Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Luck and propesperity and our lives going well is usually a factor of the discipline we bring to it. In my case, my childhood and early adolescence especially, I brought huge resources of discipline to the table.

If I look at the kids I teach, I know it is an unfair assessment, as the cultural setting is different, but I see by far the most children extremely ill-disciplined, unable to focus, unable to concentrate, and perhaps some are pretending not to know what to do but even that is foolish, because overall, they make their own lives in the school environment even poorer by repeatedly creating dissension. That's fine. I get paid a lot, for mind numbingly simple work. It is just dismaying how much laziness and entropy exists in the laiety, and I think the human race is due for a lot of punishment for our lazy addictions to television, computer games and other things that are basically meaningless and wasteful applications of energy. Struggle will teach focus, and our focus will soon need to be razor sharp.

For myself I am quite sad, sometimes, that my education up until Std 4 (I averaged 89% and was probably in the top 4-5 of my class) - that education probably would be sufficient to teach what I am doing now, and plenty of other jobs I've done.

My own work, my own self employments, require far more skill and intelligence. Writing a book, pursuing an Ironman, starting up a business. I've worked in plenty of jobs, but all those who accepted me seemed to want dumb robots. The one's requiring intelligence required also a lot of sucking up, and pretending to have an image and a certain ruthless ambition. Advertising was fun, the work was fun, but the people the most shallow and empty bullshitters you're ever likely to meet (go figure). What a weird place for creative people to end up - finding brilliant ways to con people to be even more materialistic.

I once boldly went to Firstrand premises - yes, glitzy, showy, towering wealth in the heart of Sandton (South Africa's Manhattan I suppose, in terms of wealth and financial clout) and although I knew I was Joe Common Man, and I expected a bit of cynicism, I didn't expect my presentation to be to a few snivelling brats like the one's who often find at the back of the class. I knew I was in trouble when one of my frist comments was met with denial (I had heard a radio interview where the person at the table had debated a topic with my previous employer). He denied ever meeting or talking to my boss. Bad start. Once I got going, the stupid questions began, the sort of questions designed to interrupt your ryhtm, and waste your time.
I made the same presentation to Fedex and they were very impressed. The same presentation, more or less, to other CEO's, one of which offered me a job on the spot. The guys at Firstrand were looking down at me, going, we have jobs and positions, and we take pleasure in the fact that you have none. I eventually called off the meeting, citing it being a mutual 'waste of time', which I think caught the suits off guard. Within a minute I had collected all the documents and was in the elevator, fleeing the building. They sent their marketing rep after me for conciliation. Without breaking stride I shared my disgust with her, at how seemingly intelligent business people behave. Even today I try to resist doing any business with any company affiliated to Firstrand.

Grudges, especially holding onto one, is a tremendous waste of energy. It takes energy to rationalise why you should not talk, pull a face etc. I have held some grudges, temporarily, hoping my coldness would induce a change in the other person. In almost every case I have capitulated, and sought a resumption of friendship or at least friendliness. It amazes me that a majority of people appear to prefer the 'being right', and so remain in a grudge, even though it's a lose/lose, unhappy/unhappy situation.

Complaining is an act of futility, and the only good thing about complaining, is that once the moaning starts, you should know you're in trouble. Instead of complaining, act. Get disciplined. Discipline can solve any problem, and more you apply it, the more solutions you can find.

I observe a lot of behaviour which is hyper-individualistic. I think oil aids this, in the sense that each of us can own more, can move more independently, can live in our own unicellular unit, can leave our partner or spouse at the slightest sign of imperfection. In nature, the individual is doomed, and nature is still the system we are part of. A civilised society can be measured by the extent to which it takes care of its weak. In terms of that, I'd say we are not very civilised.

Some things are not fair. One person will attend all the classes, get the grades, and never get the job. Another will fly through the rules, and have the world at their feet. One of the things that differentiates these two people is that we teach people how to treat us. The one person teaches those around him that he is complaining, and powerless, and wanting. The other one simply acts, and people admire the energy, passion and boldness. Even when the boldness is ultimately misguided, it is still respected, and possibly, rewarded.

At the end of the day success, triumph, the life we will for ourselves, is our own response ability. Fairness comes when we apply discipline more strictly to ourselves, than life's knocks.

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