helpgrowchange

New limits are set when you disregard your current ones

How often do you find yourself saying “Oh, I can’t do that”, or “That is so out of my league”? I’m guessing pretty often. Don’t worry, we all do it. We downgrade our abilities before we’ve even started – before we’ve even thought about starting.

We look at others, and see them running for miles, selling up a storm, or climbing mountains. We are happy for those people, and we congratulate them on their achievements. But we never actually think about doing it ourselves because we’re not as fit/charismatic/courageous/(enter appropriate word here) as them. I may not have achieved much in my life (yet), but there is one thing I can tell you – and that is you can achieve as much or as little as you want.

Most of the barriers we face in our lives are self-imposed limits.

We limit ourselves in our quiet comfort zones. Those places where we know what we are doing, what will happen, and we feel ‘safe’. We become used to this lifestyle and soon forget we can achieve more. We forget there is so much more to enjoy, if we only just test our current boundaries.

Testing your limits isn’t easy. You have to figure where your limits are, how you will test them, and then the hard part comes into play – actually taking action to push past the barriers. For me, the toughest battle I fight, is internally with my own mind. My mind tells me I can’t do something (like having the audacity to ask or running 5km in under 25 minutes). I believe my mind’s words to be true, but persist in trying anyway.

New limits are set when you disregard your current ones.

When reading motivational messages, the consistent message seems to be ‘YOU CAN DO IT!’, ‘DREAM BIG, REACH HIGH!’, ‘JUST GO GO GO!’. This creates a perception in our minds that we need to go big or go home. Take this advice with a pinch of salt. There is some truth in these messages, but they are creating a false future.

You’re not going to be blazing a 10km run tomorrow, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next week, or even making dozens of sales by the end of today. If you believe this, you are setting yourself up for failure.

You need to courageously test your limits through tiny little incremements. We are all operating at different levels, with different mindsets and skills. Set yourself challenges to improve – small enough to be achievable, and large enough to be just outside your comfort zone.

Every time I run, I increase my distance a little, or run a little quicker. Even if it is a few hundred metres more, or only a few seconds less – it is better than before. Similarly, you can do this by testing yourself ‘just a little more’.

There is more in you

This simple saying really helps me test my limits just that little bit more. It implies that we have the energy to take one more step, we have the mental power to practice one more time.

As you test the limits of your comfort zone, you will find the boundaries begin to shift outward. Those limits you thought you had, have long since disappeared. You now know what you are capable of, and soon you will be testing your new limits again.

You may not move mountains today or tomorrow, but you are one step closer and that’s what counts.

How you can find your own work-life balance

Working a full time job, budding an online audience, and still being a dad and husband is taxing. I’m not going to lie about it. I want to be home to be the best father and husband, but need to be the best at work so that I can provide for home. How can I achieve that all at once? Can we achieve it at all? I don’t believe so, and here’s why.

I am constantly volunteering to be better. Forever improving myself to be better than yesterday. Always looking forward and up. Moving up the corporate ladder. Forward planning for my team. Yet still having the focus outside of the office to make a wider impact with HelpGrowChange. While this whirlwind is happening, I am applying the same passion and motivation to my loving family. Trying my best to give them the same attention and energy that I am exerting in other areas.

And it’s damn hard. I am wondering how it can all be done. Surely there must be a way to fit it all in?

You might be in a similar situation. Your focus at work is to take the next step up the corporate ladder, or expanding your skillset to gain more responsibility. Outside of the office, you may have a hobby you’re working on, or a book you’re writing, or a business you’re wanting to grow.

Where does your family fit in? You’re probably a lot like me, where you’re trying your best to give them the same focus. At the end of the day, everything you’re doing is for them, right? As I’m writing this, I am realising that the priority of my focus is all wrong. It now makes sense.

Family comes first.

I’m doing everything for them. Working for them. Making money for them. But by doing all that, I’m taking time away from them. This just feels all wrong to me.

This is where the dilemma lies. In order to keep us under a roof, to keep eating, and to be comfortable. We still need to work.

From my research, experts and people tend to say “just forget about work” or “money doesn’t make you happy”. The unfortunate truth for us working-class folk, is that ‘money makes the world go round‘. Money, unfortunately, is a necessity. The age for bartering and living on your own claimed land is centuries gone, and we simply cannot live like that anymore.

Unless we want to be homeless, and live on the street.

No. We have to work. We have to work smart. Smart enough to earn a lifestyle of comfort without the endless hours of business. Freeing up enough time to focus on where our real values lie.

But how? How can we do this without sacrificing work or family. Again, the unfortunate truth is “life is full of sacrifice”. Something will have to give in order for you to achieve your goals. In order to be the best father and husband you will have to compromise your financial success. In order to gain financial success, you will have to give up your family gains. These are really (really) tough decisions to make. You can’t achieve everything at the same time.

However, there may be some possible ways around this.

Break our day into segments. For example – the standard ‘work’ time is 9am-5pm; (allow time for commuting); 6pm-9pm is family time; and the remaining 1-2hrs is ‘alternative work’ time. This splits any given day into workable chunks where dedicated time and focus can be given to the respective areas of our lives.

A schedule can be marked on the calendar where certain days of the week can be the focus of certain areas in our lives.

An agreement can be reached within the family about how a combination of the above can be used.

At the end of the day, I don’t believe there is a solution for this problem that has plagued our working society for generations. It may just be the fact of us having to stop trying to achieve everything and only focus on one or two values that we find critical to our own happiness.

I’m still in limbo with finding my focus, but I’m trying my best. Are you struggling with your time at home? What do you find that works for you?

3 Principles to cherish other than money

“Money makes the world go round”

My mother taught me this saying, and in today’s society it still rings true. We rely on it for almost everything. We use it to buy our food, pay for our power and Internet services, and even need money to clothe ourselves. We work our asses off for decades in the hope that we will still have enough money to live once we are not able to work any more. As a society we focus too much on money itself and it’s necessity in our lives.

Although money can make the world go round, it is not the only one that does.

We have come to believe that money is the only thing that will make us happy, and that we need it to ensure our future happiness and success. This cannot be further from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, there is a certain amount of funding we need in order to survive, but that is all money is for. It is the end result of the focus you have put in elsewhere, and not the focus itself.

I strongly believe there are 3 other principles in life where we should (and must) focus on. Kindness, Respect, and Giving. All three are intertwined and essential to building a fulfilled life.

Kindness starts with a smile

Being kind is real easy, almost too easy. When we think of kindess, we envisage soft-hearted people with puppy dog eyes, not saying a bad word to anyone. It doesn’t have to be like that, and all you have to do to start off being kind is a simple smile to another person. Not one of those creepy, stalker smiles, but a genuine one. Something that will make them feel better in their day because of it. You can smile anywhere and at anyone, such as at the cashier in the store, or the person walking past you in the street.

One simple smile can really change a person’s day.

Respect builds trust

I cannot stress the importance of respect. Respecting others’ beliefs, their privacy, and their time are only a few examples of what to do. Because you believe in something, or are comfortable with stating your opinion, does not give you the right to disrespect those around you. One thing I try to do here, is put myself in their shoes. This normally helps me catch myself before I show too much disrespect and break down the relationship I’ve worked hard to build.

Giving helps you feel better

More studies show that when we help others with their successes, we feel many times greater satisfaction than if we simply helped ourselves. Giving is about selflessly helping someone else with something instead of for yourself. Give your partner the last chocolate in the box because you know it’s their favourite. Help a friend with some groceries that they can’t afford, or donate a large sum of money to a charity you believe in.

BONUS principle – Gratitude

How can we be happy and content about anything if we don’t appreciate what we have? I look at my sons every day, and am so grateful they are healthy and beautiful. I thank my lucky stars for having such a supportive wife. My appreciation is through the roof when I am able to afford the pleasures in life (like electricity, Internet, and a choice of food) when there are children working in glass factories or roaming the streets for rubbish, hoping to sell them to recycling centres (if you know how I can help them, I would love to know!).

Take a minute out of your day to realise the world you’re in. Is your 9-5, well-paying, job really that bad? Do you really need to get irritated at the red traffic light when you’re sitting in your 5 year old car?

No-one is perfect, and that’s ok

I’m still learning how to fully integrate these core principles into my life. Sometimes, I’m still a bit selfish, don’t show enough respect, and am sometimes unkind. Don’t take it too personally when you don’t get it right, as long as you know you did wrong. Just remember to be better next time.

All three of these principles are so critical, so integral that without them we will live hollow, shallow, mediocre lives. Yes, money is important, it can buy us many things, but it doesn’t make this world a better place on it’s own. Through kindness, giving, and respect, money can be used to make the difference we want and need it to make.

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]

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.

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