There is always something to be grateful for, even the ability to experience ingratitude. It is the presence of one without the other that allows us the depth of spirit to appreciate either. This, in a single line, is the essence of life.
My name is Zaid Ismail. I’ve been a mental health advocate for more than ten years, and more recently chose to become an independent author, life coach, and entrepreneur. My philosophical side is a natural disposition that I’ve enjoyed since childhood. And yes, I was the odd one out.
Before this, I spent over 25 years in the corporate and public sector environments filling various roles from an IT specialist to a senior consultant for business optimisation and strategy. My passion, however, has always been grounded in the development of people. I coached people formally in the workplace, and informally in my spare time for many years before deciding to pursue it full-time.
The first book that I wrote was published in September 2018 and is titled The Egosystem: A Synopsis of the Human Condition. It is a discussion about the emotional cycle that influences our lives in every moment, and every experience. The book includes a selection of essays that offer insights into real-life experiences and how applying the thinking contained in the Egosystem allows us to triumph over the adversities that we face.
The second book that I published in July 2019 is aimed at the lay person and is titled Own Your Sh!t. I deliberately chose a seemingly abrasive title because anything less disappears into the hoards of titles available on the subject in the self-help genre. Terms like ‘own your life’ or ‘mindfulness’ or even ‘be the best version of you’ have all grown cliched and have little impact, and quite often little substance to offer. This book is different in that it does not provide exercises, to-do lists, or mantras. Instead, it peels away the layers of our emotional experience so that we can understand (with compassion) why we turned out to be who we are. This empowers us to make kinder and more informed decisions about what changes we want to implement in our lives.
I could ramble on about what I find incorrect or at times blatantly misleading in the general approach to self-help or personal development advice, but suffice to say that the focus on external triggers and science is not where our sanity lies. I am always exploring the differences between emotional mindfulness and situational mindfulness so that I may be able to offer insights into what I believe underpins the purpose of life. Providing the reader with practical and relatable insights into how to own their life is at the core of the message of Own Your Sh!t.
I’m working on a novel to celebrate the life of the odd ones in society. The normal but invisible ones that blend in while experiencing as much, if not more upheaval and triumph than the popular ones. It’s not a story of underdogs overcoming the odds against social exclusion. It’s a story of an ordinary kid who would otherwise be classified as odd or weird, and grows up in a dysfunctional family unit, during a challenging time in South Africa, while contending with social and cultural prejudices that shape his life in colourful ways. The novel, titled An Incomplete Love Story, is currently undergoing its final edits.
On a personal front, I am a single father of two teenage daughters. Guiding them, and learning from them, is probably the greatest and most frustrating joy in life. But a joy nonetheless. I hope you find my writings to be of value, or at the least mildly entertaining. Please do share your thoughts with me, and your delights with your friends.