21

First Pancake turned 21 today. What a privilege to be a part of such an exceptional being. Life has not always been easy for Pancake, what with divorced parents and shattered dreams. Pancake was also never really any good at sport. But man, was she bright and articulate. Unfortunately in adult company, the knowledge and information was not always received because she was too young to have had any experience to back the words. Peers were too young to understand or care about the world that was unfurling in her head and soul.

She has a heart for the underdogs in life, giving of her time and talents. Her thoughtfulness has often exceeded her meager pockets, but never deterred her from the task. She is a voice for the voiceless and a champion for everyone’s rights. She has been a support to struggling friends and even teachers have backed her for life long support. Mrs Brent has often said that she would go to war with her by her side.

I am not able to give you keys to a house or a car, but I give the Keys of the Kingdom to you.

Happy 21st Birthday!!!! I really enjoyed my day with you. What a privilege Pancake, I am so proud of you and love you always.

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Student Life

Had lunch today at a market in Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is an university town near Cape Town. It is overrun for most of the year by young ambitious students that have their whole future in front of them.

At our table, we were two couples with a combined age north of 180 years. The student table also had two couples, combined age of 72 years. Yet it became quite clear that they knew exactly how the world works, what days are the best for having a good time, where drinks are cheap and when you should apply yourself to work. The latter did get a mention but only to fits of winking and laughter.

Life is too short to miss the opportunities that are within your reach. I did start a degree many years ago, but never finished. It is an everlasting disappointing moment for me. My life took on a trajectory of work, work, work. I have achieved much success but I believe that with the correct qualification I could have maybe reached higher sooner. I am still a believer that breakthrough is coming, stay in the ring and keep swinging.

Thus I want to encourage all students, FOCUS and FINISH! Your qualification itself does not make you a better person, but it does show commitment and perseverance, a willingness to work and learn.Those that are not convinced they are studying the correct course, go see the guidance councilor, get a mentor and at least complete a qualification that you will be proud of. Do it for you first and foremost! These are potentially the most fun years of your life. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Never stop learning. Read books. Enroll in online short courses. Study part time. Do what ever you enjoy and never stop learning.

All the best to all the students of life, no matter your age. Every day is a school day!

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Reach Higher

I would like to explore the uphill analogy along with motivation and inspiration. Read posts “Downhill or Uphill” and “Motivate or Inspire” for foundation and premise for the following thoughts.

I would like to put forward that coaches motivate. They are normally some one who gives instruction and motivation from the sideline and not the actual field of play. They would come underneath you and push you to achieve. The problem is that sometimes they have not achieved personal success on the field of battle. Yes, we do respect them, but seldom would we want to emulate them in all aspects of our lives. They may not tolerate failure and should you not perform as desired, you might just find yourself sidelined or relegated to a lower team. The problem with motivation is that it has a sell by date, you have a deadline looming. Motivation is good, don’t get me wrong, but if you want greatness in your life you will need more. Many athletes suffer depression after achieving their goal. Had the coaches rather taken a holistic approach, they could prepare for the after effects. Coaches sometimes only focus on the finish line.

A great leader on the other hand, is someone that stands above you, on the mountain you are climbing. They reach down to pull you up, using their skill and experiences on the journey to help you up. They set an example that inspires you to persevere, to go beyond the normal.They would also set the tone in other areas of your life. A good leader is not in competition or threaten by you. Actually it reflects well on them should you surpass them. So they would invest whole heartily in you, your complete well-being, that you are equipped for the challengers that lie higher up. The mission is not the target or goal, but you are the mission. Results are measured by how well you develop while climbing. Should they have performed their role correctly, you will be equipped to face other challengers, especially those that are new to both of you. Once you summit, you can reach down and pull another up. Look for new mountains, new challenges.

You can only do so much. Find inspiration, find a mentor. A real person and not an online entity is first prize. Try to schedule one on one meetings. Ask as many questions as you can think of. Write them down before the meeting so as to not waste time or to help with forgetfulness . Become a great leader. A leader is not a title or position but rather a reflection on how you influence. That will be for another time.

Your thoughts and experiences are always welcome.

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Motivate or Inspire

What is the difference between motivate and inspire? A thought that is going to need a lot more than this one simple post. But to get your own thoughts and ideas going here is a quote I received this morning.

“Motivation is momentary, Inspiration can last a life time. Motivation comes from the outside, Inspiration comes from inside. Motivation pushes you, Inspiration pulls you.” Dean Bokhari

I will flesh out these precepts over the next few days. I would love for you to comment and join in.

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First Pancake

Had a coffee date today with my first pancake, my firstborn, Brentling 1. I try to connect with her once a week but it is not always possible. Pancake is turning 21 in a couple of days. This is a huge milestone. So much has happened. Even though I was not always there physically from 7 years old, there are no winners in divorce, we have managed to grow and maintain a healthy, open loving relationship. It has not been easy as we do have different views, opinions and beliefs. We have however agreed to respect each other, mindful to encourage open and honest dialogue over the years.

There have been times when Pancake has shown maturity regarding a certain situation that has helped me to parent or advise her. Parenting is not an automatic function but rather an intentional moving from one state to another. Each time I need to remind Brentling 1 that I too don’t have all the answers, this is my first time being a dad to a 21 year old. I am also developing skills on how to ask questions, unlocking layers of complex emotions and thoughts. Another overlooked skill is how to answer correctly, to get the maximum benefit from a line of questioning. PAUSE before blurting out the first thought. Many a time there is another question or thought lurking behind the one that has been voiced.

I am so very proud of Firstborn. She has endured many challenges that life and decisions have brought on her path. As with everyone of us, the growing is on the other side of discomfort. As a dad, the hardest part is to not interfere when these uncomfortable situations arise. Love, advise and observe. Then love some more. The whole point of raising children is so that they can be forward thinking, responsible and contributing adults. She is also constantly motivating me and encouraging me to experience and explore new avenues, hence me blogging!

So hey, some bits broken, some bruised and some celebrated. Kept alive till 21. Well done to all parents who love and cherish their children. Seeing them into adulthood is rewarding.

Remember that your children will most likely one day pick the home you spend your last days in. Just saying……

Pick 3

My breakfast date today with the brothers was great and challenging as all ways. No, we are not a cult or sect or fraternity, well maybe, depending on definition. I digress. We are like minded, vision sharing, encouraging, account holding business people.

I try not to sit next to Tim as he always looks right through me, into my soul. You know what I mean? That 1000 yard Clint Eastwood stare. I am yet to get another seat as I am goaded by the others not avoid the open seat next to Tim. I keep hoping Tim’s favor rubs off on me, so I concede.

Many discussions ensue with much laughter, good food and coffee. Merriment around a meal is meant to be an encouraging time. Then it gets real, really honest as Tim challenges us to get past the veneer and be real and vulnerable with each other. Pick up the phone, share and ask for help. This is why we have each other. Not one of us has it all together, all the answers, all the strategies, all the resources. But together we can achieve so much more than alone. We tend to believe that to be vulnerable is to show weakness but the irony is that from that point of vulnerability we can grow stronger and faster.

Nic also drops a clanger from Randi Zuckerberg. “Work,Sleep,Family,Fitness or Friends: Pick 3.” Is it possible, that at different times in building companies or careers, my answer can change? Or am I never allowed to sacrifice Family? That actually only leaves 2 more options. Or should I be travelling for work? People put different priorities to different aspects of their lives. What if your boss is a workaholic or a fitness fanatic, that never sleeps and has no family? It would be rather hard to keep up, what with a wife, four children, being slightly overweight and a socialite. And is it wrong to say “no”? The work/life balance question has raged on for years. What if one answer does does not fit each of us unique individuals the same? Is my right your wrong?

Take time to seek the answer where you are at currently. Be the best you for yourself and for others. The world needs you!

Downhill or Uphill

“If you have downhill habits but uphill hopes, you are going to be disappointed.” – John C Maxwell

The hardest person to change and lead in this life is yourself. We did not have any ice-cream in the house but I did eat a bowl of jelly for breakfast yesterday. Before you applaud my brave step into breaking the normal expected behavior, I need to confess that my wife asked me to finish the bowl so she could have more space for vegetables in the refrigerator. For a brief moment I did feel like a child and it felt great. But life and greatness is done by mastering the mundane. The simple disciplines done daily will build towards that big moment. I believe too many of us are waiting for the lightning to strike and in one sudden flash we will have reached or realized all our hearts desires.

When asking or reading of anyone who has achieved some level of success, whether in the business arena, sports fields or at home, they will tell of many hours of doing drills, running the extra mile, learning new skills after hours, all when no one is watching before goals were surpassed. A dietary goal is never reached after just 1 good meal, followed by a reward of low fat chocolate. It is only after weeks or months of correct eating that the scale becomes your friend .These were not highlights or even fond memories but they were necessary to achieve greatness, to rise above ordinary, maybe to even exceed expectations placed on one’s life. Likewise, integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching or going to reward you. Not always easy.

In a world where patience is thin and multi tasking is the order of the day, to squeeze the most out of every second of every day, we may be encouraged to take short cuts, to bend the truth or adjust figures to impress, just to get an increase or promotion ahead of the competition. Very few of us take the time to just think or contemplate before rushing into the next task. Take time to prioritize, to weigh up options, reflect on relationships. Am I adding or taking in this situation? What are my motives for doing or saying something? Is it to my benefit only or am I contributing to someone else’s journey?

It is my hope to make a positive contribution to all that I meet or deal with. Take a moment to think it through before responding or reacting. This as always seems to be the hardest with the people I love the most, Help push each other up the hill of hope. It is the least we can do.

Gratefulness

My friend Sherry drops a pearl this morning,” Grateful is the man that wants what his got.” That was a poignant moment to reflect on this week. I am grateful for my wife and children. Having two children in university and two in primary school is challenging but what a growing , learning experience for me. I am grateful for my FAMILY that love and support me, I know that it is not always easy. I am grateful for my health and mobility.Every morning that I get out the bed unaided is a result worth celebrating! I am grateful that I think all my faculties are functioning and it is my thought alone that really matters. I am grateful to be gainfully employed. I am grateful that all my worldly possessions and needs are met. I clearly have not missed a meal in some time!

I am grateful that my life has meaning and purpose and so does yours. DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT! You are awesome!!!!

First Fish

Saturday morning has been spent next to the dam, right across the road from our home, what more could a man ask for? Two new friends made. I help first timer to the dam land a 6,5kg carp. I lost one rig as my line broke trying to lift fish into my net, frustrating to say the least.

But as we were experiencing load shedding, Brentling 3 came to fish with me. Brentling 3 has come down many times without any luck. Today that all changed as he landed his first carp/fish. What a privilege and proud moment for dad! There aren’t too many other moments to top that. I will load a pic as soon as I learn how. Tech challenge for the day.

Later Mrs Brent came to join me, mag in hand and water bottle to boot. She was in for the long haul. Not too long later after she had commanded my chair, she jumps up over me, no scream, no warning, not even a word. From far away she shouts to me that there is a snake. I seethe tail of it as it enters the long grass. I don’t know if my wife will ever join me again?

Great day by the water, first fish, lost 2 rigs and my wife…….

I am Adult

Being an adult is over rated and simultaneously understated, just like being a parent. As a child I longed for the day when as an adult, I could wake up and have ice cream for breakfast. Needless to say with an increasing waistline and a health conscious wife, I have All-Bland for breakfast. (that is not a typo error!). I am approaching 48, still struggling between being or acting as a responsible middle aged man. I anticipate that society has an expectation on my life to remain within the lines, raising children and setting a positive example.

Sitting in the school parking lot the other day, sharing a coffee with my brother, we make an observation. The parents that are dropping of their angelic offspring, were in school not so long ago. At school, where we were still learning about drug and alcohol abuse. Smoking was cool and girls were mysterious beings that had the alien power to turn our brains to porridge. Now I have a child and suddenly I automatically have it all together. I know what is best for them, I am never wrong and I never loose control. Amazing, if only it was true. I question what is normal adult behavior?

Self control is needed in all situations, unless your favorite sport team needs encouraging. Couch coaching at its best! Then I look at my children, and with that same enthusiasm, I should be cheering them on. Shout and cheer them to greatness! Even when it is more than obvious that they will surpass me on all levels. That will be the evidence that although I am faulted, I would have been a good adult and a good dad.

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