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Life’s Experiences Are The Greatest Teacher

Life's experiences

A teacher is never a giver of truth – he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. A good teacher is merely a catalyst.”- Bruce Lee

The best teacher in life is experience. Experience is what you personally go through yourself, it can’t be bought. An experience, a teacher, enlarges you in all sorts of ways besides just his/her subject matter. A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.

When I was nine years old, my mother and her sister (my aunt) moved me to join my older brother who was attending school in a different province which is about one thousand kilometres away from home. When I got there, my brother – who is five years older than me, was my best friend. This of course was not by choice, he was the only person I knew there. I can imagine how irritating I was to him and his friends because they couldn’t do what they were used to doing because of trying to accommodate me. I soon discovered that my brother and his friends had gotten into a habit of smoking cigarettes which didn’t go down well with me but then I carried on with my life. Not long, I started making my own friends in the community and at school. My brother had learned to cook well and when he was cooking, you couldn’t avoid the inviting smell from the kitchen. One other thing that stands out about my brother is that he’s kind hearted. So, whenever he cooked, his friends would position themselves very well for them not to miss out on a well-cooked dish.

To my huge surprise, what was meant to be our monthly groceries, turned out to be a fortnight or two weeks groceries. This became a standard. When I raised this issue of concern with him, he would agree with me but his friends had a strong hold on him, so this didn’t stop. Years passed by, he and his friends upgraded from smoking just a mere cigarette to something stronger, marijuana. This increased their appetite which meant more food and since he was the main provider of food, I suffered the most as a result. We had to learn to raise money for us to buy extra food to last us until the end of the month. To raise money, we had to do some odd jobs for some people in the community and selling fruits and sweets. Also, I learned to gamble – playing cards, money spinning game and rolling dice believe it or not. I would see others playing to buy sweets and to have pocket money but for me, it was a decider between going to bed on an empty stomach or full one, it wasn’t just a game. I had to keep this secret from our family just to protect him. He lost the appetite for learning and he dropped out of school.

This experience taught me so much about the value of saving and improvising. I was always looking for better ways of making money because I knew the worst days were coming and they were so unforgiving. I also learnt how to strategically pick friends with benefits, I mean those that would carry some pocket money with and negotiate with them to buy something to eat in exchange of me helping them with their school work. The most valuable skills that I acquired and have had the largest impact in my life, both personally and professionally, and have improved quality of my existence are the following:

  1. Ability to adapt, improvise and overcome obstacles.

This skill allows you to keep moving forward and survive the hard times you’re going to face in your journey. Only the ignorant are under the impression they have their life all figured out and that person is in for a massive surprise. In the words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth!” Life is not fair, it’s complex and your dedication to keep moving on is what allows you to win.

  1. Ability to sell and negotiate.

Everything you do is a sale or a negotiation process. If you want a girlfriend or boyfriend, you need to sell them on the idea of you being the right person for them. You want a job, then you need to be able to sell your skillset to potential employers. You also need to sell to yourself the idea that you can be better than you’re doing today.

  1. Ability to self-motivate and discipline.

There will always be days when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. Those are the days that make the difference between those who are going to make it and those who will find excuses for their failures. How you make it happen, how you convince your body and mind to move in accordance with what you know is better than whatever alternative might be on the table, resides in yourself and is called willpower. Willpower has a time limit. The level of self-motivation someone can deploy is directly correlated to the following:

  • His/her level of confidence;
  • The positive outlook on the outcome;
  • The quality of the goal and;
  • The environment they created for themselves.

Well I can carry on and on sharing what my life experiences taught me and I’m forever grateful for having them. Whenever you see someone succeeds, don’t be so quick to say they are lucky until you know the price they have paid in the past and in the present for that achievement. Your dreams are calling you, pick up and answer the call!

Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on, or +27 83 304 9773