Monday Musings 07 February: Safety, self-esteem and the final frontier 

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Did you know you can check out what space looked like on your birthday? NASA has this nifty little tool on its website allowing you to see through the lens of the Hubble Telescope.  

All you need to do is enter the day and month of your birthday and hundreds of galaxies dating back to the beginning of time will pop up on your screen like gems swimming in a sea of inky black – some the size of tiny pin pricks, others the size of glowing embers in a braai.  

One wonders if the little green men on that side of the universe are eyeing us with equal curiosity. Perhaps they’ll do something about it in 2022. Apparently, this is the year we’ll nudge closer than ever to discovering non-Earth life; last year being a breakthrough year for UFOs.  

Nearer to home, but equally trailblazing is South Africa’s latest expedition to Antarctica to search for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, regarded as the last relic of the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration”.   

The expedition is timely, with the recent release of “South”, a silent movie by pioneering Australian photographer and film-maker Frank Hurley who witnessed Shackleton’s gruelling attempt to cross the Antarctic from 1914 to 1917.  

Towards the end of this great survival story, Hurley dedicates some quality time to Antarctica’s resident penguins – something film reviewers have given it a fair bit of flack about. But why? 

Antarctic explorer and author, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a member of the ill-fated Robert Scott South Pole expedition, said of penguins: “All the world loves a penguin”. That’s because, in his opinion and he spent a lot of time with these curious little creatures, so he should know, “in many respects they are like us, and in some respects what we should like to be”.   

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Describing his journey as “the worst way to have the best time of your life”, Cherry-Garrard said: “I am glad The Worst Journey is coming out in penguins: after all it is largely about penguins.” I have to agree. It really is impossible to look at a penguin without feeling immediate joy. 

Returning to outer space and the realisation that if those little green men really are peering down at us, humanity is but a speck of dust in an endless universe. If that pops your balloon, take a listen to this Coaching for Leaders podcast interview with author Tiziana Casciaro who provides a helpful take on humanity’s two basic needs: Safety and Self-Esteem, in her book “Power, for All: How it really works and why it’s everyone’s business” co-authored with Julie Battilana.  

“At the deepest level, what we as humans long for are two defences against this existential dilemma; first, protection from the whims of dangerous forces much greater than our own that could annihilate us in a moment; second, reassurance of our value as individuals in a universe that is indifferent to us. Ultimately then, we aim to satisfy two basic human motives: safety from harm, and confirmation that we are worthy of esteem.” These two things are always in action. These are the two anchors to how we behave, make decisions and act. Building warmth and trust help us achieve both and to do this we use two key sources of interpersonal liking: familiarity and similarity. 

Back to penguins and what draws us to them: their similarity to humans. Their behaviour on land – their upright walk, puffed-out chest, round belly and outstretched arms as if to envelop you in a hug – give them an endearing quality.  

We attribute all these human traits to them, because we don’t see them in the ocean where their clumsy waddle is all but replaced with ease and grace as they swim over 30 km an hour and porpoise through the water in search of krill, squid and fish. Ignorance is bliss. 

With Valentine’s Day around the corner and a trip to space for two being well beyond your reach for your significant other, why not consider adopting a pair of penguins for you and your sweetheart. SANCCOB once again launched its Valentine’s month special where you can choose and name your perfect pair of penguins for just R600. I’ve got my eye on dapper AP007. 

Mindful Musings

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Marketing Musings

For all you content marketing nerds out there, the Content Marketing Institute delivered a wonderful example of visual storytelling this past week on how to build a content plan.  

I loved the snack-size, approachable and engaging way with which they presented a topic that would have been complicated had it been presented as a simple blogpost with a headline, paragraphs and an embedded video.  

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Visual storytelling is starting to pick up in the B2B space and it requires of us as B2B marketers to first think as a storyteller and then use the visual medium to tell that specific story.  

In 2022, new content types like guestographics, storyboards and carousel posts are great ways to help attract and engage your audience who prefer visuals over text-dominated content. 

What the world was musing over this past week

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The Scandinavians are open 

The governments of Denmark, Norway and Sweden have all loosened their coronavirus-related restrictions in recent weeks. For many people, travel to all three Scandinavian countries is now much easier than it was just a few weeks ago. 

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New Zealand announces phased reopening plan 

At long last, the Kiwis have got with the programme, announcing that they would implement a phased border reopening starting next month. New Zealand has had one of the strictest travel restrictions throughout the pandemic. 

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5 things I’ll miss about the pandemic when it ends 

Wearing a mask, shaking hands, social distancing? You don’t need to be a raging introvert to admit that there are things you will be sad to say goodbye to when the world returns to normality. I’ll miss the ordered way we disembark aircraft. 

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‘Don’t get caught napping’ – pillow fighting enters combat sports arena 

Pillow fighting has moved out of the bedroom and into the boxing ring with the Pillow Fight Championship (PFC) holding its first live, pay-per-view event in Florida in January. Gives all new meaning to winning the featherweight title. 

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‘Extinct’ Cape Flats plant returns to Cape Town 

A Cape Flats plant, thought to have been extinct for two centuries, is home again. Erica verticillate appears to have evolved to protect its seeds from fire. Talk about a phoenix rising from the ashes. Welcome back Erica!