On my daily walks, I often think of all the people who have contributed towards the person I am today and what I have achieved. I use this time of reflection to recall the role that each person has played and to give thanks.
In my work as a mentor and speaker, I invite my clients or my audience, to draw a time line, with a dot on the lefthand side representing their birth, and an arrow at the other end, representing their life in the future. I suggest that they mark and describe the highlights of their lives on that timeline.
There are several factors that contribute towards our progress and development as human beings. These are, our genes, our upbringing, our education, our environment, our experiences, popular culture, technology and the power of our own imaginations. Which of these has had the greatest influence on your life?
There are many people who would have played a role in the extent to which we thrived and flourished from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. Those who usually have the greatest impact, are our parents, followed by our siblings, extended family members, friends, teachers, lecturers (for those of us who have attended tertiary institutions), our colleagues and bosses (once we enter the world of work), as well as those whom we have chosen as our role models, coaches and mentors.
Once we enter school, start making friends and then venture out into the world of work, we start encountering perspectives which might differ greatly from our those we have been taught in our families. We start asking questions. We develop the ability to distinguish between those aspects of our upbringing that we would like to adopt, and those that we intend to discard.
"The initial culture we are exposed to is our family culture, but as we move out into the world and are exposed to messages from peers, school, excurricular activities, and (the) media, the influence of the family culture diminishes and the impact of our popular culture increases."
"As social beings, we typically adopt the values, attitudes and beliefs of the culture that are most present in our lives."
We are unaware of the subtle way in which we are influenced by popular culture because it is all around us and is inextricably "woven into every aspect of our lives." Most of us are driven by a desire to feel accepted. Few are brave enough to see things differently and to do things differently.
We have all been affected by the experiences we have encountered. The unexpected and traumatic ones are the most challenging. However, by using the power of our imaginations and calling on the help and support of others, we can learn how to respond more effectively.
"It (our imagination) influences everything we do, think about and create. It leads to elaborate theories, dreams and inventions in any profession from the realms of academia, to engineering and the arts. Ultimately, imagination influences everything we do, regardless of our profession."
To whom do you attribute your success? Who or what has been the greatest influence on your life? To what extent do you take the power of your imagination for granted? If you had to draw that timeline, what would the highlights be?
Let us give thanks today for all we are and all that we have achieved. Let us be mindful of all those who have made a contribution.
What legacy will you leave behind?
"By becoming a life coach, I use my God-given gifts, talents and strengths, my time and resources, to help others, wherever and whenever I can, to reach their true potential. I make a difference in this world. I leave a legacy of someone who really cared."
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