Patrick Michael Values

I find the ‘About’ eludes me, perhaps because this chapter, as yet, has no clear definition. None that satisfies the ‘normal’ expectations of what an about page should contain.

As AI claims its status, the shift life is demanding of us this time, is huge. I am navigating my shift, and am unclear about the form my ‘About’ is for you.

While we wait for clarity, I share my compass and tell a story about ‘a boy with a canoe’.

A boy with a canoe

This is me, at my first job. The canoe is the family canoe, but it is MINE.

The place is Uvongo Beach, KZN (Natal) South Coast. As a boy, I spent holidays with my family at Margate. Uvongo Beach, a little to the North of Margate, is the tidal river mouth of the Vungu River.

That year heavy rainfall caused the bridge connecting the car park on one side, with the beach on the other side, to collapse.

Those that parked, had no way of getting to the beach.

I am paddling purposely, ‘oblivious’ to my brother’s animated insistence from the river bank that it is now his turn. As I have said, the canoe is MINE.

A man on the car park side waved me over. He is equipped with beach stuff and a grumpy-looking girlfriend standing with hands on her hips, scowling.

“Why is the bridge gone?” she demanded of him.

To this day, I am sure he had nothing to do with the bridge being washed away.

I paddled over, he did not look too scary.

“Please, will you take us to the other side?” he asked.

Now, I am not sure what you think, but a big person asking a little person for help! That is something.

I nodded, afraid if I spoke, he would run away.

I sculled the canoe alongside and steadied it with my paddle. A skill I perfected. The two of them wobbled in and, with a heave on the paddle, I pushed us into the current. The river is not wide, we cross quickly and are soon beached on a sandbank connecting the main beach.

With less wobbling — we are on the sandbank — the two get out.

“Thank you,” the man said, holding out a coin. It is a 20-cent piece. They were silver in the 1970s.

“I didn’t want money,” I stammered, eyes popping out of my head, “it was fun”.

“Please take it, you helped us,” he replied.

That holiday, at every opportunity, I paddle in my canoe between the car park on the one side and the beach on the other side. People and families, of all shapes and sizes, wave me over and ask to be ferried to the other side. Sometimes it takes two or three trips to get one brood across.

I never ask for money, yet it is almost always given. I have a blue floppy sun hat, with a zip pocket on the front. This is soon brimming with shiny 20 and 50-cent pieces.

I often reflect on that holiday and the qualities I experienced:

  • I have a purpose — to be of use to those who are in need;
  • I am helpful — the privilege to be the one to help;
  • We feel at ease — everything just became easy;
  • We achieve satisfaction — my ultimate state achieved through having a purpose, being helpful and creating a state of ease.

There! My ‘About’ is revealed, and expressed as values.

Navigating my shift in the AI world, I have a purpose to be of use. It is a privilege to be asked to help. Our compass is a state of ease and satisfaction.

My Compass

This is much easier to articulate. It is the course I set almost a year ago.

  1. Acquire knowledge;
  2. Master prompt engineering;
  3. Create value.

I offer these pages, not as an AI expert, but as someone hell-bent on understanding. If you feel a resonance, consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter. Or email me. Let's start a conversation.

Patrick Michael