The Process

The desire is big, the drive is deep and the vision board is elaborate but there can be no achievement of results without full dedication to the process.

One Saturday morning back in 1988 I remember thinking to myself how long it would take me to finish school? I then opened my dictionary and on the back cover I proceeded to write the grade that I would be in the following year and the next, right up to grade 12 in 1997. My desire was to finish school. The desire would be realized at the end of 1997 so that cast the vision. The vision board was not elaborate at all, it was just the back cover of my dictionary but the process I would need to follow was clear. Go to school everyday to make sure I get to do the next grade the following year. My simple view of the process at the age of 9 meant I didn’t realize that I would need to put in some effort in order to realize my vision and as a result I was a lazy student. Soon enough I reaped the rewards of laziness as I was forced to take extra lessons after school for two hours with Mrs Delaray who was my grade 3 teacher. Though my marks were not what they should have been (as per my mom’s assessment) I felt that I didn’t belong in extra lessons. As per my assessment my marks were not the problem, I was just lazy and I knew that if I put in the effort my marks would improve. At the end of the year I was grateful that I had taken the extra lessons because my marks improved which meant I wouldn’t be taking extra lessons in grade 4. There was a more important reason for being grateful for the extra lessons though and that was I had learnt how to structure my time in a way that would allow me to put in the required effort to get the desired result. Over the next two years after this experience I forgot this important lesson until I overheard my mom talking to my aunt about possibly taking extra lessons in grade 6. At that moment I decided that I was not taking extra lessons and I chose to become a good student. In grade 6 I achieved my first A(97%) for Geography in Mrs Hamilton’s class. What impressed me the most about my geography mark is that I noticed a direct correlation between what I sacrificed on the Saturday in order to prepare for the exam which happened to be on the Monday and the result I achieved. What exactly did I sacrifice? My mom was part of umbutho womama (a woman’s connect group from the neighborhood) and that Saturday the kids were invited so that meant it was going to be the biggest & the best play date of the year! Yes, I chose to study Geography instead of enjoying all the amenities that were available for kids to have a ball in the 90s. My dedication to the process made me a diligent student.

For some of you the above example which looks at the school leaving process may not be the best example for highlighting the importance of the process in achieving a desired result. A more recent example may be of better value to you.

The 28th of July 2017 was my last day at my job as I had decided to lay down the corporate career I had idolized for the last 12 years at J.P.Morgan (JP) and begin a journey of faith into creating a vocation from what I was called to do. At the beginning of my journey of transition from being driven to succeed to being called to a life of significance I didn’t understand what had been the purpose of my time at JP. Why was it so clear to me that if I continued to stay at JP I would never fulfill my potential even though throughout my time there I always felt that I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing at that present moment – I had learnt so many things I could have only learnt at this company. I had traveled overseas because of the work I did, I had made meaningful contributions to the global offices of JP especially in Johannesburg and the rest of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region and I had met an amazing bunch of people.

In order to find the answer to what was the purpose of my time at JP, I had to first look at the lessons learnt during my time there. The lessons would reveal what I was grateful for, what I was grateful for would in turn reveal what I had received and what I had received is what I would carry with me and give in the next chapter of my journey. I titled the list of lessons as ‘12 lessons learnt in my 12 years at J.P.Morgan’ and they are provided below:

1. Never work for the recognition rather seek to make a contribution and the recognition will come as a by-product of the contribution one has made.

2. If you have no work relationship with your manager’s manager – cut your losses and move on.

3. Ensure that the leadership structure you report to facilitates the contribution you seek to make.

4. Business results move at the speed of relationship.

5. Relationship and results are mutually inclusive.

6. Consider others better than yourself: for that is the path to a genuine win-win result/conclusion of a matter.

7. Do not let your remuneration lag your contribution for more than 18 months.

8. I may be the source of the idea but its successful implementation is dependent on the contribution of all the stakeholders.

9. Seek wise counsel & act on the perspective that has been provided and your plans will succeed.

10. Always go the extra mile for you do not know the wonderful benefits that await you once the extra miles are logged.

11. Never lose sight of the MISSION: no matter how great the quality of the relationships and the joy you experience while practicing the mastery of your craft.

12. Work as if you are working for the Lord.

The purpose for my time at JP was for me to discover what was important to me and to discover my abilities. I am eternally grateful for my time and my dedication to the process of building a career at JP otherwise my time there would not have fulfilled its purpose.

5 months into my transition journey it was clear to me that I was called into a life of significance by creating a vocation as a Life Strategist where I will be helping people to rule in life. I needed a transformation of my own that would give me credibility with my potential clients. I serve my clients by helping them rule in life by building a life centered on the pillars of rest & recuperation, nutrition, exercise all anchored on faith so I decided to become a StrongFirst Certified Kettlebell Instructor (SFG). What was I required to do to earn the qualification? First, meet the StrongFirst (SF) technique standards for the 6 foundational movements using the Kettlebell (KB). Secondly, perform 100 KB Snatches in 5 mins or less. The certification is done over 3 days which equates to a total of 22 hours of KB training practice and instruction. To maintain the SFG certification, I need to re-certify every two years (this was not about getting it done and getting the t-shirt, KB practice needed to become a lifestyle and this was a huge mental shift in mindset to the one I had before I seriously considered achieving the certification). When was the next certification to be hosted? At The Yard Athletic in Johannesburg 22-24 June 2018 – I had 6 months to prepare so I would start my preparation after my Christmas holidays in January. What was the financial cost? 14 000 South African Rands and fortunately there was an early bird rate of 10k if I registered before the end of March 2018.

On the second week of January 2018 I began my preparation for the certification weekend by setting up a personal training session at The Yard with Scottie MacIntosh. We went through the technical standards for each of the foundational movements. He told me to keep practicing and if I did that, I would ace the certification. At the beginning of this journey I weighed 109kg and how much I weighed affected the weight of the KB I would need to use at the certification. If I was over 100kg I would use a 28kg KB and if I was under 100kg I would use a 24kg KB. StrongFirst mentality is to get stronger but I knew that it was easier for me to lose just over 9kg in order to use the 24kg then to increase my strength to comfortably snatch 100 reps with the 28kg KB when the maximum I had ever done before was 96 reps in 5 minutes with the 20kg KB. The training plan required me to practice with kettlebells 5 times a week – Monday & Tuesday for my Snatch preparation and Thursday, Friday and Saturday for my 6 foundational movements (the certification was over 3 days so I had to practice for 3 consecutive days in my preparation work for the certification weekend so that my body would get used to the work load).

At the beginning the practice sessions would take me 90 minutes (this was a lot for someone who was used to ‘working out’ for 30 minutes a session) and I would sleep like a baby after each session. I would make each and every session for the next 5 weeks except the Saturday practice in week 5 (it was my son’s 5th birthday party that day so I chose to go for a 45 minute run instead and to my surprise I ran 8km’s in 47mins). So the following Saturday I ran again to see if I could run 10 Km’s under 60 mins and I did. This was my personal experience of what is called the ‘what the hell effects of KB practice ‘ – where your athletic performance in another sport or activity benefits as a result of your KB practice without any specific training for it. However this meant I had missed 2 consecutive Saturday practice sessions and this would become a regular occurrence over the next couple of months leading up to the certification weekend. By the beginning of March 2018 the excitement of pursuing this dream was wearing off and the realization that this was a lot harder than I had anticipated was setting in. I had to remind myself why I had started this journey in the first place- I needed a transformation of my own that would give me credibility with my potential clients. As good as this sounded, was it really worth the pain of the discomfort I was going through? Sadly my ‘why’ was not deep enough and that’s when I realized that I wanted to achieve the SFG certification to prove to myself that I could be apart of a community I really admired and respected (my potential clients will still benefit from having taken the journey because there is a direct correlation with the SF principles and the work that I do as a Life Strategist). That established my deep drive and I persevered through my preparation phase until 10 days before the certification weekend.

10 days before the certification weekend I got a cold which meant that instead of taking a 4 day break before the certification I would take 10 days off. My only concern at this point was wether I had prepared well enough for my Snatch test because in my preparation phase I had only managed to get 80 reps in 5 minutes with the 24kg KB. Throughout the certification weekend the Snatch test was at the back of my mind so when we got to the 3rd day when all the tests are done, I aced the StrongFirst technique standards for the 6 foundational movements but I failed my Snatch test. I only managed 91 reps in 5 minutes with a 24kg KB. Although this was my personal best, it still meant I had failed my Snatch test therefore I would have to wait a little longer before I became an SFG. Why had I aced the technique standards and failed the Snatch test? The answer was simple, I had followed the preparation guide to the T for the foundational movements but I had tweeked it here and there for the Snatch test. When I realized I was not progressing as well as the program required I thought changing things up may lead to the desired progress. This was wrong, I should have been more patient by spending a little more time at each stage of the program during my preparation phase. Simply put, I was diligent in the process for one and I neglected the process for the other. Neglecting the process meant that I did not achieve my objective. So I humbled myself and I dedicated myself to the process required to meet the Snatch test standard.

On the 22nd of September 2018 I successfully completed the Snatch test and finally became an SFG. This became a reality for one reason only, I was diligent in the process.

What is the desire that is driving your actions? Do you know what is the required process for you to follow for it’s achievement or are you so focused on the result that you have neglected the process? Does compromising the process in order to achieve the result compromise your character development? Do you like your character that is being revealed to you by going through the process? What are the intangible benefits for going through the process that you will miss out on if you shortchange the process? As you ponder your answers to these questions, remember there can be no achievement of results without full dedication to the process.

Love

My first memory of Valentine’s Day is my late uncle picking up some flowers from my mother’s garden for his Valentine when I was about 9 years old. I didn’t know what the excitement was about. All I knew was that he was getting the flowers for a lady friend of his. Fast forward 4 years later and Valentine’s Day popped into my consciousness again when I was in Grade 8 in 1993 at Dale College. There was this tradition on Valentine’s Day where the teachers in each class would hand out chocolates, cards and whatever gifts had been received from the girls at our sister school for the boys in the class. I was barely a month into the early stages of my adaptation into an all-boys school and still recovering from my first encounter  with the girls at our sister school (another tradition for the borders involved the new boys being introduced to the girls at our sister school in nothing but speedos, covered in black shoe polish, toothpaste and shaving cream) and now I had to deal with the fact that I was amongst the guys who didn’t receive any gifts on Valentine’s Day! My association for Valentine’s Day was established – it is a day for those who have a secret admirer or are actually dating someone. They use the day to express their emotions, buy each other nice gifts and say I love you. I love you? I grew up feeling loved and knowing I was loved without ever hearing the words ‘I love you’ from my primary care givers. I concluded that the term ‘I love you’ was reserved for a significant other or a secret admirer and that I wanted to have the experience of saying that to someone of the opposite sex! That is how my curious journey with the emotion of love for women began.

At this time I started noticing how the feeling of love was portrayed on television. Women on-screen were portrayed as having no issues with expressing their love by saying those three words. The men on the other hand would stutter, fumble or just not utter that phrase and seemed to get away with the ‘me too’ response. Why was that the case? Apparently, men didn’t have feelings hence the inability to express them in words – men are all about action. Really!? I had feelings – from the emotional highs of being one of the guys who finally received a gift in class on Valentine’s Day from a secret admirer to the lows of being dumped by a girl I had ironically met at a Valentine’s Day social. How could I as a teenage boy becoming a man believe that men had no feelings when as a male I had felt the blow of heartache? I began to question the stereotype of males not having feelings because I certainly had them!  I’ve been hurt in love before and I know plenty of other men who have as well. In my experience and observation within my male social circles, men generally deploy one of two defence mechanisms when it comes to matters of the broken heart: (1.) We make a solemn vow to never be at the mercy of such a low feeling and hurtful experience at the hands of a woman that we resort to a form of relationship self-sabotage-  hurting them before they hurt us. This can be intentional or unintentional; (2.) We acknowledge the painful experience of heartbreak but we decide not to turn our back on love and continue to put our heart and soul on the line in the hope of finding it again. Thankfully, I fall into the latter category. Love is the most powerful force in the world and I believe that not enough men have displayed its power and beauty to the rest of the world but instead have chosen to suppress it.  Can you imagine what the world would be like if men overcame their fear of being led by love?  As a start it would lead to a new dawn where men do what love dictates rather than being trapped in the same old cycle of doing what the previous generation of men have been doing.

Music and my surveillance of the dating habits of guys 5 years my senior (which featured dating girls my age) had a big influence on my concept of love. 90’s R&B was amazing and it gave us plenty of opportunities to slow dance at our high school discos. There were so many R&B groups dominating the Top 40 charts singing about the romance between a man and a woman. Plenty of songs on the joys, the pain, the secret loves and sexual encounters. This was the stuff we based our deo-sprayed love letters on and we relied on to speak on our behalf when we did not have the courage to step up to a girl we liked (cues in Tevin Campbells ‘Can We Talk’)! On the other hand, there was the rise of a new genre of rap music which focused on explicit content, sex, parties, alcohol, getting high and popularised the referencing of women to female dogs. The guys my senior were living the rap music life and through what I was seeing in their dating habits, I developed the belief that the rap life was cool and earned you the hot girls and guaranteed fun. It was the life I wanted to live after high school!  You can imagine my shock when the main protagonist of this genre of rap got married, considering his lyrics about women!  I felt betrayed! At that point, I realised that as much as these rappers went on about their way of living and relating to women, it didn’t have to be mine and I should remember that it’s just entertainment. But how much damage had been done after spending all those hours listening to their music? When I turned 18, myself and some friends started hanging out with the older guys I had grown up watching in my younger years. It was an eye-opener when  we realised that some of them could not hold a conversation with women their own age (would probably explain their preference for the younger girls my age) and we decided that would not happen to us!  For all the cool things they did, maybe they were not the right role models for us. Clearly the music I listened to and the people I looked up to shaped the dating experience of my late teens which resulted in me engaging in pre-marital sex in order to fit in with the guys I was rolling with rather than doing what was right.

However, an experience in Grade 8 had managed to etch itself in my mind. An Old Dalian came to talk to the new boys and he gave us those little blue bibles which contained the New Testament books plus two books from the Old Testament, the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Psalms. As they handed out the Bibles he stressed the importance of at least reading the Book of Proverbs if for one reason or another we were not able to read the entire Bible. He made a point about the Book of Proverbs containing all the wisdom one needs to lead a successful life and stated that successful leaders proclaimed the Book of Proverbs as the cause for their success. I was intrigued and as a result, by the end of the year I had read the book of Proverbs a number of times. There were many verses in the Book of Proverbs that had a real impact on my life. The following proverb shaped the idea of the man I wanted to be – ‘many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?’ If they ever did find a faithful man, I wanted that to be me! I honestly wanted to save myself for marriage but I did not have the strength of character to do what I believed in, especially when I was surrounded by people who believed or behaved otherwise. I have learnt that it is more important to do what you believe in especially when it is the right thing to do rather than cower and submit to what is popular because doing so compromises your integrity. I also learnt that had I read that entire Bible especially the gospels – the books that introduce us to Jesus, His life and His death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life – I would have met the One who gives me the ability to be the man who proclaims his steadfast love and becomes a faithful man.

By the time I was 20 years old, I was asking myself questions such as: Is being cool really worth it when you have people coming up to you and telling you stories about what they did with you at a particular party which you know for certain you did not attend? Or did I just not remember? Why would I proclaim a girl I was interested in as the most beautiful girl in the world but as soon as I started dating her, would see another and lust after that one- would it ever end? What is love and would I ever find it?

I found my answer to this question when I met the woman who gave me the courage to be the man I had always wanted to be from the very first moment I met her. I did not run any game on her – I was authentic. I was only 20 and had expected to only meet someone that I would seriously commit myself to 5 to 6 years after high school. I was in Johannesburg, loving what the city had to offer and having the time of my life at WITS! I knew that in order to have this lady in my life, I would have to leave the life I had created for myself behind which mainly consisted of rugby, booze, parties and girls. I had a decision to make: Walk away and pick things up again in 5yrs or put my heart & soul on the line and discover what my journey of love with this incredible woman would lead to. The following question gave me some much-needed clarity – what if this was my only opportunity at love and if I let it go, would she still be available to be with me and not be with someone else?  I am grateful I chose to put my heart & soul on the line because by making that decision I was effectively choosing my wife and the mother of my two sons.

What did I discover when I awakened to love? The importance of friendship in a romantic relationship and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. I discovered my best friend and till today enjoy the endless chats and laughs that cause your stomach to hurt and eyes to tear up. I discovered that shared values make it easier to build a romantic relationship and life together. Shared values serve as a vital anchor in marriage and raising children because both of you will be singing from the same hymn book and aligned in thought, word and deed. I discovered that authenticity and being vulnerable enough to let the other person see you for who you really are fosters a deep connection and a sense of security and belonging because you know that the person just knows YOU (the good, the bad, the ugly & the weird) and gets you! I discovered that for a relationship to last, you have to choose to commit to it every day, grow with it and your partner because not all days or seasons of the relationship are pleasurable. A fundamental lesson I encountered was that what is good for me individually is not always good for the relationship. Selfishness does not have room in a relationship. I discovered that the needs of our relationship come before my own and this taught me to assess how my actions affect her and our relationship. I discovered the importance of guarding and protecting our relationship by not speaking negatively about her or our relationship to my friends and other females. 

I am a human being with a complicated condition but this is part of my story on my journey with love. What about yourself are you discovering in your daily wrestle with love? How has the music you listened to and the people you looked up to shaped your dating experience? What was the biggest spiritual impact on your dating experience?