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2016 has been tough but I think we all need to be thankful for the year. It surely has made us stronger. So here’s a few life lessons that I’ve learned and the personal transformation I have endured through my experiences in 2016 that I wanted to share.


Firstly, I believe there is great value in expression. I’ve added my voice as a contributor to GoodThingsGuy as I believe that this is the platform where I will be most ‘exposed’ with the writing of this post. Please believe me when I say, the ‘exposure’ I refer to here is not some cry for attention, or to see how many likes I can get but rather to make myself vulnerable.

I have said this before but I firmly believe there is power in vulnerability.

To begin I want to start with this idea of personal transformation.

I firmly believe that each and every one of us hides a portion of ourselves from the world, some large and some small, and as we bury these portions of ourselves deeper and deeper so we deny ourselves this part of our being.

This genuinely upsets me and is one of the fundamental reasons that I have chosen to focus a significant amount of energy on self-discovery. Actually, it was my love-hate relationship with a challenging 2016 that kickstarted this journey to dig deep and discover the parts of myself I had been denying.

This year was tough for many reasons for many people, but for me one of them is because my incredible mom, Di Wilkinson was battling end-stage kidney disease and has been on dialysis for the past three years… three times a week… for five hours at a time.

Furthermore, she requires a life-saving kidney transplant. She has been in hospital over 25 times since her diagnosis and has received over 30 blood transfusions. This is what make the matching so difficult and hard to find her a kidney.

Unfortunately, none of our family members are compatible and with less than 1% of the South African population registered as organ donors, her future is rather uncertain.

My weaknesses. My fears. My own mortality. The things that make me anxious. The legacy I want to leave.

As Robin Sharma says ‘many people die with their music still in them’, many moments in 2016 reminded me that I did not want to be one of these people. Moreover, it was the greatest challenges I faced this year that encouraged my self-discovery and personal transformation.

Just when I thought I couldn’t carry on, I would dig deeper within myself and it was there where I found the will to put one foot in front of the other and once I had overcome the challenge, once I had stretched myself, once I had surpassed my comfort zone, it was right there that I found something so damn beautiful internally.

Something that I may never have discovered…

Having briefly described my thoughts on self discovery I want to highlight how I tried to use my adversity to leverage me, in this process.

Firstly, one of the main lessons of 2016, which I learnt, is to be grateful for all the challenges you face. More than that I encourage you all to take it a step further and to make your failures and challenges a friend from which you can learn.

Learn to accept that every single thing that happens to you is beautiful and that life is nothing more than a growth school.

Robin Sharma so eloquently describes how valuable adversity is for personal transformation. In his book ‘The Saint, The Surfer and The CEO’ he drives the notion of how sadness strengthens you and pain leads to possibility. It reveals you to yourself but importantly, I firmly believe we HAVE to allow it to. I could go on about this subject forever but rather I want to end this section with a quote that shakes my very core.

A quote by Thomas Carlyle, which reads ‘adversity is the diamond dust heaven polishes its jewels with’.

Let that sink in.

The last thing I want to discuss is beautifully captured by a quote from Martin Luther King: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?’.

It was not this quote that stimulated these thoughts and motions for me this year, but rather my mom’s unlimited selfless nature through all her life-threatening challenges that galvanized my desire to give back and make a difference in the lives of others.

Along with my siblings, we started a non-profit organization #ThePlatterProject, which I’m sure many of you have come across.

Refusing to give up on life and motivated by her passion for wildlife, my mom started painting beautiful, large platters with different wild animals on them. We posted one of her platters on social media, which received an overwhelming positive response and so #ThePlatterProject was born…

And through #ThePlatterProject, we aim to create awareness around wildlife conservation and organ donation through the personal journey of our entire family.

I can’t speak for my siblings but for me this has been one of the most rewarding and enlightening journeys of my puny 28 year old life.

To be able to change people’s (and animals) lives by just dedicating a small portion of your time, energy and privileged life, is just the most beautiful gift. This action of ‘service’ or ‘random acts of kindness’ opens your heart so fully, not only to others but to yourself and (to tie it into the top) it drives further self-discovery.

For this reason, I ask you all to give back where you can (I know many of you do already). Importantly, it does not have to be materialistic and it doesn’t have to be big.

It may just be a smile, enough to acknowledge someone as human. Just like you. Just like me. Enough to open their heart and enough to open yours.

To end this section I leave you with a quote from Mother Teresa: ‘Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.’

So there you have it. A snippet of 2016.

It was hard. So damn hard… but I learnt more about myself than I could’ve ever imagined. For this, I am eternally grateful. So cheers 2016 and THANK YOU!

2017… I cannot wait to see what you have in store. I am open hearted and ready.


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Sources: Legh Wilkinson | #ThePlatterProject

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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