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

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pattern and Principle

One of the primary constructs that I run my life by is that the world is ordered by pattern and principle. There is an inherent order governed by laws and principles that if you can discover you can utilise to your benefit. Whether you choose to take it a step further and follow the concept of inherent design (that an ordered world emanates from a creator of the order) doesn’t really change the fact that there are certain laws in place. A prime example would be the physical law of gravity-jump off a building and you find yourself rushing to a point where you will discover once and for all if there is an afterlife. One principle can be superseded by another, if you have a parachute the law of aerodynamics kicks in and you can base-jump with relief.

Principles are not just physical though, some are economic (e.g. if you don’t work you don’t eat), some spiritual (the law of reciprocity-otherwise know as karma-you reap what you sow) and some biological ( if you don’t drink you die). How can you find these, well one way is to watch and learn. The other is to read what others have written, most religious writings for example contain many of these principles.

I found one this week that was hidden in the instructions for laying siege in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy where it speaks about not cutting down fruit trees to use for siege weapons but keeping them for food for the present and future. The principle is ‘do not sell your future for your present.’ Read ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ and you’ll find the same advice. History is unfortunately full of such examples (e.g. Lobengula selling mining rights to the British, poorer nations accepting external loans that they cannot repay the interest on). How different Africa might look if it stopped selling its raw materials and invested instead on processing them into the more expensive finished product. Think about it, I can buy Belgium chocolate made from cocoa beans from North Africa and sugar from Mauritius and pay an arm and a leg for it. How many chocolate factories are there in North Africa? I’d say probably not as many as there could be.

Zimbabwe stands at a crossroads this weekend, and, while the future is not that clear regardless of who wins, stories and rumours abound of those who have been offered food for their votes (mealie meal today for future under a government you vote for). Although not having witnessed this first hand, the stories just serve to highlight the principle.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

200 and counting

This is my 200th post! It also coincides with my 2 year ‘blogaversary’ (give or take a couple of weeks). What started out as an experiment in seeing how the web works has become an outlet for creativity and expression. I wasn’t sure when I started that I could sustain the rate of 2 posts a week, but I’ve come pretty close. It always amazes me that there is always something to write. Some days I have had more than one idea and put one on hold, other days I have had to dredge through experience to find something relevant to say. It’s been a pretty hectic two years at that. I have lost a parent, started 2 other jobs and ended one of them, finished a book, invested a bunch of money in myself, and in general shifted my view point on life rather significantly-plenty of water gone under the bridge. The one thing I can say of this experience is that it is worth trying different things; you never know how well they may turn out.

The future? Well, I have a better sense of direction about life now, but in the short term I already have a couple of ideas for my next post.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Decieved by Chocolate

I noticed that a new wrapper beckoned from the sweet section today. It promised ‘milk chocolate with a caramel centre’, the perfect lift after a long day and in a nation suffering from an Easter egg shortage would be a potential weekend gift. Deftly I peeled off the foil, slid the slender bar between my teeth and bit down. IT WAS FOUL! DISGUSTING! TASTED OF SOAP! I’ll be the first to admit that some of Zimbabwe’s home grown chocs are a bit dodgy, but this was an import. I scanned the ingredient list and found to my horror that the offending bit of plastic did not contain cocoa at all. For the uninitiated, chocolate is made from the cocoa bean or it’s processed by products. A decent chocolate will contain about 50% cocoa solids; the better ones are up to 70%. Some poorer versions are down to about 30% but they still have the all important cocoa in them. This had a ‘cocoa butter substitute’! If there is no cocoa how can it even call itself a chocolate? Blatant misrepresentation if you ask me! Be warned, the world of chocolate is not safe anymore. As for me, I think I’ll stick with Green and Blacks from now on.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Values in Business

Someone, who is yet to reveal himself for fear of violent retribution, borrowed my cell-phone the other week-permanently and without asking! As a result I had to replace my line. While waiting to hand in the appropriate forms at the office of my service provider I noticed that they had their vision and values posted up on the wall. Nice touch and an affectation of many Zimbabwean businesses. I wasn’t sure why we as clients needed to be reminded of their values, but their staff could sure use the prompting. As a consumer I am not interested in you telling me about your values, I want to see them manifested in the service I receive. Being treated like cattle does not qualify as good service. Little things make the difference-dress your doorman/security guard appropriately and then educate him on how to deal with the people he ushers into a queue at the front door. Or, here’s a good one, try your own service. Come on in and be served by people who probably won’t recognise you as the boss. One of the former Ministers of Health used to frequent government hospitals in Zimbabwe as a patient and then gave very harsh and result-changing feedback on his experience.

Smile occasionally, or do something to make your staff smile.

I tried something last week, I went and brought my staff a little gift each-it wasn’t too costly and took a little thought. The occasion-nothing, it was a random day and just an expression of appreciation and gratitude. The look on their faces and the buzz in the office the rest of the day as they realised that they were appreciated was well worth the investment. Regardless of where you are in the ‘office food chain’ anyone can do something special for those around them once in a while, be it superiors, subordinates or clients. Bake a cake, offer to fetch their kids, write (hand written) a note, buy a chocolate, etc. ‘Do good to all men…as is within your power to do so.’ The responsibility lies with each of us to raise the bar. Share any other ideas you may have or have experienced by commenting on this post.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Weight loss in kids.

Now here's a shocker-cutting TV and PC time actually helps kids loose weight, check the link to the Washington Post article. Did it really take science to prove this, its plain common sense-less time sitting equals more time active elsewhere, simple formula there. Now we wait while millions of parents and kids ask 'what do we do instead', kids ask your parents, parents think back to when you were kids and didn't have the luxury of high speed internet, what did you do? Healthy exercise disguised as play would be my guess.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Thoughts on Reading

My diary this year is one of those ones that includes little quotes at the bottom of the page ostensibly in an effort to give you more value (‘You see the tiny quotes, well that’s to inspire you every day and take up the little blank space, and for that little ink, we’ll charge you a whole bunch extra, oh and you don’t mind if we reuse them next year ‘cause you won’t remember them anyway’). Often I screech through the day without registering the helpful little excerpts dutifully pasted into the template, but once in a while one breaks through the mental barriers erected to block out intrusions on my time and gets noticed.

Anyway, marketing aside, the only one I paid attention to this week was ‘Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought.’ Well that just flipped my switch, I tell you. Television may result in hours devoid of original thought, but reading, never! Reading fiction should stimulate your imagination to fill in the blanks left by the description (a process more visual media completely obliterates). Reading non-fiction should be an active process of critique and assimilation, the ‘I see, I agree, I don’t get it yet, that’s daft, well maybe it could work,’ that gets dormant grey cells firing rapidly in an excitatatory display of neuronal frenzy. Reading stimulates thought, not causes you to avoid it. You can tell I love reading can’t you.
That’s my take on the issue, but I am interested in hearing yours, so post it here or email me. I faithfully promise not to bring the full might of my wrath upon you