helpgrowchange

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]

Embrace the new chapters in your story

This month, my eldest son started ‘big school’. He turned the grand old age of five, and started a new chapter in his story by starting primary school. In the weeks leading up to him taking his first step in school, he didn’t display nervousness or sadness, but rather excitement. He would badger my wife and I about when it would be happening.

Every time we drove past the school, he would state that he was going to be going to that big school. There is a lesson we can all learn from the way in which he approached making the big change to ‘big school’.

Embrace change. Embrace it fully with no looking back.

When change is upon us, we should not resist it. Change brings new experiences, new challenges, new opportunities. It leads us down new paths that we may not have considered previously. While I agree that not all change is good, there is always something new to learn. Be aware, always learn – always want to learn.

It’s easy enough for me to tell you to ‘embrace change’ or ‘always learn’. I don’t know you, or your circumstances. What I do know, though, is that change is inevitable. You have two choices when change comes knocking on your door;

  1. Resist change. Fight it. Be angry. Complain, and bemoan how things used to be.
  2. Embrace change. Lean into it. Learn. Take up the challenge to get what you can out of the situation.

When we resist change, we create tension, stress, and negative emotions. When negativity runs through us, our minds are closed to learning and enjoyment. We tend to complain and reminisce about how things were. We protect any shred of what used to be.

Negativity is the road block to achieving anything new.

If my son had resisted his first day of school, he would have been crying, having tantrums, or clung to my wife or I until the last second we had to leave. Even then, there would have been more tears and drama. There would have been much wasted time with himself and the teacher in order to calm him down. Wasted time in order to actually get him to the state in which he would be receptive to reading or learning.

Instead, on the morning of his first day, he couldn’t get his school bag ready quick enough. He couldn’t wait to hang his bag on the hook outside his class. He showed us where he was sitting and the playground he would be playing at during break time. When the school bell rang signalling the start of the day, he went straight to the mat, said goodbye, and was immediately listening to the teacher. Ready and waiting to learn.

Starting school is a massive change in his short life, yet he has taken it on with arms wide open. With that openness, so too is his mind open to new information. He is going to soak up any new learnings like a sponge – because he has made himself ready for it.

We can do the same in order to make the best of change. Instead of closing up, fighting, and making our lives difficult, we must receive change with enough openness to learn as quickly as possible. Quickly enough to adjust to the new circumstances. Quickly enough to understand the new circumstances in order to instigate new change if the situation is worse than before.

It was an extremely proud moment for us, seeing him sit on the mat attentively waiting for his new teacher. This is the beginning of an epic journey for him. There is so much for him to learn, explore, and decide on a path of his own. I can’t wait to see how he adapts to these new challenges.

[Featured image: Coley Christine Catalano]

Better yourself by being average

You want to get from here to there. You want to be better than you are now. You’ve read many Internet articles, maybe even bought a book or two, but you just can’t seem to break the cycle you’re in. Just can’t quite climb up the ladder to reach the next level you’ve set for yourself.

It could be the people you’re hanging out with. Whether it be at home, at the pool, or at the office. You’re only as good as the people around you.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

When I first read this quote, I ditched it for a load of hogwash. Surely, one could be better than the people around them? How hard could it be? It turns out that it is much harder than originally thought.

When I started HelpGrowChange, my immediate friends were supportive, but because they’re not into this sort of thing, I couldn’t bounce ideas or gain true feedback about it. I can relate with them about sports, work, anything else other than the blog.

It was around that time that I realised what that quote meant. I needed to find other people to help me grow in that space. People I could identify with, where I could relate my experiences, learn something new, and exchange information about blogging, creating, and motivation.

But I didn’t want to lose my mates. And a plan entered my head – why should I limit myself to only one group of people. I thought deeply about where I wanted to be, and who I needed to associate with in order to get there. I now surround myself with people I feel will help me grow. Help me be better in many regards.

I still hang out with my mates for drinks, sports, and the odd poker game. I hang out with my other mates to chat about motivation, while others still help me grow in leadership.

Each area offers a different perspective and world view. I can relate coaching football teams to leading teams at the office. I see the similarities between different people and cultures. I admire the intricate history of each different person I hang out with. The courage they have shown in the hardships they have been through. How they have triumphed over their own demons to get to where they are today – so much more than I have had to endure.

By having multiple groups of five, I can be the average of all of them. I firmly believe this approach is helping me relate to many different aspects in my life as well as the people I hang out with.

Helping me grow. Helping me change. Helping me be better.

So, are you the average of the five people you hang out with? How can you better yourself to climb to your next level?

[Featured image: Davide Gabino]

Continue the struggle, you’re doing well

Bills. Sickness. Stress. Day in, day out. Why do we carry on? What is the point of doing the same thing day after day after day. We have all felt this way at some point (and for those of you that haven’t – you will, don’t worry). Some days it is hard to carry on through the doldrums. Those times when you’ve tried your best, and life just hits you back down. Disasters strike, plumbing bursts, or even as simple as public transport prices go up.

We may get angry and frustrated, but there is a reason to carry on.

We work our asses off to make ends meet, stay healthy, maintain a house. All this effort and energy put in to no avail. We stay within the rules, we pay our dues, we ‘do the right thing’, and yet it is so frustrating to see other people around us take shortcuts, get away with it, and trot along to their wonderland with not a care in the world.

I think this way sometimes – probably too much. It makes me frustrated when people cheat and still win. It pisses me off when they steal and profit off of it. But after a while I become content. And here is why.

When I lay in bed at night and review my day, I know I have done good. I’ve gone about my day and my life as best I can. I’ve helped other people, my wife, my children. I’ve deepened relationships. I’ve shown respect. I’ve shown leadership. I’ve made a positive difference in someone’s day. I’ve stayed true to my values and morals.

My life has gotten richer, deeper, and more meaningful without the need to steal, cheat, or lie.

I may not have gained a load of money, got a major discount on a product, or even have the kids stop fighting for a day. But I got an overload of experience. I got to experience time with my boys. Time to teach them right from wrong. I was healthy enough to walk outside and breathe in the fresh air after the rain. I made a difference.

And there is still tomorrow.

Tomorrow brings further opportunities. More time to spend with the people we love. More discoveries. More everything.

Tomorrow will allow us to improve, to be better, to gain more meaning in life than the shortcut taker, the cheater, and the thief. They will need to deal with their own conscience when their time comes.

[Featured image: RayBay]

My 5 Favourite Articles After Year One

It started off on a cold, rainy winter’s night in July 2013. I published my first article to browntel.net – simply wanting to get my message out to the ether. A year down the line, I am reviewing what I’ve done over this first year before I kick into the next. I’ve got some big things planned over the next year with Help Grow Change, and I really hope you join me on this journey. For now, sit back, relax, and have a read of five of my personal favourite articles.

Let’s begin with the very first article, which pretty much set the tone for everything to come; a short, simple post about keeping things simple.

The Key To Efficiency Is Simple

 
The first few months of this blog was inconsistent. I had no clear message that I was passing on except a few opinion pieces. I wrote about living in an earthquake city, second hand smoke, and even privacy concerns. One article that stood out for me was today’s toys for our children. But the one article that got me going was the one I laid myself out for all to see.

This Is My Story, And What It Means To You

 
That was September 2013. My writing was starting to take on a certain theme now. I was getting more confident and excited about having the ability to change people for the better. An idea had sparked. In the new year (and after I began my regular newsletter), I published about why you will never be good enough.

Why You Will Never Be Good Enough

 
I believe the writing from then on has had a similar theme, which I hope is appreciated by the people that read it. The next favourite article was a simple one with a simple message.

Take Action

 
In March 2014 I had renewed inspiration with helping, growing, and changing people. It started with an article which struck a chord with me, and I love it. Be you, be awesome.

Be you, be awesome

 
Ok, I lied. There were so many articles out of the 47 I have written so far, that I couldn’t keep the list limited to 5. One message I truly believe (and couldn’t not put it in here), is that there is always hope.

Hope In Your Darkest Hour

 
Thank you for your support over this past year. I hope you continue on this journey with me. A journey that will move us out of mediocrity and into awesomeness.

You Are A Leader

Being a leader is not about a fancy title or a corner desk. It’s about taking the responsibility to grow other people. It’s about being passionate about initiating change. Having the balls to make decisions and take responsibility for the outcomes.

Be helpful

When I was still a system administrator, I never thought I was a leader. I was helpful and genuinely interested in resolving other people’s problems. I never thought I could be one of those great, important, managers who I reported to or walked past in the corridor.

However moving into a proper team leader role changed all that. Once I realised the responsibility that came with my newly acquired position, I took the initiative to learn more about what it means to be a leader. What happened next, I didn’t expect.

I discovered my true passion – growing people.

Being able to initiate ideas to show my team that they can be more than what they are, then seeing them go and do it. Seeing my team (and even others) go on to achieve great things inspires me further to help the ones still around me.

As I delve further into my life purpose, I realise that being a leader is about helping everyone. Those that are struggling and need some guidance, as well as the high performers to help them continue on their highway of achievements.

What I also realised, is that you don’t need to be in a leadership role to guide others. You are a leader already. When someone comes to ask your opinion on a particular topic, they respect you enough to seek guidance from you. When your management ask you to run with high profile tasks, they believe you have the ability.

Yes, that does mean you are a leader. You’re just leading in different ways, more subtle ways.

Have the balls

One of the first times I realised the importance of making hard decisions was during an extremely high profile system failure. I realised I couldn’t hide anymore. I couldn’t escalate to my own leader. I couldn’t simply stick my head in the sand until someone else took care of the situation.

On that day, I accepted the challenge. I stood strong, faced the crisis, took control, and we got through it pretty well. One important aspect I believe a leader must have is to be calm in the face of danger. A leader must filter the critical mass from the crap and pass only the relevant information to his team.

There have been a few more tough times since that first emergency. There have also been a few other types of challenges that I have had to adapt to. But that is the nature of this very blog. It’s all about growing and changing when the time calls for it.

You can do the same. Yes, it’s scary – I was nervous as hell (I still am a lot of the time). But the great thing is it gets easier every time. You gain valuable experience, the situation isn’t as scary the next time, and even less scary the time after that. Each time you’re in a similar situation, you can make better decisions. With better decisions, you become more comfortable.

When you’re more comfortable, try challenge yourself with different situations. Try to find that nervousness. The nervousness means you’re out of your comfort zone – that’s a good thing.

The more you are outside of your comfort zone, the more you are learning, growing, changing…

How are you leading others through helpfulness and decisions you’re making?

[Featured image: Kumar Appaiah]

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