What’s with the Silence?


To all my loyal followers and to all the new ones who have come on board wondering what in the world is happening here? Why no blog posts?


I’m really sorry for neglecting all of you but if you read what my life has been like lately, you will understand, I’m sure.


During the day (full day) I work as a Virtual Assistant for the Western Cape Network on Disability Find us on Facebook as Provincial Co-ordinator, including attending meetings and all related Secretarial duties.


In the evenings I’m a Virtual Assistant for Retina SA Western Cape Find us on Facebook as temporary Branch Administrator and Events Co-ordinator. We have three big events coming up: AGM on 4 August 2018, High Tea 2018 fundraiser on 9 August 2018 and Ripped Genes 2018 Music Concert fundraiser on 28 November 2018. More information on our Facebook page.





Evenings are broken down even further working as Project Manager on special projects for a private company broken down into a certain amount of hours per week.


I’m also an Executive Board member (not paid) for a non-profit organisation called Institute for the Promotion of Disabled Manpower (IPDM) which requires me to do loads of reading amongst other things.  More info here


Last year (2017) I was approached by WordPress South Africa to assist them with their annual WordCamp Cape Town event as an Accessibility Wrangler (help them ensure that the venue for WordCamp Cape Town 2018 is accessible to persons with disabilities (not paid).


WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress.

WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.


With an estimated 250+ attendees, this 2-day conference will have 2 tracks, 20 speakers and more than 20 volunteers making it the ultimate event for WordPress users, developers and enthusiasts in Cape Town. More details regarding this event will follow as soon as we’ve finalised the details.

Pencil 1 and 2 November 2018 (Save the Date) into your diaries in the meantime.

12 things I can say about myself

2013-07-02 14.26.26

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
– Mae West

I am following my heart and intuition: I’m not allowing myself to be pushed by my problems but allowing myself to be led by my dreams. I’m living the life I want to live to be the person I want to be years from now. I am making decisions and acting on them. I’m allowing myself to make mistakes, fall and trying again. Even if I fall a thousand times, at least I won’t have to wonder what could have been. At least I will know in my heart that I gave my dreams my best shot.

Each of us has a fire in our hearts burning for something. It’s our responsibility in life to find it and keep it lit. This is my life, and it’s a short one. I will not let others extinguish my flame. I will try whatever I want to try, go wherever I want to go. I will follow my own intuition. I will dream with my eyes open until I know exactly what it looks like. Then I will do at least one thing every day to make it a reality. As I strive to achieve my goals, I can count on there being some fairly substantial disappointments along the way. I will not allow myself to get discouraged, the road to my dreams may not be an easy one. I need to think of these disappointments as challenges – tests of persistence and courage. At the end of the road more often than not, we regret what we didn’t do far more than what we did.

I am proud of myself: I am my own best friend and my own biggest critic. Regardless of the opinions of others, at the end of the day the only reflection staring back at me in the mirror is my own. I need to accept everything about myself – EVERYTHING!! I am me and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.

People who are proud of themselves tend to have passions in life, feel content and set good examples for others. It requires envisioning the person I would like to become and making my best efforts grow.

Being proud isn’t bragging about how great I am; it’s more like quietly knowing that I’m worth a lot. It’s not about thinking I’m perfect – because nobody is – but knowing that I’m worthy of being loved and accepted. All I have to do is be myself and live the story that no one else can live – the story of my own unique life. I need to be proud, be confident, because I will never know who has been looking at me wishing they were me.

I am making a difference: I should act as if what I do makes a difference, because it does. Is it true that we all live to serve? That by helping others we fulfil our own destiny? The answer is a simple “yes”. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Do something that is greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or suffer less. I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I can smile and enjoy the fact that I made a difference – one I’m likely to remember forever.

I am happy and grateful: Happiness is within me, in my way of thinking. How I view myself and my world are mindful choices and habits. The lens I choose to view everything through determines how I feel about myself and everything that happens around me.

Being grateful will always make me happy. When I’m finding it hard to be grateful for anything, I need to sit down, close my eyes and take a long, slow breath and be grateful for oxygen. Every breath I take is in sync with someone’s last.

I am growing into the best version of me: ”Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of somebody else” – Judy Garland

I need to live by this statement. There is no such thing as living in someone else’s shoes. The only shoes I can occupy are my own. If I’m not being myself, I’m not truly living – I’m merely existing. Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person I am. I need to embrace the individual inside me that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. I need to be the person I know myself to be – the best version of me – on my terms. I need to improve continuously, take care of my body and my health, and surround myself with positivity, to become the best version of me.

Butterflies orange  in a row

I am making my time count: Time is the most valuable constituent of life. I need to make the time for what does matter today. Really being in the moment, finding passion in my life, seeing the world and travelling, or just seeing the world that’s around me right now, being with great people, doing amazing things, eating amazing food and savouring life’s little pleasures. I need to remember my time is priceless, but it’s free. I can’t own it, but I can use it. I can spend it, but I can’t keep it. Once I’ve lost it I can never get it back. I really do only have a short period to live so I need to let my dreams be bigger than my fears and my actions louder than my words. I need to make my time count!

I am honest with myself: I need to be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed. I need to be honest about what I want to achieve and who I want to become. I need to be honest with every aspect of my life, always, because I am the one person I can forever count on. I need to search my soul, for the truth, so that I truly know who I am. Once I do, I’ll have a better understanding of where I am now and how I got here, and I’ll be better equipped to identify where I want to go and how to get there (Read: The Four Agreements).

I am good to those I care about: In human relationships distance is not measured in miles, but in affection. Two people can be right next to each other, yet miles apart so I should not ignore someone I care about, because lack of concern hurts more than angry words. I need to stay in touch with those who matter to me. Not because it’s convenient, but because they’re worth the extra effort. When was the last time I told my family and close personal friends that I love them? Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen – out of all the things to do on your busy schedule – to find the time for them. I need to talk to them. Listen to them. Understand them. Many times it’s our actions, not just our words that really speak what our heart feels for another.

I know what unconditional love feels like: Whether this love is towards a child, a lover, or another family member, I know the feeling of giving love and not expecting anything in return – this is what lies at the heart of unconditional love. Life through unconditional love is a wondrous adventure that excites the very core of our being and lights our path with delight. This love is a dynamic and powerful energy that lifts us through the most difficult times.

Love is beautiful and unpredictable. It begins with ourselves, for without self-love, we cannot know what true love can be. In loving ourselves, we allow the feeling to generate within us and then we can share it to everyone and everything around us. When you love unconditionally, it isn’t because the person you love is perfect, it’s because you learn to see an imperfect person perfectly.

Butterflies White

I have forgiven those who once hurt me: We’ve all been hurt by another person at some point or another – we were treated badly, trust was broken, hearts were hurt, and while this pain is normal, sometimes that pain lingers for too long. We relive the pain over and over, letting them live rent-free in our head and we have a hard time letting go. Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness, it causes us to miss out on the beauty of life as it happens. To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.

I take full accountability for my life: I will own my choices and my mistakes, and I am willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them. I can either take accountability for my life or someone else will, and then, when they do, I’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead a pioneer of my own. I am the only one who can directly control the outcome of my life and no, it won’t always be easy. Every person has a stack of obstacles ahead of them, but I must take accountability for my situation and overcome these obstacles. Choosing not to is choosing a lifetime of mere existence (Read: The Road Less Travelled).

I have no regrets: No, this is not quite accurate. I do have many regrets but I choose to move on and in future I will . . .
– Follow my heart
– Be true to myself
– Do what makes me happy
– Be with those who make me smile
– Laugh as much as I breathe
– Love as long as I live
– Say what I need to say
– Offer a helping hand when I’m able to
– Appreciate all the things I do have
– Smile
– Celebrate my small victories
– Learn from my mistakes
– Realize that everything is a lesson in disguise
– Forgive and
– Let go of things I can’t control

Butterflies White

Finding your “WHY”

Change is a process

Every single organization on the planet, even our own careers, always function on three levels. What we do, How we do it and Why we do it ” – Simon Sinek

When we know the reasons why we do certain things, it gives us a filter through which to make decisions. It provides a foundation for innovation and creativity. When we look at what we do, how we do it and why we do it, we will know who we are – we will know what we stand for.

Very few people can clearly articulate WHY they do what they do. Why is a purpose, a cause or a belief. It provides a clear answer to “WHY” we get out of bed in the morning and why that should matter to anyone else.

When we are clear about our purpose or our WHY, everyone can understand it. This clarity allows everyone who interacts with us to become champions of the cause i.e. people will be willing to help you with your life goals if they have a clear idea of where you want to go.

Life of the rich

Do you have a vision (plan/direction) for your life? Having a vision for your life gives you focus and clarity, it helps with decision making and stops you getting side-tracked and distracted when “life” takes over.

Asking yourself these five questions will guide you through creating your personal vision and prevent “mind blank”, writer’s block and overwhelm that hits you when you’re faced with a question like “what is your vision for your life”?

1. What does success look like to you?
How will you know when you’ve “made it”? Describe your idea of success: use your imagination, instincts and/or intuition to express your “big picture”. In other words, describe what it would be like when you have reached your ultimate personal goal.

Write down what you want to become but make sure you include some big numbers that you can measure i.e. how much do you want to earn every month? Do you want to work for someone or do you want to own your own business? What business do you want to start? Why do you want this business? Who will be your clients/customers? Where will you find your clients/customers? How much will you need to charge your customers to earn what you want to earn every month? Will you charge per hour or per project? How many hours do you want to work?

Do you have a “vision board”? – more about this later.

Vision Board

2. Why is success important to you? Why do you do what you do?
• Are you trying to make your life and that of your family better?
• Are you trying to save the world? Trying to eliminate poverty, suffering, child abuse etc?
• Are you trying to educate yourself so you can find a job? What job? Why do you want that job? Where will you find the job? What will you do when you have the job?
• Do you want to own your own business? Why do you want to own your own business? What kind of business do you want? How will you start the business? Who will be your customers/clients? Where will you find your customers/clients? How many hours will you work? What will you charge your customers? Will you charge per hour or per project? How much money is enough? What is the driver behind having your own business?

3. What difference do you make in the world or what difference do you see yourself making in the world?
• What do you want to bring into the world? Do you want to make a difference to the environment? Do you want to eliminate poverty/suffering/child and women abuse etc?
• Do you want to make life easier for mothers or for women in general?
• Do you want to help other women fulfil their potential?
• Do you want to help women feel gorgeous and get their self confidence back?
• Do you want to help women create a beautiful home (interior decorator)?

It doesn’t have to be big and life changing but there will be a reason (or several why you will want to and can make a difference in the world.

Your present circumstances

4. Who is most likely to support your vision for your life?
• Who “gets” you?
• Who would you like to mentor/coach you? Who’s a really good fit for you?
Think about the kind of individual they are, where would you find them, what problems could they help you solve? These questions should all be easy to answer and you will definitely have an answer even if you’ve never thought about this before.

5. What are your milestones?

What are the achievements you want to reach along the way that will show you you’ve moving forward and making progress?

Milestones could be:
• Completing your studies and finding a job
• Completing your studies and starting your own business
• Completing your studies and taking a gap year travelling overseas
• Spending time working on a kibbutz for a year


There may be smaller milestones like:
• Getting some practical work experience by volunteering at an organisation
• Working part-time during school, college or university breaks to gain some practical working experience.

These milestones are personal to you and they will keep you on track when you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed. Write them down and tick them off as you achieve them WHICH YOU WILL!

Who you are, is more important than what you do. – Anonymous

What life has taught me . . .

View from 34th Floor(1)

In my journey called life, I’ve learned . . .

• The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

• When you’re in love, it shows!

• Just one person saying to me, “you’ve made my day!” makes my day.

• Being kind is more important than being right.

• You should never say “no” to a gift from a child.

• I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help in some other way.

View from 34th Floor(3)

• No matter how serious your life needs to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

• Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

• Simple walks with a good friend on summer days or nights does wonders.

• Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

• We should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.

• Money doesn’t buy class.

View from 34th Floor

• It’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

• Under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

• God did not do everything in one day. What makes me think I can?

• To ignore the facts does not change the facts.

• When you plan to get even with someone, you are allowing that person to continue hurting you.

• Love, not time, heals all wounds.

• The easiest way for me to grow is to surround myself with people smarter that I am.

• Everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

View of Cape Town Stadium(1)

• No one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

• Life is tough, but I am tougher.

• Opportunities are never lost, someone will take the ones you miss.

• When you harbour bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

• Telling my mom (more than once) that I love her before she died, left me at peace with her death.

• We should keep our words both soft and tender, because tomorrow we may have to eat them.

Life_Hand releasing butterfly

• A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

• I can’t choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

• That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

• It is best to give advice in only two circumstances:
– When it is requested
– When it is a life threatening situation

• The less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Dear Diary: Life’s Curve Balls!

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Photo by: Tami Magnin @http://www.rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

Isn’t it strange how life throws you curve balls when you least expect it?

2014 was the year I would be celebrating my big “50th” birthday. I was so excited about the prospect, not knowing what to expect from my family in terms of celebration i.e. I’m the one always organising surprise parties and I wondered if one was going to be organised for me.

I started hinting about this a few months before Christmas (I like to be pro-active and be prepared in advance) and there was no indication from anyone that there would be a surprise party. I was on my own. If I wanted to have a party, I would have to organise one myself. Sigh!

October 2013 onward had me planning, adjusting the budget a million times to make the rands and cents work. I eventually settled on a plan. Instead of throwing away a whole lot of money on one big party, I would book mom and myself into a Spa for a day (the day of my actual birthday) for a spa treatment and we would “sleep it off” at the same hotel that night and leave the following day. I would also take the whole week off from work (as opposed to only taking the day of my birthday) and spend the rest of the week doing day trips in and around the city where I live. The Saturday following my birthday, we would have a High Tea for some close friends and family. By Christmas break, my plans were finalised and we were all set, waiting for the big day to arrive. The plans for my birthday were made based on mom having chemo treatment during the week of 27 January 2014.

Here’s where the first curve ball came: mom was scheduled for a CT Scan on 29 January 2014 to see whether her chemo treatment was working and, unbeknown to me, chemo treatment is not administered in the same week as a CT Scan. This meant that mom’s treatment was postponed to the week of 3 February (my birthday was on 4 February). Not a problem, I thought. There is enough time to make adjustments to my plans so instead of applying for one week’s leave, I would only apply for two days (seeing as mom would be sleeping most of the time after treatment, there was no point in being home if she could not join me). We would then still go for our Spa treatment and stay overnight at the hotel as planned.

Another curve ball: I was informed that with chemo treatment, it is not advisable to have a full body massage as the pressure of the massage could cause the cancer to spread. Not a problem I thought: I contacted the Spa and asked if they could change mom’s treatment to a Manicure and Pedicure only and I would still have my full body massage.

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Photo by: Tami Magnin @http://www.rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

Next curve ball: The 3rd February arrives and I take mom in for her chemo treatment. We see the doctor first (as is usually the case on the first day of chemo) who informs us that mom’s chemo will be stopped immediately because it is not working and that the cancer has now spread to the liver, lungs and on the glands around the kidneys. The cancer is now at stage four (4). The emotional rollercoaster this put us on would not just disappear by tomorrow. This put a real damper on me even wanting to celebrate my birthday, however, plans were in place. There was no way I could cancel everything now. We arrived home at about midday, had lunch and started sending text messages to everyone we knew to let them know the bad news about mom. This, in a way, was therapeutic for both mom and myself as it seemed to have taken the sting out of what the doctor said. I, however, still have not had the time to deal with the emotional and Psychological effects of this blow and am still feeling very emotional about this whole ordeal as I write this blog.

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Photo by: Tami Magnin @http://www.rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

The day of my birthday finally arrives and mom and I check in at the hotel, have lunch, have our Spa treatment and relax for the rest of the day. We try our best not to talk about the cancer issue – I’m too emotional about the whole thing and did not want to “spoil” my birthday by crying my eyes out the whole day. I also don’t want mom to see me cry because it will upset her because she is always wanting to “fix” things and this is something she is powerless to “fix”. Mom and I then agreed that, for the sake of granting me at least ONE day to enjoy my birthday, we would not talk about the cancer issue.

Back home the next day we went back to reality and everything went back to normal. Responding to friends and family phoning and texting us regarding our news . . .

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

Photo by: Tami Magnin @http://www.rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

The Saturday following my birthday, we had a High Tea at one of our local hotels (The Cape Grace Hotel at the V & A Waterfront, Cape Town). It was a small group of about 20 made up of friends and family. I was hoping to use the opportunity to thank those present for the role they played in my life but was not able to say as much as I wanted to because of the pent up emotions regarding my mom’s diagnosis, I almost burst into tears a few times. Nevertheless, we managed to have a good time in each others company so everything turned out well in the end.

There is a saying that goes

“when life throws you lemons, make lemonade”.

Did I do this? I think I did!

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
David Brinkley

Conversations with Myself: Words to Inspire You . . .

Bee Floating

Maybe God wanted us to meet the wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

Maybe when the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the one which has been opened for us.

Maybe the best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you’ve ever had.

Maybe it is true that we don’t know what we have got until we lose it, but it is also true that we don’t know what we have been missing until it arrives.

Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they will love you back. Don’t expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart; but if it does not, be content it grew in yours.

It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone, but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.

Don’t go for looks; they can deceive. Don’t go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright. Find the one that makes your heart smile.

There are moments in life when you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.

Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go; be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough hope to make you happy.

Always put yourself in others’ shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the other person, too.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched, and those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.

Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss and ends with a tear.

The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past, you can’t go on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you are the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

Please send this message to those people who mean something to you, to those who have touched your life in one way or another, to those who make you smile when you really need it, to those that make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down, to those who you want to let them know that you appreciate their friendship.

And if you don’t, don’t worry, nothing bad will happen to you. You will just miss out on the opportunity to brighten someone’s day with this message.

Conversations with Myself: Life is like a Chessboard

Chessboard Metaphor (Accept_Change)

Chessboard Metaphor: http://youtu.be/rf6oVsVnfVE

You can never make the same mistake twice,
because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice
– Anonymous

Do you sometimes have trouble accepting yourself for who you are? Is there something we can do about this? Let us see . . .

Maybe you could think of your thoughts and feelings like chess pieces on a chessboard. The white pieces could represent the thoughts and feelings you want (e.g. confidence, happiness, self-esteem) and the black pieces could be the thoughts and feelings you don’t want (e.g. anxiety, fear, self-doubt, hopelessness).

Just like in the game of chess, the white pieces will try to defeat the black pieces. We want to rid ourselves of our negative thoughts and feelings. When going through difficult times in our lives, it seems like we’re losing – the black pieces knock most of the white pieces off the board. At other times, it may look like we are winning – we knock most of the black pieces off the board.

Looking closely at your life experience, what happens when you knock those black pieces off the board? Do they stay off forever, or do they come back sooner or later? You could find that new black pieces take the place of some of the old ones? It’s a continuous fight, with no end in sight. When we battle the black pieces, we battle a part of our experience, a part of ourselves. We could literally set up a situation where, in order to get on with life, large parts of our actual experience must disappear forever. We can become absorbed with our internal struggles, and disconnect from the outside world and the things in life that matter most to us. We can become so absorbed with our internal struggles that we don’t “see” the outside world.

Is it possible to let go of the fight? When playing the game of chess, is the chessboard affected or damaged in any way, or is the chessboard simply an arena where match after match can play itself out – and the board remains solid and intact, ready for whatever comes next? What if you could focus your energy on doing what you want, and carrying the positive and negative thoughts with you?

Don’t forget: there is a distinction between your thoughts and your observer self. Think of the observer as being the chessboard – as being you. Think of your thoughts and feelings as being the chess pieces. The chessboard carries the pieces, but it is not equal to the pieces. In the same way, you carry your difficult thoughts, you observe those thoughts, but you are not equivalent to those thoughts.
Adapted from: http://acceptandchange.com/ACTOZ/qu4_pg2.html

Living Strategically: 50 Lessons Chess Teaches You about Life

1. Purpose: In chess, every move has a purpose. Obviously we cannot live life with so much unceasing calculation, nor should we want to, but there are times when we need to align our actions with a predetermined strategy instead of just fumbling our way through it.
2. Play for the advantage: If you already have it, maintain it. If you don’t have it, grab it with both hands.
3. Everyone’s playing: Sometimes it’s a friendly game, often it is more serious. The problem is that not everyone knows they’re playing – even after they have made a move.
4. Seize the initiative: If you wait around for someone else to make a decision for you, they will . . . and you probably won’t like the outcome.
5. Learn to spot patterns: There are often clearly defined lines of success that work well. Learn to see these when they repeat, and take advantage of them.
6. Don’t get stuck on the formula: A little bit of creativity and lateral thinking can often take you to new heights.
7. Ignore what your opponent is trying to do at your own risk: We often get so absorbed in our own games and scheming that we ignore what is going on around us. Be aware of threats and alert to opportunities.
8. Simplify.
9. Take on challenges: If you only play beginners games, you never really improve – take on a few tough challenges, and even if you lose, try to learn something new.
10. Cut your losses: Sometimes you are going to lose material. Try to minimise your losses and move on.
11. Play the board, not the player: Don’t target your responses at people, target what they say and do. There is a difference.
12. When every move is a bad one: Sometimes you get stuck in a position known in chess as zugzwang: where no matter what move you make, it’s a bad one. This is just the way it goes sometimes, in chess and in life.
13. A discovered attack: There is nothing more satisfying than a discovered attack: pretending to do one thing, while attacking somewhere else. Learn to play and live less obviously and on more levels. This makes you less predictable and more interesting.
14. Sacrifice material for position: Be prepared to sacrifice material for position. Sometimes even the greatest material sacrifice can result in a winning position later on.
15. Care less about small victories: If you spend all of your time chasing lowly pawns, you may be on the receiving end of an opponent who cares less about small victories and more about winning the war.
16. Moves that improve your own position: A threat is best met with a move that improves your own position. Don’t get trapped into mindlessly trading moves and material in anger. Sometimes the solution is more gentle and rational.
17. Be better: You don’t have to be a devious cheat to win . . . you just have to be better.
18. Bad mistakes: We all mess up from time to time. This does not mean we should give up and run away. Often when you’re sure there is no way out after a bad mistake, you will be given a lifeline.
19. Making silly moves: When someone makes a move that you cannot understand, don’t read more into it than you need to. Sometimes people just make silly moves – that’s all there is to it.
20. Have a Plan B: Have a plan B, and a Plan C. If none of these work, you’re probably doomed.
21. Your opportunity will come: Play for the middle. Don’t hold back too much, and don’t push through too soon. Your opportunity will come.
22. Play wisely: How you start a game determines how you will finish it. Play wisely.
23. Seize the opportunity: If an opening appears, seize it immediately.
24. Don’t get pinned down: Where something more cherished cannot be included because it is stuck behind something trivial, make every effort to get it into the game – as soon as possible.
25. Anticipate what could go wrong and plan accordingly: In the end game, attack the King by focussing your attention on his escape squares: When you are in the final stretch, and about to win, anticipate what could go wrong and plan accordingly.
26. Be flexible: It seldom goes the way you planned – adjust and continue.
27. Boxed-in: If you are feeling boxed-in, free things up.
28. Trade inferior material and positions: Where possible, trade inferior material and positions for better ones.
29. Take care of the little guys: The little guys on your side matter. Look after them.
30. Small advantages: Accumulate small advantages.
31. Foregone conclusions: There are no foregone conclusions in life or in chess.
32. Ignore meaningless threats: Anticipate and deal with dangerous ones quickly.
33. Keep looking for new opportunities: Never rest on your laurels. Keep thinking, looking for new opportunities and trying to generate new ideas.
34. Rank and Titles: Don’t be overly impressed with grand words or titles. The only thing worse than being overly insecure towards those who outrank you, is being dismissive of those inferior to you.
35. Keep calm and move slowly.
36. Take action: Replace wishful thinking with action.
37. Learn one important lesson: If you lose, do so graciously and try to learn at least one important lesson.

I’ve learned so much from my mistakes . . .
I’m thinking of making a few more.
– Anonymous

38. Draw is better than a loss: Sometimes a draw is as good as a win, but a draw is always better than a loss.
39. Always have an escape route: Keep your options open and always have an escape route.
40. Creativity always has a purpose: Surprise and impress people with unconventional moves, but not with dumb ones. Creativity always has a purpose – doing something wild and crazy just for the sake of it may be fun at the time, but ultimately has no value. Break the rules – but only if it serves a good purpose.
41. Assess/Evaluate your position honestly: If it is bad, do something about it. If it is good, make it even better.
42. Don’t get swept away by distractions.
43. Narrow down your choices: and then decide. Take your time, but settle on one plan of action . . . and then DO IT!
44. Sacrifice: Sometimes you have to sacrifice in order to achieve a break-through.
45. Look at the bigger picture: Always consider the whole board when deciding on a move: decisions made with too narrow a focus are often bad.

What you see, depends on what you are looking for.
– Anonymous

46. Collaboration and co-operation: Connect your pieces cleverly. Collaboration and co-operation are the keys to success.
47. Look beyond the obvious.
48. Enjoy yourself
49. Deep and meaningful is always better than superficially pretty.

Success is not always what you see.
– Anonymous

50. Fake it till you make it: If all else fails . . . fake it!

Source: http://seanhamptoncole.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/living-strategically-50-lessons-chess-teaches-you-about-life/

Conversations with Myself: Pockets of Excellence

Mickey Mouse hot dog cart

What are pockets of excellence and how do we create them?

Individual pockets of excellence are visible through people who have personally excelled, but what makes them tick and what makes them stand out from the crowd?

Corporate pockets of excellence are visible through companies that have excelled, but what makes them work and stand out from the crowd?

Pockets of excellence usually happen when:
• One or more groups are managing their processes brilliantly
• Documentation for everything they do exists
• Roles and expectations are communicated clearly and concisely
• Measures are in place to monitor and evaluate what works and what does not work
• Accountability is enforced – from the ground all the way to the top
Adapted from: http://www.processexcellencenetwork.com

Pockets of excellence is about replicating the good that already exists rather than investing in yet another model to confuse everyone even more (http://www.mindofafox.com).

People and teams become excellent because they behave in a certain way i.e. they meet and/or exceed targets, they meet deadlines and they adopt an innovative and disciplined approach to everything they do. So how can we achieve pockets of excellence?

1) We need to be clear on our priorities and focus on them and nothing else. We should even become obsessive if necessary. Proof of this will be found in our habits and disciplines. What do we measure, how often do we measure and how do we act on what we have measured? How often do we meet with our team/partner and what do we talk about? What are the non-negotiable actions and behaviours that prevail?
2) Quality of communication in the team/partnership: How do we speak to or with each other? How do we handle e-mail communication? What do we do to ensure communication is open, clear, trustworthy and clearly understood in all directions? What happens when things are not clear?
3) Work processes and methods: How do we work that is different from others? How do we carry out our tasks? Do we have a particular methodology that sets us apart?
4) High level of engagement: are we as leaders behaving in a manner that makes the team excited about and committed to our objectives? What sense of progress does each team member have and how do they get information on the progress they are making against those objectives? How supported do team members feel? What does it “feel” like to be in the team? Is it a pleasant place to be? Are the interactions mostly pleasant and positive?
5) Customer relationships (internal or external): Is there something special about these relationships? What are we doing to create something special?

How do we create these pockets of excellence?
1) Identify what is good, seek to understand it and formulate a “theory of success” and find ways to copy it.
2) In copying these pockets of excellence, we are gathering evidence that tests the accuracy of the theory, we amend the theory as required, and we test the new theory, so we actively experiment in order to create more pockets of excellence.

Pockets of excellence takes discipline, critical observation and analysis skills and a certain amount of paranoia – a fear that there will always be a competitor who is bigger and better (always is!).
Adapted from: http://www.leadershipsolutions.co.za/general/strategic-thinking-replicating-pockets-of-excellence

Relationships with the opposite sex

Head Banging Stickman Animated

Relationships – why are they so complicated or do we unnecessarily complicate them ourselves? I’m talking about relationships with the opposite sex.

In my world view created for me by my parents, it was socially acceptable for the man to be a year or two older than the woman – even up to five years older. On the other hand, when the woman was older than the man, it was questioned immediately. “What does she want from him?”, “she has a hidden agenda”, “she wants to corrupt the poor guy” etc.

You see, it was socially acceptable for the man to be older because this would usually mean that he was “wiser” than the woman (because of his age, he has more life experience and possibly even had one or more sexual encounters so he could teach her all she needs to know about life and what to do when it came to sexual relations). It was not acceptable for the woman to be older in age because this would mean that she must have had at least one (if not more) sexual encounter which meant that she could teach him a thing or two and this was totally taboo (socially, I mean).

In my world view constructed for me, when a man is 15 years older than the woman, she should run like mad in the opposite direction and get as far away from him as possible because all he is interested in is getting her into bed and “corrupting” her – making her sexually wise before her time. The woman (or girl as she would be referred to) would be forbidden from seeing this man to the point of being “kicked out of her parents’ house” if she dared to disobey the parents (usually the father) and continued to see this guy “without her parents’ permission. The father would threaten to disown her – cut off her right to inheritance from the parents’ Estate if she dared continue having a relationship with this man.

Having a woman 15 years older than the man was almost unheard of. If this happened, it was not spoken about in public – everything was kept behind closed doors.

Parents whispered about this when the children were all safely tucked in bed so they did not overhear the conversation.

Was this woman also made to suffer the same fate as the woman involved with an older man, or did they have different rules?

Mmmm . . . I wonder!

Conversations with Myself: The Search for the Perfect Career

Woman Thinking at Desk Animation

After reading an article by Jeff Haden entitled “Three interview questions that reveal everything” which was based on an interview technique he learned from John Younger, the CEO of Accolo, a cloud recruiting solutions provider I started thinking about my own career in terms of where I started in relation to where I am today and how I got to this point.

In the article he suggests that every recruiter asks three questions when looking at the work experience/career path of the candidate applying for the position:-

1. How did the person find out about the job?
2. What did the candidate like about the job before they started?
3. Why did the candidate leave?

I reflected on my own career and asked these questions about each of the jobs I held over the years.

• Look at all the job vacancy boards available?
• Look at general job adverts in the various newspapers (print) and online newspapers and job portals?
• Attend job fairs and career guidance exhibitions?

This is where most people find their jobs but if you always find jobs in this way (according to the article), you probably have not figured out what you want to do – and where you would like to do it i.e. which company you want to work for.

This method shows the recruiter that you are just looking for a job – any job. It means that any job will do until something else comes along.

By the time you get to job number 3, 4 and 5 in your career and you have not been offered a job or recommended for a job by someone you worked for previously, it shows you did not build relationships, develop trust and you have not shown a level of competence that made someone go out of their way to recommend you.

Great employees work hard because they appreciate their work environment and enjoy what they do. This means they know the kind of environment they will thrive in and they know the type of work that motivates and challenges them – and not only can they describe it, they actively look for it.

• For a better opportunity?
• For more money?
• The employer was too demanding?
• You did not get along with the boss/manager/your colleagues?

The answer you give to this question shows whether you are a team player and take responsibility for your actions.

Some people never take ownership and always see problems in the workplace as someone else’s problem – they are never to blame nor see themselves as contributing to the problem – it’s always somebody else’s fault.

If you have always “had a problem with the boss/manager/your colleagues” it means that you will always blame others for what goes wrong at work – you will not take responsibility for what you did wrong in the workplace and in that relationship.

The article went on to speak about:

“Great employees go out of their way to work with great leaders”. If you are tough but fair, and ou treat people well, they will go out of their way to work with you. The fact that employees changed jobs so they could work for you/with you, speaks volumes about your leadership and people skills.

All of this has made me think about my own career path and career choices. I have had good relationships with everyone I have worked for and with. I have not burnt any bridges in my quest to move on. I have not gone back to a company I have worked for before purely because I felt it was time to move on – I usually only leave when I have exhausted all the growth prospects available. My lifespan at a company is generally between six (6) and ten (10) years which means that by the time I leave, I have made the choice to never go back.

I am once again in that position. I have been in my current position for the last 10 years but joined the organisation as a temp/casual worker two years prior to that so I’m actually here just over ten years now.

While in my current position, I have been “seconded” to the Human Resources (HR) unit on more than one occasion to assist with organisational transformation – gender and disability mainstreaming, the Employee Health and Wellness Programme, Employment Equity (compiling and submitting reports), assisting on recruitment and selection panels and even being part of interview panels. I have been responsible for internal electronic newsletters (one being an HR electronic newsletter) to keep staff up to date with what’s happening in the HR department and the HR field in general in terms of legislation etc. and even attempted to get the staff involved in Corporate Social Investment (CSI) projects.

I have made one last attempt to apply for a higher level position. If I don’t get that position I’ve applied for, then I have truly tried my best to move on within the organisation. So if asked why I want to leave my current position, I guess my answer will be because I’ve exhausted all my options and it is time to move on.

I will always enjoy the work I do now (Communications) and it will always form part of any other job I do so I will never really leave the field but I really would like to work in the Human Resources field. I have a passion for people (human behaviour) – for understanding why they do what they do.

My passion for understanding human behaviour and why people do what they do has led me to study towards a BA Criminology degree through Unisa. The aim at the end is to work as a Criminologist/Profiler but while getting there I would like an opportunity to use my skills in the Human Resources Department.

In addition to the degree I’m busy with, I am also currently one of the trainees on Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA) Disabled Women Leadership Development Programme (DWLDP) being trained as a workshop facilitator to work within the disabled community helping them to understand their rights as disabled people in their communities and in the workplace.

While in training, I initiated a newsletter for our group as a means of sharing information with other trainees. I am responsible for sourcing content, editing content, layout/design and publishing via e-mail.

I am also involved in an advocacy and lobbying group called Women Demand Dignity (WDD) lobbying for the rights of men, women and children in the area of gender based violence. I am responsible for the social media aspect for the group and manage the Facebook page as well as our blog at: http://www.womendemanddignity.wordpress.com