11 Things I learned From South Africa

On Wednesday May 28, Day 9 of my post-South African life (9 D.A.S.A.), I returned to Boston from Providence expecting to referee my first match back in the homeland. Unfortunately it was cancelled just as I was going out the door so instead I went for a run around the neighborhood. I decided to run without music, as we did in SA during bergpads. Without the blasting beats from my iPod providing destructive interference with my screaming brain waves, I mentally organized some lessons I learned from South Africa and filed them neatly away in my brain to keep for later. Now it’s the time to share

11 Things I learned from South Africa

  1. I can run without music.
  2. Taking naps is a valuable use of time.
  3. Flexible adaptability is key.
    • Run with a different and old pair of shoes? Why not?
    • Run the trail in the reverse direction? Why not?
    • Ref at 8AM? OK! Ref at 10PM? OK!
    • Ref in 3 days? 1 day? 10 minutes? (Btw there are some very specific law variations you might want to know.) OK!
  4. Be as prepared as I can – that’s my responsibility, but don’t be hazardously resistant to change.
    • I’m reminded of a story that Day9 shared about his Starcraft world champion friend who would train for Starcraft in extreme temperatures such as SciLi-Arctic-freezing coldness or blazing heat so that when he was at WCGs and other competitions he was ready and able to face anything.
  5. I learned to see challenges as tests, tests of my strength, character, and resolve.
    • The experience made me look forward to more challenges because the more I face the stronger I become.
  6. Things don’t need to be rushed.
    • Time buffers are common in SA.
    • “Just now” = in the next 3 hours.
    • “Now now” = in the next 20 minutes.
    • It’s interesting returning to what someone called “hippy dippy Providence” where soy lattes are common, but also bringing with me the South African relaxed pace of time that has a more extreme go-with-the-flow feeling that’s commonly associated with hippy culture.
  7. The American culture of multitasking often makes us accomplish less rather than more.
  8. Sometimes silence is a second chance.
  9. I don’t need the Internet.
    • The Internet went out this afternoon so I read a book and wrote.
    • Ploeg has coined the term “SA Internet Focus”, which is my improved ability to focus at work now without the desire to check my email and Facebook every 5 minutes.
  10. I learned from the book, The Gold Mine Effect, that not everything needs to be measured.
    • Reps, sets, pace, etc. Metrics are everywhere and as a data analyst I eat it all up – my brain loves data like a mouse loves rice, but I must consume everything in moderation.
    • Athletes at the MVP Track Club in Jamaica don’t focus on how many reps and sets are left. They go until told to stop and don’t think about the possibility of quitting or ending soon. It was mentally refreshing when I didn’t keep track of reps anymore during trappe and speed and agility sessions. It freed up my mental capacity to just focus on running.
  11. Patience.
    • I remember as a player Byds would also tell me, patience!
    • Patience does not mean complacency. It means working your ass off to achieve your goals and get closer to realizing your dreams but not feeling like the world owes you the fame, recognition, compliments, accolades, and stardom that you might feel (and sometimes even know) you deserve.
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11 Things I learned From South Africa

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