My 7 year old girl was recently hospitalised. She has such an unshakeable spirit. While in the ambulance I asked her how she was and she replied “This is so cool Dad…this is like a fireman’s car” A few hours in the hospital she asked that I bring her colouring kit. Instead of wallowing on her hospital bed she has decided to put her gift to great use. She has made several awesome paintings from her hospital bed amongst her best to date! The picture in this blog is one of the several she has done. I am inspired and challenged.
A few lessons to ponder about:
1. Masterpieces are born in moments of adversity
2. When life throws stones at you build a foundation. When life gives you clouds make some rain. When life gives you broken eggs make an omelette
3. You can’t decide what happens to you but you can decide how you respond
Have a great weekend. Remember your situation is not your destination. Where you are is not who you are.
I also share some of these key life lessons in my book How To Rise Like An Eagle which is available on Amazon.
What do you do the morning after your dream is dead? Do you weep? Do you pity party? Imagine the headlines declaring your dream is dead. Everyone is thinking its game over for you. There was a group of determined women – the morning after Jesus’ death – they decided to go and preserve their dream. They had myrrh, perfumes, frankinscence and all the required preservatives.
At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women CAME to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had PREPARED. They FOUND the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb – Luke 24:1-2 (MSG)
1. Faith works like a motion sensor door – it opens when you move 2. When you walk towards your goal, your goal walks towards you 3. When you step out in faith, God steps up His faithfulness 4. Faith prepares! The women had prepared their preservatives and perfumes 5. Faith does not wait for perfect conditions – it perfects the conditions. The women went at ‘crack of dawn’
Keep the dream alive. Step out. Walk towards your goal. Faith is a door opener.
I just read a news item of a small matter that has become such a big matter in South Africa. Its not completely unexpected – this is Nelson Mandela’s statue we are talking about. Here is the story – the sculptors who did the 9 metre Mandela statue wanted to put their trademark rabbit on the statue. They decided the best place to do it would be in Nelson Mandela’s ear – how dare you!
The little rabbit is barely noticeable to the naked eye – but some prying long lens camera or binoculars picked it up. Then all hell broke loose. This small rabbit cannot stain the big person of Mandela. The little rabbit must go! The little rabbit probably costs less than USD1 compared to the almost USD1 million dollars cost of the statue.
Just a few thoughts ran through my mind and as usual I thought of some lessons:
The small things in life have the potential to damage big things
Little harmless actions can have serious unintended consequences – imagine a little trademark rabbit has become a sign of big disrespect!
Always check the small stuff – ‘the rabbit is in the detail’
I always marvel at how people react when they face challenges. Many choose to be bitter instead of being better. Others choose to give up when they should press on. Paths without challenges don’t lead to anywhere important – Joseph became prime minister after passing through the prison and the pit. I have heard many people say they want to be Nelson Mandela – that is great. But I have not heard anyone saying they would also like to spend 27 years in jail.
An egg breaks up so that the chick can break through. An eagle flutters and stirs it’s nest so that the eaglets can learn to fly. A seed dies in the ground so that a new plant can be born and bear much fruit. A few thoughts to reflect on:
1. A set up can lead to a step up if you choose to step out
2. Change your perspective and see the opportunity in the challenge
3. The process is not always as sweet as the outcome. If you don’t understand the process or method focus on the outcome.
4. Success is sometimes understood in hindsight – keep walking!
5. To go to the next level, you need to pass a test – sometimes you write it in your sweat, tears or through great pain
This week 3 events threatened to become the main show at Mandela’s funeral – the President Obama selfie, the fake “Interpreter” and the President Zuma booing. It was lost on the media that while Obama was caught getting himself a picture, his moving speech was by far an outstanding portrait of Mandela. While an interpreter failed to make meaningful signs as the speeches were being read, this should have never become big news – Mandela is the real and eloquent deal…his life needs no interpreter. I still can’t get over the fact that South Africans chose the occasion of Mandela’s funeral to boo their President. When we publicly humiliate our leaders we ruin their confidence and diminish their capacity to lead. This is not my point but I had to say it! Booing President Zuma was out of place on a day when there should have been cheers for Mandela.
Lessons to ponder about:
1. Never let a side show become the main show
2. People always criticize because it makes them feel better and bigger
3. The one with the ball is the one who is marked. Keep playing!
4. Criticism is meant to diminish so learn to replenish your confidence
“Trevor when you packed my things where did you put my weights?” These were the words which Nelson Mandela asked Trevor Manuel (ex South African Finance Minister), a day after he had been released from jail after 27 years. ‘Your weights?’ Trevor asked. ‘Yes, my weights. I gym every morning, I need my weights!’ Mandela responded matter-of-factly. This was in a telephone call at 500am in the morning! It sounds rather surprising for someone who had spend 27 years in jail to worry about weights just a day after tasting freedom. However this was the hallmark of Nelson Mandela – consistency. He has led a life of consistency whether in speech or in action. So consistent was this democracy icon that 26 years after his Rivonia Trial (in 1964) speech he used exactly the same words to end his Freedom speech (in 1990) as follows:
‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die ‘ – Nelson Mandela in 1964 and 1990
Without doubt, the force of consistency has helped Mandela realize his ideals during his lifetime. This is a lesson to every one of us that if we cultivate consistency we will enjoy the fruits of our ideals, dreams and aspirations. Reflect on this:
1. Consistency is the ability to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with no variation.
2. Consistency produces specific desired patterns of behaviour, intended habits and the attitudes that lead to achievement of your dreams.
3. Consistency is the force that will bring energy to stuttering goals and receding dreams.
“ As an eagle that stirreth up her nest, That fluttereth over her young, He spread abroad his wings, he took them, He bare them on his pinions” Deuteronomy 32:11
Moses the lawgiver wrote this verse in the Bible. I imagine he observed eagles when he went up Mount Sinai to get the law. During the time of training the eaglets to fly, the mother eagle throws them out of the nest. Due to fear they jump into the nest again. Next, she throws them out and then takes off the soft layers of the nest, leaving the thorns bare. Ouch! When the scared eaglets again jump into the nest, thorns prick them. Shrieking and bleeding they jump out again this time wondering why the mother and father who love them so much are torturing them. Next, mother eagle pushes them off the cliff into the air. As they shriek in fear, father eagle flies out and catches them up on his back before they fall and brings them back to the cliff. This goes on for some time until they start flapping their wings. They get excited at this newfound knowledge that they can fly. Wow! Life is pretty much like that – you experience the discomfort, the frustration, the pricks and the situations, which push us off the cliff.
Lets unpack a few lessons:
Don’t stay in the nest (comfort zone) forever – there are worlds to explore
You will never know the joys of flying if you stay in a nest
Challenges are an opportunity to learn not to destroy you
Beyond temporary discomfort, there is permanent comfort
A nest is great for babies, but bad for grown ups – keep growing!
Fear is a liar – beyond the pain there is gain. Leave your nest, spread your wings and fly.