A brief walk into the past

The Company’s Gardens, Cape Town. Photo credit: Jorge Lascar, Wikimedia Commons

I walk up Adderley Street (1850 -), originally named Heerengracht, after the canal (gracht in Dutch), which ran down its centre, in mid-December from the flower market near Strand Street.

I’m off to the Company’s Gardens. Free at last … to explore and take it all in. I wonder what the gardens look like after several decades when I came here with my mother and two brothers.

As I enter the gardens I see a large wooden structure in front of the entrance. Three workers are doing the electrics for the lighting. The wooden structure looks like the rib cage of a Southern Right Whale.

The sun is shining and it is a warm, bright day as I walk up the pathway towards the gardens, savouring the stillness, the oak trees barely moving, the murmur of insects and the calling of birds. I notice no squirrels scurrying about.

When I came here as a boy in the 1960s both sides of the pathway were packed with traders selling foodstuffs and peanuts in their shells. My mom would buy us packets of nuts in small brown paper bags and me and my two brothers would throw them to the squirrels. The squirrels would take them in their tiny paws and nibble at them until the shells broke open and they could eat the raw peanuts inside.

My mother would take us around the gardens on Sundays while my father worked at a Cape morning newspaper for the Monday edition. Later we would meet up with him and drive back to Clovelly in his black Studebaker Daytona.

Inside the gardens I enjoy looking at the old trees some of which must have stood there for several centuries. As I walk and look, I am amazed that these pioneers created such a lovely space that anyone can still enjoy today. The pioneer settlers planted the gardens, the oldest in South Africa, originally established in the 1650s, with fruit and vegetables for ships rounding the Cape to India and beyond.

The trees are green and the flowers in summer sunlight bring a calm over me after my busy morning visit to the Adderley Street flower market. Birds fly about in the trees. The scent of the trees and flowers smell sweet in the light South-Easter breeze. A young woman sits on one of the wooden benches looking at her cell phone. A young couple take photographs of each other against a backdrop of orange and white flowers. I touch one of the leaves of an old tree.

Then I come into the moment. The gardens draw me in. I can smell the trees and flowers. The warmth of the mid-morning surrounds me and suddenly it’s as though the gardens have reached out and embraced me. I am walking, connected, as if in a dream. The sun plays on the tree leaves sparkling against the greens, yellows and browns. The soil in the flower beds is a burned umber colour against the mauves, reds and oranges colours of the flowers. In the shade, the dark parts of the undergrowth below the trees contrast with the leaves out in the sunlight.

The Dutch and British brought the first development. If you go back and look at the historical accounts, the colony was the worst performing of all the British colonies. It was only partially developed and it took decades to connect the Cape to the emerging inland towns and farming districts.

The pioneer road builders worked under great difficulty to build the mountain passes and struggled with financing because the early Cape was so poor. The British were reluctant to advance money to their worst performing colony.

At the entrance to the Gardens is a large statue of Jan Smuts (1897-1950). Inside the gardens is a statue of Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902) with his hand raised towards the East and an inscription reads, “Your hinterland is there”. Another statue, of Sir George Grey (1854-1861), stands at the South corner near the old cathedral.

With the eyes of an adult I take in the sight of the houses of parliament with their beautiful gardens and the statue of Queen Victoria (1819-1901). These buildings from a previous era are a reminder of things that once were and are long gone. A striving of people to begin, to build to grow and leave their mark.

This long line of history of the advance of people, of how they lived and what they did arouses my curiosity and wonder. To view it backwards is a privilege of being alive in this moment. In time our times will close and add to that evolving mass of humanity that is largely lost in the past.

I walk down Adderley Street and turn right into Spin Street. There I find a cafe, eat a toasted cheese sandwich and drink a coffee on the pavement steadying a rickety table with my foot. A young couple at a table near me bring me back to the present hearing snatches of their conversation about finances, the death of a family member and Friday night partying with friends.

I amble back to where I parked my car and see a statue of a man. I go look and read the inscription. Jan Hofmeyr (1845 – 1909).

Even the buildings with dates of their establishment are reminders of the past.

Now, the present, intertwined with the past, becoming, receding, a human destiny we are all part of and cannot escape.

As our times are swept behind by the river of life will those who inherit out past find inspiration in what we did and what we left behind?

Does it really matter?

They will still find inspiration from nature – the smell of a fresh new morning at dawn, the rising sun shining gold on the sea, the rock formations on a high mountain, the cool of the Kalahari desert at night with a black sky splashed with stars, the rushing of a swollen river and the tranquility and colour of an ancient garden.

Everywhere was green

Stampriet, Aranos district, Namibia. January 2021. Photo by Chesney Bradshaw

Everywhere was green — as far as your eyes could see.

Green where there was dry, dusty sand and stones.

Green against the mountains that have been dry for years.

Green Kameeldoring trees, heavy with leaves, all the way from the far reaches of the Kalahari in Namibia to Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

Green more than a foot high along the roadside – for at least 1,500 kilometres.

A year ago I traveled the Kalahari (that extends for 900,000 square kilometres, covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa) by road and experienced the dryness of almost seven years of drought. I was caught in a dust storm in the Northern Cape. I could hardly see the road ahead.

Skulls and skeletons of buck and sheep alongside the road that died in the drought.

What a difference water makes.

The water came from the rain that flooded parts of Namibia. A tropical storm, a low depression over Mozambique, moved west over Zimbabwe and towards Botswana, then proceed to Namibia and the Northern Cape.

Towards the end of last year the livestock must have sensed that the rains would come because the number of lambs and calves were plentiful.

On a farm in Namibia we went for walks in the evening and saw the aandblomme. These flowers bloom in front of your eyes before the night sets in. The aandblomme last only one night – the next day they lie dead.

The suurgras (on which sheep and cattle feed) rose rapidly during our stay. Plenty grazing in the months to come.

Walking out in the veldt you notice all sorts of small plants sticking out of the Kalahari red sand. Green shoots appearing everywhere. The wild grass knee-high in places swaying in the wind before the next downpour. The insects crawling all over the place – centipedes as thick as your small finger, dung beetles scurrying about and mosquitoes – tiny little black and white creatures coming out in the humidity searching for flesh to penetrate and suck blood. Vultures hovering and gliding in the sky looking for prey.

I’m very pleased for all the farmers who are benefiting from the rain.

The tragedy of the drought is not over. It will take years to restore the livestock herds they had before the drought.

One could say that farmers are entrepreneurs but that is an inadequate description. They go beyond entrepreneurship mainly because of their love of the land, the people who work for them and their livestock or crops.

The rain has broken the drought – and I hope a new cycle of regular rainfall will begin.

The green in the Kalahari signals new hope for everyone who lives there and makes a livelihood from this isolated but beautiful large semi-arid sandy savannah.

Home-brewed coffee robust as people remain working from home

Kitchen-brewed coffee shows robust growth as office coffee plunges.

FEATURE ARTICLE BY CHESNEY BRADSHAW

Kitchen-brewed coffee strong as people continue working from home. (Photo by Chesney Bradshaw.)

For coffee lovers no beverage beats the rich aroma of freshly ground coffee beans first thing in the morning. The smell of coffee brewing in a plunger or bean-to-cup machine. The taste of coffee on your palette — perhaps a subtle note of berries with a hint of chocolate.

Before lockdown workers got their jitter-juice from coffee shops on their commute to work or grabbed a cup from the office pause area.

Now after long stays working from home during lockdown, people working from home are brewing their favourite flavours in their kitchens.

Local coffee roasters report that employees working from home are even roasting their own beans.

Kirsten van Jaarsveld, owner of Ryo Coffee, based in Cape Town, has seen an increase in home-brew roasted coffee sales.

Bean and machine sales are up at Ryo Coffee. “We’ve found a definite increase in home purchasing,” says Van Jaarsveld.

“People are trying out of variety of roasted coffees at home,” she says. “They’re taking more pride in their home-made coffee. But I’m not sure how long it will continue when more people go back to work.”

Ryo Coffee offers a roasting guide on their website for home education on roasting. People can roast their own beans at home in 15 to 20 minutes in a pan.

The famous composer Beethoven was compulsive about his coffee. He started each day by counting out sixty coffee beans and grinding them. He certainly didn’t have the range of coffees available today to suit many different tastes: chocolate, cherry, blueberry flowery, herbal and nutty flavours or combinations.

A roaster in Blairgowrie, Randburg, who opened during the lockdown reports a big increase in sales to work-from-home buyers.

“We’ve seen an increase in customers buying coffee for home use because many are working from home during the lock-down,” says Francois du Plessis, owner of Roasties88.

He notes that business with coffee shops and corporates has fallen dramatically since the lockdown restrictions.

Before the Covid-19 lock-down coffee shops buzzed with morning commuters enjoying a cup before work. Coffee shops were packed with workers holding meetings or tapping at their laptops. Many of these coffee shops have closed. Coffee shops around the high-rise office buildings in Sandton and Rosebank, for example, enjoy a trickle of customers.

Those workers who went straight to the office began their day at the pause area making machine coffee. They would take their favourite coffee mug — with motivational quotes or smiley faces — to their workstations. They’d open their laptops, stare at the screen, sip their coffee and be charged enough to plunge into their overflowing email inbox. 

Filter coffee was freely available in meeting rooms. Mass-produced coffees with fancy European names jettisoned their loads from large automatic machines. The taste of this coffee appealed to most tastes but a growing band of connoisseurs brought their own coffee and plungers. Teams shared costs for fancy Italian-made bean-to-cup machines.

With the lockdown corporate coffee consumption has plunged. The loosening of lockdown restrictions with more workers returning to offices hasn’t helped corporate sales, according to roasters.

“We’ve experienced a huge decrease in corporate demand,” says Tertia Pretorius of Crater Coffees, also a roaster and owner of a coffee shop in Parys, Free State. “But sales of coffee for brewing at home have increased because many people are not working from offices.” She says household online orders for ground coffee have increased.

Kitchen brewing may slow down with further loosening of restrictions as more workers return to work. But now that coffee lovers have broadened their tastes during the lockdown they might find it hard to go back to the machine-made stuff.  

Look before you leap from career to hobbies

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

In these times many people still have money to pamper themselves on luxuries.

We recently visited a new natural foods market and restaurant in the neighborhood. Customers were buying scrambled tofu and toast, halloumi wraps and vegan cheeseburgers. All foods were free from artificial additives, sweeteners, colourants and preservatives. All at jaw-dropping prices.

The patrons at the tables eating natural foods are part of the leisure crowd. They seek places like this to unwind on weekends from their high-gear lifestyles.

They’re dream consumers for these businesses, buying all the stuff they want, and more, to feel good.

Finding enjoyment and relaxation through consuming is ephemeral. It disappears when someone loses their job through retrenchment.

Many people want to prepare themselves for an uncertain future. Life coaches and psychologists tell them to follow their passion and do what they love. Is this realistic?

Let’s put it this way, if you’re interested in something, you’ll want to do it.

Some people resort to uninteresting work when they’ve never explored what interests them. Others have not worked out how to do something about it.

People want to give up their careers to pursue their hobbies. But often they aren’t good at them — or they need to get a lot better at what they do. It’s all well and good to bake cakes, knit macramé planters or dabble in carpentry. But to give up your career for your passion would be foolhardy. Unless you are wealthy and don’t need to work for an income to support yourself or a household.

Hobbies can turn into income sources. But to make a living from your hobby or passion, you need to get good at it as soon as possible. Acquiring skills takes time. You can’t be a counselor, an interior designer or painter overnight. Counseling or coaching may need doing a course or degree before you’re taken seriously.

Some people don’t want to stop working when they retire. They may change gears and work in their profession in a less pressurised way for a few days a week. Or they may adapt their skills to suit a related career. For example, a schoolteacher may become a family counselor). Others who fail to plan will take whatever they can to supplement retirement funding.

How do you start planning a new world of work for yourself? Know your drivers, prioritise your dreams and catalogue your strengths and skills. Then imagine possibilities and come up with an action plan. Support your dreams or interests with your strengths and skills — those you already have or can learn.

It’s easier to adapt what you already know into some activity. You may want to work for wages or work for a fee. But you can also work for me (anything you do for your pleasure or learning) or work for free (volunteering).

At the new natural foods store a woman was selling handmade cosmetics from her stall. This gives her the opportunity to follow her interest and earn income to support herself.

Look around and you’ll find many people who have started something for themselves. Especially now with fewer formal work opportunities. Chat to them and find out how they got started and what makes them tick. It could be you, sooner than you think.

Every time I see them, my heart sinks.

Guest post by Drayton Bird

The words are “human resources”.

I’ll explain why they trouble me in a moment

But first let me tell you a story you may have heard before, for which I apologise, but it is relevant.

David Ogilvy came to see me in 1985.

He wanted to tell me about a client he had found for me.

Here’s a little clip of him talking about this.

I still recall the day he came to see me about that client.

“Let’s go to your office”

“I don’t have one. Nobody has, except the financial director.”

(I didn’t like people sitting behind doors. Give them half a chance and they start feeling important. Not a good idea.)

Anyhow, after he told me about the client he asked about my job.

I wasn’t the managing director, creative director, or the chairman.

What did I actually do?

“I’m in charge of entertainment, David. I try to make everything such fun that people come in early, leave late, and enjoy the intervening period as much as possible.”

Being a Scot he then asked about money. It was lunchtime and everyone was eating at their desk. He asked who paid for the food.

I told him they did, and he patted me on the back.

This is a prelude to talking about an article I started reading the other day. It was written by someone in charge of Human Resources.

It was one of the most boring pieces of pretentious twaddle I have ever read, so I won’t inflict it on you.

In the world of marketing bores have a lot of hot competition, but the piece – full of jargon, long words and pompous glimpses of the obvious – was numbingly dreary.

But it is the words “Human Resources” that concern me here.

People are not just resources. And nobody should think so.

They are fascinating, delightful, dull, infuriating, talented, funny, brilliant, stupid, unpredictable, idle, diligent, dangerous, heroic, cowardly, pretty, ugly, fat, thin, sexy, impotent, loveable, loathsome, miserable, weird, happy, clueless – anything you can think of.

But they are not just resources.

They are your friends and allies, your enemies and threats – almost anything depending on the circumstances.

But above all, once you’ve had an idea for something and how to sell it, the people you work with will either make you a roaring success or a dismal failure.

And that depends on how well you take care of them.

You may have heard a great phrase I shared in a video recently – “Contented hens lay more eggs.”

I am still in touch with people I worked with over 40 years ago.

They were my friends then. They helped make me successful and rescued me when I flopped. I certainly couldn’t have done much without them.

My advice to you is simple. Of all the things you do besides looking for new ideas and ways to sell them, find and cosset the best people, and get rid of the duds.

When you keep people who don’t try, and don’t help, it sends a message to the good ones that you don’t care about quality and people who are no good can ponce off you.

A chief reason that companies fall to bits and collapse is that they don’t believe in the importance of people.

There is a very good U.S. store chain in the US called Nordstrom. I found out the only advice given to a their shop assistants was “Use your best judgement at all times.”

If you trust people, they will, for the most part, trust you and do a good job.

When I ran a big firm I tried to interview everyone for any significant job and promote those who tried hard and had talent, even changing my business to suit them if they were that good.

My job was to help them succeed because I couldn’t do everything on my own.

If you think you can do it alone you won’t get far.

But if you remember the importance of people you can achieve anything.

Do you think the same way as me? Maybe we should work together.

Drop us a line.

Best,

Drayton Bird

Click here to subscribe to Drayton’s newsletter.

This article has been published with the permission of the author.

Drayton Bird – brief bio

In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton Bird one of 50 living individuals who shaped modern marketing. He has worked in 55 countries, with clients including American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Virgin, Visa and Volkswagen. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK best seller on the subject every year since 1982.

When good people are wronged

We watched a movie called in English “Gloomy Sunday – A Song of Love and Death”, (the German title is “Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod) on a recent Saturday night about a woman (Ilona) who was raped by an SS officer in Budapest, Hungary. Ilona had gone to see the officer to plead for a pardon for her husband who was being sent to a concentration camp. The officer promises to not send her husband to the concentration camp but then reneges on his promise. Years later Ilona takes revenge on the officer who is a prominent businessman in Hungry.

This is an extreme example of a good person being wronged in a horrific way. But it brings into sharp focus how in some instances being wronged can hold us captive for all our lives.

A general definition of being wronged includes an injury, a tort a violation of right. In its usual sense, wrong signifies an injury committed to a person, their property or to their relative rights. The general understanding of being wronged is to treat someone in an unfair or unacceptable way.

Psychologists, marriage counselors, religious persons and well-meaning friends and family tell us to let go of the wrong that happens in our lives. Yet we need time to heal from the pain and hurt that we feel when wronged.

What about the things that happen in our lives? A man cheats on his wife having an affair with a younger woman. A mother excludes a daughter from her inheritance because she believes she has been wronged. A company, especially in these times, wrongs a long-serving employee who has been hard-working, honest and loyal by cheating him or her out of a severance package. Those colleagues you thought were like family turn out to pawns of upper management carrying out their orders with malicious precision. Professed company values are practiced in the breach.

Small wrongs can often add up and make a person feel that they have been wronged in a big way. A manager once told me that employees accumulate all the small hurts they experience in a company and carry them through their working lives. These employees feel wronged and have no one who will listen to them.

The immediate impact of being wronged is painful. Blood drains from your face. The hurt person hunches, clutches his or her stomach, feels a weakness in the knee and has a hanging head. Inside the person’s mind races with negative thoughts and they feel a sickness in the bottom of their stomach, an emotional pain that grips them and won’t let go.

After the shock of how they have been treated, people have to come to terms with being wrong and have to live with it. It’s not possible to merely shut out what people in business, organisations, social circles and families have done to you. This is why it is important to learn to let go.

Harold Kushner, author of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”
says “In the final analysis, the question of why bad things happen to good people translates itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it has happened.” He goes on to ask whether we are capable of forgiving and accepting in love a world which has “disappointed you by not being perfect, a world in which there is so much unfairness and cruelty, disease and crime, earthquake and accident?”

Unless you let go of being wronged, you will be stuck in the past and people and events will continue to control you. The lesson that life teaches is that we need to learn to endure so that we may become strong for further challenges that lie ahead. We also have to move on with our integrity intact and seek out new opportunities and people who are honest with your interests at heart.

Victor Frankel, a holocaust survivor, in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”, talks of the bitterness of one fellow inmate in a death camp. “Only slowly could these men be guided back to the commonplace thruth that no one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them. We had to strive to lead them back to this truth, or the consequences would have been much worse than the loss of a few thousand stalks of oats.”

Films that depict revenge for wrongdoings make us feel as though justice has been done, that the wheel has turned and balance has been restored in the world. But in real life the perpetration by the victim on a perpetrator cannot serve you. Bad people who have done wrong must be held accountable and suffer the consequences. But the victims are forced to face the wrongdoing with a different response. In plain language, it’s best to let it go and move on.

Are you prepared for the new world of work?

So many people are rethinking their lives and particularly work since the lockdown. Some people I know have already started supplementing their income working online after they lost their jobs or their jobs were cut down to half-day positions.

The lockdown has changed the way people think about work. It’s accelerated the long-term trend of how companies and organizations are evolving.

A futuristic forecast of what organisations would look like in the year 2050 done some time back was revealing. It showed that companies would basically have a tiny head office where the licensing and branding were kept and the rest of the organization would be outsourced. Some farsighted companies have already done this. I can think of one surf clothing company that outsources everything including manufacturing.

If you want to start working online you would need to either come up with your own product or service or bid for work. The interesting thing about bidding for work is that you are no longer sitting in a company with the higher-ups dishing out work to you but now will be in the open, competitive market place where the person who is the most experienced, knowledgeable and has the skills will stand a good chance of securing the work. And it’s not just the grunt work such as administration that can be found online but also projects and work that requires a higher skills level.

In fact, have probably seen how corporations are reducing their support functions. In others because of forced hiring the quality of work is deteriorating and most of the high-level work where expertise is required is being outsourced anyway.

Leading experts in the employment field began predicting the changing world of work already 25 years ago. But diffusion of innovation takes time. Yet we have seen how large corporations who proclaimed a few years ago that they were global and local, are outsourcing jobs to lower cost countries and local people are losing out.

Functions that were better left outside the corporation but were brought in-house with the seeming belief that costs could be lower by hiring full-time staff are delivering what could be politely termed as mediocre results.

Of course, not all jobs are going to go online. Think of firefighters, health workers and retail personnel. Operational staff will still need to be situated at a physical place of work.

For those who have seen what’s happening in the world of worker as jobs are being destroyed or being replaced with forced employment and wondering what to do, the first steps begin with determining your personal strengths and your skills. Then you need to match what you are strong at with new opportunities.

Whatever skills you possess, and those you wish to still acquire, one of them that will be crucial is business writing skills. The present level of business writing skills will not be adequate for working online as a freelancer, contractor or part time worker.When you work online your writing skills will need to be strong to communicate effectively, prospect for work and communicate with your new customers and suppliers.

Some of the changes that are yet to come we haven’t even fully grasped. The world of work is changing at a rapid pace. But if you use the metaphor of a kaleidoscope, each turn of the kaleidoscope will help you to see new opportunities and how you can pursue them.

Why most businesses remain average

Unexpected events are increasing at an unprecedented rate in a complex world yet the average company or mid-size business is not planning for business disruption.

Surveys1 repeatedly come up with appalling low percentages of companies that have a business continuity plan in place.

What could be the reason for this?

One reason could be that companies are so focused on operational issues that they don’t get around to developing a business continuity plan. Another reason could be that companies are not aware of business continuity management. A further reason could be that companies believe that in the event of a disruptive incident they have IT experts, disaster recovery and crisis plans or simply that their insurance will pay (which is a mistaken belief). If you are interested in other reasons go to this InformationWeek article­2.

In psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect3is a cognitive bias in which people overestimate their ability. In simple language what this means is that people are not objective about their lack of competence or are not even aware that they lack competence.

If we look at companies that don’t have business continuity plans in place, we could infer that they overestimate their abilities to deal with a disruptive incident that can affect their business operations.

Companies who want to rise above the average should relook at the sigmoid curve4. What the sigmoid curve showshow every growth curve will eventually plateau unless the cycle is interrupted. In a similar way, companies don’t realise the frequency of disruptive events given the volatility in their operating environment and that they can recover from a disruptive incident (faster and with far less loss) if they planned for the event beforehand.

In these times with an avalanche of pressure points and potential business disruptors, companies shouldn’t settle for average but should rather take action and ensure that they have business continuity plans in place. Shareholders are counting on businesses for dividends and capital growth and customers want surety they are equipped to supply them with goods and services despite disruptions in their business or supply chains.

Chesney Bradshaw is an experienced internationally certified ISO 22301 business continuity implementer and auditor. His PECB (certification body for persons, management systems, and products) certifications):

ISO 22301 Lead Implementer 

ISO 22301 Lead Auditor 

If you would like, I can take you through the requirements of ISO 22301 at no charge.

References

1. 51% of companies globally don’t have a business continuity plan.

2.Reasons Your Employees Don’t Care About Business Continuity

3.Dunning–Kruger effect 

4.https://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/bus/public/ADG_showcase/manage_change/content/sigmoid_curve.htm

Undressed (or is that under-dressed?) for Zoom

With so many meetings on Zoom I’m beginning to worry about my shaggy appearance. One morning after a Zoom meeting I was red-faced when I realised I hadn’t shaved and was still in my running T-shirt and short pants. Luckily my hair didn’t need combing mainly because I have hardly any of it left.

Such was my consternation that I took up the subject with my loving half who always guides me with her feminine and feline (a Leo of course) intuition.

“Well, what’s the problem?” she asked.

I told her my story. “I forgot to switch the camera off and probably 200 attendees saw me in my disheveled state,” I confided.

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “What are you so worried about? The real you is coming out.”

“Maybe I should have a dresser stand next to my desk, hidden from the camera, of course, where I can keep a fresh shirt, jacket and tie,” I offered desperate for her advice.

“All you need is a cutout of a man in a jacket and tie that you can slide your head into.” She laughed and I wasn’t sure if she was being serious or trying to pull the Mickey out of me.

“I’ll try dress more sensibly next time,” I said. Trying to turn the subject away from me, I said, “It’s fascinating how relaxed people are in their homes and with their appearance on these virtual meetings. One famous woman on a webinar, with studio shots of her younger self on her website, appeared on Zoom revealing her years dressed in something that she must have worn a hundred times around the house.”

“Don’t be so hard on her,” my dearly beloved chided me. “She’s just trying to be herself. You know how hard this lock-down has been for everyone.”

“I agree with you,” I said not wishing to be disagreeable.

“But you’ve got me thinking,” she said. “You’re worried about being under-dressed but I can see a whole Zoom fashion happening. Imagine the Zoom catwalk fashion shows in Milan. Men in shirts and ties and short pants. Makes me think of the time when my dad wore short safari suits. With a cravat, I might add. Think of the fashion mags with features on how to dress for Zoom. It will be a Zoom boom in fashion.”

“Call it what you want,” I said, “I’d glad I don’t have to dress up every morning for the office. I must be more careful in future to wear something decent.”

“Just make sure you’re wearing deodorant,” she said making sure that she had the last word on the subject.”

Zoom has changed the way we meet with each other whether for business, learning or catching up with friends. It has catapulted us all into the digital world making us smarter with the use of Internet technology (and I’m not only referring to how to mute and unmute Zoom). My loving partner could be right and Zoom may have started a new fashion trend the likes of what we could have only dreamed about six or seven months ago.

Indecision can be your worst enemy

In these troubled times it’s not uncommon to find yourself awake in the early hours of the morning restless and turning over decisions. In the daytime you have a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that nothing you do will give you relief. All the things you’ve learned, relaxed breathing, exercise, drinking water, talking to others, guided imagery and even laughter, don’t seem to work.

Does talking about indecision make you uncomfortable?

What then is the solution?

  • You’ve lost your job.
  • Retirement is around the corner and you have many decisions to make.
  • You may have been mulling over an investment decision and suddenly the opportunity is lost.
  • An item you wanted to purchase on an online store was selling at a big discount and you didn’t react fast enough.
  • You may have had the money to enroll in an online course about a specialised skill you need and suddenly you are unable to pay for it.

Indecision can become much more personal than the few examples mentioned here.

Some would say that you need to be more decisive.

But indecision can be positive in that your intuition is telling you that you aren’t ready to make a decision because you don’t have enough information.

A decision doesn’t always need to be affirmative. You can say yes or no to whatever you are faced with.

Andrew Carnegie, the famous industrialist told Napoleon Hill, self-help author, “It has been my experience that a man who cannot reach a decision promptly cannot be depended upon to carry through any decision he may make. I have also discovered that men who reach decisions promptly usually have the capacity to move with definiteness of purpose in other circumstances.”

In his book Black Box Thinking, Matthew Syed gives us the pre-mortem method of decision making. With this method you are told that “the patient is dead”, the project has failed; the objectives have not been met; the plans have bombed. A pre-mortem starts with asking you to imagine that the project has gone horribly wrong and to write down the reasons why on a piece of paper.” The purpose of the pre-mortem is not to kill off plans, but to strengthen them. Celebrated psychologist, Gary Klein, says “prospective hindsight” increases the ability of people to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by 30 percent.

This is why in everything that I teach including business writing, business idea generation, business leader coaching and business continuity, I gently probe to find what’s holding you back. Often we find ourselves at the crossroads and need to decide to move forward on a different path or stagnate. I subscribe to what best selling author Matt Furey teaches, “I teach you to make no conscious effort to change your beliefs. Most of your beliefs took hold in your mind unconsciously and effortlessly, therefore, attempts to upgrade them should also be effortless and spontaneous, not forced or rehearsed.”

Another way to look at decision making is to consider what Robert Fritz author, filmmaker, composer and management consultant and developer of structural dynamics, suggests: “Know what you want, know where you are. Hold the image in your mind of the outcome you want while being aware of the current reality that exists in relationship to that outcome. Your actions will become more strategic, more effective, and easier to take than usual.”

Should you require more information to make an important decision on business writing, business idea generation, business leader coaching and business continuity, then let me know and we can send you more information or even have a zoom meeting to answer any queries.

Let me leave you with this inspiring quote from Jim Rohn, “Indecision is the greatest thief of opportunity.”

It’s up to us to make sure that we are in control of our lives and our decisions.