The Art of Being Alone

I have spent the better part of eight years in relationships until recently, and this new and foreign alone time has been life-changing and exciting. Yet, there really is an art to embracing The Alone and it took some disciplined action on my part to throw myself into this new state of being. For weeks there was a struggle with loneliness, combined with a great sense of loss for the relationship and a person I considered a great companion and love but, that is replaced over time with a freeing sense of being truly alone and happy within yourself.

Of the three major relationships I have had in my life, the most recent one (albeit the shortest) affected me so drastically on every level I was forced to take a step back and assess myself quite seriously and constantly. He shook me up and questioned everything about who I was and what I believed. He would ask questions of me in the most sincere manner, he would listen to my answers so intently. Never of course sharing his assessment unless asked. However, just through the act of this assessment I sat with myself exposed, I could see every bit of me more clearly and wasn’t happy with what I saw. And so, I began changing everything. This was completely unlike the changing I had done in the past for relationships. This wasn’t for him or for the sake of keeping the relationship, it was a deep-seated and considered change for myself. I am so glad that this momentum of change has continued past his constant influence.

He is a formidable man whom I love and admire, and will still long after he is gone. But, of the many things I learnt from him, his admirably simple life is certainly listed within the Top 5. Successful in every possible way, he could have easily lived a life filled with extravagancy but there was nothing but simplicity. I oftentimes sat alone in his modest apartment with a cup of coffee in his bed and just absorbed the silence and atmosphere. I can’t think of another place, not even in any of my own homes, that made me feel so peaceful and happy. I now strive, above all else, to provide myself with that space. Ultimately, I will have that modest apartment filled with books, and coffee and simplicity, but until then I am getting great joy in finding small moments of that same content feeling.

I find that contentedness through dating myself (however “self-help” that may sound). I take myself to my favourite restaurants, occasionally a mid-week decision driving home from work. Saturday morning coffee and pastries whilst reading the (on-screen) newspaper and watching people. Lazy sun-filled Sundays reading, or unhindered walks through the city. Sometimes, after a weekend spent entirely alone, I fall into bed and feel as though all the cells in my body are bouncing around inside me with joy.

My next challenge, hopefully commencing this December, is taking a trip overseas with myself. I am planning to get lost in London where I can spend a few days in the National Gallery, watch something at The Globe and work my way through a collection of must-see historic spots. I haven’t been to London since my uninterested teen years so I am certainly looking forward to seeing the place in a  new light and getting the first stamp in my never-used British passport.

This post was written with the help of two great albums that you should take a listen to in your “me time”:

The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild HuntThe Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt

The National - Trouble Will Fine MeThe National – Trouble Will Find Me

Advertisements

Innovation with Intent

Ten Faces of InnovationInnovation has become a buzzword in business of late and as someone who has “Innovation” in their title, it is a task of mine to grasp what exactly innovation means to us at LIVE+. To us, being innovative means being creative problem solvers, always placing human connection at its centre.

During a recent move, I came across one of my university set-work books (that admittedly, I skim-read at the time) called The Ten Faces of Innovation written by Tom Kelley. It gave me a whole new context to what innovation meant and the differing roles team members can play. Within the book, Kelley identifies 10 personas that play a role in establishing innovation in an organisation or for a campaign.  The book is highly regarded by the likes of Seth Godin and Tom Peters.

 I was surprised to find that my role as Innovation Architect at LIVE+ had been described perfectly in Kelley’s Experience Architect persona. “[Experience Architects] are people who focus relentlessly on creating remarkable customer experiences, [they] set the stage for positive encounters with your organisation through products, services, digital interactions, spaces or even events.”

There is however, an understanding needed for organisations that innovation is something that needs to be embedded into a culture of an organisation to be successful. Innovation is not a flick of a switch, it is a process and requires an implementation plan much like any business function, it needs to be woven into the business’ modus operandi. It is crucial that organisations understand their business in its current state, identify weak points that require action and fix them before bringing new pieces onto the game board. As Adrian Gonzalez, a supply chain and logistics analyst, put in an article recently, “If you can’t execute the small stuff, you can’t expect to innovate.” Organisations require a comfortable level of operation that pushes them into the need to take that step into innovation.

Innovation requires intent to be successful. As Kelley puts it, “It is not good enough to just have a good idea. Only when you act, when you implement, do you truly innovate.” In a combination of learning, organising and building, any organisation, regardless of size and industry, is capable of being innovative and ahead of their competitors. As any business function, innovation needs to have a positive impact on the bottom line to reflect success.

REFERENCES:

KELLEY, Tom. (2006). The Ten Faces of Innovation. London: Profile Books.

GOZALEZ, Adrian. (2014). Forget Innovation If You Can’t Execute the Small Stuff. [Online]. 23 March 2014. Available from: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140323130651-1306443-forget-innovation-if-you-can-t-execute-the-small-stuff?trk=mp-reader-card [Accessed: 30 April 2014].

The Winter Sculpture Fair

I am plagued at the beginning of each May with the thought of Mother’s Day. Each year there seems to be a rise in standard for another original present idea or group activity to show my mother just how much my sister and I care. And, at the risk of discrediting my dear mother, we have in the past been told off for less-than-expected Mother’s Day participation and spoiling. So you can imagine my joy when I came across The Winter Sculpture Fair that happened to fall on this year’s day of maternal appreciation.

BndjqlFIUAAfHYm  Bndj0rpIcAEiW5w.jpg-large

I had no idea what to expect when I bought the tickets and was really blown away by the whole experience, and most importantly, so was my mother. The Fair was at Nirox Sculpture Park which is a privately owned piece of land about 30 minutes drive outside of Johannesburg. The owners of the land have provided one of the most beautiful settings for artists to install their pieces. It is to my understanding that they provide free board and lodging for sculptors on the condition that they leave whatever they create in the park.

The event was bustling to say the least, as any event with the whiff of Cape Town usually has in Johannesburg. Restaurants and wine farms from Franschoek were set up in two massive marquees and we really were treated to some amazing cuisine. Once we fought through crowds for food and wine, we then set up a blanket amongst the trees and sculptures and soaked in the winter sun. One really couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a Sunday. We also took a nice stroll through the huge park, taking in the pieces and scenery.

Bndj-7vIQAAkIsK.jpg-large  Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 10.03.59 PM

I was suitably impressed with the park and I am looking forward to some good drives out of Johannesburg for an afternoon spent under a tree with a book. The park is open to the public on weekends from 10:00 – 15:00, follow the jump to their website if you’d like some more info: Nirox Sculpture Park

The Trews : Russell Brand

If you’re anything like me, you may feel as if there is a decline in the general level of IQ in the world. I blame this dulling of brain cells on a combination of The Kardashians and cat videos, and while there is always a time and place for senseless media, it has unfortunately become a pervasive force.

It has become a quest of mine in recent months to surround myself with intellectual stimulation. I was thrilled to come across Russell Brand’s YouTube channel. I have always been a great fan of his as unexpectedly, behind the somewhat scruffy rockstar persona, he is an incredible philosopher and intellectual.

A few months ago he began a new feature on his channel called The Trews (true news) where he challenges mainstream media in their creation of our distorted reality and really forces you to look at your surroundings in a more objective manner. He also talks to fascinating individuals and philosophers like Alain de Botton (which is also a whole other post) on their perceptions of the media and opinions on thinking.

If you would like to challenge your thinking and break out of your tiny thinking bubble you need to head to Russell’s channel immediately. He is hilarious and so smart.

 

Also, be sure to watch Alain de Botton’s TED talk called Atheism 2.0, one of my most favourite TED talks of all time.

The Orbit : Braamfontein

The Orbit is a gorgeous new spot in the heart of the revived “New Johannesburg”, a restaurant and live jazz club that manages to bring a big city feel to the Braamfontein area.

The Orbit   BnRjqFmIcAA_Ic3.jpg-large

I was lucky enough to watch Emily Bruce, a Cape Town-based jazz singer, who really is your quintessential female powerhouse vocalist. Her backing band with the combination of her voice was entrancing to say the least. The audience was surprising mixed, I was expecting a room filled with beards, tweed and tight pants but instead there was an older businessman crowd mixed-in with the young Braamfontein crowd.

The food was good with a limited menu but the highlight for me was sitting back in the shadows with a good Scotch watching and listening to people who were quite clearly living their dream on-stage. The one thing I felt was missing though, was smokiness to the room. When I conjure up idealised images in my mind of a jazz bar, the air needs to be thick with cigar smoke but this bar is surprisingly fresh.

I would never call myself a jazz fan but The Orbit really opened my mind. I can honestly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something a little different to do in Johannesburg. Jump to their website to see their upcoming events and if you need an appreciation for jazz, check out Emily Bruce.