I am up to it, and remind me of what is easily forgotten at this time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pain and Sorrow

The recent absence of regular posts this last fortnight was as a result of the untimely death of my mother. She had been having radiotherapy in Cape Town and eventually succumbed to some unexpected side effects. I have spent the last week in Cape Town with my family and we drove back up to Zimbabwe over the last couple of days. There is much still to do, and I will be out on the farm for the next few days.

There is much to celebrate in her life, and much of what I am today is a result of her influence; she is after all the person who taught me to read and write.

Will try and get back into my usual routine after the weekend.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


It rained yesterday, for the first time this season. There is always something refreshing about the first rains, it brings a promise of hope after a period of lack and dryness. It cools the earth and settles the dust of the past months. Things appear cleaner and reveal their true colours that have been hidden under layers of dirt and grime. In a few days, new green shoots will appear in the grass and some flowers will begin to bloom. It is a wonderful time.

Rain in Africa is different to other places. A storm is just that-an intense burst of hard-hitting, large drops that breaks upon you from above. Not for Africa is the incessant dribble that could easily be mistaken for a heavy mist.

It will probably rain again today, the atmosphere is heavy and there are already signs of cloud build-up. There are other clouds though, those that bring a promise of rain but fail to deliver-either because they have not formed properly, or because they are driven rapidly away by the wind. I’m pretty sure you know people like that; those who could be so effective if they had a bit more training, or those who are to windswept in life and unable to settle long enough to do anything meaningful. Men are full of promises, but how many are truly men of their word. Now you firmly have a picture of someone else in your eye (come on I know you do), take a moment to reflect on your own life. Do you bring refreshment, value and life into the lives of others and do you stimulate growth in those around you? If not, determine today the steps you can take to change.

Tags rain encouragement personal development

Friday, September 29, 2006

Mix and Match

Been using Technorati a bit more lately. One of the things that amazes me is the vast difference between top tags and top searches. It almost looks as though people are not writng about what others are looking for (although with 50 million blogs someone somewhere probably has your information). For example, look at the list below from this morning

Top Searches
Tom Green
Paginas Da Vida
Lindsay Lohan
Mark Foley
Jada Fire

Top Tags
thursday thirteen

Not a lot of matches there. Surely, if you want to promote your blog it would make sense to write about something that matches what people are looking for-even if it's just once in a while. A marketer once told me-'find what people want and make it. It sure beats trying to sell them what you have.'

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Nation in Crisis

The situation in Zimbabwe is worsening as a shortage of chocolate hits the market! One of the major suppliers to the coffee shop is unable to supply the usual quantity of chocolate due to a shortage of raw materials. So far, the general public is still consuming old stock in the shops, but replacement will be another story. It is simply a matter of time before the racks of enticing goods placed by the till to tempt innocent shoppers are empty. For chocoholics, like myself, this is a disaster of monstrous proportions. Unless dire steps are taken, there will be a widespread manifestation of withdrawal symptoms in those who cannot obtain their daily fix; the loss of productivity will take a heavy toll on an already stretched economy. The solution: in the short-term release forex to import the necessary goods. In the long term, plant cocoa trees in appropriate areas in the country to ensure self-reliance for cocoa production. Have you ever wondered why cocoa from North Africa and sugar from Mauritius is taken to Europe for processing and exported back to Africa? Have a beautiful day. I’m off to enjoy a bar of chocolate-while stocks last.

Zimbabwe chocolate humour

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Defining Moments

Yesterday I finally made a decision I have been wrestling with for some time. I gave up ballroom dancing. There are multiple factors at play; the primary one being that I just do not feel that it is producing any lasting results in my life and the lives of others, and that I could make better use of the time. Sometimes pruning is necessary for growth. It has been a hard choice. I have just closed the door on three years of competition. It will mean changes in relationships and friendships I have developed as a result. It is entirely possible that this will be a seasonal break, we shall see. It is an interesting time.

The reactions of people have been varied. So many people have come to define me by my dancing that it is hard for them to see me in any other light. I can’t let the definitions of others define my life and values-that has to come from me, and God. In a recent post, Dr John Stanko mentioned coming up with defining values for your life. It got me thinking about my own. I suppose I had never really paid much attention to them. The premise is that if you understand what your values are, you will plan your life around what is important to you. When you are doing what is important to you, you will be fulfilled.
So here is the beginning of my list:

I am a learner
I am a worshipper
I am faithful and loyal
I am a team player
I am a teacher
I am a man of prayer
I am an encourager
I am a good steward of what is given me

It is by no means complete and I will add and expand on it in the next week. I encourage you to start your own.

personal development

Thursday, September 21, 2006

To learn perchance to teach

What did you learn today? I learnt that my friend Luke prefers to sing pop to opera, how to add tags to a post, that my mother is doing well in South Africa, and that one of my students, Silas, has a tendency to sleep in class. None of it is earth-shaking stuff, but it’s all come to me today. Some of it may change tomorrow (Silas may wake up, Luke may discover rock and my mother could decide to come home), that shouldn’t stop me learning. Rather, it should encourage me to seek out unchanging principles from the stuff that come my way (e.g. you reap what you sow). Learning should be a way of life.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tongue Tied

“If you need an offering for your envelope please raise your hand…”

I almost died of embarrassment on stage this weekend. The above quote (which should have been read with offering and envelope transposed) was the source of much humour after the church service that I MC’d at-most of it directed at me and my overzealous mouth. Statements like that in front of 3000 people don’t normally go unnoticed. Needless to say, I survived, although I probably won’t be allowed to forget it for about a month. I also managed to work out what to say if I make an error like that again. I hate making mistakes, but at least it is an opportunity to learn.

To be honest, last week was one of those weeks I’d rather forget. I nearly ran out of fuel, had to pay out a vast quantity of cash for my car to be serviced, woke up to a broken geyser on Sunday morning, and didn’t get a day off at all. Poor me-ok pity party over. This week is looking up. I had a rather productive morning today, and although busy, the rest of the week should bring an upturn. Despite the horrendous happenings of last week, I was able to enjoy much of it. I finished a query letter for my novel, managed to make enough cash at work to pay for the car, I finished reading a great novel (called Magician by Raymond E. Feist-link), resisted the urge to kill my grandmother, and got to spend at couple of hours with some good friends. Attitude is everything.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pink? (updated)

I thought I would add a bit to the previous post. Firstly, here is a photo of the offending shirt and tie.

I was pondering over my natural disinclination towards pink and realised that it probably stemmed from the early childhood concept of 'boys in blue, girls in pink'. I was allowing someone else to define my boundaries. To be honest, pink is probably not the best colour for me, unless it borders on dark purple. It doesn't lift me up like my other favourite colours (dark blues and purples in case you really need to know). So, despite the compliments, I won't be out shopping for more pink combo's. It's not that I didn't appreciate people's comments, I only hope that I can put what I like ahead of what others say about me. Raises an interesting question-when should the compilments that people pay you be seriously taken as an indicator of the direction that the rest of your life should take? After all, if people compliment you on a job you enjoy doing, maybe that's one of the keys to unlocking your purpose. Will give it some more thought, but let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Had a busy weekend. As I mentioned, I was MC'ing on Sunday. My co-host amd I decided to wear pink shirts and ties with navy blue jackets. Pink is apparently the latest fashion colour for guys. I have never worn pink before-just a deep seated prejudice about guys in pink-so I had some reservations and was not entirely comfortable with the idea. Still, I have never recieved so many compliments about a piece of clothing-it seemed everyone I spoke to liked the tie and shirt combination. How often do irrational mindsets set us back from doing something that would otherwise benefit us?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Updating me.

For a change, just thought that I'd take the time to give a bit of an update on me, rather than addressing a specific issue.

Hmmm. I suppose the main thing is the 'Majoring in Men' course that I have started. It entails studying 9 books over 9 months with a whole bunch of practical stuff as well. The idea is to train you up as an individual to deal with the issues in your life, as well as minister to other men. The course work is not hard, but the practical is real hard hitting, core changing stuff.

Have the National Ballroom Champs in 2 weeks. Missing a out-of-town competition this weekend, mainly as not had enough practice and a bit far to go. The Nationals are the last scheduled competition this year, so not a great attendance record at comps this year.

The parents are down in South Africa this moment while mum has radiotherapy. She is doing well and should be back in early October.

Not sure on all the weekend plans this weekend. Probably a breather on Saturday as I am MC'ing in church on Sunday(only found out today-thought I was on in 2 weeks) and got coffee shop tonight and Sunday night.

So nothing earthshaking or mindblowing, but that's where I am at the moment.

Monday, September 04, 2006

On Top of it All

Are you on top of your work, or is your work on top of your? That’s the dilemma I currently face. I have been doing a bit of stocktaking in my life and realized that sometimes I tend to let tasks build up to the point where they become monsters. What started out as a small, simple task turns into a towering obstacle to be overcome (e.g. my accounts at work-I am so glad I never became an accountant).

The principle I face is how can I ever do more if I cannot cope with what I currently have? If I cannot be faithful with small tasks now, what hope is there for me when I face new and larger responsibilities?

I have made a conscious decision to take control of the situation. By prioritizing, making to-do lists, and being a little more disciplined, I am getting to grips with the situation. One of my main excuses is that I never have enough time to do a task. This is simply not true. You will be amazed at how much time you actually have once to start to analyze it. Don’t believe me, keep a record. Record all those 15 minute moments where you do nothing; record the larger areas of time where you watch television (or if you’re like me, play computer games). Then, break your large task into smaller manageable chunks and start to DO IT! It’s rather foolish to plan something and then not do it. Also, consider what you can do to prevent a task building up, what can you do daily to deal with it, or is there someone you can delegate it to?

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I hate receiving criticism. The implications of failure and the manner in which it is delivered make it a bitter pill to swallow. The biblical book of Proverbs states ‘Poverty and shame will come to him who distains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honoured’ Prov 13:18. In dealing with people I have had many criticisms lately, especially with starting a new job (how come you always have the same stuff on the menu, your shop is too crowded, your shop is too empty, your prices are too high, your prices are too low).

Criticism, warranted or not, will come, it’s unavoidable. How we receive it makes all the difference. You can choose to react to it, or to respond to it. Reacting is simply that, a reaction, an instantaneous offensive to counter the perceived negative. Reacting can easily build up offence. Responding, on the other hand, means stepping back, swallowing the emotion and examining the offending information. There is always the possibility (however perfect we are) that the other person may be right. If so, what needs to change? If they are wrong, does the accusation bear a response? In my experience, often not. Sometimes there is need for extra information, just to clear the air.

It is a natural tendency to correct. My fear of criticism lead me, for a while, not to give honest answers when asked for advice, for fear of creating the same emotions that I felt in the other person. I soon learnt that this to is foolish. There is a way to package constructive criticism. Try offering a practical solution to the problem-‘have you considered…’ Or try the sandwich effect, a positive comment, the ‘unpleasant’ bit, and another positive comment. I really like what you’ve done with your hair, but are you sure that top goes with that skirt, how about the blue one instead, blue really brings out the colour of your eyes. And at the end of the day, don’t be offended if they ignore your advice-and what ever happens do not say smugly “I told you so”-they know that already.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Throw the box away!

How many sons, let alone husbands, would fly down to South Africa from Zimbabwe, for a day, in order to buy their mother a significant birthday present? Then on arrival back present them to her at a dinner held in her honour. Yet, that is what a friend of mine just did. Using his own finances he did what very few people would dream of doing. The extravagance may shock you-it is after all a considerable sum of money for such a short trip. I would argue that, firstly, she is worth it, and, secondly, money is a tool to be used in a calculated manner. He fully understood the sacrifice he was making, and its consequences. The effect on his mother was amazing and beautiful; she truly appreciated the effort involved.

I have written before about celebrating people when they are alive. As he said at the meal, taking her out for her birthday would have been too cliché-they had just been out the week before. So he thought out the box, broke a boundary that most of us do not approach in our thinking and did something that is astronomical and will remain a testimony and memory forever. I am inspired to think beyond the normal limits when planning a surprise, or spoiling someone. I may not have to fly to J’burg, but I’ll certainly be looking to do more than just dinner.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Step by step

Today was just one of ‘those’ days where everything got interrupted, where it would be easier to throw in the towel and just go and enjoy the sun. Work takes diligence. Blogging takes diligence. Diligence. Nice looking word, not so nice to enact, difficult at the best of times. Perseverance is one of those elusive qualities. When times are hard, diligence is avoided because of conflicting interests (‘there is too much else to do’). When times are easier, complacency becomes the enemy (‘it won’t matter if I skip a day’). Either way, we never get on and do that which we should be doing.

Lack of diligence means a lack of commitment. It is easy to begin in the emotion of the moment, but when feelings pass, what are you left with. The more unpleasant the task, the harder it is to be diligent with it. Diligence will cost you something, but the rewards may not always be an obvious gain. Daily scrubbing your teeth may not add anything extra to your life, but miss a few days and the world starts to let you know. Gains may also be slow, ask any dancer who is trying to increase their flexibility in order to do the splits.
Ultimately, diligence will get you where the uncommitted cannot go. It will develop the sort of character that is sort after by others. A man who cannot be taken at his word is a liar and a cheat. People do not often remember how you begin, but they will remember how you end-if you end. Only diligence will see you to the end of something meaningful.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Write it Down

The written word is one of the most powerful tools available today. We can use it to remind us of things to do, of activities long past. It can be used to convey instruction and warning. It can stimulate thought and discussion. Newspapers command our attention with their headlines-a negative review in a top column can sink a restaurant. Blogging, despite its IT format, is essentially the written word. Writing helps us to avoid the mistakes of the past, to learn from others.
If writing is so important to us, are you writing? If not, why not? The human mind, in general, is forgetful. Writing (or typing) can be used to provide an accurate record of what you are going through. Apart from this blog, I maintain a journal in which I record events, feelings and thoughts on at least a weekly basis. Another friend of mine keeps a memory list, when he remembers an event-he writes it down. We were able to go through the list a couple of weeks ago and relive memories that were prompted by what was written. Writing enables us to think beyond ourselves, beyond this generation. My gran wrote her memoirs of early days pioneering in Africa. Without that record I would have no idea of what she went through. My encouragement to you is to record the events of this last week down-your thoughts, experiences, anything you wish. Start journaling your memories-you won’t regret it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Maximised Listening

When was the last time you really listened to someone, no, I mean really listened to them. If you are anything like me, you will want to interject the minute someone opens their mouth to mention a problem; eager to dispense the all important knowledge and wisdom that you have gained. Of course you have the solution to their issue, that’s why they have come to you right.

Or, when was the last time you looked beyond the normal greeting platitudes (I’m fine, o.k., good) to find out how someone really is. When did you last truly listen to the love of your life.
I have been reading the book ‘Maximised Manhood’ by Edwin Louis Cole, and this is one of the many issues that he deals with. The book is wide-ranging and aimed primarily at men. It is an excellent read and highly challenging, if you are a man, I strongly recommend that you read this book.

For more information on Ed Cole check out www.EdColeLibrary.org

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Growing along the way

One of my little sidelines is occasionally doing calligraphy for certificates. Normally this involves filling in names for long service awards and the like. Normally, I get provided with a list of names, but occasionally there is a bit more history with them-dates commenced, start grade, current position.

One batch that I did had one interesting case that gripped my attention. A man had started out 25 years ago as a gardener and progressed to IT manager of his division. Considering that, when he began, IT involved telephone lines and certainly not computers, he had put in some serious training over the years. It struck me that this man had pursued a vision and dream. Looking down the list revealed a man who had started gardening at the same time, and guess what, he was still gardening. The second man had spent 25 years doing the same job- equivalent to spending 25 years in grade one.
Do you have a vision for the future, or do you find yourself stuck in the same rut? Where is your mindset? What do you need to change to get further? Why aren’t you doing it? In my experience, areas that I have no desire to change are areas where I have become set in a negative way of thinking, where the pain required by change does not exceed the pain of remaining static. Only a concrete internal decision is going to make a difference.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm back!

Kariba! That’s my excuse for my absence from the site. I have spent the last week up in the peace and tranquillity of one of the largest man made lakes in the world. Was on a houseboat with a bunch of friends. It was a surprise trip, which is why I didn’t mention it before, in case the wrong person read about it.

The primary reason for the excursion was to edify and initiate a young friend of mine who turned 18 this year. Each of the men on the trip took a few minutes to share an aspect of manhood, or an attribute that he could apply to his life. Building up others enables them to avoid the mistakes we have made in the past. Time will tell if this trip bears fruit in the future, I believe that it will.

Apart from that, it was fishing, fun, crocodile catching and suntanning. It was also the last week that I got to spend with another great friend who left to go back to college this afternoon. There were many memories created including catching a foot long crocodile and watching a lion hunt. The down time was necessary. I badly needed to recharge my batteries after a hectic year. I have come back refreshed and ready to face the rest of the year. I have one more planned break at the end of the month, although I may slot in another before Christmas.

So, it’s back to work (and play), which means that you should be hearing from me a little more regularly again.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Cleared my desk...

…well almost. Had a chunk of time this afternoon, so set about tackling some of the tasks that normally creep up on me over the month e.g. clearing out my inbox, balancing my accounts, patient notes and letters (they normally build up over the week). Definitely a case of delayed gratification; sacrificing the present for a better future (namely this weekend). I am now in a better position to be able to focus on this evening. I will probably end up doing a few tasks around the house before going to see a friend of mine.
I hope to take leave from the office in the near future-part of my ‘downtime’ program- and relax. Too late this year did I remember a promise to myself in August last year, that I would take some time off in July. I am paying the price with a slightly overworked body and a dose of allergies to boot. So, now that I have cleared my desk, I can look forward to shutting the office out of my mind for a few days and just ‘blob-out’ and recover.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Off the Floor

Had to withdraw from a dance competition today. Should be dancing tonight, but am having a repeat of the allergic reactions that put me in hospital last year-an experience I do not care to repeat. It is disappointing to see all the hard work go to waste, especially as competitions in Zimbabwe are few (the next one is in 2 months time). There will be other competitions. No-one accused life of being fair. There is a bigger picture at stake, and I need to focus on it. I could dance tonight, but history has shown that it is not wise, I had to walk off the floor mid-dance last year because I was unable to breath. Sacrificing one competition is a small price to pay for a faster recovery, avoiding hospital bills and being able to accomplish everything else that I need to do in a particulrly busy month. I have an orthpaedic surgeon out from the uk this month and will be busy in the hospital, as well as trying to juggle all my other responsibilities. So I guess I'll get over it-eventually.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I've found it.

I found it! No, not the answer to life; as you may recall, I mentioned in a previous post about 'suddenly' moments. I rediscovered the source this evening. It came in a newsletter called 'The Writer's Workshop'. The letter is written by Diane Scimonce who is the president of Peapod Publishing. The relevant article is found at this link, or you can subscribe to the newsletter at her site. I like to always give credit where credit is due, and she was responsible for that bit of revelation.

It is worth honouring others who have impacted you positively, especially if they are unaware of it. We seem to have lost the art of thanking people, either through a note, email or verbal message. My encouragment is that, this week, find someone who has done something, no matter how small, and thank them for it. You may be surprised at the result.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

At the End of a Day

It has been a beautiful day, despite a pretty horrific night. I will spare the details, but I was unwell yesterday evening. Was a bit better this morning and after an extended lie-in, decided to make breakfast. Small dilemma-we had no electricity, being in the middle of an extended power outage. So, cousin and I decided to go scout the 'opposition' and went an had a meal at one of the other coffee shops in town. I had a rather pleasant muffin (nothing too taxing on the stomach plesae), while Kyle tried something a bit more substantial. We then decided to go coffee-shop crawling, and in between shopping moved on to another two(one wsa closed so I suppose it doesn't really count as two). After dropping him at hockey, I had planned to stop by the office and catch up on some computer work. This I have dutifully done and have the pleasure of having completed the second draft of my book(see excerpt in previous post). Finally I have a document I think that I can show a publisher. It may get torn to shreds but that's the risk you take. I already have a basic outline for another book(hopefully part of a trilogy), and will see what comes of it. There is a lovely sunset outside and I am going to enjoy it for a moment before phoning up a friend to make plans for the evening. Despite the afternoon's efforts I am feeling relaxed and content.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

On the Way.

Well, well. This is my 50th post! I have managed to keep going for 4 months and reached what may be considered a landmark number. Is it really though? Is this post more important than any of the previous posts merely due to its numerical ranking. Once it is published, is not the next post the most important-the one that I need to write in order to keep the site alive?

I have found a passion for writing, and this blog allows me a creative outlet for what I write. Judging from the number of blogs on the net, I am not alone. One of the great things about writing like this is that you are generaly free to write what you will-there are few limitations to what you can put down and if no-else likes it, then tough. I have learnt a few skills along the way: have picked up a basic understanding of HTML (for the uninitiated, the media language used to creat web sites), have improved some of my spelling and grammar (no don't look), and have a bettter appreciation of what makes a great site.

Where this blog will go, I am not sure. There is still much to say, and many different ways to say it. So, I'll keep writing-just watch this space.

A Dying Breed?

Are the professions dying out? Have been speaking to a few of young adults this last week. What struck me was the fact that most of them do not regard themselves as a particular profession (even though many, including myself have a professional degree). Rather, they possess a unique collection of skills that they use to fulfil various posts and functions. If you ask them what they do, the description is not merely one of ‘accountant” or ‘personal-assistant’ but rather a brief sentence that details what they see as there skills or purpose. I’m not sure if this phenomenon is limited to Zimbabwe and has been created by the situation here, or if it is a broader trend related to this generation. While there is security in a fixed career structure, on a personal level I find the concept rather stifling-if I work for so many years, I can move up to another level if I pass my assessment-no thanks. But, admittedly that’s just me; or so I thought until I started talking with these people.

In a FastCompany article, Po Bronson states
“People don't succeed by migrating to a "hot" industry (one word: dotcom) or by adopting a particular career-guiding mantra (remember "horizontal careers"?). They thrive by focusing on the question of who they really are -- and connecting that to work that they truly love (and, in so doing, unleashing a productive and creative power that they never imagined).” and “There are far too many smart, educated, talented people operating at quarter speed, unsure of their place in the world, contributing far too little to the productive engine of modern civilization.”
Read the full article, and let me know what you think?

Friday, July 14, 2006

So, You've had a bad day.

I love that song by Daniel Powter, the music video is even better(Check out the lyrics or his web site). Got home last night to find that my delightful cousin, and potential bane of my days, had finished all the milk. Woke up this morning to a power cut-no hot breakfast and a rapidly cooling bath. Arrived at work to the universality of power shortages, although it has now returned and I can sip on that much needed coffee. Today is a day that I need strength and energy-between the practice and the coffee shop-I will only finish at 11 tonight without much of a break. So I had a bad start, so what. I can choose to mope, or I can make decisions that will benefit my experience today. I have already got some breakfast from a shop just down from work. I have purposed to take it easy and not get too stressed while treating, and have planned a couple of mini-breaks during the day. So I’m going to have an amazing day (and night), how about you?

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Continuous improvement is a necessity in life. In fact the only thing truly constant in life is change. I have finally managed to upgrade the browser on my dinosaur of a pc and will hopefully be better able to manage my site. One hopes that this will translate into better links, more photos once in a while and a richer text content.

My sister Rene' is out from the U.K. for a couple of weeks and I was able to spend much of the last day with her. It reminded me how important it is to maintain the connection with people and spend time with those we love. One of the hardest things for me has been to stop thinking of her as "my little sister" and accept that she is a grown up, quite capable of taking care of herself. To think of her in the same way that I did in the past would be foolish. She is older, wiser and capable of so much more than when we were younger. I love her to bits and am so glad that we have been able to share things in greater depth as our maturity has grown (hers has, I hope that mine has too).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Slow down for the sunset.

Was driving back from out of town the other evening when I noticed the sunset. Sunsets in Africa are spectacular and this one was no different. Then it hit me, I hadn't watched a sunset in ages. I had got too wound up running around doing other things to pay much attention to the beauty around me. So, I slowed down a bit and enjoyed the colours as they mingled, shifted and faded away.I encourage you this week to take a small break and do something you havn't done for a while, relax and enjoy it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Three little pigs

The tale of the three little pigs is a great moralistic fairytale describing how foresight and a bit of resilience can avoid you being turning into proverbial bacon. Personally, I prefer a more modern version of the tale where the third pig loads his shotgun and, when the wolf asks to be let in, blows him away to kingdom come. Either way, planning helps. While you may not be able to spot every trial, there are some things you need to do it you ever want to be able to achieve your dream.

Had an excellent conversation with a young patient yesterday who dreams of playing professional rugby. As a result, he was able to convince his parents to invest in a knee operation to treat in injury that would have otherwise sidelined his career. He should make a full recovery and be back on the road to achieving his vision in the next few weeks. The comment that got my attention was “I want to have no regrets”-if you have ever read the first few entries in this blog, you will know that is one of my aims in life. He will probably go far-especially with parents who believe in him as well. He was aggressive with the trial that came his way- he boiled the proverbial water while it was coming at him down the chimney. We need to the same with our trials-face them, think up an innovative solution and act on the problem.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Question everything

Magazine interviews have the potential to be the most boring pieces of literature available, easily glossed over and avoided due to the mindless nature of common questions. Small talk may help break the ice, but it’s never going to give me any substantial information. If I want to know her eye colour then I’ll look at the photo accompanying the commentary. I recently came across a series of refreshing interviews in a magazine in a colleague’s waiting room. Questions like “How would you spend you last day on earth?” can give you insight into someone’s value system. “What would you do it money was not an issue?” can help you see if you are satisfied with your current situation.

If you had an hour with a person you admire, famous or infamous, dead or alive, what questions would you ask them? I can almost guarantee that you would not be wasting time on the weather. Why then do people inflict mediocre questions on people? My aim this week is to ask entertaining and though provoking questions of the people I meet, probably only one per conversation else it may scare them. Share the most creative question you have ever been asked or asked as a comment on the site for others to see.

Email Updates

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Just a thought.

How many times have you faced a bad superior? Does your immediate boss have any really irritating habits? Does your manager know how to bring the best out of you? I thrive on recognition so someone else taking credit for something I have done and not even acknowledging my input is probably my greatest let down. Let me know your pet management hate, and if possible your solution. While you're at it what do you look for in a great manager? I would hate to inflict your experience on some poor waiter under me.

Monday, July 03, 2006

'Suddenly' moments.

I write this a bit jaded and weary after my first day on a new job! That’s right-new job. I’m now a part time manager for a fantastic coffee shop attached to a world class conference centre in Harare. I am still doing physio, just less so.

How did all this happen? It’s a case of a “suddenly” moment. I once heard a speaker refer to “suddenlies” in reference to points of time where everything falls into place and opportunities come your way. This is one of those. I did not apply for the job, I did not actively seek the job, but it just happened in a series of events. I won’t bore you with the details but, 2 weeks ago, I was approached with an offer and after consideration said ‘yes’. In my life list there is an entry “coffee shop” that entry now has a large tick next to it.

The main things with a “suddenly” is to be prepared. For some time I have been trying to wean the practice off me-to a point where it is independent but for minor tweaking and still makes me money. I’m not quite there, but am far enough along to be able to take the extra position. Where this will end up I’m not quite sure, but for this season, I am committing to stretching my management ability and creativity. So if you are in the mood for a Cappuccino pop down to Cee Cee’s on a Mon morning or Fri and Sun night and say hi.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Trends; sometimes they are obvious to see (e.g. fashion) and other times just a lot harder. Then there are the coincidences-things happening at the same time that just link together without rational explanation. Without being overly superstitious, it just seems that July is the month things radically happen in my life (its not the only month mind you, but just more seems to happen in July than any other month). My July is filled with many milestones and memories. My brother passed away on the first of July, we opened our current private practice on the 1st of July, I made the All-Africa Games squad in a July, and now as July looms large again I face a new venture on the horizon. I will explain more when I have signed on the dotted line, but it promises to be a new and exciting challenge, so watch this space for details.

There are other trends worth watching for. What time of day do you function best? What colour do you wear that people always say suits you? What tasks always come your way? What compliments do you receive the most? What age group of people do you connect best with? What activity gives you the most satisfaction? There are millions of other trends you could identify…each of which will enable you to achieve more and be better satisfied in what you do. Let me know what trends you have identified, or maybe you have extra questions to add to the list.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Believe in me."

‘Tristan and Isolde’ is an inspiring, romantic movie- caters for both the bloodthirsty and had enough ‘chick flick’ elements to please the ladies. In one of the scenes when a young man is asked why he committed a particularly treasonous act, his reply was “I thought someone believed in me.” Those words hit me hard. How many people are just waiting for someone to have faith in their ability? People desire acceptance and they will take it from whichever source offers it. All it may take for some is a positive affirmation from someone they respect, for others it may take a bit more. Don’t know about you, but my natural instinct is to fault find and pull people down, I have to work to be encouraging and to build people up. People will work better at dealing with their faults if they know that you value them first.

Go rent the movie and tell me what you think.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Swallowing your pride

As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t do everything. Furthermore, in many cases, that which I do can often be done better by others. You could view me in some instances as a control freak. I like to have my finger on the pulse of everything, but mistake that for trying to do everything. This last week I had to swallow my pride and go get some advice from someone who knew better. The area concerned was my accounting and tax arrangement at work. I got some sound advice from an old friend and patient and have started to implement it. It will make a huge difference to my cash flow at work and in the long term save me money. The stupid thing is that I’ve put this meeting off for ages-pride just got in the way. I didn’t think that I knew better, I just made excuses to avoid going. I had no time, was too busy, the deadline was far away, all just to get out of admitting that I was wrong and did not have all the answers. Looking back, I can see how foolish that thinking was. I am now having to look and see other areas where I need help and what can be done to get it. Surrounding myself with more competent people is not a crime. It is only through stepping out of my comfort zone that I will be able to get further.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Working Life

We are now over the winter solstice here in Zimbabwe, and are experiencing unusually warm weather. The sun is shining brightly outside and the temptation to go and tan is rather great. Unfortunately, work beckons for a little longer this afternoon. I have a brief break between patients before hitting the ‘grindstone’ again. The truth is, work is not a grind for me. I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I get to help others get the most out of their bodies and find the problem solving aspect very satisfying. Analysis has always been one of my strong points; I routinely scored the highest in the analysis part of my practical exams at university. I found maths ridiculously simple at school. Later when I did a personality profile under the DISC system, the broad tag attached to my profile result was “Analyst”. Realising this has helped me when making decisions regarding project involvement. Working to my strengths will enable me to do a job well and have greater satisfaction. I can only think that the worst thing for me would be to be stuck in a job that I hated and merely going through the motions everyday. What are your strengths? And how can you make them work better for you?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

All the small things

Today is my mother’s birthday. Despite her having to spend most of today in hospital receiving a shot of chemotherapy, we were able to celebrate. We took her cake and a gift and the doctor’s and staff gathered round and sang to her. My dad is in town with her and both my sister’s will phone today, one of them rang just as I was leaving. It is little things like that that often make a difference in a creating a memorable celebration, but it is these little things that take a bit of extra effort (I had been thinking over the idea for over a week). The results are well worth it. So often in the past, I have taken birthdays and other memorable occasions for granted and never really made much of an effort. I just realise more and more that, despite the many spontaneous occasions that arise, great memories are created and spontaneity often comes on the foundation of planning.

A total change of topic, but other small things are the tweaks I am trying to give the site. I am experimenting with different colour schemes and have added a photo to the profile. Enjoy the changes and if something really doesn’t seem to be working then let me know.


I woke up this morning with the awful realisation that I am just plain lazy. However much I actually achieve, there is always the desire not to work or to put stuff off till ‘later’. Normally I do a couple of tasks before leaving the house in the morning, lately with the onset of winter in the southern hemisphere I have been staying in bed later and later. The tasks that were delayed became progressively shortened and then stopped. Now I have to face the consequences. There is a wonderful proverb that goes “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands and poverty will come upon you like a thief and want like an armed man.” Procrastination is easy and is a natural tendency. I am having to exert mind over matter and tell my body that it really doesn’t need the extra sleep. There is a school of though that says we should listen to what our body is telling us and obey-if that were the case with me I’d never get anything done and would eat sugar all my life.

So hopefully tomorrow will be a better morning (I’ll let you know if it’s not). I have made a list of things to do this morning and will stick to it. If you have any creative ideas on how you beat procrastination let me know.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Alternative reading

At the beginning of the year I set out to read one non-fiction book a month. Got a bit slack the last couple of months, but should have no trouble catching up. Have just read Kevin Treudeau’s ‘Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About’. Once you get past the author’s bashing of drug companies and federal government institutions, he has some interesting advice and recommendations about natural health. One thing that I find disconcerting is that there are very few direct references in the book to back up his claims. Admittedly he says that he is writing at a level to enable everyone to understand, and he does refer you to other books and websites, but I still feel that statements like ‘it’s been found that…’ need to be backed up with a reference. In a disclaimer he mentions that the book would be too long if all the references were ancluded, and that they are at his website www.naturalcures.com (which will cost you US$9.95 to join). I just feel that the ‘alternative’ health care domain is unlikely to ever gain serious credibility unless they begin to provide high-level evidence for their claims, and if the evidence is already there then lets acknowledge it. Physiotherapy as a profession has had a hard time providing the evidence for what it does, but the evidence is now there, surely others can do the same.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Improving your Grades

Grade point average, class test result, final exam mark, degree class; call it what you will, at some time in our lives we all face a graded test. How can one improve his or her mark or grade and what practical steps can someone take? That is the main dilemma people face regardless of the course they are taking.

I spent the last few days marking exams-both written and practical. As usual, I got to see the good, the bad and just the plain scary. I’ve written a few in my time. These are the things that have helped me face exams…
1.) What you sow, you reap. Rather cliché, but true. If you don’t study you are less likely to pass. There are always the smug guys in the class that seem to get away with minimal studying, but they are the minority. If you need a kick in the pants to motivate you, then find a friend to be accountable to and set time to study together (I managed to get through my Sociology 101 this way-don’t ask what I use it for, I had to do the course).
2.) Start studying in time. Cramming one night before just doesn’t cut it. Plan a timetable and stick to it.
3.) Understanding is better than just knowing the facts. If you struggle with a concept-ask someone to help you. Application of what you know is what counts most of the time.
4.) Answer the question!!! Too many people spend time telling you everything they know, except the one thing you want to know. If I ask “how to measure leg length difference”, don’t tell me what factors affect it or how to correct it-just tell me how to measure it.
5.) Write clearly. This can be hard, especially if you write like me (trust me you don’t want to know), but if your writing is particularly bad then try using a black pen rather than a blue one.
6.) Don’t party the night before. It’s not rocket science, but there is nothing worse than watching someone who hasn’t got enough sleep try to do a practical. The last thing you want to do is doze off with a beaker full of sulphuric acid in front of you, there are easier ways to get a nose job.

If you have any other tips, post them as a comment.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Will be spending this morning examining Physiotherapy students. On top their practicals today and Monday, I will have a pile of papers to mark for the weekend (oh goody???). I face this period with a great deal of in trepidation. As well as the responsibility of determining who passes and fails, and if they deserve to continue in their chosen career, I get to see how well I’ve done my job in teaching and instruction. I am continually updating the way I teach and experimenting with new ideas to make it more interactive, memorable and above all relevant.

In terms of passing and failing, I am guided by what one of my early physio mentors told me-“reward success and be harsh on failure”. If someone doesn’t make the grade, you are not doing a service by scraping him through. In the case of physiotherapy, you are also shortchanging their patients. On the other hand, do not fall into the trap of giving average marks for above average performance-reward excellence. So, off to work we go.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Taking a walk.

I took a walk yesterday. This may sound odd, but in Zimbabwe there are two types of people-those who have to walk (due to lack of a car) and those who don’t. It’s easier to drive, but I have seen people drive 3 blocks to the shops to pick up a bottle of milk-unfortunately I am one of those people. I had a bit of time and fuel is short and so I decided to walk the 1500m to my bank that I would normally drive to. It was rather pleasant, despite the rubbish on the road. I was not mugged, accosted, picked up, or any of the other horror stories that are associated with walking in town.

One of the side effects of not walking is a lack of exercise. People may be getting their exercise elsewhere, but I doubt it. A healthy body is key to doing all you need to do. I am working on a presentation on ‘Fitness and Exercise’; one of the points is that- if you truly wish to achieve your vision for life, then you need a body that is fit enough to do the job. Most people simply don’t do enough exercise. What’s the point of having an idea that will change the world, if your body cannot handle the stress and strain of producing it? Find an exercise that you will enjoy and do it, regularly.

Monday, June 05, 2006

It ain't nothing but a number

Apart from a little car trouble, I had a great weekend. Managed to spend sometime with various friends, as well as engage in a variety of activities that I enjoy. It’s always great when two of three things start to line up and relate.

First, I had some feedback on the site from a friend. He provided some constructive criticism, that I have taken to heart,mainly on the shortfalls in my spelling ability. He turns 14 this year, but that’s no excuse not to listen to what he has to say. Thanks Scott.

I spent Saturday afternoon with another friend of mine who has been test reading my book. He’s 15 and had already started one of his own- a fantasy/quest style novel similar to my own. We were able to share ideas and encourage each other. Actually, his writing is pretty good, with a natural flair and creativity for names.

As if this was not enough, I went to hear another mate of mine speak to a group of young adults on Saturday night. His topic-the need for mentoring the ‘teenage’ generation. Considering what had already happened that weekend, I was over the moon with his subject matter- and really getting the hint. Mentorship is the latest ‘fad’ in the commercial world, one that has been overlooked for too long. We often get too hung up on age related (he’s too young, I’m not old enough) or knowledge related (I don’t know enough) issues in this area. The fact remains, we should all be getting input from someone above us, and the fastest way to grow is to help mentor someone else.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Test and Credit

I am trying to do a bit more with links in my blog, so this may not come out quite the way I expect. My browser is not compatible with some of the features of my publishing site, so could be fun.

One of the sources of inspiration to start writing a book was a young man by the name of Christopher Paolini. He started writing his first novel at 15 and has since become a highly successful fantasy author with 2 books of his inheritance trilogy already published. You can find out more about him and his books at http://www.alagaesia.com

I thought, that if he could do it at that age, then I could at least write something. Successful publishing will be another story, but he at lest inspired me to get on and achieve something I have always desired to go. So if you ever read this Christopher-thanks a lot.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Measures of sucess.

How often do we mistake 'busy-ness' for productivity. I have noticed this trend in churches, where often a person's 'spirituality' is measured by the degree of their involvement; or in business where 'time is money' and if you are not continually on the go, you are not a satisfactory employee. I am not decrying hard work, but is what we are doing really productive and effective? Are we using the right tools to measure our sucess? Someone mentioned this week that sometimes what we call 25 years experience is merely 1 year experience and 24 years doing the same thing at the same level. Occasionally we need to step back and review what we are doing and if it really achieves anything in the big picture.

Earlier this year i stepped down from a position I had held for the last 7 years-mainly because I was no longer effective in what I was doing. Things had changed, and role I had been fulfilling(programme creation and development) was no longer necessary, and could be easily handled by others. After a suitable break, I am tentativly going back into the same organisation, but in a different capacity-that of an analyst-which better suites my abilities and profile. I have made my initial commitment deliberatly short-term in order to see if I can cope, but have little doubt that this will be a satisfying and productive experience.

Monday, May 29, 2006


The "ACTION 2006" conference is finally over. I had a good night's sleep and am ready to face what the day hands me-which includes a long list of patients. I was thinking on the things that impacted me most over the conference.

First was that we need to make sure that what we package to people is relevant to them, without being offensive. This is especially true where the gospel is concerned, but can be applied to any message or principle that you wish to communicate.

The second was seeing Pastor Gary Bryden in action. Pastor Gary used to do cabaret work, he has since then become a full time minister with a dynamic ministry. What I fantastic to see, is how he still uses all his entertainment gifts as part of his ministry. I don't know the details of his transistion, but what I can tell you is that he is entertaining, relevant and not trying to shy away from what he is naturally good at.

The third and final thing was a little more personal. Next door to the conference venue is the conference block where two young men, that I tutor periodically ,go to school. During the course of the conference I went across to them to help with a couple of aspects of their work. At one point had one of them on either side of me working on different things. It was a very fulfilling moment and reinforced the fact that I get pleasure out of helping others succeed. What do you get fulfillment and satisfaction from? If it is so fulfilling, why arn't you doing it more?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Off my feet.

Right now I am beyond tired. One of the side effects of the ACTION conference is late nights and early mornings. Despite being a bit of a physical wreck, I am better than last year. I have learnt, often the hard way, that decent meals and getting extra sleep where possible are essential during this period. Pacing myself is something I have had to learn to do to avoid burning out. Sometime next week I will lake a bit of down time, just do nothing for a day to recharge my batteries. Regular breaks are as important in my life as regular work. They allow me time to regenerate and reflect. Feeling burnt out?-When was the last time you went off and did 'nothing'?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ups and Downs

Yesterday morning was a bad morning! Not only did I have two flat tyres to repair (despite having checked all them during the week), but one of my long term patients passed away. I took the news rather badly.

This morning though, I am much better. I have a full day at wok, followed by the start of the annual 'ACTION' conference at church this evening. It promises to be a full week of looking beyond my circumstances to the deeper issues at play, and sitting under some sound teaching. So often, what we think are the problems are really only symptoms of a deeper root. For example, a routine lack of money may be a sign of poor financial management rather than not enough cash. Anyway, off to do the things I love to do.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Not of this blog-my book. I finally finished typing up my first draft this week. Reflecting back over the process, it has taken me the better part of a year to get it done. It was probably around this time last year that I first decided to get really serious about completing a book. Since then, much has past. So what next?

Well, I am reviewing the draft and will probably have to make some plot and grammar changes. I am circulating a few copies to friends within my target audience, as well as a few others. Then we will see about a publisher. Not thought much about that side of things yet, to be honest, but all in good time.

Have been battling flu this week. To say that I detest being ill is an understatement. I absolutely loath being unwell. It gets in the way of doing so much. I have been dosing myself with a whole regime of supplements, lemon and honey and prayer and waiting for this thing to get out of my system. Am feeling a lot better now, but still taking it easy for the day as i have a full and busy weekend ahead of me and want to be at my best for it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"The Right Question"

The movie ‘I-Robot’ features a holographic computer programme that repeatedly tells Will Smith that he must ask the right questions because its ‘responses are limited’. My friend Tommy Deuschle is back from the States. During one of his many ‘catch-up’ conversations this weekend he asked someone “What is the most significant thing you have learnt in the last year?” Now that’s a quality question. Thankfully, it wasn’t directed at me, but it sure got me thinking.

The implication behind the question is ‘are you learning at all?’ And if so, ‘are you applying what you’ve learnt?’ What limitations are there to us giving an answer to this question?

One is that, what you learnt has been a progressive lifestyle change and revelation and not necessarily a one off mind-blowing experience. It is only on reflection that you see the change.

Another is that you don’t know how to phrase your answer. You feel that you have ‘grown’ in an area of your life, but you don’t know how to measure your growth.

If there are many options, then you many be stuck for choice-which is the MOST significant thing I’ve learnt?

There is of course the option that you just haven’t learnt at all. Except for this last one, these limitations should not prevent you with coming up with an answer, only delay the process.

So, what was mine? Took me a while to phrase it briefly. “The major limitation to me breaking out of my current situation to a new level is the comfort I perceive at the current level.” The Israelites in the Old Testament desired to return to Egypt because, despite their slavery, they thought it was better than the temporary wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. You will never know what it is to eat healthy until you try it. Once there you won’t want to go back. However, the discomfort in getting there may prevent you trying. I have many other examples from my life, but I won’t bore you with them today.

What is your answer to the question above?

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Price of Thought

Drove out to Marondera yesterday to treat people at my old school, Peterhouse. It takes me just over an hour to do the trip there. People ask why I bother. There are a couple of reasons; one is that I get to see my parents who live nearby. Another is that it is good business and I enjoy treating teenagers, I relate well to them, and they recover fast. But, increasingly, the reason I go is that the trip there has become my thinking time. There is little traffic at the time I travel out, and I normally travel alone. This gives me an uninterrupted hour of thought where I can bend my mind to problems that beset me, or to creating ideas for my writing. Normally, I set out a bit early so I get a few minutes at the other end to jot down anything worthwhile that’s come to mind. The rest of my life tends to get too cluttered to do any meaningful reflection/meditation. Should I ever give up the trip then I will have to diarise some other ‘thinking time’. Try it.

I was reminiscing on my last post and got wondering about the price of bondage. How much time and money to we spend on things that we are addicted to? How much money does a smoker blow away in a month? I’m a chocoholic- I could easily eat a bar a day, or more. This week I decided to be healthier in my snack choices-motivated more by an increase in the price of chocolate than anything else. For a tenth of the price of my usual ‘poison’, I can get the same weight in bananas- a significant saving if you crave chocolate as much as I do. I could have easily chosen to sacrifice something else to maintain my habit- something I have been guilty of in the past, and not just in the chocolate arena. At the end of the day is it really worth it, and do we have to wait for the cost to be ‘too much’ before implementing a change.

The flip side of the coin is ‘the cost of freedom’, but more about that another day-I have to work.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Holding on

A friend of mine passed this comment lately-‘Don’t waste your time on something you will never use.’ I’m not sure if this applies to everyone in every situation- one of the reason we take so many subjects at school is to help us identify those we will excel at and will hopefully help clarify the path we are to take. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about the things I waste time on (as opposed to some people who just seemed out to waste my time, like slow till operators).

The recent episode with my gran, she is now out of hospital, has really shaken me and got me pondering over questions like-‘how do we know when one season is over and another begins’, ‘what am holding onto that is holding me back’. As gran’s memories fade, the ones that remain the most are those rooted in bitterness- either at a real or perceived hurt from someone. The vehemence and clarity of such painful moments shows that she has not let go many of these issues and instead holds on to the negative emotions. It is easy for me to point fingers, but how big are the logs in my own eyes? What areas do I need to deal with? It has been a thought provoking time.

One of the other questions with letting go is; how do you know when you are meant to hold onto something or to let it go? When is what you holding onto actually keeping you afloat or pulling you down? What do you think? The person holding onto the lift raft can only grasp the rope ladder from the rescue chopper if he lets the raft go.

Have been studying the life of Israel’s King David recently. The one thing that has struck me is that often he had good ideas, and other times he had God ideas. Conducting a census of the people may have been a great idea, but it wasn’t God’s idea and David paid the price for his disobedience. Building a temple was an idea inspired by God, he checked with Nathan the prophet and was told that although God wanted a temple built, he would not be the one to build it. Rather he was to prepare a way for his son to do so. However, because of his obedience, God would establish David’s house forever- a prophecy finally fulfilled in the Messiah. It was when David conferred with God that he had the most success, and when he didn’t that he fell the hardest.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Curve Balls

Sometimes life gives you the unexpected. I had a dreadful weekend in the main. My grandmother collapsed on Friday, had to take her to hospital and all. Looks like early stage diabetes, should be treatable. The episode tainted my whole weekend, not to mention spoilt a whole bunch of plans. However, life doesn't give you a re-run. I've had to suck it up and deal with the reality of a major shake up in my life. My natural coping mechanism is to run as far away as possible, but this isn't going to solve anything.

It's amazing how in the middle of such dispair there is always some light for you to see. Mine last night was a peculiar experience. I was walking back from locking the gate and passed a gardinia bush. Suddenly the sweetest smell from one of the fading blooms hit me. It was such a refreshing experience and brightened me up immediatly. It brought a ray of joy and hope. I would probably have never even noticed it if I wasn't so jaded. Instead I was able to pause, refresh and go on stronger.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Stepping out

Chill the champagne and start baking the cakes (chocolate please). Why the reason for this sudden party attitude. Well, I’m approaching the one-month ‘blogday’. Personally, I’m fairly impressed that I’ve lasted so long. I was a bit apprehensive at the start that I would run out of things to say within a week. Admittedly, some days I have had no idea what to write but have managed to be inspired to put something down. Other times I have known for days what I want to say and been able to think about it a bit more. I print out hard copies of everything I write for future reference and am amazed at how much I have written this month. It is definitely a case of bit-by-bit, stage by stage, with the sum of the whole being greater than the parts (now how’s that for a clichéd sentence). Who knows’ if I get enough material over time I might be able to use the ideas in book.

I have realised with this blog that the difference between a great concept/idea and an average project is that one exists in reality, while the other is merely stuck in your head. There is a big difference between thinking of doing something and actually doing it. How many great ideas are never acted upon and become the great realities they could be. Instead, too often, it is average ideas that are put into practice and become average projects that succeed; not because of greatness, but because someone acted on what they thought. Bit of a sobering thought really. “No one ever achieved greatness by sitting back and doing nothing.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Punctuation Pedantics

One of the scary things about writing is reading your own stuff at a later date. Glaring errors stare at you off the page in both spelling and punctuation-neither of which are my strong points. I am better than I was, mainly due to spell checker and Lynn Truss's 'Eats Shoots and Leaves'. So forgive my little mistakes, I will do my best to edit them out over time. Improving my puncutation, while important, is not really one of the main things I focus on. There is only so much time I can spend improving a weakness, and I would much rather spend it building on a strength.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Leading Answer

When I started this blog, I set myself some guidelines on replying to comments. Firstly, I would appreciate and read every comment made on the site. However, I wouldn’t reply to each. This is mainly to avoid me becoming reactionary and writing things in the spur of the moment I might regret.

One recent comment (See Writer’s Block below for full comment) got me thinking, and I have spent a couple of days musing over my response. I decided that I warranted a full post, rather than continuing the chain.

I have paraphrased ideas from two great men, Dr John Stanko and Pastor Tom Deuschle, in this. Problems gravitate to their natural solution. The problems that you hold the key to solving will come your way, whether you like them or not. If you continually find yourself being given leadership responsibilities, then it is probably because others see this trait in you, especially if the tasks come from different sources. It is the same in working out your purpose, if the same situations/compiliments/successes come your way, then maybe your purpose is tied in with them, seek out the common thread.

Feelings of inadequacy are not uncommon in my life. These should inspire you to do things like delegate, improve yourself, and seek help from others- both human and divine. If your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough.

A couple of books may help, pick one, read it and draw what you can.
“The One Thing You Need To Know” by Marcus Buckingham, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” and “Developing the Leader Within You” both by John Maxwell.