helpgrowchange

Decide to make a difference

Do you feel like you can’t make a difference in the world today? The world is so noisy and filled with so many voices that it is near impossible for you to hear or say anything of value. I feel like that sometimes. But the truth is, you can (and you do) make a difference.

I used to be anonymous (I still am to some degree). I had thoughts, dreams, and things I wanted to say. I thought they were only applicable to me and believed no-one would care to support my thoughts, let alone look forward to what I had to say. So I said nothing. I kept my mouth shut, accepted what I received, and didn’t ask for anything more.

As time went on I shared my thoughts and dreams. I began to question the world around me. Is this mediocre life worth it? Is the financial burden worth the daily commute? What do I need to do in order to spend more time with my family? I started a blog to journal the journey I was travelling.

A strange thing began to happen. People responded. Not just friends and colleagues, but strangers from around the world. They were going through similar experiences or seeking guidance, and I was helping them through it. This really took me by surprise. How could I, an average Joe, be helping people around the world? What could I possibly offer to the people around me that they couldn’t get from a self-help book of some kind?

I now truly believe that ‘anybody’ is a ‘somebody’ in someone’s life. For example, Richard Branson can tell you a lot about business, but your entrepreneur friend, Jack, will teach you more. Dr. Phil can tell you a lot about psychology, but your therapist cousin, Francine, will teach you more. Why? Because they’re local, they’re personal, they have a direct link to you. They can directly influence you, your skills, and your experiences through life. So, too, do you make a difference to others around you. You might not see it, but people are being influenced by you all the time. It’s the little things where you can notice it first, like which movie to watch or which book to read.

You are just as important to someone else.
You have knowledge that nobody else has.
You have your own spin on the world that is unique to you.

I struggle with my thoughts and fears every day, thinking that there are so many people saying the same thing as me. I’m constantly thinking that I’ll just be another whisper in the wind. But I then think of my family, the people I’ve helped so far on my short journey. It gives me hope of making this world a better place for all of us. I’ve seen the impact my words have had at home, with friends, as well as colleagues.

You can make your own difference too – you really can. You directly impact your surroundings. You don’t need to rely on the big players out there. You know what’s right for you, no-one else. The best place to start is at home. Share your thoughts, dreams, and message with your family. Mention it to trusted friends. Try it at the office. You may just be surprised where you will end up.

Why not start right here? Leave a message in the comments below.

[Featured image by Paul Proshin via unsplash.com]

How will you make 2015 better?

The trouble with life is that it just gets in the way of your dreams. It sits there and sniggers when you haven’t achieved a goal you’ve set for yourself. It constantly intervenes to hamper your progress towards bigger and better things. Life laughs in your face, especially when you’re down.

The truth is, it’s not life that gets in the way, it’s us. We are the ones that allow distractions in. We are the ones that lose the momentum when the going gets tough (or too easy for that matter). We are the ones that allow our end goals to slip away.

Last year, I experienced just this. The year started off with a bang. I had started my newsletter, my work was being posted on other blogs. I was gaining exposure in the right places. But then I got lazy. I lost focus, and the year just fizzled out into mediocrity. I was extremely disappointed with myself.

I learnt something important during that time. I learnt my limitations and what I need to do to exceed them. I learnt more about myself and what I want to do with my life. I learnt I am not as awesome I as I think I might be. Finally, I learnt humility.

It seemed to be a recurring theme. I needed to find a way out of this habit. Thanks to my beautiful wife, that path may have been found. During Christmas my wife bought Leonie Dawson’s 2015 workbook, and I found Michael Hyatt’s free introductory videos for his best year ever course. Both are about setting goals and achieving them. They offer a system you can use to effectively and confidently achieve your goals. I am intrigued at how similar these methods are, and I believe there is some common sense in them.

My wife and I worked our way through Leonie Dawson’s workbook. It had us thinking long and hard about what we want to achieve in our lives this year. I’m excited about what opportunities will present themselves – if I can stick to my guns. I’m confident that by using the methods learnt through Leonie Dawson and Michael Hyatt, my work life, home life, and life in general will be changed for the better.

What about you? Have you thought about what you want to achieve this year? How are you going to do it? I highly recommend implementing a system for you to achieve all you can.

I am back to blogging, thanks to great support

I am back to blogging. Back to influencing positive change where I can. It’s all thanks to the great support I received after stopping late last year. HelpGrowChange has gone through a transformation and I look forward to us working together to help, grow, and change the world around us.

Why I stopped

As you might be aware, in November 2014 I made the decision to stop writing on my blog. I felt I was a fraud, I wasn’t giving 100%. It didn’t feel right talking about positive change when I wasn’t living it myself.

At times, I would be banging out an ‘ordinary’ article just to meet the weekly deadline I had set for the newsletter. The message didn’t seem to have the same meaning. I felt I wasn’t making as much impact as I could.

The decision to stop was tough. HelpGrowChange was something I loved. It was a part of my life where I felt I was contributing to a purpose larger than myself. And yet, I still didn’t feel right with the effort I was putting in.

I wrote my last newsletter entry in November, thinking it would be the end of HelpGrowChange.

The unexpected response and realisation of purpose

After that last newsletter was sent out, many of my connections through the newsletter (read: you) came to me asking ‘why’. The message you told me was consistent – do not stop HelpGrowChange.

I was truly humbled and grateful for the support I received. Somehow, it made it all worthwhile. The message I’ve been striving to spread and the effort I was putting in were good enough to make an impact.

I came to realise that no matter how ‘ordinary’ my messages felt to me, they still had meaning to you. There was still a need for a positive influence in your lives. Still a need for help, growth, and change.

I am ready to take up that challenge again. I hope you will join me on this journey – we have much to do.

Where to from here

I did much thinking during December. I thought long and hard about where I want to positively influence our world, how I can do it, and what I need to do in order to maintain consistency.

To be honest with you, I didn’t come up with much. But I came to two main values I want to stick to – simplicity and delivery.

Keeping it simple

I want to keep things as simple as possible, particularly around the message and design.

I tend to over-elaborate when I explain a topic to someone. I think about the words too much, and don’t stick to enough structure. It all ends up confusing me and the person I’m talking to. Keeping to the core of the message will keep me talking straight and simple. Easy peasy.

When it comes to design, I want to keep it as simple and distraction free as possible. Implementing too many design factors can get distracting, which will take you away from the purpose of the message itself.

Deliver, deliver, deliver

One thing I believe I had going during 2014 was consistency. An article was delivered consistently every week. I want to continue that during 2015, but with a slight twist in the type of content.

I’ve been playing around with visual thinking. Visual thinking is about drawing pictures to get an idea out, or deliver a message. I believe this will help deliver some of my messages better and appeal to more people. I will be experimenting with different types of content and would love to hear your feedback on that.

And so, we continue

To end off this letter of sorts, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your support, patience, and listening to my random thoughts. I am excited about the coming year, and I hope you will be there to experience it with me.

[Featured image: Jeff Sheldon]

20 Quotes that will change your life

We all love quotes. Short, quirky sentences that sum up how we’re feeling today. We smile, we share it on social media, and, most of the time, we forget them after a few minutes. There are a few, though, that stick with you for a lifetime. Those few that you remember while you drive your car, eat your dinner, or watch a movie. Those are the quotes that change your life.

Here are a few quotes that have changed my life. There aren’t powerful pictures, or flashy text. When the message is true, it doesn’t matter what medium it comes through.

I ask a favour of you while you read these. Take a moment to ponder each one – and I mean really think about them. Do they appeal to you? Do they strike a chord? Do you aspire to be like that? If you answered yes to any of these questions, what is stopping you from taking action? Nothing. You can change your world by taking the first step.

Here they are:

Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.

Mother Teresa


He who laughs, lasts.

Unknown


Be the reason someone smiles today.

Bruce van Horn


Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You!

Dr. Seuss


If you haven’t decided to matter, you won’t.

Dan Rockwell


It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.

E.E. Cummings


If you have nothing to say, say nothing.

Mark Twain


Successful people do not complain about the things they have the ability to change, they simply change them.

Unknown


Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Unknown


A comfort zone is a wonderful place, but nothing ever grows there.

Unknown


A beautiful thing is never perfect.

Egyptian proverb


Not trying is the only true failure.

Unknown


You will never win if you never begin.

Helen Rowland


There is nothing impossible to him who will try.

Alexander the Great


You don’t need more time, you just need to decide.

Seth Godin


All glory comes from daring to begin.

Eugene F. Ware


If there is no wind, row.

Proverb


Running away from your problems is a race you will never win.

Unknown


The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care.

Unknown


What quotes have you come across that you live by? I’d love to know.

Humility and change

I learnt humility last week. It hit me like a freight train. I am still thinking about it almost a week later. I wasn’t prepared for it. And it has forced me to rethink the way I go about my life.

Ok, not quite that bad, but the feedback I received last week was still pretty shitty – forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and exactly where I needed to be.

About seven months ago, I got the opportunity to lead a new team. I saw it as a challenge as I hadn’t worked with the team before, didn’t understand the tools they used, or technologies they worked with. I was unsure as to how they would accept someone without the relevant technical experience to lead them forward.

Over time I have strived to build strong relationships through mutual trust and respect, both as a team and with each of the individuals. One of the questions I am continuously asking is for honest feedback about me and how I am leading them.

This question often brings out an array of opinions ranging from ‘you are doing great’ to ‘maybe change the time of the team meeting’ or ‘there have been a few misses, but overall it’s great’. These responses are fairly minor, and I can work pretty quickly to adapt and grow. That is until last week.

The discussion I had then hit the core of what I strive to achieve with the team every single day. What I thought I was doing right, was being perceived in a completely different way – a way detrimental to the growth of this team.

I was stricken (in a leadership sort of way).

At first, I wanted to justify myself. I wanted to use all the excuses in the book to explain why this action was taken, how it benefits this person and the team. But then I put myself in their shoes and realised that they are different to me. They are perceiving the situation through their eyes. I realised I simply needed to listen.

After this person had finished, I didn’t retaliate. I didn’t try to justify myself. By then I had realised that in order to grow, one must receive and process all feedback. Because this feedback was core to my leadership style, I needed time to mull it over. I thanked them for being so honest with me. The whole situation made me realise one thing.

If you want honesty from someone, you need to build trust and respect first.

You won’t get honesty right off the bat. It doesn’t come overnight, nor is it easy. A strong relationship needs to be built first, then the true changes begin to happen. When we become comfortable with someone, we open ourselves to vulnerability. We open ourselves to honest criticism. We need to be open to this criticism.

Without being open, we cannot learn anything new. Without learning, there is no growth. Without growth, we can’t be better than yesterday.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

I’m often questioning myself on the motives of other people. Why do some react to situations differently? Why do some have such a brash attitude or a quiet demeanour? I debate with myself as to why one person reacts one way, and another person differently. It makes my mind boggle how two people are in the same situation, but have such different reactions. Do you find that too?

Have you been in a bad situation recently? Something that either caused an argument or misunderstanding between you and another person. I’ll bet the resolution came down to one of two things; you understood the other person’s view, or the other person understood your view.

More often than not, any bad situation is due to the differing perception of the people involved. There is a whole science behind this, but simply put, everyone perceives a situation differently. Due to a mixture of emotional state, memories, and personal values, people will interpret and react to situations differently.

Quite often, you probably question why someone makes a certain decision or reacts a certain way. It’s not your way. Sometimes this might cause you irritation, frustration, or even anger. These other people may feel the same way about you for something you’ve done. You certainly didn’t mean to offend that person, but because of the frustration they feel, they take it out on you by attacking you in some way – through hurtful words, or undermining some good work you’ve done. This lack of understanding from both parties is a major cause in turning any situation into a nasty one.

How do we get out of these situations? How do we stop this endless cycle of resentment, frustration, and hatefulness?

One word: Empathy.

According to the dictionary, Empathy means ‘the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings‘.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It is the first step to understanding anyone. What would you do in the same situation? Bear in mind that that person has traveled a much different path than you in life. They have loved, lost, and achieved different things. Try and think as to why they would do something a certain way.

This is very hard to do. I still struggle with it every day. For example, I am quite driven and always willing to learn and experience something at least once. It frustrates me to no end seeing someone willingly wallow and stagnant in the same rut most of their life.

But I take a deep breathe, I put myself in their shoes, try to think of how I would react (knowing what I know of their past), and I already feel more patience toward them. I understand them a little more – then I can try help them a little more.

Understanding someone else’s thought process (even a little) can go a long way in resolving situations, building trust, and living an easier life – both for you and the people around you.

Think of a situation you are stuck in at the moment where you are in conflict with someone else. Put yourself in their shoes.

Just imagine for a little while … and take your first step to greater understanding of the situation.

[Featured image: Pierre (Rennes)]

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