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7 tricks to keeping calm in Joburg

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • August 28, 2015



I find when I’m in Joburg I rapidly become jittery, over-energised, and prone to road rage. This is not good for the heart, the soul, or for making good first impressions.


The easiest solution is to never visit Joburg. Resign yourself to the quiet life, sit on Camps Bay beach every day and never move the needle.


Yeah right!


Joburg is where the magic is happening. Its humming, it’s the engine of Africa, its where all the money is. Anyone who is serious about business must spend regular time in Joburg.


So the question is how to mitigate the negatives of being swept up in the raw energy of the City of Gold.


This is what works for me:


  1. Do everything slowly. Walk. Chew. Talk. Drive. Breath. Slowly.
  2. Read a fiction book. When I’m early for an appointment I usually dive into my email, further stressing myself out by thinking of all the things that are happening whilst I’m in meetings and on road. Nowadays I take my Kindle with me. When I’m early I rather read my book for 10min.
  3. Use a driver. It’s simply not possible for me to resist transforming into a speeding lunatic when I’m in Jhb traffic. The only thing that keeps me from having an infinity of speeding fines is the Chevy Spark. The Chevy Spark is incapable of breaking the speed limit. Nowadays I use Uber. The cost is comparable, but the biggest bonus is that I’m not driving. I now calmly sit on back seat and work through afore-mentioned email.
  4. Exercise for 20min. I always have my speedo, goggles and a towel with me. If I have a 30min gap and there is a nearby public pool I’ll go for a swim. Nothing kills the incessant voice in my head like a swim.
  5. Breath into stomach. I try to be conscious to breath into my stomach rather than my chest. Apparently this is an acting technique. I don’t really care; I just know it helps me calm down.
  6. No more back-to-backs. A game-changer for me was to stop scheduling back-to-back meetings. I now leave one hour between meetings, even if at same venue. No more stress of being late. No more stress of overrunning time. Plenty time to read book between meetings.
  7. Pray or meditate. This may sound strange, but prayer really helps me focus. I start with thinking of who are the most important people in my life. I think about all the lucky breaks I have to be grateful for. And lastly I pray for all the things I want to go right, i.e.: Please let the client pay on time!