Category: Uncategorized


Author: Seth Godin

Don’t teach your students as if they are a monolithic population of learners. They learn differently, they have different goals, different skills, different backgrounds.

Don’t sell to your customers as if they are a fungible commodity, a walking ATM waiting for you to punch. Six of one are not like half a dozen of the other. They tell themselves different stories, have different needs and demand something different from you.

Different voters, different donors, different employees–we have the choice to treat them as individuals. Not only do they need different things, but they offer differing amounts of value to you and to your project. The moment your policy interferes with their uniqueness, the policy has cost you something.

We used to have no choice. There was only one set of data for the student body, one way to put things on the shelf of the local market, one opportunity to talk to the entire audience…

One of the biggest unfilled promises of the digital age is the opportunity to go beyond demographics and census data. Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees. No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behavior as the most important clue about what people want and more important, what they need.

It’s a no-brainer to treat the quarterback of the football team differently from the head of the chess club. We treat our bank’s biggest investor with more care than someone who merely wants to trade in a bag of pennies. Instead of reserving this special treatment for a few outliers, though, we ought to consider what happens if we offer it to all of those we value.

The long tail of everything means that there’s something for everyone–a blog to read, a charity to donate to, a skill to learn. When you send everyone the same email, demand everyone learn from the same lesson plan or try to sell everyone the same service, you’ve missed it.

A very long time ago, shoe salespeople realized that shoes that don’t fit are difficult to sell, regardless of what you’ve got in stock. Today, the people you serve are coming to realize that like their shoe size, their needs are different, regardless of what your urgent agenda might be.

Originally posted on Seth’s blog

‘n Jeugwerker in ‘n Afrikaanse gemeente. Moontlik is daar twee benaderings, iemand wat dit doen bloot net as ‘n werk, en iemand wat leef met ‘n liefde en passie vir God, kinders en jong mense as sy/haar kern. Ek vermoed dat net die tweede persoon werlik ‘n jeugwerker in die ware sin van die word kan wees, of soos Robert Frost sê “[The] object of living is to unite, avocation and vocation, only where love and need is one, the deed is ever really done, for Heaven and the future’s sakes.”

Ek is nie seker of ons altyd weet wat ‘n jeugwerker moet doen nie. In die eerste plek sien ek iemand wat bereid is om tyd saam met kinders en jong mense te spandeer, om werklik na hulle te luister. In tweede plek sien ek ‘n jeugwerker as iemand wat die volgende van nature doen:

  • Die beskerming van die verwondering en onskuld van elke kind en jong mens,
  • Die skep van ‘n veilige ruimte waarbinne kinders en jong mense hulself kan wees,
  • Die skep van ‘n veilige ruimte waarbinne kinders en jong mense hul seer kan deel,
  • Die skep van ‘n veilige ruimte wat kinders en jong mense help om heel te raak,
  • Die skep van ‘n ruimte waarbinne kinders en jong mense konkreet God se liefde onvoorwaardelik kan ervaar.
  • Vermoedelik ‘n ruimte waarbinne daar minder gepreek en meer gewees moet word.

‘n Jeugwerker met ‘n liefde vir God, kinders en jong mense as kern kan nie anders as om moeite te maak om die konteks(te) en metafore van die kinders en jong mense te leer ken nie, asook dieselde energie aan die dag lê om God se betrokkenheid by hulle raak te sien. Dit is wanneer die persoon God se teenwoordigheid en betrokkenheid by die kinders en jong mense as’t ware ontdek dat hy/sy sinvol met hulle kan praat oor hul ervaring van God. Dit raak dan nie ‘n preek van bo af nie, maar ‘n deel van elke eie storie, ook die storie van die jeugwerker.

Ek dink dit is die enigste outentieke benadering tot jeugbediening, een waar die kinders en jong mense gesien word as kerk in eie reg, met real belewenisse en ‘n struggle om dit altyd te verwoord. Dit lei tot die vraag wat my dryf, hoe is ons kerk vandag sodat ons kinders, wat vandag dalk 4 of 5 is, nog oor 30 jaar gaan glo? Dalk is die vraag vir my van soveel belang omdat my eie seuntjie amper 6 jaar jonk is. Dit is dus ‘n diep persoonlike vraag, hoe leef ek vandag my geloof uit sodat kinders en jong mense oor 30 jaar nog gaan glo. Die ander kant van die muntstuk is vir my, hoe maak ek my geloof tasbaar in my lewe sodat my kind en ons kinders dit kan beleef en ook hul geloof tasbaar wil maak in hul lewe tot ‘n boodskap van hoop in die wêreld.

Barefoot Comrades

Why Barefoot Comrades 2014?

The obvious answer is that I am a barefooter and Comrades 2013 inspired me to run Comrades again in 2014. The initial idea was to run Comrades 2014 barefoot. This idea germinated and grew into the project which is called Comrades 2014 and consists out of two parts, the first to run from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg in the days leading up to Comrades 2014 and the second to run Comrades to complete the Johannesburg to Durban journey.

The idea came to fruition when it was decided that the project will partner with a community development partner as a fundraiser. The initial question was which partner to choose. Seeing that social and eco justice issues are part of the reason that I go barefoot the obvious type of partner would also be involved in these. It was with this in mind that the project started looking for…

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Barefoot Comrades

5 May 2014. That is the day my training journey is headed to, the day that the Barefoot Comrades 2014 journey will start at 158 Loveday street in Johannesburg with the aim to be in Durban on the 1ste of June 2014 any time before 17:30 the afternoon.

In the process I will run a total of approximately 664 kilometers (664 000 metres).

The Challenge comes in two parts. The first part of the challenge is to run from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg which hosts the start of Comrades 2014. The second part is to line up on the 1st of June at the start of the Comrades and complete it before the cut-off gun sounds the end of the race.

The first part of the challenge consists of 577 kilometers (577 000 meters). The plan is to complete this distance over a time of 23 days, which include 4 rest days.

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Barefoot Comrades

Question: Where are your shoes?

Answer: I don’t wear shoes.

Question: Why?

What a good question! It is the question that always stops me in my tracks, captures my attention, and will most probably result in a 10 minute conversation with anybody who is brave enough to ask it. So allow me to engage with you for a few minutes on why I choose to go barefoot almost all of the time.

The initial motivation to go barefoot was purely functional; I simply feel more comfortable not wearing shoes than wearing shoes. The discomfort of walking barefoot was lighter than the comfort of shoes but the loss of connection. I love the feel of air over my feet, the textures underfoot, and the way your body responds to the connection with the environment. Thinking back the seeds of the answer to the why was there from the start.

The four…

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Barefoot Comrades

18 June 2014 is National Barefoot Day in South Africa. Taking a leaf out of the TOMS book, the National Barefoot Day which is organized by The Put Foot Foundation, urges South Africans to go barefoot for a day in order to highlight the plight of millions of underprivileged children who live every day without shoes. The Put Foot Foundation adds the word indignity to the plight of these children. Their mission statement: ‘Giving young, under-privileged children hope, pride, and dignity through a pair of brand new, 100% leather, quality, South African-made school shoes’. The message seems clear; going barefoot is something to be ashamed of, steals your hope, and going barefoot is simply not something to be proud of. Luckily the answer is fairly straight forward; let’s buy shoes for every underprivileged child who does not own shoes.

And this is the problem. We are not really…

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The new Pope urged the faithful to translate the sacraments they received into their daily life. It seems this is a message that all of us, at least those of us who think of ourselves as followers of The Way, need to heed. The one criticism of the Church, both the institution and the believers who form it, that cannot be ignored is the way that confession and lifestyle seems to be two different things.

It seems that the majority of the Church’s energy is spent on getting members to belief in a certain way and justifying to others, believers and non-believers, why their way is the correct way. In this system formulation, the correct words, standard creeds, finely crafted dogma, and traditional confessions are of the utmost importance. The mind and reason becomes, not only the home, but the fortress of belief and the power structures of the church; the stewards of the fortress. The sad part is that the verbal-war, that is constant waging between every possible tag you can imagine, has grown toxically stale.

A world, in the midst of severe suffering, complex trauma, losing every last shred of hope, is in desperate need of the faithful making real the very essence of their faith; G-d who so love the world, that had so much compassion, that G-d-self became part of the suffering. It is where the faithful starts to venture out of the fortress of belief into a thirsty and hungry world, urged by the core of the sacraments to live according to faith, that the verbal-war becomes an irrelevant nuisance. It is where honest pilgrims daily live from the source that ground them in the reality of G-d, that a glimmer of hope breaks through and differences in dogma and creed is transcended.

It is long overdue that the faithful realize that living out a confessed faith is much more important than confessing it absolutely right.

This article follows on Religion & Science: Another perspective.

The words we use are intended to either contribute to a dialogue or to halt it all together. “Religion” is one of those terms which are used in so many contexts and with so many different intentions, it becomes almost meaningless (For an example this see the debate between Jeff Bethke and Fr. Claude Burns aka Fr. Pontifex). Allow me to define how I understand and use it.

Religion is the embodied form in which faith is uttered; it is the rituals, symbols and the dogmas which makes up the building blocks by which we know a certain faith. As such, religion is a neutral concept with a descriptive function, in as far as it describes what a person or persons believe in. In the process it groups people together that use similar words, concepts and rituals; hence we refer to Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Pastafarianism as religions.

In using the term we are however faced with at least two problems. Firstly we are faced with the challenges and limitations of language. Just because someone uses the same words, concepts and rituals, does not mean they adhere to the same set of believes. For example, if someone breaks bread and drink wine with a meal does not mean that they are taking part in the Christian Eucharist. In other words, it might be that people are think they are saying the same thing or doing the same thing, when they are in actual fact saying and doing completely different things.

The second problem is that a specific religion is often judged by the behaviour of individual believers or groups of believers. Once again the choice of individuals to evaluate any given religion often says more about the person doing the selecting rather than the religion. In each and every religion there are examples of people who do not seem to be capable of walking the talk and people who seem to epitomize the very essence of what the specific religion is about.

In the current debate the use of the term religion is similar to the use of statements which include “believe in”. I am complete agreement with MemeMan that it is frustrating when one engages in critical dialogue with people of faith and the formula “believe in” becomes a scapegoat. The same frustration is felt when opponents of faith uses the dark side of religion as a scapegoat when engaging in critical dialogue with people of faith.

What can be said, that many people of faith is more than willing to engage in critical dialogue with people with a different perspective on faith, religious sets and also those who oppose a faith perspective altogether. What becomes clear from the comments column on articles such as this is that many people of faith as well as those who oppose faith is not willing to engage in critical dialogue. As a Christian I am more than willing to admit that I am complete wrong in my understanding of who God is or is not. I am even willing to admit that the possibility exists that the concept of God is purely a construct of the human mind and psychology. Faith-based language has limitations and should not strive to explain things that falls outside of its scope.

I would venture that the only requirement dialogue partners from a faith perspective, as described above, has is the same attitude from the dialogue partners from other perspectives. In terms of the science dialogue partners, it would mean an acknowledgement of the limitations of scientific knowledge and the fragmented or one-sided perspective of the scientific method as well as the important role that educated guesses play in the development of theories. One such an example is the important role that the Higgs boson plays in the Standard Model of particle physics but, at this time, is a hypothetical elementary particle.

The implication of this is that not everything in the world is describable through the scientific language set, that not everything that exists are measurable, that not everything in the cosmos is falsifiable, at least not in the sense used by the Scientific model, and that other language sets are necessary to offer description of some of the realities we are faced with every day.

The sad part being that on every side of the debate you’ll find fundamentalists who have an inability to at least accede the hypothetical possibility that their own paradigm might be intrinsically flawed and does not have the ability to explain the whole of Reality. In truth the Science Method has already made a great contribution to our understanding of us and the eco-system, as well as universe, of which we form a part. Since the earliest days of mankind, the language of faith has also made a significant contribution. It might just be possible that the roots of our current civilization can be found in religion, the embodiment of faith; the basis of this theory being the ancient temple Göbekli Tepe. At the same time the language of faith has made some horrendous contributions, the Crusades being a point in case. Likewise, the scientific language set has made some terrible contributions, for example the leveling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It might just be that the worst atrocities are committed when the extremists on either side co-opts the language of the other in order to justify or carry out their respective ideologies. Maybe some of the most celebrated achievements of (wo)mankind are achieved when an honest and critical dialogue exists between different language sets, in this case religion and faith.

In conclusion to this installment of my contribution to the dialogue marking the News24 user content at the moment, I would urge a certain amount of humility on every side of the argument, an acknowledgement that we are not quite as clever as we think we are; as the faithful that we do not have such an intimate knowledge of God as we would like to portray, and as the scientists that we do not have quite the clear picture of the whole as we would like to portray. It might just be possible that the Theory Of Everything will include both the scientific and faith language sets as well as other we might not even foresee at the moment.

The next installment will focus on faith as a way of seeing this reality.

 

 

It’s cold, very cold. This might be stating the obvious but I think that somehow we miss how cold it really is. As the cold front settles in and the effect of winter is clearly visible on frosted window panes and heater sales, we seem to be absorbed in how to stay warm. The result, we forget how cold it really is.

But maybe it is worthwhile to open ourselves to the reality of how cold it really is. This morning, stepping out of the house unshod was a real challenge but at the same time a real reminder that there was a bunch of people sleeping outside last night. Walking to the car barefoot in sub-zero temperatures reminded once again how privilege I am; a warm bowl of soup, followed by a warm shower and a warm and comfortable bed to spend the night.

At the same time the frost was biting at my toes I wondered how many people spared a thought for those who are not so privilege, for those to whom going barefoot is not a choice but the only reality. How many of those who laid siege to shops in search of heaters decided to invite a little discomfort into their own lives in order to gift someone else a little more comfort in theirs?

Traveling barefoot in the freezing cold I am constantly reminded, and made acutely aware, of how selfish (wo)mankind can be. Even as we talk about compassion and espouse self-sacrifice, we seldom dare to venture out of our comfort zones in order to make a real different of those who truly suffers. Indeed we are willing to help others, as long as they make some effort to help themselves and also only as long as it doesn’t really affect our own comfort.

Maybe the time has come that we choose to leave our shoes at home or to leave the heater switched off for one night (at least Eskom will be happy) or use one less blanket for a night. It might just be that we wake up the next morning with a little more gratitude which might just lead to each one of us doing one little thing that will make a big difference in the life of someone not so fortunate. And if we don’t, I venture to say that deep down there will always be that niggling feeling, that idea that we are not the great people we think we are, that we are indeed self-centred fools who are bend on our own destruction; at least we will be destroyed whilst being warm and comfortable.

Coca-Cola would like us to believe it is as easy as opening it, the faithful (seemingly from a diversity of different religions) would like us to believe it can be attained by confessing it, afaithful would like us to believe it is a case of not confessing it, the producers and retailers would like us to believe it increases with consumption and the naturalists and greenies would like us to stop consuming in order to truly gain it, the moralists champions the life-long commitment to a person of the opposite sex as the doorway to a lifetime of it and the more liberal finds it in the diversity of multiple connections. Whatever the answer, it seems that there are many different answers to the question and that these answers are directly linked to the underlying philosophy of the person that answers the question. The question of course being: What will bring us lasting happiness?

Implied in the question is that such a thing as lasting happiness does indeed exist and all we need to do is to find the start of the correct path towards it, journey it with commitment and persistence and at some or other time, we will arrive at the source of lasting happiness. Maybe the challenge lies in the assumption and not in the diversity, and sometimes even apposing, answers.

It might just be that in the uncritical acceptance of the existence of lasting happiness, and the assertion that every person, and therefore myself as well, has a given right to happiness, we are excluding ourselves from the very thing we seek. The view that happiness is something that can be achieved and the moment it can be achieved happiness is turned into the result of a doing function. It puts the Self in control and constantly asks an evaluative question about every moment; is this, what is experienced, truly happiness or is there something greater?

Maybe the first step towards understanding lasting happiness is the acknowledgement that our reality is often filled, or even that the default setting of our reality, is a place of unhappiness; that happiness, especially lasting happiness, has an Other-worldly quality to it. C.S Lewis famously writes that joy “is the serious business of heaven” (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on prayer). Thus it might just be true that in search of lasting happiness we are not in control, because we are searching for something that does not essentially exists to be grasped.

This acceptance that happiness is not something of our doing but rather a state of being, might open whole different perspective on lasting happiness. An acceptance of life as it is, an openness that much of who we are, are marked by honest struggle, by hardship and challenges, by hunger and thirst and by the realization that everyone around us is faced with the same reality, might be the change of perspective we need to see the Other-worldly. Maybe it is when we surrender our desperate quest to find a mythical happiness, that we find a much more down to earth, even fragile, but ultimately a lasting, happiness.