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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pondering Employees.

I spent Christmas on the farm with my dad. Had plenty of time to think about things, a little mental rumination. Looking at the general state of farm workers and indeed the state of the majority of employees in the ‘third world’, although many in the developed world could be included here, and pondered on the thought as to how many employers ever bothered to try coaching their underlings to a state of better things. Maybe it is a matter of not knowing how to elevate some ones self worth but it strikes me as something that is not done very much.

Take the average farm worker in Africa-they live in a hut (brick if they are lucky), may or may not have electricity, share a communal tap for running water and that’s about it. Now you can insert ‘slum’ and ‘factory worker’ instead, and some labourers are in a better situation than I have described but the situation hasn’t changed much in the last 20 or so years. I certainly don’t hear amazing stories of the farm worker who has gone and become a successful farm owner, and I hear of very few of labourers going out and building their own brick house, getting water and lights in it and getting a car. Part of it has to do with low wages, but part also has to do with the environment that they are in. When all you know is a hovel it can be a little difficult to see yourself in anything better-especially when the whole system is telling you that you are only worth a hovel and all you will ever be is a hovel dweller.

Now, at the risk of irritating a lot of people, I would say that part of the problem lies with the employer (and no I’m not the perfect boss and no I haven’t got to grips with this either yet). I am not saying that everything should be handed on a plate to the workers-I am rather opposed to the ‘gimmee’ attitude that characterises much of Africa. Rather help people see themselves in a better future. Maybe painting a vision that includes benefit to the employee, not just the self gratification and pocket lining of the boss. Creating the opportunity to do and be better may be part of the solution. One of the risks in growing people is that they may eventually see themselves out of your organisation and into their own. So what, there will always be replacements and there will always be the loyal that choose to stay and build with you-you may just have to pay them a bit more.

Now I’ve rambled for a bit let me know what you think. As I said, I havn’t got the application of this concept down perfect and it could do with a little refining. We live and learn.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A little touch of green.

Envy has to be one of the most destructive and vindictive emotions. It will eat you from the inside out and turn you into a scarred, pitiful wreck of negative energy and dislike. The simple fact is that if you live your entire life trying to be better than someone else, attempting to outlive them and basing your success on their failures you will never really amount to much. If Mr Bolt was to vanish today would it suddenly make every other sprinter a better athlete? Would every golfer the world over have their performance improve if Tiger Woods was to take up market gardening instead? The only person responsible for your success is you.

I wrote last time about Bill Bryson and how I admire some of the qualities of his writing. Now there is nothing wrong with seeking to emulate and internalise qualities that you see in another person that will aid you in your success. I am already trying to incorporate some of the lessons I’ve learnt from his writing, but for me to start trying to better Mr Bryson, to beat him at his own game, to write better than him, to copy him exactly and base my whole life on that would be foolish and self destructive. The world does not need another Bill Bryson or another Tiger Woods. The world doesn’t need another Mother Teresa or another version of your neighbour. What the world needs is you and the uniqueness that you bring into it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

There's nothing like a Dame.

It was with a great sense of trepidation that I went to see the local pantomime this week. The last one I went to a couple of years back was a total disaster, but I was with friends this time and they had a spare ticket.

I had a blast. It was by far one of the best I had seen in years. There were a significant number of senior cast members that helped carry some of the more inexperienced along-not that they were too shabby either. It had all the elements of panto-a brilliant dame, a very evil villain, and the appropriate love story. The dancers were skilled and I haven’t laughed that long in a while. It was a welcome break from all the turmoil around about. Well done Reps.

We were chatting in the car home and someone passed the comment that he had to admire the bravery of the cast coming out night after night to perform it what are less than ideal economic circumstances. Having been involved with some of the cast before, I can only say that they are passionate about what they do. They have fun doing it and despite all the hard effort involved they find it very rewarding. For some it is the self gratification of the ‘thank-you’s’ after, for others the smile on peoples faces, for others the sense of community and the vision of providing people with entertainment. Finding something worth sacrificing into, something that you enjoy doing and have a passion for it will keep you committed for many years to come.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God...

…and with a mighty thunderclap the rains began. It is bucketing down outside, a veritable flushing of the heavenly cistern. As a result I am going nowhere fast. I cycled in to work today as my car is undergoing some major work. Bad timing that. So I find myself depleting the office caffeine supplies while waiting for the downpour to subside. The alternative is to make a rather wet way home and with no guarantee of a warm bath at the other end (who knows what the Zimbabwean power has done today) I am a little reluctant to give that one a try. Given the water situation in town it may be the quickest way to get a free wash though, we must look on the bright side of things here.

What to do? I never thought that I would say it but I have exhausted my desire to play computer games today. As the year draws to a close I have set myself a whole bunch of annual tasks to do. A slowing in client numbers as we approach the festive season has given me ample time to sit down and get on with the non-treating part of my business. I have actually surprised myself with how efficacious I have been this week (and it’s only Tuesday). The reason for the bout of energy probably has a lot to do with the fact that I wrote a list down. Writing goals settles them in your mind as things to be achieved. That and some heavy utilisation of the visualisation tools from TPI have seriously increased my output. I think also watching my team leader for our trip to Kenya made me realise just how much you can get done.

This year has seen bouts of less than normal client numbers as a result of the economy here. This can induce a false lethargy of what is ‘normal’. I am fully capable of pushing out a full days work treating; I just haven’t in so long that I have to remind myself of what is normal. In some ways it is similar to another hazard of the job-when you continually treat stiff backs you can forget what a normal back feels like. The cure is to find a normal back and go ‘oh that’s what I’m trying to achieve with my clients’. The occasional ‘reality’ check of what is normal when faced with underperformance is necessary.

Well it looks like it has died down and the roads are drying up so let me hit the road (odd phrase that as though I’m going to step out and pound my fist into the tar, how I love English).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kenya again.

As promised here are some photos of the Kenya trip and PX2. The building shot is of the school in Kenya where we held our training. Very castle like and complete with a drawbridge on the left side of the building. My only complaint was that it was made of grey brick and not stone-I mean seriously bricks are not going to stand up to a catapult any time soon.

One of the side effects of our rerouting on the way home was that I got to go shopping in the duty free. I picked up ‘Notes from a Small Island’ by Bill Bryson. I love his humour and general writing style. The warning on the front says ‘not to be read in public places’, and it is absolutely true. His insights are hilariously presented. I love ‘finding’ new authors with a writing style that I can learn from. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to write like Bill Bryson-one of him in the world is more than enough I assure you. Rather I want to take some of his style and flair and adopt it into my own. He is particularly descriptive and anyone who can make a description of a table setting into a humour filled experience is well gifted and worthy of a little study.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Wa-hey! What a week! Spent last weekend in Kenya experiencing The Pacific Institute’s PX2-their young peoples program. What a blast. Then after a somewhat rerouted flight (thanks to an Air Kenya cancellation) I co-facilitated the course here in Zimbabwe where we took 30 young people through the material. Facilitating the course has been a goal of mine for the last year and it was almost overwhelming to experience the fulfilment of that dream. Not that the dream stops there, but as TPI teaches, you need progressive goals. Now we move onto the next step with bigger plans and goals.

The TPI programmes are a worthwhile investment for anyone who desires to expand their horizons and to achieve their dreams and goals. Based on cognitive psychology they offer a structured process that really works. The course is not a magic wand that is a fix all, but it gives you the tools to work on your life. For me it is the ‘MacGyver’ knife in my toolbox.

I will give more feedback and thoughts on my trip in another post, but for now I am going to savour the emotion of an achieved dream.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Booking an Appointment

Hmm it's been a little longer than usual between posts (just under a fortnight to be correct). It hasn't been for a shortage of writing material, it's probably due to an increase in my workload and a temporary devaition from my normal routine as a result. Consistent blogging, really consistent anything, takes a regular appointment with yourself to achieve it. Faliure to set that appointment will result in other things swallowing the time.

So what's going on? There is the compounding of the Zimbabwe situation by the water crisis in Harare. The city ran dry yesterday, thankfully my taps were back on last night but I have many friends who are not so fortunate. Money has the same tensions on it as time it seems-unless you budget for and schedule maintenance it will not take place.

Then there are my preparations to attend a PX2 conference in Kenya over the weekend. PX2 is a program from The Pacific Institute aimed at young people. I'm going as part of a team to learn and see how we can launch it here in Zimbabwe. It promises to be an exciting experience and one that is part of me fulfilling my purpose. Will give you feedback when I get back (unless I can connect online while I'm there)