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PenTheVision important updates!

Dear PenTheVision Friends

Thank you for being a part of our journey. As PenTheVision, we would like to continue serving you with great articles. As part of our focus for 2018, we want to focus on two major things. Firstly, we would like to get your feedback in terms of how we can improve PenTheVision and we would like you to give us feedback about what to write and do, that will benefit your life journey. Please be on the look out for a survey in your mailboxes, on our blog and social media in the next coming days. Please kindly complete it as honestly as you can.

The second important thing which we are so excited about is the Guest Writer Monthly features. PenTheVision aims to be a platform for like-minded great people who have a passion for sharing wisdom and insights from their respective context to affect positive change.

So be on the look out for our first Guest Writer column on 28th February 2018.

We appreciate you!

30 seconds of weakness…

I have this very special friend of mine and I was just reflecting on our journey together. When we initially started talking, we misunderstood each other a lot. It was like we were in the “storming phase” of the team development journey. Research suggest that a new team cannot be expected to perform optimally when it first comes together. Literature in team and people dynamics reports that forming a team takes time because members often go through recognizable stages as they change from being a collection of strangers to a united group with common goals. “Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning model describes these stages. The storming phase is where people start to push against the boundaries established in the forming stage. This is the stage where many teams fail. Storming often starts where there is a conflict between team members’ natural working styles.” https://www.mindtools.com. I must say my friend and I had our own hectic storming phase.

The more we engaged in dialogue the more I realised that he was forming an inconclusive perception of who I am. I think to people who don’t know me well, I can come across as “weird” and to those who see life through patriarchal lens, they may perceive me to be a feminist. His inconclusive statements were portraying me as a difficult human unwilling to open and yield to understanding other people’s world views. After he had mentioned his statement about how he was going to make me more “human” because I was difficult, I was mad. A few seconds after our conversation I started to think that perhaps he was right about me. It’s amazing how we can hear nine reviews about how exceptional we are, and hear the one negative comment and it dominates our minds.

Though my friend and I have made tremendous progress in our relationship and I suspect we always bound to conflict in some way as he often says that we come from two very different worlds. However, I must say that one of the most liberating things for me has been realizing that we cannot stay mad at people for saying certain things about us. Sometimes people don’t have the “language” to express what they are perceiving or experiencing, and they will use the closest, and not necessarily the most accurate words based on their current vocabulary.

One of my personal strategic goals is to learn daily and not allow statements that people make about me to become my “truth” because the reality is no one lives my life the way I do.

Even as we still in the early stages of 2018, I want us to guide against and protect our hearts/spirit from falling into “30 seconds of weakness”. My definition of 30 seconds of weakness is those few moments in time when we choose to take, accept and believe what other people say about us more than what we believe we truly are.

I love the proverb that says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7 New King James Version (NKJV). You are what you truly believe you are.

What creates the context for your life is your spirit not your brain. Your spirit is the better part of you and I choose to draw from that every time I face 30 seconds of weakness so that I can be sharpened to better serve humanity.

 

Continual Responsibility…

Constructive criticism is a great gift, but depending on where you are in your life, it can sometimes come across as a great pain. Recently someone was giving me feedback about something very dear to me. The feedback came packaged with both positive and negative comments. As the dialogue progressed, there was a moment where I felt that my character/ability was being challenged rather than the idea. Generally, its very difficult to “detach” yourself from your work but I was reminded during that moment that we have a continual responsibility to live life wide open for growth. In many ways when people take time to thoroughly apply themselves and give feedback about our “craft/s” it is because they are well meaning.

In my opinion, our traditional socialization is not geared towards growth. However, we have a continual responsibility to lean towards progress, and the greatest challenge is that it requires us to open yourselves up to “expert” voices that come in different forms. Sometimes it’s not easy to hear what you are not doing well because as people we often just want to feel good about what we do.

When someone takes time to be forensic with you, perhaps we need to begin to see that as a great compliment. I am learning that growth is not a destination but a part and parcel of my lifetime. So, for us not get emotionally scarred by some solid feedback we need to adopt certain practices;

  • We need to understand that we have a continual responsibility to not default to the natural temptation of over focusing on the bad in the feedback loop.
  • We have a continual responsibility to decide that despite the difficulties that come with growth, we are not going to quit.
  • We have a continual responsibility to reprogram our minds so that we part with beliefs that hinder our progress and embrace those that propel us to be better versions of ourselves each day.
  • We have a continual responsibility to be kind to ourselves in the days when we don’t do everything right, but to never stop trying our best each day.
  • We have a continual responsibility to not always default to doing things because we “feel” like it. The great people we celebrate did not build great lives and accomplish amazing things because they always felt like it, but they pushed themselves beyond the emotional sphere. Someone wrote “your worst battle is between what you know and what you feel” The Idealist.

My dear friend, you have a continual responsibility to just be you. The you that is continuously evolving to be great.

Mr President, who are you really?

My parents and I were driving and listening to the news on radio. As we were listening, we noticed that the newsreader used designated political titles for all the leaders she was referring to except one. When she mentioned the President of the Republic of South Africa, she kept on referring to him as “Mr Zuma”. My parents were taken aback by this and they mentioned how shocked they were that this newsreader did not refer to Jacob Zuma as President Jacob Zuma.

Come to think of it, there is sadly not much respect in the nation for our president. I hardly hear any one put the title president before his first name. I know that the public is tired of the drama that has surrounded his presidency and perhaps struggle to see any good in him. I am also aware that the South African context is not a unique case in that there are numerous nations in the world who are not happy with their Presidents. I think of the United States of America, though there are mixed perceptions about Donald Trump, I have heard various news stations consistently refer to him as President Donald Trump.

Has the presidency title lost its “honour” in South Africa? I recall a conversation I had with my younger sister recently. I tried to make her feel guilty for not showering and changing into clean clothes. I said to her, “Please love yourself, go take a shower and change those shabby clothes, what would you do if the president came and you looked like that?” Her response, “Which president? Ours…hahahaha…I couldn’t care less.” My sister is a born free, by the way.

I usually shy away from writing and talking about politics because it’s one of those never-ending dialogues and truly speaking I prefer leaving the intricacies of political activity to the political analysts. However, I thought perhaps let me pen some of the questions that are on my mind. Maybe the President will one day speak the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

How do I feel about President Jacob Zuma? Well, I respect President Jacob Zuma because I was raised to respect my elders. I respect him as a man made in the image of God, the creator. I respect him as a human being because as a self-proclaimed Human Rights Activist, I believe that he too has inalienable rights. I respect him because my faith teaches me to pray for leaders in government.

We have seen through the media scandals how the paradox of the honourable title is losing its honour. Long before his inauguration, we were informed of the corrupt controversial relationship that President Jacob Zuma shared with Schabir Shaik. More troubling information surfaced around the President’s involvement in the arms deal.

After being inaugurated we came to learn of the various successful attempts to weaken once previously independent prosecutorial institutions for the President’s own gain. And of course, the heart-breaking revelations on Nkandla in the Public Prosecutors report.

I have read a few books on President Jacob Zuma political journey and have witnessed the various media and social media campaigns about him and these portray a very unpleasant depiction of one of “Umkhonto wesizwe’s” heroes.

Mr President please allow me to ask these questions. I know that this information is not new to you, our parliament has become a sight for entertainment. Numerous times opposition parties have asked you to account for the scandals that surround you, you remained silent and indifferent. You have been investigated countless times, found to be in the wrong and yet no justice served at the end of the day.

To me it seems like you are this super human where nothing sticks to you. I would humbly like to know – who are you really, Mr President?

I wonder what you are truly passionate about. Is it better education in our country? Is it land reform for those stripped of what was birth fully and rightfully theirs? Is it seeing a progressive economy?

When you lay down to sleep what do you think about? When you awake what is the first thing that comes to your mind? You are human after all.

I consider myself part of those who want to work to make South Africa a better country. I believe that your generation did tremendous work in giving us the baton of freedom. Yes, you fought in the struggle against Apartheid and in many ways, I am grateful for some of the opportunities that came in post-Apartheid South Africa.

But I worry Mr President that some of the decisions you have made will undo the great foundation that many of the great freedom fighters lost their lives for. I am more concerned about our generation and the next, what legacy will we leave for them? Will there be a democratic South Africa where human rights are not just words on a page but truly lived out in state institutions and where leaders are able to surrender their greed for the benefit of all, so I ask you again Mr President, who are you really?

Cheers to each day…

One of the most beautiful things about growth and maturity in adulthood is recognising how much of a gift life truly is. I’ve noticed that there is always oomph and positivity that surrounds the 1st of January every year. We generally love the prospects of a new year and we all receive it with great optimism! The New Year holds opportunity for new beginnings; it gives us courage to rectify mistakes of the previous year, and encourages us to set new great goals for our lives.

In practical terms this is translated into:
People deciding to be healthier (e.g. an increase in gym memberships), applications for college and university, new job applications, a rise in charity work and giving to the less fortunate, visits to financial institutions for financial advice and guidance, spiritual refocus (e.g. church attendance is very high early in the year), and the list goes on. Reality is, when the New Year starts most people have a tremendous desire to change or enhance their lives in some form.

So, what about the New Year makes us see life differently? I think the answer lies in the “psychology of new beginnings”. The concept of new beginnings is powerful because it is underpinned in the transforming antidote of Hope. To illustrate the transforming power of hope I would like to share this story. I was watching an interview on a talk show recently and the talk show host was interviewing the director for the Reach for a Dream Foundation. The core objective of the Foundation is to continue giving hope to children fighting life-threatening illnesses through the fulfillment of their dreams (https://reachforadream.org.za/about-us/).

The director echoed how they work with various partners to help fulfill interesting and heartfelt dreams that some of the children suffering from life-threatening illnesses have. She mentioned that the vision of the foundation is underpinned in the notion that a happy, hopeful spirit/heart can aid with dealing with pain. Hope in the human heart is a powerful life transforming force. And I believe that most of us in the New Year are heightened in hope. But I have been asking myself this question and I am sure that some of us would be able to relate: Why is it that we can start the year with so much zeal, ready to do gigantic things, but you find that by the time we reach March/April we have all “fallen off the wagon”?

Perhaps for us not to fail and lose momentum, we should move away from a 365 day/gigantic view of our goals. This year long view can be quite overwhelming. Perhaps we should view the changes we want to make in the New Year as a series of many new beginnings each day. According to practical wisdom, ‘micro-actions’ are the best way to create lasting change. The authors of The Book of You (Penguin; R175) share that “a micro action is a small daily activity that you can complete instantly. These small wins form new neural connections in your brain, which makes it easier to nail bigger goals”.

As we begin 2018, maybe we ought to realise that the secret to achieving our New Year’s resolutions is in understanding that our lives are a series of daily new beginnings. Set your priorities straight each day, and be grateful for every little thing you experience and achieve daily.

As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

 
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