Some of my most vivid memories are of me smashing a blue toy gun at age five and about a year later my younger brother throwing lit matches into a closet full of books, burning, amongst other things, my early art-books. I also remember we each got thoroughly disciplined for our transgressions.
Around that period I got my first audio book, Winnie The Pooh. The truth is our Dad took my siblings and I to a record store one Saturday afternoon and whilst everyone else was in awe of Michael Jackson’s newly released Thriller album I wondered off on my own and noticing the Winnie book, I took it off the shelf & off we went home. I thought it was just a book, imagine my surprise when I found a record inside. Dad didn’t notice until we were almost home and whilst I don’t remember my explanation I do remember we drove back to the store where I mumbled an apology and he paid. By the time we got home none of us kids cared for MJ as we were all in awe of this book that came with a record, or was it a record that came with a book? Either way, it was a day that I will never forget.
My next vivid memory was winning a book award at age seven, one of the proudest days of my young life. The book is long gone but my mother has my medal stashed away somewhere. One day at age ten, I think, my brother and I were at my friend Mehluli’s house and after seeing a wire-car I decided I wanted to make my own. His parents’ garage became our workshop and for what seemed forever, we churned out all sorts of ever more elaborate creations. It was 1986, Knight Rider and The A-Team were all the rage so you can imagine what our cars looked like.
My school years were full of such contradictions. When not getting into all kinds of trouble I did have the occasional moment of academic achievement, if I may call it that. What some may see as destructive or anti-social behaviour was, I believe, the source of my most defining and vivid lessons.
Had I not smashed that toy-gun open I may never have learned to look closer at how things work, from wire cars then, to studying and developing alternative business models today. My parents were unwitting mentors in this regard as the more they told me not to do certain things the more I wanted to do those very things.
I am more curious than courageous although those who know me may insist I’m stubborn, and it is that curiosity that allows me to keep learning. Curiosity allows me to do things or go places just to see what will happen and that’s taken me on some of the most rewarding adventures of my life. Curiosity is how I met my beautiful wife and whilst my antiques may occasionally drive her crazy, she knows it’s all for a greater good.
The hardest thing for me has been to understand that every day is the sum of all my previous actions, good or bad, what makes me different is how I choose to apply yesterday’s lessons today.