Nine-month reflection on living and working in Scotland after almost five decades in South Africa

Here are some reflections that I wrote at a local coffee shop while contemplating the differences between Scotland and South Africa.

I moved from Cape Town in South Africa to Paisley in Scotland in November 2021. Paisley is a large town near Glasgow.

I am management consultant who helps charities (non-profit organisations) and social enterprises to improve their strategies. This is the perspective that I adopt in this article.

Year end reflection for 2021

The year is coming to an end as I write this reflection in early December. It has been another exhausting year with many changes.

The Covid pandemic still rages around the globe. The new Omicron variant has recently been identified by South African scientists. While vaccines, lockdowns and other measures have managed to stabilise the pandemic, the socio-economic impacts have been especially severe for poorer countries.

This article contains my end-of-year reflection for 2021. I believe in the value of openly sharing my after-action reviews.

I write these reviews to help orient myself and reflect on how I must do things differently in the future.

This has been a year of massive change for me, and I moved countries in early November.

It is so much easier to destroy than to build

I remain distraught and saddened by the recent events in South Africa – the mass rioting and looting that afflicted KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng.

It has been a traumatic series of weeks for millions of South Africans and I recently mentioned how distressed I was by these events.

The situation has somewhat stabilized thanks to the good work of communities, police and SANDF troops. However, the news is fraught with stories of the consequences of this attempted insurrection that occurred over the course of these past weeks. Humanitarian work has begun to alleviate the present suffering and help rebuild.

On the 16th July 2021, President Ramaphosa described the destruction as a result of a “deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack on our democratic order”.

This cataclysmic event led me to one conclusion – it is hundreds of times easier and quicker to destroy than it takes to create! It has also challenged my hope in South Africa.

Nevertheless, there are some key shifts that would bring some hope to my country.

Feeling distressed about the rioting and looting that is taking place in South Africa

Rioting and looting has engulfed parts of South Africa in July 2021. KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces are currently the most affected.

These riots appear to have morphed into a short-sighted destruction of infrastructure and thousands of businesses. The news is full of images of mass looting. People even seem to be driving to distant shopping malls and warehouses to steal without remorse.

I am very distressed by it. I am unclear about how I can influence the outcome of what is happening. It is a struggle to retain hope right now. The people that I have spoken with feel the same.

Here are my thoughts on the matter.

End-of-year reflection for 2020

The year is coming to an end. It has been a crazy year as I am sure we’ll all agree. Few of us would have expected a pandemic to rampage across the globe. Covid-19 has accelerated many good and bad trends. It has left millions of people more vulnerable than before. It has also revealed some opportunities for governments, businesses and non-profit organizations to improve their reach and positive impact.

This article contains my end-of-year reflection for 2020. I believe in the value of ‘after action reviews’ and in sharing them openly so others can learn.

This has been a good year for me overall. While my income has decreased, as one would expect in the midst of a pandemic, I managed to make several changes that placed me in a stronger position than I was at the beginning of the year. I’m looking forward to 2021.

My thoughts on the shifts that this pandemic may encourage in South Africa

COVID-19 will change everything. Like a defining moment in history (such as the Great Depression, 1st and 2nd World Wars, 9/11 and the 1994 elections in South Africa), the future will take on a new course.

On the bright side, we will recover as we always do, though it may take several years before things are back on track.

This experience will influence how we behave in the future. This is evident as I finish this article in the first week of April 2020 during South Africa’s ‘lockdown’.

I’ve known the future to be unstable. This is why I’ve emphasized strategic conversation as opposed to long strategic documents. But I didn’t expect an event of this magnitude to erupt.

In this article, I explore ten interesting shifts or trends that are beginning to emerge as a result of this pandemic. While some of these will be positive, others will need to be carefully monitored.

End-of-year reflection for 2019

Here is my end-of-year reflection for 2019. It provides insight into my work as a management consultant for non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa.

I believe strongly in the value of deliberate reflection. Therefore, I write regularly in my journal and strive to do weekly reviews. 

This article reflects on some key trends I’ve observed and the work I’ve been doing. It also looks at some lessons I’ve learned and changes I intend to make in 2020. 

Why a management consultant uses an iPad for most of his work

Have you ever wondered whether you could work exclusively on a tablet? This article shares my experiences and insights on this subject, and how as a management consultant I’ve been able to do most of my work on it. 

I bought an iPad four months ago. I’ve never owned a tablet before. Now I’m using it to do 75% of my work; I still require my laptop to do the remaining 25%. I aspire to go ‘iPad only’ but I still need to make some shifts in how I work. 

The principles of this article will apply to any modern professional tablet with a stylus. However, I chose an iPad after watching colleagues hand write their notes on the screen using the Apple Pencil. I wanted a simpler computing experience and hoped that this device might offer it. I was also inspired by Michael and Radek on The Podcast, who frequently talk about how they use their iPads and how it has forced them to rethink how they work.

Passion is earned not found

The quickest way to troll me is to complain that you haven’t found work you’re passionate about. That you are somehow a victim of misfortune because of this.

It is the one behavior that will guarantee a lecture from me.

This is what happened yesterday. Someone close to me complained about this topic and I provided a monologue in response. 

To save time in the future, I decided to be expedient and write my thoughts down. Then when this happens again, I can just shut up and send them a link. It will save us all time.

Here are my thoughts on finding work you’re passionate about.

End-of-year reflection for 2018

The end of another year is approaching. It has been a challenging year, filled with meaningful work, many lessons and lots of opportunity. There has also been too little time to do everything I’d intended to do.

I believe strongly in the value of reflection and always do a formal debriefing at the end of the year.

Here are some of my thoughts on 2018 before I take leave on Friday 14th December to enjoy a much-needed break. It sheds some light into my work with non-profit organizations and social enterprises in South Africa, and things I’ve learned along the way.

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