LIFE LESSONS LEARNT
Confession time. The subject of my more recent blogs have been inspired by my latest adventure into the online education industry.
That said, as I take a moment to reflect, educ8.africa is one of those things that I do need to thank COVID for! Whilst the pandemic applied fast-acting brakes to the growth of my consultancy business, it did open my mind to the question, ‘WHAT NOW?’ Take a look back at one of my previous blogs…MOVING CHEESE AND WHAT IT TEACHES US.
We all know that the ‘ONLY CERTAIN THING IN LIFE IS OUR UNCERTAIN FUTURES.’
The pandemic has and continues to prove this to all of us. But who could possibly have known in September 2019, just how much our lives would change, dramatically so, a mere 18 months later? My last salary from DOUGLAS JONES mosaics came in Sep 2019 and to date I have reinvented myself as an online educator and blog writer…SERIOUSLY…?
I mean, really, who would have thought?
Though this is so far removed from what I ever thought my future held, I am truly loving what I am doing. I won’t lie when I say that it still scares me every day, compounded by the fact that I am only physically able to put in 4 hours of desk work per day. This is due to my MS which has unfortunately progressed to the point that I now battle fatigue constantly amongst other things. This in turn, puts pressure on being able to deliver on deadlines as well as ensuring that the monthly debit orders are still able to be honoured by my bank account. BUT...recently, while in one of my (fortunately) rare moments of wallowing in the victim space of negativity, the good Lord Himself reminds me of how great He is and how we can never question His reasoning.
"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it." Ecclesiastes 7:8
Loosely interpreted as , You may have had a rough start, but you don't have to have a rough finish! This scripture advises, very simply, that the beginning is usually rocky but if you stay the course, if you persevere, it will get much easier as you find the correct path.
The above scripture took my thoughts back to two events in my life that moulded and shaped me for different reasons:
1. Both were very difficult for me to understand at the time and
2. Both ended up proving priceless, as Life Lessons for me.
ATTAIN THE LEVEL OF WYSIWYG
After finishing school in the early 90’s, I enjoyed a gap year in the Middle East. So it was that I began my university career trying to obtain a Bcom degree, in 1995.
The quest seemed simple enough, however, was slightly aggravated by the fact that EVERY LECTURE at STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY (US) was given in Afrikaans. So, with this in mind, let me translate my subjects for you:
Accountancy = REKENINGKUNDE
Economics = EKONOMIE
Business Management = ONDERNEMINGSBESTUUR,
Industrial Psychology = BEDRYFSIELKUNDE
Information systems = INLIGTINGSSTELSELS and…
The Theory of Interest = RENTEREKENINGKUNDE or RENTEREK
While Renterek was the most failed subject at US at the time, the subject that really got me confused was actually Inligtingstelsels (Information Systems or COMPUTERS)
Not only were computers foreign to me, (we only had 7 of 147 matrics who took this as an extra subject at school) it was a very complicated subject that really would have challenged me if it was in ENGLISH!
Now I was faced with the added challenge of having to understand and excel at it,
IN AFRIKAANS! It honestly seemed insurmountable at the time!
Short story here, I failed INLIGTINGSSTELSELS and RENTEREK in my first year, but was so very proud of passing financial accounts or FinRek 101.
- To this day, I still boast about my favourite Afrikaans phrase that I remember from my first year : OPGEHOOPTE WAARDEVERMINDERING.
The year spent in the computer lectures was only further complicated by the fact that we had to know what WYSIWYG meant. Oh brother, I battled to understand all computer terminology in Afrilkaans, but I had absolutely NO IDEA what WYSIWYG meant. Amazingly, it was only in my second year (having to redo the subject) that I got an updated textbook which deciphered this odd computer term for me - (remember that at this time computers and computer literature was changing almost monthly)
WYSIWYG = WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET
COME ON - That is not even Afrikaans!
The point here is that I have grown to love WYSIWYG as this is how I want people to describe me – someone with NO hidden agendas, NO confusing or contradictory actions taken…in essence someone who you could trust and respect. A man of INTEGRITY. Yip…not always easy and no, I don’t always get that right, but I encourage you all to try reach the LEVEL OF WYSIWYG
PASSION VS ARROGANCE
The next Life lesson was a little tougher for me. Straight after Y2K (for those millennials who don’t know what this means, it stands for the YEAR TWO THOUSAND) I started building a business with my dad.
The early years were challenging, yet rewarding. The rough patch for me was when one of our top clients, an industry leader who knew my father well, requested a meeting with us to explain our product pricing. Upon arriving, the passion for what my father had created by identifying a huge gap in the market, was on display as I spoke for 30 minutes on why our material was incorrectly viewed as too expensive.
I had complete confidence in explaining the VALUE of the BRAND – it was not only about the quality of material we sold, it was also all about the service we offered and the large stock that we continually maintained in our warehouse. In my closing statement, I made it clear that we had a goal of growing exponentially in the following few years as the industry acknowledges the VALUE of what we offer.
While I knew the explanation must have been accepted as the client has remained loyal to us for over 20 years now, I was advised a few weeks later, by one of his showroom sales reps, that in a sales meeting I was described by the owner as rather ARROGANT.
The thought of someone seeing me as arrogant really hurt me and while I was in my mid twenties then,(an age that you feel you can conquer the world) I struggled my way through this until I felt I had to let my father know…I needed some fatherly advice.
My father was a remarkable person who asked me to remember and explain to him how the conversation took place from my point of view.
After replaying everything, he took a moment.
He then made it clear to me that the line between extreme passion and arrogance is very fine. While he was overjoyed at how much passion I had for his vision, he highlighted to me that others can easily interpret this passion as arrogance.
Side note: This was the second time I had been described as arrogant by a client. I learnt my lesson quickly and made sure the emphasis going forward would always be that my passion was never overshadowed by perceived arrogance.
This is when my late father reiterated his life changing saying to me:
LIFE IS ABOUT PEOPLE…MASTER PEOPLE AND YOU WILL MASTER LIFE.
P.S. - OPGEHOOPTE WAARDEVERMINDERING = ACCUMULATED DEPRECIATION