Sunday, 13 June 2021
Confront brutal truths and reality of #leadership or ignore at your peril!
This book took me on a rollercoaster ride though highs and lows, twists and turns, free falling into the deep abyss to be yanked out suddenly again - what a ride! Throughout this book I experienced feelings of deep resonance as well as extreme dissonance as well!
I've not felt this uncomfortable reading a book in a very long time! At one point I put this book aside for weeks, resolving to give it a one star rating! I couldn't believe what I was reading. I refused to accept the evidence. The narratives conflicted with my own experience and deeply held beliefs of what leadership is. Nevertheless I continued on, pushing through at a pace that didn't wreck my mood, working hard to disconfirm my beliefs which were in part, to be honest, largely influenced by the feel-good leadership industry I've become an avid fan of. Moreover, I am myself a practicing leader, having held leadership positions for 10+ years, with a third spent as C-level and another 50% spent working very closely with C-suite customers.
So I took issue with the Pfeffer's messages - at times became quite irritated with the evidence presented. My personal value system (vetted by my own workplace experiences and biases) didn't align which made me think the book reflected more a corporate America bias and definitely not a reflection on the global industry! Bias! I couldn't ignore the hard truths though, I've seen all types of nasty leadership behaviours as displayed in the book, we can't downplay the real-world corporate game exists, and therefore, must be played like any other game. It's the system for better or worse.
Nevertheless, this book is a must read if all you've encountered so far is the feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy side of leadership industry, this book provides a necessary healthy dose of reality, earning a 5-star rating in the end 🤷🏽
I'm also quite glad I stuck it out and read through all the way. This book re-affirms my own belief to be different, to be the kind of leader I wish I had. I refuse to accept the game as it is. I have walked away from engagements I didn't feel right about, I walked away from leaders that came across as egotistic, pompous jerks. Personally, I'm on my own path to leadership...however it's important to face the brutal facts, but still remain hopeful for change.
I'm reminded of the Stockdale Paradox: Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts of the current reality, whatever they might be.
Curious to learn what other readers have to say about this book?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Saturday, 20 March 2021
I completed reading this book today, within a week of purchasing it. It's been a long time since I've read a book this fast, given my time constraints, so that alone should say something!
Sharing my review on Goodreads and keeping the reflection notes from each chapter in this post for reference.
I was also smiling as I read Mohamed's views on value systems, knowing one's self, self-reflections and goals of living debt-free. These anecdotes tie in quite nicely with my RAGE framework I've been developing for the last 6 years now.
The title "To God through money" is what immediately caught my attention as I browsed niche book collection at my local coffee shop. That, and the author's name "Mohamed Geraldez". Who is this guy? How come I've never heard of him before? Is this yet another one of those self-made autobiography books I doubt?? Intrigued, I bought the book with mild curiosity.
It turns out the purchase was a good call!
I'm so glad to have learnt about Mohamed Geraldez. It's a book of hope, admiration, motivation and respect. It is also humbling. Why? Mohamed is an American, who found Islam (almost by accident?) and became a seeker of Truth that took him to far places on Earth, the deserts in North Africa, no less! For me, as someone born into Islam "it's what my forefathers always did", I am always humbled by stories from new Muslims.
Whilst Mohamed writes his memoirs as an aid for his progeny and generations to come, being the first Muslim - this book should be read by anyone, religious and non-religious alike. Get a glimpse of Islam and how it attracted someone from the outside. Muslims can get a taste for balancing business and life.
Learn about business and entrepreneurship. Reflection points are shared to trigger "discover yourself" moments.
Mohamed Geraldez - thank you for courageously putting yourself out there by sharing your story! Well written and suitable for anyone looking to improve their life, seeking answers or anyone looking for inspiration from diverse perspectives. Highly recommended.
Useful Self Reflection Points for Life/Story Mapping
- According to your parents, what was a particular characteristic you had as a child?
- What did you accomplish as a kid that made you proud of yourself?
- Did your parents' love story have an effect on your upbringing?
- What trait from your childhood has stayed with you until now?
- Do you think your early years had a massive effect on your current relationship with money?
- What events from your youth indicated the type of person you would become?
- Who were the major figures in your child rearing?
- Did you grow up in an environment where you felt like you belonged, or did you feel like an outsider?
- Has any death in your life affected you so much that you made a permanent change?
- What are some of the biggest adjustments your parents had to make because of your birth? If they did not have to, why not?
- Were you a bully or were you bullied as a child? If either, does this still bother you?
- Is there something you regretfully did during your youth that you are embarrassed to think about now?
- Were you exposed to an assortment of cultures growing up?
- Did you yearn to belong to a group or were you content with those around you?
- Did you grow up in a religious home?
- How would you describe yourself in regard to religion? Atheist? Spiritual? Literal? Other?
- What period in your life did you start questioning long-standing beliefs? How do you resolve them?
- Are you still close to your best friend from childhood / high school?
- Is there one person in your life who totally altered your life's trajectory?
- How would you describe your relationship with your parents?
- What is one thing you have done in your entire life that you wish you could take back? How have you dealt with it?
- Are there people other than family members who helped raise you? If possible, give them a call to say, 'Thank You.'
- Have you ever failed in starting a company? What were the lessons you learned?
- Have you ever met a person or people that truly amazed you? What was it about them?
- Have you ever conquered a great fear? What did you learn about yourself in the process?
- Have you ever been culture-shocked? Where did this occur and why?
- What has been the most transformative phase in your life?
- Have you ever had a 'happiest day in my life'? If so, what caused it?
- Have you ever had someone like 'Brother, Sisyer, Father, etc. I never had'? What made that person special to you?
- What is one thing or event that if you did it, your life would be complete? What is preventing you?
- Do you work well under stressful conditions? What helps you?
- What are the different periods in your life that you learned a lot about yourself and the world?
- Is there a dream or something of significance that you passed on in life because of barriers or difficulties?
- Have you ever worked so hard at a job that you became sick? What kept you going?
- What was one of the lowest points in your life? How were you able to bounce back?
- What was the most fulfilling job you have ever had? What did you learn from the experience?
- Have you ever been laid off or fired from your job? How did you deal with it?
- What is the most expensive mistake you have made in your life?
- Have you ever taken a risk, and it paid off? When did it not work out?
- Has there ever been an instance where you went against your gut and regretted it? What about a time that you went with it and worked out?
- Have you ever had mentors in your life? What did they assist you with?
- Why is your best friend, your best friend?
- Do you have any personal finance rules you live by? What are they?
- From the list of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, which one(s) resonates with you the most? Why?
- What are your "happy moments" in life?
- Have you ever given any though about your legacy? If so, what you you want it to say about you?
- What is your Happy Money monthly amount?
- Has there ever been a time when you refused someone's advice, but later acted upon it? What changed your mind?
- What helps you in making important decisions?
- What habits or practices do you have for continuous self-improvement?
- What events or decisions were not in your favour, but with time, you were actually glad they were not? Why?
- When you think about the fisherman and the banker story, what things come to your mind about your own life?
- What blameworthy personality traits do you have that you would like to rid yourself of?
- Is there a particular friendship you no longer have, but wish it would return? What is holding you back?
- What is your love language? If you are still blessed with one or both of them, what are your parents' love languages?
- Who has had the greatest impact on your life?
- Have you ever felt that pursuing success in this world meant jeopardising your success in the next world? If so, why?
- Was it ever in your spiritual practice to think about your death? If not, do you think you will now incorporate it?
- What spiritual program do you have in place to reconnect with your Lord and regain perspective in life?
- What charity is dear to your heart? When was the last time you donated to it?
- Are you debt-free? If not, is it your top financial goal?
Tuesday, 16 February 2021
A LinkedIn connection shared this post that resonated with me on so many levels, I just had to capture these for posterity on my blog. A picture is worth a thousand words, I could write so much about each one!
Monday, 18 January 2021
Around this time last year in January 2020, I shared (in this post) how I tracked against my personal & professional aspirations of the previous year 2019, accounted for my time spent and narrowed down the major questions (and hence decisions) that remained open.
This was all before Covid-19 happened, but despite that disruption, I remained committed to holding myself accountable for realising my aspirations. I track these aspirations through a framework I created roughly five years ago, aimed at lifestyle design, something that is always a work-in-progress and is never complete. This framework is called my RAGE (Reality, Aspirations, Goals, Expectations) model. It has seen multiple iterations and has remained my guiding compass, even as I enter 2021 - the year of massive change for both myself as well as my family.
Looking back to 2020, it started with these open questions:
- How do I get my work hours of the previous three years under control? What am I willing to walk away from?
- Where next do I take my career? Do I remain with Pay TV moving further up to Group CIO/CTO or should I do something else altogether at the risk of going down a couple steps in the ladder?
- How serious am I about working with, or starting my own NGO/NPO non-profit?
- What am I going to do with my growing list of product / business start-up ideas?
- Should I leave South Africa and return back to the UK; or should I relocate to another country whilst still working in Pay TV?
We all know how 2020 turned out - but - despite that black swan - I nevertheless wanted to be antifragile and took bold action to not play it safe! Instead I dove head first into uncertainty, however, I did lay out a detailed plan. Those questions I needed to answer were Type 1 decisions (according Jeff Bezos' types of decisions), which called for careful deliberation & planning. So, using my RAGE model as my guide again, along with inspiration from a few folks (authors, friends, mentors, coaches & critics), I was able to address those questions by taking the following BIG decisions:
- I quit my job, my own sabbatical with no return policy - thus creating space for me to rest, recuperate & reflect. This wasn't an easy decision to make, as I was walking away from some rather good monetary incentives due to cash out in early 2021, and as a result of Covid-19, the prudent thing to do would've been to stick it out until the world recovered. Yet, I left anyway, putting into perspective What am I willing to walk away from?
- This was only possible because 5 years ago, when I started my RAGE model, one of the aspirations for my persona as an individual was "To be debt-free on the road to financial independence". Since I was debt free, and maybe 30% on the road to financial independence, I had enough saved up to afford a break for at least a year.
- Life is short, we've lost loved ones unexpectedly in 2020. I have tweaked my life model somewhat to weigh more strongly toward living a life of meaning, purpose & enjoying the present more.
- I'd reached a peak in my career with a highly respected company in the industry, although I knew I had gaps to close to move to the next level. It took a long time to mentally let go, but I found my flame again that helped me remember my past as inspiration to change my future.
- I even considered going to medical school - but that didn't make much sense financially in terms of my family responsibilities and commitments.
- Being the practical guy, I ended up cutting my sabbatical short because I landed a job much sooner than I anticipated - and as a result - ended up making not only a new job decision, but also a relocation to a new city decision too!
Now, as I begin my 2021 journey, having addressed those serious questions, some of which were the cause of much stress and anxiety at the workplace, home & personal well-being fronts - 2021 will simply be about appreciating new experiences cross-cutting both work and life, aiming for harmony, acceptance, learning and growth (spiritual, personal & professional). My personas remain largely the same priorities, their aspirations and specific goals will be adjusted for the next set milestones. I have hit reset so the process of reinvention will take time, I'm not going to rush things by being overly aggressive in setting unrealistic goals!
I have indeed made Type 1 (one-way-door) decisions, making it very difficult to go back now. I have rekindled my flame and now it's up to me (as it has always been) to make my life more interesting and meaningful!
2021 is about re-invention.
I believe it can be done!!
As usual, I share my RAGE metrics with you - see below for my 2020 time-keeping performance...
Hint: Click on the images to view them properly.
If you'd like to chat about my RAGE model, tools and other frameworks I use to help manage my personal & professional life, please feel free to reach out! I believe as human beings we are all striving to make sense of our life/work/world, regardless of our culture, belief systems, etc. I believe I have found a method that could be useful...and I'm happy to jump on a video call with you for free life/work coaching! It has helped a few people already, so maybe that says something??
Thursday, 2 July 2020
recent post on LinkedIn that I casually commented on by sharing my own personal story about the time I hitch hiked a lift, travelling 600km overnight on a long-haul truck just to make a job interview on time. I commented on LinkedIn without giving it much thought actually. It nevertheless struck a nerve that made me realise I need to go back into my past, dig up the old memories to help ignite the fire-in-my-belly, thus provoking me out of a slumber zone that I found myself recently experiencing (even before covid-19).
The theory: by reflecting on my past stories, building blocks that "made me ME", I would be encouraged to continue moving forward with a renewed sense of energy and purpose. To become that bold, daring & courageous individual again. Someone who always went against the grain, never one to follow the herd or play-it-safe. An owner of my path, unafraid of uncertainty or the unknown, with a sense of curiosity in all things life & work, not swayed by people be they corporate executives, colleagues, friends or family. Equipped with my reliance on God and my confidence in my own strengths & abilities, having a strong sense of faith and fine-tuned instincts...daring to be different! How do I find that guy again?
After all, I have indeed successfully navigated through many challenges and obstacles in the past despite my background, to get to where I am today of which, I am immensely proud of, so why should I settle now? Should the next 20 years not be filled with even more?? But it seems my flame was dying out, so I began to ask myself whatever happened to that flame? How do I re-ignite it? Whatever happened to being that lion? Have I settled for a life of ease and comfort? Am I comfortable doing routine work? Why do I need to play the system, be under the radar just because I'm close to having made it? What's so important about job title anyway? Does my work really define my identity?
I needed to find my story again and was sure the clues were waiting to be found hidden in my past. I'm sharing this because just maybe, I'm not alone in this boat - that this exercise might be something others could find useful too, in helping you with instigating the change you seek. When I did travel back it time, it occurred to me how much my work or career defined my life!? Victim of circumstance or not, it was quite revealing that my profession which stemmed from being conditioned by the system of Life programming to work hard and survive - shaped my life's choices.
Still, I contend that over the years we tend to forget who we were (sometimes it could be argued this is a good thing depending on one's past circumstances). We also lose touch of our inner core. To some extent possibly even forget our own roots. We thus enter either a comfort zone of complacency or living life through wilful ignorance. That is, who we are today is not so clear anymore because we've forgotten our past!
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT FIRE IN MY BELLY??
My inner voice shouts!!
One of my greatest fears is to reach a point in my life where I'm resentful, i.e. of having regrets about missed opportunities. Taking the safe path instead of the uncertain, uncharted one. As we get older, start a family, climb the career ladder, the less inclined we are to taking risks, to upsetting the balance or causing disruption to our family's lives or to breaking away from accepted social/cultural or even professional norms.
There are indeed times when we need to be patient, be wise, show grit and resilience by deferring rewards for later (delaying gratitude), but this tactic too if used too often or unwisely, may just only be a crutch that we hold on to - because actually, deep down, we're afraid to admit that we fear the unknown, so we often settle for the safety net of waiting for that retirement pension as an example, to only then start enjoying life. In another LinkedIn post, I described this as Life Programming.
dunyah"?). Sometimes we compromise our core values and passions because the money is just too good to resist. Sometimes we place unusually high notions about rights of the companies we work for, or attach sense of loyalty to our bosses or the teams we lead or work with. In our minds, this sacrificial attitude conjures up feelings of goodness, almost a saintliness, that can be blinding us from the hard truths...self-preservation is not necessarily a selfish act, after all, this world is fleeting, and we must therefore not waste ourselves with our limited time on earth, we each deserve an experience worth living...and to do so, action, re-action & forward momentum is needed IMHO.
Personally, I've been riding this roller coaster for some years now, so I created a model called RAGE, to help provide guardrails to prioritise the various streams in my life & help with decision-making rules (I'm an engineer after all). This tool has served me and others (friends, family & colleagues) quite well, I've received some good endorsements...
My theories are also shared by others, take for example Bernadette Jiwa, author of Story Driven, what she has to say about this topic:
I started my thinking & writing on this topic long before reading Jiwa's book, I'm really glad I did though. There's much more work on self-awareness that I need to unpack, for instance, Part Three "Developing Your Story-Driven Strategy" is packed with some of these soul-searching questions.
I'm still processing these questions in the background in the context of my RAGE model; and may just follow-up with another blog post, sharing them here for you to help your reflection:
What's the hardest thing you've ever done?What did doing the hard thing teach you about yourself?Who are the two people who have had the biggest impact on your life?What did you learn from them?What was your first job and what valuable lessons did you learn there?What's your proudest memory? Why?When are you at your best?If you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be? Why?What's the one thing you wouldn't change about yourself? Why?How can you bring more of that thing you wouldn't change into your work?Go back in time five years. What's the thing your old self would be most proud that you've achieved?How would you like to be remembered?
The exercise: How to find the flame again & then make it stick?
- Take those themes and create affirmations (this is where it gets private and personal).
- Write those affirmations down, keep them with you wherever you go.
- Start your day with repeating those affirmations out loud to yourself.
- Whenever you're in doubt or feeling glum, use your affirmations to get you out of that funk.
- You should notice a change, soak this in, observe yourself in this moment.
- Use this energy to immerse yourself in solving/creating your next challenge / opportunity.
- Do this together with keeping track of your RAGE plan & journal your experiences.
Does this thing work? Is this some mumbo-jumbo new age thing?
Maybe, but all I can say this has certainly worked for me - so much so that I'm now out of my funk. This has helped me create yet another defining moment in my life that I'm living through right now as I write this...
I trust in God, have hope in God's Mercy & Generosity always.
I am always thankful to God. With God by my side....I...
I love my parents and am grateful to them, love my siblings and my family.
I love my wife & 3 children, my anchors in life.
I am driven, self-motivated & brave.
I choose courage over comfort.
I don't blame anyone for my circumstances.
I am not afraid of the unknown.
I am comfortable with uncertainty.
I have overcome many challenges in life.
I have shown grit, patience, perseverance.
I am determined to succeed.
I make calculated decisions.
I am bold.
I take chances. I dive in, sometimes in complete darkness, but I go anyway.
I am always moving forward, never looking back to "what ifs".
I break stereotypes.
I dare to dream.
I question the status quo.
I remain curious. Curiosity is a good thing.
I have taken chances in my life that paid off.
I tend to go against the mould.
I am relentless.
I keep going.
I have never depended on help from anyone unless help is extended.
I hold myself accountable for my own life.
I don't seek hand-outs, ever.
I value my relationships with trusted friends.
I seek their council & can count on when in trouble or difficulty.
I am grateful to all who played a part in helping me.
I help others in need whenever I can.
I have a responsibility to pay it forward to my family, friends and others.
I have always been responsible for my future.
I take responsibility for my life.
I fear no man.
I believe Nobody owes me anything.
I am comfortable with myself.
I am only in competition with myself.
I hold myself accountable to high standards.
I loathe mediocrity. I am always learning to improve and grow.
I remind myself often: The only one keeping score is myself, no one else.
I seek counsel from people but take full responsibility for the final decision.
I have confidence in my abilities.
I become an expert in a subject in a short time.
I know that every new endeavour will at first be uncertain and difficult.
I gain comfort in past memories.
I have what it takes to accomplish anything I set my mind to.
I trust my gut instincts and intuition.
I have initiative and drive - my past speaks for itself.
I have proven myself more than capable on many fronts life-and-work.
I am world-class.
I am an innovator.
I have walked away from many an opportunity when it just didn't feel right.
I started from zero a few times in my life, I can do it again if need be.
I do not hang around for the safety of a pay cheque.
I have walked away from many a past opportunity with no regrets.
I pave my own way, make my own path, with the help of God.
I strongly believe: Taking the safe, comfortable path has never been my way.
I alone am responsible for shaping my future career.
I cherish and nurture the networks I've created.
I look deep into my past to shape my future - adaptability is key.
I love and respect my roots, no matter humble.
I am who I am, my past is mine to own, my future is mine to create, my present is mine to act.
I know the only obstacle blocking my path is myself.
I hold myself accountable to my own value system, not other peoples'.
I am self-aware.
I am mindful of my ego & keep it in check always.
I am humble but I don't tolerate nonsense.
Here's some stories that are helping me re-ignite my flame...
- So I was exposed to the reality of the system of economics & social inequality as I grew up in apartheid. So I was always reminded about the reality "unfairness" of life, practicality, hard working humility, from an early age. We could not afford a car until I started working professionally, neither did we spend our childhood enjoying family vacations away from home. We sometimes didn't have the means to enjoy even the small pleasures of school excursions, school photos or even attend my final year farewell party of high school. Despite the lack of financial means, I can't fault my parents, family & friends for not sheltering us from these realities and filling our house & hearts with love, warmth & protection. My childhood was a blessing upon reflection, our elders did a great job providing psychological safety & groomed us to survive whatever challenges came our way.
- Despite our financial difficulties growing up, I honestly can't fault my parents for not providing a safe, secure, humble, warm and loving home. Home was always our sanctuary, it still is - every time I go back to my parents home (which is now taken care for by my brother and I), I am reminded of where I started: the tiny room I spent my life studying in, the small house that was never really empty, always bustling with visitors, our food table always welcoming to many guests, the wonderful conversations I'd have with my elders about their past, discuss world politics and life...one should never forget one's roots, home is where the heart is...whenever I need to recharge and remember who I am, I find solace back home...
- During high school, I had applied to hundreds of institutions for bursaries and scholarships, consistently for four years since grade 10, all through facing rejection but I never once gave up trying. I did this on my own, without help from anyone. I went to the library, enquired about bursaries, photocopied all the forms (there was no internet then), and I would send letters and apply to literally hundreds of companies (back then we just transitioning out of apartheid, the companies were not as diverse as they are today, and most of the bursary/scholarship forms were still in Afrikaans and had conditions like military service). I tried my best in high school, although I thought I could have scored more As, but I couldn't afford to send my papers for remarking and so settled with my grades, it was an A aggregate which was still nevertheless excellent. Even with these grades, it was a proud moment to be accepted to medical school...
- At 18, that was quite a defining moment for me: A phone call determines my fate in medicine, I realise I really have no one to back me up, I had to do things on my own. That was the first major turning point in my life, bringing it all home - that I'm alone in this fight, it's up to me to work my way out. There were no adults in my family or friends that ventured to stand guarantor for a bank study loan for me. So I thought I'd just continue working and try to find a way to study part-time.
- Eventually I would work for Vodacom during vacations setting up mobile base stations and doing drive-by quality of network experience testing. Vodacom was great in supporting me, unfortunately there was no automatic placement post graduation.
- As much as I did not quite enjoy half of electronic engineering topics because my intended software courses dropped away, by that time I was very much fully committed to seeing the degree through in four years, so no turning back. I couldn't whine about it, just get on with it. I was thankful for the bursary and committed to work for the company even though broadcast/radio was not my thing, and assumed the job would naturally follow upon graduation, but it didn't. Even on completing my engineering degree, I turned down three jobs before landing a job in the field I'd studied! I did not want to waste my hard slog of four years by not at least experiencing the job of an engineer!
- Working in Ireland, in the "first world" was a real eye opener for me. I became consciously aware of my incompetence. My knowledge of software engineering was lacking compared to the "first world", I was a little behind my peers and lacking some depth of computing principles I either would've learned at university if my courses hadn't been dropped; or if I had studied Computer Science.
- I had to ramp-up and teach myself all the things I should've learnt at university (if the courses weren't dropped). I ended up on a project that really stretched my ability, but I did not give up. Instead I dug in deeper and through this I had also secured a placement to study my Masters in Computer Science, from a world-class university, that would then bolster and take my South African education to another level, I hoped.
- I also experienced my first-and-only layoff in Ireland, made redundant, something I wasn't expecting it. I was gutted. My world was about to shatter. I was just settling down to a nice routine, enjoying my work, good social network. Without much opportunity left in Ireland, I applied to UK since I did not want to return back to South Africa. Using my savings wisely, I remained in Dublin until I found a job in UK.
- In between I got married. I completely funded the wedding myself, including the relocation to UK, etc. It was a simple, down-to-earth wedding, but I do take some pride that I did this all by myself, without asking anyone for any financial help.
- One of my proudest milestones has to be raising my engineering skills to become recognised as a Principal Engineer in the UK, as a result of my innovating text-to-speech technologies to make a Talking TV, as a side off-the-work-books project.
- Following closely behind was gaining my Masters in Computer Science from a world-class international university. These are important to me because coming from South Africa, it certainly means a lot. I remember some colleagues in Ireland and UK just scoffing sarcastically when I shared I worked for an SA company which they had previous interactions with (they held SA engineers in low regard at the time). The UK being a serious meritocracy where competition is tough, meant getting that job as a principal engineer for me was quite vindicating!
- I am grateful I was able to climb up both the technical and management career ladder in the UK and not in South Africa. IMHO this is because it is somewhat difficult in SA to decipher if your promotion was based fully on merit or whether a "previously-disadvantaged background quota filter for equity and diversity" actually influenced the decision making process. Despite South Africa being "free" for 25+ years now, there's still so much to fix in the corporate world. Let's just say, there's still a lot of biased perceptions going on in this country. Non-white people are still doubted here which is sad really, actually quite frustrating at times! So yeah, I actually derive great personal satisfaction and comfort in knowing I actually made it entirely on my own in the UK, based on my own merits, in what is probably the hardest parts of the world when it comes to high-performance "world-class" output. So this achievement is still my story worth cherishing.
- I had zero savings, no private pension to cash out, which meant starting from zero again, but this time in debt, with a wife and three kids to support. To boot, the job I landed in SA was a junior one as well - but I returned anyway, I embraced the uncertainty nevertheless.
- The decision was emotionally biased as well, dispelling much logic or rationale. I recall coming close to a nervous breakdown realising missed opportunities in SA as one example. So I felt we needed to return home to be closer to family. I also wanted to allow my kids to open there eyes to real world problems and challenges they wouldn't normally be exposed to had they continued to grow up in UK. At the time UK felt boring and perfect, whereas Africa felt more vibrant and alive!
- After a couple years working in SA, I was not happy with the work. I felt I needed to operate at a much higher level really. The work began to feel very routine and no longer challenging, because I was operating on skills & expertise from UK on autopilot. The projects I was running, whilst "state-of-the-art" for South Africa, was quite old news to me since I'd done them before, years ago. I considered myself an expert in that field of work (set top box engineering) and therefore I needed to change.
- Me being the hustler I am, I convened a meeting with the executives, pitched my offering to them, explained I could provide so much more value to the group if I was set free, used the "tamed lion" analogy - and successfully negotiated an exit agreement that saw me start my management consulting gig. It was a win-win for both sides, as I'd continue to support the business as a consultant, and be free to branch out to other technology & business projects within the group & external non-compete companies as well. I took a chance, was brave to leave comfort of a secure, stable job...but it paid off!
- So I decided to leave the comfort of a permanent, secure job and good career progression; to become a management consultant into unknown territory! This opened up a few opportunities, expanded my network and also exposed me the the bigger world of business. In a relatively short-period of time, I cleared my ALL my debt, and our lifestyle started to surpass that which we had in the UK, although I've remained very disciplined not to let my lifestyle follow the gains made. So leaving the comfort of a permanent job, trusting in my ability to venture on my own, taking chances, building professional credibility did pay off.
- I would again later leave management consulting and rejoin the collective again to take up a challenge of being CTO, yet another change that stretched my potential. Why did I do this? I had a safe consulting gig, with a good pipeline of work, in control of my own time, working at times a four-day week, and earning good money. I was relatively independent and free. Then I decide to join the matrix again, become part of the collective. Why? Because I wanted a new challenge and was becoming bored of consulting. I also wanted to prove to myself I could switch career tracks again, go back into technical, and prove myself & the sceptics wrong. I am very glad I did so, got to work with a great bunch of people, learnt so much & achieved very good results. The experience provided everything that was missing in terms of my next career jump - and in terms of the original goal I'd set myself, i.e. to be a Jack of All Trades, Master of Some, equipped with the tools to run my own start-up company one day, I believe I've done it. I have the ability to run a company if I wanted to, or lead very large teams as CIO/CTO...so what's my next challenge then?
- I do take care not to burn bridges, this is very important. I've learnt that having the courage to leave it all behind and walk-away is actually not so bad, in fact my experience has taught me it is quite a healthy thing to do! I've hit reboot a few times already and it wasn't so bad. Life & work goes on - one should never feel one is indispensable, that's just pure hubris! Life is about exploration, standing still can't be an option.
Wednesday, 3 June 2020
I often remind myself about this:
You will die at any time...but as long as you're alive, you still need to live - so Do!
Love life and live not in ignorance but fully aware your time is limited.
You will definitely die, it's a reality, a certainty, impossible to avoid or predict.
So watch where and how you spend your time, be mindful of what you'll be leaving behind.
This world is temporary. Period.
Your profession should never become an obsession at the expense of life.
But you must believe in yourself and you will move mountains.
You are responsible for your life, don't blame anyone for your situation.
You can't change what people think of you, so don't bother wasting energy on that/them.
Live by your own rules not by what others think of you.
Have no expectations from others apart from yourself.
Hold yourself to account to your own highest standards and values.
Believe in yourself and you will move mountains.
You can have Faith but you still need to put in the effort, and trust in God.
Most importantly, trust in your own ability - find the confidence within.
No man has power over another man.
No company owns you.
Only you know your story.
But sometimes we forget our own story.
So you need to go back in time & rekindle the fire that was your story.
Let no one tell you otherwise.
You owe it to yourself to constantly check if you're going through life asleep.
If this is the case, awake from your slumber & make change happen!
Rekindle the sparks that created your story.
Get that fire burning again.
It starts by doing - one small step is all it takes!
Then another, and another...
But remember, your time is indeed limited, so spend it wisely!