Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.
My favourite proverb of all time…
It means a person is a person because of people. We grow, learn, evolve and are informed and shaped by others around us. Our personal building blocks are inextricably linked to those we encounter on the journey of life and we are afforded abundance and capacity of person by the influence and presence of others.
Even an outsider, a lone wolf, benefits from people encountered on the paths on which life take you. I suppose it’s even more important for the lone wolf to be receptive to what contributions and bestowals others can offer. We have to be careful, of course, of who we allow to write on our slate (as a very good friend of mine puts it), not allowing comments and opinions to shape a self-image twisted from who we really are.
I have been very fortunate with the people that entered my life and wrote positively on my slate, who took an interest and wanted to know me and invest in my being. Many mentors, both accidental and intended, imparted wisdom and extracted inaccuracy.
I’m a storyteller. There is scant hope that you will get monosyllabic or brief one-word answers to questions about my day, or my thinking, or an internal combustion engine, or bread baking, or my thinking on group mentality or the Bovril versus Marmite debate.
My interests are broad, reflected in my work and hobbies and reading and writing. That doesn’t make me interesting, just interested.
Storytelling is what makes me fair at my job too, translating complex technical concepts into understandable bits that clients understand and make important decisions on.
I’m also a kite, that’s why it’s in my logo.
In every relationship, there is a kite and a string. The string is there to hold the kite in the wind, allowing it to dance, duck and sway. To soar ever higher, seeking new horizons, new worlds, new thoughts. Chasing dreams and ideas, but still protected from fluttering aimlessly and crashing to the ground, the string that anchors it and offers control to its volitant spiritedness.
I’ve never been in a relationship where I’m not mostly the kite, largely because my mind is untamed by its own chemistry, a cocktail of characteristics only understood more recently, and I’m grateful for that. Business, romantic, friendship, in all relationships I’ve had anchors that held me while I daydreamed and imagined the next steps, solutions and ideas. Not to say that they don’t often try to drag me back to where their thinking suggests I should be. It’s a tough life, being misunderstood.
And I resist them, fight against the dimming of the light that is my spirited desire to ransack the realms about me, in pursuit of the pinnacles. Not resentfully though, I understand that the limits brought are there to keep it sensible, and of productive value.
In my work I stumbled into change management through a side door, I inadvertently created a process that changes businesses’ model and brand thinking. And I’m well suited to change. I love change, I seek it out every day.
Working in technology is accidental. After I completed my studies, ready to find gainful employment there wasn’t much on offer except possibly a path in academia which would mean more studying. I was offered a job to establish a branch for a computer company doing hardware sales. So I went into IT, which is what you do with a degree in philosophy. And this is why it’s accidental at best. I was a complete technophobe, I wrote my thesis on a typewriter – modern, electronic, and cutting edge, but a typewriter. I didn’t do computers, except to find books in the university library. A hand-me-down personal computer from my brother – with two floppy drives and a built-in monochrome screen that blinked and displayed type in amber – was relegated to a doorstop. I was a book in an armchair kind of guy, in my mid-twenties.
Leading up to that first job I lived in a commune with friends and fellow band members, one of whom was a teacher. She had a computer and encouraged me to play around on it. Having always been an artist at heart – the only subject I excelled at in school – design came naturally, even with what was very pedestrian software by the standards of graphics magic we see today. I dabbled and drew and created, but I also scratched around in the computer’s brain. This resulted in me one day wiping out the boot sector; I rushed off to a nearby computer store and asked for help. I left with a floppy drive and clear instructions on what to do. I had to get it sorted before she came back from school, and I did. I confessed to that much later, but the bug had bitten and I was hooked.
As a child I lived in paracosms, partly generated out of a necessity to survive in a world that did not have an understanding of ADHD and Tourette Syndrome and was trying to knock that out of me, reduce me to a conformed shape. And partly because the nature of my imagination and daydreaming had to be fulfilled, it could not be left idle for it would atrophy and be lost. And it was threatened with atrophy as I grew older when play and reverie became prohibited in a world where responsibility was demanded and compliance required.