Positivity

Positivity resides in a place where negativity is born – Thurston Sebotsane.

Positivity - Smiley faces

People are more inclined to self inflicted ’emotional’ punishment. We walk around with our lips sweeping the floor and feeling sorry for things we either can or cannot control. We mope and we whine. We sigh and hope that others have solutions to our moods. We get irritable when those around us do not display a smidgen of empathy. Positivity is within grasp.

How did we ever get to this place of ’emotional self torment’?

In this place where happiness comes to be buried, we have solutions to reverse negativity and to preserve a positive mind-set.

People have tendencies of making mountains from molehills. I have shared about the value to Recycle Memories in my older posts. Visit the link and bathe yourself in the knowledge that you deserve better.

The development of a positive mind is no longer a foreign concept. In the last five years I have read and studied the mind and how it works. I have researched what experts have had to say on the subject. This has lead me to believe that we are in control of our emotions. We are much stronger than how we seem.

The biggest choice to be made is first in believing, then making that conscious decision to be positive. We have many examples to draw from; these are all around us. We have experienced happiness and positivity, repeated many times in life. Yet,  when presented with minor challenges we get disparaged then withdrawn.

I encourage you to learn visualisation and meditation. You will reap the benefits of continued positivity and you will know how to reverse the adverse effects of negativity.

“Creative visualization is a way of using your mind to get what you want out of life. Believe it or not, everyone uses it subconciously. For instance, people who subconciously tell themselves that they are unlucky, unloved, unattractive, etc, actually make those things realities for themselves. On the other hand, people who think they are fortunate, cherished, beautiful, etc. also make these things happen.”

Positivity and happiness are within grasp.

Thurston Sebotsane – Inspirational Speaker and Life Coach

Respect

RESPECT IS THE WORD, Treat others well..

Respect by Aretha Franklin: “What you want Baby I got, What you need you know I got it, All I’m asking, Is for a little respect when you come home.”

Respect

The dictionary defines respect as; “to show consideration for; treat courteously or kindly”

In recent weeks South Africans and the world at large have been inundated by news of the spear. This artwork, by Brett Murray, has spiked water cooler, church and stokvel debates. It has also been taken to courts and had attorneys melting down in public.

All this got me thinking about how different our world would be if we treated each other with respect. I decided this has to start with me.

For once I paused to think before I forwarded the spear to my friends. If this is humiliating and disrespectful for someone who is old enough to be my grandfather or husband in this regard, how am I contributing to their humiliation by forwarding same to my friends? Will I be showing consideration to the individual depicted in the spear? If not, what value am I adding to the recipients life?

Please join me in this quest to bring back the old school respect by doing to others as we will them to do to us. So what if someone decides to act like a clown? We have to respect the fact that we cannot control how other people act but we can control how we react to others’ actions. Everybody knows of that annoying sibling, friend or colleague that deserves to be knocked upside their head but I urge you to change that situation by accepting that; being “unique” is an option available to all of us and other people decide to jump in head first.

After all, things that we find annoying in others might be because they are a reflection of who we are.

Looking back at all the years during which I had access to electronic media, I am shamed by the amount of nonsense I have shared with my family, friends and colleagues. Well not anymore! I decided to share things that are of value and might help people deal with real issues rather than jokes that result in momentary laughter.

I never understood why Aretha was asking for just a little respect. I have grown to realise that if we treat people with respect regardless of who they are or their station in life, there will be less need for expensive lawyers. Going to the constitutional court to establish and argue our rights in dealing with each other as human beings will be an exception rather than the norm.

It might take some time to achieve what I am suggesting here today, but it is a journey worth taking and it begins with the first step, which in this case will be self-restraint and discipline. However, it will not always be easy to keep quiet and respect somebody’s idiocy as their democratic and constitutional right. But if we borrow from Michael Jackson (Man in a mirror), we will surely get it right. For he said; “If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place, Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make That . . .Change!”

— Lorraine Sebotsane (Guest blogger)

Be your biggest fan

“Love yourself and live for what you believe in.” – Thurston Sebotsane.

I am your biggest fan“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there. Quote by John Kotter (Harvard Business School Professor).

We are in an era where there are a lot of complaints but not as many solutions for redress. The expectation is that Government should be the proverbial silver bullet to sort all our woes. Like in the quote above, and also following in the famous words of Mahatma Gandhi; Be the change you would like to see in the world”. I have therefore decided to stand-up to be the activation agent of such.

I am a proud South African interested in making a difference in the lives of other citizens of our beautiful country and also for myself. I have therefore seen this opportunity as ripe to visit decision makers, township communities, businesses and schools around the country to jog them into considering change for an ideal future for all.

The first step is always the most difficult and accepting the reality that I will not be able to act in solitary is also a very important initial milestone.

To just sit back and expect that people will automatically come to your aid when you are not willing to do that yourself will not result in anything positive.

When I started THE POWER OF ONE tour, I was still a novice motorcycle driver with only three months experience. I was not willing to allow this minor matter to stand in the way. Firstly before I could go out to convince people that I could do what I was planning, I had to fully believe in it. I started talking about it to anyone who would listen and it soon became part of my daily activities; with that, my passion for the initiative grew by the day.

I believed fully that no one else could do it better than me. So I started selling myself as the brand that would be able to deliver this critical message to those that needed it the most.

Being your biggest fan does not imply that you should be naive and arrogant; you should also expect that NOT everyone you encounter will be receptive to your message. It is said that, ‘fore-warned is fore-armed’. If you expect some resistance to your good deeds, preparation will help you tackle them better.

How is it that people can see when you are happy, sad, angry, proud, tired or excited? You do not have to proclaim your mood each time it changes but somehow it manages to come across to those around you. In the same manner, if you become your biggest fan and you love what you do, this will show also.

I have been in meetings with a variety of people, all with different experiences, responsibilities and backgrounds; when I start talking about THE POWER OF ONE and what I intend achieving through it I get the same reaction. They all claim to witness my passion about what I intend achieving and some go as far as offering to help my cause.

I emphasize again that, if you truly believe in yourself and you show passion for what you are about; you are already achieving your goals.

 

  • Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker and Life Coach)

Language and learning

I was watching an advertisement on television about a specific comapany. A gentleman, in a bar, is speaking about company products and how best they can serve all clients. In the background the bar attendant (or should I say mixologist; for that is what they prefer to be called these days) is busy serving drinks. One moment he is in shot, the next his back is turned to the camera. At the end of the advert; the gentleman narrator brings our attention to the number of times the bar attendant’s uniform had changed. To this he says that the uniform had changed four times since the start of the advert. Now I understand that for uniform to change four times; there must be five outfits in total. This is logic derived from understanding language.

At the very moment I started thinking about learners at schools and how they find some subjects, particularly mathematics, challenging. I then linked the understanding of English to the extent of failure in the subject. When asked; “After four outfit changes, add four more. How many outfits would you have in total?“. I suppose some will arrive at eight because lack of logic and understanding of language. They fail at understanding that one has to start with something (an outfit) before change can be effected. For this very reason; many learners get left behind.

And if this was not enough; the command of English by educators leaves far too little to be desired. I still feel that the quality of English that I speak and what I write still require improvement and yet I have heard those that have been entrusted with young minds, hacking at it all in the name of teaching. The lack of respect of the command of language is a seed in impressionable minds that will grow into a harvest of failure.

moth·er tongue

  The language first learnt by a person; native language.
Quality formative tutoring in any language is essential to mental growth and development. Many people speak greatly of Mother Tongue learning at school. I understand the importance of this and I also understand (from the dictionary meaning) that this is not necessarily one’s own native language. This can be any language taught to children before the age of five. Children have receptive minds and are able to learn and differentiate many languages at once. Languages that get offered prominence in the early years, become Mother Tongue. When I was still a child, my parents spoke to me more in English than in any of the duo of their native languages. My Mother Tongue then became English. I speak and think in English and I find that I also express myself better in that too. Should I wish to learn a new subject, English will serve me best.
This takes me back to the classroom; an educator that delivers lessons in ailing English will harm a lot more than do good. I suppose the best way forward in improving learning at schools is to introduce quality in the primary stages. Pre-School learning and teaching should be best used to develop Mother Tongue that will then be used at school level for teaching purposes. South Africa is unique in that we have eleven official languages and it has become widely assepted to use English as a bridge in communication. English is used a lot more also at schools, universities, colleges and also in the work place. Angry striking workers will also use English to relay their message when interviewed.
Based on this, is it therefore not beneficial to elevate English to Mother Tongue status, Pre-Schooling, in order to improve the quality of learning and teaching?
–Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker & Life Coach).

Manage obstacles

‘No problem can be bigger than your determination to succeed’ — Thurston Sebotsane

A week before the launch of my tour on the 27th of September 2009; I got invited to a meeting in Sandton where I met Mr Collen Tshepiso Molefe who introduced himself as CEO of ‘Multimedia Communications’. He displayed excitement about THE POWER OF ONE initiative and pledged much needed sponsorship which included support for a further five years from the company’s CSI budget. This was clearly the backing that I had been looking for; I was now going to be able to reach my intended objectives.

The next day I got called to another meeting in the presence of the Financial Director where further details of the sponsorship got discussed and my banking details were requested for the transfer of funds. This all looked legitimate and with these promises I was ready to launch. I had been promised that the funds would reflect in my account by the 29th of September 2009.

To further fuel my determination, the management team from ‘Multimedia Communications’ attended the launch where Mr. Molefe again confirmed support for the initiative. I then launched and was on my way around the country.

When I got to Bloemfontein after having been to only two of the nine provinces, I had still not received the promised financial assistance from ‘Multimedia Communications’. I tried to reach Mr. Molefe on all the contact numbers he had given me; the phone would just ring but unlike before he would not accept any of my calls. At that point, it became clear that I had been used only for publicity and that none of the promised sponsorship funds would ever be deposited. I connected to the internet to try to confirm if ‘Multimedia Communications’ was a registered company; my search could not return a positive result. It seemed I had been caught in a hoax perpetrated my Mr. Molefe.

I now only had just enough money for fuel to get me back home. I was then faced with two options; ‘Quit and go home’ or ‘Rise to the challenge’. I decided on the latter, I started contacting people I know in an attempt to raise the required money to get me back on track. I only had a day and half from the Saturday afternoon to raise the required amount.

I had not embarked on the tour to fail, so I spent the weekend calling around to raise funds to enable me to continue. I contacted Richard Ho-Tong, Ongkgopotse Tabane and Prejelin Naggan; all of whom promised to come to my aid. Onkgopotse Tabane managed to get Sanele Nyoka to also pledge toward the tour. They promised to get some money to me by the Monday.

I woke up on Monday morning still faced with what-if scenarios: What if I fail, what if they do not deposit the money, What if I continue only to get stranded in the Northern Cape? What if… What if… What if… The thoughts were flooding my mind and they would not stop.

My determination to succeed was much stronger than all the scenarios. I packed my gear, strapped everything onto the motorcycle and navigated my way to Kimberly in the Northern Cape Province.

After addressing learners at the second school in the province, I received a text message on my mobile phone from the bank; Mr. Ho-Tong had kept his promise. I was now equipped to continue my tour further south to Western Cape. Later on in the tour, the other pledges became real. THE POWER OF ONE was still on track.

At times you will be presented with situations that may make you feel like giving up. What will set you apart from the rest is the way in which you choose to rise to the challenge. With the help of Mr. Ongkgopotse JJ Tabane, Mr. Prejelin Naggan, Mr. Sanele Nyoka and Mr. Richard Ho-Tong, I managed to raise the required amount and I was able to continue on the tour.

I could have easily given up and accepted failure, but instead I decided to take the road less travelled, I took a chance and now I am reaping the rewards.

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough” — OG Mandino.

I was determined and I succeeded.

On my way to Western Cape Province after driving through Britstown in Nothern Cape Province, my mood was improved and the weather was agreeable. The sun was moments away from kissing the horizon and it had blanketed the land in soft colours. This is when the idea to write a book came to me. I had initially thought of a coffee table book but the concept of something more meaningful was much more exciting.

— Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker and Life Coach)

Package it and sell it

‘Once you know exactly what you want to do, Do it’ — Thurston Sebotsane

 

Some years ago a friend of mine (Mlungisi Mtshali) and I, visited the then CEO of iBurst, Mr. Thami Mtshali (Not related to my friend) at his office in Sandton. The idea was to seek advice on how to start a company and how to market specific products through it.

At the time of this meeting, iBurst had struck me as the David who was taking on the Goliaths of industry in the telecommunications space. They had a fresh perspective on bringing broadband connectivity to clients with impressive turnaround strategies. If there was any place for me to learn from, this was it.

I had expected Mr. Mtshali to dedicate at least thirty minutes to explain the ins and outs of starting a business and the related challenges; How to start and how to clear all hurdles on the track.

We waited patiently in his office under the watchful eye of his ever present PA. He arrived much later than when we were scheduled to meet.

We got down to business with me introducing myself and setting the scene for the meeting and asking how we could market our services to potential clients.

“Package it and sell it!”; came the answer from this giant who seemed to tower over my friend and me.

This was indeed a very short meeting, I did not get the insight that I had hoped for and I was really irritated by what had seemed like an attempt to dismiss us and not to share his knowledge about success.

The wisdom in his statement only came to me in June of 2009 when I was learning how to ride a motorcycle. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, I believed in it fully, I had written it down and pasted some of the scraps of paper on my office wall to always keep me inspired. All that I needed was to draft a proposal that I would use to request sponsors to come on board.

All of a sudden, Mr. Thami Mtshali was like an oracle from the past, his words kept ringing in my ears so much that I could not ignore them any longer; “Package it and sell it”. I packaged my idea in order to sell it.

Never underestimate the relevance and importance of research. Read books, surf the internet, talk to people and ask a lot of questions. Not everyone that you ask for advice will be willing to share and some advice might be in a form you do not expect (like in my case with Mr. Mtshali). It is important that you should learn to get to where you need to be by doing the work yourself. Only after going through these motions will you truly appreciate the end result.

I take notice now that when I visited iBusrt to talk to Mr. Mtshali, I was also amongst those afflicted by the culture of entitlement and I did not even realise that. I had expected to be spoon-fed so I could just implement and enjoy the benefits of someone else’s hard work and intellect. Had Mr. Mtshali relented by giving me solutions to all my challenges, I would not have learnt to rise on my own.

I have met a lot of successful people, some in business and others are progressive professionals; I have approached a number of these people to enquire how I can be able to achieve like they have. I have noticed how this is such an uncomfortable question for most; the pain here is like trying to gain membership to a very exclusive club and you are just not of the desired pedigree. People who have worked hard all their life do not appreciate those that want to take short-cuts to success. This culture is not sustainable. The old adage still holds true today; “Give man fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”.

Closely linked to the culture of entitlement is the expectation that everything should come easy. I had expected easy answers from Mr. Mtshali; I had hoped he would load my solution on a silver platter which was supposed to be handed to me. Irritation and my refusal to see wisdom clouded me for over two years until my back was against the wall and I had to figure my own way out.

When you are faced with challenges and not enough answers and solutions; you should not be deterred but inspired and motivated to reach for your dreams. Like I had written previously; you need to believe in your idea so much that you should not be able to imagine life without it.

Many books have been written on the power and efficacy of positive thinking and people continue to preach about it. I am one of the converted, I believe strongly in positive thinking. That is why, even when the rich, the wealthy and the progressively successful will not allow me into their circle, I will never stop believing that I can be able to achieve greatness. I have also accepted that I will not be able to use a magic wand to conjure the life I desire, I will have to work toward achieving it; after all I deserve success.

Not everyone that you pitch your idea to will have the time to read your proposal. It is important to make it interesting and relevant to the reader and it is also wise to draft a two page summary to attach to the proposal which should ideally be read first before the full proposal.

I cannot over emphasise this point; RESEARCH IS VERY IMPORTANT. For example; if you plan to request sponsorship from a company; it is always prudent to find out all you can about that company, especially their policy on the subject. Once you have all the relevant information, you should be able to draft a proposal that addresses all the important aspects from your research.

Avoid long and bulky paragraphs, use bullet points if possible, include pictures and graphics that link to your subject. Most importantly, explain to the potential sponsor what they will be able to benefit from partnering with you. Once you have given proper attention to what you want to achieve and you have also researched the sponsor and what they stand for; it should then be easier for you to know how both you and the sponsor will be able to benefit.

Package it and sell it.

–Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker & Life Coach)

Stars in the sky

Ideas

IDEAS ARE IN THE AIR

Coming up with great ideas is simply not enough. It is very important to develop a culture of immersion and action. Doing something about the very ideas is key to success. Often we get struck by a good idea and we marvel and we go as far as considering a changed world brought on by our genius. Many of these ideas remain ‘just ideas’. We have a tendency of dismissing great ideas. We have a tendency of relegating what we can do today to whenever…Then later we discover that someone came up with the same idea and they have succeeded in bringing it to market and they are now basking in this fame and achievement.

How often have you said/thought:

  • That was my idea
  • I thought of that first
  • I had the same idea
  • I should have done something about that
  • I was going to do that

Have you ever thought about how new ideas are never really unique? It can almost be guaranteed that when you are busy mulling over mechanisms of what seems to be a good new idea, another person in the world is also thinking about the very same thing. If not, it will not be long until someone else will do that. Einstein once said; “Ideas are in the air”.

Author, Malcolm Gladwell writes that the phenomenon of simultaneous discovery, called “multiples” by science historians, is very common:

One of the first comprehensive lists of multiples was put together by William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas, in 1922, and they found a hundred and forty-eight major scientific discoveries that fit the multiple pattern. Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both discovered evolution. Three mathematicians “invented” decimal fractions. Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley, in Wiltshire, in 1774, and by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in Uppsala, a year earlier. Color photography was invented at the same time by Charles Cros and by Louis Ducos du Hauron, in France. Logarithms were invented by John Napier and Henry Briggs in Britain, and by Joost Bürgi in Switzerland. “There were four independent discoveries of sunspots, all in 1611; namely, by Galileo in Italy, Scheiner in Germany, Fabricius in Holland and Harriott in England”.

For Ogburn and Thomas, the sheer number of multiples could mean only one thing: scientific discoveries must, in some sense, be inevitable. They must be in the air, products of the intellectual climate of a specific time and place.

–Philipp Lenssen

I have often thought of good ideas and that’s all they ever were ‘just good ideas’. Ideas only become truly valuable and useful when you choose to do something to turn them into reality. You need to also come to a realisation that ‘no idea is ever unique’. The first person off the starting block often gets to enjoy the fruits.

I am trying to impress upon you the importance of realising the dangers of procrastination and that no good may come from that. Learn to start developing good habits.

Some years ago I bought a car fully fitted with one of those very hi-tech alarm/immobiliser units with the transmitter permanently married to the key and formed into a single unit. Every so often, I had to open the unit to replace the batteries. This was not such a big deal, but frustration set in once when I could not gain access to the car; all this because of a depleted set of useless batteries that in effect helped to electronically barricade me from using my vehicle. I now had to walk a while to catch a taxi to where I could get replacement batteries, and then I had to commute back to my car with that additional walk and loss of essential time.

Subsequently, I thought how wonderful it would be if the unit was fitted with batteries that could be recharged each time the key got inserted into the ignition switch. In this way, the frustration of depleted batteries would be no more.

A year or two later, I came across this technology and I could only marvel at what could have been. Do not allow this to happen to you!

When you get struck by a brilliant thought, do not allow it to fade; put yourself in the middle and start imagining the change that can come about if you choose to see it through. No matter how insignificant you think it may be, write it down.

The ring-pull on your favourite can of soda; the buttons on your shirt; the zipper; these may have seemed insignificant at the time but they have since changed the way we do things. Most importantly, someone must have thought that they were good enough to invest extra effort and time to see them through.

If you spend enough time thinking about your idea, you should find it difficult to imagine life WITHOUT IT. Once you are able to immerse yourself in the idea, you will then be able to believe in it fully. This stage is very important; if you are able to be truthful to yourself and you thoroughly believe in the idea you will find it almost impossible to imagine life without it. You will be more effective when you start writing things down; this will also be good exercise for your mind.

— Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker and Life Coach)

Shackles of negativity

‘Shatter a person’s confidence and hope; You would have imprisoned the mind’ – Thurston Sebotsane

[Two days ago I posted “LOOKING BACK” and I took an excerpt from my book; “Lessons from my tour”. I now figure that in order to paint a better picture I need to include a bit more from the chapter. This is my take on a part of the many reasons, causes and growth of negativity and the fall of the human spirit.]

“Racial discrimination and segregation have been integral components of South African history since the arrival of white settlers. By conquest and expansion, indigenous people were displaced. Despite this, the legal system continued to allow the possibility, however remote, that African landownership could expand. After 1913, however, the situation altered because the Natives Land Act passed that year drastically restricted African access to land. From that time onwards, African landownership was increasingly curtailed, and by the time of the Nationalist election victory in 1948, a plethora of legislation applied racially discriminatory restrictions both in rural and urban areas.

From the outset, the residents of Lady Selborne were politically sophisticated and resisted the ever-enveloping tentacles of state control over their daily lives. As segregation and apartheid tightened their grip on Africans, they fought determinedly to retain their long-held status as landowners. It was a battle they eventually lost. Having established an ‘African’ and communal identity in an urban environment, the inhabitants of Lady Selborne were scattered in the early 1960s — sub-divided into various ‘ethnicities’ and forcibly removed to a variety of remote ‘homelands’, ‘Bantustans’ and semi-rural townships — as a consequence of the Group Areas Act and related legislation.”  

From an article by Jane Carruthers: Urban land claims in South Africa: the case of Lady Selborne township, Pretoria, Gauteng.

 

My father grew up in Lady-Selborne; his family was amongst those deposed and forced to settle in Mamelodi. Africans could hold title to land in Lady Selborne which was 292.78 ha in extent and was situated against the south slope of the Magaliesberg some 10 km north-west of Pretoria’s city centre (now Suiderberg is on the site). Established in 1905 as a freehold township for ‘coloured’ people, Lady Selborne was ‘honoured’ to be named after Lady Beatrix Maud Cecil, whose husband had succeeded Lord Milner as High Commissioner for South Africa and Governor of the Transvaal and Orange River colonies until unification in 1910.

I do not remember much about my early days in Mamelodi, but I do remember what it was like growing up in Mabopane; a township in the dusty streets of the then Bophuthatswana. One of those so-called ‘Bantustans’ granted ‘independence’ from the South African Apartheid State and allowed a ‘Black-President” under the guise of freedom. It was in Mabopane that I started my schooling just a few paces from my parent’s home; in fact, I could see the house from my classroom window.

It was in Mabopane that I got to learn early on in life about how negativity formed the cornerstone of being black growing up in a township; I have now grown to detest this stark non-truth and I wish to change it. Another fallacy was that whites were superior in every way and that black people will remain subservient to the Caucasian master. Subliminally, I was getting trained how to be negative and to accept it, I was getting taught to accept that I am inferior and that I will never be able to rise to any notable heights. Adults could regularly be heard saying; “Go lela ga go thuse” (it is futile raising a concern as nobody will listen). To this day there are people who can be heard reciting this, either as a formed habit or as a way to escape facing the challenge to succeed.

I acknowledge that apartheid never touched me physically, but it seems that the damage done to me psychologically is as harmful; this from the inferior quality of education to decisions made about what I was good for. Though no longer a reality, the ghost of the apartheid state continues to haunt people; it will take a positive mindset to be freed from this prison of negativity.

In my adulthood, I have had to learn to fight against the indoctrination of negative thoughts and I have had to ask myself:

  • Why do people choose to be negative?
  • How did a minority win over and control the majority?
  • Why are people filled with self pity?
  • What is the root cause of a culture of entitlement?
  • Why do we not take charge of our own destiny?
  • Why do we keep blaming others for our failures
  • Can all this be reversed or corrected?

Granted; apartheid was designed to divide, conquer and rule through fear. It was engineered to make other races to feel inferior. It was meant to imbue the combined strength of a united society. It was supposed to leave a lasting legacy of self loathing and helplessness.

The first democratic elections in South Africa ended Apartheid rule but its effects can still be felt. Though deep seeded, this negativity can still be reversed and people can be empowered to reach for their dreams and to succeed. It all starts with accepting that the shackles are psychological and that it will take the mind to unlock them. A radical mind does not just happen, it has to be built. Like you were trained not to believe in your abilities, you can also learn to rise to the challenge of achieving greatness.

If you are at this point and you still believe that you cannot achieve better than what you have; then you should work on positive thinking, visualisation, seeding and Affirmations. Look around you and ask yourself how other people seem to succeed and you have seemingly hit the proverbial wall. If they can succeed, why can you not achieve same or better?

First you must want to change, and then you have to believe that you can.

— Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker & Life Coach)

Conformity

We live in an era where individualism is spoken of and known for its benefits and yet conformity is accepted and taught. Anyone who does not adhere to set societal ‘so called standards’ is shunned and ill spoken. There is generally no wiggle room for the square peg in a round hole. However our world would not have been as advanced as we perceive it today, had it not been for the mavericks who decided to stand outside the box and to look within.

  • Conformity would have caused the Wright brothers to fail before realising flight.
  • Based on his parents’ standing, Garret Augustus Morgan, the son of former slaves, would not have invented the world’s first traffic signal which has now become the ubiquitous traffic light.
  • Unqualified, self taught surgeon, Hamilton Naki assisted Chris Barnard in heart transplant operations at the risk of arrest under Apartheid Law.

Our education system stands challenged and the quality of high school passes does not belong on the world stage in case of international peer comparisons and competition. Our teachers are taught to deal with symptoms and not the root cause of the sharp decline in prestige. I was really challenged at school; I could arrive at solutions to questions posed at me and yet I was told that because I had employed untested methods, I would remain at a disadvantage during exams. Challenging the norm resulted in ‘conk outs’ as punishment, for failure to regurgitate from the standardised school texts.

Parents also get caught in the trap of expecting their children to become the next Albert Einstein, the next Nelson Mandela, the next Kofi Annan. What ever went wrong with allowing your kids to become who they are destined to become and allowing them the tools to realise greatness? Some of the most successful Entreprenuers in the world are those that defy conformity and choose the unconventional. Sir Richard Branson is daring and introduces fun to doing business; Bill Gates started a business in computing that still ranks at the top; Steve Jobs’ creativity resuscitated Apple on his return after he had been fired. Something common about all of them apart from wealth is that they dropped out of school; today their ‘unconventional and non-conformist ways’ in business are making it into mainstream MBA courses around the world.

Though conformity may work for some and the grounding of schooling may be important, it is not a sacred mould. The world is full of leaders and followers. In industry exists the same mix of diverse individuals (leaders and followers). Dictionary meanings for ‘Business People’ and ‘Entrepreneurs’ draw a distinction in this regard also.

 

ENTREPRENEUR

• n : someone who organizes a business venture and assumes the risk for it [syn: {enterpriser}]

BUSINESS PEOPLE

• n : people who transact business (especially business executives)

Which one are you?

A good employee/student/business person will abide by all rules and will also implement set standards as they had been done for years. The Entrepreneur will question the very existence of such rules and will often ‘fly too close to the sun’ in his quest to introduce change. Employers demand conformity from their employees; they will punish when the unconvetional does not yield results and yet they demand creativity. This approach often leaves people conflicted; they know that with creativity they can introduce change and yet are not adventurous enough to try lest they fail.

This ‘Conflicted YOU’ (I know I am an individual but I have to change ‘ME’ to fit in) is a result of your environment. This conflict will cause the flame from your creative spirit to be quickly extinguished. Why try for more when your efforts are not fully appreciated? This is where most dreams come to die and progress gets stalled.

The entrepreneur is the square peg. He has to exist to set the stage and create an environment for business people to exist. His unquenchable thirst for the unconventional is the lifeblood of growing economies around the world. His achievement of self mastery is the key to fulfillment. This spirit exists within all of us to excel; we were born of different parents; our life experiences are varied; we have diverse aspirations.

Conformity is unnatural!

— Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker & Life Coach)

Your sweet spot

  • What drives you?

  • What makes you come back for more?

People who have participated in sports like golf and tennis will often speak about hitting the sweet spot. This is when you connect with the ball in the exact and optimal area of your equipment that you do not need to use force. This contact sends the ball flying and you do not get negative feedback in the hands. It is just perfect and the sensation is short of magical. Of course, hitting the ball in any other part of the club will result in a shocking sensation. The feedback from the mishit will be sent back up the shaft and is rather uncomfortable. It is through this vibration that you will know you have not delivered a great shot.

When I play golf (and I am no Tiger Woods), I do not need much encouragement to return for another round at a later date. My handicap is still golf and I have to practice consistently to break eighty. Now imagine playing and hitting over eighty shots and being excited by that ONE that you caused to fly to exactly where you had intended. That is all the encouragement I need to return to the course; to keep practicing so I can create a lot more of these great sensations.

People exist on encouragement;

  • When you perform well at school
  • When you deliver your projects on time at work
  • When you cover an extra kilometer in your daily jog
  • When you learn a new skill
  • When you cook a delicious meal

Usually you expect some kind of acknowledgement from the outside for you to feel good on the inside. It is almost like there is that missing ingredient called “external stimulus” that you require before anything can be deemed perfect. We encourage our kids to always be on the lookout for this ingredient to the extent that, when they don’t get it, they go about morose the whole day or week. You tend to want to reward them for things they know they should be doing anyway. This culture persists and we carry it with us into adulthood.

Now you need to ask yourself:

  • Does it lessen the quality of your result if you do not get acknowledgement?
  • Does it mean your time was wasted?
  • Will the end result improve or decline without outside stimuli?

In my previous post (Recycle memories); I wrote about the need to go back to your successes and to consider how you must have felt in those moments of great achievement. Today, I add to this by stressing the importance of creating a lot more of these great moments so that you can have a lot more to think about in the future. Learn to pat yourself on the back when you have done well. Instead of waiting to be told (and that time might not come) that you have done well; invite a friend to dinner and let them know you are celebrating your success. Take yourself to the movies. Eat that extra slice of cake. Nothing beats the feeling you get when you know you have done well.

  • Let that be ‘Your sweet spot’, so that you can always go back and do it again; even better.
  • Learn to appreciate yourself; it will show and others will follow.
  • Create memorable moments so you can have a lot to remind you of your successes
  • Appreciate yourself and you will recognise a winner

— Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker & Life Coach)