helpgrowchange

The calm before the storm

I’ve been away on a family holiday for the past two weeks. It was a great time away from the office, away from home, away from life in general. There was much needed reflection on where I am today, where we are as a family, and where we want to go.

But as I sit on the train, ricketing its way into the office, I can’t help but feel that this holiday was the calm of the storm. Almost like the slow motion effect you get after ramping off a hill and calmly floating through the air for a few seconds before slamming into the surface to continue racing downhill.

We all need these periods of calm bliss to get away from it all. To take some time to go see and experience some place new. Just something to get out of the daily grind. And when you do have the opportunity to do so, take some time to simply stop and think.

Think deeply about many things.

Think about…

where you are in your life.
Are you where you want to be? Are you happy with the person you have become? Celebrate the successes you have achieved. Reminisce about the past handful of years and see just how much you have gained, lost, or changed.

what you have.
Appreciate the little things you have that make your life easier. Appreciate the people in your life. The abundance of food, clean water, or even a roof over your head. Being able to afford pension fund or medical insurance. Do you really need everything you have? It might be time to let go of some ‘stuff’.

the future.
Where do you want to be in your life? What does success mean to you? How can you get there? Start to formulate a plan of how you can achieve your dream, or become the person you want to be. It doesn’t need to be super detailed. You will know what you want to become by using the first thought that comes into your head when you ask yourself that question.

My reflection

I’m not the type of person to tell you how to do things without doing it myself. I thought a lot about the three things I’ve mentioned in this article. I am more than comfortable in sharing it with you.

Overall, I am happy with the person that I am today. My family and I have achieved a lot over the past few years (the last 7 in particular). I want more of it. A stronger family bond. Success for my wife. More positive impact at my workplace.

More and more do I find myself appreciating what I have in my life. My healthy family, my house, the opportunity to afford the little pleasures in life. I am an extremely lucky person to be able to have all of this around me.

Get away

I encourage you to take a break from your daily grind – whether that be an amazing getaway or staying with family in another city. Holidays can be expensive, but I believe the experience that you or your family will gain will make it well worth your while. Just the act of getting away from monotony of daily life helps the process of reflection, planning, and eventually, the action you need to take to get the life you want.

Where will you be going?

Learning to let go

I’ve been on holiday for just over a week now. Away from the office, away from home, away from the monotony of daily life. It’s been good so far. My family have seen some interesting attractions and have learnt to live together in a cramped holiday home. My wife and I have really come to appreciate what we have back home, but there is one area where I have struggled during this time away.

That is to let go.

Back at the office, there has been an extremely high volume of problems to resolve. Some critical decisions are being made about team utilisation. And it has been weighing heavily on me that I have not been there to partake in the decision making process. Plans I had in place might be smashed to pieces. People utilisation might thrown out of whack. The team will come crashing down.

But then I realise that I have worked hard to not build the team on a house of cards. They have been provided opportunities to grow, to perform above and beyond, and to climb outside of their comfort zone. I trust in the decisions they are making, and will back them all the way.

Learning to let go is hard. It’s a haze of ‘what if’s’ and ‘should haves’. The more you think of these, the more worked up you become. You worry about possible outcomes that will never happen. In other words, you worry about nothing.

For me, the best way to let go is I tell myself I did the best I could.

If you look back at the past leading up to this point telling yourself you did the best you could, your worrisome self will immediately reply with ‘you should’ve done that‘ or ‘what if you had gone that way’. But if you really think about it, would you have really done it differently – really really?

I doubt it.

You did the best you could with what was provided to you and what you knew at the time.

Be content with that statement. Accept it. It is the complete truth.

Once you accept that you have done the best you could, you will be able to trust in the outcomes of situations while you are away. You will accept changes in situations a lot more quickly. It is something I am still learning to do, but this has worked for me with amazing effectiveness.

Give it a try, it might just work for you too.

[Featured image: One of my holiday snaps of Lake Rotoiti]

Be better than yesterday

The achievements in our lives are defined by the action we take, the change we initiate, and the actual doing of ‘stuff’. We have to continuously improve ourselves and our surroundings. If we rest too long, someone else will come along and happily take your place.

I am constantly striving to be better than before. Looking for new ways to be a better father and husband, to drive better, or even brush my teeth better. It doesn’t really matter what it is, it must be better than before.

I’ll list a few of the ways in which I achieve being better.

Day dream

No matter what you might think. Daydreaming is proven to initiate imagination and planning. I day dream often. But I use that time to envisage how a plan of mine might play out, or how I could implement a new piece of information I just read.

It’s also a time-out. A little piece of time to reflect and get away from the constant hustle of a work day (or two boys at home).

Daily 5-item to do list

This is probably my biggest win at achieving tasks while at the office. Using lists to remind yourself of tasks is good, but the important items may get lost when the list begins to get too long.

At the beginning of each day, I review my email (and anything lingering from the day before) and ask myself what are the 5 more important things that need to get done today? These can be small or large, there is no right or wrong thing to put on the list.

Some of the items I have had on my list include; Speak to John Doe about performance review, Write up Statement of Work for that project, or Put in expense claim.

I don’t achieve all 5 items every day, generally completing 3 out of 5 is a good day.

Feedback

I know some of my weaknesses. I know where I want to improve. But there are times when I don’t know where I need to improve.

I am always asking for honest feedback. Asking from anybody who would care to answer. I ask my wife, my team, my peers, my manager. Any feedback they provide is taken on board and processed.

Only honest feedback counts. One of the things I tell people when asking them is I can’t fix it if I don’t know about it.

If you ask someone for feedback, do not react when they give you bad feedback. This is vital. If you do, you will never get honest feedback from that person again.

Take risks

Every day is filled with decisions. From when you decide to get up all the way through to when you decide to go to sleep. Every little thing you do is a decision. Every. Thing.

Break that mould that you have made for yourself and make a decision to do something different. Try something new. Take a risk and see how it turns out.

Now, I’m not saying go sky-diving, or quit your job. It’s the small things that matter. Catch the train a bit earlier, go to a colleague instead of sending an email, say ‘no’ to someone making an unreasonable demand.

You simply won’t know what an outcome will be until you take the risk to change it.

Be Grateful

And finally, I take the time to reflect on what I have, who I am with, and what I have achieved. I purposely take the time to acknowledge the important things I have in my life, and how lucky I am to have them. I become more resolved in my purpose to be better so that I don’t lose these things I am grateful for.

What about you? What do you do in order to improve and be better than yesterday?

Want something so bad, it hurts

Have you ever wanted to do something so bad that it hurts? That one thing that you think about every other minute of the day; when you wake up in the morning, while you day dream at the office, while you wait in the queue at the grocery store.

For me, that something is making a positive impact to the people in my life. Every day, I get up and think of the possibilities. How can I make my wife’s life easier? How can I create opportunities for the individuals in my team to grow? How can I increase the positive impact I am making?

Whenever I think and dream about this, a strange sensation sets in. A sense of excitement and determination all in one. Some sort of force that needs to get out somehow. All I ever want to do is solve the problems of the people around me. Help them change. Help them realise their own potential. Help them grow.

For you, this internal desire – this passion – might be something else entirely. It could be creating dolls, sailing on open water, or writing inspiring poetry. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as there is something that you want to do. Something that you need to do so badly, everything else can wait.

Who cares about the chores, or the missed TV shows, or the latest Facebook status update? When we’re filled with passion, nothing else will suffice. Bigger and better things await when we follow our passion. More fulfilment and enrichment in our lives. And a deeper sense of achievement when we do accomplish goals associated with the passion.

For example, the time I allowed my wife to follow her passion gave me happiness. Or the colleague that came to me for guidance, took the suggestion I made and is making progress in their career. That simply invigorates me to do more of the same. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to do these things again.

It may be the same for you – you’ve created that amazing doll, you sailed further than the day before, you wrote a truly meaningful piece of poetry from the heart.

I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have a passion. Living a mediocre life, having a ho-hum attitude to everything. Simply waking up, drifting along the day, and sleeping again. Wallowing through weeks, months, years of average achievements and no direction.

That is not living, a person living that life is already dead.

I offer you a challenge: Find that something that gives you a flutter of butterflies in your gut. Feel like playing a guitar? Find one and do it. What about mountain biking? Start off with a cheap bike and go for a ride. Always dreamed about dancing the Tango? Sign up to your nearest dance studio today.

Your passion won’t come to you. You have to find it for yourself. That means going on a journey of discovery. Only you can take the steps necessary.

The beauty of doing what you want to do, is that you will want to do more of it. You will enjoy it more, get better at it, and who knows where it might take you.

[Featured image: Daniel Ruskwick]

Ignore the bullies in life

Big, bad bullies are encountered through all stages of our lives. Taking our lunch money in school; demeaning us in the workplace; and taking advantage of any situation they are placed in. Why do certain people get picked on, and why do bullies continue to pick on them?

I’m no psychologist, but from my own experiences, I believe there are certain tactics you can use to ‘handle’ bullies – tactics to keep them at bay, or at least to get them not to pick on you. Simply put, these super-scientific tactics are to smile; ignore; and don’t show weakness.

Tactic 1: Smile

Smiling puts bullies off. If they are intimidating you in any way, roughing you up, they won’t be expecting a smile. They will be expecting some sort of reaction from you – a wince, a retaliation, but certainly not a smile.

Tactic 2: Ignore the bully

The act of smiling will initially get the bully confused. What will really confuse them further, as well as get their back up, will be to simply ignore the intimidation.

By serving no reaction to the bully’s motives, they will get bored very quickly and move on. Bully’s love a reaction. When they don’t get it, they will leave you alone.

Coupled with random smiling, the act of ignoring will confuse the bully further.

Tactic 3: Show no weakness

Finally, and most importantly, show no weakness. Don’t cower, grimace, retaliate, or cry in any way. Showing any sort of reaction will be taken as a win by the bully, and he will simply return in future to get his kick.

Face them head on while the attack is in play. Give them the reaction they deserve – nothing. Deny them what they are after – power over you. Show no weakness.

Don’t get me wrong. Bullies will certainly hurt you while in the moment. It is vital you do not take offence to what they are attacking you with. Vital that you don’t get beaten by what they are striking you with. You are stronger than you will ever believe.

Be empathetic to the bullies. It’s tough, I know, it’s hard for me to even be typing this. They have come to be how they are due to past experiences. They feel they can only get anywhere in life by forcing their way through intimidation and vindictiveness.

Don’t let yourself be that target. Smile, say ‘Thanks’, and move on with your life. Don’t even give them a second thought.

[Featured image: Jonathan Grenier]

3 Ways to initiate change

I’ve written a number of articles trying to pass on the message that you can change your world. You can make your own changes in your life to better your job, your family, or simply… you.

You’ve been thinking about making a change. But you don’t know where to start. Do I start a new hobby? Should I try change my team structure? What will happen if I say no when asked to do something?

After re-reading some of the articles and some thoughtful feedback from my wingman (ie my wife), it has become evident that I often don’t mention how. Let me remedy that right now.

When you want to initiate change, there are 3 is simple rules to remember:

  1. DECIDE
  2. TRY
  3. LEARN

Decide

The first thing that needs to happen before any action happens is to make a decision to do it. We have to be willing to take that first step. We have to be willing to take a risk. We have to be open to the possibility that this might just fail. We might fall far short of what we dreamed and planned. In the same breath, we might surprise ourselves. We might far exceed our expectations. We might just make it happen.

Decide on a new hobby. Decide on a possible new team structure. Decide on whether you are going to say ‘no’.

We choose change by making decisions. The magic begins with the decision to at least give it a go. We have to try.

Try

Action must be taken on the decisions we make. We simply just don’t know what will happen when we try. Good or bad, the truth of the matter will only appear once we attempt to make the changes necessary. The attempts don’t have to be big either. I’m suggesting that you make small ones.

Like starting one little bit of your new hobby, or reviewing the team structure with peers or the team, or saying ‘no’ when you can’t take on a new task.

What happens next is just as important. Whatever the outcome of our actions from decisions, we must learn from them.

Learn

There is no point in trying out our decisions if we are not willing to learn from the outcomes. That is like hitting your head against the wall and hoping the next time won’t hurt.

Enjoyed the introduction to your hobby? Make the decision to explore some more. Didn’t enjoy it? Ditch it and make the decision to try something else.

The review of the team structure didn’t go so well? No problem, now you know what the team really wants.

What happened when you said ‘no’? The person maybe said ‘ok’, and carried on their path. Or they asked ‘why’, and a more fruitful conversation evolved about your workload.

I seem to have oversimplified how you can initiate change, but I fully believe it is as simple as this. Make the decision, try the decision, learn from the experience.

[Featured image: Sylwia Bartyzel]

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