Insiders and Outsiders: Left out


A prominent soccer player joins a prestigious local team.

His stay at that team is short-lived and after he left, he says:

“It was difficult at the club, when you have almost no-one to talk to, you just go to training there, warm up, go home, and you don’t know what to work on. No one talks to you, no one embraces you, you are alone.”

These are invisible boundaries drawn to make you feel like an outsider.

When you are an insider and those who are inside with you starts to feel like you don’t belong, they spit you out.

Adopting the insider/outsider mentality is drawing invisible boundaries to keep others in and others out.

But as Meredith Grey said in Grey’s Anatomy puts it:

“At some point, you have to make a decision. Boundaries don’t keep other people out, they fence you in. Life is messy, that’s how we’re made. So you can waste your life drawing lines or you can live your life crossing them. But there are some lines that are way too dangerous to cross. Here’s what I know. If you’re willing to throw caution to the wind and take a chance, the view from the other side… is spectacular.”

While we fence others out because they are not part of our tribe, because they don’t know our secret handshake or don’t have our badge of honor, because they don’t look like us, talk like us and wear like us, we imprison ourselves.

As a result we hide, we miss the opportunity to connect, to learn, to explore and to grow because true growth happens outside our comfort zones, outside our high walls and borders.

It is when we embrace those who are not like us, that we are able to appreciate the beauty of our diversity.


Insiders and Outsiders: and the family


When remarried couples have children from a previous marriage, they are highly likely to face the huge and shocking impact of what are called Insider/Outsider forces.

These Insider/Outsider forces tend to shift the members of the couple into vastly different positions.

The outsider [the stepparent] is struggling to enter the family system and make some changes of her own.

The insider [the biological parent] shares a deep, strong bond with his children, who are often highly resistant to the newcomer.

So the outsider is struggling to become a real member of the family and feeling left out in the cold.

You can try as hard as you want to belong, to feel like an insider, but ultimately belonging starts with belonging to yourself.

The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance.

This is true in family relationships, at the workplace, as a 1st year student at university, being new to a place etc.

Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you are enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.

As Brené Brown so eloquently puts it:

“When we work from a place, I believe, that says ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

We should always seek to belong, instead of fitting in. To belong to ourselves first and foremost.

If I get to be me, I belong. If I have to be like you, I fit in.

Strive to be you.

Belong to you.

Insiders and Outsiders: Be you


I went to a prestigious school and you didn’t. I’m an insider and you are an outsider.

I belong to a precious church and you don’t. I’m an insider and you are an outsider.

I grew up in an exclusive suburb and you come from the villages. I’m an insider and you are an outsider.

I stay in a posh neighborhood and you don’t. I’m an insider and you are an outsider.

I attend exclusive elite events and you don’t. I’m an insider and you are an outsider.

I speak with a polished accent and you don’t. I’m insider and you are an outsider.

I’m on first-name friendly basis with so-called popular and important people and you aren’t. I’m an insider and you are an outsider.

People have been applying this insider-outsider game for a long time.

This segregation has also been applied in other forms of marketing, there is a frequent need to identify and demonise the outsider.

If there are outsiders, after all, then you are an insider.

The perception being that being an insider is a privilege and outsiders should work hard to be insiders.

Apple Computer worked hard to make IBM PC users into outsiders.

Marketers have worked hard to make people feel guilty when they don’t own certain things.

The idea being to create a perception that insiders are more happy than outsiders and that it is cold out there.

Certain types of phones, laptops, tablets, clothes, cars, employers, restaurants, are passports to be an insider.

At the same time, I think there is a similar but opposite impulse that is equally important: to do what everyone else is not doing.

To buy whatever you want even if it keeps you as an outsider.

To go wherever you want, even if insiders don’t go.

To connect with people that you feel compassionate with even if insiders are not connecting with them.

To be you even if it leaves you as an outsider.

How about building your own tribe of outsiders and make them insiders, or even better, build a tribe of outsiders and keep them as outsiders.

However, true belonging starts with you belonging to yourself.

Don’t try to belong to an insider or outsider group if you can’t belong to yourself first.

Don’t belong to a group if you are not comfortable being on your own.

True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.

True belonging does not require you to change who you are, it requires you to be who you are.

Don’t strive to be an insider because it looks cool, be you, belong to you, even if it means being an outsider.

Insiders and Outsiders: Knowing where to go


Knowing where to go turns you from an outsider into an insider.

When you show up at a venue you have been before, it feels good when you don’t have to ask where the nonsmoking area is, where the green room is, what coffee shops are within walking distance.

Familiarity on the road breeds confidence, confidence consistency, consistency reliability, reliability trust, trust… a long career.

Not too bad for just knowing where the bathrooms are.

On the other hand…not knowing where to go turns you from an insider to a question asker, a question asker to a connector, a connector to a helper, a helper to a reliable source, reliable source into a trusted source, trust… a long career.

Embrace the inside.

Embrace the outside.

Will you change my mind


Don’t try to change peoples’ minds.

Try to connect with peoples’ hearts.

If you want to turn no’s into yes’s, it is all about connection.

Because no one is looking to get their mind changed.

No one wants to admit they had the wrong idea.

No one is looking to you to right their course of action.

If you want to change people, stop trying to change them.

If someone is not listening to you, get to know them better.

Change comes through a connected heart.

“I have had change of heart” is in essence a change of mind.

Trusting your gut


Becoming aware of the voice asking “Can I trust my gut on this one?“ is affirmation in and of itself that you likely can.

It is the gut’s way of saying: “Hey, here I am, listen up”.

Spirit moves in mysterious ways.


Habits: Your boss


There is a saying in personal finance:

You are the boss of your budget until you are done with it and then it becomes the boss of you.

Same with your habits.

So when building a budget or your habits, build wisely so later you have a good boss.

Habits: The secret to your future


We are embarrassed of talking about our bad habits because what kind of person would perpetually do something that is negative towards themselves.

We are embarrassed of talking about our good habits because we think it makes us sound self-righteous, an air of superiority.

Also if good habits get talked about, it makes you somewhat accountable for keeping it going, which is scary.

So fine, don’t talk about them.

Just have them.

The good ones, that is.

What habits do you need to start?

What embarrassing, awkward things, things that make you feel out of place do you need to start a habit of doing?

Talking about them will be beneficial and helpful later on, but for now just start them.

Be well organised, be on time, go the extra mile, use your dairy, start saving, create more with your hands, do work that matters and don’t post it, be more patient, listen more than you speak, do more than you speak, finish your food, read more, write more, create more, be more loyal, more honest, more focused, unplug more to things that don’t matter, connect with the poor in person etc.

Daily routines matter. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

The secret to your future is hidden in your daily routines.

Start being conscious of your daily routines.

You can’t change something you are not aware of.

Habits: Last minute


You might remember when you were a high school student [as I do] trying to work out a revision system that helped you to maximise your chances of academic success.

I understood then that Straight-A students got into the habit of studying from day one.

Doing things at the last minute is a habit.

Once you get into the habit of doings things at the last minute, it becomes your mantra, you find that when you have enough time to complete and submit your assignment, or meet a deadline at work, your habits of doing it and submitting before deadline don’t kick in.

The biggest silent enemy is: “I have got time.”

You do things that delay you. or waste time on things that distract you from your deadline.

You wait until it is the last minute and then you run frantically to get assignment/work done before deadline.

When your assignment/work is rejected because of late submission, you sulk and want others to feel pity for you.

Exceptional performance is not a result of expending the most effort, trying to reach the summit in a single, spectacular leap.

The secret to being exceptional is in the small choices we make moment-to-moment.

The student who organises his notes from the very first lecture of the first semester.

The hotel receptionist who consciously makes every interaction meaningful from day one.

The athlete who pushes through the last three uncomfortable rounds over time.

The CEO who intentionally seeks out and acts on the wisdom of his team consistently.

The doctor who greets her patients warmly by shaking them by the hand everyday.

Ordinary people making small choices that incrementally make them exceptional.

Small, deliberate choices, made moment-to-moment, drop by drop, day to day, have a huge impact over time, not just on the work we do and the people we serve, but on our belief about what is possible.

If we want to be exceptional, we need to get into the habit of finding reasons why we must, instead of making excuses why we can’t.

You were not born a last minute person, you adopted last minutes habits and owned them, hence you call yourself a last minute person.

You can be an early minute person, if you want. It’s your choice.

Habits: Makes us…


Do you always bite your nails?

Are you always on your phone?

When you hear a ping sound on your phone, irrespective of where you are [in a meeting, while driving, or out on a dinner date], you check your phone immediately?

Even when there is no ping sound on your phone, do you constantly check your phone to see if there is no message that came through?

Do you struggle with overspending, and end up buying things you don’t need? Too many clothes, shoes, watches, gadgets etc.

Do you spend excessively on alcohol, smoking, over-eating, too much time online, etc.

Psychologists say you don’t get rid of old habits, you replace them with new habits.

If you want to stop smoking, you don’t just stop, instead you come up with a new habit that replaces smoking.

New habits would be eat an apple, take a walk, or something that will distract the time you spend smoking.

It is replacement habits that we adopt that will stop old habits.

The same in business, if you want successful habits you have to replace old stagnant habits with new progressive ones.

When I wanted to stop excessive time on social media, I decided to replace that habit with reading more business books.

When the urge came to check my phone, instead of burying my head on a screen, I forced myself to bury my face on books, and as result I managed to read more books.

You just need to check out what’s holding you back in business, at work, in a relationship, and replace regressive and destructive habits, with progressive ones.

Success [and failure] is habits.

We first make our habits, then our habits make us.

Habits: of Lotto winners


Many people think that winning the lottery is the best thing that could happen to them.

After all, who would not want to suddenly have lots of money?

Mega millions winners might assume they have financial security for life, and can stop worrying about bills and start buying new stuff.

The appeal of that type of windfall is clear. No wonder so many people play the lottery.

However studies show that 70% of Lotto winners end up bankrupt within 5 years.

If you don’t have good money habits, winning the lotto will not solve your money problems.

People who get a financial windfall such as a huge payout from a life cover due to the passing of a close family member, or getting a huge payout from winning a lawsuit, often lose their fortunes over a short period of time.

Sportsmen, musicians and entertainers, once they retire, lose their fortunes over time.

Why is that?

I’m willing to bet that it is because of habits.

If you don’t have habits of being a producer, but of being a spender, irrespective of how much money you get, you will always spend it until you are bankrupt.

If you have producer habits, a mindset of building, irrespective of how much you get, your producer habits will continue to build upon what you already have.

It is about habits.

Success is not a once off thing, it does not happen by chance, it does not happen ad-hoc, it happens over good habits consistently developed over time.


Habits: Creatures of habit

Old Habits - New Habits signpost

Human beings are creatures of habit.

You only have to look at the rituals in your day-to-day to see how patterns permeate life.

Think about the things you do on rinse and repeat.

The brands you always buy.

The supermarket aisles you choose to walk down. The ones you avoid.

Your favourite restaurant.

The same spot you like in that restaurant.

The same food you order in that restaurant.

The same road you take to work.

The same seat or section you like in church on Sunday.

Apparently 40% of our daily activities are routines.

In other words, 40% of our lives are on autopilot.

To a large extent success in business is largely dependent on your habits.

Arriving on time for meetings.

Constantly reading books of other entrepreneurs.

Always pitching and looking for business.

Always putting the customer at the centre of the business.

Prudent management of cash flow.

The converse can also be said about business.

Failure is always arriving late for meetings.

Not keeping up to date with current business affairs.

Hiding behind your desk all day, not going to look for business.

Adopting a smash and grab approach to customer service.

Successful entrepreneurs have successful business habits.

Stagnation is a matter of adopting habits that stagnates you.

Change happens when one person at a time takes a small step towards an alternative.

As Bra Mike Mundane would often say, it starts as a drop, then another drop, another drop, over time, it will accumulates to an ocean.

Success in business is about developing successful business habits, at the beginning it will be hard, but over time, the habits will become second nature.

Business is like losing weight, stop smoking, stop bitting your nails, stop over-eating.

Business is changing bad habits and adopting good ones.

Change might not be fast and it is not always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.

As Aristotle has said before:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but habit.