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A life worth living

Article written by Cindy Norcott

I would like to share some of my tips on how to create a life worth living.

Don’t worry too much

Don’t worry too much about what you are going to DO when you leave school, university or college. Concern yourself with the type of person you want to BE. Become the person that deserves success, significance and joy. What five values will you subscribe to, no matter what? Who are you, really? What ethical lines will you draw around you that you won’t cross, no matter what?

If I can share from my life experience, one of the things that I wanted to be as an adult was a kind person. This means you need to:

  • Stop listening to the cynics who tell you that people will take advantage of you if you are too kind or too sweet. You are smart enough to know when to draw the line.
  • Give people more than they have any right to expect. Even if they don’t say thank you and even if they don’t notice.
  • Give away more than anyone you know and soon you will have more than anyone you know. Over the years, I have adopted this philosophy and it has worked well for me. I have given away hundreds of books and speeches, loads of advice and coffee meetings and I have lived a blessed life. I have written a best-selling book but I also believe it is the best-given book. Focus on being abundant. Nobody ever became poor from giving.

Build an extraordinary brand

You don’t have a brand – you ARE a brand and already in this room, I can see the people with stand-out brands – the prize winners, the guy who did not miss a day’s school in five years. These are the people that employers want. The definition of a reputation is repeated acts of credibility. Here are four ways to build a brand:

  • Be excellent because people notice and being excellent makes you memorable and unforgettable.
  • How you do anything is how you do everything so take notice of your thoughts and actions every single day. Your brand has started already and every single thing you do either builds or destroys your brand.
  • Live in such a way that if anyone spoke badly of you, nobody would believe them.
  • Your brand on social media is important. I work as a recruiter and we stalk candidates daily on social media and so many people are fired before they are even hired due to their online brand presence. Filter every post – does it build my brand? Could anyone take offence? Is it necessary? Your privacy is worth far more than your popularity so don’t share everything online. It is OK to be a little bit mysterious.

There is NO such thing as job security

I often get asked by young people (and more often, their parents) what they should study because they want job security. There is NO such thing as job security. There are only opportunities – SO many of them. Opportunities are out there everywhere. If you can fix a problem the world has, you will never be broke. What I love about living in South Africa is that there are so many opportunities to fix a problem because there are so many problems.

Please don’t for one minute believe that you don’t have a future in South Africa. If you are excellent at what you do and you add value, you are set. Stop thinking that the pinnacle of success is getting a job. I would encourage each and every one of you here to consider becoming an entrepreneur. Try it when you are young and fearless. It is a lot harder to take risks when you are 45, have a bond and have 2.5 kids. There is no security – only opportunities and they don’t fall in your lap. Most people miss them because opportunities are dressed in overalls and they look like work. Be careful of security being one of your top five values. It might cause you to settle, play small and shrink your goals.

Be passionate

Do work that makes you come alive. There is a Korean word called ”ikigai” and it is the intersection of four things. If you can do work that intersects these four things, you will have hit the sweet spot and your chances of success will be guaranteed. They are:

  • What does the world need?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What do I love to do?
  • Is the world prepared to pay for it?

Whatever you think you would like to do as a career going forward, let it pass these two filters –

  • If I won the Lotto, would I still be keen to do this work?
  • If today were the last day of my life, would I be happy doing what I am doing?

In your first two to three years of your career, the experience is way more important than money so learn as much as you can and don’t worry about your salary. Your learning also doesn’t stop when you have your degree. Become a life-long learner. If you stop learning, you stop growing. You will never out-earn your learning.

On the subject of money, so many people want to be millionaires. But, how many people are prepared to invest R1million in their development and education? People can see passion a mile away because it looks like enthusiasm. I know many people who think it is uncool to be enthusiastic. Find something to do that only you do best – that is what the world needs. Don’t be half-hearted. Job satisfaction is a combination of high skill and high joy.

Set goals

Scary ones! Exciting ones that take your breath away. You are so much more capable and powerful than you can even imagine.

  • Set goals every year. Don’t write off time and make the mistake of living the same year over and over again and having the audacity to call it a life. Every year of your life, have a theme that defines your year.
  • When you set goals tell everyone. A public declaration is a huge motivator. Five years ago, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and I told everyone what my goal was. I was terrified at the prospect but I knew that I had told everyone I knew and that fear of not achieving that very public goal was a huge driving force. This year, I decided to run the London Marathon for Save the Rhino and I also told everyone. It was certainly the motivation I needed to get me over the finish line.
  • Set monthly goals and small daily goals. If you just achieved five little goals a day, you would achieve 1850 goals in a year. A problem with so many people is that we over-estimate what we can do in a year but we under-estimate what we can do in a lifetime. Be a goal-getter. Having a direction gives you a massive sense of motivation.
  • I also encourage you to set goals just because you can. Set fun goals. Set goals for travel, adventure and to learn new skills. Set goals that give you balance in life. Set goals for your spiritual life, your relationships and your community. Just a word of caution – if your goal is to have a gap year, just make sure it is not a gap decade.

Work hard

Don’t hold back. Give everything you do your 100% even when nobody notices and even when nobody gives you credit. One of my favourite quotes is “Be hungry, be humble, Be the hardest working person in the room”. I have a saying that I live by – “Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself”.

Be positive

Be an optimist and surround yourself with the right people who are on your team and who have your back. Get a raving fan – even if it is your Mom! Get a mentor. Watch Ted talks. Do affirmations. Visualise successful outcomes for everything you do.  Do absolutely everything in your power to build your self-esteem because you will never go higher than your self-esteem. Forget about the nay-sayers. Permit yourself to live a bold and exciting life. Forget about what THEY say. Who are THEY anyway? Remember that what other people think of you is absolutely none of YOUR business.

Know thyself

So, creating a life worth living means to be self-aware. Know thyself. Set meaningful goals, live with purpose and clear values. It is not so much about money, wealth and status but about the difference you make, the type of person you are and your relationships. Remember that 85% of your happiness comes from your relationships so focus on this as a priority. I heard the definition of Hell is arriving at the end of your life and meeting the person you could have become. Become that person. You owe it to yourself. You have one life. Create it. You all have seeds of greatness in you. I will end off in the words of Winston Churchill – ‘’’History will be kind to me for I intend to write it”.

Cindy Norcott is a Premier Member of the NSBC