In Conversation with: Andrew Patterson

Before you go any further, the 365 Ubuntuclimbs campaign will benefit three amazing organisations: Habitat for Humanity, One Heart for Kids, The Sunflower Fund. Please click on the link to donate

I’m Andrew Patterson, I am passionate about life, growing, learning and translating that back into teaching others so they can enjoy the same benefits of living a fulfilling life. I have a degree in Marketing and I’m a qualified Numerologist and my business background is in optimising retail businesses having worked for Coca-Cola and Distell – two multinational corporations. I love travelling, being outdoors – mountains specifically – and dream of skiing every year. I grew up in Johannesburg and left for the UK age 23 which is where I became an adult and my love for travel deepened. My positive outlook on life combined with a way with words meant I started a blog 2 years ago aimed at challenging the way people think about their experiences in life. As an incredibly insecure and shy teenager, my journey to get to where I am today – speaking on stage to 2000 people or writing about deeply personal learnings – is testament to what can happen when you decide to make changes. We’re here to have fun, and so you should do as much of the things you love as possible.

How did 365 Ubuntu climbs come to be?

I was retrenched when our company did a restructure June 2017. I knew my time with corporate was over and having been involved in fundraising for 6 different organisations the past 6 years, I was more interested in getting permanently involved in adding value to our communities. I love hiking, I love Table Mountain, I love challenging my capabilities, I’d heard of a woman doing 67 climbs up said mountain and so with my futures slate wiped clean – the idea popped into my head driving past Table Mountain just 8 days before I was due to leave my corporate life behind. Climb Table Mountain 365 times.

What do you hope people will take away from being on the mountain climbs?

To listen to their inspired thoughts (whatever they might be) and to act on them. We’re never given any idea we can’t execute. By taking the next step and acting on it you open the pathway to meeting people who will assist you and make it a reality. I also hope it brings a greater appreciation for nature and respecting our home more. We have a phenomenal planet we live on, get out and explore it.

How long are the climbs?

The loop is about 6 kilometres and time taken depends on fitness levels – 90 minutes to almost 5 hours.

What do you take away from the climbs?

Learning to be fully present. I might be climbing the mountain 365 times, but all I have to think about is today’s climb. By being fully present you learn from your changing surroundings and allow yourself to become aligned with intuition: one of our most powerful sources of guidance.

Describe a typical day in your life.

My days are driven by weather at the moment. This determines what time of day I go up and everything else revolves around that, liaising other days with people who have already donated and want to join; Speaking engagements to promote 365 Ubuntu Climbs, interviews, processing orders for T shirts and caps, meeting with corporates on how to get involved and do team buildings, writing for my own blog, for my sponsor Cape Union Marts blog, and Future Females blog and then managing each days social media posts aimed at inspiring people to pursue their own inspired thoughts.

What prompted the fundraising and how has been the support from people?

I heard about an event challenging people to climb Table Mountain as many times in one day from sunrise to sunset and raising money with each climb; and I was introduced to the Sunflower Fund that same year. I cycle the Cape Town Cycle Race every year and they invite cyclists to raise money for each kilometre they do. I saw how easy it is to give and how quickly ‘small’ amounts (no amount is too small) add up quickly. Sadly, most people don’t understand the power behind everyone contributing their ‘little’ bit and how much value we can add to others lives.

So far – everything is as it should be, and the support is phenomenal.

How do you keep yourself motivated, given that you have to climb every day?

The stories of people joining are what push me as well as my commitment to this project. I’m a firm believer in doing what you say so there is no other option other than climbing. Then I meet people Like Lifa Hlongwa who was told last year he’d never walk again. Less than 10 months later he climbed up Lions Head (smaller mountain next to Table Mountain) and he contacted me to join me on day 145. Only time prevented him from reaching the top to catch the cable car down safely, so we turned around 1/8th the way up. To me -that was one of the most humbling and inspiring day to watch the human spirit in action. There are no excuses and I have stories of my sister’s incredible achievement making it up even with an under active thyroid and adrenal fatigue. People like my parents who never dreamt of climbing the mountain doing so for the first time in their 60’s. These are all but a taste of the stories of people pushing their own capabilities to join on a hike and be part of the Ubuntu community.

Have you had any injury problems and how have you coped?

No injuries as yet. I believe injuries occur when we ignore our bodies warnings and are not 100% mindful of what we are doing. Therefore, every climb I treat as though it’s my first time going up and I go at the pace of the ‘slowest’ person or if I’m alone at the pace I can feel my bodies happy with.

What are your future hopes for Ubuntu climbs, any plans to take it across the country?

The plan is to keep it going up Table Mountain next year and find someone that embodies what it’s about and does it for the right reasons. The plan though is to keep the idea of getting people involved in their own daily ubuntu practice. There’s still a long way to go – who knows what is born out of this year – I’m open to all possibilities.

How many people have signed up for the ubuntu climbs so far?

276 people have climbed up as of 3rd June 2018.

How do you cope with the climbs when there is harsh weather?

There is no bad weather just bad preparation. I have a fantastic sponsor, Cape Union Mart, which means I’m kept dry, warm and ultimately safe. Every hike is a reconnaissance mission to identify moving rocks on the path, so that I’m always aware of potential areas to slip. I take extra care on sections that I already know are slippery when dry. Truth is, your focus should be as sharp on Clear sunny days without wind as the harsh weather climbs

What is the soundtrack to your life?

I have an eclectic taste in music as I do in life. I believe experiencing as much of what life has to offer is where you learn the most. Only enjoying one genre of music means you miss out on the beauty that the others may have – even if it’s just one song in country music you enjoy! My soundtrack would reflect that.

What are you most proud of about being South African?

I’m most proud of the constant display of the human spirit. Some of the most beautiful smiles I’ve seen, have been from those with the least. 

How would you like to be remembered?

As a man who added value by empowering others to take charge of their own lives and had the best time doing it!

What is the most important lesson that life has taught you?

I was born partially deaf in my left ear, then at age 5 mumps took the rest of the hearing away. From that early age I was taught the value of what you put your focus on is how your life will be. Most people focused on the deaf ear while I focus on how grateful I am to still hear in my right ear. That single understanding created a pathway of focusing on the positive, not by ignoring the negative but by not giving it your power.

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