I have many teachers. Great ones. Inspiring ones. Today and everyday I will thank them all.

I am a teacher, an Educator, Global Graduate Coach, International Training Consultant, Intercultural Master Trainer, Human Capacity Developer, because all my teachers had a great role in making all of that and more happen.

I just want to focus on 4 of them in this blog post. An unfair small list you might say, but a very crucial one for me.

I don’t remember how many of us were in her class, but it must have been a lot of us in Kindergarten and Miss Kissiedu (Kissiadu) was our teacher.

She was very stylish and elegant and I wanted to grow up quickly and dress like her.

Although she wore a similar style light brown uniform, it felt like she had a different dress on everyday. Looking back I wonder how she was able to always keep her signature red lipstick and shoes on whilst working with a bunch of noisy and attention seeking 4 and 5 year olds. Kids who didn’t want to leave their parents side every morning and came to class crying. I however, never wanted to miss school because of her.

She was so passionate at her job. She disciplined us, but showed us so much love.

Her sense of style showed me early on, one has to make an effort with one’s appearance. It means amongst other things, you take your audience seriously, even if they are noisy 4 or 5 year olds interested in crayons, spellings and additions.

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One of my favourite teacher’s in secondary school was my Geography teacher, Mr Degbor. May God grant him eternal rest.

He will walk into the classroom with so much radiance, energy and passion like it was his first or last class.

He spoke excitedly about rocks, rivers, industries and countries all the time.

When I visit a place like Iceland where Geography comes to life, I think about him and I miss him. I saw the Yangtze River in China for the first time and thought of him.

I am yet to see  more places and I will no doubt think of him.

Newfoundland was one place he talked about fondly. Courtesy of google images.

Newfoundland was one place Mr Degbor talked about fondly. Courtesy of Google images.

He made every single one of his students feel we could do anything because he told us so.

He was such a positive man and like clockwork and without fail share his daily devotional or bible study with us. It didn’t matter your religion, he will preach Christ in a way that you will want to know him and honour his commands. He was Christ-like in his ways and demonstrated excellence everyday. We loved him and looked forward to his class.

Mr Degbor showed me how to use my imagination, as well as the importance of passion and treating my workspace as a place of influence. He also thought me to encourage my students to aspire for more.

More importantly he demonstrated I should never be ashamed of my God and to talk about him to anyone who will care to listen.

 

I struggle to remember the exact subject Dr Vanessa Amoah taught me, but I will never  forget the fact that, she will always be that lecturer who went above and beyond the call of duty to give her students a glimpse of what it takes to be prepared for the world of work after undergraduate study.

How many lecturers do you know will ask their students if they knew what to do in order to get a job? Simple basic things like doing a great CV, preparing for interviews and getting work experience early.

How many will actually show you how to be a step ahead of the competition?

Telling and showing us how, was what made Dr Vanessa different.

The amazing Dr Vanessa (Amoah) Tetteh

The amazing Dr Vanessa (Amoah) Tetteh

Her commitment was extraordinary. Dr Vanessa helped me discover my purpose; to balance and even transition from Tourism to Professional Development. She didn’t exactly say those words, but I had an epiphany. Her actions just set the stage and the tone.

Today, you will find me still talking to and helping students and trainees long after training sessions are over. Sometimes for 2 or 3 hours more.

Dr Vanessa showed me to go above and beyond, because you never know what that extra invested time will become.

 

Presence, confidence, fun, serious, focused, knowledgeable, driven, energetic, experienced, curios, adventurer, kind, empathetic, team worker, networker, connector, opportunity facilitator, collaborator, global, unstoppable, visionary, relevant, intense, engaging, and PASSION are a few words I can just about manage to use to describe Professor Dimitrios Buhalis.

Name a country, and he has either been there, knows someone who has or an ex student of his lives or works there.

I felt at ease the first time I walked into his class in September 2002 as the only African student on his eTourism course. Even better, he was my course director and later my thesis supervisor. His enthusiasm and vast knowledge for the subject was infectious and legendary. He had already been to my country when we met and had really interesting stories to share.

From the get-go, he mentioned our colleagues were our new family. We needed to form a bond and network with people from not only our class , but from all over the world in a multicultural environment like the University of Surrey. Those were my first lessons in networking. He didn’t just say it, he showed us how. He will organize the class to meet outside campus, just for us to relax and catch up on life.

Today, I am still in touch with some of my colleagues and I have found my best friends because he gave me the confidence to network. I have friends from all over the world, because of your advice, Professor Buhalis.

Professor Buhalis or Dr B as some of us used to call him then, was that person who will demonstrate balance; “get the job done, but don’t take life too seriously.”

He also remembered all of our names, so there was no hiding. I make sure I do the same with every class I run today. There can be a hundred people in my class and I will remember everyone’s name by the end of day one on the course.

He challenged us to give off our best. No excuse will match his intelligence. He gave us several opportunities and still do. I am not talking about field trips, that was a given. He got us to interact with professionals from the industry.

Helsinki is stuck in my mind, because I missed an opportunity to go as a student, but I will go soon and will remember him.

I got my first proper International tourism related work experience, because he gave the opportunity to all of us, but I took it quickly.

Even now, he will still alert me to great career opportunities in my region.

I have Professor Buhalis to thank for putting all the pieces together.

He gave me and anyone who was serious, wings to fly.

The Master Teacher. Ever smiling, ever inspiring.

The Master Teacher. Ever smiling, ever inspiring.

I wasn’t the “brightest” student in his class. I didn’t fully understand technology then. But, I was so keen on learning and understanding how all of it worked, because I had noble intentions of being a key player in advising my country’s tourism agencies after my studies.

I was up for a challenge, but it was a real struggle. I stayed up all night to type most of my assignments, because up until my Masters degree, I had never owned a computer or was required to type my assignments during my undergraduate studies. I didn’t complain, I just soldiered on gracefully, because I never heard him complain about anything.

Although my time at University of Surrey will still be one of the best years of my life, my first semester was like going through a labyrinth.

No excuses here. However, I was coming from a place where most of the ideas already happening in Europe for instance were considered more futuristic in most parts of my continent. They were very new ideas to me too and I struggled, but I did pick up eventually. Dr B’s enthusiasm and style of teaching were new to me too. I had to learn and adapt quickly. I loved it.

Professor Buhalis made me deliver presentations, with different groups every time. I learnt the strength and power of teamwork and of course resolving conflicts.

Thank you Professor Buhalis for teaching me presentation skills. You were my Master. Apart from Sunday school plays and going for bible class to memorize verses for badges as a teen, I don’t recall ever delivering a single presentation in class until I met you in 2002. Today, I have gone on to deliver hundreds if not thousands of presentations for different audiences. Give me a room of a million and I will deliver with impact.

Thank you Professor Buhalis for opening up a whole new world to me.

Thank you for giving me that extra push I needed to launch, not just my career, but my purpose.

I am a teacher, because all of these amazing people taught me first and well. Thank you for being inspiring.

Thank you for giving me wings.

Thank you for being there when I needed someone to look up to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The French exchange student, I had just given career advice to in some little restaurant in Wuhan, China, asked me the meaning of my name. I said it was along the lines of saviour or being delivered. Then he asked, “Are you my saviour?” I said, maybe, who knows. But this got me thinking about E. The man, who saved me from ignorance, built my self-esteem and confidence. The man who changed my life without knowing he was doing so.

I will always be grateful God made sure my path crossed with E and he ended up mentoring me, teaching me, telling me off and educating me. An education, I can never get in any classroom.

Let me take you back a little bit. I was in my early 20s thinking I had life somewhat figured out in my own little shallow world. Everything, including opportunity was bright, fresh and colourful around me, but I was in an alley of darkness and couldn’t see at all.

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I was just going through the motions and ticking boxes. Being a little above average.

And so on a fateful afternoon, I sat in an interview room waiting for questions from a panel who have had far more experience in an area I was only hoping to get in to. I had no idea my life was going to change forever, for better.

Thankfully, I got the job and it didn’t just become a job. It was the unorthodox stage for my confidence to be built, my mind to be opened and my feet to be strengthen to discover who I was destined to be. The job itself was varied and no single day was the same.

So, along came E. He was my Irish boss who had also lived in Ghana in the 70’s. From the word go, he set the tone for me to believe in myself.

I was anxious about life, but he was positive and still is. I have never heard him sound pessimistic. Never.

I had very little confidence. He is my definition of confidence, charisma and enthusiasm.

He had seen the world and at the time we met, I had seen nowhere, just Lagos and London.

He will walk out to people and make connections with them. He could make strangers laugh and fill their eye with happy tears. I was not keen on meeting strangers.

He had a library and a whole section dedicated to National Geographic magazines. I had a collection of books and magazines mainly on fashion, style and interiors, which was scattered everywhere.

E had other business investments and always told me to save up for the rainy day. At the time, I was like a kid in a toyshop and was busy buying shoes in every colour I could find.

I was anxious and full of doubts about many things, but E kept telling me to believe in myself and to know I was a superior being. That was a bold statement to make and it made me wonder. What kind of human being tells another they are a superior being? It must take one to know one. He always said, amongst other things, as a superior being you can live in the palace and the ghetto and I have.

E always told me not to take any nonsense from anyone or give any ignorant person the permission to make me feel inferior, because of the colour of my skin. He always emphasized that at the end of the day, when we are cut open, the colour of the blood is the same. E, encouraged me to know I more than belong, and will readily supply me with quotes and facts.

My colleagues at work at the time nicknamed E,  “the rich man on the hill”, yes, he was wealthy and had several properties to his name, lived in a beautiful house and was always well dressed and groomed, but he was never attached to material things. He had a small car for daily errands and used public transport whenever he could. E focused and valued quality time with his family and helping people who had nothing. He never wanted anything back.

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E impacted my written communications skills greatly. I will read emails he sent out and I could always tell, not only did he choose his words carefully, he addressed issues fully. He will intelligently tell you off and instead of getting upset; you end up admiring his  mastery over the english language.

When I started my business, many “friends” and some family members didn’t believe in me, but E will just listened to my ideas and wished me well. He will always check up on my progress when he had the time.

E told me to behave in a way that I can always look people in the eye when I met them again.

My students are surprised when I tell them I was never this confident person, who is full of enthusiasm and has converted her garage into a library. But, I learnt from the best and that is my point. We can all learn and turn things around.

I was stubborn then and thought I had an answer for everything, but I had a learning spirit and enthusiasm most times. Something E and I have in common.

E, I thank God for your life and for believing in me when very few did and I was surrounded by negativity.

The God factor in my life is and will always be a constant, but you’ve made me the woman I have become and am becoming.

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Thank you for your patience, time and every single opportunity you have given me. I hope I have made you proud and continue to make you proud.

The E’s of this world  can see us, our potential and the greatness that lies within, even when we are clueless. E’s  will push you till you become extraordinary. My question to you is, when you cross paths with an E, will you recognize him or her? I pray for your own sake you do.

 

 

 

I have watched my grandmother do a lot of amazing things.
I remember going to the village in the 80’s and seeing her and other relatives actively sorting out large volumes of fresh fish, smoking it, packaging it, then getting some of my aunts and other women in the community to distribute it to various part of the country for a profit.
My mother has told me many stories about how she and my grandmother sold many things to make a living.

For over 24years, she took care of my brother and I, when my parents relocated to London.

Our first business venture was selling oranges I think, then sugarcane and nuts in a shell.
My grandmother will be up by 3am to meet the commercial trains that came with goods from other parts of the country. She will carry the sugarcane home, and I mean over 50 long heavy sugarcane sticks if I can call it that, on her head for about 10km if I am right. I will then take it to the butchers market for sale at 5am. I enjoyed selling and looked forward to selling oranges in the evenings and the nuts on the weekend.

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Grandma leaves to the market for our weekly grocery shopping at 6am and comes back at 6pm most times, so her nickname was sixtosix. She looked forward to telling me how much she paid for every single item and how she went back and forth to make sure she got a good deal.

I was quizzed every time I went to the market alone, and it came as no surprise when she found a way to ban me from going to the market. I didn’t get enough discounts!

My brother and I also nicknamed her Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.
She insisted on walking to almost everywhere in the city. She just says, “Its just here, we will be there soon.”

I learnt so much from my grandmother, I couldn’t even begin to list it. I do know she fueled my enterprising spirit. 

Thanks to her, waking up early is so easy. I am up at 4:30am most days.

Sometimes, I think I inherited my strong sense of memory from my grandmother.
Put me in a class to train or teach 100 or 300 people and I will remember everybody’s name or some story about them by the end of day one and I always remember them when we meet in the future. At nearly 90 years, she tells me about her family tree from both of her parents side, dating back 3 generations in under 15minutes.

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My grandmother is strong and selfless, a character trait I have picked. But, wanting to assert my independence meant we didn’t always see eye to eye, but we love each other in our own way.
We used to harvest water in an 8 foot tank and guess what? She will mount tables and chairs, so she can get into the tank and clean it before the rains start. By the way, she insists on washing her own clothes even now.
We clashed on so many things; mindset, worldviews, but we found a way to adapt.

I recall how she started selling iced water and will complain about how the younger kids will out compete her when we moved to a new neighbourhood. We discouraged her and told her to stop, because:

1. We didn’t think she needed the money

2. We found it a little embarrassing to be honest

But she paid no attention to us and will go back every day to make a sale. I guess selling is just in her blood and was never afraid of rejection. Her actions taught me valuable lessons about rejection, resilience and not listening to naysayers, and boy, there are so many of them.

She took risks and tried so many things. Some worked and some didn’t. I paid close attention and learnt a lot about risks and strategy. If you ever see me venturing into something else, you know why.
The women in my family are like termites, we never stop, and I will never stop, until God himself stops me.

I forgive and “release” people easily and I am a no nonsense person who is very confident because, I have seen my Grandma feel bitter about some things, allowed people to walk all over her and had her confidence crushed by people.

Her greatest regrets she tells me, were her father not taking her to school and getting her baptized. The baptizing can be fixed. :-)

Because of her lack of formal education, she keeps every single paper she finds and asks me or my brother if it is useful. She has made me a hoarder of books, magazines and papers.

You should see how her eyes lit up when my brother told her he was off to China to study for 2 years. Contrary to what my Mum and I were thinking; that she will say “its too far, I won’t be seeing you in a while”, she actually said “Go, go, my son go! That is wonderful news, go and study”.

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If I ever tell her I will be on TV, she instructs my little cousins to put it on that channel and no one dares change it until she has seen me on it. And of course she watches with a sense of pride and does a little dance when I come on TV.

My Grandma didn’t go to school and made me realize it was a privilege to do so and I took it seriously. No wonder, I am an educationist.

Thank you Adzovi, aka Daavi. I am grateful for your life, the lessons and the sacrifices you made for my brother and I.

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One day, I hope my story will inspire someone to believe, as well as take baby steps into greatness, as I tell the world how it all started at age 6, selling tapioca, “yoryi”, peanuts, oranges and later at age 10, I will take sugarcane to the butcher’s market at 4:30am and be back by 6am to get ready for school. No, we were not “poor” and please it wasn’t child labour. I just hassled my mum and later my grandmother on most market days to buy me something in season so I could sell.
For the most part, people will never know your back-story.
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Lets face it, Facebook doesn’t tell the whole story, because “we” spend hours editing and showing the world (friends and strangers) the perfect pictures, so “we” wrongfully get the glory. All that I am, and all that I hope to be, I give credit to God. The same God who as an undergraduate in 1998, put the vision and desire in my heart to start SPEC Consult Limited.

Fews days to Christmas 2007 and I was still at the office after 10pm painting.

Fews days to Christmas 2007 and I was still at the office after 10pm painting.


It has been 8years since I finally took the plunge to run my own business. I am glad I did, because at the last count in 2013, I have trained, coached and mentored over 5000 Ghanaian graduates. I have stopped counting for now. I now focus on training coaching and mentoring the next generation of African leaders to be superstars in their chosen career path. Whether its through employability skills, business know-how or entrepreneurship, the bottom-line is, I am coaching superstars for the continent and the world through the Global Graduate Academy, another initiative by SPEC Consult Limited.
I started the Global Graduate Academy in my garage in 2012 and taught for 6weeks alone. God has brought me great helpers since and last week, we wrapped up the 3rd round of the Global Graduate Academy.
With the Global Graduate Academy class of 2015

With the Global Graduate Academy class of 2015


As I look back at my entrepreneurial journey so far, I am humbled to see how far I have come and I am full of gratitude for the resilience as well as for the helpers and everyone God has sent my way. Thank you everyone.
Back in 2008. We put in the extra hours and  stayed up till 9pm on a Saturday to redecorate the office. (l)Sandister now works for Aljazeera (AJ+)and Michelle is Studying in the USA

Back in 2008. We put in the extra hours and stayed up till 9pm on a Saturday to redecorate the office.
(l)Sandister now works for Aljazeera (AJ+)and Michelle is Studying in the USA


Phyllis congratulating me for pulling it off this year. She supported greatly

Phyllis congratulating me for pulling it off this year. She supported greatly


I just hope that someone out here is encouraged to step up and pursue their dreams. Don’t worry, help will come. Just know that some people will hang around you to just look good, laugh at you, not with you, mock you, disrupt and even try to steal your ideas and your shine, but stay focused,AND smile because the real ones will stay for the right reasons and for the long haul or even show up at the right time.
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About 16 years ago, I almost died. I was living at what was then the middle of no where. I was home alone with my grandmother, but a quick phone call and the kindness of my dear friend Sandra changed everything.
I had malaria and my temperature was a shock to the doctors and nurses. I took several showers at the hospital for my temperature to drop. Even that, was a miracle.
Thank God for the Sandras of this world. She has warned me to stop telling the story, but I just can’t. It’s my story too. It’s one of the stories I don’t ever want to forget. I call people like Sandra, Destiny Helpers. I don’t want to imagine what the story would have been.

With Sandra last year at her dad's 80th birthday and book launch.

With Sandra last year at her dad’s 80th birthday and book launch.

So when another friend told me last Saturday, that I was her destiny helper and an answer to a prayer, I was humbled, touched and almost cried.(In fact I did cry, much later).
The next day, I saw a book on my brother’s desk titled “Destiny Helpers”, hmmm, what a coincidence, I thought. Then I picked up a prayer booklet on Monday and randomly opened a page that took me straight to a topic on “Destiny Helpers”. Oh dear! This must be my date with destiny then.
There is even a forum on the Internet for destiny helpers. I had no idea!

It made me think deeply about how our destinies are connected to other people.
People we know or don’t know yet. People we have met or about to meet.
(I got to know Sandra only 2years before I got ill. I got introduced to her by another friend Cynthia, who I have known since was about 6 or 7 years old!)
I think of the famous story of David and Jonathan in the bible. Jonathan was David’s destiny helper. He held David’s hand and taught him the ways of the palace.
When it was time for David to be king, he already knew a few things.

When I look back at my life, I see the many people who have helped me in diverse ways. People who have held my hand, just like Jonathan did.
I read somewhere, there is no need to look back, because you don’t belong there. Although it makes sense, sometimes you have to look back and just be grateful and appreciate everyone who influenced your life. It might be negative or positive, but whatever it is, you come out with critical life lessons.

In my life, many people have hurt me, rejected me, laughed at me, laughed with me, smiled at me, disappointed me, offered me friendship, showed me the way, prayed for me, talked about me, abandoned me, gave me their time, money, food, home, a place to sleep, redirected my path, open doors, closed doors, encouraged me, discouraged me, gave up on me, respected me, took me for granted, always stood by me, showed me unconditional love, seriously, love with no strings attached. The list is very very long.
How can I not be grateful for the good and bad people or the good and bad situations? Situations that has built my character and given me the “can do, I don’t care what you think attitude”. I am very grateful for everything. Thank you all so much. Everything and everyone was ultimately shaping my destiny. And I know they still will.

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In the same way, I know as they have done for me, I have and will do for others.
My only wish is that, I make a more positive impression, not a negative one.
If your experience with me was a negative one in the past, gosh, I am so sorry I hurt you, do forgive me. Sometimes, I really had no idea.

If you take anything at all from this post, I hope that, first of all, know you are someone’s destiny helper, because your life is really not yours alone. So, whatever you came to this earth to do, do it! Someone’s destiny is connected to yours. Use your craft, your talent, your voice, your skills, your smile…

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Secondly, when it comes to our destiny helpers:
May we know them
May we thank them
May we connect with them
May we pray for them and with them
May we help them
May we never take them for granted
May we recognize them
May we forgive them even if they hurt us
May we celebrate them
May we find one
May we be one

SPEC Consult Writes

I was dreaming, thinking, praying, planning and preparing for this, for over 5years at least, (and I still do) but it was time to just get on with it. Just as David Mahoney aptly said, “There comes a moment when you have to stop revving up the car and shove it into gear”. At the launch of by books in May 2014, I said that I wanted my company or I to be the first to come to mind, if any serious international or local organisation is looking to recruit graduates who are well-groomed superstars in the making.

So on the 1st of August 2014, I turned the talk into action. I started the Global Graduate Academy. An intensive, practical and competitive world-class mindset and skills development programme, that will run for an entire year. And every year, I hope to actively dedicate my life to this cause.
Sandy and the students after a Global Awareness Session Myself,Sandy and…

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You’re shocked, disappointed and frustrated. You begin to think life is so unfair. You did all the research required. You were even asked the exact questions you practiced. It really was a great interview and “all” went well. Or so you thought. But by some mystery, you did not make the final cut, even though they said you were good.

How could they not hire you! You are tempted to call and tell them they either made a mistake or even worse, it’s their loss.

Paul Arden, and many others think differently. In his best-selling book “IT’S NOT HOW GOOD YOU ARE, IT’S HOW GOOD YOU WANT TO BE”, Paul Arden shares a true story of how his ad agency was one of six companies to be short-listed for a government account. His agency spent three months working on the campaign. They were due to pitch their concept on a Friday, but at 5pm on Wednesday, they were told their agency didn’t make the cut for the final three.

Do you think they gave up and said, we were not lucky this time, maybe next time? No, they didn’t!

Instead, Paul convinced his CEO to tell the client they had another campaign prepared and they were willing to show the client at 9am on Thursday. Matter of fact, they didn’t have any new campaign. They lied. But they made sure the team met at 8am the next day and worked through the feedback the client gave on why their original campaign did not make the cut for the final 3. They then came up with a new campaign. Guess what? By Friday, they had turn things around and their agency ultimately won the account.

My question to you is, do you think you can get over the disappointments and ask if your best was really enough? Probably not. And that is where most people miss it.

But, I hope for your own sake that you do ask why and find ways to improve and be better.

Paul Arden’s story goes to show that it’s not just about the preparation before, but the analysis after is even more crucial.

 

Take, Bobby Fischer for instance. He was one of the best chess players of all time. He was talented, but he wasn’t exactly the best player growing up.

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At he age of 13, he “disappeared”. He went into hiding and thoroughly studied all the games played in the 17th century. When he reappeared to play, he became great. He adopted some of the “old-fashioned” methods from the 1850s, but he would infuse his own little improvements he had developed along the way.

He “disappeared” again after he was US Champion. This time, he spent time learning Russian so he could read all the Russian chess magazines. He will study his matches after and analyze how he can make it even better next time.

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How much time are you spending honing your skills? Do you assume you have “arrived”, so you don’t want to learn anything new or revise the old? Or you truly believe in not fixing anything that is not broken.

If all you have are the old skills that got you wherever you are now, don’t assume it will automatically get you further next time.

Einstein aptly puts it this way; “there is nothing that is a more certain sign of insanity than to do the same thing over and over and expect the results to be different”

Mick Jagger’s band, The Rolling Stones made over $600 million on their last tour, but when they started over 50 years ago, they would perform at over 200 places yearly for almost no money. They were honing their skills.

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The Beatles also played for about 20 hours a day, 7 days a week at various strip clubs in Hamburg, West Germany from 1960 to 1962. They were honing their skills.

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Benjamin Franklin said, “I haven’t failed, I’ve had 10,000 ideas that didn’t work”

Thomas Edison also notes that, “Of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt”.

If you want to be great, achieve mastery, dominance, world-class status and to be known as the best, then go through your various experiences and analyze them piece by piece.

Anything less, will make you good and soon your good will not be good enough reducing you to average.

Life might not be fair, but be fair to you. Learn, unlearn and relearn. Do the work, piece by piece.

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