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Into the Unknown: My Essential Reading List

27 March 2020

Wow, if ever we all needed inspiration and positive vibes, it’s now! I am indeed (hashtag) “blessed”, yet severely impacted like the rest of us. It’s a weird time to be on earth.

My Inspirational Speaking peers and I make a living, for the most part, from events and conferences, both locally and abroad, and I am sure many of them have experienced the same cold sweat I have, when looking at the number of audiences I was set to engage with the next few months, now all postponed or canceled. My calendar is a flat line. Zero. Zip. The bumper months and bookings once firmly in place, all stripped overnight to nil. Yoh!

 As speakers of this genre, we are brought in to inspire, to reassure, to provide perspective and direction in challenging times. I preach resilience; teach grit and a positive mindset. I facilitate teams to navigate change, and a multitude of challenges, when the going is as tough as it can be.

 Yet here we are, some top inspirers, on the cusp of the unknown, feeling all the uncertainty, trepidation and mortality that I feel. With families to feed and dreams, plans and goals of our own, it’s time to practice what we preach, step up, inspire and motivate, because the lessons we have learnt and the messages we share are REAL, derived from ‘impossible’ situations – not dissimilar to where we are today.

 I have been tested before, in excruciating circumstances, and I have passed.

This is no different and there is opportunity in the crisis to look at this amazing mess, and to channel the fear in a new positive direction.

If you are looking for inspiration in the Lockdown, here are some of the books and platforms that have played a significant role in my journey and helped shape my “WHY”:

Lewis Pugh

A pioneer who has taught me tons, most importantly the value and necessity of preparation, preparation, preparation! I remember reading Lewis’s first book “Achieving the Impossible”. He mentions me as a younger swimming just starting my adventures, attempting to keep up with him for a session within a staged swim around the Cape Peninsula. My lack of preparation that day was obvious, and there were some valuable lessons learned.

In this lockdown and indefinite timeline, it is reasonable to feel overwhelmed. Lewis helped me to face the unknown with consideration and strategy. When we create our own stepping stones, the path opens up, and we are less likely to be blind sighted.

Both Lewis’s books: Achieving the Impossible and 21 Yaks and a Speedo can be found on Amazon.com and Takealot.com. You can also follow him on his very active Twitter account: https://twitter.com/LewisPugh

Lee Den Hond

I was so moved by this positive lady when attending her talk and seeing the hardships overcome to achieve the greatness she achieved. Lee’s outlook again reinforced my believe that one’s attitude towards a challenge is a deal breaker or maker. Her book ‘What Happens When You Say YES’ is available at Takealot.com, Exclusive Books and Amazon.com – highly recommended.

It’s hard to see over the massive hurdles we face daily. They beat us down and work tirelessly to steer one into negativity – a quickly accelerating spiral. Physically working to change your attitude when the going is as tough as it can possibly be, will in turn change your life.

Pete Van Kets

Long before I ever thought of going into inspirational speaking, I watched Peter speaking on stage at the incredible SalesGuru events by Mark Keating and Brett Wood. I marveled at the deep emotions I felt as I listened to how this humble adventurer, set and achieved his impossible goals. It especially struck home when he spoke about his family, and the limitless love he felt for them and how he drew from that in the toughest times. The important things in life.

I will take our current watershed times to re-evaluate my dreams and marry them with my family’s. Time in my home and new routines create the space to understand my role in their journey too, and to identify opportunities where my support will be relevant.

His first book: The Eighth Summit is available on Takealot, and as a download off his site: https://petervankets.co.za – Rumour has it there is another one in the making…watch this space.

Zolani Mahola

Although I have known Zolani for many years, it’s only recently I’ve been privileged to share a stage with her. Not in a musical capacity (that would be EPIC), but rather on the inspirational speaking circuit, where she shared her message on the importance of our own stories and how they can be a catalyst for real change in all aspects of our lives and society.

What is happening to all of us right now; Lockdown, is a forced chapter in all our stories. Think how to make it the most exciting, positive chapter in your own ‘book’ of life.

Zolani has a cool Instagram channel, where you will find music, inspiration and Pop-up Live performances during the lockdown, well worth the follow: https://www.instagram.com/zolanimahola/

Chris Bertish

He has an ability to put projects of an impossible nature into place, and forced me to look at challenges and planned expeditions very differently. He set the bar higher than anyone I know in his genre and we can never underestimate the impact that he has had on the people who follow his adventures and hear him speak.

Chris embodies the true South African spirit found in strength, bravery and discovery. Our nation has the ability to overcome vast spaces of unknown.

 I thoroughly enjoyed his book “Stoked”, available on Kindle and Paperback on Amazon.com. Aim high!

Joey Evans

Inspired me with his die-hard attitude and positive outlook into something which absolutely terrifies me; losing the use of all, or part of our bodies through injury or illness. Hearing his story LIVE, and then reading his book, completely reinforced so many of my own beliefs and attitudes, and helped me take them to the next level. Absolutely wonderful messages for everybody, especially at this very difficult time, Joey has proper Grit.

Our bodies are the vessels that will sail us through this quagmire of disease. This is the time to get in touch with our physical selves. Take steps to feel our hearts beat and our lungs working. Whatever your physical challenge, take time everyday to look inside and give your inner self the mental attention to make it strong.

His Book: From Para to Dakar is impossible to put down, you can buy his book on his website: https://www.joeyevans.co.za/product/fromparatodakar-book/ or on digital download at your favourite online portal.

Arafat Gatabazi

Lastly, Arafat Gatabazi has not written a book, but his keynote is developing into a powerful message that should be heard by everyone around the world.

There is a great difference between choosing to take on an epic challenge, and being forced into one. At an extremely young age, Arafat was forced to flee his home in the DRC and make his way on foot to South Africa, with a thin chance of finding refuge with his Aunt in Cape Town. His Journey has seen him rise above impossible odds, grabbing every opportunity to find his way out of homelessness, and not only survive, but to thrive.

Watch the incredible rise of an extraordinary man through his instagram account: @arafatswim – and if you can get to hear him on stage, jump at the opportunity!

To everyone doing their bit to protect the most vulnerable in our societies by staying home and socially distant, you are all playing your part to limit the impact of this disaster. What we do now will have a stamp on history, and be the blueprint on how to behave for generations to come. To steal a meme from my FaceBook feed which gave me some perspective:

Your grandparents were sent to fight in World War 2. We’ve been asked to wash our hands and sit on the couch!

I will personally be using this time to start work on my own book. A project I have spent many months procrastinating, but have come to the end of the line of excuses.

Stay safe, stay home, and read a book!

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  • @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject" > @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject" />Can you watch The Octopus Teacher and still not want to do all you can to help protect our ocean and it's incredible, mysterious, peaceful tenants?This Documentary really touched me…I can't compare to Craig Foster, but I’ve been so blessed to swim with so many beautiful Ocean creatures – from mammoth whales and smaller ones too, countless playful dolphins, plenty cheeky seals, weird anti-social sunfish, penguins and yes, sharks too.I have even had yellowtail fish follow me for kilometres when I was swimming between continents, Europe to Africa’s Gibraltar Straits. They would inquisitively look directly into my goggles with their big round, penetrating eyes. When you share each other’s space in this way, something creeps into your core, into your soul and you’ll intuitively know you’ve been tasked by the creatures of the sea to help them. Follow -> @seachangeproject #MyOctopusTeacher #Netflix #Conservation #oceanconservation #singleuseplastic #WWF #SASSI #sustainability #sustainablefishing #SeaChangeProject
  • Laying down audio books today at @blackhole_studios with @chris_tait_saLaying down audio books today at @blackhole_studios with @chris_tait_sa
  • Another epic swim camp run by @bigbayevents in Langebaan 🤟🏻Another epic swim camp run by @bigbayevents in Langebaan 🤟🏻
  • When it comes to the prism of possibilities, I’ve learnt that the real limit or “IMPOSSIBLE” is definitely not where your mind tells you it is. There is always significant margin on the other side of this ‘safe’ limit which is where the magic starts to happen. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to help audiences to Push Past Impossible – not anyone else’s impossible, but rather their own.The space or MARGIN between those two lines is where you start to get a concept of how much more you are capable of. It’s not a comfortable space, it’s the definition of being outside your comfort zone – but that’s where you’re going to learn something.I think people know what their impossibles are, deep down… The first step is to identify those moments where there’s a choice to make: you can follow this path because you know you can deliver a nice steady performance, learn nothing and achieve a reasonable goal. But at the same time there’s another potential path: a way to do something differently, or better. Why didn’t you choose that? Because it was a risk, and you thought you could fail. Once you start challenging things on a small level, you can keep growing.When it comes to the prism of possibilities, I’ve learnt that the real limit or “IMPOSSIBLE” is definitely not where your mind tells you it is. There is always significant margin on the other side of this ‘safe’ limit which is where the magic starts to happen. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to help audiences to Push Past Impossible – not anyone else’s impossible, but rather their own.The space or MARGIN between those two lines is where you start to get a concept of how much more you are capable of. It’s not a comfortable space, it’s the definition of being outside your comfort zone – but that’s where you’re going to learn something.I think people know what their impossibles are, deep down… The first step is to identify those moments where there’s a choice to make: you can follow this path because you know you can deliver a nice steady performance, learn nothing and achieve a reasonable goal. But at the same time there’s another potential path: a way to do something differently, or better. Why didn’t you choose that? Because it was a risk, and you thought you could fail. Once you start challenging things on a small level, you can keep growing.
  • Please think twice before you buy, take a straw, eat with a plastic fork 🏻️ #strawssuck #reuse #recycle #singleuseplasticPlease think twice before you buy, take a straw, eat with a plastic fork 🏻️ #strawssuck #reuse #recycle #singleuseplastic
  • #Repost @tmpublishers・・・A piece from Ryan Stramrood’s chapter, You Are All Extreme Adventurers, in THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ …“Every time I have jumped into cold water, be it an uncomfortable 16 degrees Celsius, a brutal 5 degrees Celsius or a deadly minus 1 degree Celsius, without fail, while I am swimming and trying to achieve my goal, the overriding emotion and belief is that this will never end. At many points it will feel impossible to reach the shore I am aiming for. The pain and the discomfort are often way too daunting to process at that moment, and the distance still to cover way too far. At some point my mind will do its best to convince me that I will die if I do not bail from the challenge. Quit. I look for excuses to fail, not for reasons to finish. And I spend a lot of time beating myself up for voluntarily putting myself in this position.But while all of this is certainly true, the overriding truth and the lesson here, is that every time I complete the challenge and slow the shivering, it is only minutes before all that pain, discomfort and doubt during the challenge disappears into the abyss and it is only the learnings that remain. … And it will be the same, as we mop up our businesses and our lives.”Available in all good bookstores countrywide, and as a Kindle on Amazon: copy link in comments.#Bookstagram #books #newrelease #southafrica#Repost @tmpublishers・・・A piece from Ryan Stramrood’s chapter, You Are All Extreme Adventurers, in THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ …“Every time I have jumped into cold water, be it an uncomfortable 16 degrees Celsius, a brutal 5 degrees Celsius or a deadly minus 1 degree Celsius, without fail, while I am swimming and trying to achieve my goal, the overriding emotion and belief is that this will never end. At many points it will feel impossible to reach the shore I am aiming for. The pain and the discomfort are often way too daunting to process at that moment, and the distance still to cover way too far. At some point my mind will do its best to convince me that I will die if I do not bail from the challenge. Quit. I look for excuses to fail, not for reasons to finish. And I spend a lot of time beating myself up for voluntarily putting myself in this position.But while all of this is certainly true, the overriding truth and the lesson here, is that every time I complete the challenge and slow the shivering, it is only minutes before all that pain, discomfort and doubt during the challenge disappears into the abyss and it is only the learnings that remain. … And it will be the same, as we mop up our businesses and our lives.”Available in all good bookstores countrywide, and as a Kindle on Amazon: copy link in comments.#Bookstagram #books #newrelease #southafrica
  • Some artsy captures of my 110th Robben Island Crossing by @candicebakerwhiskygirl 🤟🏻Thank you @bigbayevents  #pushpastimpossible #pushpastimpossible️ #freedomtoswim #robbenislandSome artsy captures of my 110th Robben Island Crossing by @candicebakerwhiskygirl 🤟🏻Thank you @bigbayevents #pushpastimpossible #pushpastimpossible️ #freedomtoswim #robbenisland
  • Hello to “The New Normal” I can now present my keynote from my dining room 🏻 I am digital conference ready🏻#pushpastimpossibleHello to “The New Normal” I can now present my keynote from my dining room 🏻 I am digital conference ready🏻#pushpastimpossible
  • "The time for different is now." When @tmpublishers reached out with a request for me to contribute to a new release: "THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ" I jumped at the opportunity to feature among some of SAs most brilliant business thinkers.Thanks to the glorious rain and cold weather in Cape Town, I am halfway through this book and literally inhaling the knowledge and insights on every page. As the title says, it is certainly the book every business owner should read right now, although I feel it's highly relevant for ANYONE in current circumstances of overwhelm and uncertainty.To quote from the @BonangMohale chapter, an expression passed down from his Grandmother that I simply LOVE: "Behold the turtle - it only makes progress when it's neck is stuck out!" Copies are still available on Loot - link in bio#TimeForDifferent #PushPastImpossible #RecommendedReading #BookRecommendation"The time for different is now." When @tmpublishers reached out with a request for me to contribute to a new release: "THE BOOK EVERY BUSINESS OWNER MUST READ" I jumped at the opportunity to feature among some of SAs most brilliant business thinkers.Thanks to the glorious rain and cold weather in Cape Town, I am halfway through this book and literally inhaling the knowledge and insights on every page. As the title says, it is certainly the book every business owner should read right now, although I feel it's highly relevant for ANYONE in current circumstances of overwhelm and uncertainty.To quote from the @BonangMohale chapter, an expression passed down from his Grandmother that I simply LOVE: "Behold the turtle – it only makes progress when it's neck is stuck out!" Copies are still available on Loot – link in bio#TimeForDifferent #PushPastImpossible #RecommendedReading #BookRecommendation
  • Yesterday I became the record holder for the most Robben Island Crossings ever completed, a goal I have been working towards for many years 🏻 Being my first RI swim since lockdown restrictions, and very little training, my support crew reckon I broke two records that day, the second record being my “slowest” crossing to date  Not entirely correct but very close! It was tough, but it’s done. Dedicated to the late Theo Yach, who held the record previously and set the bar so high 🏻Yesterday I became the record holder for the most Robben Island Crossings ever completed, a goal I have been working towards for many years 🏻 Being my first RI swim since lockdown restrictions, and very little training, my support crew reckon I broke two records that day, the second record being my “slowest” crossing to date Not entirely correct but very close! It was tough, but it’s done. Dedicated to the late Theo Yach, who held the record previously and set the bar so high 🏻