I remember that Saturday morning. Awake, preparing the few clothes I was to pack and travel with. My younger brother was up then and we thought we’d watch an episode of Family Guy.
And that we did. Sheer fun.
Around 6:20AM, I finally had to leave the house and walk up to Sibusiso ‘s house so we could be gone.
The journey heading to Pretoria, together with his family was absolute fun. I didn’t even feel the travel fatigue one might feel when on the road for hours at a time.
And finally, we landed there. Then, I had been to Pretoria once. This was my second time.
The hustle and bustle of the city was electric that afternoon. Hawkers lined up, in their numbers, on both sides of the walkway from the train station. Further down, empty taxis parked on the side of the road and queue marshalls shouting at the top of their voices — calling on passengers to board.
We were a stone’s throw away from home. So for us, no need.
We were welcomed with open arms. During introductions, by default, I was taken to be part of the family. I didn’t really put an effort to explain that I was merely a friend.
Now, I was part of the family. And I dared not get in the way of that. So I didn’t.
I took awesome experiences from that weekend of debauchery.
# GO WITH THE FLOW
Because of fussing over the fact I didn’t know a single soul where we going, I could have chosen to say no to the trip. Save myself from unpredictability.
I did not know how I was going to be received. But I went anyway.
I made new friends and discovered that when I work on my interpersonal skills, I get better at connecting with people. Whether they are long time friends or strangers. And in Mamelodi, I was surrounded by people I never knew who instantly became friends and family.
Don’t fight the momentum of things, rather go with the flow and see what transpires.
# BE YOURSELF
In a new place, we often think it’s wise to park our real selves by the wayside. And present a facade that people might like. A facade that might not be found revolting.
So we become actors and have to keep up appearances. I can liken it to being in a relationship that’s in honeymoon phase and because of this, you dare not do things which might turn off your lover — like fart in their presence.
You do that after a while. When you have settled with them.
Doing the opposite of that then, being yourself, proves hard somewhat. And it is when you are truly authentic everywhere you find yourself that amazing things begin to happen.
# GO TO AWAY PLACES; REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR PRIMARY VALUE
When you are stuck in one environment and let’s say, in that space, you are the best at something — you get seduced into staying there forever.
You stay there simply because it’s become safe. You know how the environment will respond to you. Everything can be anticipated and to some degree, managed.
If I eject you from your comfort zone and place you in Lagos, Nigeria, everything changes. There, there are no friends whon suck up to you and the environment is foreign. And to thrive in it, you need to be fully present — you cannot afford to live on autopilot.
If you are a delight in the environment you call home, it is very fun to test yourself in a space where no one cares about who you are (until you prove yourself, of course).
Go to away places, and remind yourself of why you are the best in your current environment.
Just like Jay-Z says it: “Put me anywhere on God’s green earth and I’ll triple my worth!”
Go ahead and triple your personal growth.
# TAKE YOUR HABITS EVERYWHERE WITH YOU
While thumping my phone’s screen a few months back, I came across a tweet from Vusi Thembekwayo.
He spoke of having just finished a gym session, on his way to shower and then prepare for a presentation he was billed to deliver in London, UK.
I read that tweet in awe. I thought: Vusi gets paid to live his life fully — wherever in the world he is. When you hire him, his life doesn’t suddenly stop on that account. If he jogs every morning, he’ll continue doing so while on your payroll.
In Mamelodi then, even before we left we decided we’ll take along our gym clothes so we don’t undo the hardwork we had been doing in the previous weeks in Orange Farm. We were to continue our workouts in Pretoria.
And that we did. It was helluva fun to run the streets of a city I was not familiar with. Have people stare because they can sense we are not from their territory, or, perhaps because there just aren’t a lot of people who jog around there.
This is essential because it speaks to consistency. Keep up who you are, wherever you find yourself. How I now live my life.
As I write this piece about the experience, I have people all over Pretoria who know me and what I am about. I am back in my neighborhood. So, this means I have extended and spread myself a little farther. And that’s the whole point of it all.
Let’s take it global. When I travel to the south of France and I get there and dazzle the French (oh boy! I will confess: They are cross eyed and in awe in Pretoria because of us — we mesmerised them to the core), and then I come back to Johannesburg, it is an amazing thing in that while walking Jo’burg streets there are people in France who tell others about me and spread my name and work.
I have effectively left my comfort zone and now crave spaces that challenge me and to some extent, make me feel inadequate. I’ve found that that’s how I achieve some of my brilliance.
Escape your comfort zone (s).