Tag Archives: choice

In search of an unnamed life-skill

I’m writing from frustration. I’m typing on thin ice because my mind is confused by stereotypes and associations that might or might not be accurate. I will choose my words carefully and hide some info deliberately, to protect myself. The smart reader though probably already knows what I’m going to hide… these days almost anything is permissible, but not quite everything. So let me play with my words in a way that wont leave me open to attack.

I care greatly about development and social justice. I feel passionate about reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. Now, I am disgusted and uninspired by the rich daily and can write pages about the in vain nature of their vanity and the sadness of their fearful ambition. Indeed I do write about that mostly. But this post is not about the rich, nor the middle class.
I start by reflecting on things I think I learnt from my parents, and maybe from my teachers and other leaders as I grew up. I was privileged to learn these things. Still, and this is a big point, I still had to learn them. Privilege did not change me, my reaction to learning moments changed me. Many Afrikaners did not choose in the same way. So I’m lucky, but I also had to learn to use my luck. Small things like, trustworthiness. Doing what you said you will do. Doing your best and trying to improve, even the little things. Caring and caring about things that is not about me. Applying my mind to show initiative and problem solving, instead of blaming or feeling sorry for myself.

What is this life-skill called? Professionalism? Work ethic? Communication? Responsibility? Drive? Perfectionism? It’s a bit of all of these but not only one, yet I struggle. It’s a bit like I want to call it ‘pullingyourfingeroutofyourassability’. I see so many young people today that have very high ambition and even good opportunities, people who are very smart, but somehow they do not apply themselves. I wonder if it is about ‘not caring’ or ‘not making the link between small actions and the big picture’?
Every second is an opportunity to market yourself. Every second is a job interview. And if a youngster that feels life has been against him or her faces a situation whilst knowing there was a $1million reward, I know they could execute perfectly. I have seen it a thousand times. But because the reward is not an immediate pile of cash, but small incremental progressions, people do not do their best. The ladder from bottom to top is long and consists of many small steps. There is no jumping. Is there a lack of role-models? Does the individual whose first car is a Jaguar perhaps confuse the young leader? Does the past hurts and resentments somehow cause a feeling that refuse to work to the top the hard way?

I would not mind if God or the courts forcefully handed out social justice and I will continue to do my bit. But somewhere a realisation has to dawn, like the Afrikaners did not beg from but competed with the English, so today one needs to start taking one’s future in your own hands. We need instead of blaming and feeling victimised to grasp the small wins in front of us and the biggest win you can get is a chance to improve on your personality, skills and character. It’s not about degrees and diplomas… Its about those small things… can someone give you a simple task and forget about it knowing you will definitely make it happen? To be honest what I’m seeing is that there is an extreme lack of such basic skills, such reliability and pride in performance, especially if no one is around to punish or reward. Small actions write big stories, for the good or the bad.
Typically me, I cannot end by blaming the poor for making stupid decisions. We must fight for equal opportunities and fair exposure. Yet, some people will grasp their new opportunities and others wont. Stopping at a traffic light and looking at the people around me proves my point. I write out of frustration, but also out of solidarity and love, that is why I feel honestly, lovingly frustrated. I will understand accusations of being paternalistic, patronising or even narrow minded. This is just how I feel at present and I resent the lack of leadership when it comes to modelling the basics. Everyone talks a good game, but when the rubber hits the road there is an embarrassing vacuum that everyone is too shy to talk about.

Tomorrow I will be apologetic and understanding again. I know its not my place to challenge, but this one had to slip out.