Just this once…

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“Just this once… I will never do it again.”

This is the start to a downward slope of the lack of morals and integrity.

I will take it just this once, I’m desperate for cash, I will replace it before anyone realises.

He/She is tempting, I will entertain him/her just this once, no one will find out and besides the urge will go away.

Just this once, no one will find out and besides I won’t do it again.

“Just this once” is a dangerous phrase to think or say to yourself. Often it serves as an excuse to do something you know you shouldn’t.

The problem with “Just this once” is that it is not just this once.

Once you cross the the line that one time, you will do it over and over in the years to come.

If you give in to “just this once,” based on a fact that you will not be caught, you will regret where you end up.

The decisions you make to break the rules is that consequences are almost always low.

But each of those “just this once” decisions roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be.

The first step down that path is taken with a small decision.

Unconsciously, you justify all the small decisions that lead up to the big one and then you get into the big one and it doesn’t seem so enormous anymore.

As Dr. Mike Muendane would say, habits start as one drop, then another, then another…drip, drip drip… the next thing you know those drops have turned into an ocean.

Once your conscious get’s used to a small unethical decision you make just this once, it will easily get used to big unethical decisions you make.

You don’t realise that the road you are on until you look up and see you have arrived at a destination you would have once considered unthinkable.

Once you break your moral and ethical line just this once, you will break it again.

The “just this once” applies to every part of our lives. It applies to our health, our work, our relationship and every other area of our lives.

The boundary, you personal moral line, is powerful, because you don’t cross it, if you have justified doing it once, there is nothing to stop you doing it again and again.

As Prof Clay Christensen has said: “It is easier to hold onto our principles 100% of the time than it is 98% of the time.”

Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.

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Self-made not

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I often I hear people talk about being self-made. That they started from the bottom and they have grown to be titans.

Often stories of successful people are told as one lone ranger who single handedly overcame enormous obstacles to success.

This narrative has not be told to reflect the truth.

I believe a lot of successful people are not self made.

Successful people get to where they are by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Success is built on the foundation of parents, coaches, mentors and teachers, of kind souls to share their experiences and nuggets of their path.

A personal vision is important, disciple and hard work are important, having that fire in your belly is important, but you will never get to success without the help and collaboration of others.

To claim to be a self made success is to discount every person and every piece of advice that got you there. And it gives the wrong impression and that you can do it alone.

We all need fuel.

The worst thing you can ever do is think that you know enough.

Never stop learning. Ever.

You can admit that you can’t do it alone. I certainly can’t. No one can.

Without assistance, advice and inspiration of others, the gears of our mind grind to a halt, and we are stuck with nowhere to go.

I have always treated the world as my classroom, soaking up lessons and stories to fuel my path forward.

I hope you do the same.

Successful people [leaders, entrepreneurs] are not born successful, they are made successful… by others.

Doers: Nthabiseng Legoete

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It is extremely difficult to find smart people willing to start useful projects.

Smart people are ego driven, they are not willing to start a project that will fail, because they equate failure with personal failure.

Doers are courageous. The need to do something outweighs personal ego. Doers are willing to get their hands dirty, something that smart people are not willing to do.

The fact that it does not work every time should give you confidence, because it means you are doing something that frightens others.

There are smart people who are driven by starting something that matters even if they expose themselves to failure.

Dr. Nthabiseng Legoete is one such smart person. After visiting India, where she saw people with no medical insurance using private care at a hospital in Bangalore, Nthabiseng started Quali Health.

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Dr Legoete’s unique primary healthcare model helps to reduce medical bills and to cut down on queues. Based broadly on the Indian healthcare approach, and aimed at under-serviced areas, the model relies on technology to provide a paperless system that delivers an efficient, convenient service.

Nthabiseng’s self-funded, Dieplsloot-based facility is already attracting the attentions of local and foreign investors interested in taking the service countrywide.

Quali Health is driven by the need to make healthcare affordable, convenient and making sure it is of an acceptable quality.

Doers start. They put their product or service out there to the market. They expose themselves and their work to the market and they say “here, I made this, what do you think?”

Starting means you are going to finish. If you don’t deliver it, you have failed.

You have not poked the box if the box does not realise it’s been poked.

To merely start without finishing is just boasting, or stalling, or a waste of time.

I have no patience at all for people who believe they are doing their best work but are hiding it from the market, talking about this idea or that project they want to start.

If you don’t deliver it, you actually have not started anything at all.

At some point, your work has to intersect with the market.

At some point, you need feedback as to whether or not it worked. Otherwise, it is merely a hobby.

Nthabiseng could have easily said:

“I’m a doctor, a professional who can get a job anywhere in the world, I don’t need the risk of being an entrepreneur and the risk of humiliating myself it fails.”

She could have kept it safe, but instead she saw an opportunity and started Quali Health nevertheless.

Doers start.

 

Doers: Luvuyo Rani

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All great programmers learn the same way. They poke the box.

They code something and see what the computer does.

They change it and see what the computer does. They repeat the process again and again until they figure out how the box works.

Starting a business is like poxing the box.

You start, try something, when it doesn’t work, you try something else and see what happens.

You poke the box until something works.

Often those who want to be entrepreneurs freeze to start because they are afraid to fail.

Today, not starting is far, far worse than being wrong.

If you start, you have got a chance at evolving and adjusting to turn your wrong into a right. But if you don’t start, you never get a chance.

Starting is not like that. Starting something is not an event, it is a series of events. One step at a time, drip, drip, drip.

Umhlekazi Luvuyo Rani is an example of a doer.

Luvuyo Rani, founder and MD of Silulo Ulutho Technologies, left his school post to sell computers out of the boot of a car in Khayelitsha, township outside of Cape Town.

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People have come to the erroneous conclusion that if they are not willing to start something separate, world-changing, and risky, they have no business starting anything.

Somehow, we have fooled ourselves into believing that the project has to have a name, a building, and a stock ticker symbol to matter.

Luvuyo started from the boot of a car. More than 10 years later, Silulo Ulutho Technologies moved from the boot of a car to more than 40 internet cafes branches in the Eastern and Western Cape, South Africa. He employs more than 180 people.

Luvuyo has been awarded the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2016.

Luvuyo is a doer.

The job of a doer is not to catch up to the status quo, the job of a doer is to invent the status quo.

 

 

 

 

Doers: Emmanuel Bonoko

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At first, it seems as though the things you declare, espouse and promise matter a lot. And they do. For a while.

But in the end, we will judge you on what you do.

When the gap between what you say and what you do gets big enough, people stop listening.

The compromises we make, the clients we take on, the things we do when we think no one is watching… this is how people measure us.

Emmanuel Bonoko [24] is one of South Africa’s amazing young doers. Emmanuel, founder of the Ebonoko Foundation, is empowering youth through a potent mix of education and inspiration.

The fact that Forbes Africa nominated him and other 29 change-makers as the most promising entrepreneurs bears testimony to his work.

A very humble person, Emmanuel gets his hand dirty organising, delivering, engaging, building, encouraging people around him through seminars, training, and other platforms.

He is a true face of Social Entrepreneurship.

Doers are not motivated by awards, they are inspired by impact, by doing what they are passionate about but most importantly doing work that matters.

What people like Emmanuel encourage is not to spend the whole day thinking, stand up, roll your sleeve, get back to work.

The evidence of thinking is work [not thinking]

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers.

But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.

Do more than you talk.

Beauty as a strategy

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I had a discussion with colleagues a few weeks ago about beauty.

The discussion was around, do people get invited to speak at an event because they are beautiful?

Do beautiful people get special treatment simply because they are beautiful?

Does this mean not-so-beautiful people have to work extra hard to access the same opportunities that beautiful people get?

What I know and have observed is that people look at aesthetics first to make a decision. We buy a car because it is beautiful. Performance, and cost of ownership and affordability are secondary.

People who are unpleasant and mean-spirited are tolerated by society simply because they are beautiful.

Idols are chosen by how they look. The more look-able, the better.

Actors are chosen based on how they look. The more handsome the better. I recently watched a movie where a beautiful actress gave a mediocre performance.

Music videos prefer beautiful people.

Blog articles that have a beautiful model will be read and shared more.

The beauty industry is worth billions because people want to be beautiful.

The reason people and organizations have invested so much in beauty over the years is because they believe that beauty pays off.

We are visual beings.

We are hardwired to seek out beauty because over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, humans have learned that beauty equals health and survival.

We also rely heavily on sight, as a sense, to guide our perceptions.

We taste first with our eyes, we know that first impressions are paramount, we let pictures tell us a story long before we read text.

And, let’s face it. We Are in the special events industry…an industry where aesthetics are a fundamental contributor to success.

All too often we get consumed by the attention to aesthetics needed for our events and we tire long before we apply the same sense of beauty to our own brands.

From websites to business cards, portfolio books to emails, every piece of communication tells the recipient what to think about us.

What is beauty?

You know it when you see it, sure, but what is it?

It turns out that beauty is an important evolutionary by-product.

An organism needs to invest energy in being beautiful. You won’t see healthy skin on a sick animal, because maintaining a healthy coat is too ‘expensive’.

A sick peacock is not as spectacular as a healthy one.

Or a genetically damaged chimp is not going to have as symmetrical a face. As a result, most creatures evolved their definitions of beauty in a mate to match the displays of healthy creatures.

Human beings have adopted this signaling strategy with a vengeance. I know a woman who is going to spend more than R90,000 having her hair styled in 2009 (hey, that’s less than R2,000 a week).

Entire industries are based on human beings spending time and money in order to manufacture temporary physical beauty.

Businesses build lobbies that they rarely use, giant atriums with big windows and lots of empty space.

It’s a waste, it’s expensive and it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s expensive.

Stop for a minute and think about the relationship between expense and beauty.

Do you make something beautiful?

It could be the way you write hand written letters or leave a little extra on the product, even if maybe it is not so efficient. Sometimes efficiency is beautiful, but only when it took a lot of extra effort to get there.

Ordinary products are almost never beautiful. Austere products might be, but only when real effort is expended to make them that way.

Even the most hard-hearted people are suckers for beauty.

We treat people and products differently when we think they are beautiful.

A website that does not cram ads into every single nook and cranny is more beautiful… it is also more expensive to run in the short run.

A salesperson who does not squeeze you for every penny is more confident, earning more of your trust… that is beautiful.

When everyone has it, it ceases to be beautiful. (Babies are beautiful because time takes their babyhood away so quickly… it’s a guaranteed temporary effect).

What’s more beautiful is how we treat people, than how we physically look.

Real beauty is being good inside, when you care, show empathy, are trustworthy, loyal, committed, not narcissistic, when you matter, when you genuinely show concern for others.

Warmth is beautiful.

Doing work that matters is beautiful.

Beauty is not what the eyes can behold but what the heart can hold.

What we see with our eyes will vanish someday, but what we store in our heart will last forever.

True beauty is what the heart can hold long after the physical aesthetic are gone.

Beauty is a signal, not just a physical state.

 

The empathy bridge

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“Sorry” does not mean you caused the pain. It merely means that you see it, that you have felt pain before in your life as well, that you are open to a connection.

Our ability to bring people along is critical because we are playing a long game, even an infinite one. Back and forth, day by day, with many of the same people.

One day the people you bring along will return the gesture and care about your pain.

Nothing is as painful as experiencing pain and no one to help you carry it.

Empathy is the bridge to caring, to doing work that matters, to mattering.

Empathy is not learned at school. Empathy is patiently and sincerely seeing the world through the other person’s eyes.

Show empathy, not because you expect anything in return, but showing empathy because you can.

Gloating or silence closes the door.

Empathy, on the other hand, and the action of speech, of moderation, of connection, can change everything. And if it has not been present before, it can start right now.

Do work that matters, even when no one is looking.

“I see you. I’m sorry for what you are feeling. How can I help?”