Resilience

It is only when we get kicked down that we see what we are made of. It is easy to be positive when everything is going well, but the heart of all great endeavours is the ability to stagger back to our feet and keep moving forward, however grim it gets”. ~ Bear Grylls

This is one of the most difficult and yet necessary skills to learn and master. Resilience is defined as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. It is through moments of adversity that our resilience is tested and gets developed. Without adversity, there is not room for resilience. The great news is that we all have the innate ability to rise up from challenges; the question is how deep within are you digging to reach this strength to overcome the difficult times.

My resilience was put to the test during the long illness and ultimate passing of both my parents. This period lasted for exactly two years. It was the most difficult time for my family and I. There were moments where I felt that I was going to break but my siblings and I stuck together and fed each other with strength in those weak moments. During this time I had to tap to the higher power, in addition to the support from my siblings, relatives and friends. I had to see the light and silver lining amidst the dark cloud that was hanging on our lives.  I had to have courage to carry on with life when the two people who had always been there for me, carried me, fed me, sacrificed for me, loved me, cared for me and would deny themselves so that I can have, could no longer physically do that for me and my siblings. I had to trust that I can be able to do all these things myself, without them. I had to cut all dependence from them and tap into my inner strength. I had to stand firmly on my feet and keep moving forward. In hindsight, going through this hardship was necessary for me to do that which I was born to do. I had to endure the pain, to learn how to let go of the people that I mostly treasured and to also trust the process. The irony is that as I’m writing this, I’m going through another phase of adversity in my life; a different kind of adversity. I’m reminded of this past experience and only hope that this is yet another opportunity for elevation.

Resilient people are often admired by others. People would ask questions such as, how does she/he do it? How do they manage to keep on bouncing back? Well, I’m here to tell you that it can’t happen without going through the difficult, uncomfortable process and being stretched. It is their ability to endure the process that makes people resilient. They don’t let adversity define them nor define their destiny and they have scars to show their experiences. They don’t allow the difficulties to paralyse them. Instead, they use it as an opportunity to re-evaluate themselves and seek growth opportunities.

How can you use your scars in a positive light? How can you turn those storms into rainbows? I believe that the storms happen for a reason. Don’t let those experiences go to waste. Don’t just survive adversity and go through it in vain but transform and triumph through it. Granted, the process is not easy and it is not fun at all. But the key to this transformation is persevering. Having tenacity during the difficult time will bring meaning to the experience and in the process you will have a sense of accomplishment. You need to commit to making an effort and to take small steps, as long as you are moving forward.

 

Thato’s nuggets on building resilience:

  • Actively remind yourself of the strength you have and continuously harness this inner strength
  • See the effects of adversities as temporary rather than permanent
  • Build the spirit of gratitude; every day, find things to be grateful for
  • Always have positive thoughts and images of the future; let this push you to do more
  • Completely get rid of the victim mentality!

“It is through adversity that our resilience is tested, that we get renewed, that we grow and that we get prepared for the next phase in our lives. Adversity is necessary and cannot be avoided”. ~ Thato Dineo Belang

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Admitting mistakes and learning from them

When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it”. ~ Paul Bear Bryant

 

It is easier said than done right? How do you just admit that you were wrong about something? What about your ego? Well, burying your head in the sand is not going to help either. As human beings, mistakes are inevitable and sometimes necessary. This is how we grow, learn and progress in life.

 

I used to be so hard on myself when I made mistakes; so hard that I missed out on getting the valuable lessons from these mistakes. I would condemn myself to the level where I almost had to start loving myself again. I would talk to myself about how disappointing my behaviour or actions were and how I let myself down. A good example of this was when I had just started working and as a Management Consultant based at client sites there was a lot to juggle at the same time. I had just been seconded on a project and obviously as a junior that time, I had a lot to learn. On this particular project, one of my roles was to compile all analysis work that was done and send it to the Project Manager for feedback. This one time, instead of sending the report to the PM, I accidentally sent it directly to the client. The sad part was not even noticing at the time the mistake I had done. It was late at night and I was really exhausted so I went straight to bed after sending the email. It was only in the morning when I got to the office that I got to know what I had done and the impact thereof. I just wished that I could disappear into thin air and be rescued from this debacle. After eventually forgiving myself and reflecting objectively on what happened, I got to receive the key lessons from this experience and applied them in my life going forward.

 

Mistakes are inevitable and so we cannot always be harsh on ourselves each time we commit them. Let’s take the process of learning how to ride a bicycle for example. At first, your parent or sibling or friend would hold you on the bike; guide you and teach you the tips and rules. Then they slowly let go and allowed you to try on your own. What happened the first time you were on your own? Great chances are that you made some mistakes right? But you quickly learnt not to repeat them again. You actually learnt from your mistakes. So, how then do you expect that in your adult life you will not make mistakes before you learn the lesson? In most cases, this is the only way you learn. The only problems with mistakes are not admitting them and then secondly not learning from them.

 

People generally easily forgive you when you admit your mistake and take responsibility for it. It is when you try to cover it up and run from it that makes you lose credibility and respect. There is so much power in acknowledging your faults and apologising where the outcome of your mistakes might have hurt others or caused damage. As a leader, it takes courage and emotional maturity to admit it when you have made a blunder. It is by no means a sign of weakness but it actually shows sincerity and increases respect from others. It is important that you carefully analyse your mistake and ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Growth and development will automatically take place as soon as you recognise and take responsibility for your mistakes. It is an incredible process and especially in the future when you realise that you are about to make the same mistake but you quickly refrain from it because you have learnt the valuable lessons in the past. Refuse to hinder your learning process and growth path by making excuses and passing the buck. Own your faults, learn from them and move on.

 

Thato’s nuggets on learning from mistakes:

  • Take responsibility for your actions – never run away from it
  • Determine the cause of your mistakes
  • Be accountable for the results
  • Take ownership of your mistakes
  • Be courageous enough to learn from them and then apply lessons

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ~ Albert Einstein

What’s occupying your mind?

Change your thinking. Change your life! Your thoughts create your reality. Practice positive thinking. Act the way you want to be, and soon you will be the way you act” ~ Les Brown

Would you agree that what is currently happening in your life is mostly a reflection of what occupies your mind? It is important that you are conscious and mindful of the thoughts that you entertain daily. If you spend your time thinking “lack”, guess what? That’s exactly what you will experience. The universe is a vibration of energy including our thoughts. Whatever you feed your mind sits on your subconscious mind (which cannot filter and doesn’t separate reality from non-reality). So when you spend your time thinking that you are not good enough, that you are broke, that you are unhappy, that you don’t have much, that you don’t deserve this and the other and so on, the universe will serve you just that. The universe simply says, “your wish is my command”.

I have not always known about the power of thoughts and the impact it has in our lives. I was not aware of the law of attraction on the thoughts and how it translates to the physical. This is something that I have learnt in my adult life and subsequently adopted it which has changed my life significantly. I have since been making it a habit to practice positive thoughts and developed self-awareness to see when I’m having negative thoughts. It was a conscious decision that I made to ignore negative thoughts that creep in the back of my mind. This usually happens when you go through challenges and trying times. One is most vulnerable during the difficult times when you are not your best self.

The way people view the future helps determine that future. Optimistic people have greater persistence, focus longer on challenges and work longer to solve them than the pessimistic people. Optimists experience less stress and recover from setbacks more quickly. “People who have meditated for a long time have structurally different brains to those who haven’t.” They don’t easily get moved or swayed by challenges, critics or challengers.

It is easy to be cheerful when everything is going according to plan.  But, it is when you encounter unexpected setbacks and difficulties that you demonstrate to yourself, and the world around you, what kind of an attitude you really have. So, the question is, do you crush and feel like the world is coming down on you during these setbacks or do you remain steady, firm and confident knowing that you have the ability to overcome those challenges? Only you would know the answer to this. The ability to remain resilient, calm and strong during these times is mostly influenced by the types of thoughts in your mind. Positive thinking is then something that you want to start practicing.

Once you practice the habit of thinking positively, you will notice amazing changes all around you. Your brain will actually begin to operate in a state of free-flowing feel-good hormones, which will make you feel lighter and happier. You’ll also notice a major boost in confidence and will feel more capable of taking on new tasks and challenges that might have previously been outside your comfort zone.

By reducing your self-limiting beliefs, you will effectively release your blockers and experience growth like you never imagined. Basically, you can change your entire life simply by harnessing the power of positive thinking. Positive thinking also reduces stress and promotes balance in your life. With all these benefits, how do you still allow yourself to dwell on negative thinking? Why still carry on focusing on the things that go wrong in your life? Training in mindfulness, meditating, removing distractions and taking better care of your health will improve your overall wellbeing and achievement of goals.

 

Thato’s nuggets on practicing positive thoughts:

  • Practice simple mind exercises and techniques (like meditation)
  • Always think of abundance rather than lack
  • Direct your thoughts – meditation is a very good technique for this
  • Self-talk (get rid of negative self-talk)
  • Keep your mind on what you want, and keep looking for ways to get it.

‘Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you are probably right’ ~ Henry Ford

Know your Worth

None of us come to this earth to gain our worth; we brought it with us.” ~ Sheril L. Dew

 Why is that we have to be apologetic for our strengths, our uniqueness and amazing qualities? Why is it so difficult to embrace them? I know, I know; you are going to confuse it with arrogance again. The two are distinct. Let me show you how. When you know your worth you don’t try to impress anyone and neither are you threatened by anyone or their successes. When you know your worth, you embrace helping others to grow and develop and you also freely share your knowledge and skills with others. You don’t find the need to be validated by others nor show off your achievements to others. You walk with grace and confidence. When you know your worth, you acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers or solutions to all the problems but you look forward to learning from others and increasing your knowledge base. When you know your worth you welcome being challenged as you know that you are not always right and as a human being, you can and will make mistakes.

This is something that I learnt over the years and I must admit, I still have my moments of weaknesses. The great thing however, is that I have developed a high level of self-awareness regarding this and I quickly catch myself when I’m putting myself down and belittling the greatness in me and ultimately my worth. Growing up, I was bullied a lot in primary school and that obviously took a knock on my confidence and overall outlook of myself. I didn’t have the courage to stand up to my bullies because they had managed to oppress me to a point where I didn’t even believe that I had it in myself to fight (not necessarily physically) and took my place as a worthy and deserving person. I fell into the victim trap and stayed there while these bullies continued to strip me away of my freedom, my value, my dignity and my voice. When I moved to boarding school at the age of 12, I then made a conscious decision to put an end to that terror. I felt that I was being given a second chance to take back control in my life and own every aspect of it (both the good and the bad). After all, we cannot control what happens to us but we can certainly control our reactions towards it how we let it affect us and our emotions. I have since vowed to never allow anyone to determine my worth or allow them to succeed in making me feel small and irrelevant. I stand firm on my ground and fight for what I believe in no matter what.

If you are currently in a similar situation or know someone who is, I would like to assure and encourage you today that you can get out of it. You have in you the power, the ability and the strength to do it. Take charge of your life this very moment and declare that you will not easily allow anything or anyone belittle you and make yourself feel less than what you are worth; less valuable, less important, less beautiful / handsome, less deserving or less intelligent.

Knowing your worth and valuing yourself has got nothing to do with how other people think of you and neither does it have anything to do with your material possessions. It matters not where you were born and raised, your level of education, the kind of work your do, whether you are married or single, the colour of your skin, hair or eyes, the shape of your body or the amount of money you have. None of these things determine your worth, not by long shot. Part of valuing yourself is also detachment from toxic situations and people; things that continually rip you apart and pull you down.

Thato’s nuggets on embracing your worth:

  • Always remind yourself of the purpose for which you were born and let that be a reminder of your worth
  • Search within for joy, for true love, for affirmation and for peace
  • Spend time with yourself often and connect with your real self and your creator
  • Create positive affirmations and loudly repeat them to yourself every single day
  • Talk, act and live like a worthy person – refuse to be average in everything you do!

“Don’t settle for mediocrity. Take a chance. Take a risk. Find that passion. Know what you’re really worth.” ~ Anonymous

Be uncomfortable with comfort

“Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined.” – T Harv Ecker

Being stagnant is one of the debilitating things on earth – well, at least from my viewpoint and school of thought. I’m sure that most of you have come across the statement of “being pushed out of your comfort”. My analysis of this is that there is always room to improve yourself, increase your knowledge, learn new skills or do something new and as a result grow as an individual. The world has so much to offer and I honestly think that a place of comfort stops you from reaching these things offered by the universe and progressing towards greatness.

In my article titled “Focus on YOU”, I mentioned how I have never set boundaries in the things I wanted to achieve and how I always expect so much from myself. I actually think that this is the one thing that my late mother feared for me the most: that I dream too big. She thought that I would get disappointed and break down if I didn’t achieve the things I aspire for and I think in her mind my dreams were “way out of reach for me”. I didn’t and still don’t see it like that. I always know that there is much more I can do and contribute than what I’m currently doing.
Challenging yourself to not be “too comfortable” is applicable to all areas of your life – work/career, relationships, finances, fitness or spiritual. Start being uncomfortable with debt, make an effort to change your work situation if you are not happy, and bring something different in your relationship for example. Remember that the magic happens outside of your comfort zone, so you literally need to step out of your comfort to not only operate and function at the higher level, but also to reap the rewards that comes with it.
Being too comfortable is a danger zone and literally steals your success. I have seen some people who become too scared to take even the slightest risks – it’s almost like someone always has to try it first before they do it, then 100 more people. I find this really sad. I challenge you today, to take a leap of faith, trust the process and go try something you have never done before. It doesn’t have to be anything big; it could be something as simple as trying out a dish, trust me, nothing is going to happen to you. Instead, you will feel more liberated and you will even beat yourself up for not doing it sooner.

How long have you been in your current role (doing the same job)? What have you done are doing to diversify and expand your skills and knowledge? Are you scared or intimidated by new and unfamiliar things? Are you feeling stuck in an unhappy, toxic and unworthy relationship but you are too comfortable with what you know? Are you too comfortable eating the wrong food? Being a couch potato? Feeding off other people and not going out there and try out things yourself? If fear is what is stopping you from new experiences, please refer to my article titled “Dealing with Fear”. The truth is complacency will only delay you from booming and becoming the flourishing flower you were meant to be. Your greatness is waiting to be unleashed and experienced by the world. By being too comfortable you are denying the world the gift that was planted in you that needs to be shared with the world. Most successful people who have also achieved their goals, had to go through situations where they had to be bold and brave, risk themselves and get out of their comfort zone.
From where I’m sitting, discomfort brings change, change brings newness, newness brings creativity, creativity brings success, and success brings growth and happiness. So then ask yourself, why are you still comfortable being comfortable?

Thato’s nuggets on stretching yourself out of comfort:
– Always ask yourself what you can do more of
– Each year, pick up a new hobby
– Be open-minded and don’t be too stuck up in your ways
– Travel to a new place every year, create new experiences and learn about other cultures etc.
– Read, read and read more – daily.

Who I am and why I’m here…

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my blog! This is my first post and I thought I should just share with you a bit about myself and what this blog is going to be about.

My name is Thato Belang and I was born and raised in a small town called Kuruman in the Northern Cape. It’s a real dorpie as South Africans would call it, where there is only 1 or 2 traffic lights and everybody knows everybody. I’m a third child of 5 and was raised by both my parents in a very loving and warm home. At the of age 12, I went to boarding school about 200 KM away from my village and I have been living away from my family ever since. Both my parents were teachers and as a result, the value of education was instilled in me from a very young age. In my late primary school days, when other children played kgati and black my patile in the dusty streets, I would spend my time with a big oxford dictionary with my dad, doing crossword puzzles. And this folks, is how I was introduced to the language of English 🙂

I came to the big city of gold (Johannesburg, South Africa) in 2003 for higher education and 3 years later graduated in the field of Industrial Engineering. Pheew, that was not easy…Anyway, I was then familiarized with the world of banking and never looked back. This was through management consulting, where my career was launched.  I will never forget my first day at work. Everything was just exciting for me; the boardroom, wearing heels, I was given a laptop, and meeting all the important people. I was like WOW! I have definitely arrived! I thought to myself: This is what I spent the sleepless nights studying for . This environment provided a platform for rapid learning and growth. I was not only challenged to learn about my field of expertise and the industry but there was a lot of opportunity for self-discovery, self-development and self-mastery.

This led me to start new studies in Psychology. The human psyche and behaviour fascinated me and I wanted to know more about it. It was also mind-boggling for me that all my siblings and I turned out completely different despite the fact that we all grew up in the same house, raised by same parents with the same set of principles, values and rules. Not only did I get to learn more about the human mind but during my studies in psychology I also developed stronger self-awareness and got to really redefine myself as an individual. I got to appreciate how much passion I have for the overall development and growth of people, helping them unlock their true potential, and develop practical actions to find their purpose or mission in life.

As such, I’m now on a personal journey as an Inspirational Speaker, Business and Life Coach. and currently studying my Masters Degree in Business and Executive Coaching. I believe that every experience in my life – good and bad has equipped me to be one of the most influential Inspirational Speakers and business coach around.

That was a mouthful…well at least you got to know about the person behind Ignite with Thato…just a simple girl trying to improve the life of others and unlocking their true potential. I’m hoping that embark on this journey with you, we will discuss lots of interesting topics together – what’s stopping your growth and development, why you are not succeeding, what you are afraid of and how to get out of those limiting beliefs.  If you are want more personal chats that can be arranged through coaching sessions.

Allow me to unleash the greatness within you!!!