Embrace the pace – sometimes you have to slow down

embrace the pace maradiva resort and spa mauritius

Embrace the pace: Maradiva resort – Mauritius


Most people I speak to say that the  average person’s pace is frenetic. Everyone is consumed with time, how to control it, how to have enough of it and how to make the most of it.

We multi-task as though it were going out of fashion, barely taking the time to take the kids to play at the park without our smartphones firmly attached to our wrist.

We document our kids’ every action at the park on Instagram but forget to actually be present to enjoy the moment. Yes your honour, I am guilty of just that.

Time has become a precious and scarce commodity, one we try to harness. We usually tend to equate time with productivity and money, especially if you sell time for a living.

I find it sad that we forget to set aside time for ourselves to just be and importantly, to spend with those that we love.

But the truth is that we need time to make money. We need time to create. We need time to build. We need time to love, play, dream and plan.

It is therefore inevitable that we are so preoccupied wasting our time worrying about not having enough time that we don’t know where to start.

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” —Dr. Seuss

Social networking without purpose?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big proponent of social media. I see its value, but more and more I do believe that it should be used with purpose.

A while ago I went on a digital diet. Unfollowing, unsubscribing, unliking and deleting some old posts.

Some argued that I may have messed up my “Klout-score” in the process. But it was not and still is not about the numbers of followers or likes or comments. Honestly, who really cares?

I simply realigned my interests to forge deeper and more meaningful relationships for the particular season I  found myself in. Seriously, it was not you, it was me.

I found that in doing so my usage patterns changed. I’m less attached to Twitter, unless I’m looking for news. Sharing linkbait on Facebook has decreased drastically – and I would suggest you block those sites too – it opens up your timeline tremendously. And I’m much more selective of who I connect with on LinkedIn.

Foursquare used to be fun and a way to document my travels, but it has become a pain to use. The move of splitting the app between Foursquare proper and Swarm is somewhat cumbersome and confusing. The jury is out but I wonder if Foursquare will follow in the same footsteps of Gowalla (but then Facebook had something to do with that).

Yes, I do still post pictures of what I had for dinner, but usually it accompanies a link to the recipe on our food blog, so you can make it too.

While our interconnected world has so  many benefits it also distorts that importance to being on call 24/7/365.

This is where we can lose sight of what we need to be most engaged with— ourselves, our work and the people in our lives who are important to us.

What I noticed the most after the digital diet was how much more time I had available, how much more opportunity I had to actually think, be creative and work on what I wanted.

I would suggest revisiting the diet every so often. We’re only human and tend to fall back in the same spiral if we don’t discipline ourselves to stay on point.

Looking at my feeds, it is time to get selective again. 

Thank the Greeks

The Greeks have two words for time: chronos and kairos.

Chronos is the time our society is obsessed with— the quantity of time, what is happening next, how soon and how we control it.

Kairos, on the other hand, is defined as the right moment and how best we use it to accomplish something, it is indicative of the quality of that time.

Ever notice what happens when you start an exciting project or hobby? Somehow, no matter how “busy” your schedule, you miraculously find the energy and time to spend on that project or to engage in that activity. We make time for what we want to.

Make it fun

My two kids are particularly vocal in their display of resistance when it comes to being asked to do something they don’t like or not that interested in.

Like picking up the toys strewn around the house or getting into a bath when they’re hell bent on eeking out a few more minutes of play time.

Trying to be stern and strict does not always work – it’s backfired too many times for it to be a sound strategy. It often creates even more unhappiness and can quickly spiral out of control.

My wife mentioned to me that I have an uncanny ability to approach these situations in a fun way. Often clown-like and nonsensical, making up songs on the spot or setting fun challenges that seem more like play – the kids tend to forget their pouting and jump right in, getting the task done with an infectious laughter and a bathroom floor soaked with water.

Ted Cunningham says in his book, Fun Loving You!:

We need to laugh in the midst of the grind. The grind may be one reason why the average child laughs some four hundred times per day compared to the average adult laughing only fifteen times a day. If we let it, the grind can rob us of our sense of humor.

While my colleagues may think I’m somewhat crazy, translating that fun element into the workplace has often diffused many a potential heated moment. There’s always a funny YouTube clip on hand, ready to get us smiling again.

As Milton Berle said, laughter is an instant vacation.

Take time out

One of the most important things you can do is take time out. Time for yourself to regroup, refresh, renew. As I write this I’m lying beside a pool overlooking the Indian ocean in Mauritius, sharing a meal with the local wildlife.

Embrace the pace: Share a meal

Embrace the pace: Share a meal

I had just short of 12 hours of uninterrupted motionless sleep (according to my Samsung Gear – about that later) and a hearty but healthy breakfast. The reviving heat of the sun, the white noise created by the crashing waves in the background and the leaves of the palm trees swaying in the wind is pure bliss. I feel like a new person.

Tomorrow I will be on point, ready for the week and supporting our firm to  unlock their potential for growth and mine as well.

So, embrace the pace. Especially if it means slowing down to switch off all  distractions and be present to enjoy the people and things around you.

Now if only I could have my family with me to experience and share all this, this picture would be complete.

“Time is on my side” — The Rolling Stones

Johannesburg vs Cape Town debate

The Johannesburg vs Cape Town debate has been raging since the early “Voortrekkers” left the Cape to settle in the city of gold.

The current debacle debate in South Africa between Jo-burgers and Capetonians just stepped up a notch.

The view from Johannesburg

It all started with this post from Jade Mitchell: Go F**k yourself Cape Town

Johannesburg vs Cape Town debate

The view from Cape Town

The follow-up from Cape Town by Jeremy Coutts: A Capetonian’s response to being told to go fuck himself.

Johannesburg vs Cape Town debate

The view from a small town

The classic tongue in cheek retort from a small town from StephanieBe: Go fuck yourself Cape Town & Johannesburg.

image

I’ve also seen a number of facebook and twitter status messages with more  examples of hostility, humour, level headedness and just plain crazy reasons why their city should be considered the best.

While there will never be an end to the debate on a city by city level, I think we all need to agree that South Africa is the best place to live.

Rwanda from the sky

Rwanda – worth a visit

I’m sure that if you asked around, not many people will list Rwanda as one of their top tourist destinations to visit in Africa. This is partly due to ignorance (It’s a town somewhere in South Africa right? Err, no!), mainly because of the very bad things that happened in 1994 and probably because they just never considered the country for no reason what so ever.

In my field of work, I get to travel quite a bit in and around Africa. Only once you start travelling across the continent and immerse yourself in the local cultures do you begin to fully understand and appreciate the diversity, beauty and opportunity present in each country. More often than not, this is a far cry from the information we are exposed to in the news. Fun and interesting stuff does not always make the front page.

Some people will probably be shocked to hear that Rwanda is ranked the second highest economy in Africa, after Mauritius and before South Africa in the World Bank’s Ease of doing Business rankings. More notably some of the key indicators they scored top marks in Africa: Starting a business (it takes 2 days), registering a property (12 days) and getting credit. Rwanda placed second in obtaining electricity (South Africa ranked 27th) and enforcing contracts and third overall for paying taxes and protection of investors.

The Rwanda government is spending a great deal in promoting the country as an attractive tourist and conferencing destination. To this end they contracted Mammoth media in 2012 to produce their tourist brand videos. After delivering the finished video, Mammoth decided to create another edit to include all the bonus footage and outtakes.

This video certainly left me wanting to get to Rwanda as soon as possible.

Oh and if you do get to visit Rwanda, remember that plastic bags are banned. Tourists are warned not to bring them to the country. Who knew?

Red Rooibos cappuccino

Escape from reality

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” – Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander was an influential American author of more than forty books, mostly fantasy novels for children and adolescents. His most famous contribution to the field of children’s literature is the fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain. The concluding book of the series, The High King, was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1969.

He said that fantasy was merely one of many ways to express attitudes and feelings about real people, real human relationships and problems.

So how does one mentally escape from reality? There are many ways to escape from the daily grind, even if it is just for a few minutes.

Some days you may need to stop your routine and get away from people and activities in your daily life – do something else that you wouldn’t normally do.

For one you could disconnect from your phone, tablet, computer, television or any other electronic devices. Perhaps go on an information diet.

Get lost in a good book or better yet, take out a journal and write down your thoughts, observations, feelings, and ideas.

Go for a long walk in a park or cycle somewhere off the beaten track. Stop to appreciate the small things and renew your sense of beauty and happiness.

Watch a new movie at the cinema or rent a good one. Listen to some music.

Visit a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.

Perhaps just pop out the office and instead of having your normal cup of coffee, have a red cappuccino.

Happiness mind map - EEPaul

When I grow up I want to be happy

These are the words of 13-year Logan LaPlante when questioned what he wanted to be when he grows up. He wants to be happy and healthy.

Since we’re on the #100happydays theme at the moment, this TEDx talk from 2013 is quite apt.

In it, Logan discusses how hacking his education is helping him achieve this goal. He also outlines some of the elements of lifestyle and mental health (as penned by Dr Roger Walsh) which are the building blocks of happiness.

These are: Exercise, relationships, diet and nutrition, recreation, time in nature, relaxation and stress management, contribution and service, religious and spiritual.

Photo credit: Happiness mind-map by EEPaul