Meek Means Freedom

The meek shall inherit the Earth.

The quiet and gentle nature of those who are meek has been portrayed as weakness in this age. We have this not-so-hidden obsession to appear tough and overly confident – it’s what we are instructed to be by what we see on television and read in books. Vulnerability is frowned upon, almost taboo at times. We are led to believe that to embrace our freedom of expression and blast out whatever we want to say is right because that’s what liberty is – isn’t it? When I proclaim my opinion because “I know I’m right and if you disagree then that’s your wrong opinion” am I not doing right by those that gave me a voice? LOL. Check this out:

“Have you heard of the phrase “Empty vessels make the most noise”? It’s a proverb that means that those with the least talent and knowledge usually speak the most, speak the loudest, and create the most fuss — whatever makes their presence felt the most.”

By: https://personalexcellence.co/blog/empty-vessels/

The rest of the post is pretty outstanding too, I highly recommend you check it out.

Being meek is the opposite of the above. Meekness means you are willing to be quiet and listen sometimes. It means you are willing to be corrected and acknowledge that you don’t know everything. If you didn’t know it, believe it or not, you don’t know everything! Neither do I! The beauty of admitting this fact and laying down your pride is it puts you in the most optimal position for growth. You create a barrier to learning whenever you believe you know the wisdom or knowledge someone wants to impart before they even open their mouth. Pride incarcerates. It makes you unwilling to reach out for help when you need it. Every solution needs to come from self and I’m afraid unless you’re God, that isn’t happening. When you are prideful you are confined to the prison of what you know, unable to expand past the perimeter of your skull… but if you’re meek… if you’re meek you’re free.

Stay tuned for the conclusion to our Individuality series tomorrow: The Pit.

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Lying Is Good For You: Building Habits

Starting a habit isn’t always easy. The proof is in the number of people who say they want to start a new habit who don’t actually end up doing so. Or maybe they’ll start but stop before it’s really become a habit.

Habit – a regular tendency that is hard to give up.

Lally’s study claims that it takes anywhere between 18 days to 254 days to form a new habit.

How can one actually achieve such a feat that requires an incredible amount of discipline? First of all we have to acknowledge that it is difficult to maintain something just because we see the benefit of it in the future. If you are one of those people that can do it by just intentionally making the decision, kudos to you! If you are like me then you have to use a different way. The good news is it works just as well. Here it is… it’s time to lie again!

There’s this story about a mouse that’s put in a cage. Scientists would ring a bell at a certain time and then put cheese in the cage. Over time the mouse associated the sound of the shrill bell with cheese and would come out of its little house when the bell was rung and wait, even if the cheese wasn’t forthcoming. The bell didn’t sound attractive but the cheese was attractive. Over time the mouse would come out for the bell because to it the bell = cheese. We’re not mice though so what can we do? We use the horse and carrot stick method.

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Looks ridiculous right? The carrot is the reward after you’ve done the hard work of doing whatever the new habit requires you to do. This way we associate the reward with the work. For example, I love movies! When we got back from a service on Sunday that’s the first thing that I wanted to do. Unfortunately for me, I lived with very wise, orderly parents who would have me do the dishes first (after we’d made and eaten breakfast) before watching any film. Doing the dishes was work. Watching the movie was the carrot. My love for movies was so strong that I would speed through the dishes to have my carrot – ahem – I mean watch my movie. You couldn’t motivate me to do the dishes because it wasn’t something I looked forward to, but because I looked forward to watching movies, the labour of doing the dishes was no longer as hard as it seemed initially. Over time I stopped doing it as an inconvenience and started viewing it as a sort of key, a key to me watching the movies that I wanted to watch on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve used this same trick to exercise daily, write more consistently and to drink enough water each day – all things I never used to do.

So what are the practical bits you can use for you. The only thing you need to do is to make a list of the things you love. Lie to yourself until you believe that you can’t do one of those things until you’ve actioned out the habit you’re trying to build, then reward yourself with the thing you love at the end – and repeat. Make sense?

A short real-life illustration of the effectiveness of this technique:

Mom: Where are you?

Me: I’m in the kitchen. I’ve just started doing the dishes.

Mom: We’ve started watching a movie, come watch with us – you can do the dishes after.

Me: I don’t like doing dishes well after we’ve eaten. I’ll finish up fast then come watch when I’m done.

True story.

I’m a dish dog now!

See you tomorrow for Lying Is Good For You: Trumping Fear.

 

 

Pride Breaketh Back

You ever do something you look back at a couple minutes after you’ve done it, and ask yourself, “Why in the world did I do that?” No? Me neither.

Sarcasm aside today I had the privilege of teaching myself a lesson in humility and an aspect of good leadership: the ability to delegate. I was hauling a heavy load from the car full of things that… never mind about all that, the bottom line is the load was heavy, that’s all you need to know. If you know me, you’ll know I never liked weights, or the gym. As a result (shockingly) I’m never the most muscular guy in the room, heck that’s true even if I’m the only guy in the room. The thing is I’d single-handedly put this darn suitcase in the car by myself the first time around. Why would I need help bringing it back down? Unfortunately there’s already a misconception in that statement. When I was bringing it down my mind was so fixated on the high I got from putting the massive load in the car in the first place that I had forgotten how hard it was to do on my own. When offloading the monstrously large case I was in the presence of two other able young men who were waiting around to help. A leader or anyone with a sizeable amount of reason would have used the otherworldly magical ability often known as “language” to “communicate” to the young men and “ask” for “help”. Now I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, indeed these are extremely complex terms –  but I didn’t ask for assistance and I busted my ass trying to get said enormous shipment to its destination. Surprise surprise, when I managed it I didn’t feel the rush of accomplishment of having moved the gargantuan cargo further than I had initially (in front of a crowd no less). There was no rush of excitement; no cerebral applause accompanied my ragged panting. There was none of that – only back pain.

Personality

My dear readers. That “target” I talked about in my last post has been completed, mostly. As my thanks for reading my posts and giving me positive feedback I have decided to give you a little excerpt from one of the 17 pieces I’ve written. I laughed a lot while reading this, I hope you do too. Be inspired!


PERSONALITY

Alright, let’s do this.

You’re gonna fail.

No I’m not.

Jack looked around to check if anyone was nearby. He didn’t want anyone to witness what he was about to do in case it went awry. Private embarrassment he could take – but public humiliation was a whole other matter. He was pleased to see that no one else was in the cafeteria. Most people didn’t come to school during the summer break. They had lives to live and parents with lots of money to spend… or not, and instead they had to work odd jobs to help their family put bread on the table. Jack hated it when his thoughts went off track like this. It wasn’t his fault but he hated himself for it.

Focus!

With sweaty palms he slowly approached his long-term crush, the beautiful brunette called Emily. “Hey Emily,” Jack muttered as if half-afraid she would actually hear him.

Emily looked up from her book, a collection of short stories by O. Henry. She seemed puzzled, “Hey… sorry, do I know you?”

HAHAHA!

“Shut UP!”

Excuse me?” Emily did not sound pleased at all.

“Sorry… I wasn’t talking to you. I mean – hey, we are in the same Chemistry class. The Mad Cow is our teacher?” When he noticed her confused expression, one that easily gave away the fact that his words didn’t ring a bell, his soul was crushed. Jack nervously fidgeted with his spectacles. “I sit next to you. We’re lab partners.” Was he that unnoticeable?

“Oh… you! Hey! What’s up?” Emily smiled the awkwardness away, or tried to. Unfortunately for her, Jack had noticed that she hadn’t even used his name. She really didn’t know him at all. “How are you?”

“I’m alright actually. How are you?”

“I’m good…” she responded, curious to see where Jack was directing the conversation.

Awkward silence prevailed.

Aren’t you going to say something?

“It sure is very hot in the summer!”

Oh my God! What is wrong with me?

“I guess that’s how the season was differentiated from winter.” Emily smiled then glanced at her novel as if she was itching to read it again.

“I read O. Henry too. He is a brilliant writer.”

She perked up at that. “He’s amazing isn’t he? A shame he’s not around to write more stories.”

Happy to see a renaissance in the conversation Jack exuberantly exclaimed, “A real shame!”

And that was it. That was all he could say to his crush. The conversation didn’t go nearly as well as he’d hoped it would but there was no redeeming the situation because Emily had already started packing her bags.

“Well it was a real nice chat dude. I gotta go now. Stay awesome!”

Jack’s heart thumped like a rock band’s drums in the middle of a solo. Emily thought he was awesome!

You know she just said that because she’s nice right? Otherwise from that incredibly awful exchange even I would disown you.

You talk too much…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Perfection

Perfection. That’s the concept that’s prevented me from doing what I want even more than procrastination. Let me explain.

There are some things I’ve always wanted to do that I wouldn’t do because I wanted them to be perfect immediately. When you think about it, that’s beyond idiotic. Imagine never picking up a guitar because you can’t stand not being able to play a song – you want to be instantly perfect.

I’ve now discovered that the best things – the actions that fulfil more than most take time and effort, trial and error. Because of this simple revelation I’ve started doing things I’ve wanted to do for ages. One of those ‘targets’ will be ready in a couple of days.

Those in the know, know. As for the rest… you best be ready.

Education

Education is a key component in life – education is all important.

My parents managed to hammer this point home from before I could run. “Ayanda Joe Munikwa,” they would say, “you are a wise and intelligent young boy and if you apply your mind you will make it in life.” They haven’t ever stopped repeating those words… I haven’t stopped believing them.

Why do I consider education to be all important? Other than having been brought up with this ideology being drilled into me at school and at home nearly every waking hour – why would it matter? My hero, Nelson Mandela, considered education to be of prime importance and it is easy to see why. All of the things we do and hope to achieve require some form of education and life-threatening situations may have education called upon as well. For example: During the December (2014) holidays I had an encounter that I believe I will never forget. A young boy had been swimming in a hotel pool and his parents allowed themselves to become distracted by other things, after all, the young boy had floaters attached to him and the pool was nearly full of children. A few minutes later shouts erupted from the pool area and they found that the boy had been upended in the water and had silently drowned amidst all of those people. That was not where education came in. No one at the scene knew CPR. No one. The lifeguard, as his post was usually boring and he was only very rarely called upon, was drunk in some obscure corner of the hotel. That young boy died that night, had I known how to administer CPR at that time he would be living today, instead I left his life in the hands of a lifeguard who was not in complete command of all of his senses. I see that boy’s numb, lifeless face every time I near a pool.

-Excerpt from my Personal Statement (2015)

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My Biggest Misconception

This may sound ridiculous, I hope it doesn’t coz every pore already oozes absurdity, but I always believed that after a certain age a certain invisible switch would be magically flipped and “adulthood” would sssslide in smooth as an eel (unlike me in them DMs).

I always thought that when I became a father I wouldn’t think like I do now. After all my wise father isn’t really the same person in his mind as he was pre-marriage surely? Right?

Ahem, turns out – THAT IS NOT THE CASE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! What made the realisation dawn on me was what I thought to be an innocuous conversation had after talking about my 90 year old grandfather and the Liberation War:

Joe: If there was a war between Zimbabwe and… Zambia for example, would you pack up your bags and take Kim and Mom to safety in a neighbouring country, or would you stay and fight?

Dad: I’d join the army… the Zambian army 😀

Classic dad joke. This plus numerous other exchanges raced through my mind and BOOM. Nuclear bomb went off in my mind. The first mental lightbulb in ages it seems.

Now that I know it was a massive misconception, looking at my father I’m supremely impressed… and looking at myself, I’m very worried 😀

Thank you for your time:)

 

People Help the People

Birdy’s song is not as iconic as many songs past, but the chorus sticks like young Joe did to a video game controller.

‘People Help the People…’

I think human pride can be a good thing in that it can be a motivator to achieve goals beyond the norm. Unfortunately it often goes hand-in-hand with the idea that, “I can go it alone”. As social creatures we were never designed to live that way and if we did (in the not so distant past) it would normally mean death.

I’ve been doing some reflection. I’ve met a myriad of people in these last couple of years. Some have formed strong bonds with me and others came into my life just to leave it. I’m sure the same can be said of myself at times, I’ve mastered the art of going MIA, I’m working on it. However, I strongly believe that in each and every one of these individuals was something I could have – should have picked up to better myself. (Even removing that selfish aspect, it allows you to look at people with respect and reduces contempt.) Upon reflection it’s so easy to see what I may have missed in the moment.

In a short space of time I’ve met characters with such trememdous self belief and honesty, organisation and vision, creativity and drive, humility and confidence, intelligence and wisdom that if I were to start naming names you’d call it flattery… But it would all be true. Certainly the opportunity was there to glean into their character and see what produced such awesome traits, then develop them for myself. In hindsight, simply asking some of them would have sufficed.

Luckily for me, memory and attention to detail (regarding people stalking :D) allows me to reflect and learn regardless, but the next time I’m in a room with someone I’ll do my best to learn something from them to better myself.

I challenge you to do the same. You never know how much that one thing you pick up may impact your life positively. Let the chorus ring out. Let ‘People Help the People’.

Thank you for your time:)

Talent Working Hard

D! That was my average in Art. I eventually got better to the point my teacher mistook one of my drawings, of a robot – for a lion. I was so terrible I had to label my art, else-wise it wouldn’t be understood. I drew cars in high school the same way I’d drawn them when I was 6… the upgrades arrived 12 years too late 😀 To say I was bad at drawing or painting is an understatement. I had no talent whatsoever.

If you didn’t know me then you’re about to find out; I was an incredibly sore loser! Joe wasn’t comfortable with his fluctuating D grade (normally trending closer to E than C). It was embarrassing to the point I disowned myself (as seen by the temporary switch to 3rd person). Sure I’d often act like I didn’t give a tosh in front of the boys but deep down it really hurt. That awful grade would have an adverse effect on my class position come end of term and even if it didn’t – it just doesn’t feel nice to fail. It never does.

So, I worked! One day we were given an assignment to do over the weekend. That day I told myself, “This time I won’t fail!”

The assignment was to draw a hanging cloth using pencil. I was incredibly stoked about it having made my decision to (finally) succeed in the Art department. Art had given me way too many Ls. I got myself one of the kitchen cloths and hung it from a nail in the wall (fitting for it was designed to hang art upon). I duly informed everyone in the household of the importance of this piece of work and that the cloth should not be moved under any circumstances. I guess there was a steeliness to me at the time for no one questioned me or even so much as sneezed in the direction of that cloth.

Two whole days! Half of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday I spent honing my image of the cloth. Carefully caressing the edges and smoothly shading in the shadows. At the end of it I don’t think I’d never been prouder of anything in my life up to that point. My young sister was impressed by something I’d produced for the first (and perhaps last) time. Coincidentally (or is it?) she’s now the artist of the family and a bloody fantastic one at that I must add.

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(This isn’t it by the way. It’s the first thing I was drawn to when I searched ‘hanging cloth pencil’)

Monday arrived and it was nearly time to hand in our bodies of work. A friend, Felix was his name (I guess still is unless he’s changed it), was mid-conversation during break time, some 20 minutes before the Art lesson, when someone mentioned the homework that was due. “Oh no,” he said. He hadn’t done it. I was feeling real smug as he went about scrambling for a sheet of white paper to use, eager to show off my masterpiece.

Long story short – I got 89%. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a masterpiece. I’d worked my socks off, paying immense attention to detail. I can’t recall a time prior where I’d put as much effort into anything that wasn’t leisure than I had during that period. The people that knew me were shocked. Phrases like: “You didn’t draw this, did you?” and “Wow. Must have been a fluke.” were bandied about. I had the highest mark in the class IN ART! Me! Unbelievable right? That was the case, especially because that was factually incorrect. I had the highest mark of everyone whose assignment I’d compared my work to. To my astonishment Felix had received the highest mark. 90%… The man had natural talent I instantly concluded. “Impossible!” I exclaimed internally, heart being sliced apart with a metaphorical weed hacker and whatever was left behind put through a figurative shredder. Maybe I do him a disservice and there were an untold number of hours behind the scenes that led to him having such obvious skill, but he had bested all of us – me especially I felt – in 15 min without a point of reference. The man’s cloth hung on a nail inside his head. It’s not like Art is a subject about competing but I was a sore loser remember. I therefore became incensed. I was so angry I wasn’t even mad.

This event got me thinking for a long time. What if he had actually tried, like I had? Wouldn’t he have gotten an even higher mark? I was speechless. The saying goes “Hard Work Beats Talent, When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard”. That didn’t turn out to be the case in this story. But what if talent DOES work hard? What happens then?

I guess this is just a reminder of a previous post , only this time in story form. Find your talent then work hard at it. I don’t know what he does now but if he’s anything like the talented individuals that worked their socks off in the past – we’ll soon find out because he’ll be well-known all around the world.

Thank you for your time:)

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(I guess this is a good representation of what I saw Felix’s assignment as through my filter of envy 😀 gg Felix!)

Thanks For Teaching Me How To Love

“How?” he asks beyond incredulous at this point. “You’ve seen the statistics, you watch the news, you talk to you people, your friends, clients, classmates… So tell me, how? How can you be so naïve? Why do you still believe? It just doesn’t work.”

My answer?

“Ah… but it does. I’ve seen it.”

I’m sure you know the saying: monkey see monkey do. I’ll be the last to call myself a monkey but kids do learn a lot from seeing their parents/guardians in action. I will have you know, this guy’s been doing a lot of seeing, this guy’s been doing a lot watching – when your guard was up or when it was down. I was listening when the words were smooth. I was listening even when annoyance had long barged in. I was learning – I still am – how one ought to love and how one ought to accept being loved.

As your son I’d like to utter words that might seem odd to you now but ring true nonetheless. You’ve done a stellar job! Thank you… and I’m so proud of you. I need look no further for a greater example of how I want my marriage to be. Yes the journey is still ongoing but you’ve done real good so far, hontou ni (there’s that Japanese becoming useful). Obviously this is from my selfish point of view but I hope you keep it up… so your grandkids can learn this lesson from me, their mom… and from you too.

It’s because of you that I can say these words with ease and with meaning. I love you 🙂

So… to my heroes, to my parents, to my inspiration –

Happy anniversary