helpgrowchange

My 5 Favourite Articles After Year One

It started off on a cold, rainy winter’s night in July 2013. I published my first article to browntel.net – simply wanting to get my message out to the ether. A year down the line, I am reviewing what I’ve done over this first year before I kick into the next. I’ve got some big things planned over the next year with Help Grow Change, and I really hope you join me on this journey. For now, sit back, relax, and have a read of five of my personal favourite articles.

Let’s begin with the very first article, which pretty much set the tone for everything to come; a short, simple post about keeping things simple.

The Key To Efficiency Is Simple

 
The first few months of this blog was inconsistent. I had no clear message that I was passing on except a few opinion pieces. I wrote about living in an earthquake city, second hand smoke, and even privacy concerns. One article that stood out for me was today’s toys for our children. But the one article that got me going was the one I laid myself out for all to see.

This Is My Story, And What It Means To You

 
That was September 2013. My writing was starting to take on a certain theme now. I was getting more confident and excited about having the ability to change people for the better. An idea had sparked. In the new year (and after I began my regular newsletter), I published about why you will never be good enough.

Why You Will Never Be Good Enough

 
I believe the writing from then on has had a similar theme, which I hope is appreciated by the people that read it. The next favourite article was a simple one with a simple message.

Take Action

 
In March 2014 I had renewed inspiration with helping, growing, and changing people. It started with an article which struck a chord with me, and I love it. Be you, be awesome.

Be you, be awesome

 
Ok, I lied. There were so many articles out of the 47 I have written so far, that I couldn’t keep the list limited to 5. One message I truly believe (and couldn’t not put it in here), is that there is always hope.

Hope In Your Darkest Hour

 
Thank you for your support over this past year. I hope you continue on this journey with me. A journey that will move us out of mediocrity and into awesomeness.

Find Your Wingman

In our daily struggles to become successful, we tend to think we are doing it all ourselves. We are the ones putting in the hard yards. We are the ones driving change forward. We are the masters of our own fate.

We are wrong. We are not the sole players in this game.

Every person has someone looking out for them. Not in a ‘Guardian Angel’ sense, but rather a ‘Wingman’ type of way. Someone who will offer support when the times are tough. Someone who will pat us on the back after the victories. That certain someone who will push us when we start slacking.

That person could be anyone. Your partner, your mentor, your father, or even your work colleague. But they are there – watching, supporting, helping you through the tough times.

If you don’t think there is anyone who has your back currently, I pose a few questions to you:

  • Who do you call when you achieve something special to you?
  • Who do you confide in when the going gets tough?
  • Who is the person that will give you honest feedback on your work? And not just a ‘That’s great’ comment.

If you answered with a person for any of these questions, then you have a Wingman. You may not only have one wingman, but a few. I would hazard a guess that there isn’t more than a handful of people who you could name as an answer to the three questions above.

For me, this person is my amazing wife. She is the resounding winner in all the three earlier questions. She is there through thick and thin. She relishes in my successes, consoles me in my failures, and drives me to perform better.

Simply put – I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

Today, I pose a challenge to you. Take some time out from your own goals and struggles, and concentrate on giving back to your wingmen and women.

Think, and I mean really think, about the response to the three questions I asked earlier. Identify the person or key people that have your back. Not your group of best buddies. I’m talking about those people in the background. Those who you trust, who you confide in, and who never quite make the headlines when you achieve your own success.

Go show them your appreciation. Concentrate on what they’re doing, what they’re trying to achieve. Is there something they need encouragement on? Something they’ve attempted, but couldn’t quite reach? How can you help them be better than they are today?

Go on. They deserve it. They helped you get to where you are today.

[Featured image: Florian Nohring]

Productivity Tip #1 – Make Time To Manage Time

Your task list is piling high. You barely have enough time to finish what you are meant to do (or not finish at all). Your boss is breathing down your neck for that report you were meant to finish last week. And your team is waiting for you approve their leave request.

Eventually it gets too much. You throw up your arms in exasperation! You know you have to find a way to manage your workload. Surely there must be a better way in order to get through your tasks.

I hear you – I felt like this before. I was busy all day every day, but when I got home at night, I didn’t feel like I had achieved anything. There was so much I was busy with, I didn’t know my left hand from my right. Emails, Incidents, Requests, Projects, further pressure from my management, it just never seemed to end. Sometimes, I would even need to work late into the night (many nights actually) in order to simply stay afloat in an ocean of workload.

I knew I had to do something about this, as working like that is simply not healthy. I started to read anything I could about productivity and time management. There was a plethora of information and many great tips, but one thing got to me – I didn’t have time to implement any of the advice. I would ask myself questions like ‘How the hell am I supposed to do this stuff when I am so busy with everything else’, or ‘These people make it sound so easy, that will never work for me’.

These were just excuses, though. I was just too lazy to try something new. I was comfortable in what I knew, and it looked like way too much effort to try these new tips. I also felt that some of the advice seemed a bit too generic, and would never work for me.

Despite my doubts, I tried the suggestions. Some worked, most failed. I discovered that not all advice worked for me. I found that I had to combine many different techniques in order to find what worked. And so should you. Even this advice I’m giving you right now should be taken with a pinch of salt, as it might not even be right for what you are looking for. But what if it is – you have to try.

No matter what you try in order to be more productive, you have to make the time to change.

Something has to give in order for you to have a better tomorrow. You must sacrifice some task completion now in order to ensure the better management of all your tasks going forward. It is going to be hard. You will not get to be the super-productive-ninja overnight. There is no magic wand to clear all the tasks away. It takes a lot of time, consistency, and many boring repetitions.

Having no time is not an excuse to hamper your future productiveness.

If you want to manage your workload better, the first item on your to-do list is to schedule the time in order to form your new productive habit. That habit will require conscious effort in order to be maintained. And after a while you will be doing it on auto. At that point, you schedule time to improve the next thing.

Some tips I’ve learnt over the years are;

  1. Make time to implement a new productive habit (whatever habit works for you).
  2. Implement only one new habit at a time. Having too many new habits will not allow you to apply the amount of focus needed to effectively form the new habit.
  3. Be vigilant. Your new habit will not be in place one, two, or even ten days. It’s going to take a while. That ‘while’ varies for different people. I believe that when you are performing your habit on auto more times than you have to think about it, then it’s comfortable enough to form a new one.

Read up more about my productivity methods in the Productivity Section

Having some problems implementing your productivity habit? Ask me a question, and I will try my best to help out with it.

[Featured image: Sonja Langford]

You Are A Leader

Being a leader is not about a fancy title or a corner desk. It’s about taking the responsibility to grow other people. It’s about being passionate about initiating change. Having the balls to make decisions and take responsibility for the outcomes.

Be helpful

When I was still a system administrator, I never thought I was a leader. I was helpful and genuinely interested in resolving other people’s problems. I never thought I could be one of those great, important, managers who I reported to or walked past in the corridor.

However moving into a proper team leader role changed all that. Once I realised the responsibility that came with my newly acquired position, I took the initiative to learn more about what it means to be a leader. What happened next, I didn’t expect.

I discovered my true passion – growing people.

Being able to initiate ideas to show my team that they can be more than what they are, then seeing them go and do it. Seeing my team (and even others) go on to achieve great things inspires me further to help the ones still around me.

As I delve further into my life purpose, I realise that being a leader is about helping everyone. Those that are struggling and need some guidance, as well as the high performers to help them continue on their highway of achievements.

What I also realised, is that you don’t need to be in a leadership role to guide others. You are a leader already. When someone comes to ask your opinion on a particular topic, they respect you enough to seek guidance from you. When your management ask you to run with high profile tasks, they believe you have the ability.

Yes, that does mean you are a leader. You’re just leading in different ways, more subtle ways.

Have the balls

One of the first times I realised the importance of making hard decisions was during an extremely high profile system failure. I realised I couldn’t hide anymore. I couldn’t escalate to my own leader. I couldn’t simply stick my head in the sand until someone else took care of the situation.

On that day, I accepted the challenge. I stood strong, faced the crisis, took control, and we got through it pretty well. One important aspect I believe a leader must have is to be calm in the face of danger. A leader must filter the critical mass from the crap and pass only the relevant information to his team.

There have been a few more tough times since that first emergency. There have also been a few other types of challenges that I have had to adapt to. But that is the nature of this very blog. It’s all about growing and changing when the time calls for it.

You can do the same. Yes, it’s scary – I was nervous as hell (I still am a lot of the time). But the great thing is it gets easier every time. You gain valuable experience, the situation isn’t as scary the next time, and even less scary the time after that. Each time you’re in a similar situation, you can make better decisions. With better decisions, you become more comfortable.

When you’re more comfortable, try challenge yourself with different situations. Try to find that nervousness. The nervousness means you’re out of your comfort zone – that’s a good thing.

The more you are outside of your comfort zone, the more you are learning, growing, changing…

How are you leading others through helpfulness and decisions you’re making?

[Featured image: Kumar Appaiah]

Do What Is Right For You

We go through our lives each day thinking and dreaming about other ‘stuff’. Wondering what it would be like if things were done differently, or why certain things happen to us and not ‘those’ people.

What can we do to change that? How can we go about achieving the same success as those people we’re viewing through the looking glass? We follow our own path, that’s how.

All through my life, I’ve been trying to be someone else. In school I wanted to be like the ‘cool’ kids (I wasn’t). All through my career, I have tried to fit in with what I thought was the right thing to do. Sometimes this felt right, most times not. Which would probably explain why I’ve changed so many jobs.

We all want to be different just like everyone else.

Becoming a leader changed all that. I discovered within myself that it is not about doing the things to please other people. It is not about dressing right, or saying the right things. All that does is make you fit in. You become one of the sheep in the herd. Another person that thinks they’re different, but – really – they’re not.

Being a leader has taught me the value about being yourself. Not being afraid to take risks and the responsibility that comes with the consequences.

In a similar way, you can be your own leader. You decide your own path and take the necessary risks to keep to that path. That means sticking to what is true to you – not your boss, your colleagues, or your friends. Your wife/husband/life partner is a different matter, but that is a whole new post about partnership.

You are the one that controls your life path. The only way it’s going to change is by you stepping up and making that change yourself. It’s not going to come from me, your mom, or your religious entity. It’s all on you.

But you know what? I am confident you can do it. It’s not as big a step as it sounds. There are little things you can do to make your own change. Here are three suggestions:

  1. If you want to be more productive – Say no.
  2. If you want to help with Climate Change – switch off unused lights and appliances.
  3. Try something new – a new food dish, a new hiking trail, or even a new hobby.

What will you be doing next that is right for you?

[Featured image: Danka Peter]

Hope In Your Darkest Hour

How do we all get up each day and fight through the hard times? The times when we feel it’s all about to end. Situations where we are certain there is no way out, nowhere else to go. It doesn’t matter if those situations are life or death, poverty, or crappy jobs.

One thing gets us through.

Hope.

A few years back, I worked in a really bad job. The hours were long, the commute was tiresome (as well as travelling during the day), and the pay average. Those things I could live with. But the worst part of the job was my boss.

She was both the best and the worst boss at the same time. You wouldn’t know who you were getting when she walked into the office every morning (never mind switching moods during the day). She would be the sweetest person trying to find homes for kittens or doing charity work, then immediately switch to fiery dragon, flying off the handle at anybody who looked at her funny.

This work environment seriously affected me and my willingness to work. I loathed coming into the office every single day. After four months of employment I decided to move. But my boss upheld the 3 month notice period, which seriously affected me and my opportunities – as no other company wanted to wait that long.

When you’re down in your lowest, darkest place, it is hard to see any good in this world. The Universe is against you, testing you. You think to yourself ‘Why can’t it test someone else’?

Each day in the job got harder and harder. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. With no job opportunities, I took the plunge and resigned. I risked my livelihood (well, a steady income) to not be in this prison anymore. I believed in my ability and experience that I would find new employment before the 3 months were up. I hoped each day that someone would reply to one of the résumés I had sent out.

Maybe I’m naïve, but I believe there is always hope.

Making a big, risky, decision for you to better yourself or your situation, there is a renewed vigour within you. You are able to pull more resources together knowing that the end is near – there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I find it amazing, too, that things seem to ‘fall in to place’ once that decision has been made. With your new resolve, you take more action. With more action, more opportunities present themselves. About halfway through my notice period, I received a job offer that would eventually lead to me gaining valuable experience and opportunities to get me where I am today.

What I learnt from my bad work experience is that no matter how bad the situation is, it can always be worse. I learnt that I can take risks, and still be ok in the end. I learnt that work is not everything, and being happy at the office is a huge part of our lives.

If you’re in a tough situation at the moment, don’t be afraid to take that first step towards the light. I know it is difficult, and it might not be life threatening, but your vitality and well-being is hampered if you don’t take that first step. The initial step is the hardest one of them all. Find the tiny glimmer of hope within you. Grab it, hold on tight, and use the crap out of it to initiate the vital change to get you where you want to be, where you need to be.

[Featured image: Steve Spiers Photography]

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