Personal lessons learned in the last 30 years…
Personal Triumph 1: Face Your Fear!
“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
― Bruce Lee
There is a moment is every persons life that defines them forever. A moment which transcends time, space, risk and adversity.
As a teenager I had a glimpse of this when I used to rollerblade. Some days were crisper than others and these were the days I could push myself a little more than most.
**My father sat in the car some 20m away from me, watching intently. From my position at the top of this perch in the skatepark, I sat with my rollerblades locked into the steel piping of a ramp some 10ft high. The highest ramp at the park.
“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
As a child I feared so many things, unimaginable, undefinable problems that haunted me to death. Around every bend, every sleepless night I heard the fear tell me that I was not worth. The schools told me, my parents told me, my siblings, my very own family betrayed the truth.
I stood up at the top of the platform, 10 metre’s below in the baking sun lay black mottled tarmac ready to shave my the skin off my flesh. Standing on the edge with 2 wheels of each blade locked into the piping I prepared myself for this 3 metre drop onto sheet steel that would propel me faster than I had ever been outside of a car.
My father watched me, ever so quiet. He never told me I would fail, he had simply told me to be careful and now here I was high above the ground tempting not only my fear. But the abyssmal state of my own self trust and low self esteem.
I expected him to come running and screaming towards me, he did not.
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
― Joseph Campbell
Now that my brother had left us the truth had been unveiled. I knew that I could climb out of this hell, I could shout and scream back at his voice inside of my chest. Today I had chosen to that with one calculated and defined action. I was going down this ramp one way or another and it’s purpose was purely mechanical, death to the critics.
We can all fight our way back into the light, we can all climb out of the hell that has been handed to us but we must be prepared to act. We must be prepared to sacrifice a part of ourselves to achieve the distinction of merit that these actions stamp on our souls and the souls of people around us.
On that day I fell twice while attempting that old 10ft but on my third attempt I succeeded and I flew at a speed that exemplified an exodus of sorts. I got in the car bloody from tarmac induced roadburn with a grin the size of coconut.
In the end it was going to take more than just 10ft to free me…*** -10 Ft
Personal Triumph 2: Learn To Trust Yourself
At the age of 12 my brother decided to leave Johannesburg and settle in a distant city on the other side of our coast called Cape Town. He was dead within two years.
I promised myself that one day I would have the courage to build a life that not only he would be proud of BUT honor his legacy by doing it in the same city. Looking back it was not clear to me that courage was the will to surrender oneself to adversity but I can see clearly how much trust has helped me move further than circumstance.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
The hero is always finding hope even in the most difficult situations. They rally enormous amounts of effort in the most difficult of moments and even if it means 1000 failures, they complete the task. They are stalwart, honorable and human… They never give up.
In the years since I have brought my business to financial success. Built a business that touches the lives of every person I meet and I have recognized the value of doing what I believe to be great work.
Personal Triumph 3: Find The Hero Within
When I was 5 at my first pre-primary school some of the other children I was friends with invited me to play in the woodshed and as part of their game I got locked inside the shed. Panicking from being unable to leave I punched out a window closest to me and climbed out.
Fast forward 25 years later and I am living in London. I am studying part-time and working to build a career in the fitness industry. One evening after work five youths tried to mug me and as I resisted I was promptly bottled while 4 of my attackers tried to hold me down in an attempt to stab me in the face.
“Nothing fires the warrior’s heart more with courage than to find himself and his comrades at the point of annihilation, at the brink of being routed and overrun, and then to dredge not merely from one’s own bowels or guts but from one’s discipline and training the presence of mind not to panic, not to yield to the possession of despair, but instead to complete those homely acts of order which Dienekes had ever declared the supreme accomplishment of the warrior: to perform the commonplace under far-from-commonplace conditions.”
― Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
After 27 stitches to my right hand and head I knew I had stumbled upon what was perhaps one of the most defining moments of my life. Doing what you love will give you the courage you need to pursue your goals even in the worst circumstances.
This brings me to my next point, do not be afraid to value yourself for who and what you are. In having met so many people I can see how much fear is a part of our lives.. Hero’s are the average people doing extraordinary things for those less fortunate.
We look out for one another.
The man who is doomed is he who knows no humility. He is not dutiful or compassionate, he is unable to reflect on his actions or sympathize with another. We cannot take care of others if we cannot take care of ourselves.
“For neither does wealth bring honour to the owner, if he be a coward; of such a one the wealth belongs to another, and not to himself. Nor does beauty and strength of body, when dwelling in a base and cowardly man, appear comely, but the reverse of comely, making the possessor more conspicuous, and manifesting forth his cowardice.
And all knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom; wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim, to exceed, if possible, not only us but all your ancestors in virtue; and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame, but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us.
And we shall most likely be defeated, and you will most likely be victors in the contest, if you learn so to order your lives as not to abuse or waste the reputation of your ancestors, knowing that to a man who has any self-respect, nothing is more dishonourable than to be honoured, not for his own sake, but on account of the reputation of his ancestors.”
– A speech of Aspasia, recounted by Socrates, written down by Plato in the Menexenus dialogue