Stamina as a niche

The industrial revolution brought on changes to the way we do business that threatened and eventually destroyed notions about the way we think about work.

Transitioning through the Information Age, the challenge for me is finding joy in the tedious tasks that I imagine will be automated in the future. Tasks that involve the gathering of raw data and processing it.

4.5 billion years of work
Work is the reason things work

Raw data could be anything from email addresses and phone numbers to opinions about the way services should be delivered. Processing this means compiling this data and extracting relevant information from it, either to make recommendations to the change management teams (if they even exist yet, a lot of places are still waiting for “The Government” to implement programs) or for personal use in program development.

The problem with this…and also the best part about this is the ACTUAL interaction with people.

I do have a slight anxiety problem that makes me tend to avoid human interaction. As life goes, for collective evolution¬†to happen, humans need to be consulted and actively included. Even if they’re against the changes, for whatever reason.¬†Each person matters. Each opinion counts for something, even if it’s a negative balance.

In certain systems, we can go in with prior knowledge as to why people might be against change. The term being used to describe necessary changes in business is disruption.

Being an entrepreneur, I have to understand as much as I can about the ecosystem that I’m working in. The politics, the emotions, the motives, the values and principles that can only be extracted from the individuals (preferably with their knowledge) who perpetuate the system that I choose to work in. I have to keep overturning those loose stones.

Here in South Africa, a country still in its own version of an ICU after the brutality of apartheid, the business environment is still dominated by teams that seem highly resistant to change.

Stamina: The ability to sustain prolonged physical and/or mental effort

Eternally tiledObserving myself connect on a deeper level with reality as we all experience it, I’ve become more conscious of the emotions that solidify this reality (I feel, therefore, I exist here). Sometimes, I want to return to my old habits and completely disassociate myself from my own emotions. To watch them from a distance and have something akin to pity for them. Like shadows on an eternally tiled walkway.

The emotions that work in the same way an earthing rod does. The emotions that keep me kind. The emotions that keep me striving for a better future. The emotions that help me build and maintain relationships with people.

Wanting to let them go when they’re slowly burning my stored joy into ash wouldn’t be the best idea though. As tempted as I am to hold on to the more pleasurable spectrum of the emotional taxonomy, I’ve learned that they tend to stagnate. Bliss stales into boredom and laughter runs dry, forced.

The reason I want to let go of them is because I don’t have much choice but to feel them. Whatever they are, whenever they arise.

The fun ones are mostly triggered by the natural world. Watching squirrels chasing each other in the gardens and butterflies battling against every slight breeze (struggle is real there), just to get that nectar.

Sometimes, people trigger happiness

Flower and seed
Seeds and flowers both bring happiness

The children, listening to every word you say and taking it to heart, no questions asked. I remember working at one of the community gardens, school kids would come on field trips and I would learn just as much as they did about this planet I love so much. I remember trying to teach a group how to meditate in a decrepit classroom, one of my proudest moments was when a few asked if they could meditate again.

 

The grandparents, they’ve seen the other side of the mask, they know how to give solace. They sit there quietly, with those little smiles on their faces. They know the patterns, they’ve lived through them a million times. Just being in their presence, the feeling of safety abounds. (which reminds me, we need to work on programs that care for the elderly)

Then there’s everyone else in between.

This is where the stamina comes in. Understanding that this closed system is just an environment to practice in doesn’t lessen then intensity of the emotions that well up.

I struggled to get my work done today. I did meet two people who shared some ideas with me, that helped. I didn’t really want to talk to the businesses owners at all, to be honest. I guess I’m just tired of the sighs and the depressed reactions that I get from people I don’t even know when I talk about community safety.

sgt pepper average lifespan of a starI have enough of my own “can’t do” attitude to have to take on other peoples. To the point where my own progress is kept in the shadows because of a reality that I don’t even understand. I keep looking up though, knowing the stars are still shining behind the blank blue curtain helps a lot.

 

I laugh at “silly” things. I do this so that I don’t bawl about the serious things.

We can’t have emotions in a professional environment. So I hide them. I do my best to capture what’s expected of me, ignoring the truths that slam into my chest with a smile that shields me for a while. Unfortunately, with so much energy going into that shield, there’s not much left for the “real” work. Productivity falls. Shame, guilt, frustration and then anger. Each second of those emotions is like a brick of apathy. Each word exchanged, or worse, left unsaid, become the mortar that binds the bricks.

Fortunately, I have a support system. From the other side of this wall of apathy, people who care. Who diligently chip away at the wall, daily. Popping their heads over and throwing romantic notes and flowers over to me. I’ve learned to do the same for them.

That’s what being an adult is about.

That’s what stamina means to me.

Being able to recognise these people. To keep throwing the little notes back and forth. To start planning doorways.

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Start with what you have…

I like to strive for perfection, even though its rare to achieve, what with being human and all. I’m learning not to let this hold me back though, recalling a lesson shared by my family before I left home, “Start with what you have”, I’m just going to dive in.

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Think, while it’s still free to do so

I think that the most admirable profession is teaching. I don’t have to back that up but I will if I have to, after all teachers are the ones who give us the tools to free our minds. I also think that as a society, we could do more to show our appreciation for the men and women who dedicate their lives to shaping the future from an institutional perspective.

Along with the healthcare system, I strongly believe that the education system deserves more attention from the people who can make a difference in our world. I intend to make a difference myself and if all goes as planned, this will be my little contribution to the story of our species.

Ideas aside, the reality of the system is that its best to be qualified when dealing with the education system. A lack of knowledge can do more harm than good, however well-meaning the intentions are. There’s a lot at stake in that environment.

Because of this, I’ve taken a backseat regarding the education system and decided to gain some experience in a more sandbox type of environment. The private sector.

Having never really been a fan of capitalism (mainly because I didn’t agree with the motives behind the methodologies), I had avoided this section of reality like the plague as much as I could. Looking back, this was pointless…our lives are based on a whole system, capitalism included. I might as well embrace my demons.

For-profit community development.

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Employment opportunities

People are people, whichever sector they’re in. Hopes and dreams aside, humanity must exist at some level. As I engage, I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

I have found myself neck deep in a community of strong-willed individuals. Individuals with a strong sense of what they want in life and a pretty good idea of when/how they’ll get what they want. Most importantly, who they’ll hire to make this happen as quickly as possible.

A community of entrepreneurs

The entrepreneurial spirit, a pillar of the human mindset that has had many names, is being adapted for the current times and even though it has mostly been used to further corporate goals, there are instances where people are using it for social development. The inevitable merging of the public and private sector means that there’s a shift of this mindset from business to social development. I’m excited to watch this happen, especially here in South Africa with it’s built-in freedom and abysmal education system.

Evolving City-01
A public Long Street

So on that long winded note, I focus on today’s task. One on one communication with business owners on Long Street. Sure, I’ve done some trial runs, getting a feel of the people who own property and businesses, finding out more about their role in the community, in Cape Town and in South Africa. The residents too, playing a key role in how people perceive Cape Town, have just as much power as the business owners…the question is, do they know this?

Armed with a clipboard and an important notice, empowered by prolific community advocates and their ‘never-give-up’ attitude, I will be walking door to door. The aim of the conversations will be to increase the sense of community. A sense of connection between the businesses and the physical spaces that their customers use.

I’m not the first to do this and I doubt that I’ll be the last but this experience will propel my understanding of the dynamics of human relationships in South Africa. This small section of the economy is a first template as I delve into the business of social responsibility and human nature.