Tag Archives: control

Indicatives Pertaining Perspiration and Aspiration

You know I haven’t blogged for a while when I get going on pretentious titles. #selfentertainment

I always played sport. And I was always decent at what I did. As a Christian Afrikaner male, sport has always been a type of valid pathway to release the competitor in my self. A legitimate arena to compete, fight, aspire and perform.

That all became tricky when I decided to learn to play football in my 20’s. Suddenly I was useless; an uncertain teenager seeking the approval of peers, battling away to prove to others and myself that I can be a worthy member of a worthy tribe. Eventually I wasn’t picked last and that is good enough I guess, at my age.

adelino coach kick

No sooner has the sun set on my journey of football based humiliation and I decided to start playing golf: as a 37 year old. I thought I took up a sport or hobby. Erroneously. What I did was to enrol in an advance class of Tibetan Buddhist, Islamic Jihad, Christian Martyrdom as pathway to self-denial and ego torture. For every shot that flies and lands well there are five that mock and torment. Golf bites. And there is quantitative measures to underline every sense of disguised frustration and failure. Sometimes I play better than other times. But I don’t know why. What I know is the harder I try the worse I do it. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak! Practice shot: perfect. Actual shot and every atom between my ears conspire to try to hard and in anxious expectancy and fearful tension I connect the ball to high, too low, to closed or too open; a result multiplied by every meter of flight. I crack under pressure. In golf I don’t know how to fight it. I don’t know how to give up control. Golf is perhaps a technical form of dancing. Letting the ‘swing’ take over and relinquishing control is as hard on the dance floor as it is on the first tee. I tried prayer, I tried meditation, I tried jokes, I tried alcohol, I even tried talking to myself and breathing. Yet, the competitive little Schalk whispering devilish ambitions of perfection into my ear maintains a level of stress that stands between me and easy golf. Calling Ernie Els The Big Easy has new meaning these days. The paradoxes of golf makes it my number one reflection and mental war zone.

golf pa

Taking a break from golf and the fine nuances of mental torture it entails I also like to go jogging. Like might be a strong word. I like being in the world where I just went for a jog. Running is so simple. You want to do better? Try harder. Go faster. Push you body. Burn your legs, burn your lungs. Compared to golf, it is braindead. A similarity it has with golf is that there are quantifiable measures. When I started jogging after my 6 month back injury I ran slow and it was torture. Gradually the times started to drop. As is testimony by my i-phone screenshots.

running times








Running gives me an escape. A method to be a warrior.
Golf slaps me in the face and shows me how everything I’ve learnt can be as bad as it can be good.

In life we first need to learn to be runners. Staying fit, persevering, trying harder, sweating, getting fit. It activates the basics of a successful personality: strength and perseverance.
Golf brings the challenge of being and enjoying, getting to understand your emotions and inner workings.

Running comments on and scores my body.
Golf comments on and scores my mind and soul.

Naturally they are both training grounds for my real life, my vida real. The hidden stuff beneath the matrix.
Can I be strong and soft?
Can I be smart and silly?
Can I be focussed and relaxed?
Can I be cruel and controlled?

I used to read a lot for reflection. In the current season I’m in, I am allowing my body to speak to me and reveal nuance that a good book struggles to illuminate.

Craft vs Art… I often reflect on this. When does skill transform from excellence through repetition to excellence in freedom and beauty.

Do I craft my life or do I create my life?

Could freedom be the key to unlock beauty?

Freedom from what?

Now there’s a conversation starter!

Compromising with Control and Power

Despite my reading and critical reflection on management tools, at the end of the day I still have a day-job and I am responsible for projects. Projects funded by donors and agreements that specify outputs and outcomes in exchange for the money. I am under no illusions that the arrangement is far from pure or ideal, and I do my best to introduce humanity and good values into the project cycles I am responsible for. I try to be the layer between the community and the corporate demands.

Yet with a growing programme things are getting to big for me to do myself, I need a team. One team member is doing a great job, probably better than me. The other team members see themselves, not as called, but employees. They have a different work ethic, they have a lack of exposure and their productivity is not just adversely affected by skills and knowledge, but more-so by attitude. It seems few people can mix friendship and freedom with productivity.

As Project Manager, I have to justify money spent and what the results of short term projects were. The project design is compromised, but certain specifics are built in to buy time and space so real development can happen. Meaning, to provide stimulus, you ‘sell’ a basic project that is uncomplicated and unlikely to do harm. This superficial design creates a platform for real relationships to grow and for individuals to discover themselves and grow.  In this game, you have to do the basics with excellence. My subordinates did not manage to do this, more concerned with talking and image that producing results. I tried friendship and freedom, they did not respond. Due to short time cycles of evaluation, I could not tolerate continued slackness. So I did what all managers at some stage do and I embraced the very elements of the system I hate. I resorted to using money and contracts as motivators. I introduced weekly written reports. As a manager it was the right thing to do. I have a responsibility towards the money and contracts. Simple.

Philosophically, the compromised turned my calling into a job even more. I became a bit less human and a bit more resource. I embraced my title of manager. I affirmed my power over my team. I exchanged exploration and deconstructing defiance for rigidity and control. Once you signed the contract, you can try to play the game, but integrity requires compliance. If you dont like the system, you need to take the fight higher, you need to be in dialogue with the source of the money. Managers and coordinators are trapped in a cycle where they get paid to manage and coordinate each other.

Here in my blog, and hopefully one day in my further studies, I am the idealist, the voice of reason in a silly system. But I am also an employee who is forced to compromise. If I don’t want to compromise I have to resign, and that at this stage will not lead to the greatest good. In my work, governed by the power lines of linear managerialism I sometimes cause dishonesty, pain, theft, regret, inferiority. I am the cause of things I hate.

My dream is that one day, I will have a job where I would get paid to do the right things in the right way. My hunch is that I would have to create an organisation and a movement that would enable such. With a dominant system too strong to change, we can only strive to be a) a good example b) create exemplary organisations and lastly hope to spark new movements.

For now, I have to deal with living in a paradox, living a contradictory life. I wonder what the cost and effect will be to me?