Open-up options.

dsc00121Growth has to do with the creation of options. Once you run out of choices, there’s not much to live for any longer. Functional and happy people are those who manage to create options in life. This ability is embedded in the human DNA and it is one of the skills that separate us from the other creatures we share our world with.

But unlike other natural abilities, this is one, when neglected, it fades into obscurity.

There are mainly two ways of ensuring progression in this area. The first being the constant development of the number of skills you have. While keeping those you possess active, learn something new every year. The increase of abilities is direct proportionate to the number of options you have in life.

The second is to develop an eye for the gap. The skill to see an opportunity needs to be trained and nurtured.

Having options put one in a position of power, the power of choice.

 

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I am

USA 2012 088I am, because we are. “Ubuntu” is the African word for describing the essence of co-existence and the importance of my own position in society. Although my own place in humanity is largely defined by the group I find myself in, my value is determined by myself.

The position I occupy does not establish my worth. The influence I have on my environment does. That is the reason why statues are only built for people who influenced society. Usually having to go against the flow of the usual. Not allowing the way of least resistance to direct their actions.

Standing alone amongst my peers and facing the challenge of the strong current of opposing the institutionalized wrongs that will define me. That is why no statues are built for people who had an easy life.

Whistleblowing is not seen as a virtue among those who have vested interests in mediocrity and the iniquitous.

My attitude towards my own purpose should then rather be: “We are because I am”.

A Borderless Paradise

Call it Utopia, Paradise or any other name. It remains the ultimate dream of society. An imaginary place of perfection in all social systems. The irony lies in the word “Utopia” itself. Literally it means “nowhere”. In the mind of most people the concept of a perfect world lies outside and beyond what we know in this life, so it can only be possible in a place and time on the “other side”.

If tIMG_3079hat is your belief, you have accepted the brokenness of this world as your destiny. Then you gave up on good, well and contentment.Utopia is not a destination, it’s a direction. Even if my influence is limited and does not allow me to change the world, I can at least direct my own life. Living in the direction of perfection allows me to alter my own little world.

Amidst a chaotic and uncomfortable space, my drive is to build a bubble of happiness where I make the rules I live by. I will not allow the negative environment to dictate my quality of life. I will not allow my lack of resources to set the level of joy. I will find my Utopia in my relationship with the important people in my life. So, Utopia is not “nowhere”, it is “everywhere”. A borderless paradise.

Spiritual advance

SpiritualThe ultimate supplement one needs to grow into being a complete human, is not compressed into a tablet, ground into a powder or dissolved into wonder-drops.

The final ingredient to complete a good, wholesome diet and a healthy lifestyle is a live spirituality. This is where the true energy lies. The one area of our existence where true vitality and drive is generated.

Spirituality is concentrated in the meaning of your life. Discovering the values that you live by. The understanding of the essence of your being. Some of us find it in religious beliefs and others in an inward discovering of who and what your life is all about.

We spend so much time –and money- in pursuing a healthy diet and lifestyle in the hope that it will improve the quality of our life. The one part of our existence we often neglect is the spiritual. An equal amount of time – if not more – should be invested in caring for the spirit. This will set us on the way to a fulfilling, complete life.

Diving down

DiveThe way to the top is often interrupted with a downward turn. In striving to achieve excellence, the route to follow does not allow for an uninterrupted upward gradient. Where excellence does not mean to be the best, but to constantly improve. Not in relation to “others”, but compared to one self. Improving on your own abilities, capabilities and self-worth that are where achieving excellence becomes a constant fight against yourself.

In order to give the next step to reach the next level, there is the need for an ongoing reflection of what lies below the surface. The shadow of what your personality shines towards the world around you. The hidden motives that push you, the concealed anger you mask as “drive”. The envy you present as empathy or the arrogance you screen behind confidence.

The only way to discover and understand the shadow-side is to dive down into who I really am. To constantly ask the question, “why do I feel this way?” or “What is it I actually want?” “Why am I upset?” This kind of diving, gives you the insight into yourself to venture forward and upward.

Together is more

In Africa there is a saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together”. In venturing through this life one quickly learns that going alone is very dangerous, very risky and extremely lonely. Somewhere in the late teens of one’s life the main objective is to go alone. Be independent, do your own thing. It is only in the first major predicament that the realization dawns on you that you actually need others not only to survive but also, and especially, to get ahead – to grow.

Soon you also get to understand that although you may need the others around you, you cannot “like” everyone. Some of those you come across just cannot fit into your template of like-ness. Usually we then try to avoid those or at least evade them to save yourself from having to deal with them. Yet, the sooner one learns to grasp the fact that not to like someone is not to be confused with not to respect or even endure those.

We often hear the phrase that we should “love” one another. That does not mean to “like” everybody is even possible. It means to respect the others and acknowledge the contribution they can make in assisting me to develop my own strengths.

IMG_2842Alone, personal growth is just not possible. Only when you recognize the value of those around you- the ones you like as well as those you don’t- growth towards maturity can commence. Together is more.

The next step

IMG_2689Fear is the energy you need to advance. Our fight or flight energy is coiled within us, waiting to be released. It is inherent to every living creature. Especially true in us as humans. This is the reason why we’ve made it thus far to the top of the food chain.

This is the latent driving force, which can either destroy or develop. Utilizing this fear in a positive way is called courage. Unleashing this underlying power is essential for progress and ultimately success.

Overcoming one’s fear allow you to discover, venture out of the comfort zone and grow. To reach the top, you need to take every challenging step into the unknown. Remaining in what you know kills ambition and restrains forward movement. The test will be the level of uneasiness you feel before taking the next step. Total ease might indicate only activity, but little or no progress like running on a treadmill. Apprehension should be the trigger that you need to set the hidden energy off. Courage is the ability to break through the barriers of doubt.