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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Travels and Trials

I drove 1000 km yesterday; I don’t recommend it to anyone. I am definitely not cut out to be a long distance truck driver-my sincere sympathy to anyone in that field. The trip was a quick rush to Bulawayo (the second largest city in Zimbabwe) to drop my sister and another visitor back at work. Originally they were to catch a bus down but unfortunately the company that operates the main bus service only allows you to book tickets a week in advance (as they are unsure of fuel supplies). The interpretation of a week in advance is that starting on Monday you can book for any day that week (till Sunday) but on Tuesday you can only book till Sunday, on Wednesday till Sunday etc, until you get to the following Monday where you can book for that week. Stupid I know but a method of the company coping in Zimbabwe. The nation is full of last-minute, nonsensical ideas that are an attempt to cope backwards with the situation. There may be a better way but they haven’t thought of it yet. Hence the price trebled in the week between my sister’s arrival and departure without me being able to book a ticket in advance. Thus I found myself on a rather long round trip yesterday. Managed to stop at my sister’s workplace, Chipangli Wildlife Orphanage, long enough to get a whistle tour before heading back.

While the trip down was filled by my sister’s almost incessant conversation, the solo trip back gave plenty of time for reflection and thought in between dodging the occasional potholes that lie in wait seeking to disrupt the unsuspecting motorist. Have a few things to think about before putting them into action. The main thought yesterday was the idea of ‘The Wilderness’. If you study history there are multiple characters that ‘failed’ or ended up in a wilderness (or prison) for a season before their moment of greatness. Churchill warned of Hitler and was ignored, Lincoln never made it to President on the first shot, Al Gore lost to Bush before taking up the environmental baton, biblical Joseph had a jail cell and Moses spent more time in the wilderness than in Egypt. Dr John Stanko has been having his ‘Celebrate a Failure Week’, the point of which is to help us realise that times of failure should not be stopping points of discouragement but rather points to learn from and grow forward. Current anonymity and setback should not be a time to give up on the dream but to reflect, learn and go on.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Planning memories again

I have a gentle burning sensation in both glutei. The cause was excessive involvement in 4-square this week end. 4-square is a knock out game played on a court of 4 squares (surprise there) where the ball has one mandatory bounce in your square before you return it, any more or less and you are out. Enough on the rules, one of the crew that I usually PC game with was leaving the country and we were having one last LAN session to be spent slaughtering avatars and bots. At the end of the day though we played very little on the computer, preferring to spend time outside playing other more sociable activities in the glorious afternoon sun and then later, as the chill of autumn sneaked in, to play more traditional and interactive board games. I hadn’t played 4-square in a couple of years, hence the pain. Good food and good company and an appropriate celebration of a friendship that now takes on a different form. It was at the end of it all a perfect memory. Creating memories is often an intentional process with many unintentional results. We had planned to get together, but none of us planned the fun, the games we would end up playing and the interaction we would have. All in all it worked out rather well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

National discordance

Zimbabwe elections have been in and out of the news in the last two and a half weeks. We are currently enjoying a strike called by the MDC in an effort to force the announcement of the presidential election. One of the interesting observations has been the psychological reaction of people to the uncertainty of the result. People are unwilling to make decisions, commit themselves to anything and a general apathy exists in the conversations and actions of people. It’s as though with the lack of clear direction (vision cast by leadership) that the nation has slipped into a large-scale state of chaos. It has been said that where there is no vision the people perish. It’s as though the collective anxiety brought on by the situation has created a morass of confusion in which people struggle to function. Until a clear direction is available it’s likely to persist. Direction will result from announcement of the results, strong leadership or general acceptance of the de facto situation (i.e. we have a leader who is ruling without a parliament, albeit by the rules set in place in our constitution for an electoral period, and there are many words available to describe that).

While this is a national phenomenon, I would hazard a guess that a similar problem occurs in a business, company or family with an analogous situation. Where there is no clear leadership and vision everyone does their own confused thing with no synchronised outcome. Cut the head off a snake and it will writhe about in an uncoordinated manner until it dies; same with chickens, humans, nations, businesses and families. No leader, no vision, no future.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ironies of Life

Life’s little ironies! The sky was clear yesterday evening when I decided to water the lawn-a complicated exercise due to the ban on hosepipes. Then it rained last night, a welcome shower but if it had happened a few hours earlier I would have been saved some hard labour.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Surviving Downturn.

‘Economic downturn’ is a much parroted phrase these days on the world news. Never mind the world news try Zimbabwe’s economics! Now that gives a whole new meaning to the word, I mean when your largest denomination can no longer buy you a cup of coffee and the swipe card system is often down….
For the uninitiated, I have a few vices; good coffee, dark chocolate, exceptional food and PC games (strategy and RPG please).

That said, this article in the Feb 18 edition of Fortune Magazine (Europe) highlights a few basic principles of dealing with downturn. I love the practicality of the article, mainly because I’ve had to follow some of the principles myself over the last few years. The one thing I’ve noticed though is that the pressure of economics merely highlights what you should have been doing the whole time. Failure to be on top of your cash flow in a positive economic environment may be easier to ride than when you can’t actually get hard cash out the bank, but it’ll still hit you hard eventually.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Zim elections

Well I guess at this time a comment about the ongoing election saga in Zimbabwe is only appropriate. Rumour and speculation are rife at the moment as the delay in results continues. There is talk of change in government and talk of retribution if things remain the same. If there is change though it will be interesting to see how the future unfolds for Zim and how people will respond to a new government. On paper the MDC promise the world but any dose of realism will see that there is a lot of work to be done whoever wins. Inflation isn't going to stop overnight, nor will roads misaculously repair themselves. More so it is not the sole responsiblity of the government to repair the nation-they exist to provide a condusive environment for good business and productivity; it will be the people who do the work and that will have a cost financially and in terms of manpower. If people expect the government to provide all for them and to do all the work we will end up with a future that looks the same as it does now as we continue to relinquish control of our lives to 'the system'.