Posted by on November 29, 2013 | 0 comments

Punch Above Your Weight

The Americans have a phrase: punching above your weight. It comes from the sport of boxing, where boxers need to be within the same weight range (from light flyweight to heavyweight) in order to fight against each other. In popular usage, to punch above your weight therefore means to take on something that is deemed “above” your particular capabilities or perceived station in life. Punching above your weight implies courage and optimism, as well as a touch of madness. It’s one thing to fight a guy who is bigger than you, but imagine what being on the receiving end of one of his punches must feel like! Often we slot ourselves into categories, based on what we think we can achieve in life. We call it being realistic; that way life is unlikely to throw any major punches that will leave us feeling bruised and beaten. I see myself as that featherweight who thinks he can beat Mike Tyson. I’ve always believed that I could achieve more than I...

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Posted by on November 27, 2013 | 0 comments

Naturally Bold and Beautiful

I came across these flowers on a recent walk at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. I was so struck by them that I had to stop and take a picture. The following words came to mind as I stood admiring them: vibrant, rich, bold, brilliant, dazzling. They were unapologetic in their magnificence, and the beauty of one did nothing to diminish the splendour of its neighbour. This is true for nature in general. It is abundant and generous, it expresses itself fully, and it fulfills the role that it’s meant to. All it needs to thrive are the basics: water, sunlight and nutrients. We are also part of the natural world, but looking around you’d hardly know it. How often do we allow our true qualities to shine through, to be as bold and beautiful as we are meant to be? More often than not we hide away, show only certain “acceptable” parts of ourselves, apologise for who we are, and downplay our brilliance. We don’t want to be “too much”;...

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Posted by on November 20, 2013 | 0 comments

The Best Case Scenario

The Best Case Scenario

Have you noticed how so often we think in terms of the worst that could happen in any given situation? Most of us spend a lot of time worrying about what could go wrong, and we devote a large chunk of our time and energy trying to avert this worst case scenario: we over-plan, put contingencies and fall-back options in place, and we check over everything many times over to make sure that we haven’t left anything to chance. And then, just for good measure, we tell ourselves to expect the worst, in the hope that we’ll be pleasantly surprised when something better than the worst happens. What’s that about?! On the surface this seems like a sensible enough approach and for a long time I was a great proponent of this type of rigorous worst-case-scenario planning. I planned, checked, reviewed and ventured with caution … and I braced myself in case my fears were actually realised. Don’t get me wrong – there are some merits to operating in...

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 | 0 comments

Special Skills

I’ve just finished reading a riveting novel titled The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Shoo! I had goose bumps for much of the time I was reading it. It’s one of those weirdly absorbing books, one where you constantly feel like something’s about to happen and you have no way of predicting what that will be. I felt exhilarated when I turned the last page; more so than usual after finishing a good book. It’s the story of a young girl whose special skill gets switched on when she is nine years old – she can “taste” people’s emotions in the food they prepare. She is first made aware of the skill when she tastes her mother’s loneliness and anguish in a lemon cake she baked, and she witnesses the evolving internal drama with each meal her mom prepares, even to the point of knowing when her mother turns to the arms of another man for comfort. She is obviously distressed by this skill and she...

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Posted by on November 12, 2013 | 7 comments

Pieces of Paper

One of the disadvantages of our education system is that it places great value on external validation of knowledge. From as early as primary school we are taught to strive for gold stars, merit badges, certificates, awards, honours blazers and a whole host of other prizes, in addition to the tests and exams we are expected to pass. You’d think that accumulating these pieces of paper and accolades was the whole point! Praise and encouragement are great, but here’s where I think they tend to go awry: The destination becomes more important than the journey. Often we are so focused on achieving that we even forget we are supposed to be learning. Linked to the above, we shy away from any experience which may derail us from the big prize we’re after, no matter how beneficial the derailment may be. We start to believe that without the pieces of paper that tell us and the world that we know what we’re talking about on a particular subject, then we...

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