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In Isolation

I am home for a while as I am making some critical decisions about my life. I love being home with my family…family is good but I am not going to lie…there is something that I don’t like about being in my home town.

I realised that you don’t always grow whilst within your community, but you grow when you are away. I think Jesus said it best when he uttered the statement “a prophet is not honoured in his home town”. Often for people to be great there is a period of isolation or separation that needs to happen in their lives. Your ideas are not always embraced when you around your relatives and maybe to a certain extent rightly so…they sometimes don’t see you beyond your humanness and that is due to them witnessing the occasional ups and downs of your life.

I look back at the time when I moved to another city, to start my first job and I must say that was one of the best things that have ever happened to me. It was more than just a first job, but it was one of the turning points of my transformation.

I grew as a person, learning to see the world differently than I did before I left; I am much more open-minded. Sometimes when you go away you learn new things that you can implement when you come back.

I think of examples of people who became great and how isolation played a role in their lives. In the bible we hear that Abraham was told by God to leave his own country to go to a new land which God promised and it was this land where the Messiah would be born. We know that Abraham is one of the most integral characters in the biblical narrative and he did become great.

I think of the South African narrative and the story of the father of our democracy, Nelson Mandela. His was an unfortunate isolation but none the less an isolation that landed him in prison for 27 years. Mandela’s influence spans across every continent and his legacy lives on. Some of the great leaders we know of; were isolated from their environments in some way. When you read some of their autobiographies; there are stories of how they either studied or lived in another country or city.

I have reason to believe there is something about being isolated from your birth environment that moves you closer to becoming the person you meant to be. I am also in a season of preparation for my isolation. This is probably going to be the biggest and greatest change in my life. I have moments of being scared, but the peace and excitement I have surpasses every ounce of fear. I know that my separation will yield tremendous benefits.

There comes a moment in every person’s life where isolation will happen and this is going to be one of the most difficult but rewarding experiences of one’s life.

Isolation is a time of spiritual, intellectual, materialistic and to a certain degree physical “cocooning” of one to become great.

I still believe in love…

I am by no means trying to be cheesy by writing an article on love in the month of February. Thanks to mass media…we have been bombarded with red and white flowers, chocolates and all things romance. I am also enjoying reading insights on love in Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 Love languages for singles. This month I also witnessed the marriage union of one of my very close buddies.

Love is a beautiful thing… so much has been said and written about this topic for centuries and centuries and as the cliche goes…not only money but love also makes the world go round…

So pardon me, I am not even going to attempt to write a piece on love, what it is, its various types and all the amazing things we know about it.

I am actually writing this piece as a confession to myself…so you dear friend, will get a snippet as to what sometimes goes on in my very interesting heart. As I mentioned one of my buddies got married over the last week. I have been to numerous weddings in my lifetime and have watched them on TV countless times. But there was something about this wedding that awakened something in me that I didn’t even know was becoming dormant.

The depth of the love the couple had for each other not only shown in their words but there was a pureness, a light that was so evident in their eyes that for a moment it was like I was allowed to see the very depths of their spirits. It was real, it was unconditional, it was selfless and it was God-like. I don’t recall the exact moment…but during the course of the festivities I fell in love…a love that was always there but due to the stress of my current journey was seemingly decreasing. A love that once liberated me from the shackles of my past, a love that I knew was birth before the very foundations of this world…I actually fell in love with Bongeka again…

I realized that the world over embraces the notion of being in a romantic relationship but my “aha” moment was further cemented when I realized that a great marriage can never be built until you come to a point where you truly and I MEAN truly love yourself. It is this love that makes me wake up and even despite the many mistakes I make and still say I love you Bongeka. You can never love God and your neighbor as yourself if you don’t really love who you are. I woke up with this thought this morning…”there can never be another Bongeka just like me…sure we may share the same name and surname, even birth day even nationality and other things”…but I am unique and there is no one else like me.

It is this love that gives me strength even when I feel like all my dreams are not coming into reality…it is this love that gives me the energy to begin writing even when I don’t have inspiration…I still believe in love…I still believe in God.

Your Excellence…

I bumped into one of my old diaries recently when I was packing some of my stuff. I began to open up a few pages and was marvelled at some of the things I wrote two years ago. I can’t fully express how some of them were so funny, interesting but mostly insightful. One thing in particular blew my mind off and I knew I had to share. The diary entry dates 14 May 2015. The entry was inspired by a book I had read and I wrote “The outcome of excellence is as a result of consistency and diligence.”

This blew my mind both in the positive and negative. I sat there quietly and for a few seconds, I really looked deep into my heart pondering what this meant for me at this point in my life.

What is excellence? According to the oxford dictionary definition, “excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good”. In a lot of our dialogues we often speak of excellence and success as a power couple and I have to agree that this is a perfect union. When we express excellence at school, work, business, and our relationships, it’s because our overall objective is to attain success. Obviously that success mirrors differently for different people.

Back to the line that got me thinking, consistency and diligence equals excellence. Most people I have met want to be excellent and successful in everything they do and I want that so much too. I cannot tell you how I read this line at just the perfect time. I was complaining to myself about myself a few weeks about how I lack success in two particular areas of my life. And when I read this, I reflected and realized that actually I have been deceived, I was neither diligent nor consistent, and how then did I really expect excellence let alone success in these two areas of my life?

I fundamentally believe excellence and even success should not only be limited to our careers, businesses, academics or even relationships. There are other deep areas of our lives, i.e. our thoughts, our motives, our inclinations; shouldn’t we also place a demand of excellence in these areas? I mean personally I will give an example, I have an issue with someone being a great CEO and having received all accolades but that person comes home and is abusive to their family. Their behavior in turn affects their children, they grow up to be dysfunctional members of society and the vicious circle continues…now tell me how that is excellent and successful?

We so rush to be excellent for the outward things that others will celebrate about us. But my friend let the excellent attitude exude every area of your life…I mean literally, your mind, your soul, your heart, your body etc…

My enjoy life tip is this: We simply cannot “change” or make a difference in the world as most of us like to echo, if we have not learnt to make basic changes in our own individual lives. How do we conquer the world if we have not conquered ourselves? Remember again the mystery of your excellence lies in diligence and consistency.

Receive your sight…

I woke up this morning, and this word just came straight to my heart “short-sightedness”. I was amazed and just laughed. As someone who loves to share everyday experiences through writing, I really have to make sure I am always alert to appreciate the wisdom that is always right before me and around me. I starting thinking about this word and two classic examples came into my mind.

I recall a conversation I had with a business executive at work. I was actually giving him feedback about what people had said in the workshops we had run. A lot of people were complaining about a strategic project that the business had introduced. They just didn’t understand the logic behind it and felt that things should have been kept the same. They will say things like “why are we changing so many things, let’s leave things the way they are”. So I was sharing this feedback and I must admit after receiving the feedback myself I really felt concerned about what people were saying and also began to have some doubts about the project, Until…

Well it’s true when the proverb says “The first to speak in court sounds right until the cross-examination begins” Until the executive began to open my mind about why the business had embarked on this strategic project, I realised that there were two sides to this story. It’s true that there were teething issues, like any major change but the overall crux of the matter was that the leaders who had signed off on this were not being short-sighted. He began to unpack to me how our competitors were gaining momentum and if we don’t strategically position ourselves for the future, we run the risk of closing shop like so many great corporate giants.

But this particular project was going to be our “competitive” jackpot. Not even one of our competitors had caught onto this, and we were ahead of the game. He made me realise that leadership is a shrewd occupation because you see things other people don’t see. Yes your decisions will be challenged, sometimes in the face of difficulty, you can also question your own decisions, but one thing is sure…You simply cannot afford to be short-sighted. You have to receive the right sight…you need foresight.

In a recent example, I was watching the 10 year awards celebration of our Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Super Sport partnership. They began to “throwback” to the time when this whole partnership was established. They shared how in the inception, the government and mass media at large challenged this. Their biggest concern was that soccer is South Africa’s most loved sport and that moving the game screenings to a paid channel would mean that millions of South Africans would not be able to enjoy the beautiful game and this would cause an upheaval in the land. But, they were wrong…the 10 year celebration was an outcome of the success of this partnership. Imagine if the PSL and SuperSport leaders had succumbed to the naysayers but they didn’t because they were not short-sighted and the benefits have been great.

In whatever field you in and whatever your position is, if you want lasting and sustainable change you cannot afford to be short-sighted. Changes and decisions that will outlast and outlive you need to be approached with the greatest of foresight…

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