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What I learned during my month in South Africa: some valuable lessons for us all

By February 14, 2017Blog
Cape Town

I have just returned from a month in Cape Town, South Africa. It was a bit of an experiment to see what it was like to live and work from there (with the longer term aim of spending more time there). I learned several key lessons that I wanted to share since I think they are so relevant to our business and how we conduct our lives.

Brand is so important

South Africa needs rebranding. The number of UK people who asked me ‘…. Yes but is it safe there?’.  The reality is that you take the same precautions as you do in any big city but by and large, I felt as safe in Cape Town as I do in London or Brighton. So South Africa needs to shake off it’s past reputation and paint a more positive image of the Mother City.

It reminds me that in business, branding is so important and once someone knows you as one thing, it’s hard to shake that perception off. So how much work are we all doing on our brand, and are we clear how others perceive us? I know I need to do some work in this area.

The value of living in the present

One great thing about being in the warmth, getting structure in my week and travelling at the weekends, was that I was much more present than I normally am. I was more acutely aware of my senses – appreciating the sun and blue sky, feeling the heat on my skin, and listening to the sights and sounds. This all contributes to the feeling of being much more present and living in the moment. Yet when I am home and in more of a routine, I find myself living in my head more and being less present. Not good! I suspect we are all guilty of this. Something I need to change.

Don’t wish time away

Leading on from the ‘being present’ theme, one sure thing is that time keeps moving forward so we don’t need to wish it away! So on a Monday be sure to not be wishing the week away by wanting it to be Friday! My month in Cape Town, felt like the opposite (at times I would rather have put the pause button on and stopped time moving forward!) and the month flew by – reminding me that no matter what we do, time keeps moving forward.

We all have choices

Some people have told me how lucky I am to be able to spend this time away from the chilly winter in the UK but it’s nothing to do with luck. Yes I am fortunate to be able to do this but it’s all in the planning. We started planning this trip a year ago. I sowed the seed with my clients – some agreed to do SKYPE sessions and others I will catch up with now I am home.

Many of us constrain ourselves by ‘telling ourselves stories’ that we believe as facts and keep us in our comfort zone and stop us taking any type of calculated risks. Yet outside of our comfort zone (in our ‘learning zone’) is where the best experiences are to be found! If you say ‘yes but…’ that stops you taking risks or experiencing new things then challenge yourself and test whether they are stories you are telling yourself or facts?

Be efficient with your time

My last lesson from this trip is to be efficient with your time. We took a serviced office whilst in Cape Town and worked everyday from 8-2pm then explored the area in the afternoons. I had 2 major goals whilst here (as well as doing normal client work). They were to complete my reading and developing some new IP (tick) and to write and shoot my next online training course on Account & Client Management (tick). By being really focused in the 6 hours a day I worked, I got all this done and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

The lesson here is to be focused and remove distractions. In my home office I can often achieve the same things but taking twice as long! I now plan to get a serviced office and try and maintain this focus.

Conclusion

I am writing this blog post not because I want to brag about my month away but because some of my lessons are valuable lessons for us all, and I hope you may take something from this.

I certainly plan to reread this from time to time and maintain the focus and ‘being present’ in my everyday life in the UK.