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]

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]

Contemplating disappointment

It’s not often I let disappointment get to me. Its dampening of my will really does not mix well with my more positive outlook on life. But sometimes, just sometimes, disappointment squeezes through the cracks and I contemplate it for a while.

Like now. I am contemplating the validity of things and the inadequacy of human nature. How have we survived so long as a species with so little thought for anyone else but ourselves and our money.

I’m in the process of studying an online social psychology course with Coursera. One of the assignments within the course is a ‘Day of Compassion’ in which one has to go 24 hours showing compassion in their surroundings – whatever that might be.

I partook in the challenge, eager to make a positive difference within my reach. I volunteered to help raise funds for a burnt down school, I was more compassionate with the people around me, and I was happy with that. However, two of the bigger tasks I attempted ended in disappointment.

One was rebuffed due to corporate logistics, and the other was a person unable to take a phonecall from someone on the otherside of the world. Failure due to money and too much focus on the self. These two failings are pitfalls in our lives. There is way too much focus in our society around money, materialism, and self-preservation.

I am just as guilty of these weaknesses as the next person. It’s quite something when you discover the true emptiness of our surroundings for yourself, rather than reading about it in a book somewhere. It hits home a lot harder when you see it and live through it each day.

The more I think about these two major failings in our society, the more disappointed I get. The more disappointed I get, the more I want to change it. This is a major challenge, but one that you and I can rise up and defeat.

This was one of the main reasons I started this blog. So that I could document this journey of discovery. To inform myself, and you, about how we can find true meaning in the world around us. To find a way we can make effective change in our lives. It’s funny, how with me never having been much of a spiritual person, I am now saying that we have to change.

Thank you for reading my contemplation of disappointment. As I’ve typed this, disappointment has turned into resolve. It’s now time to change this world. Time to help each other grow out of mediocrity, discover ourselves, and be awesome.

Will you join me?

[Featured image: Aleksi Tappura]

In times of disaster, we stand strong

A few days ago, over half of my son’s school burnt down. Four of the seven classes are lost, one of them being my son’s. Also lost in the inferno was the school library containing 125 years worth of archives. In addition to this, the school was preparing for it’s 125th anniversary in November, and to be hit by something as devastating as this, is simply crushing.

I am in shock at the moment. Still unable to process just how much has been lost. The amount of information lost in the blaze. How many projects have been destroyed. How much personality and culture taken away. Not to add computers, resources, books, all of it gone.

But, out of the ashes, before the sun rises in the morning, the human spirit of compassion began with offerings to help in any way. People want to give anything they have in order to get this little school up and running again. Ready to tackle another day and make a difference in our children’s lives. As the day wore on, I grew more deeply appreciative of the community I live in.

I love how, deep down, we humans band together in rough times. When disaster strikes, our tribal instincts kick in and we pool together to defeat what ever tragedy has occurred. We rise from the ashes to build something even better than before. We let go of our subtle differences, our minor grievances, and do what is necessary for the greater good.

This event was a fire at a little school in a little community on the far side of the earth. If something as small as this makes such a big difference in the lives of the people affected, I am emboldened by the thought of how communities have stood together in much larger events – such as the Christchurch Earthquake of 2011, or the Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2012, and 9/11.

We might think the human race is getting worse by the minute with our overindulgence, our greed, our selfishness. But it’s at times like this that it all disappears. All that selfishness dissolves into selflessness. It amazes me and brings great joy when I see people banding together for the greater good. How we can simply find ways in order to help those in need. How we can let go of our own insecurity to reach inside ourselves and rebuild something that was lost.

This is the first time I’ve personally been affected by something like this, and it has hit me out the park. I like to help people, but this event is making me want to go that extra step and do whatever I can – dive into the rubble and help clear it away, donate money to help rebuild, or even help organise some sort of fundraising. Anything I could do to help, I want to do it.

It’s not only me. It’s the dance studio owner offering to entertain the out-of-school children this week for free. It’s the rubble removal company removing the leftovers for free. It’s the musician attempting to organise a variety concert to raise money. It’s human compassion, and I want to give more of it.

[Featured image: Terry Presley]

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