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Beauty In Change

July 16, 2017

I didn’t know what it means to experience REAL cold until I went to a region that is cold. Wah! Just thinking about it makes me feel colder than I already feel. It is so cold that as I type out this article, my laptop feels like it’s been in the freezer for a week. Even the annoying heat it produces has gone missing. For once I long for that heat of the laptop on my laps, but clearly, even the laptop needs warmth too.

It is so cold that right now fashion and looking good are the last things on my mind. If it is warm it will be worn, regardless of what color it is or what it is. I have never slept in a sweater but this time round I have not only slept in two jumpers, a t-shirt and my night wear, but also (heavy) socks on my feet and gloves to keep my hands warm at night. Plus I had to buy a hot water bottle to put in bed just to keep the sheets warm. Not sure how I would survive in  countries where it snows.

Before I came here I knew it was cold so I had prepared myself accordingly (or so I thought). What I had not realized is that the intensity of cold was far much more than I had prepared myself for. As soon as I landed here, I realized I needed to do a few extra things in order to keep myself from falling sick due to the intense cold. That’s where the idea of buying woolen (thank God for sheep) gloves and a hot water bottle came from. Those are not items that I had packed when I was leaving home for this trip. I had to make a quick decision to invest in these items in order to save myself from falling seriously sick.

The hotel I am staying in, people keep looking at me strangely because of my dress code but to be honest, that does not bother me one bit. Like already cited above, fashion sense became extinct as soon as I got to this place and if there are any fashion police around, they can fine me or take me to their fashion court any time, but there is no way I am going to compromise my health in the name of fashion.

And it is while I was thinking about this whole experience that I realized something very interesting; there is a lot to of similarities between my actions and what happens when unexpected things happen as you are going after your dream.

Like I already mentioned, when I was leaving home I didn’t have some things that I now have. I made a decision to buy them as soon as I got here and realized I was ill prepared to stay in this cold. Similarly, when following you dream you might start and when you get to a certain level, you realize that you need to make some quick changes if you are going to make your dream come true. Some of those changes might involve making some very tough and sometimes embarrassing decisions. But here is the thing; if you decide to care about what people around you will say then you might never realize your dream. Emulate the lion and do what he does; he never concerns himself with the opinions of sheep. Mix all the colors you have to mix but in the end, make sure you meet the desired objective.

Another thing I can deduce from this situation is that in following your dream, you will meet many unforeseen circumstances that will require you to make unprecedented changes to your plan in order to achieve your dream. What this means is that you need to be very flexible and quick to act when the situation requires you to do so because otherwise you risk never achieving your dream. Like Tony Robbins said, “Change is inevitable but progress is optional.

This reminded me of a short book I once read called “Who Moved My Cheese” by one Spencer Johnson. Just to whet your appetite to look for the book and read it, I have here below shared a summary of what the book is all about.

A group of old school friends is gathered for dinner and the topic of conversation gets on to change - in career, relationships and family life. One of those present contends that change no longer bothers him after having heard 'a funny little story' called Who Moved My Cheese? In this artful way, Spencer Johnson introduces the reader to his fable on how to cope positively with change.

The story involves four characters who live in a maze: the mice Scurry and Sniff, and two 'little people', Hem and Haw. All is going well because they have found a huge source of their favorite food, cheese. Hem and Haw have even moved their houses to be near it and it has become the center of their lives. But they do not notice that it is getting smaller, and are devastated when they arrive at the site one morning and find the cheese is gone.

This is where the story splits in two. Scurry and Sniff quickly accept the loss of the cheese and go off into the maze in search of other sources. The little people, because they have built their lives around the big cheese, feel they are the victim of some kind of fraud or theft. Yet this only makes things worse, as their clinging on ensures that they go hungry. Meanwhile, the mice move on and find new cheese.

The fable captures well that moment after we have lost a job or a relationship and we believe it is the end of the world. All the good things were in the previous situation, and all the future holds is fear. Yet Johnson's message is, instead of seeing change as the end of something, we must learn to see it as a beginning. We have all been told this, but sometimes motivation is lacking. To make himself accept reality, Haw writes this on the wall of the maze: "If you do not change, you can become extinct."

For life not to be wasted, it demands a level of risk and adventure. If you are willing to live this way, change loses its horror. In fact, the advancing person purposely creates change because the world is not currently how they would like it. What the Little men, Hem and Haw, discover is that breaking through your fears makes you free. Those who continually seek security, ironically, are wracked by the possibility that they may lose it.

While the book addresses the fact of change in all aspects of our lives, given how many offices it circulates in, it would be fair to say that its main message relates to work. Most employees are employees because they prefer the security of a set wage under the apparent protection of large enterprise. For others, the chief benefit may be that for most of the day they do not have to really think; they 'complete tasks'. But such dependence restricts personal growth, in the same way that medieval serfs, while given a roof over their heads on the estate, often never strayed more than a few miles beyond it and could never expect to be truly independent people.

What cheese are you clinging onto today? Could be a dead business that you are afraid of letting go because you invested so much in it and have a personal attachment to it? Or is it a lifeless relationship that you keep insisting on being in, in order to maintain status quo? If you read the entire book, one thing is clear; in life change is inevitable.  Like the dark philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus said, “The only thing that is constant is change”. And if you don’t change, change will change you.

Be Ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.

PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 16th July, 2017, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words". 




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