A few things happened this last week. I fell on my face during our inaugural Boesmanskloof Shoshin Walk, it could have been very serious but for the intervention of some good friends, and now I am recovering nicely and some of my friends have started to call me Scarface. C'est la vie.
But I am alive and kicking, and filled with renewed gratitude at all the small gifts that life bestows on us. I am reminded that I surround myself with amazing people, my wife really rises in a crisis and life is grand - I want to suck up so much more of it before I check out of this mortal plane.
The other cool thing was co-hosting the Accelerator Cash Learning Day in Cape Town with Danie Nel - I am really loving the opportunities for learning and connection that the virtual environment has afforded us. While others complain about Zoom fatigue, I reckon we're just getting started... Looking forward to facilitating virtual strategy days, quiz nightsand hybrid team buildings in the following weeks.
The last thing that I did was take the dogs for my normal walk on Table Mountain, one of my favourite things. My walk (and podcast) was interrupted by a quick G&T with mates that live next to the mountain, but I was inspired enough by the content of the conversation that I thought to bring it into the flow for the next few articles.
I have been dipping into Tim Ferris's 4 Hour Workweek and the Tools of Titans during my morning 10-10-10 checkins - but he has also this book, which has a quite clear structure of specific questions for awesome people to learn from them. True Mentorship. I'm going to answer the first three of those questions this round - and will delve into the others next time.
QUESTION 1: “What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?”
Well, look, this is easy. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey has been my compass for the last 20 years. It was literally a life changer, and it seems like he was ahead of his time as I observe Stoic Philosophy making a comeback. The core concept is to take accountability for your own path, and don't sweat stuff that are outside your control. It's great.
At one point in my life, I gifted "Power Quotes" to a lot of people. It was a booklet they sold at the airports, and I literally bought about 20 to gift to people in 2006 when I worked as a guide facilitator at Lehigh University. Sadly, they went out of print, and I never kept one for myself... but one of my favourites was: "A rising tide raises all ships". I jotted down some of the best ones, and they went with me all through my Latin American sabbatical. I wish I could find a copy again.
As a tour guide, I probably told a lot of people about Wilbur Smith. As an Afrikaner kid growing up in a South Africa with very distinct messaging control, his books were an eye-opener into a different perspective. His Courteney characters proxies for the Oppenheimers, the De La Reys pretty much the Verwoerds, and Moses Game was Mandela. I reread the second trilogy of the Courteney Saga recently, and man. He really knew how to spin a yarn. So no specific book - but I really really enjoyed the Power of the Sword.
QUESTION 2: “What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.”
The Portable Laptop and Lapdesk stand from Takealot has been a game changer. I have never really had posture issues before (my tourism business did not require a massive amount of time sitting at the desk) but the Zoom world is different. I have lifted my perspective, and this gadget works well for sitting on the couch too, and the crink in my neck is gone.
QUESTION 3: “How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a 'favorite failure' of yours?”
Ooh. I'm going to go with three big lessons that I am now grateful for, but were painful at the time.
1995: The year we won the Rugby World Cup, and the end of my philosophy of "I can get by with minimum effort because I am talented". Suffice it to say, I bombed academically, fell out with my dad and had to pay for my own repeat year 1996 to get my Accounting Degree. Almost got thrown out of the Uni! It wasn't a wasted year -up to that point, I had taken pride in being smart enough to be lazy. It was quite a revelation that, with a bit of hard work and application, I easily passed the next year. And I didn't forget the lesson.
I recently learned of Internal and External Locus of Control - ie the idea that, to provide proper support to your kids, peers of team, you should compliment their work ethic - not their talent. Ie "Wow you got an A. You must have worked really hard!" as opposed to "Wow, you must be really smart!" Studies have shown that the former supports internal locus of control - and will encourage more application next time. The latter - well you are either smart of you aren't, right? Puts the credit and blame outside your control - and thats no good thing.
2003 & 2006: It took two gos, really. Both my co-venture in a BEE company and my trust in my A-team in corporate with Tourvest backfired. In the former, my partner used a lack of proper internal controls in the company to defraud us of a huge amount of money, in order to cover a huge mistake. It shut us down. For the latter, I should have seen the writing on the wall as the very competent team in our Durban division paved the way and then successfully opened their own shop, stealing a good deal of the clients.
In both instances, the wisdom from my dad was always there on his desk, in a postcard he displayed until the day he died: "Trust everyone, but brand your cattle." I won't ignore it again.
How did these incidents set me up for success? Well, you need to empower people. You need to give people the tools and structure to succeed. But you should always have systems in place to safeguard your interests. Checks and balances, people. People are vital - but I would daresay your systems are as important.
I'll check in with some of his other questions next week - but I reckon its good stuff to reflect on!