A Great Start – Meaningful Relationships

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The Sushi King

Happy New Year and wishing you a splendid 2015! Over the holiday break, I was fortunate to travel to Japan and how interesting it was to really observe and learn about such a different culture and people.

In Japan, there is a word, omote, which refers to the public, formal, and conventional aspects of behavior. This can refer to ingrained patterns of behavior, such as how close to one another people stand, or who shakes whose hand first at a meeting. It also can allude to behavior in business affairs and events in a business setting. Ura, which is more valued, refers to the private, informal, and unconventional aspects of culture. Japanese people see this mode of behavior as more valuable and meaningful, however, one only acts this way with close friends or family members. I found this terribly interesting, as the way in which you conduct yourself is extremely important and specifically who with.

The Japanese value outside appearances very much. This is not to say that they do not value what is private and hidden, but much importance is placed on one’s presentation and appearance. To demonstrate this point, the Japanese businessman is compared to a Samurai warrior or kamikaze pilot in “The Idea of Japan,” “The Japanese know that you never come to a negotiation showing your true nature. To deal effectively with you, they must find this out…It’s a game of masks at which the Japanese are adept.”

Thus in saying so, what I found most interesting is this sense of non-public display of behaviour, how you interact with general public and how you act with close family and friends, was the “meaning” behind it. The importance of presentation and what it says about you and masking of one’s true nature to have it strategically unfold as one gets to better understand you, for me is all about meaningful connections and the value thereof, how these connections are earned, what image you portray and how one conducts oneself.

I think that a lot could be learnt from the Japanese culture on how we conduct ourselves and the relationships we build. In this year of 2015, I would like to focus on building meaningful relationships and believe that everything in life starts and ends with these relationships.

Imagine trying to build wealth without others. Imagine trying to be happy without others. Imagine trying to learn without others.

Our very existence starting from the womb has relied on our relationships to others.

But there are no rule books for relationship building. We grow up learning to read and write hoping our connection skills learned on the playground are good enough to get by.

If your wealth, education, love, and even happiness is contingent on others, imagine what would happen if you upgraded the way we’ve built and engaged your relationships? Your life would change right in front of your eyes.

I believe there are 7 principles for building meaningful relationships.

I’ve noticed these principles show up no matter what. I believe they are universal rules. They apply no matter what culture you’re in, where in the world you may be, or what time in history it is. They’re fundamental for life, love, and business.

  1. Our external relationships are a reflection of our internal relationships
  2. Focus your mindset on giving unconditionally
  3. Serve others how they want to be served
  4. A relationship must be give and receive (sometimes you can say no)
  5. Get on peoples maps…empathise
  6. Always make others feel safe
  7. Honour every behaviour because it has an intended positive outcome, no exceptions

Let’s strive to build better relationships in 2015, be it business, family or friends!!!

Behind the Camera Lens

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Flight

I majored in photography and fell in love with it in my first year of university where I worked with pinhole photography. I enjoyed the idea of being able to capture a still moment in time and how light defines the image that is framed. “Photography is a complex medium. It holds a mechanical process of capturing data in different forms which are linked to notions of truths and reality, as well as that of fiction and can form rendered truths and realities into that which is not always true.”

I focus on photography as my passion and look at the world through a lens with my devotion for travel and how being well travelled and exposed to the world, various cultures, races, religions and dynamic people, changes your way of thinking and allows one to be open minded and more tolerant of diversity and difference.

I  also believe that brand marketing lends itself well to photography as they are both focused on conveying and communicating a message and I find myself in communications working within the corporate marketing and communcations industry. I am a thinker, creator and explorer and love what I do as I am able to be free and creative, while having fun and I am also able to help others as I have created a platform for young photographers to be able to market their work and build their brand.

I believe that it is important to see beyond the camera as a mechanism of truth, when capturing a scene of “reality” and  that every photograph has a meaning, a hidden message and a story to tell. A photograph is a portrayal, its a representation, its an interpretation and is a perception of the scene it aims to capture from the artists eye.

Carpe Diem!!

Image Titled: Flight, 2012

When life gives you lemons make Lemon Bruges Crème Brule

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I am constantly striving to see the positive in every aspect of my life. But it’s not always easy.

I am faced with the stress of a busy job and pushing to grow my career, having huge family responsibilities being the eldest and my wallet continues to thin out as I march forward on my entrepreneurial ventures. And, as I get older, I find myself moving in different directions from some of the people I’ve spent a great deal of time with.

My life and all of our lives are filled with challenges that make it very difficult to be positive sometimes. It’s about focusing on the one thing that goes right and not the zillion others that go wrong.

Holding in all the bad stuff makes one feel worse. Instead of feeling free and optimistic, one feels trapped. Being positive is not about projecting a perfect life. Rather, it’s about choosing to see the good in life, trusting in the power of encouragement, and having belief that things will get better.

However, I know that choosing to be positive has helped me the most in terms of becoming the person I want to be. Even when things are difficult, I know that being positive, and striving to make the best of whatever situation I’m in, really does make even the most challenging situations easier to deal with.

More often than not, I find myself veering toward a positive attitude. I firmly believe that this is because I’ve managed to train myself to be positive. When you feel like you’re about to break-down, take a deep breath, count to 10, have a drink of water and smile. Even if the smile is forced, it is still a smile, and it will make you feel better. Focus on the good things.

Being positively present full time makes it easier for me to see the good in life. So, strive to be positively present full time and when life hands you lemons…… make Lemon Bruges Crème Brule!!

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill

 

Success & Happiness

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Research shows, success and happiness in life are 90% your own effort, drive and work and only 10% circumstance. Your life is testament to your own efforts – Life and happiness is what we make of it.

A recent career move and home change got me reflecting on my journey to where I am today, and I’m happy to say that, every change in one’s life comes with lessons. When you have direction, a positive attitude in life and know who you are, you see life in a different way. With all my life’s changes, I’m much more at peace with myself, content with my life, confident of what I want and sure of how to get there.

Knowing who you are is important and knowing what’s important in your life is even more important. Doing the tough inner work of knowing yourself intimately and committing every day to shaping your habits, thinking and behaviours in a more positive, life-affirming and connective way, is what makes life more satisfying and your career filled with more meaning, purpose, joy and happiness.

My change in home and move to live closer to work has allowed me more quality time with my husband, more me time, less stress (in not having to sit in 1.5 hours traffic to work in the morning and 1.5 hours traffic home at night) and more time to do what’s important to me and knowing what makes me happy. Not only has the change in home decreased my stress levels, it has also increased my eagerness to get to work and do what I enjoy most. My career move has further energized my passion and I’m extremely proud to be a contributing member to a pioneering, dynamic, energetic, results and performance driven team!

So I urge you to make the effort in your life, of which you have 90% control of, to create the happiness you deserve and the life you want. Make happiness happen!

8 Inner Keys To Greater Success and Happiness 

  1. Your expectations – Expectations are more often than not based on faulty logic and reasoning. The outer change you crave is possible only after you change how you’re operating in the world and your inner experience, including your expectations. If you expect that good should come to you, but you’re not actively participating in bringing about positive change, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
  2. Bring gratitude to mind – Write down three new things that you are grateful for each day. It allows perspective and to appreciate things more.
  3. Journal – Think about a positive experience you’ve had recently for 2 minutes once a day. Reminding yourself of positvity, and this drives more energised thoughts.
  4. Exercise – Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity. Exercise is good for the body and mind. Cardio exercise is the clear winner when it comes to stopping brain drain.
  5. Meditate – Have some time of silence for 2 minutes a day or watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes a day. This gives you time to reflect and to refocus your efforts.
  6. Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness – For example, write a 2-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media. Smile its healthy.
  7. Your decision making – Decisions are fundamental tools that help you face life’s challenges, uncertainties and opportunities. And the quality and efficacy of your decisions will determine how successful, fulfilled and productive you’ll be. Your decisions can only be good and productive when you focus on the right problem. When you are facing a decision, make sure you identify the deepest root of the problem, and address that directly.
  8. Your goal setting – The most important part of goal-setting is that your goals are natural outgrowths of who you are and what you care about. If your goals are in conflict with your authentic values and beliefs, you won’t achieve them. You’ll sabotage the path to these goals, because deep down, the attainment of them feels wrong. Look at the goals you have in place in your life – do they make you feel alive? Do they represent the highest version of you? Will you be proud of yourself for attaining them? Do they inspire you? Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related – and reflective of your highest potential.

Your commitment to action

Do these steps for 30 days, and you will begin to see a lasting shift in your mindset towards more positivity and happiness. You have to commit to putting one step in front of the other each and every day on the way to a more expansive life that reflects and honours your talents, passions, interests, values, and your non-negotiables.

A Compass or a roadmap?

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Compass-300x199“Do you prefer to lead your life more with a compass or with a roadmap?” I came across this thought in a book that I am currently reading by Reg Lascaris, “Lessons from the boot of a car” and this is a good question, do you prefer to have a clear path, where you map everything out to the last “t” or do you have more or less a direction of where you are heading and do you allow each corner to take its course and have the journey down each road take you to new places and new experiences.

I personally would prefer a compass and would think it a wiser option. A roadmap is something we would often seek for as it’s a safe option, it’s a map that will show us the exact direction and road to take. This is safer, easier and in actual fact, the less adventurous option. As they say, “it’s not about the destination but the journey traveled” to reach the destination. Life should be more fun and adventurous and it’s far too complicated to take a mapped out path. I don’t want a roadmap to my life but a compass.

A compass defines where you would like to be in future, what you would like to achieve, how many kids you would like to have, the places you wish to travel to, what legacy you wish to leave? A roadmap will show you a guided path, turn by turn, in hope that the road is clear of any obstacles, as you progress to the next corner or turn. A wrong turn can leave you in a dead-end that you didn’t choose to be in. I don’t want a roadmap dictating my every turn. A compass allows one more room for failure, experience and choice – lessons learnt as you progress further on your journey. A choice when you are in a dead-end, it’s because you chose that path and can relook another route. Guiding your life with a value based compass will get you there with a sense of adventure.

I choose to live my life compass-driven. The question is – How do you choose to live yours?

Finding your Passion – My Passion: Travel & Photography

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In 1998, in grade 10, I realised my true interest and passion for art having attended the Deutsche Schule zu Johannesburg. The DSJ offered me the opportunity to take up “art” as a subject for final independent examination and it was in this year that I realised my true skill and potential in this space. I chose to take art higher grade as a subject and Mrs Guyer my art teacher then had pointed out my creative conceptual ability in art and at the time my skill in pencil drawing. It was also in this year, that I traveled to the US, to visit my father who was living and working in Chicago, Illinois. It was with this trip, my first trip overseas (traveling on my own) that I fell in love with travel and had the travel bug bite me. The rest is history and I became a devout traveller, starting off with having travelled the US quite a bit: Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Florida and a very unique trip down the Miami Keyes, its amazing how one experience can define your future and how your passion is born.

I have maintained both these passions throughout my life, I still love travelling and I still enjoy and do fine art photography! And I have managed to combine my two passions into travel photography. The question I ask you, is what are your passions, and have you maintained them? Do you get the time to do your passions, live them and build and strengthen them? Passions are important as they define you and keep your inner life and soul going pushing you forward and that which keeps you progressing. Find your passion again and have your inner self grow!

It can be terrifying when you feel like your life has no purpose or direction, but finding your passion can change all that. Finding your passion is like finding your personal road map. When you know what your passion is, you feel motivated, inspired, and so much clearer about what your next step should be.

“Don’t worry about what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

8 Ways to Discover Your Passion and Live a Life You Love

1. Slow down.

When we slow down we are able to tap into the best version of ourselves, which is most often when we find the answers we’ve been searching for. This might mean practicing yoga, going for daily walks, or setting aside time each day to meditate. Slowing down allows you to quiet the outside voices and listen to yourself.

2. Change your story.

We all tell ourselves stories about who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we deserve. If we can identify our self-limiting stories (I’m not good enough; I don’t deserve to be happy, etc.), then we can begin writing new stories that are grounded in confidence and courage, and map out actions that move us from one to the other.

3. Own your uniqueness.

We are here for a reason. No one else has your unique blend of talents, wisdom, strengths, skills, and creativity. We all have something great to offer, and learning to accept and own what makes you unique is crucial to sharing your gifts with the world.

4. Cultivate confidence.

If we are continually telling ourselves we can’t, then we will never believe we can. There is a chance you may fail, but it will be impossible to succeed if you don’t believe in yourself. You can create affirmations, focus on the things you want, or make a vision board that shows your future success.

5. Find the themes.

Recognising the recurring themes in our lives creates a pattern for us to either follow or chnage. What themes or lessons seem to constantly surface in your life? What are you drawn to again and again? What areas of life seem to be full of discomfort and pain? What areas are full of joy and light?

6. Write.

Ideas flow more freely when we write without an agenda. New inspiration may appear unexpectedly and it becomes easier to connect the dots. Spend a few minutes of quality time each day with a pen and paper allowing yourself to process your thoughts without influence from the outside world.

7. Focus on the fun.

Too often we get wrapped up in the expectations we set for ourselves. We focus on the details and the to-do lists instead of what is most important. What do you love to do? What makes you smile? If money were limitless, what would you be doing today?

8. Push past fear.

It’s so seductive to tell ourselves that’s we’ll go after what we want when we have more experience, more money, or more time, but the truth is, that will never happen. We must identify these excuses as masks for our fear. It’s only when we get clear on our fears and recognize how it is holding us back, we can begin moving forward.

Will it be Now or Later?

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Carpe now and laterAs a devout traveler and a lover of exploring and enjoying new experiences, I have recently managed to fulfill my travel bucket list of traveling to 50 international cities before the age of 30 and what a great feeling it was to achieve that. I have worked hard at it, I have sacrificed, saved financially and all to realise my dreams and desires. I have come to find on my many travels, experiences and meeting many different and dynamic people from all cultures, religions and race across the globe, that traveling has a huge effect on how you see life and in essence, how it comes to define your identity. I have come to see that “Happy, successful, fulfilled individuals have learned how to live their best life now.” Life is too short and nothing is worse than regrets. I can openly say that I have no regrets in life, life is meant to be lived and I am a firm believer in that everything in life happens for a reason, so make the most of it. Opportunities don’t just happen you create them! Begin living your best life now.