Archive for July, 2016

Festina Lente

On Friday afternoon, as I was leaving Croydan Vineyard Estate close to Somerset West, where my happily-relocated-to-Cape-Town friends Richard and Senomi de Villiers now live, I did something stupid.

Really stupid.

I responded to a notification on my phone, opened the WhatsApp message, and then drove straight into the sidewalk!  It didn’t feel like a serious bump, so I continued on my way to Cape Town without stopping to check if the tyre had been damaged.

Poor judgement!

The tyre pressure slowly decreased until I eventually had to pull off to the side of the N2 just after the “danger zone” to change tyres.

This error in judgement not only cost me unnecessary money for a new tyre, but also lost time that I could have used more productively.

Lesson learned: Do not engage with my phone even if I am driving in a complex.  Even better – turn the phone off when I get in the car.

I also thought about things we sometimes do without seriously considering the long-term consequences.  Maybe a bit of our Basic Work Habits 7 (Slow down to speed up) can profitably be applied!

There are so many variations to this theme… Look before you leap.  Pause. Hurry, but slowly. Festina lente.

And, when we discover something that is taking us “off track”, take the time then to make a course correction rather than hoping things will be OK later, but then having to take a lot of time, money and effort to get back on track.

That’s also the beauty of creating the habit to review your work at the end of every day and week.  Make sure that your actions are aligned with your priorities, and check for any “leaking tyres” that can cause major damage unless corrected!

 Quote: “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.” ― William ShakespeareRomeo and Juliet



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As I walked through The Company’s Garden in Cape Town on Sunday morning there was a hive of activity as people were preparing to commemorate the Battle of Delville Wood, 100 years ago.  I BAgpipesstopped by to enjoy the practice of the bagpipe band as they prepared for the part they were going to play later on.

Preparation is key for optimal performance, and I appreciated the effort they were putting in.

Then something happened that made me think that I should take life a little less serious, be prepared for the unexpected and just go with the flow.

As they were having a break between items, a goose, making quite a noise, flew down from the tree under which they were standing and (if my observation was accurate) dropped a “bomb” as it did so.  The leader exclaimed “Holy s**t!”.  Everyone had a good laugh and then they continued.

Sometimes life “drops a bomb” on us, in spite of our planning and practice.  Life happens.

And maybe we can travel through life a little lighter if we acknowledge what has happened, give it the attention it deserves, learn from it and then move on.

Maybe they will not be practicing in the same spot next year!

I wish you a productive and fun week – enjoy the surprises and learning opportunities…

Quote: “When life gives you a rainy day, play in the puddles.”


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I used to play a little bit of golf many years ago, but stopped because I could never figure out what the short grass down the middle was for!  One of the golf lessons I was taught was to never focus on where you do NOT want to hit the ball, but focus on where you DO want to hit the ball.

When you are on the tee and there’s a water hazard on the right hand side of the fairway, tell yourself “I am hitting this ball down the middle of the fairway”, rather than saying “I must not hit this ball into the water”.  It seems that the brain just focuses on the “do” part, i.e. “hit this ball into the water”!

If only I remembered this lesson on Friday…

I was travelling to ORT airport and called the company where I leave my car to tell them when I will be at the airport.  I struggled a bit to get the phone back into my pocket so I put it in a space just below the radio.  And what did I tell myself?  “Do not forget to take the phone just now.”

Well my brain only remembered “forget to take the phone just now”, and when I reached into my pocket to make a call after leaving the car, my phone was still in the car!

The “baggage wrapping guy” allowed me to use his cell phone (I happily gave him R20 for that) and I could get hold of the driver in my car and got my phone back in 10 minutes’ time.  What a relief, but also what unnecessary stress – just because of using “do not forget to take…” instead of “remember to take…”

Shad Helmstetter’s book What To Say When You Speak To Yourself has been around since 1982 but still has very good tips about your choice of language when you talk to yourself.  You may also enjoy a short 7-minute video about his The Self-Talk Solution.   For me the bottom-line is that we can change things by changing our thoughts and our language, not only when we talk to ourselves, but also in conversations with others.

In a short but powerful exercise in one of my workshops I ask people to explain a frustrating situation to a buddy, and by using the most negative “victim language”, explain why it is impossible for them to do anything about the situation.  The follow-up exercise is to take the same situation and then use positive language to explain what they think they can do or at least try and do to influence or change the situation.  I suggest you do the same exercise with someone, or if you have a team or family that tends “go negative”, do it as well.

“I choose to” is so much more productive and powerful than “I have to”.

And what about “I have all the time I will ever have and choose to do what I want to do” rather than “I don’t have the time”.

And “Only a few things are truly important and the rest is noise (from Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less) versus “Everything is important”.

Make it a game this week – see if you can “catch” yourself and people you interact with using negative language.  Then stop the conversation and discuss the same thing using positive language.  See what happens!

Have a fun week…

Quote: “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” ― Abraham Lincoln

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In my mind’s eye I was already looking forward to a Wimbledon 2016 final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, only to be surprised by the demise of Djokovic at the hands a big-serving Sam Querrey.

I was also hoping that he would be the first player since Rod Laver (1969) to win all Grand Slam titles in one calendar year.  But not to be.

This is what he said after being beaten in just the third round of Wimbledon 2016:

“Thankfully I have a family and I have a life outside of tennis. I have plenty of things to look forward to.

“I’m going to obviously pay more attention to those things than tennis in the next period. I need it.

“It’s been a very successful year so far, but very long one, exhausting one, in every sense of that word. I just need to get away from tennis (my emphasis – G).”

Tennis is his career, his dedication, his dreams, the life-blood for him and his family and whoever else benefits from his huge success in tennis.  Yet he needs to get away from it and enjoy his life outside of tennis.

If you are a regular reader of my memos, you would have noticed by now that my daughter, Lindie, and her three daughters are enjoying a winter holiday in South Africa.  They invited me to join them at Vleesbaai for  a few days.

To “just get away from (my) tennis” – which is what I did, and we had the most wonderful time together for two days.  We went fishing and Niene even caught a klipvis or two!  I enjoyed every moment of “not playing tennis”.

Now I am back on the road again and working in Pretoria at the National School of Government until Thursday.

But I think I caught a little bit of Novak’s perspective from last Thursday to Saturday – so thanks, Novak!

What is it that you need to “just get away from”?

What is eating up so much of your life at the moment that you do not have the opportunity to fully live your life “outside of (your) tennis”?

Your career?  Your hobbies? Your family? Your compulsive “whatever”?

Maybe it is time to keep a log of what it is that your day every day, just for a month – it will not take a lot of your energy and time, but the lesson you will learn could have a big impact.

I don’t have the answers – just the question.

Enjoy finding your answer.

And then enjoy getting away from it…

Quote: “Am I a workaholic? Yes, but I also have no problem taking time for myself.”  Chris Jericho

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