We are so tempted to believe that what we have brings us happiness - it is the message advertisers try so hard to sell.  Instead, give ... of your time, talents and resources - and be surprised by the happy result.

Expect the Unexpected

Have you ever been surprised by a moment of joy or insight that you never expected?

Such moments are my frequent experience, largely because I am
a life-long learner, and because so much of my working life entails encounters with our clients.  While I go into a meeting to guide and facilitate discussion, I far more often find myself emerging from meetings with fresh knowledge and understanding.

These paradoxes characterise our lives. Consider our client, Bruce Watt, who shared in a recent newsletter his experience of loss.  Out of that loss came a strong desire to help others deal with their grief, and a book emerged from the process.  From grief … compassion, from heartbreak … healing.

I am reminded of the prayer of St Francis of Assisi, and this extract in particular:

 It is in forgiving, that we are forgiven, in giving that we receive.

Can you recall a time when you struggled to forgive someone for a hurt or offence?  Remember how you consciously had to put aside feelings of being wounded, of your right to be treated better, of your list of previous offences?  And remember that feeling of release and freedom that you experienced when you finally let go of those negative emotions? 

I have recently been doing some personal work on letting go of those things that hold us back from a full life in the present … and forgiveness is very much a part of this.  I wonder if forgiving ourselves isn’t as essential. So often, we are far more exacting of ourselves than we are of others, demanding of ourselves standards of thought and action that we would never require of others.  There is such freedom in allowing ourselves and others to be imperfect.

The Chartered family has actively been putting the second part of the prayer into action: in giving that we receive.  A team visited Iphutheng Primary, our partner for the past two years, to train teachers on computer skills.  This session is one of four such sessions we will be conducting, and, once again, St Francis was proved right.  While the teachers acquired some skills, it was the Chartered crew who came away with a sense of having made a difference, and being grateful for the opportunity also to learn and share.

Another team found themselves at the Husky Rescue site near Lanseria to help create a memorial wall and garden.  Hard work on a cold winter’s day, but one of which Francis of Assisi, known for his love of nature and its creatures, would have approved!

St Francis found his expression of giving back by caring for nature.  Each of us can find our own, and discover the unexpected … that we receive so much more by giving than by receiving.

Rolling up the Chartered sleeves ...

Recently, members of the Chartered family spent a day at Husky Rescue Southern Africa's premises in Lanseria to lend a helping ... er, paw!  Because this Nordic breed of dog requires much more attention than new owners generally anticipate, the Rescue is never short of beautiful creatures looking for homes.  Those who do raise these wonderful pets to adulthood, grow to love them, and feel the gap when they pass on. 

For this reason, Husky Rescue has wanted, for some time, to create a memorial wall and garden.  This is where the Chartered crew stepped in.  Lyn, from Chartered Employee Benefits, took the lead and roped in friends with the requisite expertise in building and gardening to help, and the end of the day revealed an impressive result.  

Thank you, Chartered Crew, for caring for those who have no voice ... just a friendly bark!

Just an hour to shape the future

Mandela Day invites
us to spend 67
minutes changing
lives ...

Of course, so many of the initiatives are for that time only, and the impact is as short-lived. Once again, this year, Chartered has sought to invest in projects where we would have a long-term and sustainable impact. One of these is currenlty underway, with our partner of two years, Iphutheng Primary School.  

Iphutheng was selected because of its outstanding reputation in the community and the commitment of the headmaster and teachers. 

Fifteen of these same teachers, despite an exhausting day of teaching and plenty of their own 'homework',  attended the computer training session offered by the Chartered crew who spent an hour teaching how to navigate Word. 

Chartered director and Head of Compliance and HR, Caroline Adams, created a simple guide for the teachers to refer to after the lesson. She led the training and the rest of the Chartered crew gave one-on-one assistance. 

The session yielded so much value - not just for those giving the lesson.  

I was reminded that we are all learners, students in a South Africa working at building bridges, creating understanding and forging a future of hope.  We look forward to the next three computer sessions at Iphutheng, and thank the school for the opportunity to partner with them. 

Giving back means business

At age 68, Fransie du Plesssis manages the secon biggest Annique distributor network in the country, accounting for many millions of rands turnover per year.  It's an incredible story of skill, dedication and passion that is an example to anyone, young or old. 

"I love my work," she says.  "The best part is that I can include my family in the business.  My husband, Thys, is a huge support to me and my daughter, Jomarie Pohl, though a chartered accountant by profession, is also a distributor and helps me train new business owners."

Fransie combines her astute business brain with a passion for empowering others.  "New markets are opening up and this means that people of all races and in all regions of the country can start selling our products and earning a lviing.  We hold training courses where we teach people about the products and help them in starting their own small businesses. Some of them do it part-time and others full-time.  I love seeing how people's lives are changed.  

"My life is well-balanced," she explains.  "My business fits in with my lifestyle and my husband and daughter are deeply involved.  I can come and go as I please.  I have no intention of retiring." 

Not many people will be able to build a business as massive as Fransie's, but the principle remains clear - an understanding of market needs, the availability of a product range to satisfy these needs combined with passion, dedication and hard work ... and the result will inevitably be success.

Just ask Fransie. And, who knows? You may become her next distributor.

Fransie calls her business an 'accidental' one.  To find out what she means, read the full article by clicking here.

When your passion becomes your give back

If you are anxious about finding a way to give back, here is a story to encourage you.  We may fear that joining an initiative or starting our own will take away from our time and resources in an already pressured life!  But, draw on what you love, share it with others, and be pleasantly surprised by what it adds to your life.  

When I met with Joan Randall, it was to find out more about her creative pursuits.  After all, she is a prolific creator of a number of diverse pieces of art; however, she surprised me by inviting me into "Joan's breathing room" - a haven she has created for women to come and express themselves creatively - no judgement, just peace, acceptance and a time to be quiet.  

If you want to read more about Joan, her art and her breathing room, click here.  

By Retirementor Kim Forbes

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