Thursday, December 1, 2011

Are you positive today? Inspiring reading material on World Aids Day

As the world commemorates World Aids Day today it might be a good time to sharpen our knowledge on the virus, how it affects us and how we can live a positive life - in the more general sense of the word.

Some interesting articles I came across:

Do you know the story behind the story?  The story of a virus ( provides a detailed timeline of the when, where and how behind the HIV/Aids virus.

"Since the beginning of the epidemic more than 15 million Africans have died from AIDS. Nearly two-thirds of all people living with HIV are found in sub-Saharan Africa, although this region contains only about 10% of the world's population".  Read more on The Effect of HIV/Aids on Society.

"When you learn that you have HIV, you feel many emotions: fear, grief, depression, denial, anger and anxiety. There is no cure for AIDS. But there are many ways to live positively with the sickness".  Read more on Living Positively.

If we move away from the HIV/Aids subject and just ponder about our lives in general, we might feel a bit overwhelmed and depressed about the current state of affairs in our own communities, country and in the world as a whole.  Georgina Guedes gives a positive outlook on life in general in her column, Ten tips to make it better - you'll do yourself a favour by reading it!

P.S.  Let's remind ourselves to hang in there - the holidays, or even just a few public holidays if you're not in a position to go on leave - are around the corner!

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Christmas tradition - the South African way!

I've received this email during this week and thought that it should be shared, seeing that we're only one month away from Christmas!  Bottom line is that with some out-of-the-box-thinking we can save ourselves a lot of overspending while we're simultaneously doing good to our fellow South Africans. (Thanks for the heads-up Tan) :-)

"As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide South Africans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods - merchandise that has been produced at the expense of South African labor. This year will be different. This year South Africans will give the gift of genuine concern for other South Africans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by South African hands. Yes there is!

Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local South African hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car cleaned? Small, South African owned carwashes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of buying a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or games at the local golf course.

There are bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big national chains - this is about supporting your home town South Africans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the South African working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would love the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I know I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes, local owned shops.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your waiter/waitress a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre?

Honestly, people, do we really need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining South African pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about us, encouraging South African small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other South Africans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

This is the new South African Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion groups - send it to the editor of your local paper and radio station. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about"?

P.S.  The 16 Day of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign starts today.  It is our responsibility to 'not look away, but to act against abuse'.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The 'how' of happiness

I came across this interesting article:  "How Blinded Is Your Thinking at This Very Moment? Your strongest convictions are powerfully swayed by the here-and-now" (Sonja Lyubomirsky in How of Happiness, Psychology Now Magazine).  

I think that this is a notion that we can shake our heads to in agreement - it makes sense and we know that it's true in most instances - our perception of how full or empty our glass is can be linked directly to our present state of mind of whether we are experiencing a warm and sunny or a windy, cloudy day on planet ME.

This might be the reason why wise people would often say that you should 'sleep on it' before you make an important decision. I am a big supporter of impulsivity, to act in the moment and to not always think about the consequences and the domino effect that one decision might have.  I believe there is a definite place for this as well, and that it's actually important to sometimes just act and do, without thinking twice.  This, however, might be the safer route to follow when minor decisions are at stake - it will make no difference in the bigger picture if I do decide to eat that second ice-cream, take the day off or to go dancing in the rain. When we have to decide if we're taking up a new job, if we should relocate or whether we should start a family - decisions that will have a significant impact on our lives - it probably is best to 'sleep on it'.

The bottom line is that the thing or things that are bothering us now will most probably not be causing any distress tomorrow - chances are good that we won't even remember that we were unhappy and even if we do, what the cause(s) of our unhappiness were.  A reminder, once again, that the how of happiness is locked up in today, now, this moment.  Such a simple truth but much harder to really embrace and implement - for me - that is.

What would you say about the how of happiness? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Create your own 'wake up and smell the coffee moment'

This is a difficult time of year for most. We're all running around frantically to be able to tick of the tasks on our never-ending to do lists. I've just realised yesterday that we should create a 'wake up and smell the coffee moment' for ourselves - at least once a day!

It does happen every now and then that other people create such a moment for you.  If you're in that fortunate position - embrace and enjoy the moment!  I was humbled by people's kindness and care yesterday, very unexpectedly, and it just made me realise again that we can easily loose the ability to see kindness and care when it is shared.  The scarier part is that if we're unable to see and experience it it becomes even more difficult to be kind and caring towards others.  And that should never happen!

So if no one else create a gratitude moment for you, create it yourself! The rich and creamy aroma might turn into an unpleasant odour if we don't wake up and smell the coffee when it's first presented.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday truth: Be yourself!

Dr Seuss couldn't have said it better:  “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”

Have a terrific Thursday!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mood boosting 101 ;-)

Tired of everyone's moaning and groaning?  These few pointers might help you get through today:
  • In less than two months' time we're celebrating Christmas! If life's getting a bit too much at this stage, decorating your Christmas tree might just lift your spirits, getting you in the groove for the season of sharing and kindness.
  • It's silly season...which means that we have official permission to be, well, silly!
  • If you haven't noticed it - it's full-blown summer! Which means happy hour drinks, sun-filled days, pool parties, thunder storms and a feeling of 'it's actually a lovely day, why not getting up early'? (or am I pushing it a bit too far now?) ;-)
  •  It's okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed this time of year - it's the one time when you do fit in with the crowd.  The feeling is mutual.  Let's remind ourselves again that that well-deserved break (for most) is around the corner.
  • This week's 'bad and uglies' will probably be long forgotten next week.  Even if this is not the case - remember that there's always someone worse off than you.
None of these 'pointers' are anything new, I know - but hey, I'm looking for the silver lining of the dark cloud today.  Hope you do too!

Friday, October 14, 2011

(Gr)atitude is everything!

Does it ever happen to you that you feel sorry for yourself on a particular day?  Sometimes you know exactly what the reason(s) for this emotion are and other times you can't attribute this feeling to any particular event or cause. This 'sorry state of affairs' can sometimes hang in there for a while.  Until? Until you decide enough is enough already! 

I've been working very hard (as all of us do this time of year) the last couple of weeks, my husband is away for quite some time and things, in general, just went wrong.  More than enough reason for me to be 'sad sally'.  All of us go through phases in our life, some are more pleasant than others, true, but the other truth is that 'this too shall pass' - the bad or the ugly has a tendency to make way for the good again.

Luckily I've realised it today.  My experience is that it is the small things that we usually don't have time to attend to that does make the world's difference! My friend and I took the Gautrein to Sandton on Wednesday to spend some quality time over lunch, nothing spectacular according to anyone else's standards, but spectacular in terms of food for my soul.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend a day at a spa, again with two lovely ladies.  This just made me realise that we have to stand still every now and then, take the time that we believe we don't have to enjoy a moment, a conversation, an experience!

Attitude is the make or break factor when it comes to how we view and live our time on earth. Gratitude, to really count our blessings, enjoy the lighter side of life and appreciate the small things - is everything! 

Do you agree?

It's Friday - another reason to smile, dammit! (courtesy of 94.7 Highveld Stereo).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Honorable Archbishop Desmond Tutu!

"Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world" -Desmond Tutu.

The rainbow nation wishes 'The Arch' Desmond Tutu a wonderfully blessed birthday and year to come.  He has shown us and the world what it means to truly lead by example.   

Here are some of his inspiring quotes:
  • "My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together".
  • "We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low".
  • "Without forgiveness, there's no future".
  • "A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons".
  • "Children are a wonderful gift. They have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things and to expose sham and humbug for what they are".
Interested to know more about the lives and time of Archbishop Desmond Tutu? Read an abbreviated biography about this South African icon.

P.S. We're keeping our fingers crossed for our boys on Sunday - go Bokke!


Friday, September 30, 2011

Have fun chewing gum - it's World Chewing Gum Day!

We don't only have to take note of and commemorate days towards the greater good of our species (I'm thinking International Day of Peace, World Aids Day and the like) - life is, and should be about the smaller bits and pieces as well. 

On that note, put a piece of bubble gum in your mouth and get chewing - we celebrate World Chewing Gum Day today! Chewing gum can actually be good for your health.  Don't believe me? Read this article.

For some Friday fun; facts you didn't know about chewing gum (I know you've wondered about his all your life) ;-)
  • The world’s oldest piece of chewing gum is 9000 years old!
  • The average person chews over 300 sticks of gum each year!
  • In the beginning, chewing gums were made only by hand! Today almost all gum is made by machine.
  • Most chewing gum is purchased between Halloween and Christmas.
  • Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.
  • Humans are the only animals on earth that chew gum.
  • Many dentists now widely recommend chewing sugar free gum to their patients.(
Rethink your plans to braai tomorrow since it is World Vegetarian Day on October 1.

Have a bubbly weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The beauty of's all about you!

Do you think that being true to yourself might be the Holy Grail to happiness?
I came across this picnic platter from Mr. Price Home that says: "happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony". Doesn't this imply being true to oneself? I think it might be spot-on to say that being true to and about oneself - true in portraying the authentic you to yourself and others - is one of the contributing factors (the one and only - holy grail - might be a bit of an overstatement) leading to the emotional state that most of us long for - happiness!

We know and (most of us) would agree that money can't buy happiness and that one can have everything your heart desire but not feel content. In our circle of friends we've been talking and joking about the whole 'white picket fence' ideal, which is again, a matter of being honest with oneself. For some people the steady job, secure suburban life style, spouse, a couple of kids and a close circle of friends equals heaven. For others, this picture looks too perfect, too stable even. Some of us enjoy not knowing exactly where we'll be in five years' time. The idea of renting a house for the rest of your life is not a disturbing thought and driving second hand cars are (apart from the Gautrein) the preferable way of moving about.

Different strokes for different folks, they say, and that's exactly how the long walk to happiness is set out. What works for me would most certainly not work for you, it might go against everything you believe and stand for. But that is the beauty behind being happy - as long as I think, say and do the same thing, thereby acknowledging my uniqueness and being happy with who I am, that warm feeling around the heart cannot be too far away.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ten reasons to love our RSA!

In the light of Heritage Day tomorrow, or should I rather say Braai Day since that is how it's known to most South Africans, there couldn't be a better time to celebrate our Proudly South African heritage!

We are constantly bombarded with negative, depressing stories about our country, which are the news of the day (or a large part thereof) that should be reported on. But, and this is a big but, there are so many people, events and happenings that we should take pride in. What better day to think - and hopefully speak about RSA's pride and joy than on the eve of September 24?

There is probably a thousand and ten reasons to love our RSA, but let's start off with ten - in no particular order:

1. We are the rainbow nation! And what a privilege to be part of such a diverse 'multi-almost-anything-you-can-think-of' society. To be exposed to different cultures, ideas, ideologies and ways of doing mean that our own views and expectations of life are, from a very young age already, shaped to be much more inclusive - relevant especially in terms of the continuous move in the direction of becoming one global community.

2. The Bokke is on a winning streak at the IRB World Cup tournament in New Zealand! Need I say anything more after yesterday's victory over Namibia...we're watching this space!

3. Former president Nelson Mandela has, apart from being the most recognisable icon globally, also been ranked first in a perception assessment of the world's 54 most visible leaders, according to the Reputation Institute.

4. No one can argue that our country is simply beautiful! I can try out my poetry skill (or lack thereof) to describe the beaches, mountains, Karoo landscape and 'green environment' that are part of the city life picture but hey, you know this already! If you don't know what I'm talking about - now is the time to plan that long-awaited road trip.

5. The Big Five calls South Africa 'home'.

6. We've welcomed the world to our doorstep when we've hosted the FIFA World Cup last year. And we've shown the world that not only Afrikaners, but all Africans, are plesierig!

7. South Africa has produced ten Nobel Prize winners - four Peace, three Medicine, two Literature and one Chemistry Nobel Laureate winners.

8. It's lekker to incorporate some of our eleven official languages in one sentence, my broer. Isn't that ayoba!

9. South Africa is the official mother to our species, seeing that the Cradle of Humankind is found on South African soil.

10. We're mostly a kind-hearted, friendly and helpful bunch working towards a sustainable future for all.

I'm sure you'll be able to add loads more reasons - please do so by leaving a comment.

I think now is just the time to light the first fire for the weekend's numerous braais, which brings me to reason 11...enjoy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's always show time when you lead by example

I came across this quote by David D'Alessandro: " It's always show time if you're in a leadership position - leading by example whether trying to or not".  'Leadership position' initially proposes a person in a very definite leadership role - be it the president of a country, the CEO of a company or the head of a household. 

I think the definition of 'leadership position' can be expanded to include me and you, which is not necessarily a president or CEO (or manager or team leader, for that matter).  Our names might be Tom, Dick or Harry, fact is, we all have a responsibility to lead!  Many of us might think that our contribution is so miniscule, especially since we are not busy climbing the last three (or ten) steps of the corporate ladder.  We might not hold a high profile 'leadership position' but the truth is that we lead others, those in our immediate environment and context - colleagues, family, friends and people in our community, to speak to and act towards us in a specific way.  Our brand and value system direct others to behave towards us in such a way that we find acceptable.  We are all, therefore, people in leadership positions. 

This means that we have a responsibility to be ready for lights, camera, action moments, since it's always show time.  This might sound a bit far-fetched or over the edge, but do take a minute to think about this notion.  It boils down to the fact that we do make an impact, whether we want to or not.  We do get noticed by what we say or don't say, by what we do or don't do.  We all lead, regardless of our intention to specifically do so - some on a grand, macro scale and others within their micro context of family members.

Let's keep this in mind when we commemorate International Day of Peace tomorrow, September 21. 
"International Day of Peace is a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind" (

Are we ready to take centre stage?  It's show time - bring it on!

John Lennon's song, Imagine is one of the most prolific songs ever created by one of the worlds' great musicians and peace activists .This song is an anthem for International Day of Peace.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The world according!

Words of wisdom written or spoken by smart people seem to amuse us.  We get inspired by other peoples' words or actions and think that we should remember and apply it to our own lives.  This is a good thing - we should learn from others' insights and mistakes. 

But have you ever really thought about the life and legacy that you will be leaving behind some day?  What will people remember when they think about miss mentor?  Are there any quote or act that you will be remembered for? It might be that people remember our acts and quotes of kindness but we will most probably also be remembered for the not so kind - the harsh and mean things that we did or words that we've spoken.

The important thing is that we will be remembered for something - good, bad or ugly (a combination of these three is perhaps the most likely outcome).  That we felt strong enough about certain issues that we had the guts to raise our voice and have our say.  That we shared our thoughts and made suggestions, knowing that many people will disagree.  That we've established our own way of viewing the world, our own style, our own motto.  

Let's share our life - inspired by numerous people, books, events and experiences, but, according to me!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8 is International Literacy Day

It's so important for all of us to take note of what is happening in the world around us.  We very often get soaked up in our own world of work, relationships with important others and the joys and stresses associated with that.  We should be reminded every now and then that there really is a whole different world 'out there', where people have to deal with their own dilemmas and set-backs which are quite foreign to us.  It's good to not only take note of important dates and events happening all over the world, but to try to make our own contribution, big or small, in whichever way we can.

Today International Literacy Day is celebrated world-wide.  I say celebrated because there are nearly four billion literate people in the world.  It is, however, also a day to become aware of the other side of the coin - according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), about 774 million adults lack the minimum literacy skills. One in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women. About 75 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

UNESCO and its partners promote the day to underline the significance of literacy for healthy societies, with a strong emphasis on epidemics and communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.  

The goal of this day is to raises people's awareness of and concern for literacy problems within their own communities.  We can each make a small contribution by simply being patient and showing kindness towards those who are illiterate.  On a slightly bigger scale - find out what is done and how we can get involved with projects in our community to address this problem.  Positive change won't happen overnight but it does start with me and you. 

Let's try to apply this mindset to International Literacy Day today and then to general issues in life that we would like to change - everyday! (That might be a bit over ambitious, once a week might be a good start ;-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's okay to have a bad day

I have to say that today was not the best day of the year thus far.  The fact that it is a Monday might be one of the contributing factors, add a bit of blue-ness to that and I'm sure you get the picture. 

Think technology let-down:  no internet connection the whole day, could not reply to any e-mails, didn't get hold of any person that I had to arrange meetings or appointments with telephonically and...that's it!  So my immediate reaction is to think that it's really not that bad, it's actually been a good day and I have a lot to be grateful for.  And although this is true I'm thinking why do we so often tend to 'neutralise' our emotions or sometimes even get cross with ourselves because a bad day is getting to us? 

It is a good thing to be able to see the silver line of the dark cloud, but it's also a good thing to acknowledge your 'bad mood', realise where it's coming from and to give your (my)-self the go ahead to actually just live this moment as well.  We promote phrases such as 'enjoy /live every moment', 'be mindful' - active and fully aware of the present.  But the moment that this present is not all moonlight and roses we tend to disregard it and very often take the stance that we should just move on, that 'this too shall pass'. 

I thought about writing something uplifting and inspiring, but that just won't be true to miss mentor today.  And you know what - that's okay!  The bonus is that as soon as you acknowledge your bad or less ideal day/experience/emotion you tend to feel better already. 

What do you say - is it okay to have and actually accept your bad day?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Here's to an exciting week ahead!

I know that most of you (or let me rather say us) is just glad that we've reached the mid day mark of Monday!  It can only go downhill from here on.  During this week, specifically, we have a couple of 'happy places' to go to (and the Ster-Kinekor movies are not even on the list).

We're celebrating new beginnings on Thursday - spring is in the air!  It's such a cliché but Spring Day still is the metaphor for 'out with the old, in with the new' - so let's embrace the crisp, fresh season and all the exciting opportunities that is part of the Spring package.

Thursday is not only Spring Day, it's also officially Springbok Day in South Africa.  A huge party is held for our green and gold boys before they take off to defend their world champion status in New Zealand.  If you cannot join the official Fans' Farewell party, let's create our own celebrations and unite behind the Bokke!

The fun is not over with Thursday's festivities - remember to support persons with disabilities on Friday when it is national Casual Day.  This year's theme is 'Worn to be wild' - if you've always wanted to wear that leopard print cat suit to work, now is your chance! Let's remember to wear the official Casual Day sticker as well.  I couldn't agree more with their slogan: "If no one reaches out, no one can be touched".

If you have a boring, 'same old' week you only have yourself to blame - enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Creativity: the ability to go beyond the expected

Many of us might think that creativity is the ability to show artistic skill and expertise - to design a beautiful dress, paint a masterpiece, write a poem or design and develop something new.  Creativity does include all of these things, but does also include characteristics and traits that we often regard as basic or fundamental and not belonging to the categories of creativity, art and innovation.

I'm referring to the ability to not necessarily design but appreciate a beautiful dress, to be able to differentiate between the different brush strokes, use of colour and contrast in a painting, to read a poem from the heart and to identify areas that might be improved regarding a new invention - to apply creativity in another, 'mindful' way, perhaps.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fun facts for a Friday!

You don't have to buy chappies today, here is a couple of interesting did-you-knows:

  • Tomorrow is National wiggle your toes day AND Work like a dog Day (hey, what can we say, we'll try our best on a Saturday).  Pretend you're five years old again and get wiggling!  It can be serious fun if you get a few pals to wiggle along.
  • Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
  • South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.
  • There are more chickens than people in the world.
  • Almonds are a member of the peach family.
  • There are only four words in the English language which end in “dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
  • Honey is the only natural food that never goes off.
  • The oldest word in English is 'town'.
  • A cockroach can live several weeks without a head.
  • The Lost City Resort Hotel at Sun City is the largest theme resort hotel in the world.
It's always good to expand our general knowledge, and it doesn't always have to be about serious stuff.  Please share your facts on the lighter side of life.

P.S.  I'll be away for two weeks, chat again by the end of August.

Happy Women's Month!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Celebrating Women's small act at a time!

This morning I'm searching for information on remarkable women or women who inspire us.  Nothing really grabbed my attention. I went outside to take a quick phone call when someone walked passed me, giving me the warmest smile.  The person looked as if he was deep in thought, and then the unexpected smile.  He (okay ladies, let's give some credit to the guys) really made my day.  

This made me think that it really is the small things, unexpected gestures of kindness, that goes a long way.  With August being Women's Month I'm thinking about all the random acts of kindness, goodness and unselfish love that is shared by grannies, mothers, daughters and special girl friends all around the world.  Not to say that these acts are exclusively exhibited by or towards women.  But since we celebrate the wonderful work done by women during August, we might just as well give some credit to the remarkable women that all of us know, who change the world - one act of kindness at a time.

Ladies, let's give ourselves a pat on the back and continue to be true to ourselves. In the words of Mother Teresa:

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile".

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Possible roots of extremism: the role of our ingroup-outgroup understanding

Most of us took note of the terrible mass murders in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik (if you haven't, where have you been)? Extremists such as Breivik's ideologies are often based on stereotypes - creating or defining a very definite barrier between 'us' and 'them', to such an extent that the 'them' or outgroup can become threats to their national identity and security.

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D states in "The dangers of the ingroup-outgroup bias" ( that we are inclined to identify and associate with those that share the same qualities than we do.  This is part of human nature.  It is important for us to understand the boundaries for our own 'ingroup' or 'outgroup' since these are not and should not be cast in stone.  You might associate with a specific group of people in one context (colleagues at work) but not the next (you'll most probably prefer going to the movies with your friends rather than with colleagues from work).  The initial ingroup has therefore changed to the outgroup depending on the situation and context you find yourself in. 

Many people find this differentitation between defining and associating your ingroup versus outgroup in various different contexts to be quite easy.  For others this is much harder and even impossible in some cases.  The result is a person who identifies with a particular ingroup to such an extent that anyone who does not belong to this person's ingroup becomes the enemy.  A very dangerous situation indeed! 

Susan Krause mentions a couple of things to keep in mind and practice to ensure that our 'us' and 'them' fences can be torn down as and when needed.  The golden rule is respect for all - ALL other people, regardless of race, gender, religion or social standing.

1. Recognise the arbitrary nature of many ingroup-outgroup distinctions.  Keep the example of colleagues and friends in mind - our ingroup at one moment is your outgroup the next.

2. Put yourself in the place of the outgroup member. Think about times when you've been put in an outgroup position and remember how painful that was.

3. Look for commonalities between opposing groups. Fans of opposing sports teams equally love the sport. People of different religions regard their faith as important to them. There are basic human needs that transcend particular labels.

4. Work on building your inner sense of security. People are more likely to stereotype when they feel they have something to lose. If you feel more confident about your own identity, you'll be less likely to criticise someone else's.

5. Pass along the lesson. We can't all be the Nelson Mandela's of our time, changing society in very definite and tangible ways.  But we can teach others the value of overcoming outgroup stereotyping.

Let's keep these five lessons in mind - engaging positively with everyone we come across!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Inspiring quotes by Madiba - the man of the moment!

While we're celebrating Nelson Mandela's birthday and his wonderful legacy of peace, humility, justice and freedom this whole week, I thought that you might appreciate famous words spoken by the man himself. 

Inpiring, uplifting - wow!

"It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership".

"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner".

"It always seems impossible until its done".

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart".

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear".
"I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself".

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".

And one of my personal favourites:

"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination".  Remember, each small gesture does make a difference!  Let's keep on giving, sharing and being kind throughout the year!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Only three days 'till Mandela Day!

Happy Birthday Madiba!!  Learn the Tata Madiba song - here it is. 

Still not sure how to spend your 67 minutes on Mandela Monday?

  • Give a loaf of bread to every person in need at all the traffic lights on your route from work to home.
  • Read to those that can't - the neglected grandmom's and fathers in old age homes are a good start.
  • Start your own 'keep my environment clean' campaign by picking up every piece of paper or garbage that you come across on Monday.
  • Take an extra lunch bag to work /school and share with someone who does not have.
  • Put a smile on the petrol jockey's face by giving him/her a can of coke or a pie.
  • Start your own vegetable garden (it's so easy, the herbs in my garden have a life of their own at this stage.  If I can do it so can you - no really ;-)
  • Smile to everyone that you come across.

Still not an idea that you can relate to?  Visit LeadSA for inspiring ideas from the GreaterGood online community 

It can be something really simple (as you can see from the above suggestions).  The important thing is that all of us do something, on Monday for sure but on every other day as well.  Each small gesture or action makes a huge difference in the long run.

So let's get active! And please share your ideas.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Do you come across loud and clear?

Effective communication is an essential skill in the day and age that we live in.  Many people regard it as a 'soft skill' which is a nice to have competency in the workplace, but not necessarily a must have.  If one understands the importance of communication - meaningful engagement that involves active speaking and listening, that is,  the gap is half-way closed already.

When it comes to communication, what you say and what you don't say are equally important.  Body language is most often the 'picture that speaks a thousand words'.  We were all in situations where our partner would say "nothing is bothering me, I'm perfectly fine" while his/her facial expression and body language say that the exact opposite is true. 

Effective communication (or lack thereof) not only impacts on our business relations, but also on our family life and friendships.   Take Psychology Today's quick Communication Skill Test to determine what your communication competency level is at current.  It's way too important to regard it as a nice to have and not an essential skill. 

Remember, you have to engage meaningfully before the money can do the talking! ;-)

Other interesting reads:

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's Friday - whoohoo!!

Luckily it's Friday today, so if this is your reality (I'm sure it is) - go home and enjoy a long weekend! For the rest of us, only a few hours 'till the weekend baby! Have a good one!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mandela Mondays...throughout the week!

“It’s in your hands to make the world a better place.”

"This is what Nelson Mandela said during his 90th birthday celebrations when he appealed to all citizens to rise up and do something.  Now, every year on his birthday, 18th July, South Africans are called to contribute 67 minutes of community service.  The campaign is designed to honour Madiba’s legacy of devotion and service to others. By dedicating 67 minutes to making the world a better place, we harness collective energy to build our communities" (LeadSA).  Mandela Mondays is therefore part of the build-up towards celebrating Madiba's birthday on the 18th of this month.

The important thing is, how can you and I contribute?

A good and trusted starting point is GreaterGood SA's online giving community – This is South Africa’s largest and most-trusted interactive database of 1,250 pre-checked non profit organisations. You can search for and connect with worthy organisations in your neighbourhood and ask them what you could do for them.

To do our bit is as easy as 1,2,3:

1. Go to
2. Click on the ‘Mandela Day’ banner
3. Sign up to a project in your area – and take your first step to changing your world.

The challenge would be to make this spirit of giving and sharing a part of who we are and how we choose to live our lives.  Let's commit to this challenge for the month of July and see how it goes.  We might just discover that kindness really is contagious.

Have a sharing, caring week!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Building my (and your) confidence

I'm not a fan of 'ten point quick fixes' - the 'just do this and your life will change forever' approach does not work for me.  But I do think that it does add value to sometimes hear of read information in a concise, 'bullet style' format.

Something that I think all of us are struggling with every now and then is confidence - being happy with who you are and what you contribute.  It is a good thing to doubt your abilities since that enables you to do introspection - to really think about where you are now and where you would like to be - as long as it's the exception and not the rule.

When it comes to building confidence there are a few pointers that might come in handy:
  • Acknowledge your STRENGTHS: This is something you've heard before many times, but 'just do it'!  You have many talents and areas of strength to be grateful for and more importantly, to share with the world.  Think about your unique qualities and gifts and give yourself credit for these.
  • Accept your WEAKNESSES:  My friends called me 'miss technical' in varsity seeing that changing a bulb, finding a solution for the computer not working or how to connect the DVD player to the TV was not my area of expertise.  Although I believe that I've much improved on these, they were right - I will definitely not be on their speed dial for any technical related problems to fix.  And you know what, that's fine with me!
  • Measure your SUCCESSES:  We so often moan and groan about everything that we haven't done or achieved yet, but very seldom take the time to actually think about where we were a year ago and where we are now - acknowledge and measure the tasks that have been completed and dreams that were realised. If you can't think of anything - identify this as a challenge and work on it (see next bullet).
  • Identify CHALLENGES:  You're dreaming about meeting the man of your dreams but only goes to work, the corner shop and then back home.  You might think about expanding your network and social activities to make this dream a reality.  Identify challenges and think about practical solutions to eliminate, avoid or change these challenges into opportunities.
  • Be your AUTHENTIC SELF:  Establish your 'personal brand' and stick to it in every situation - easier said than done - but possible, and extremely liberating!  If you don't know who you are spend some quality time in your own company, think about your strengths, weaknesses and most importantly, your value system - the 'set of criteria' that guides and directs your actions and reactions, no matter what life might throw at you.
  • SHARE - Kindness is contagious:  Be good to others, not because you're expecting something in return.  The good part is that you most probably will receive something back.  The bonus is that 'feel good' experience of "I'm actually not a bad person, well done me".
  • If all else fails - FAKE IT 'till you make it!  Keep your chin up, put a big smile on your face and say "hallo world".  Psychologists say that facial expressions can actually encourage your brain to register a certain emotion.
You know what, you don't necessarily have to love yourself before you can love others, it can actually work the other way round as well.  Read the article on Loving Yourself - How Important Is It? by Mark D. White, PhD (Psychology Today Blogs)

Have a weekend of a bit of introspection, how does that sound?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday truth

Need I say more?  I don't think so - let's try to 'let it be' for the rest of the week!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Funny Friday edition: Words for women to live by (guys take note ;-)

I have to admit that there is nothing original about today's post but I found it so funny (and spot-on, I have to admit) that I must share it with you.  (Thanks for the e-mail Isobel - you've made my day).  And this is not only for the girls. Guys, you'll be able to make the world a better place if you can understand (and remember, and agree) on this ;-)

1. If the shoe fits - buy them in every color.

2. Take life with a pinch of salt... A wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.

3. In need of a support group? Cocktail hour with the girls!

4. Go on the 30 day diet. (I'm on it and so far I've lost 15 days).

5. When life gets you down - just put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

6. Let your greatest fear be that there is no PMS and this is just your personality.

7. I know I'm in my own little world, but it's ok. They know me here.

8. Don't get your knickers in a knot; it solves nothing and makes you walk funny.

9. Forget about the perfect man - he's living in Cape Town with his boyfriend.

10. Keep your chin up, only the first 40 years of parenthood are the hardest.

 Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Your message to the world - an inspiring life!

I'm not the biggest fan of facebook status updates and inspirational quotes - I find it to be very 'cheesy' and sentimental most of the time.  But this morning, one of my facebook friends posted this quote which I think is worth sharing: "Your life is your message to the world.  Make it inspiring" - Lorrin L. Lee.

We like to think that it's what we do, and what we do to others that define us to a large extent.  We often believe that words and the messages that we portray are key elements to the legacy that we leave behind.  I believe that it's the complete package - the way in which we live our life - that comprises who we are and whether other people find us to be inspiring or not. 

One of the biggest challenges in life is to be true to yourself - really true, in most circumstances.  This implies that you will be unpopular in some conversations, that you will say or do things that other people will not necessarily approve off and that you will not be invited to each and every party any more.  You won't be crowned as 'mr nice guy / miss nice girl' - but, you win the prize for being you!  And that's inspiring!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Youth Day focus - our collective responsibility to Lead SA

Tomorrow is Youth Day, as you all know.  Not just another public holiday where we can stay in bed a bit longer, do whatever we don't have time for during the week (okay, that too) - but an opportunity to do our bit for developing the youth of our country.

We should all take note of the Bill of Responsibilities.  "With every right comes a set of values that South Africans should uphold.  The Bill of Rights in the Constitution of South Africa has been transformed into the Bill of Responsibilities" (Lead SA).  It is our responsibility as Proudly South Africans, to take note of these and integrate these values into our everyday lives.  We can do our bit for the youth and the rest of our fellow South Africans by reading the Bill of Responsibilities and making a point to implement these on a daily basis.  The change starts with us - really! 

Bill of Responsibilities from Lead SA on Vimeo.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday mood boost...colour those lips ladies ;-)

Have you ever wondered why you choose that dull outfit when you've climbed out of bed with the wrong foot?  On these days, correct make-up and hair that will make people stop and stare is most probably not on top of your list of priorities.  Scientists say that there is a very good explanation for this phenomenon:

MOOD BOOST: Match lips and mood
‘Colours reflect your mood but can also help alter how you feel, and lip colour works as a great tool for a quick mood boosting fix'.  This is why you would deliberately choose that read power dress number when you know that you simply have to look your best.  The opposite also applies - sometimes we just want to 'blend in', disappear in a crowd, without attracting any attention whatsoever.  It's on these days that we opt for the neutral, brownish colours in our closet and make-up bag.

Don't know which shade to choose for that instant mood boost?
  • Pink encourages calmness,
  • Red evokes feelings of excitement,
  • Tranquil neutral tones can make you feel peaceful. If pinks and reds seem a little scary, blend it with lip balm to create a subtle stain, and you’ll be smiling (Psychologies Magazine, June 2011).
The psychology of colour is a very interesting subject and is widely applied in industries such as marketing, sales and design. Read more on how different colours may affect your mood in everyday life.