Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my great friends’ father, Theo, who has been a father figure to me since primary school. He has given me a lot of great advice and I’ve always regretted it when I haven’t followed it. While chatting yesterday, he told me about how he told a customer to leave his company premises after she was rude.
Theo is Greek – a short, bald, somewhat round man, very much the way you would imagine a Greek or Italian man in his 60s. He said something that freed me. In his thick Greek accent, he said, “God has given us all different gifts. And some people are people-persons, but I’m not.” He said this with his trademark stiff bottom lip, unapologetic manner. This short matter-of-fact statement changed my life.
All my life I’ve struggled uphill to get the same warm response from people that my friends get. Most people just don’t receive me warmly when they first meet me regardless of how warmly I smile and make an effort. I get along with people, it just takes them longer to warm up to me. Read more »
Throughout the years I’ve made a point of observing cultures; I don’t mean cultures like African culture vs European culture, I mean cultures within my country – cultures of people living a mere 30km apart.
South Africa is a very diverse place with many different cultures, but I’ve noticed interesting differences in the cultures between places very close together, for example in the south, central and north of Gauteng Province, the places I travel to on a weekly basis.
Of the three I mentioned, Central Gauteng, (known as the northern suburbs for a reason I don’t yet understand) has a relatively drastic difference in culture. It’s a very affluent area and I used to think the majority of its citizens are just rude, plastic, fake and unfriendly.
Then one day it occurred to me that most of them were friendly, generous and kind people – they were just rude and unfriendly strangers. They have walls up around their hearts higher than the ones around their houses (which in South Africa is quite high). Read more »
I’m not one for formal education. I may or may not have a grade 10 qualification – I didn’t (and still don’t) care to check – but there is one thing I did sort of half finish (due to pressure from the folks) and that’s a qualification of some sort in sound engineering.
In The Danger of Assumptions Part 1 and The Danger of Assumptions Part 2, I mentioned that our brains are on a desperate quest to find patterns… in everything. It causes super religious people, some of whom I had the misfortune to be educated by, to assume that if you play Stairway to Heaven backwards you can hear satanic worship. In this post, I want to share with you that one thing I retained from sound engineering school:
As I write this the Olympic Games are taking place in London. I’ve never cared much for sport or anything competitive in nature. I didn’t watch more than 30 seconds of the Games which in retrospect, is a pity. What I did watch was Chad Le Clos beating mighty Michael Phelps to take gold for South Africa in butterfly-style swimming.
But one keeps reading the phrase, usually in business, “get ahead”. Everybody supposedly wants to “get ahead”. I hate that phrase. Ahead of what? And why? Are you insecure in yourself that you must always be ahead?
It doesn’t take much for people to get jealous because if something good happens to you, even if they love you, they often cannot help but measure it against themselves and their own sense of significance. But I can honestly say it has been extremely seldom that I’ve felt negative feelings of jealousy. I’m not trying to get ahead of anyone so if they succeed or have something good happen, I’m happy for them.
You don’t need to be ahead to be significant and live a life that counts. If you really analyse your personal and emotional needs to their cores, you’ll find you don’t need to be ahead of anyone else to meet your personal, emotional and particularly spiritual needs. That’s not to say you don’t give your best but you don’t need to be ahead, and if you do, I’d want to ask, “Why?” Read more »
“Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.” – Thomas Kinkade
What is success? Everyone has their own answer to that question. For most people it means making a truck load of money, for a few it’s starting and growing a close-knit family, for fewer still it’s contributing something significant to the world regardless of the financial reward.
There are some things that I’m still pondering and wondering about in my head, things I am yet to figure out, but BALANCE isn’t one of those. It’s a cornerstone value of my life and it benefits me enormously. Yes, balance is to me a non-negotiable key to LIFE SUCCESS. Why, the whole universe runs on intricate balance. Note the term “life success”. It isn’t just money, or just family, or just having a great social life. It’s the intentional balance created and maintained between them.
But balance isn’t life success in and of itself. It’s just a way of making sure you don’t just achieve success in a single area of your life and fail in the others.
Let’s address the core issue. What is success really? Because it certainly is not money, contrary to popular belief. I’ve heard that, particularly at Christmas time, people are fond of jumping to their deaths from atop the Michel Angelo Hotel in Sandton. For those who don’t know, Sandton is a very wealthy area and the Michel Angelo is affordable only to the truly rich. Read more »
I recently saw Mark Grungor at Hillsong Cape Town and he really got me thinking. I love it when someone gives you actionable food for thought without sounding preachy.
Mark got me thinking about character again. How do I react to situations? Most people are constantly living through the mask they’ve adopted to survive, be accepted, and make their way through this world the best they know how. But that’s an act. How do you REact to situations?
Your reaction says more about you than your actions. Anyone can put on a mask, and as any low budget movie will show you, anyone can act. But a reaction is hard to fake. Read more »
I find that there are lots of things we can learn from subjects totally unrelated to the things we are learning. For example, in my very popular post “What I’ve Learned Through Israeli Special Forces Training, I took home many lessons totally unrelated to Krav Maga.
I’ve picked up some lessons in my latest love affair, with Salsa Dancing, which I believe will benefit me and you, whether you are a man or a woman.
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“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
The strangest thoughts hit me at the strangest times. Today, I was busy computer programming some changes to the software I wrote to keep Brothers in Beat running smoothly, and I interrupted that to pen this.
My whole life, I’ve felt like a bit of an asshole. I have been, that’s a fact. I’ve been tactless and reckless and it’s by the grace of the Almighty that I’m here to type it. I’ve said things without thinking that have probably really hurt the people I love and also some people I did not like.
In terms of tactless, my friends are more qualified than me to tell the many stories, but since none of them were up for the task by the time I pressed ‘Publish’, I shall tell you of one memory in particular that haunts me a little.
I was in a hectic church growing up and between being taught a strong moral code to live by and having a very analytical mind with a propensity for optimisation I one day proceeded to start a conversation about something, I think it was about sexual purity or something, and this conversation criticised certain things. I was having this convo with my best friend at the time and his girlfriend. It didn’t even occur to me that all these things I was saying directly applied to my friend and his gf. Read more »
”If the average person said what they were thinking, they’d be speechless”
– Leland Val Van De Wall
I believe it was Donald Trump who said, “If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big!”
That statement is false in the sense in which Donald Trump intended it, but it can be true as well. Let me explain…
I believe that Donald Trump meant it this way: Since you are anyway thinking during the course of your life, you might as well think big.
But most people don’t “think anyway”. They’d rather do anything than think. Thinking is a mighty laborious activity, it’s nowhere near as easy as it sounds. I believe the Don’s words are true when they are intended in this sense: “If you’re going to engage your mind and truly think, then you might as well think big”
Do you understand the difference? The problem is that many people think they think, but they really don’t. What most people do is they form habits of thinking, patterns and frames, which are good in their proper use, but people use those structures to relieve themselves of the burden of really and truly thinking. Most people confuse remembering things, or seeing something and having a certain thought triggered about it, for thinking. It’s absolutely not. Thinking takes effort and is mostly laborious and challenging. Read more »
Faith has two ingredients:
2) Time / Persistence
A lot of people take action, but give up when they don’t see immediate results. They don’t persist for a long enough period of time. Imagine a straight line running for 100 meters down a flat canvas. Imagine that straight line is the current course of your life and you would like to change the results you’re getting in your life. So you make a change, you take action.
You roll a ball one single degree off the center of that line. After rolling for 5 meters, the ball is only slightly off course, and if you stopped the ball there, there would be hardly any change. But give it time, and persist, and by the end of the 100 meters you have a big gap between the ball and that line. The longer the ball is allowed to roll, the bigger the difference. Imagine the line running from Johannesburg to Cape Town. One degree will make an enormous difference.
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I am firmly of the opinion that the majority of the life-changing breakthroughs humanity has experienced has been brought about by people who knew when to challenge the rules.
There are people who are so stuck on following their rules, upon which they hang their sense of security and from which they make sense of the world. That annoys me. I guess it shouldn’t cause we’re all different, but it does.
I know I’ve made a case for rebels/rule challengers in part 1, part 2 and part 3, but in truth, it’s just a rant against hard core rule followers. As with everything in life, balance is key.
Rebels are people who don’t like to live their lives based on other people’s thinking and other people’s rules. As one of my childhood heroes, Steve Jobs, a man who knew the balance between when to break and when to follow the rules, and, who at the time of writing died 5 days ago, said in his Stanford speech…
“Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” – Steve Jobs
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This nice lady came with us on holiday recently. She seemed to have a great general knowledge and despite the age gap, I found it so easy, in fact, fun to converse with her.
At one of our dinners my friend and I were talking about something which, despite her impressive general knowledge, we knew she knows nothing about. Irrespective, she agreed with us assertively. It was then that it struck me that she was using it as a conversational tactic.
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If all you do is work for money then no matter how much you make, you’re poor. How much time do you have left to enjoy it.
My concept of wealth involves two factors:
Firstly, the idea of “Units of Resources” – if Person A makes the same amount of money as Person B with less resources, Person A is richer. I was often told growing up that I should get a good education because if I didn’t I would feel inferior to others who had a good education. I support finishing school and getting a good education, so don’t get me wrong, but if someone buys a Mercedes without a university degree, then by my measure they’ve done better than someone with a degree who bought the same Mercedes. They’ve achieved the same but needed less to do it. Read more »
The purpose of the “Minor Attributes in Confident People” series is merely to guide those who, like me, are not naturals at this to start feeling more and more comfortable in social situations and even eventually start leading the conversation if they so desire.
I personally believe that the idea of introvert and extrovert is over-rated. Even introverts come out of their shell when they feel safe among friends they know well. An “introvert”, by my definition is somebody who has associated anxiety or some other discomfort to the process of relating to people or to strangers and has not yet been introduced to the deep sense of reward of meeting and relating to all sorts of people.
Since I started my endeavor to become a people person, there have been times I wished I could meet every single person on earth. There is serious reward to mastering this area of your life and I’m continuing to find out just how true that is.
My road to becoming a people person has been a hard one – one that I still struggle with. Some of my friends are absolute naturals when it comes to relating with people, public speaking, and so forth.
For me, even telling a joke to someone, even someone I know well, has been a source of anxiety sometimes. I worry I’ll forget the punch line and then I often do (for reasons relating to the brain that will be explained below).
I must confess that I used to feel very uneasy when speaking to people. At first it was because I couldn’t think of what to say and that would result in one of two scenarios:
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“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth”
– Albert Einstein
So far, my case for rebel rule breakers has been little more than emotional rants well and truly exposing my early childhood issues. But I believe there’s a well-grounded case to be made for the rule-breaker non-conformists among us – those who say “up yours” to some of the commonly accepted conventional wisdom.
Rebels like to challenge commonly held beliefs of what can and cannot, should and should not be done. As you might expect they get heavy resistance from those who appreciate the status quo. Often rebels are wrong but sometimes they are right and when they are, a better way of thinking and doing is adopted which is eventually considered “obvious”.
Some people say you should never talk about someone behind their back. It’s gossiping. I disagree. I think that there are times when talking about someone behind their back is quite healthy.
I’m not talking about gossiping and telling stories. That is a different thing. Have you ever had it where someone does something that irritates you and you don’t say anything… until one day you lose it and go postal on their ass? That may have been avoided if only you spoke about it to someone. Read more »
My favourite comeback for “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM” is “Yes, but there is a ‘ME'”.
Jokes aside. It’s a natural, almost reflex reaction when we see a report on our strengths and weaknesses to make a plan to develop our weaknesses. Most of us want to be the best person we can be.
It’s one thing developing your weaknesses in your own time, but when you’re part of a team, that’s not the time to work on your weaknesses. In fact, once you’ve identified what you’re good at in life, there’s very little reason to develop your weaknesses at all as far as I’m concerned.
I’m not talking about character flaws, I’m talking about skills and talents. You have God-given talents. So why is it that so many people focus most of their attention on improving their weaknesses? Why do so many teachers and parents insist their children should develop their weaknesses? It’s idiotic!
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The following is an excerpt from my soon-to-be-released book, How to Become a Make-It-Happen Person, inspired by my blog posts by the same name.
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One of the dangers of writing a book and having this blog is that I might come across as thinking that I’m some hero that thinks he has all the answers. The truth is that I’m unapologetically voicing random or otherwise thoughts – I haven’t mastered anything yet. But of all the things I want to master, becoming a person of encouragement is high on the list. It’s my latest project!
The value of being a person of encouragement will change your entire life for the better in a way you cannot even begin to imagine right now. It’s one of those things where you have to do it to see the benefits but until you see the benefits you never do it, so it never gets done.
It can change who you marry, the quality of your current relationships, who you spend time with and as a result how you spend your time, how you see yourself and feel about yourself, and it hugely affects the lives of others – how they interact with people and feel about themselves, and as a result a positive cycle develops. Read more »
In Part 1, we spoke about guarding our moral and ethical frame of reference, but there is another type of framing we should be aware of.
The kind of frame I’m talking about is a concept from social theory. Frames are emotional filters by which we make sense of the world.
Frames are essentially templates we develop as we go through life. We use these templates to more efficiently interpret the meaning of a situation or event and as such these frames determine how we will respond to the situation or event.
To explain: As we go through life, events happen. In an effort to explain and understand the events we attach a meaning to significant or recurring events. Different people can attach different meanings to the same event. They develop a different filter through which they view that event.
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I’m writing a book. I’m not a Harvard graduate like Frasier and Niles Crane, hell I don’t even think I finished school. When I was expelled from school I later wrote my grade 12 exams but I haven’t bothered to check my results.
I started my blog not because I thought I’m an expert at anything. I just had thoughts running through my mind and I wanted a medium to express those thoughts and hopefully in the process help those who can relate to me.
Of course, I think more carefully about my blog entries because it is being “broadcast” internationally, but the point is, I just did it, despite all my apprehension and feelings of being unqualified, and it led to me writing a book.
I didn’t let the thoughts of “who am I to teach anyone anything”, or “what have I really accomplished in the grand scheme of things”, or “I don’t have the qualifications” stop me.
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In Part 1 I tried to offer a balanced view on the benefits of being a rule follower who does everything by the book, and being a rebel-type personality who doesn’t always follow conventional wisdom and rules.
Rebels are too often seen as counter-productive types who just cause trouble. Though I tried to be unbiased in part one (except for the title), I admit here freely in part two that I prefer being around people who are rebels. I will explain in no uncertain terms why I prefer being a rebel and why.
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The brother and cousin twice removed of this blog post is How to Become a People Person – Part 1 and How to Use Questions to Change Your Life.
Only within the last two years of my life have I made any effort to become a people person, but not long ago something happened that made me declare war on my lack of people skills. And as you may have guessed, it involves a woman.
I was playing taxi for Brothers in Beat’s African branch of corporate entertainment, called Authentic African Experience. Emperor’s Palace hired two drummers to lead a parade for the opening of the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2010.
At this parade a woman caught my attention. She was leaving, and what a coincidence, so was I. I noticed she was calling someone, and I assumed someone would pick her up within moments, so I only had a minute or two to make my move. Read more »
I was reading a book called “The One Day MBA” by Marvin Nieland. In it he quotes Σωκράτης…
“Never tell someone something that you can ask them instead” – Socrates
…and man did that get me a thinkin’!!
I started imagining how you would ask someone something that you would usually say to them in a declarative statement.
You see I love telling people stuff. I love to tell them how I see it. Reading Socrates’ quote made me realise how much more effective my communication would become if I took his advice.
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I’m a suitable candidate to write about this subject because I’ve come from a place where really, you had to be family to like me. I had precious few friends growing up and had a very lonely childhood.
My family was often telling me that I’m very intelligent and talented and so I tried to make sense of people not liking me by telling myself they’re jealous, shallow, or whatever.
I was a good person inside, so the people who did give me the benefit of the doubt and took the time to get to know me really grew to love me, but few people did that.
Only within the last few years did I realise that relating to people is a skill and I can become skilled at relating to people if I make the effort to learn it.
I’ve learned some things on the subject and about myself which I’m sure you will relate to if you also have poor relationship skills.
Even if you’re a great people person, you will certainly benefit from this post in some way.
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About three years ago I started Israeli Special Forces hand to hand and weapons combat training. It’s painful, but it’s made a man out of me, and continues to do so.
Since starting I’ve never been more fit. One of my instructors is Idan. He was in the Israeli Special Forces for many years and was then approached to work as part of the Israeli Intelligence, the Mossad.
If you asked me to put money on a fight between Idan, man alone, and 10 of the biggest, strongest, angriest people you’ve ever met, one at a time or all at the same time, without a moment’s hesitation I would put my money on Idan, seriously.
Idan has taken the fighting style of the Israeli military, Krav Maga, and refined it even further into True Krav Maga. Unlike some forms of Krav Maga that has been commercialised, True Krav Maga is not a sport, it has no rules, there is no sparring. It’s the most effective and (if need be) deadly fighting system in the world, and Idan has welcomed and continues to welcome everyone from cage fighting instructors to any one of the martial artists to his studios for a demonstration, friendly, or for the arrogant, not so friendly.
Apart from the many benefits, including confidence, greater ability to defend myself and my loved ones in this dangerous South Africa, fitness, spending time with my great friend Harry, developing a marketable skill, and hearing Idan tell random crazy special forces stories like jumping off of a moving ship, I have learned a couple of life lessons.
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This past Sunday night at church we had a guest speaker called Sy Rogers. He’s widely described as one of the best communicators in the world.
This post is just some random, largely unstructured thoughts about the new distinctions I made from listening to him and how I tie that in to what I already know about love.
Right from the start, let me give you the definition of what love is and is not: Love is not what you see in movies and popular culture. Popular culture has not the first clue about love.
According to Sy Rogers, love at it’s core is to value someone. I love this definition for it’s simplicity. Using this definition, it’s easy to spot love.
This has truly been a life changing distinction for me. Whenever I hear or read the word “love”, I now always replace it with the word value, and then I know how to act on the information.
It’s hard to know how to act when I say “You must love this person.” But it’s easy when I say, “you must value this person.” Read more »
I racked my brains trying to come up with a way to explain what I mean when I say character. What is a person’s character? When I say character in this post, I’m not referring to someone’s nature or their personality.
Here’s what I mean when I refer to character:
“Your character is to your inner being what your skeleton is to your physical being. It’s the framework on which all your progress is supported”
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