helpgrowchange

It’s disappointing to not have made a difference

I recently took on a new role at my workplace. Through all my efforts in the previous role, I could not make the difference I wanted to.

For years, I tried. I attempted to organise movements, convince management, or influence certain decisions I knew would benefit the wider group. But I just couldn’t get to the point of making the intended difference. And it has killed me.

Sometimes it is better to accept we cannot change a situation. We must accept failure and come back another day. We must realise when it’s time to move on to something we can change.

It’s crap. It’s difficult. But it’s the hard truth. People will only change when they are ready for change.

No matter how hard we hit their wall of resistance and indifference, we will not (cannot) bring it down. We cannot control the outcomes of their decisions, or convince them of the damage they are causing around them.

What we can control is how we react to their whims. We can control how we make a positive difference to our own surroundings. Finally, we need to learn when to let go…

Sometimes holding on...

At the end of the day, we have to realise this is only business. Thankfully, we can take our influence, our skill, and our passion elsewhere. Somewhere where it might be better suited.

Don’t give up the fight, just focus your energy in the right place.

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]

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)]

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]

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]

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