The-Tug-of-Life: A Global Initiative



  The Tug-of-Life at the KZN Youth Day

start your tug-of-life and:

  • Feel equipped to make choices that lead you towards your goals.

  • See just how much power certain Challengers may currently have in your life.

  • Know how to ‘Galvanize’ and win your life’s ‘contests’ at every stage of life.

what is the tug-of-life initiative?

The Tug-of-Life is a movement towards a smoother and happier life, empowering everyone to start ‘tugging’ for the type of future each of us aspires to!  The Initiative is inspired by the fun and easy-to-remember approach described in The Tug-of-Life book, and it tackles challenges in an entertaining and thought provoking way.  

The Tug-of-Life is about galvanizing every individual (in every country around the world) into ‘tugging’ where it counts within his or her life. It's about identifying what’s taking place on your life’s ‘field’ – the ‘contests’ you’re engaging in and the ‘contestants’ you might encounter.

HOW DO YOU start your TUG-OF-LIFE?

Start your Tug-of-Life by identifying what’s on your ‘field of life’, and by identifying your ‘contests’ and ‘contestants’. Work your way through the sections of The Tug-of-Life that are applicable to you. You’ll soon start to devise your own unique game plan.  The process empowers you to take control of your life by equipping you with tools that help you to achieve the outcomes you want from life.  Encourage everyone around you (family, friends, colleagues, staff) to join in.

how does it work?

Focused on proactive thinking, informed decision-making and sound values, The Tug-of-Life highlights simple ‘Galvanizing’ techniques that you can apply to help you avoid the challenges you face in life.  Its solution-driven approach maps out what’s happening on your ‘field of life’. It explores the challenges you face, and it looks at the factors that influence you, and helps you to devise your own unique solution and strategy. Start today:

  • Get a copy of the Tug-of-Life book and work your way through the sections that are currently applicable to you.

  • Tick all the ‘contestants’ that are already on your ‘field’ and identify any additional ones that don’t appear in the book.

  • List all the Galvanizers that you’ve identified as being necessary and make sure they all become active players in your life.

  • Encourage every person (and organization) that you know, to join the Tug-of-Life Initiative and to start ‘tugging’ where it counts.

  • ‘Like’ our Tug-of-Life Facebook page and join in the discussions. Interact with some of the ‘contestants’ that add their voices to the discussions!

  • Follow @TugOfLife on Twitter, and encourage everyone you know to do likewise.

  • Tell everyone about the Tug-of-Life: at school, work, place of worship, gym, book-club, Linked-In and any other social media or places you visit.

  • See our Sponsor page for more ideas.

  • If you or your organization would like someone to sponsor the books, contact us and we’ll try to help you to find a sponsor.

  • Start tugging today – feel the power in your life – and see the power spread around the world!

The Glossary of Tug-of-Life terminology (below) provides an explanation of some of the concepts.

how do you benefit? 

Unlimited benefits unfold as soon as you join the Galvanizers’ ranks on life’s playing field. You:                   

  • Start to create a smoother and happier life, for yourself and your family!
  • Make choices that take you closer to the person you want to be!
  • Think proactively about your life
  • Become prepared for any Challengers that come your way!
  • Equip yourself with tools and techniques that help you find effective solutions to the challenges you’ll encounter throughout your life.
  • Life Talk Forum is BBBEE rated and is a registered non-profit organisation, so you will get an 18a tax certificate for any donations or sponsorships

Tough as many of life's challenges are, so many of them are totally solvable or avoidable.  If we, as individuals and society, can identify our 'contests', we can be proactive - and we can take better control of our lives.  The Tug-of-Life empowers everyone (youth and adults) to do just that!


Imagine how amazing our world could be if everyone starts to ‘tug’ where it counts!

who is the tug-of-life aimed at?

Absolutely everyone! “Tugs-of-life” take place in adolescence, at college, in adulthood, at work, in marriage, health, parenting, spiritually, as one grows older, politically – and in the environment. Anywhere that choices exist, you’ll find some kind of tug-of-life ‘contest’.  If we, young and old, can identify our ‘contests’, we can be proactive – and we can take better control of our lives. The Tug-of-Life empowers everyone (youth and adults) to do just that! 

want to play a bigger part?

  • Are you an individual or organisation whose contributions or efforts can impact positively on youth, communities, or society?

  • Do you want to take a stand against the Challengers that affect people’s lives?

Galvanizers inspire, encourage and empower others to start tugging and to be their best selves!

Find out more! Click below on the Galvanizer that suites you!


many of life’s tough challenges are totally solvable or avoidable

We all feel overwhelmed at times and often don’t realise the impact that our choices have on how life turns out for us.  We sometimes experience hurt and despair that, in some cases, we could have avoided.  The Tug-of-Life minimizes the feeling of being overwhelmed by circumstance, and empowers you to make choices that will get you to where you want to go!


The Tug of Life®, a groundbreaking book addresses the challenges faced by today’s young people, and empowers the youth to take charge of their lives by making life-enriching choices. Alcohol and drug abuse, bullying, promiscuity and gangsterism are some of the key issues addressed by the Tug of Life. Steenberg High school in the Cape was selected for a monitored pilot to measure the programme’s impact on 480 Grade 8 and 9 learners, particularly where choices, goals and problem solving are concerned.

A summary of the outstanding results shows that after being introduced to the Tug of Life®concept:

1.     More than 75% of the programme participants feel that the programme assisted them with the choices and consequences thereof in their lives.

2.     More than 75% of the programme participants feel empowered to achieve their goals after being in the programme – they therefore have hope and they developed a better future perspective.

3.     More than 70% of the participants feel they can effectively solve their problems after being in the programme.

4.     More than 70% feel that the Tug of Life ‘characters’ helped them in their lives and helped them to understand their choices more clearly.

In addition, after participating in the Tug of Life®, the programme participants developed the following skills:

  • Enhanced self-image, self-esteem and self-respect
  • More self-confidence
  • More assertive
  • Making better choices
  • Positive future perspective
  • Developed hope
  • Empathy for others ( they want to help and assist others)
  • More honest and trustworthy

The Tug of Life is simple and fun, and totally flexible in how it is applied, and it assists in drawing up an effective ‘game plan for life’. As expressed by Mr Andre Kraak, principal of Steenberg High, “the beauty of Tug of Life is its simplicity and the fact that it can be applied within minutes of a brief introduction. There are no deadlines or time-consuming demands on the educators – it’s just a thought process and a vocabulary that everyone, irrespective of age, can apply to every situation in their life. I wish I’d had this tool a long time ago, it would have changed my life!’”

The Tug of Life results are powerful and exciting. In the words of school principals, company directors and church leaders (including Cardinal Wilfrid Napier) “this is what South Africa needs!”.

To implement Tug of Life at your school, church or company, or if you would like to help with funding disadvantaged schools or communities, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Life Talk Forum is a registered PBO so all donations are tax-deductible and it provides a great CSI opportunity for companies. Let’s get everyone tugging!

Photo: When the programme was launched at Steenberg High in 2015, Life Talk Forum and author Izabella Gates donated 530 Tug of Life books to the Grade 8 and 9 learners and educators




Some of the terminology used in the Tug-of-Life book is listed below. Detailed explanations of these and other terms are covered in the book.

BYSTANDERS People who observe from the side-lines without getting involved in their life’s contests. They watch to see if someone else will tackle the Challengers.
CHALLENGERS The challenges and troublemakers (human and otherwise) that disrupt your life.
CH-IZERS The double-sided Challenger/Galvanizer combos that change their nature as they flit between the two opposing sides. When ‘tugging’ for the Galvanizers, Ch-izers are a huge ally, but when they tug for the Challengers they create problems.
FACTORS The reasons (or excuses) that explain why the Challengers exist and why they grow in strength. Some Factors might make sense, but others merely provide excuses to justify negative behaviour.
GALVANIZERSThe invaluable aspects, actions, virtues and people that help to defeat the Challengers.
GALVANIZER INDIVIDUALS OR ORGANISATIONS People or organizations whose contributions, efforts or values impact positively on others’ lives.
OSTRICHES People who prefer to avoid reality in the hope that non-participation or denial will result in everything turning out okay.

 All advice given is given in good faith and the Life Talk Forum team and its advisors/panel members take no responsibility for any consequent actions arising therefrom.


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