Friends & Friction | Read ... knowledge gives you confidence

South Africa, we are in trouble.

And we need to switch up the game quickly. According to Bloomberg, foreign investors have dumped South African shares at the fastest pace since 2017 because, among other things, our economy is near death.

When citizens are unhappy, they withhold their votes and investors take their money away. We must focus, and that means ignoring the pedlars of pessimism who cheer when the go-getters stagger. Do not yield to their untested wisdom that emanates from the cosy lounge of do-nothing.

In his poem The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri talks about walking through hell and seeing desperately sad souls, and he asks his guide about them. They are in “the miserable mode”, totally conquered by pain, the guide replies. They are “the cowardly choir of angels who were neither rebellious nor faithful to God, but were only for themselves. They no longer have any hope of death.”

Positivity pays. No matter how difficult the times may be, say “Hello” to friends and strangers. Wish them a good day. The piles of bills and the loved ones who are trapped in the quagmire of trouble, stress, sickness and all other tribulations of life will naturally oppress you as they have done to many others before you, but do not allow them to conquer you.

Do not succumb to the lure of success to please the insatiable critics, because doing so will make you blind to the seasons, leading you to reap at the wrong time and sow when the seeds are bound to rot.

Read because, unlike your beautiful looks, knowledge is not hereditary.

You were not born with a treasure trove of experience to help you deal with every challenging situation.

Wake up early every morning and read for at least an hour before starting the day. Make sure you know the five fundamental rules of your industry and when to apply them.

Knowledge gives you confidence, which is the active ingredient in all forms of success. The beauty of knowledge is that it gives you the confidence to say “no” when you are unsure, which is the shield that protects you from stupidity.

Confidence cannot be bought. It is a child of knowledge and proper planning. Whether you are to meet a master or an amateur, prepare thoroughly. Avoid back-to-back meetings like the plague – give yourself time to review the last meeting and the opportunity to plan for the next one.

Follow through. Keep the score so that you can see if you are making progress or if you are in a wheelspin.

Be respectful of your time and that of others because you cannot postpone death. So when a meeting is running over the scheduled time, be polite and gently excuse yourself, even if you have nothing else to do. You do not have to be Swiss about it. Mistakes do happen.

We live in a country where traffic lights do not work, and people toyi-toyi and sometimes burn tyres on the road, so have empathy, but limit it to those who need it.

As time and opportunities become scarcer, do not put your eggs in the basket of those who are afraid to make decisions. Postponers are pilferers of time, so do not let them steal yours.

Likewise, be decisive, remembering that it is better to be wrong than to be lost in the chaos of doubt.

Patience and decisiveness are the duo that sing together, governed by finesse rather than inflexible rules. If you have to say “no”, do so quickly and politely. Have a plan and stick to it. Even if you’ve done everything right, you will never win them all.

Fortune alone will not pull this country out of the depths of its misery, but those who have the courage to walk through the valleys of defeat so they can stand tall on the peaks of victory will.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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