helpgrowchange

Ready to learn something new?

When I finished school, I thought I was done with education. Done with the textbooks, assignments, and tests. I was going to find my own way while I worked. Who needs studies anyway, right?

Wrong.

Experience is useful

Experience is useful, but it will only get you so far.

For the first 10 years of my career (as well as outside the office), I didn’t believe in ‘official’ training courses. I learnt how to fix a PC, build websites, and manage servers without the need to attend classes. At home, I didn’t need to go on a course to learn how to clean my pool, or mow the lawn.

Everything I learnt was through trial and error. I believed study and education had their place, and it wasn’t anywhere near me. I could find my own way.

It’s funny how life comes around and teaches you a lesson.

Real studying gets you further

When I moved into a leadership role, I realised something. I knew absolutely nothing about it. Actually, I knew absolutely nothing about a lot (I still don’t). This self-acknowledgement started my learning journey through a combination of short courses, online learning, and self-study.

What amazing things I have learnt since! I’ve gained vital knowledge in leadership, business strategy, social psychology, and neuro-linguistic programming. Next on the list is social media marketing.

Studying has taught me one thing – there is still so much more to learn. We have so much knowledge available to us, all we need to do is reach out and grab it.

The benefits I’ve gained far outweigh the negatives. Yes, it takes some time to study, and yes, it can be inconvenient (and some of it boring). But, I now understand the foundations of business strategy. I grasp the concepts of social psychology. I try to communicate with people better by identifying key behaviours.

My 3 easiest ways to start

The 3 training resources I’ve used so far are short courses, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), and self-study.

A short course is a training course set up through a private individual or training company with dedicated lessons over a period of 7 to 30 days. These can sometimes cost a lot of money. However, if you look around enough you may stumble upon free (or really cheap) short courses. Some of my experiences include Ramit Sethi’s Earn1k course for free, and Paul Jarvis‘ free Write & sell your damn book course.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC‘s) are awesome. They are university driven intro-level courses provided for free. The topics are vast.

The only MOOC I’ve experienced so far is Coursera.org. But there are so many training providers available now, that even I’m a bit overwhelmed (here is a random top list I googled).

Self-help books are simply what they are. Books you read to gain further knowledge. They are helpful, and can contain important knowledge. I sometimes struggle with these though, as they sometimes feel like textbooks. Somewhere like Noisetrade is a good place to look.

Learn something new today

Are you keen on learning something new? Why not browse the available courses on Coursera, or dig out the self-help book you bought 2 years ago. Begin your learning journey, and be prepared to be amazed.

By the way, just because you start a particular learning experience does not mean you have to finish it. We learn better when we’re interested – and enjoy – a subject. Concentrate on those. There are plenty of times in the last few years where I’ve simply not finished my ‘studies’ due to loss of interest.

When is the right time to give advice?

It’s ironic that I’m writing an article about how we shouldn’t give our opinion or provide advice, when my whole blog is me giving you advice. If, like me, you don’t heed any advice thrown your way when you didn’t ask for it, then it’s time to stop reading this article.

In reply to my latest article, one of my newsletter subscribers replied asking how one could push past a lazy period (my article was about laziness) if they suffered from depression. Depression is a whole other beast which I cannot claim to know anything about. I admitted this to the person in question, and she thanked me for my honest answer. She went on to say how people often offer advice, even when they truly don’t know how to deal with depression.

Sometimes listening is all people want. My wife taught me this, and it’s taken me a few times to learn it. Actually, she will tell you I still try to solve problems that aren’t there (which is true).

More often than not, it is just fine to admit you don’t know anything. People will respect you for having the courage to acknowledge your limit. If you are caught out after claiming you know something (but you actually don’t), you will lose trust and respect quicker than you can say ‘I told you so’.

I don’t want to be the person who appears to have it all together, who appears to be the best in the world. I’m not that guy. I’m just like you. Struggling through this world, trying to make out what’s right from wrong. I’m hoping to make a change with the impact I make.

But it has to be an impact that is wanted – not one forced on you through my obnoxious opinions.

Even if you have a wealth of experience which you know will help another person, wait to be asked your opinion, rather than throwing it out there with no restraint. If people ask for my opinion, I will gladly provide it if it will help them with their cause. But I am learning the value of keeping my mouth shut when not asked.

We can’t solve everyone’s problems. We cannot claim to know enough about them or their circumstances to effectively help them. The best we can do is listen, console, and only offer your solutions when asked.

Think about who you go to for advice most often. Is it the person who ‘knows it all’ and won’t hesitate to force their view on you? Or is it the humble one, who knows less, but knows who you are, understands you, and offers honest advice?

On the other hand, I’m already forcing my opinion on you. So take what you’ve read today with a pinch of salt.

It’s ok to take a lazy time-out occasionally

I’ve been going ‘balls to the wall’ for the first half of this year. I’ve created many things and much has happened. I find myself surprised at how quickly May popped out of nowhere. But it’s been tough. And I’m feeling rather lazy.

My usual productivity periods tend to have peaks and troughs around a few months apart. I become uber-productive and motivated during one month of the year, then dip down into a lull another month or so later. I become lethargic, tend to watch more T.V., play more games, and become just plain lazy.

It’s not entirely a bad thing.

We all need some time to just chill out. Time to think about nothing in particular, and go through enough of the motions to complete the necessities of a day. If we don’t allow this laziness, we burn out. We drive ourselves into a frenzy where we always feel like we’re not achieving anything or have to prove to ourselves (or nobody in particular) that we are ‘busy’.

And that is entirely a bad thing.

Don’t be too lazy, though.

There is one caveat to allowing yourself some laziness – and that is to not be lazy for too long. We humans are suckers for habit. Any habit (good or bad) is learnt through repetition. Allowing yourself to be lazy for too long will trick you into becoming lazy permanently.

How do we stop the fall into continued laziness? We remind ourselves who we are and ask ourselves are we doing the best we can do.

Yes, we need breaks.
Yes, we are only human.
Yes, we are lazy.

But that is not an excuse to be lazy all the time. There is still a crap load of work to be done, and nobody will do it for you. You are the only one who can improve your life.

So…Please excuse me while I switch over to the next reality T.V. show, but tomorrow will be different because I know what I still need to do, I know who I am, and I know I want to make a difference. In order to make that difference, I need a little time-out.

If you are lazy sometimes, how do you like to spend it?

What happens when doodles and a dad meet

I am endlessly testing new ideas in an attempt to see what works and what doesn’t in many areas of my life. I’ve tried different methods for earning extra income. I’ve tried to better understand people through studying social psychology and neuro-linguistic programming. I’ve learnt to love better by reading marriage books.

Today, this article is about a new avenue I’m discovering. It involves doodling, being a dad, and sharing a message with more people. I would like to invite you to take a peek.

If you’re not worried about the story, and just want to see the goods, click here!
(Don’t forget about the voucher code – THXFROMHGC – valid for the month of May)

As you might know, I’m a firm believer of creating something new and taking action. Late last year, I rediscovered another passion of mine – drawing. Since I’m no good at any sort of fine art most people expect to see, I’ve been practising by simply doodling. Some of these are not half bad, and it was suggested I should sell them.

Crazy! Who would want to buy my doodles?

But I did some research anyway, and found the quality of some pieces of work being sold out on the web are questionable. So, I took the plunge, braced myself for criticism, and created a store on Etsy.

Through DoodlingDad, I want my pieces to be simple, meaningful, and a little fun. My hope is for people to enjoy them when they look at them.

It would be awesome and fantastic if you can have a look, and let me know what you think. And if you really enjoy them, why not buy one for yourself?

Click here to go see the doodles!

For the month of May, use the following voucher code to get 50% off: THXFROMHGC

Climb out of your past to face your future

Sometimes we are stuck in the past. We go about our routines and habits because we have always done them this way. It’s safe, comfortable, and we don’t want to ‘break something that is not broken’ as some people say.

This is where the problem lies.

If we are stuck doing the same thing at the same level, we will never grow – you will never grow. There will be no improvement, no joy of discovering something new, nothing to stimulate your mind or soul. But you know what? You can change it. No matter what some of your naysayers might say, you can change all of what you can control – which is a lot more than you believe it is.

You have the power to change your own future, and it’s time you claimed your own life back.

This is so much easier said than done – I know. There are many things to worry about like finances, skills, life in general. The biggest hurdle of all, though, is you. You need to decide that you want to change your life. No-one can change it for you. Sure, they can offer you opportunities, but it all comes down to you wanting it and deciding to take action.

We all have dreams, yet so often that is how they remain – dreams. From when we were children, we may have dreamed of changing a person’s fate on the operating table, or testing the boundaries of human discovery in space. Let’s face it, some dreams are unrealistic (possible, but unrealistic).

For your own sanity and confidence, you need to be serious about what you want and what you can achieve. If you’re like me, a 30-ish person stuck in a desk job, the odds are we are not going to be an astronaut any time soon. We’re not going to be working on a critical procedure on the operating table, unless we are the patient. You might still want to achieve those dreams, but you have to let them go for now.

You need to focus on what you have right now, and what you can change for your future.

I still dream of being some hotshot owner of a popular technology company, but as the years roll on, I’m accepting the fact that I’ll probably not achieve it. So, I’m looking for alternatives. I might not be owner of something big, but I can be an owner of something that provides value. I’m looking at options in my current situation where I can help, grow, and change other peoples lives.

This blog is my first example of such a change. My wife is starting something of her own. There are a couple more things we’re working on as well. Our excitement is building about the future opportunities presenting themselves.

The changes you make don’t need to be drastic. Small ones here and there make massive differences further down the line. How about investigating the possibility of some free studies, such as Coursera or Codecademy? Start a blog about your expertise? Volunteer in your local community? As you make one small change, I promise you it will become easier to make more changes. Bigger changes that will truly change your life.

The past cannot be changed, but you can still prepare for your future. What will you change today?

Persistence almost made me cry

It is amazing how dogged persistence gets results. They can be good or bad, but they are results nonetheless. My wife and son showed persistence recently that had me frustrated, bored, and close on tears from their shear willpower. They showed me how persistence will get you what you need in the end.

My wife was on the lookout for a logo for her new business venture (coming soon!). It involved a search lasting almost a year, scouring the web for possible pictures, me sketching a few ideas, and even asking our friend over at iCreate to draw something. Then, finally, on a fateful rainy day, an image was found. It was simple, effective, and perfect for what my wife wanted as the face of her brand.

There had been many possible logos throughout her search, but they never felt quite right. She had an image in her mind of what she wanted, and wouldn’t settle for anything less. It was both admiring and frustrating to see the dogged persistence.

Her story showed me we should not settle for less than what we deserve – especially when we can change it. So often, do we compensate our needs because we don’t want to ‘rock the boat’, or deal with too many challenges for any length of time.

We make do with average, or never feel the true happiness of achieving and having something we know can be better.

Similarly, persistence is needed to push someone else out of their comfort zone, which brings me to potty training and making me cry (well, almost).

It was time to rid my 3 year old son of his nappy during the day. My son has one of the strongest stubborn streaks of anyone I know, so this training was always going to be a battle royale – our parental persistence against his stubbornness. Bear in mind that potty training generally takes up to 5 or 6 days, more due to bladder-control accidents rather than stubbornness.

The first day started off like any normal potty training, with some cajoling and accidents. The second day was flat out refusal from my son to co-operate. It didn’t improve after 3 days, 4 days, 8 days. He would randomly agree to potty, but it was never consistent and always after lengthy battles between parent and child.

On the 10th day my wife and I were at our wits end. Still with no improvement, we were on the verge of tears, almost giving up in the process. We were especially frustrated because we knew he was being defiant. We seeked guidance and consolation from friends and family, but were told to ‘leave him be’, or ‘he’ll get there in time’. We simply could not accept this outcome because if we gave up now, we would have to start all over again another time.

We persisted.

12 days in to potty training, and success! My son finally grasped the concept that it was easier for everyone (including himself) to not be restricted by a nappy anymore. This was a classic sign of how we stay in our comfort zones for far too long.

Sometimes it takes the persistence of others to break through our barriers and pull us to new horizons.

In any type of persistence, there is frustration, there are challenges, and there comes a time when you think there is no end in sight. But the great thing about persistence is exactly that – persistence.

Carry on driving your message. Continue to pursue your goal. I’m not saying it will work out in the end, but looking at one more picture might get you your logo, or continuing training for one more day might get your child potty trained. The simple act of trying just one more time might get you what you want or where you want to be. What will you persist with today?

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