Category Archives: Self development

Christina’s Simple Tips to Live with No Regrets

In this post I use Christina DesMarais’s ideas on how to live your best life. I prefer the word whole so I say you have one life, just keep living it and working to make it whole. However, her ideas are well worth putting into practice.

Christina aka @salubriousdish says, “being mediocre and coasting through life is the easiest thing in the world. But it also means you’re going to miss some opportunities and maybe even have some regrets when you get to the end of your days.”
Here are her ideas on how you can be more intentional about how you spend your time and live your best life.

Stop checking Facebook
I say “yay” to that. Christina says Facebook’s “a curated, disingenuous portrayal of your friends’ lives. If you believe what you read, their marriages are only full of adoration and respect, their children are perpetually high-achieving and beautiful and their holidays always feature amazing vistas and smiles reflecting a good time had by all. Nobody posts photos of their spouse during an argument, their kid acting like a brat, or the annoyances involved with actually getting to and from a vacation destination. And researchers have found that scrolling through all this pretend perfection makes you feel less satisfied with your own imperfect life. In essence, it fosters envy, an emotion which doesn’t lead to being the best version of yourself.” Clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew maintains, “What social media has done is make everyone accessible for comparison. In the past, people might have just envied their neighbours, but now we can compare ourselves with everyone across the world.”

Go to nature
According to Christina, “Studies have found that spending a few days in nature increases creativity by 50 percent, improves one’s attention span while reducing hyperactivity and aggression. Being close to the ocean is associated with higher levels of happiness and people who reside in greener neighborhoods live longer. At the same time, hearing traffic noise adds strain to a person’s heart.”

Teach yourself to be calm
“It’s actually contagious”, says Christina. “Instead of being someone who stresses out, be a rock for the people in your periphery by modeling self-composure and confidence. In the event of a challenging situation, take time to breathe, gather your thoughts and carve a path which is responsive and not reactive. How you handle yourself will affect how the people around you handle themselves. Will getting agitated, angry or upset help the situation? Likely not.”
I can vouch for that. I’ve found that taking a deep breath and count to ten instead of voicing my immediate responses is a great communication tool.

Take the hard road
We keep being told, “Achieving great things doesn’t happen by doing things the easy way.” Christina agrees that successful people do the difficult work of getting out of bed early, exercising every day, keeping to-do lists, reading and being vigilant about continuous self-improvement. “Envision the opposite: sleeping in, sitting around, disorganization, ignorance and a lack of growth. None of that will result in anything worthwhile.”

In my own case, studying while raising three children and completing my masters degree while working full time meant putting in the long hours while others were sleeping, playing and watching TV. But the result has been a rewarding career and a sense of achievement.

Finally, along with others, Christina quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” And she adds that being useful doesn’t need to mean changing the world, but merely making it a tiny bit better than before you existed.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

As we draw near to Youth Day on 16 June and remember the student riots, we need to remind ourselves what they were putting their lives on the line for.

We know what drove those students in 1976 to protest. The evidence is clear – Bantu education was appalling, especially when compared to that of whites. Students had to use a foreign language in their studies. Learning and teaching facilities were poor, conditions in the townships were not conducive to learning and teaching. Students were fighting for education and a better life.

While we acknowledge the changes that have taken place politically, economically, technologically and socially since then, we need to start real conversations about real and relevant education. What those students were fighting for may not be what we see and experience today. What type of education do South Africans want? What does the #feesmustfall Campaign envision for education today?

For the past 20 years we’ve been trying to ‘improve education’ in South Africa. Billions of rands have been spent. Many changes, many methods, many structures, many experts have been used, and yet every year we question our education system and make promises and plans to improve it – to no avail. We have SETAs and SAQA setting the standards, we have government promising to produce thousands of artisans annually, we have private ‘educational’ companies and institutions making millions from people desperate to get certificates, we have ‘free’ access to education, and yet we have not managed to educate the youth of this country nor prepare them for the world of work that is constantly changing. Not to mention the number of ‘degreed’ individuals without work – thrown into the world of ‘worklessness’. Clearly there’s a problem.

Education needs a revolution

Education needs a revolution 

So it’s time we take note of Thomas A. Edison’s words:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Let’s learn from our mistakes and proceed with a strategic plan toward a more favourable outcome?

We must start asking meaningful questions about education if we are to truly address the problems that the very concept and its interpretation cause. Starting with:
What is education? What is its purpose? What is it used for? Do people really want to be educated? What does it mean to be educated? Is education still relevant in a global information society where anyone can access any information that they find useful? And jobs are evolving at such a rate the educators don’t even know they exist, so how can they prepare students?

Some see education merely as a piece of paper for a job-seeker; others see it as a process of developing one’s thinking and leadership qualities; yet others see it as needless rote learning of useless information only to regurgitate it in exams. Nevertheless, the honest responses to authentic probing into education would at least give us as a society a fair idea of what we’re dealing with before we set off on yet another detour. Let’s put our heads together and start that conversation today.

Let's talk about successful education

Let’s talk about successful education

There needs to be another education revolutionthis time in our thinking – for successful solutions to the problem of education in this country.

Back in the classroom

Teaching and Learning  is collaborative

Teaching and Learning is collaborative

Lecturing from level 1 to 3 in Corporate Communication Strategy, Applied Communication Techniques, Intercultural, Business and Interpersonal Communication. Loving to see first-years,; their eyes filled with trepidation and excitement, and the third years nonchalant, already planning for when they’re out there.

It’s especially good in that I can revisit theoretical work whilst applying what I do in business. I’d like to think I’m a valuable resource for students. But they’re so caught up in their cellphones, they don’t seem to need anything else! It forces me to pull out the stops to engage students in communication ‘talk’.

Can be very rewarding and satisfying.

Advice for matriculants: keep dreaming, planning and doing

Passed? Where to now?

Passed? Where to now?

In the past week, I’ve been bombarded by articles on matric results, with people giving their take on how to deal with this never-ending problem and the way forward.
If I’m feeling overwhelmed by all this, what of those poor matrics, having to cope with their success, achievements, failure, the future and joblessness?
Let me add my bit, gleaned from all my article readings…… My advice for school-leavers:keep moving, dreaming, creating and doing…you’re in the driving seat. Three key words: purpose, creative thinking and doing.
1. Agency
“Are we pilots or passengers” asks, Are we just drifting or directing our lives? The word agency is defined as “our power to affect the future” and the writer goes on to say we all have more agency than we think we have and we need to realise this and use it to steer our lives in the direction we want to go.
Using the ideas of Albert Bandura, We are advised to focus on our intentions, vision and purpose for our lives and then use our agency to work towards achieving our goals. We do have the ability and power to make things happen by planning and acting.
So, school-leavers entering the real whole need to be guided in some self-reflection to tap into their own purpose or goal and to plan how to fulfil it in a relevant way.
2. Daydreaming
Another article, based on an education and entrepreneurship report in the UK, focused on the value of daydreaming or “relaxed attention” in exploring alternative solutions to challenges and problems. Our school systems neglect this type of thinking and hence produce matriculants who can’t think for themselves, critically and creatively. This is a key ingredient in developing innovators, entrepreneurs and motivated citizens and engaging them in the social and economic (and yes, political) sectors of our society.
3. Operacy
“From Thinking to Doing” explores the ideas of Edward De Bono, the creative thinking guru. The three aspects of thinking: “what is; what may be; and what can be” are used to show how creative ideas emerge from changing what is already known to a new idea or product. “Finding a different use for an existing product or developing it into something completely different is what entrepreneurship is all about.”
Without detailing the cognitive process, suffice it to say that according to De Bono, “In education we are concerned with literacy and numeracy. That leaves out the most important aspect of all, ‘operacy’. The skills of action are as important as the skills of knowing. We neglect them and turn out students who have little to contribute to society.”

Moving on with purpose, creativity and action

Moving on with purpose, creativity and action

Solution
Change our education system, focus on skills of thinking and action, and we won’t experience this annual crazy frenzy of opinions about the state of education and how students should learn and be taught to become useful and productive. Students would feel more empowered to steer the course of their lives in ways that suit them, their knowledge and skills, their circumstances and their own goals for their future.

And, by the way, everything I’ve said applies to young, old, individuals and businesses too….. have a brilliant 2015!

‘MUST HAVES’ FOR BOSSES REVEALS NEED FOR LOCAL STUDY

 

purpose-driven-leadership[1]

REAL Communication Consulting’s Desiray Viney ran a workshop entitled, ‘Must Haves’ for The New Age Executive at Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business this week.

Attended by managers and directors of business, industry and NGOs, it produced much discussion around the qualities, attributes, skills and actions of an effective manager or leader in this volatile, uncertain and fast-paced world.

Participants were asked to work through a given list of twelve (from leading writers) and to select and rank their own Six ‘Must Haves’ for Executives list. It culminated in this list:

  1. Have the courage and skills needed to lead an organisation in today’s environment – To build the confidence of your people to achieve the impossible: constant improvement, growth against a backdrop of extraordinary challenges and growing stakeholder expectations.
  2. Know that all people in your organisation are important – make the effort to be in their presence. Don’t be too far removed from those who matter most – within boundaries. People at the “bottom” are more informed and empowered than ever. Respect them. While they need your wisdom and direction, you should draw on their input in your decision-making.
  3. Ask the difficult questions and have the tough conversations on all levels of the organisation. Know the facts crucial to making wise decisions, and make a conscious decision that knowing the truth, being respected and doing what is right is most important, more so than being liked or avoiding conflict.
  4. Communicate purposefully! Don’t allow an information vacuum. Give feedback. Muzzle your voice, listen to what others think, and schedule face-to-face interactions.
  5. Know that values drive people’s behaviour, strive to create a values driven organisation. Remain true to your own values, which should match those of your organisation. Enable people to strive for excellence, and celebrate when they achieve. Have fun too.
  6. Have a Plan, acknowledging the speed of socio-political and economic change and how these interact and impact your business. The rate of change is very fast and it’s becoming more difficult to predict these forces in society, but you still need to strive to understand them.

Taki Anastasis, Sunshine Bakery’s chief executive, distinguished between the leader and the manager roles and explained how sometimes there’s a gap in their understanding of certain issues and how they communicate their understanding of values and instructions etc.

Kai Steinfeld, MD of Pfisterer, maintained that “In a global production-based company, having a vision and planning is essential.”Innovative leadership

This workshop raised a number of issues in Business. Clearly, every business is unique and requires leadership appropriate to its operational environment. It also highlighted the need for more research on how local company bosses communicate and implement their vision, values and strategies. Information collected would provide the appropriate data and findings to advance leadership in South Africa.

 

 

What Executives Must Have now…

What Executives Must Have … So much is being written about leadership today. The state of the world and business demands it. We all know we need good leaders in all spheres of life. But let’s explore what good leaders have and what they do…….

Relationships make leadership

Relationships make leadership

In this VUCA world – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous – characterised by knowledge creation and change, real leaders are those who are aware of the challenges and problems and build coherent strategies and responses to surmount them. (From Jean-Francois Manzoni’s “Breaking bad leadership habits”).

This VUCA world demands that we start doing things differently, that we manage ourselves and our people differently. And we have so much useful, valuable information around us today, all we have to do is study it, synthesise it, create new knowledge from it and then apply it to our own working lives. The value of Emotional Intelligence in leaders and the LEAP principles of Leadership Excellence through Awareness and Practice are examples of this.

Like Samuel Bacharach (Bacharach Leadership Training), I am an academic who believes in the value of utilising theories, debates and studies in the context of business, translating academic ideas into business concepts. Based on leadership research and ideas around Neurolinguistic Programming (taking attributes, characteristics and features from others and transferring them to oneself through mindfulness, learning new skills, capabilities and habits) I have developed my training workshops.

My most recent catalyst has been Toby Moore’s article, Six ‘must haves’ for the new age executive. Apart from the business acumen and sound judgment required of leaders, Moore adds: Visionary, Presenter, Communicator, Technologist, Peer and Champion. I took these leadership attributes or characteristics and blended them with some traditional and some newer concepts to come up with, what I call I-CARE Leadership. And this is the foundation for my next workshop which I have entitled, “Must haves for the new agNew age executivese executive.”

I run workshops with Executives, Managers and Leaders, offering attendees actionable insights and findings to take back to their work, integrating new information and ideas into their behaviour and communication at work. Watch this space for details of my next Workshop: ‘Must Haves’ for The New Age Executive.

‘MUST HAVES’ for THE NEW AGE EXECUTIVE

Come to the next REAL Communication Consulting Presentation and Workshop……..

‘MUST HAVES’ for The New Age Executive

'Must haves' for The New Age Executive

‘Must haves’ for The New Age Executive

 

Words, words, words – Powerful and Persuasive

imagesWords, words, words – the Most Persuasive Words I love words. I use them constantly. I’m in awe of their power and influence. I also love gleaning and collecting all sorts of interesting facts, ideas and opinions from all sorts of sources. I file them knowing there’ll be an opportunity to use or share them, either in conversations, lectures, workshops or in writing. As I sat in Cape Town this week waiting to pitch a proposal, wondering whether I’d be successful, I suddenly remembered I had “Stumbled Upon” a list of the108 Most persuasive words in the English Language back in 2013! I was pleased to see I regularly use a good number of them across all my activities and work. So I’ll give you my word list. And I’ll tell you later if my words managed to persuade my audience!

Achieve      Act     Adopt      Align      Analyse     Apply       Ask     Assess    Bridge       Build     Change     Choose      Clarify      Collaborate     Communicate    Connect            Contribute        Create        Decide     Define    Deliver    Design       Develop    Diagnose Engage   Ensure    Ethical    Explore      Evaluate     Establish     Find    Focus                    Foresee      Gather    Generate     Goals      Identify      Implement      Improve     Inspire                  Lead      Learn     Leverage      Manage    Measure     Motivate     Performance     Prepare Position   Plan        Research      Respond       Scan       Share       Solve      Simplify                Skills        Sustain       Train         Transform       Understand       Use    Values      Win.words 1

Meanwhile you can find the full list somewhere in “Stumbled Upon”…..

PR Boot Camp re-scheduled

Are you a business owner wanting to develop your Brand,

communication1

 NGO wanting to create awareness or in

HR, PR, or marketing and needing to become even more effective

You must attend the

Public Relations Boot Camp

Get a new understanding of

  • Current trends in PR and Branding
  • Developing your corporate vision, identity and brand
  • Building relationships with your key stakeholders
  • Strategic planning for a strong reputation.

Date: Thursday 20 March 2014

Time: 08.30 – 12.00

Venue: Chamber House, Royal Show Grounds, PMB

Cost: R 550 per participant

 Contact:  Desiray (Dee) Viney

Things SA voters should know before April 2014 elections

I have recently done some informal research to explore attitudes about registering to vote. I questioned about 40 people locally (70% black, male and female, between 21 and 44 years of age, urban and peri-urban, education ranging from Grade 7 to a degree). I was staggered at the lack of knowledge around democracy and elections.

An educated electorate is essential in a democracy so, as the election draws nearer, it is imperative that the influencers in SA inform voters, especially the new voters and those who have been voting without understanding, about the most important issues around making a choice. It’s not where you make your cross. It’s why you make it there. Voter education would contribute to voters’ asking more questions before they make their marks.

So, this is an appeal to communicators, media presenters, advocacy groups, journalists, politicians, educators, parents, commentators and community leaders to use their influence and platforms to inform and educate voters about issues regarding elections. Let’s call it Election Education 101 whereby voters receive information that will guide them towards active participation in the election and hence the public sphere.

Let’s start a list of facts that every voter should know and share with others. Here’s mine:

1. Democracy and state funds
2. It’s your vote – every 5 years
3. Voter’s role and responsibility in an election
4. Dump the ‘race’ vote.

1. Democracy and state funds. Ensure that, before the election, people in this country know what democracy means. Explain the difference between state and government. It is amazing how little voters really know. From questioning people, I found that not one separated government and ANC. The governing party is not the state. State funds are not governing party funds. State funds means just that: the money belongs to the state. And the difference between parties is their attitude to and policy around state funds and the uses they put the funds to. Most people I spoke to believe that if they don’t vote for the ANC they would lose out on grants for housing, education etc. They assumed that if another party came into power, they would not have the money to do ‘the good stuff”.

People need to know that whichever party is in power uses the same state funds to carry out programmes for social development etc. The ANC does not ‘own’ those state funds for grants and upliftment projects like housing, poverty alleviation and health programmes. If another party should come into power, it would hold the same purse strings, but use the funds in a different, hopefully better, way.

2. It’s your vote to use every 5 years. You don’t only have one chance to vote in your lifetime. Why vote, who to vote for? Criteria for selection – each party puts forward an argument why you should vote for it, and makes promises about what it would do to make your life better if it were the governing party. If it appeals to you, vote for that party. And remember, each election you get to decide again and even change your vote, if those promises aren’t met. Then you see if your new party upholds its promises. If it doesn’t, vote for yet another party in the following election. It’s your vote, and your right to chop and change, that keeps parties on their toes with regard to promised service delivery.

Therefore, learn to listen to party promises in the run-up to the election, and then hold the winning party accountable to fulfil its election promises. Each party’s election manifesto should outline its priorities and how its planned expenditure will deal with those priorities.

3. GET registered! Surely the people who are protesting against lack of service delivery by NOT registering, should in fact register so that they can vote for another party that would make more effort to change people’s lives? Get involved: attend meetings of different parties to hear the different points and promises, ask questions, assess each party’s argument for credibility and viability. Above all, talk, debate issues and become more critical. Don’t just follow and accept what the majority says……

Bear in mind, if one party gets over 60% of the votes it may become less accountable, less concerned about grassroots needs, thereby neglecting its promises to service those most in need. It might also make changes to established laws to suit its own agenda. So, it’s a good idea to keep some semblance of ‘balance of power’ across parties so that they can challenge each other on important public issues.

4. Don’t vote on the basis of race colour. Viktor Frankl said: “There are two races of men in this world – the ‘race’ of the decent man and the ‘race’ of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists of entirely decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of “pure race”.
So vote for someone of the ‘decency race’.

Get voters educated now for Election 2014 !