I recently got to visit the beautiful city of Warsaw in Poland, and might I add that this was the first trip outside Africa, let alone Southern Africa, that I had made. The experience was quite an eye opening one, and while I acknowledge that this would obviously be the case when one is travelling from a third to a first world country, it goes beyond just that.
What became very real to me from the get go, albeit that I may have heard it paraphrased before, is that the more exposure one gets, the more they realise how little they know. Another way to look at it is to simply say that a lack of exposure “kills” a lot of us.
In his article for GQ , Tom Goodwin writes about how we don’t need to teach our kids to code, but rather to dream. He gives an account of why we should be living our lives inside out, rather than outside in. The conversations I had during my stay with people from different parts of the world drove this point home. One individual related how he had recently made what I thought was a drastic change in career, having gone from working as a sailor for rent, to a consultant in the Information Technology (IT) space.
The inverse, living life inside out, can be likened to what Prince Ea describes in his video on how the frigid education system sometimes judges fish on their ability to climb a tree. Specific notions are handed down to children on what characteristic traits they need to possess, what schools they need to attend and what subjects to take up, in order to end up doing specific kinds of jobs.
This by parents who obviously want to ensure that their children end up making something “meaningful” of their lives, more so in instances where the circumstances are challenging. By the same token, there lies a risk of prescribing a one size fits all cookie cutter lifestyle for very differently wired individuals.
In my observations, I am also aware of some of the differences in the realities of first and third world countries. For the most part, these seem to lend us in a position where, in third world countries we are not exposed to lifestyle alternatives, such that our mindsets are not open to the idea of taking the road less travelled.
In a third world South Africa, the scales are such that some are able to afford first world living, while others live in the squalor that is often depicted in the ads aired in first world countries, by nonprofit and charitable organisations requesting funding. Having had the little exposure that I got from my trip and sitting somewhere towards the lower end of this scale leaves me in a predicament somewhat:
I realise that I have to shift my mindset from the one I inherited on “how to make it”, to one of adaptability. A change is as good as a holiday, even though my trip was work related.
This means having to prioritise exposure, colouring outside the lines, or better yet, not seeing the lines, all within reason. With the little disposable income I have, some of the “things” I would ordinarily buy, should now fall second place to “experiences”. For a great number of us, catapulting ourselves into this mindset, and going against the grain, is unthinkable, and sadly is our downfall.
I have a great interest in innovations that use tech to make life easier, and would dare to claim that investing in experiences would sharpen one’s entrepreneurial skills. I will write about some of the brilliant innovations I saw in Poland and other parts of Europe in posts to follow, but in the meantime I dare those who would try, to go out there and see the world!