I recently decided to create a new, slightly different type of Bucket List; a list of, “100 Things I Want to Share Before I Die”; a compilation of sixty-five years of adventure and learning as a family man, an activist, small business owner, coach and consultant.
The Time to Share is NOW (for three reasons).
Firstly, to offer hope to others in a time of crisis. As I write this introduction the world is in crisis, hit by the double-whammy of a global pandemic and a massive economic crisis. Millions of people have been plunged into chaos. My chaos happened during the 2009 global economic crisis and, lessons learned, I was ready for this one. Having “been there”, maybe I can offer real hope to those who were unprepared for such a crisis.
Secondly, to share these ‘things’ before I actually do die. Although a healthy and fit 65 year-old, I am very aware that each year that passes, the probability of my dying increases. I don’t want to die with these ‘things’ gathering dust on a flash drive. Time is precious.
Thirdly, to leave a record of life lessons from my time on earth. Maybe my kids will enjoy reading the articles and watching the videos when I am no longer around. Maybe others will too.
As a kid I never had heroes but, as I've grown older, I have learned to look up to people who represent the things I aspire towards.
Andrew Carnegie is one such person. An American industrialist who dominated the steel and railway industries during the final quarter of the nineteenth century. He rose up from poverty to become, by all accounts, the richest man in the world by the early 1900's.
But it is not his extreme financial wealth that inspires me but his views on the administration of wealth expounded in a series of essays entitled, "The Gospel of Wealth".
"Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in their lifetime for the good of the community."
Having been deeply influenced in his youth by the generous loan of books by an old man in his city, Carnegie administered his wealth to promote learning and recreation, two things lacking in the poor communities of his day. During his lifetime he funded the construction of over 2,500 libraries across the United States, the British Isles and other English-speaking countries. To ensure a partnership with the local community, Carnegie built the libraries on condition that the towns and cities would fill them with books.
Carnegie's example, inspired me to look into my own life and consider how I am administering my wealth during my lifetime "for the good of the community". Although not much in the way of money, I did find a wealth of knowledge and expertise that I have accumulated over the past forty years; most of it lying idle on various flash-drives. Following Carnegie's example, I intend sharing this knowledge and expertise in a manner that will be "for the good of the community".
An Interesting Life.
At heart I am a teacher. My greatest thrill is seeing the 'lights go on' when someone learns something new.
"Teach - Inspire - Empower" is my core mantra and much of my working life has focused on empowering others; whether employees, clients or communities.
Here are a few of the interesting things I have done in this short life (each line is itself a long story!);
- I was born in December 1955 and raised on a farm in South Africa.
- In 1978 I converted from an atheist to a Christian (I then became a human in 2004).
- In 1979 I purchased my first farm while still a student (in a 'no-money-down' deal)
- Two years later I sold my farm (for double the purchase price) and went to Bible college.
- After Bible college and newly married, my wife and I became youth pastors.
- Moved to England to avoid being jailed as a conscientious objector.
- Returned to South Africa and became an anti-apartheid activist.
- In 1985 I was sentenced to two years community service as a conscientious objector.
- Then two years working in the corporate world; I loved being a Training Manager but hated the rigidity.
- Nelson Mandela was released in 1991 and the 'struggle' came to an end and I went into business.
- Back to farming for a few years; also started a small diamond mining venture which I loved.
- A move to Cape Town in 1993 was followed by a period of relative peace and calm;
- Between 1994 and 2009, I focused on various business ventures and community projects.
- The 2009 recession nearly wiped out a property development I was working on.
- After mothballing the project, I tapped back into my activist energy and reinvented myself.
For the past decade I have been on a mission "to create a kind and caring community". Trying to understand what that means is a mission in itself. The journey continues.