This involves becoming authentic, genuine and totally true to you. To achieve this requires answering three important questions - What are my values? What is my purpose? What is my vision?
To help you do this you can:
As a student, I spent a ski season working in Keystone Ski Resort in the Rocky Mountain Range of Colorado. To help stop me missing my family and friends, and feeling too homesick on Christmas Day, I decided to do something interesting, enjoyable and special.
I was very interested in joining a group for Christmas dinner in a restaurant at the top of the mountain, followed by a midnight run down the ski slopes - lit only by torch light. It sounded so exciting, but I was worried that I wasn’t a good enough skier, and almost abandoned the idea there and then. My sense of adventure won the day, however, so – after some reassurance from the organisers - I signed up.
The entire experience was absolutely amazing and I was thrilled I had had the courage to do it. It is one of the adventures I will never forget!
The life lesson here is not to let fear stop you. As Dr. Robert Anthony so wisely says: “Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid, and act anyway.”
A few years ago, during a “travelling” period of my life, I had the chance to explore the Spanish province of Andalucia. One day, I found myself in Frigiliana, a beautiful and charming town characterised by cobbled streets, coffee pots overflowing with vibrant bougainvillea and steep, winding stairs. The town was thronging with tourists, all appreciating its beauty and “quaintness.” Adding to the appeal was a little old lady, typically dressed in black, who came out of her house to sweep her “stoep.” While we were taking photos, it suddenly struck me that while we, as tourists, were admiring this “picture postcard” pastoral scene, the old woman herself was just having a normal day and was going about her business - no doubt as she does every day.
The lesson here is that life is all about perspective. What created an extraordinary scene for us as tourists, was just an ordinary moment for the old woman.
During my three-year stint working on luxury yachts around the world, I found myself in Bodrum in Turkey, as part of the crew overseeing the re-fitting of a beautiful 1930’s yacht. The work was exhausting and I didn’t have a lot of time for sightseeing, but one thing I will always remember about Bodrum is the magnificent roses that seemed to grow just about everywhere! They were absolutely breathtaking – some had blooms as big as two hands cupped together. They were growing without any attention – no one fertilising or pruning them – and yet they were probably the most breathtaking roses I have ever seen.
The life lesson here is that, when conditions are right, things will flourish - even if they’re not given an overt amount of attention. Don’t wait for someone to nurture and look after you before you grow – create the right conditions for yourself and attain your own magnificence.
While travelling back to South Africa after working on a yacht in Turkey, I took the opportunity go to the United Arab Emirates, to visit an old friend who was living in Dubai. Dubai is situated in the middle of the Arabian Desert, and so is probably the last place in the world where you’d expect to find a ski slope! But this is exactly what I discovered one day while walking round one of the city’s many huge shopping malls! I was fascinated to be able to watch the skiers through a glass wall - while being very grateful for the cool air-conditioning blasting away on my side of the glass! A similar experience was watching beach volleyball take place in the middle of London – very far from the nearest beach – during the recent Summer Olympics!
The life lesson here is that just about anything is possible if you don’t let yourself be dictated to by your situation or circumstances. If you can dream it, you can do it!
While working on luxury yachts in the Mediterranean, I found myself with some rare, but much-needed time off while we were moored at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo, Sardinia.
The town is a favourite stop-off point for some of the world’s uber rich and famous, and it’s not unusual to see international celebrities benefitting from a little retail therapy there! Exclusivity and expense are the dominant impressions when you walk around, so you can imagine how surprised I was when, while browsing in one of the most upmarket shopping malls in the world, I found several shops offering lovely items I could actually afford!
The lesson here is that we shouldn’t be intimidated by outward appearances, reputation or title. Very often, if we are brave enough to look beyond the daunting exterior, we may well be pleasantly surprised at what we find.
While my Mom and I were visiting the UK for a family wedding, I took the opportunity to take us both up to Edinburgh in Scotland for the world famous Edinburgh Tattoo. Because it was a relatively late decision, the whole city was already packed out, and we were unable to get any accommodation.
Fortunately we found a little fishing village called Dunbar, about 20 minutes by train from Edinburgh, where we managed to secure a room in a B&B. One day, while sitting on the pebbled beach in Dunbar watching the seagulls and listening to their raucous and incessant calls, I was suddenly struck by the fact that the seagulls back home in Durban don’t actually make a noise! What I had taken to be to be the same ol’ seagulls as back home, were in fact very different. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but that noisy Scottish beach made me aware of the difference.
Even though something may appear familiar, there may be differences we don’t expect. We shouldn’t take things at face value – rather make an effort to learn and appreciate individual characteristics.
While touring through the States, I had the opportunity to visit Venice Beach, in Los Angeles, California. This world famous spot is renowned for its long boardwalk, packed with people roller-blading, running, cycling etc, as well as for the aptly-named Muscle Beach Gym.
It was fascinating to watch not only the people working out in the gym, but also the people watching the people working out in the gym! Everywhere I looked there were gym bunnies showing off their bodies in barely-there outfits. I found the whole experience very shallow and superficial. It’s not that I’m not into health and fitness – I’m hugely in favour of staying healthy. But it was sad to see people working out not for the health benefits, but for the ego boost they got from having others stare at their bodies.
Don’t place emphasis on those things that you will lose – looks, for example. Rather invest time and energy into things that will yield long-term and lasting benefits.
During my six-month holiday in America, I visited the gambling mecca of the Western USA – Las Vegas. While the city does have a seedy underbelly – with rows of pawn shops, run-down buildings and homeless people – the Las Vegas we always see in the movies and on TV is every bit as glitzy and glamourous as you imagine it to be.
The Las Vegas Strip (which is actually located outside of the city limits) is a 4km-long, neon-lit stretch of hotels, casinos and resorts. Of course, as tourist in Las Vegas, you simply have to go gambling on The Strip.
I was on a limited budget but was having great fun playing the 25-cent (quarter) slot machines. I had literally put my last quarter into the last slot machine, and my bus was leaving any minute. Suddenly bells started flashing, whistles began whistling and worth of quarters began pouring out of the slot machine. I grabbed a paper cup and began stuffing the money into it, before racing off to catch my bus. It may only have been but I felt like a millionaire! I had won money on the slot machines in Vegas! The amount is irrelevant – it was the experience that was priceless.
The life lesson learned here is that while money grows your bank balance, experience grows your soul. If we learn to place the same value on experiences as we do on money, we will be truly rich.
While on holiday in London, a friend and I decided to see A Breath of Life - a much-anticipated play showing in the West End, starring Dame Judy Dench and Dame Maggie Smith. It was a last minute decision, and the person at the box office said that the only available tickets were not in a good position. In fact, he told us, for a portion of the play, we would be unable to see either actress on stage.
I told my friend that I didn’t want to see the play under those circumstances. She said she didn’t want to see it on her own, but was so obviously disappointed that I capitulated and said we’d go – even if it meant having the “bad” tickets.
As it turned out, there was not one second of the entire production where we weren’t able to see both stars, and my friend and I absolutely loved the show.
The life lesson here is that things are often not as bad as we think they’re going to be, and we shouldn’t always be put off by what we think is going to be a negative experience. Instead, let’s take the advice of that well-known brand of athletic shoe, and Just Do It!