While travelling in Córdoba, Spain, I visited the Great Mosque of Córdoba. It is a beautiful and fascinating building that symbolizes the many religious changes Córdoba has undergone over the centuries. Today, the Mezquita is the Cathedral of Córdoba, but the vast majority of its art and architecture is the work of Islamic architects, who built it as a mosque in the 8th century. . The shell-shaped ceiling of the magnificent Mihrab is carved from a single block of marble and the chambers on either side are decorated with exquisite Byzantine mosaics of gold. The worn flagstones indicate where pilgrims crouched on their knees.
I wanted a sense of the visual perspective which the pilgrims had, and so I knelt down on the floor to view the Mihrab. Within seconds I had two security guards bearing down on me shouting and gesticulating that I must immediately stand up. Little did I know that since the early 2000s Spanish Muslims have lobbied the Roman Catholic Church to allow them to pray in the cathedral, only to be rejected on multiple occasions. My innocent action appeared to be a challenge/protest and the guards were not having it!
The lesson here is to be aware that simple, innocent actions can be deeply offensive to others. It is important to be aware of rules, customs and etiquette when visiting unfamiliar places.
While working on privately owned luxury yachts, I had the privilege of having an evening’s leave on the Island of Elba, Tuscany. While strolling around the shops and cafés of the quaint, bustling harbour some brightly coloured, fabric shoulder bags really caught my eye, but I decided not to buy one as they were quite expensive. Getting back to my yacht I regretted that decision and so the next morning I asked if I could have thirty minutes to go onshore to buy the bag. Having already had my allocated leave the chief stewardess was unwilling to let me have more time off and it took much persuasion and the promise of working the half hour plus an extra hour to pay off the favour, before she agreed. I ran all the way to the shop, purchased my bag and ran all the way back. I had taken only eight minutes, but I still put in the hour and a half I had promised. I was rewarded with the trust of the chief stewardess - she had not expected me to keep my word! This trust earned me future privileges.
The lesson here is simple, exercise your privilege to go the extra mile, and you will be rewarded.
My article was featured in the SME South Africa Online Magazine.
You can read the article here: http://www.smesouthafrica.co.za/15589/Could-your-phone-technique-be-letting-you-down/
When I was in my early 20’s I ‘did’ a Contiki Tour of Europe. Our first City was Paris and after checking into the hotel, we were taken to see the sights and ended at the Eiffel Tower. Our tour guide gave us strict instructions to be back on the bus by 9:30pm otherwise “it would leave without us!”
I had made friends with three fellow travellers and we made a plan to go up the tower as high as we could. It was magnificent and we took in the views from all 4 sides. When we realized the time it had already gone 9:30pm and we knew the bus would have left. We were not concerned - being young and invincible we knew we would find our way back to the hotel!
An hour and a half later we emerged from the Eiffel Tower to see the bus was still there. Our fellow tour members told us they had felt sorry for us and had decided to wait. We felt terrible, but also angry that we had been put in a position of unknowingly upsetting the others.
The lesson here is to say what you mean, mean what you say and stick to the plan. Don’t expect others to know you have changed the plan if you have not consulted them!
This article is one of a three-part series on Transactional Analysis. This article follows on from the article "Transactional Analysis – Part I (The Masks we Wear)" and comes before Transactional Analysis - Part III (The Scripts we Follow). What follows in this article (Part II) is an outline of two more key concepts in Transactional Analysis – Strokes and Games.
If you look up the word ‘freedom’ in a dictionary you will see that it is a noun and has two definitions:
This article is one of a three-part series on Transactional Analysis. It is followed by the articles “Transactional Analysis – Part II (The Games we Play)” and Transactional Analysis - Part III (The Scripts we Follow).
Transactional Analysis (or TA as it is often called) is an interpersonal relations approach developed during the 1960s by Dr Eric Berne. It is underpinned by the philosophy that:
Transactional Analysis is based on two notions: That we have three sides or 'ego-states' to our 'personality (Parent, Adult and Child), and that these ego states converse with one another in 'transactions' both internally and externally with other people (hence the name).
When I visited Rome, in Italy, I expected to see a beautiful city – after all Italy is known for its beautiful architecture, art, clothes and people. What I did not expect was to be made to feel beautiful. But that’s what happened. Everywhere I went the Italian men would call out a compliment, or whistle, as they sped past on their motor scooters. Although I was under no illusions – they did the same to all the women – I loved it and felt like the most beautiful woman in the world!
I was staying in a backpackers lodge at the time and one evening an American girl came in angrily complaining about the Italian men and how they were “awful and always trying to come on to you!” I tried to explain that it was just the Italian way and absolutely no harm or offence was meant, but she was having none of it. While I had a wonderful time in Italy, she must have had a miserable time.
The lesson here is it worth learning how to accept a compliment graciously. Not only does it give you a real boost, it also inspires the giver to continue giving compliments – and the world would certainly be a better place if we were more complimentary to each other.
While travelling in Italy I visited the magnificent St Peter’s Basilica located in the Vatican City. Inside is a larger-than-life bronze statue of St. Peter — his right hand extended to confer a blessing, while his left hand clutches the keys of the Kingdom. The statue is mounted on a tall alabaster pedestal, so that the feet are at eye-level. In medieval times pilgrims would fervently kiss or at least rub the right foot, which was extended forward from the pedestal, at the same time offering a prayer to St. Peter to be merciful and open the heavenly gates for them, if they should die while on the pilgrimage. Over the years the bronze toes have been worn smooth.
While watching the people, I was fascinated to see that almost every one of them reached out to rub the foot. Although most of the tourists were neither Catholic nor pilgrims, they still ‘followed the crowd’.
The lesson I learnt is that following the crowd is a survival instinct. Across the generations, people have learned that survival depends on banding together and working as a group. There is safety in numbers. All humans have inherited this legacy and it is shown in the security we feel when we ‘follow the crowd’.
I once had the great pleasure of spending a day at Disneyland in Paris, outside of tourist season. It was a real pleasure not to have the place packed with crowds, but what really stood out for me was the relatively low number of children there compared to adults. The fact that the atmosphere was still electric with energy, fun and laughter was not lost on me – I was reminded of the fact that we humans retain our juvenile sense of enjoyment and pleasure right into adulthood.
The life lesson here is that human beings are playful creatures – no other species pursues so many activities simply for amusement or spends so much time enjoying themselves – and we need to be this way. As George Bernard Shaw said, “We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."