Detours to Your Destination

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The directions to get you anywhere include a few turns:

  • Go straight until you get to that intersection.
  • Then turn left down the dead-end road.
  • Cut through the park, past the fountain.
  • Take the steps down the hill, and your destination is on the right.
  • Arrive at destination

The same is true in life, whether for business success or personal happiness.

You need to switch strategies a few times to get where you want to go.

“Stay the course” is bad advice because if you don’t turn at one of those intersections, you will carry on forever in the wrong direction. And it takes a long time to turn around.

The journey to your destination is never a straight line. Its okay to make turns and detours, as long as you are going towards your destination. It might take you a while, but eventually you will get there.

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”― Helen Keller

Now that you you have arrived at your first destination. This is where you stop driving the same direction, and decide where you are going next. Whether somewhere completely different, or just deeper down that path, the way to get there is to switch strategies again.

P.S. When you have arrived at your first destination, I highly recommend the great book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”. — Marshall Goldsmith

Associations: People In Big Cities Walk Fast

Walking

Whether we are aware or not, the environment we associate ourselves with affects how we behave, decide and feel. The environment affects us consciously or subconsciously.

People who live in major cities walk faster than people from rural areas because apparently the rate per hour in major cities is higher than in rural areas therefore walking after makes more sense in major cities so that you can save time walking and spending it making money. This assertion is called Economic Value of Time.

Social cues can also determine not just what types of food and drink we consume, but also how much. In African culture, if we are together I can’t eat alone and you just sit and talk, If I eat you eat. A recent review of the effect of social facilitation on consumption, how we behave with others compared with being alone, found that as the number of people we eat with increases, so does the amount of food we consume.

In one study, for example, eating with one other person was found to increase consumption by 33%, eating with three people by 53% and eating with six people by 76%. Research has found that, in the presence of familiar company, we tend to select more food and drink than if we had been dining alone. We often use the behaviour of others to license ourselves to select more food than we normally would.

When I started mentoring, I met most of my mentees for sessions at quieter restaurants, which meant most of my time I was eating or drinking restaurant food almost everyday. Picking up weight is easy in such a set-up. So to lose it, meant having to meet them at their offices or my office.

The contrary may also be true, if I’m with other people, I don’t want to show that I’m a big eater so just nimble a little and pretend that I’m an okay eater but when I get home, I ambush the kitchen with big pieces of meat.

Either way, the people we associate with, the places, offices, homes, and community (physical and virtual) we spend our at affects how we behave.

Much as we can influence the environment, the environment can influence us back as well.

We have the power to shape our associations, but once chosen, those associations shapes us. 

Consider these factors when you decide where you want to setup your business premises.

Associations: The Oven You Bake The Ingredients Matters

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There is no one ‘key’ to achieving happiness. Like everything else in life, achieving happiness requires a multitude of ingredients. One of the most important ingredients is inner peace, which allows for contentment. Another is love, both having people who love you and, more importantly, having people that you love.

However, what most people overlook entirely is what plays a critical role.

It is fine to have all the ingredients necessary for happiness, but it is the oven you bake those ingredients in that matters just as much. Your surroundings, your environment, impact you more than you may realise.

Usually it is subtle things we don’t consider too serious that affects our personality, such things also affects our children, even before they are born.

In his recent TEDxGaborone talk Timothy Maurice Webster refers to the fact that the type of music you listen to, the movies and stories you watch, the media messages, the books you read influences your narrative and perspective.

What I didn’t know that Timothy talks about is that they type of music you listen to (even a year) before a woman fell pregnant and/or during her pregnancy affects the genes of the child. That’s why women (and couple) are encouraged to listen to symphony music during pregnancy.

The type of relationship you have with you partner during pregnancy affects the genes of the unborn child. If you have a stormy and difficult relationship, the tension and stress may be transferred to the child.

Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children’s genes.

New finding is clear example in humans of the theory of epigenetic inheritance: the idea that environmental factors can affect the genes of your children.

Genetic changes stemming from the trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors are capable of being passed on to their children, the clearest sign yet that one person’s life experience can affect subsequent generations.

Watching depressing news all the time affects your personality. The more you watch The Sopranos or The Godfather for a long time, you tend to believe that the mob boss is this tower of a person, who if he was not running his family he would be the CEO of GE or something. If all you listen to first thing in the morning while stuck in traffic is callers complaining on a talk radio show, this will affect your mood by the time you get to work.

What you spend time on, you assimilate.

When building your business, what type of environment are creating and contributing to your staff, your customers and your community. Are creating a good and inspiring mood around your business.

Are the customers who interact with you, your business, your website, your social media messages leave inspired or do you leave depressed?

Customers are attracted to uplifting, comfortable and inspiring environments, and vice-versa, if you are constantly whining and negative, you will attract similar customers.

Negativity if channeled and used appropriately can be a catalyst for significant change. But prolonged negativity not supported by efforts to direct it create change is merely intellectual debate.

To build a positive environment, we need to be sensitive to music we listen to, the programs we watch on TV, the radio show we listen to, media messages we expose ourselves to, the newspapers and magazines we read, the colours we chose.

Change your environment, change your personality.

The small things we associate with have a significant impact in our lives.

Associations: Broken Window Theory

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Are we in control of our own decisions? Or is there a link between your environment and the decisions you make.

Are the clothes you buy and wear linked to what people around you wear? Is the business you start and how you start it linked to the regulations around you, the customer tastes and their behaviours?

How does changing my environment impact my life decisions?

Our decisions are influenced by many factors. We may or may not be aware of them. Whether a decision was rational or irrational is measured on the basis of success. If you meet success your decision was correct and if it meet failure your decision was irrational.

We tend to think that we are responsible for our decisions, but to a large extend our environment shapes and is responsible for the decisions we make.

The broken windows theory is the idea that serious and violent crime can be reduced in an urban area through the strict enforcement of lesser crimes such as graffiti, and vandalism.

The theory says if a broken window to a building is not fixed within a few days, it means there is no one staying in that building and that no one really cares about that building. This then results in more windows being broken, vandalism, graffiti and illegal occupation.

What started as a single broken window over time results in that building attracting crime. Something as small as fixing a broken window would prevent the escalation of damage to the building and may prevent crime.

At the core of this is that conformity is the idea that people tend to do what others around them are doing. Someone walking down the street eating a hamburger, for example, is less likely to throw the litter in a rubbish bin if the pavement is already trashed with hamburger wrappers from other people who have chosen to litter.

An area clean from litter indicates to a person that there are rules against littering and that they are followed, monitored and enforced. 

Driving in the township is different from driving in the suburbs. Even though the rules of the road are the same, if you strictly stick to the rules of the road in one specific area, you might cause an accident. The environment dictates how we drive in certain areas and affects the decisions of how to drive.

One of the big debate is how bribery is treated in certain countries. Bribery is acceptable in certain countries and unacceptable in others. The environment affects the decisions  of how to do business.

Dan Ariely says “We tend to compare ourselves with our surroundings, and our happiness stems directly from those comparisons. If the people around us drive Hondas, we feel good in a Honda; if those around us drive Audis, our old Honda will make us cringe.” The environment affects the things we buy.

We do certain things due to our surroundings. Change your surroundings, change your decisions, change your life.

A country with a high entrepreneurial culture tends to breed more entrepreneurs. A country with a high culture of dependency tends to breed more dependency.

Choose your environment very carefully because it has the potential to either hold you back or push you to success.

If you are a startup, something as small as spending time with other entrepreneurs in an incubator type environment exposes you to thought leader entrepreneurs and may increase your chances of success.

To a large extent, you are a product of your environment. Does your place of work bring the best out of you, is the environment taking you to where you want to go.

Consider a business with a few under-performing people. If the people are not supported and not understanding of the strategy and vision, the tendency is for others to start to under-perform as well. Eventually, this will impact your service and business performance, and if it is neglected, perhaps clients become uncommitted to you. The environment affects how people perform. As a leader create an environment that fixes the broken window immediately.

My mentor Mike Ngila Muendane when he talks about habits uses the analogy that: it all starts as a drop, then another drop, and over time those drops accumulate to become an ocean.

A small thing that happens in your business may have a big impact. Don’t let a “broken window” lead to a broken business, and broken people.

Fix the broken window. Heredity nothing, environment everything.

Ps: Malcolm Gladwell wrote exensively on Broken Windows Theory in his book Tipping Point.

 

Associations: People You Allow In Your Life

Dereck and Beverly Joubert at work in Botswana

I recently went to an amazing game lodge owned by couple, Derek and Beverly Joubert. It is amazing how they work together. They packed their bags as couple and left Johannesburg 30 years ago and went up north bushes. They lived in a tent for while. They are always together, they work together following and documenting wildlife, Derek video records wildlife and ultimately produces National Geographic documentaries and Bervely takes amazing still pictures in the process.

They have been working together for the past 30 years. (Have you ever thought of working with your partner full time?). They share almost everything, they have many cars that are used as game drive bakkies, but when they go to work, they go together in one vehicle. They share the same facebook and twitter account, they gave a TED Talk together, Derek wrote a foreword for Beverly’s photobook. They influence and inspire each other.

According to Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I believe who you spend time with influences the person you eventually become. 

If you want to be great, hang around great people. If you want to be an innovative person, you must hang around innovative people. People around you inspire or drain you, pick your circle wisely. Over time you tend to adopt a part of the people around you. Your couch, mentor, your close friend, workmates influences you.

In life, you will encounter all different types of people: the good, the bad and the detrimental. Character is so largely affected by association, that we cannot afford to be indifferent as to who or what our friends are.

If you hang out with people who cheat and take shortcuts in life, they will influence you to think like them and most probably you will cheat as well. If you hang out with people with strong morals and principles, people who value loyalty in the midst of temptations, they will influence you to believe what they believe. 

If you hang out with people who are doing work that empowers others, or hang out with people who are counseling and praying for others, or hang out with people who are getting deep into what it means be human doing work that matters, the odds are that the business you build is going to be more human.

If you hang out with people who are going really slow because they don’t want to make a mistake, you are not going to make mistakes but you going to go really slow.

I prefer to hang out with people who go really fast and who have concluded that mistakes are not going to kill them. 

So this means if I’m going to see someone I haven’t seen in a while and I haven’t make mistakes lately, I’m going to be embarrassed, so I have to go make some new mistakes quickly so that I have something to talk about when I meet that person.

This is a very profound cultural insight about this idea. It used to be that the only associations you had were your work tribe, social tribe, your religious tribe and that was it. Now you can join and belong to any tribe you want, from online to people down the street.

Someone sent an email pointing out that it is not like in her neighborhood and I said but your neighborhood doesn’t matter as much as it used to. Local used to be the only way we used to organize. What your postal code or home address would tell me is which community you belong to and what type of life you live.

It used to be that I can tell a lot about your home address, now I want to know your browser history not your home address because it is where you are “hanging out” virtually where you have real collisions. The types of collisions matter more than who you are swearing at cutting you off the traffic at your community, because those sorts of collisions are not the kind of collisions I’m talking about.

The people you hang out with physically and virtually are the types of collisions that matter. Show me your friends, I will show you your future.

Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with.

And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes.

And the changes are what you become.

Change the outcome by changing your circle.

By choosing who you spend time with, you are literally shaping your own future. Start by examining the people you spend the most time around. Consider if these people are enabling you toward your envisioned self. If they are not, limit your contacts with them, if possible cut it off.

Identify and increase contact with the people who will enable you to become the best person you can be. Guard your circle very selfishly.

How about you register for that degree with someone close to you. Influencing each during your study years will be amazing and graduating together will even be more amazing. The legacy you start will rub off to your kids and future generations.

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Birds of a feather flock together.

Associations: Environment Everything

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Recently went to a lodge in the middle of the bushes for a few days. The food was purely healthy food to an extent that I got sick. Not sick because of bad food, but because my body was not used to such healthy food over a longer period of time.

This got me thinking. The easier way to keep healthy is to stay at an environment that leaves you no choice but to eat healthy. I don’t need much motivation, just the right environment.

There is limited need for motivation if the environment leaves you no choice to lead a positive life.

If you want to quit drugs, you will need a lot of motivation to help quit if you live in house full of users.

Motivation is important, but it is hard to stay motived in a negative environment, that’s why the impact of motivational talks is short-lived because people you motivate go back to the same old disempowering environment.

Bessie Head in her novel Maru, says heredity nothing, environment everything. The environment you live in plays a more crucial role in your environment than your heredity.

A good environment needs very little motivation, but a negative environment makes motivation hard to sustain.

Before you seek motivation, ensure that your environment you go back to will enable you to keep going. Associate yourself with an enabling environment.

If you want change, change your environment, change the places you hang out. Change your environment, change your destiny.

Successful countries are able to capitalize the talents of its people due to environments that enables its people no choice but maximize their potential.

 

A tree planted in the right soil can grow much better than when planted in the wrong soil. Certain animals can survive in certain natural habitats than others.

Environment is everything.

An environment be a motivation on its own.

ps: But don’t just be in the right environment for the sake of being in it. My philosophy is that it does not pay to go to a conference unless you are prepared to be vulnerable and meet people, and it does not pay to go to a Q&A session unless you are willing to sit in the front row. Reading blogs is great, writing one is even better.

There are more chances than ever to attend, but all of them require participation if you expect them to work.