Caring more…

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The sudden passing of Gugu Zulu highlights one thing that stands out from his life.

He cared enough to do work that matters. He is one celebrity who used his position to care for others, not flaunt his success.

What do you care enough to fix, or disrupt, or invent? Starting right here, right now.

What is it that you do that shows that you care for others. You dont have to do it for show, people who do work that matters, are not doing work that is popular, they are doing work that changes some people.

If we are willing to suffer enough to matter, we are able to make change happen. Or at least we can try.

Caring, it turns out, is a competitive advantage, and one that takes effort, not money.

I think the point is that success does not start from being smarter or better or more talented than other people.

Success starts out as an emotion, something deep and dark and mysterious and personal and very, very existential.

Care. Care more than you need to, more often than expected, more completely than the other guy. 

Who are you connecting?

What do people say when they talk about you?

Who are you trying to change?

What does the change look like?

Would we miss your work if you stopped making it?

What do you stand for?

What contribution are you making?

In an individualist world we live where success is a cut throat exercise, it is very rare for a person to take their time and spend it caring for a stranger and expect nothing in return.

Gugu and Letshego’s relationship was not made in red carpets, glitz and glamor horse events. Their relationship was made doing things that mattered.

Others can write better about Gugu’s legacy, but I have learned the following from your life:

If you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world.

Lala ngoxolo Gugu Zulu.

You truly mattered.

 

Closure…

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The ending of a significant piece of one’s life, a job, a stage of life, a relationship or a way of thinking may be difficult and even painful.

Something that you once counted on as very important to your life is over and done.

Entrepreneurs make mistakes, wrong decisions, or judgement errors.

Finding closure from mistakes is very important before moving forward.

It is okay to grieve a wrong decision, but building a monument on our mistakes keeps us from moving forward.

At the same time it is mistake to move to the next chapter before finding closure from the previous chapter.

When a chapter is not closed, you carry the baggage of that chapter into the future.

You enter the future with a heavy load.

When a chapter is not closed, you constantly look back to it instead of focusing on the current and future. It is like driving a car looking at the rear-view window.

Not finding closure is like limping from one crisis to another.

Closure means finality; a letting go of what once was.

Finding closure implies a complete acceptance of what has happened and an honoring of the transition away from what is finished to something new.

Closure describes the ability to go beyond imposed limitations in order to find different possibilities.

Not finding closure often means your hands are too full and your heart and soul are too cluttered with the past that you are unable to fully maximise the current opportunities.

When you are caught up in the past you are unable to see current opportunities.

Give yourself time to grief, take plenty of time to do this.

There is no set amount of time and no prescribed way, it is totally up to you.

Time alone to reflect is vital. It is in the silence that we are able to find closure. 

Closure doesn’t come throguh the passage of time.

There are people who suffered traumatic experiences at a young age and carry those experiences with them until old age because they have not closure the chapter.

You can’t simply ignore the past and think it will go away. It often doesn’t. Something will trigger it.

Finding closure has to be intentional.

People don’t just forget the past because you say they must. It’s a process.

Finding closure allows you to move into your future, unencumbered and optimistic.

And hopefully, you will find that when all is said and done, you will have learned something valuable from all of the significant events and people in your life, even if they didn’t work out the way you thought they would.

I think there is a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognise when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over, and let it go.

It means leaving what is over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives.

It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.

Often when people look back, it is because they don’t believe that what they have currently is better than what they had in the past, hence always looking back.

In his amazing talk at the LORA Entrepreneurship Series last week, Lere Mgayiya  said: Make mistakes, fail quickly and fail forward.

I want to add that in the process of failing quickly and failing forward is finding closure and making peace with the failure before moving forward.

Make mistakes, forgive yourself, and close the chapter and only then move forward and keep trying your best.

Sometimes the door closes on a job, life stage or relationship, not because we failed but because something bigger than us says this no longer fits our life.

So, lock the door, shed a tear, turn around and look for the new door that is opened. It is a sign that you are no longer that person you were, it is time to change into who you are.

It is going to be okay.

 

LORA Entrepreneurship Series: Nothando Baloyi – Saturday, 06 August 2016

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LORA Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship strives to bring thought leaders, men and women who are pathfinders, entrepreneurs and change agents, men and women who have affected the very fibre of our thought processes, who influence our set of beliefs, and engage our mindsets in elements of value. 

LORA has invited 10 experienced entrepreneurs to share their stories with us. On Saturday, 06 August 2016, we will host Thando Baloyi, founder of Lady T Protection Services.

Nothando is one of the few, fearless ladies who consciously made a decision to tap into the male dominated industry – i.e. The Security Industry.

Lady T Protection Services is a name that could have backfired, says the former marketing director turned security entrepreneur. But judging by Thando’s track record, her gamble that the name would project solid service and a fresh approach paid off. Over the past six years, she has single-handedly built Lady T Protection Services into a company of 200 employees operating in the Gauteng and North West provinces.

Lady T Protection Service provides services such as:

  • VIP Protection,
  • Guarding,
  • Event Security,
  • National Key Point,etc.

Nothando is a Marketing Management Graduate from the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM), She later studied the Management Advancement Programme (MAP) with Wits Business School, as well as the Labour Law Diploma with the Global Institute of Management & Training.

Come join us and interact with Carlo and other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Date: Saturday, 06 August 2016

Time: 13:30 – 15:00

Charge: R100 

(LORA Centre students get 100% discount)

Venue: SAB World of Beer,  15 Helen Joseph Street (formerly President Street, Newtown, Johannesburg (there is secured parking)

To RSVP online: www.loracentre.com

Shameless: You are probably right

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Whether you are starting a new business, or just trying something new in your workplace, having critics is not necessarily a bad thing.

Upsetting the status quo is likely to ruffle a few feathers.

If your new business plan disrupts an industry or makes a lot of people angry, there is a good chance you are on to something good.

You should worry more when nobody is talking.

People in power often benefit from maintaining the status quo. If you find a way to save the company money, but your plan would take some responsibility away from another employee, their natural reaction would be to fight against it.

The key is to identify why people are being critical, and to not let their shaming discourage you from trying new things.

Shameless: Group Shaming

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Last April Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Love and Pray and her new book Big Magic wrote an epic Facebook post about tribal shame.

Liz Gilbert’s post is so worth the read, but the short version is this:

“…if you dare to leave your tribe of origin, or if you dare to question the rules of your tribe — it is extremely likely that you will be punished. Sometimes that punishment can be violent and extreme… But often times the punishment is more subtle. …the weapon they are most likely to use against you is shame. Shame is how they keep you in line. Shame is how they let you know that you have abandoned the collective.”

This tribe can be our family, our religion, our neighborhood, our nationality, our culture, etc.

Tribes are important to human beings, in fact, they are essential. There is arguably nothing more vital to the ongoing existence of the human race than the cohesion and protection of a tribe.

Tribes keep us safe, tribes keep our babies alive and old people safe. Tribes care for the sick and the weak. Tribes provide protection, nourishment and warmth to vulnerable individuals (and we are all vulnerable individuals at some point or another)… but most importantly, tribes provide meaning.

Simply put: Our tribe of origin tells us who we are.

Our tribe tells us what to believe and how to behave.

In order to remain safe and accepted within the boundaries of the tribe, you must follow these rules.

All you need to do is obey your familiar tribal rules (and pass those rules down to your offspring) and everything will be safe and clean and simple.

Or maybe not.

Maybe as you grew older, you found that your own values and morals and standards and aspirations were completely different than those that had been taught to you by your tribe of origin.

Maybe you did not want to be an abusive alcoholic.

Maybe in your tribe, nobody gets a formal education, but you wanted to go earn a PhD.

Maybe in your tribe, everyone is expected to get a higher education, but you never liked school, and couldn’t finish.

Maybe in your tribe, girls are supposed to become mothers at a young age and never to work outside the home, but you wanted to be a childless career woman.

Maybe in your tribe, everyone is expected to be a farmer, but you wanted to be an artist.

Maybe in your tribe, everyone is expected to be an artist, but you wanted to go into business.

Maybe in your tribe you were taught to be suspicious and hateful of strangers, but you wanted to love the world with a more open heart.

Maybe in your tribe, you were taught to expect nothing but poverty and oppression and deprivation out of life, but you saw the world differently, and wanted to expand your mind into a field of joyful abundance and prosperity.

In other words, maybe the rules of your tribe did not work for you anymore.

Maybe you decided to break your tribal rules, and choose your own path.

Maybe you went out and found a new tribe, composed of people who felt more like family to you than your own family did.

And maybe your tribe of origin was totally OK with that.

Maybe your tribe celebrated your differences and cheered you on, and said “All we want is for you to be happy!”

So….if you dare to leave your tribe of origin, or if you dare to question the rules of your tribe, it is extremely likely that you will be punished.

Sometimes that punishment can be violent and extreme, like: excommunication, shunning, disowning, physical abuse, or even murder (such as in the dreadful cases of “honor killings” of young girls by their own family members.)

The tribe will shame you by saying things like, “Now that you are a big fancy city girl, you think you’re better than us, don’t you?”

Or:

“Now that you have got a college education, you think you are better than us…”

“Now that you don’t drink anymore, you think you are better than us…”

“Now that you have lost all that weight, you think you are better than us…”

“Now that you are happily married, you think you are better than us…”

“Now that you have a good job, you think you are better than us…”

“Now that you speak French, you think you are better than us…”

“Now that you live in northern suburbs of Johannesburg, you think you are better than us…”

They will accuse you of being a traitor. They will use words like “abandonment” and “betrayal” and “disloyalty.”

They will sometimes say these words as a joke, but they know very well that they are not joking.

 

Shame can literally take years off your life.

I want you to ask yourself this question, in all honesty, have you ever sabotaged yourself, in order to be welcomed back into the tribe?

I have done it. I can promise you that, I have done it many times.

If you want to create, to explore, to leap, to reform, to transform, then it is necessary sometimes to admit that you have left your tribe of origin behind.

This has been incredibly useful information to me, and I hope it will help you all to live a freer and happier life.

Shameless: Accepting it (or not)

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One way the community responds to a courageous act, an act of standing out and doing something different is by trying to shame the courageous one.

Instead of rewarding you for caring enough to try, they work to silence you by creating shame.

Shame is the soul killer, the enemy of those who would have courage. Shame is the emotion that is handed to you when you are called out for what have done or what you have said.

“How dare of him to think that he can start his own political  party/business/movement and challenge us.” says the shame pole-bearers.

“She never went to a famous/elite/best/most expensive/well-known university, how dare she thinks she can lead us.”

“She is not tall/slender/beautiful/smart/stylish/well-spoken/attractive than me, how dare she think she will get the attention I deserve.”

When they try to shame you they are trying to create an impression that you are not good enough.

The easiest way to avoid shame (which is something that every human being wants to do) is to lie low. Say nothing and do nothing.

If you don’t speak up and don’t act out, it is unlikely that you will be singled out to be shamed.

Fit in and be like everyone else, and no none will pick on you to shame you.

But lying low is now the recipe for ending up far outside what Seth Godin calls Safety Zone.

The industrial revolution convinced you that avoiding attention meant avoiding shame and that obedience led to stability.

While you can still avoid shame by hiding, you won’t find happiness or even stability that way.

The thing with shame is that… it is a choice.

It is worth repeating:

This thing of shame, it is a choice. Shame can’t be forced on you, it must accepted.

You choose to accept shame or to reject it.

The courageous person, the pathfinder, the pioneer, the creative one combines courage with a fierce willingness to refuse to accept shame.

Blame maybe, shame, never.

Realise that you are good enough, and that your imperfections are part of being human.

Shame says because “I’m flawed, I’m unacceptable.” Grace says “though I’m flawed, I’m cherished.”

Where is the shame in using our best intent to do work for those we care about? Where is the shame in doing work that matters, in doing work that makes things better for others?   

 

 

 

 

Shameless: The price of shame

In her TED talk, Monica Lewinsky talks about a mistake she made when she was 22 years of falling in love with her boss, it just happened that her boss was POTUS. She was shamed, called names, ridiculed.

No one reading this article will want to claim that they have never made a mistake when they were 22 years.

Shaming has devastating consequences, people who don’t have strong support systems pay the highest price by taking their lives because they can’t take the pressure anymore.

When I was curating Nijel Amos in preparation for his TEDxGaborone in 2015, the 800 meter sensational sprinter from Botswana, he shared a story of how when he was injured and couldn’t take part in a major competition, he used music as a way to keep his mind at ease, he bought music equipment and started DJ-ing. The media in Botswana started reporting that Nijel has lost his mojo, he has lost his discipline and is now a mere disco DJ. The newspapers were trying to shame him, even writing stories that he was caught driving without a license when in fact he had a license.

For nearly two decades now, we have slowly been sowing the seeds of shame and public humiliation in our cultural soil, both on- and offline. Gossip websites, paparazzi, reality programming, politics, news outlets and sometimes hackers all traffic in shame. It is led to desensitization and a permissive environment online which lends itself to trolling, invasion of privacy, and cyberbullying. This shift has created what Professor Nicolaus Mills calls a culture of humiliation.

Monica says in her TED talk:

“This invasion and shaming of others is a raw material, efficiently and ruthlessly mined, packaged and sold at a profit. A marketplace has emerged where public humiliation is a commodity and shame is an industry.”

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report of 2015, South African entrepreneurs’s fear of failure in 2015 ranked at 30.3 while the African region average is 27.2. Our potential entrepreneurs’s fear of failure is higher than our other African counterparts.

Fear of failure
 can be influenced by intrinsic personality traits, as well
 as by societal norms and regulations. For the risk-averse person, the downside risk of failure often outweighs the most promising opportunities, while in some countries the legal and social ramifications of business failure may act as a strong deterrent, reducing the pool of potential entrepreneurs.

People are afraid to start things, because if they fail, they will be ridiculed and shamed.

Over and over again public shaming has reached peak proportions. We have newspapers that shame people as Moegoes of the Week, weekly TV shows that calls people Losers of the Week. We have newspapers that thrive on gossip and shaming. On social media, we see shaming happen daily on twitter.

Politicians use shaming as a game to outmaneuver each other. You talk truth to power, they use your dark secret [like you don’t have a qualification you claim to have] to shame you.

Even politicians themselves know that they each have skeleton-nyana (small secrets) in their closet that they can use to shame you when you don’t tow the line. Election times is where the shame market thrives.

We live in a society where scandals and shaming are tools to use for gain.

Potential entrepreneurs, innovators and other talented people fear to go out on a limb and do stuff because they are afraid of being shamed when they fail.

The stress that comes from merely anticipating the feeling of embarrassment and shamed is enough to cause many people to hold back, to sit quietly, to go along with the flow and not try anything new.

And this anticipation rarely leads to much of anything positive.

We have people around us, at work, church, social groups who are bullies and use shame as a tool humiliate others into submission.

Social media has connected people in unimaginable ways, joining lost siblings, saving lives, launching revolutions, but the darkness of it is: cyberbullying, and slut-shaming.

Every day online, people, especially young people who are not developmentally equipped to handle this, are abused and humiliated that they can’t imagine living to the next day, and some, tragically, don’t, and there is nothing virtual about that.

To conclude her TED talk Monica says:

“Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: You can survive it. I know it’s hard. It may not be painless, quick or easy, but you can insist on a different ending to your story. Have compassion for yourself. We all deserve compassion, and to live both online and off in a more compassionate world.”

Start that business, that project, test that idea, it might not work the first time, but try again.

When you make a mistake, learn from it and forgive yourself but never stop trying to be your best.

PS: Nijel Amos has since recovered from this injury and continues to win medals. He will be taking part in the Olympics in Rio, wish him all the best. Monica Lewinsky has started to gain her public life and regain her narrative. She got a standing ovation from her TED talk. It takes a good support structure and resolute mental strength to overcome shaming.