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These days it’s hard to blog about work because I can’t breach confidentiality and pretty much everything I’m working on is confidential – or by discussing it I might seem to be disrespecting someone or an organisation (I had a meeting with ZNBC yesterday that shocked me so much, but can’t talk about it, cos I need to work with them, so don’t want to feel offended).

selfrespect

So I decided to blog about relationship issues that I’ve been observing here – and to be fair, I’ve been a party to it too, but thinking about my friends, watching Think Like A Man, I wanted to get this off my chest.

I’ve gone to several kitchen parties, baby showers, weddings etc since I’ve been back in Zambia, but what I’m hard pressed to find are truly happy couples. In fact I was slightly taken aback when at my last all women’s event, the mainly married women were talking about how they didn’t have passwords to their husbands phones, but the kids did, so they were using the kids as spies to find out if their husbands were sending or receiving inappropriate messages! What?!

They talked about it like it was so normal. Why on earth would I want to be with a partner I didn’t trust? Perhaps in other ways the man is making her a happy woman (in her soul, not physically).

Each relationship is different so I don’t judge when people stay in bad or unhealthy relationships, because we’ve all been there. But it does make me wonder, why would you do that to yourself?

Well I guess it’s like what Steve Harvey says, you have to have standards and you have to have self-respect.

Some of these women seem like proper Type A women – they have senior positions in their companies, real position of power, and they make their own money. Professionally they have self-respect and standards – they must have or they wouldn’t have got as far as they did. But something falls apart when it comes to relationships.

I blame it on the societal pressure. We’re women in Zambia, a country that looks down on you as a woman, let alone a single woman. I’ve walked into countless meetings where I have been blatantly ignored and disrespected because of being a woman, and more so a woman without a ring on her finger. Yet I might be the more senior figure in that room.

It’s a constant battle to walk that fine line of being strong enough as a woman without coming out like an aggressive wannabe male figure. So I can understand the urge to want to come home and be a woman, a woman who has a strong man by her side to take care of her – not because she needs to be taken care of, but because she wants to be.

But we put up with a lot just to have that man in our life. And is it really worth it? This morning my ipod decided to play Ciara’s Like A Boy and I was really listening to the lyrics.

‘What if I had a thing on the side, made you cry
Would the rules change up or would they still apply
If I played you like a toy?
Sometimes I wish I could act like a boy’

Or my personal favourite ‘Tell you I love you but when you call, I never get back’

Sadly despite what Ciara sings, I just don’t think a man can comprehend the pain women go through caring for someone who simply doesn’t care about them. In fact switch up the roles as suggested in Ciara’s song and the labels attached to the woman are anything but flattering.

But yet we still stay in relationships that do nothing for our soul. Sometimes it does seem hard to identify bad relationships – i.e. he doesn’t beat me, he doesn’t cheat on me etc – but it’s the little things isn’t it? That’s what having standards is about, standards and self-respect.

Why do we think it’s ok that a man can make you cry, not value your time, just because he says those three words us women love to hear? If you’re not important enough to have a call returned, your time respected, your commitment valued, what are you saying about yourself?

Sometimes being alone does not mean being lonely, it means having enough standards and self-respect to wait for the person that will value you and treat you like the queen you are to come into your life.

We all know this, one day we’ll listen and do it – then maybe you’ll have Kings stepping to you, to make you his Queen.

Taking time out from thinking about work and my career – sigh it really is hard when you’re on a trajectory for world domination – but I’ve had another thing on my mind – babies.

Yup. Living in Zambia you’re very aware of all the babies/children around. It seems everyone follows the same path growing up, which at some point involves getting married and having babies. And everyone says the same thing, ‘you should have one, having a baby changes your life!’

I have to admit this threw me because … well… I like my life as it is, why would I want to change it? Well I’d like more money, buy more shoes, travel more and stay in luxury hotels, but none of that has to do with having a baby.

Baby and Father

People seem to find this response shocking, because after all I’m a 30 something year old woman, shouldn’t I want to have kids? As a child I never wanted to have children, I’ve never particularly liked kids – I like the ones related to me, though even they have their moments – and as I grew I expected, like other things in my life, this to change and I’d get all broody and have the 2.5 kids with the white picket fence.

I think around 29 I did get broody. The idea of a little baba was very appealing. A year later the broodiness was gone! People who don’t know me well think my none-interest in kids and having babies is because of my significant other – he has his kids, he doesn’t want any more. But I learnt a long time ago not to let a man drive my decisions – biggest way to regret anything you do! So while I took it into consideration, thinking, ‘what if one day, this so called maternal instinct kicks in’, but the more I’m around kids, and as the days go by, I just don’t feel it.

Ok maybe I’m also lazy and children are hardwork. It’s not like you can just leave them to just get on with it while you chill in front of the TV. And I’m not a morning person, so if kids needed to eat before say 11am, they’d starve until they learnt to make their own food. Waking up in the middle of the night? Nah, not for me. Call me selfish but I’m quite content with my life as it is. In fact the only reason I even fleetingly entertain the idea of a child is the fear of having all this fabulousness die with me! How will I be remembered if I don’t have kids to carry on my memory? But that is probably too selfish a reason to have a child, surely I can just have a stature of myself erected?

Children are expensive too. School- fees! Sheesh. These people pay in dollars! The amount of money they buy would really add fabulous new shoes in my collection, not to mention a few handbags and diamonds too, I’m just saying.

For me that whole biological clock is ticking just doesn’t seem to resonate, and seeing that the clock of choice for me is a Tag Heuer, I have no doubt that it’s ticking away just fine.

I believe that the path for personal development and growth has many stops for internal reflection. I frequently find my self grabbing a comfy chair and pouring a glass of wine for a long hard look at myself. Only when we can identify our weakness can we do something about it.

The latest one I’ve been dealing with is empathy. I know that that shouldn’t really be a problem – unless you’re that girl in X-Man, then it could be a problem… or was it Heroes? Aaah who remembers? *shrugs shoulders*

Empathy, defined by Psychology Today, is ‘the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors.’

Looks like a good thing, so why is that a bad thing to have? In theory it isn’t, but if you empathise too much, you can’t see your responsibility in the situation.

Recently the company got into a situation where for no fault of our own we couldn’t pay certain suppliers for services they had provided. For legal reasons I can’t give too much backstory. I had the suppliers calling me and explaining their situation. Now for anyone who has worked and lived in Africa long enough, you’ll understand the cashflow cycle – we run on a cash based economy, with limited access to credit, if one person isn’t paid it trickles down the chain. We talk about developing our economy, our economy can’t be developed if businesses and individuals can’t get paid, or have access to other sources of finance.

Our business was impacted by this breakdown in cashflow. But my first thought was the suppliers who couldn’t get paid. As I argued and fought to collect the finances to pay these suppliers, I never put myself and our business in the picture, just wanting to ensure the needs of these suppliers were met – to the point where I almost tarnished the reputation of my company.

But yet, I still faced a level of abuse from the suppliers, who didn’t quite have the same level of, or any, empathy as myself. Instead the company was lumped into the category of ‘business as usual’ companies in Zambia. It was a lesson learnt by myself. You can build all the bridges you want, but when it comes to money in Zambia (and I’m sure many other developing countries), one mistake and that bridge can be burnt completely.

Yes in more developed markets it’s all about long term growth and strategy, but how can you focus on long term when the problems of today are on your doorstep? So with this in mind, what is the long term strategy for doing business in Zambia when cash is such a problem and relationships so precarious and fickle?

I am known as a very strong, passionate, and opinionated (bull-headed even) woman, but I also I am fiercely loyal, to my business, my brand, my family (and family is not only blood related). When I feel any of those things are being threatened I react like a lioness protecting her cubs (I think that’s what lioness’ do…sigh, I should watch Animal Planet more often). And when the threat is from someone I respect and trust, that’s just unforgivable.

Ok I might forgive, but I can’t forget the wrong done…. Wait… Doesn’t that technically mean I don’t forgive? Ok let’s just say that I become wary and you might find yourself on our blacklisted list.

Business is tricky and sometimes you have to work with your ‘enemies’ in taking your business to your next level, but then I’ll know you’re an enemy and won’t trust you as far as I can throw you. And that’s not how I like to work, but maybe that’s just the reality of doing business. I don’t know… As Queen Bey says ‘you can’t be nice in business’.

Anyway, that was some of my inner reflections, I need to carry on reflecting and developing myself on my journey to growth and inner peace 🙂

Last week Zambian Breweries under its Mosi brand sponsored the first ever Zambian Music Awards. Media 365 had the pleasure of being the local logistics and production company working on the event. Seems a bit of a stretch for Media 365 right? Especially as our work is so focussed on cause related communications. Well this is a ‘cause’ for us as we’re all so passionated about the music industry in Zambia and promoting it for the recognition it deserves. We also believe that the people in the music industry can help young people achieve their dreams, so what is there not to support?

Also we’d worked with VLP productions – the South African company producing the event and TV shows for the Road to MAMAs event in Lusaka and our Creative Director Fred Phiri had always stayed in touch with them (is there a lesson in networking to be had here? Well that’s an article for another time!)

Danny Performing

So anyway, as the MD, I don’t always play a hands on role on the project, and as we are a small time, already with six other projects on the go, I get a lot of the top level information, and the overall workplan and tasklist to see what everyone is working on but that’s about it. But there are things that I do take interest in – I’ve always loved attending rehearsals of award shows – there’s just something magical about seeing it all coming together. So I did find the time to drop into those rehearsal from time to time.

This is the first real entertainment event I’ve been privy to in Zambia, and it did help me get some insight into the entertainment industry here – which I’ve been out of since I left Trendsetters in 2002. It was an eye opener.

There were a couple of things I found fascinating, firstly the time and effort people put into their careers, and performances. Watching people like Beyonce you know she puts in hours on her performances to get it perfect – you don’t need to be part of her inner circle to know this. Even a week or so I watched the Braxton Family Values (yes i have these terrible reality tv moments!) and the sisters had a show to put on in 3 days – a small event but the stress that was coming from those rehearsals! Joh! And it’s not like we don’t know that the more you put into something the more you get out of it, especially when it’s your job.

You can imagine my surprise (ok slight amusement) when some of the performers were not exactly thrilled about the daily rehearsals four days leading up to the event. They seemed kind of horrified and the thought of having to do more than one rehearsal! What? That was a surprise. One of the performers didn’t even pitch for the first couple of rehearsals.

But I also thought it spoke to the entitled attitude we in Zambia seem to have, like the whole world owes us something. The idea of working hard and taking responsibility is almost foreign. In fact when we (I’m using the royal we here) are at fault, we prefer to blame someone else rather than reflect on what went wrong, own up to our part in it, learn from it and move on.

Cathy and Anna

This kind of leads me into my wardroble malfunction. After my lovely stylist friend Manenga Mwense (@manenga1) chose a style for me to wear, using a red carpet look (i’m too embarrassed to say who when it’s so obviously got wrong), and the so-called designer/tailor here got it wrong, after three fittings (!), he sent me a text message saying that it was my fault for coming so late for the fitting that he couldn’t do a last alter. WTF? Already having a bad week with some terrorists (my new description of some clients), I just couldn’t be bothered to respond to the his text as I really would have ripped him a new one.

If it wasn’t that the VO announcing me on stage was already done I had no choice but attend the awards. I searched frantically through the Love Games wardrobe to find something to wear. Our wardrobe is nothing like the one on the Devil Loves Prada sadly. I was in tears not knowing what to wear with this wardrobe disaster and I was already almost an hour later. Through the tears came the answer – I’ll wear two dresses! I would have one the one, as it was a better fit, but as it had already been packed away it was all creased. But my worry was that the ill fitting one was still obviously ill fitting. What choice did I have? Surprisingly enough everyone said I looked great anyway (gosh do I look bad most of the time for this bad look to look good?!)

Let me back track again to pre-show events 🙂 So the lack of interest in rehearsals was a shocker but hey, it’s each person’s individual career, it’s up to them where they want to put their focus – the same artist then even said that rehearsal were not on priority list and we could remove said artist from performances if we wanted (that’s what he said). Yup unbelievable.

Back to show night! When I finally managed to get comfortable, and everyone commented on my kickass hair style, so that helped make me comfortable too. In fact my hair was literally finished like an hour and a half before the show! I do love my hair dressers at Vanilla Salon at Manda Hill – I do think they think I’m crazy because I always have some outrageous style in mind, but they manage to pull it off well. So got my hair and nails (Shellac, I’m too busy to be having my nails done every other day), and at least that was helping me feel better. Having good hair, nails and face on always helps!

Cathy and Benne Banda on Stage

The show was amazing. Ok some of the performances were a bit ehem, well, you’ll have to watch the show. Other performers were just … they brought it. The Ruff Kidd collaboration of Vigabenga with Slap Dee, Zone Fam, and P-Jay had so much energy, was so good! Ruff Kidd is absolutely crazy, but you have to love his stage presence.

But for me the best performance of the night was the closing performance Slap Dee did. The thing that I liked about these performances is that they understand that even if it’s hip hop, today you can’t just stand on a stage and walk around spitting into the mic, people want to see a show. And definitely with those two performances they saw a show! I think you can tell the artists who really put in the time with craft and are focussed on the prize and those who are, well, entitled and think they’re good enough.

zonefam_ruffkidd

It was then fun to ring in my birthday at the after party with Jay Rox (from Zone Fam) who I also share a birthday with.

So I’ve never thought of myself as a social marketing anything, let alone a guru (but I like the sound of guru, might throw the term around a bit to see if it sticks 🙂 ), but the lovely lady from Diasporan Darlings decided that that was a deserving title for me in a new interview they did. I’ve posted the first few questions, but to read the full interview do go here

Ex-diasporan, Catherine Ndashe Phiri is part of an emerging group of creative Zambians who have returned home to change the Zambian creative industry. It’s often an industry that is undervalued and highly criticized in most African countries, yet it’s an industry that exudes hope; requires hard work and the ability to ignore scathing (warranted and unwarranted) critique.

For someone who was the former Vice President of MTV International’s Social Responsibility, Cathy’s decision to resign from MTV and return to Zambia to focus on the company she started with her siblings (Media 365 Zambia), was a little startling. She spoke to Diasporan Darlings about her reasons for leaving and whether she has had any regrets.

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DD: You have a blog at http://www.cathyphiri.com which we have unashamedly read from beginning to end. It’s a very honest journal about your journey from London (quitting MTV) to arriving in Lusaka and the various issues you have had to deal with. What have been the benefits of having that blog?

CP: I love to write first and foremost. I started that blog when I was making the decision to leave MTV, not really sure what to do next. The blog was inspired by Paulo Coelho’s book, “The Alchemist”. You know how it is, you read a book at a particular phase in your life and it just makes sense, this is how I felt about The Alchemist, I was looking for my personal legend. Once I got back to Zambia, I carried on blogging as it was a good outlet for me to deal with the challenges of relocating to a country I hadn’t lived in for eight years.

I try not to look at the numbers, I don’t write for my ego, so it’s always great when someone comments on the blog, especially when I’ve posted some of my low points and get an encouraging word from someone. A blog is also great for your brand. I try not to go too personal, but use it as a platform to share insights from my experience here to inspire change and also provoke some issues from our industry.

DD: You attribute your move home to wanting more of a work-life balance (particularly wanting to spend more time with your family). How is it for you now to work, play and live with your family? What aspects would you change ?

CP: I absolutely love my work-life balance! I do love every minute of it, but being an entrepreneur is not easy. When I had a job, I didn’t really have much to worry about knowing I’d get paid at the end of the month. But as an entrepreneur, running your own business with staff, every day you have to think about how am I going to pay my staff, my overheads etc. If I could change anything I might have saved a lot more before my move to ensure I didn’t have any financial stress for at least a couple of years. But other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Oh well maybe I would have bought a house here before I moved back, I love my parents, but being a 30-something year old who still has her parents give her outfit a disapproving glance can be irritating! Sometimes I wear outfits ridiculously short just to annoy them. But really I love my family and parents so just happy to be around them.

DD: We love the strength and honesty that comes from you through your blog and tweets. Especially when talking about being a businesswoman in Lusaka, in the creative industry. What challenges as an ex-diasporan do you deal with on a daily basis that you didn’t deal with as a corporate Exec in London?

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To find out what I said to this question – and for the rest of the article, go to Diasporan Darlings to read the full interview.

Once again, thanks for the support!

I’m always excited when it comes to the new year, it’s a new opportunity to grow and renew and more importantly learn from the past. Like the dawn of a new day, we use the new year as a starting point for greater things to come.

This year however, I’ve not felt that renewed energy so much, probably because I’ve taken so much from 2012 into this new year. Not all by choice, some is work related. But it has made me think, if I don’t feel that sense of renewal, excitement and to some extent accomplishment then something is wrong, and it’s something I have to address, and hopefully rectify.

2012 was a hard year for me, mentally, physically, professionally and financially. In short 2012 kicked my ass. My focus over the last few days has been to figure out how to make 2013 work for me. One of the things I know I need to do this year is appreciate myself and the team more. Though clients don’t usually say thank you, good work, or anything else to show they value your work, I need to lay down my driving ambitious way to smell the roses – in this case the good work we produce (if you don’t toot your horn, who will?). And while I’d like to stop rolling my eyes when I see the comments from clients when they watch an offline, I know that will still try my patience. I understand their concerns but I wish sometimes people would trust the consultant – why hire us if you don’t think we can do it?

But I’m going to try not to let that raise my blood pressure this year. Instead I’m going to look at other avenues to do what I love, but I also have to be a bit more ruthless, I’m trying to run a business!

Some of the things that do motivate me are my friends. It’s definitely true what they say about surrounding yourself with people that inspire you, and lift you up. I feel so blessed to have met the women in my life who continue to inspire me and act as mentor and friend when needed.

Having those positive influences in your life are important as we battle through life trying to fulfill our purpose, our destiny even. When the stormy weather comes, as it invariably will, it’s good to have your anchors. I’ve learnt those anchors come in different forms, from family, to friends, to colleagues, to mentors, to that special person in your life. When they believe in you, you know you can achieve anything, and ride out that storm.

So while I haven’t come into the new year with the excitement of the promise for a new, successful year, I know that my storm will pass and that light and sunshine that comes after the rain is guaranteed.

So yeah, bring on 2013!

One of the reasons I wanted to be part of the company I now run is because I wanted to be in control of the content we produced, I wanted to reflect an Africa, a Zambia as we lived it, not as it was seen through the eyes of donors or the west. In short I wanted to tell Our stories.

My enthusiasm was curbed when my partners pointed out the realities of our situation, before we could produce our own content we needed to do client work. We had to produce for other people and get paid for it.

I reluctantly agreed to this – I’m a dreamer, but not stupid, how could I produce content with no money? But as I’ve been doing this for over a year now my same frustrations prevail. The people who pay for content to be produced are not usually natives of the county or even integrated enough to know the ins and out of the country. For confidentiality reasons (and can’t get contracts cancelled), I’ll avoid elaborating!

It frustrates me because by now we should be in control of how we want the world to view us. But we also want to address our realities. We’re not perfect, far from it. In Zambia we have a lot of challenges, stuff that we talk about in private or in bars, but not really in public fora, but pretending they don’t exist isn’t going to make them go away.

I knew coming back I didn’t want to leave the creative edge I was used to working with, and the pride of producing something that looked amazing and made you feel so good about it – I’ve said it before, I want to be a defender of good design and high quality products. That’s what I wanted for our brand too. But if your clients continue to think that because we’re a ‘developing’ nation creativity is irrelevant, it becomes very frustrating. We’re expected to stay in a creative black hole from the 80s while the world moves on.

Don’t get me wrong, not everyone is like that. But in my experience working with development agencies, they want to package development in a boring predictable way, but also follow the principles of building a successful brand (it really is ironic, but amusing in a weird way, when it’s not frustrating you).

People think I over-react when I see a good thing changed into something flat and uninteresting, because after all, it’s what the client wants. But it’s hard to let go of your personal passion to put a business head that accepts anything because you want to get paid.

I’m hoping 2013 will usher in a new chapter in our business and my life. One must never stop dreaming.

But then the next challenge comes in, where is the local talent to produce the content?

I’m sure a lot of people will be upset with me for saying this, but we just worked on a drama series that saw us in production for about 80 days. I can’t count on one hand how many people had to be replaced due to inefficiency, laziness and just generally being uncommitted.

I’m not sure if it’s because no one has really taken our TV and film industry seriously, so they can’t actually see a career in it or because there is still a misunderstanding about the difference between a job and a career.

A friend of mine put it down to being uncommitted but I don’t know if that’s it. Even as we asked the crew what their issues were it was just not clear. They all insisted this was something that they wanted to do but the proof was definitely in the pudding.

Of the 30 odd crew, there was probably about five people I could say I would work with again – oh wait, that’s all the foreign crew then! Ok maybe that’s a bit harsh, they were just as many Zambians I would consider working with again. And maybe we shouldn’t have given so many young people this opportunity, but worked only with seasoned crew.

But honestly, it worries me what is going on with us Zambians in Zambia, our work ethic, commitment to delivering a great product, it’s just not there. I don’t actually know what we’re going to do, how we’re ever going to develop this nation when we want to continue to operate at a snails pace, unconcerned about the outcome of our work, and our inability to take initiative and just lead. And worse still, our continued acceptance of mediocrity.

Anyway, I could go on about this but really I do need to get some work done.

When I first started working, at 18, when I co-ran a youth non-governmental, not for profit organisation, I was known for my foul temper and moody behaviour. I had no problem releasing my wrath on inefficient staff and unreliable suppliers.

As I got older, and started working in a bigger company I realised that maybe my moods and temper were not allowing people to be as productive as they could be. I still struggled with mediocre work and frankly unthought through plans and generally what I considered below standard work. But I learnt to keep the moods in check. Of course if you’re naturally so inclined it is hard to completely switch and occasionally the moods and temper would surface.

I think it did give me the reputation of a no nonsense type of person, and for those who didn’t know me said I seemed scary and aloof. Of course I was shocked by this and in fact hurt at times (when it was within my own team) because I’d worked hard to be more understanding and supportive to my junior colleagues.

So you can imagine my frustration when the other day I was told that a client was scared of me, almost to the point of accusing me of being a bully.

I guess my problem is that I’m passionate. Being passionate about creative and trying to protect against awful design and mediocre products sometimes makes it hard for me to accept below average, or even average, things. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like doing client work, because ultimately you do have to do what the client wants. And unfortunately in the case of this client, they felt we had crossed the client-agent relationship and we were ‘friends’ (this is the only assumption that makes sense to me), and asked my opinion on the products they’d made us change. It was a bizarre thing to me because it should have been obvious that I wouldn’t like it. Perhaps it was a trick question but I just couldn’t lie. I tried to be diplomatic about it, somehow it still didn’t work….

The next thing I knew I’m being called uncooperative, difficult and in short, a bully who scares our point person (of course I’m paraphrasing but that was how it felt).

I make no apologies for wanting to be the best of the best, the leading brand behind everything creative, and of high quality standards, but I do take exception to being called out like I am a tyrant who treats people like shit.

I won’t lie, I like money. I dream of the day when I have enough money in my bank account to take care of myself, my family, and my most important charities. But I also like to know I earned my money. Only on my lazy, depressing days do I dream of winning the lottery!

I guess there is something about working hard and by using talent and knowledge to make money that makes me feel like a success. Anything other than that, well, maybe it wouldn’t be as rewarding. But of course this path is the hard way to climb the path to success. It’s littered with frustration, disappointment, and stress along the way. And there’s no roadmap that tells you how to reach your destination, no short-cut, no show way you’re going to get there. Yet when we begin the path we look forward to getting to the end-point, without knowing how or when we’ll get there.

Ok that isn’t entirely true. There is a roadmap – it’s called strategy. The problem is sometimes we don’t know how to develop that roadmap (strategy) or worse still, how to follow it.

The challenge I find in my pursuit for success and financial rewards (not necessarily the same things), is that I seek to do things that I enjoy, things that I take joy in learning about and getting better at. So sometimes I forget that I’m trying to make money too! But that’s me, I can’t imagine being in finance because I can make a lot of money that way – I’d die of boredom, quite literally.

The downside is that you can get too bogged down doing the stuff that excites you, that you’re passionate about and not make any money from it. So the challenge is to find the balance. Which brings me back to strategy.

To set out on your path, you have to know where you’re going. What is your end-goal? How will you know you’ve got there if you don’t know what it will look like, what it will feel like? Believe me this is easier said than done. Especially if you’re setting out on this course with other people. You all need to be on the same page about where you’re going, because when those detours, bumps and roadblocks come, you need to know how to stay on course and keep ‘the end in mind’.

Among my many challenges, this has been one that continues to crop up. Finding a direction that everyone agrees on. And then back to what will it look like, what will it feel like?

What I’ve realised is that when you’re in management you need to take a step back from the day to day operations, even when it is chaos on the floor, to go back to focussing on the roadmap – keeping the vision always in sight.

So while I’m back in the UK to ship the rest of my stuff (yikes, i’ve really moved for good!), I’m doing the step back thing to look at the bigger picture. The plan is to get back on track once I can figure out what success means, where the end-goal is, and sell it back to the rest of the team.

But first I’m going to watch some day time TV and eat some real junk food – aah the joys of fast food. 🙂

Reading this blog is good insight that failure can be enroute to success – don’t be scared of it!

Last week we buried my uncle (for the purpose of our Zambian tradition where everyone is an uncle, I mean my mother’s brother). At the same time, my sister buried her husband’s sister. Yesterday, we found out a close family friend’s brother had died.

Death, they say, is a natural progression of life. But we like to think that death comes at the end, when you’ve lived your life, when you’ve enjoyed your life. Looking at the people I know who have died in the last week, that isn’t always the case.

When people die, we feel sad, we mourn their life, we ask God why He had to take them away, we try to accept that it was their time and we need to move on with our lives. We feel for those who have lost a life partner – a husband or a wife, those who have lost a child, a parent, a sibling, shake our head, say a prayer, and move on with our life. Unless it’s an immediate loved one, we easily move on with our lives, and hope for the best for those who have been left behind.

From my experience, those who have been left behind, focus on the death, sometimes unable to move on, hoping to find an answer as to why the person died. In my own life, I’ve lost (why do we say that, like they’ve been misplaced?) two brothers, now two uncles, a nephew, a best friend, and numerous aquaintance. My reaction to their deaths is based on my relationship with them. One brother, I felt like I lost a part of me, but I was also riddled with guilt – had I done enough for him while he was alive, sadly I always knew the answer was no. And even in his death, I’m failing to honor his memory properly – but that’s another blog.

Now, as I’m older, I look at death in a different way, a reminder to live life – every day. With my uncle’s passing, which was truly tragic, because it didn’t have to be, he died alone – none of us as his family there, all getting on with our lives, always thinking there was tomorrow to see him, tomorrow to check on him, tomorrow to pay him attention, tomorrow for anything he might need. Yet we all forgot the fundamental words – that the present, is a gift.

We do this all the time, take the present for granted. Always thinking about tomorrow. There are definitely times when you need to think about tomorrow, if it’s about finances, or education, or a career, but when it comes to relationships, tomorrow is definitely not something we should worry about. Relationships are very much in the present, and that’s all relationships you value be it a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, parent, or child, or sibling. Those you can’t get back tomorrow.

Even as I write this, I struggle questioning my own relationship, looking at the flaws and wondering if I can deal with them, as opposed to looking at the positives and recognising the fact that this might not be the ideal relationship I always dreamt of, but that it is the perfect relationship I’ve been in my whole life. Should I keep looking at tomorrow for the answer or enjoy the present I have in my life today?

We always question the meaning of life, asking what our purpose on life is, but we can go through all of life only to die without knowing our purpose. Perhaps our purpose is in death, to remind those who live to truly live life and know what we value in life before we die and are returned to the earth.