Friday, 20 June 2014


When you find yourself in the mire of negative thinking and dwelling on the past in a negative way, you lose your drive, passion and momentum. These thoughts and feelings do not help and if you can put them aside, do so. There is a time and season for all things, even depression and mourning. But let the season pass as it will and when it does, put on your running shoes and hit the road hard. Get the momentum and get going back to the top. Do not risk getting stuck in the mire for years on end.

I noticed when watching TV that a lot of the characters demonstrate levels of emotion that are over the top, either enraged, jealous, or patronising to the viewer who is left with a paper thin plot filled in with characters like some toddler's crayon scribbling over a bad colouring book. Alas, these overly emotional characters and emotionally charged scenes are portrayed as normal, or at least become considered as normal by the folks who sit watching TV day in and day out, absorbing these emotional cues as if the scenes portrayed were real. If we fall for these scenes and poor interpretations of the world, we risk losing ourselves to an emotional tidal wave of pure stupidity. 

That's not to say that quality entertainment and movies are to be avoided, or that the deep emotions being portrayed in a classic opera are all so much drivel, but that there is a time and place to indulge oneself in allowing emotions to wash over you; and then there is a time and place to focus on your life, your goals, your family and take action. If these emotions drive you to focus and success, all well and good, but when you are focusing on them, you are incapable of focussing on your work and strategies. Reminiscing about a lost love for years will mean years of your life lost for no reason! Walk away and forget it if you can; if you can't, mourn, but not for too long. A day in mourning could be a day closer to having all your dreams, goals and wishes come true. Rather focus on tomorrow when yesterday sucked! 

There are of course positive emotions like love, trust and happiness, but lets be honest, we do stupid things for love too! In general, we need to be able to separate emotions from decisions as far as possible without destroying our feelings (and when I say we, I include myself, but not in the royal sense!). We (heh) need to learn to ride the emotions and bridle them, not crush them: set them aside when they are not helpful and dominate our lives. I will write more about how to do this (based on my experience of course) soon(ish)!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

I am not my history

When I was 22 my life experience consisted of school, going to the South African army (conscript at the time) and serving 2 years as a Mormon missionary. I was young, inexperienced and had only potential. Loads of it. Nevertheless, I had one very negative experience which has somewhat shaped my destiny in a "I'll show you you t**ser!" way.

I spoke to a prominent member of the church about getting a job in sales. He bluntly told me "You do not have a history of success". It was a "what the heck?" moment for me. What kind of history do you expect from a boy who has done nothing but serve God and his country? What kind of success would you be looking for that would relate to sales? I had no history of failure either.

I went on to do sales for just three years before finding my passion: computers. I love programming, hardware, computer architecture and language theory. I love the way we can (though often don't) use computers to improve our lives and enhance our performance. Computers are to the brain what acars are to our legs. At least they can be, but more about that in another post. By the age of 35 I had built a career in software development and was the technical director at Realyst. I don't say this to brag, but I say this to enforce the idea that anyone can come from nowhere and with enough work and focus on the goal, achieve amazing results.

The idea that you must have been successful in the past in order to be successful in the future is an utter lie! Anyone who tells you that you will fail because you have not yet succeeded is a liar and a fool! Do not listen to them: do your own thing and make it happen. Obviously you need to plan, set goals and take cognisance of facts, but do not let fear be your driver. Fear is there to warn us of possible problems and obstacles, not to paralyse us and prevent us from taking any action! When you have fear, identify the reason for your fear then start planning on ways to mitigate the risks that may or may not come to pass. Don't just stop because you are scared or some bigot told you that you're not good enough or not capable or "don't have a history of success"!

Today I work on the CVA desk of a large investment bank. Again, I do not tell you this to blow my own horn: I tell you this because this work that I do today is far removed from the town and circumstances I grew up in. I have come from a poor background in a third world country to working on the risk desk of one of the worlds top investment banks in the financial capital of the world. If I can do this, so can anybody else. I do not believe that there is much one person can do that another person can't. I would say that 99% of human performance and achievement can be achieved by 99% of the population. Unless you are physically or mentally handicapped, you can achieve pretty much anything.

The key to this is knowing how to achieve your goal. There are a couple of paths to take when attempting to achieve something great:

  1. Model your behaviour on that of someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve (if you want to see what Abraham saw, do what Abraham did, likewise, if you want to have what Richard Branson has, do what Richard Branson did)!
  2. When you are walking your own path (which is very seldom required) write down your plan and the steps you need to take, work the plan by taking the steps and notice whether you get the results you sought by taking the steps. If not, modify the plan.

Your history does not define your future. We are not animals or robots programmed to repeat the same mistakes every day: we are humans with a connection to the divine and freedom to choose our reaction between the time an event takes place and the time we react. We are free to plan our destiny and work to change our stars.

This is my mantra: "I am not my father, my grandfather, or who I was yesterday. Yesterdays' mistakes do not define me. No stochastic calculus can define my future: I am an outlier. I am ever-changing with infinite potential: he who judges my future achievements by my past makes a grave mistake as I am a learning, growing being with a spiritual connection to the infinite."

Now go out there and make it happen!