helpgrowchange

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]

Why Being Lazy Is Good For Productivity

When it comes to procrastination and laziness, I think I could take home the prize most of the time. If something can be done tomorrow, I’ll postpone my effort until then. Provided a choice between the easy route or the hard – I’d pick the easy one every time.

I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I do the bare minimum required in order to get the job done right. I’ll see through the time necessary in order to ship out an article, finish a project, or even complete a performance review for one of my team members.

But it has to better than last time.

When I read about certain productive people, or watch them speak, it seems like they have it all together. They are like machines, keeping in high gear day in and day out. They have all their ducks in a row, with their products being shipped out, and their tasks being performed pro-actively. I look at my own productivity in comparison and see a limping effort, wandering around aimlessly like a lost puppy.

I am prone to bursts of productivity and stagnant pools of laziness – as I’m sure most of us are. We go through hyper-productive waves where we achieve our maximum potential, but then stand idle as we get bored or unclear on where we want to go next. I don’t believe this is a bad thing.

As long as the next burst of productivity achieves a level higher than the previous one.

For those machine-like people, being the best with their time management and project completion comes naturally to them. They maintain a steady pace of productivity like clockwork, and they churn out tasks like nobody’s business. For the rest of us, however, it’s a daily struggle.

It’s a struggle to maintain the motivation to start, to create, to finish what we started. It takes a huge amount of effort and energy. So much so, that when we get a success or two, we rest, we get bored, we get lazy.

But after a while we realise how lazy we are, and that we need to kick start again. We pick up the pen, we brainstorm more ideas, and we get moving. The passion begins to burn again. More ideas start flowing and action starts to happen. The period of laziness renews our energy to achieve more. Only this time we need to remember what we did the last time, and do better than that.

We must do better otherwise the time we were being lazy was just us being… well, lazy.

It proves nothing, gets us nowhere, and we haven’t really grown.

There is nothing wrong with being lazy. I’m a self-confessed procrastinator and a lazy bastard. The most important thing for me – and what drives me – is that when I do get going again, I go further than I went before.

Now, go. Be lazy. Put off that important task until tomorrow. The world isn’t going to end, it will just be slightly delayed. Just remember to be better than before.

Find Your Wingman

In our daily struggles to become successful, we tend to think we are doing it all ourselves. We are the ones putting in the hard yards. We are the ones driving change forward. We are the masters of our own fate.

We are wrong. We are not the sole players in this game.

Every person has someone looking out for them. Not in a ‘Guardian Angel’ sense, but rather a ‘Wingman’ type of way. Someone who will offer support when the times are tough. Someone who will pat us on the back after the victories. That certain someone who will push us when we start slacking.

That person could be anyone. Your partner, your mentor, your father, or even your work colleague. But they are there – watching, supporting, helping you through the tough times.

If you don’t think there is anyone who has your back currently, I pose a few questions to you:

  • Who do you call when you achieve something special to you?
  • Who do you confide in when the going gets tough?
  • Who is the person that will give you honest feedback on your work? And not just a ‘That’s great’ comment.

If you answered with a person for any of these questions, then you have a Wingman. You may not only have one wingman, but a few. I would hazard a guess that there isn’t more than a handful of people who you could name as an answer to the three questions above.

For me, this person is my amazing wife. She is the resounding winner in all the three earlier questions. She is there through thick and thin. She relishes in my successes, consoles me in my failures, and drives me to perform better.

Simply put – I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

Today, I pose a challenge to you. Take some time out from your own goals and struggles, and concentrate on giving back to your wingmen and women.

Think, and I mean really think, about the response to the three questions I asked earlier. Identify the person or key people that have your back. Not your group of best buddies. I’m talking about those people in the background. Those who you trust, who you confide in, and who never quite make the headlines when you achieve your own success.

Go show them your appreciation. Concentrate on what they’re doing, what they’re trying to achieve. Is there something they need encouragement on? Something they’ve attempted, but couldn’t quite reach? How can you help them be better than they are today?

Go on. They deserve it. They helped you get to where you are today.

[Featured image: Florian Nohring]

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]

Dream it, do it

I dream way too much. I dream of a new phone, more money, a holiday on some remote Pacific island. You’re dreaming about it too – the white sandy beaches, the crystal clear water… maybe one day we will get there.

You and I always fall into the same trap with these dreams. One day I will be able to afford a holiday. One day I will get a top-of-the-range phone. One day, when I get a promotion, I will get that money I’ve been dreaming of.

One day will never come about. Your dream will always be exactly that – a dream – until you make them into plans.

Take action

Instead of dreaming about one day, why not start planning today. Take action and begin the journey to reach that dream. I’m not saying put the island holiday on the credit card and book flights tomorrow (that’s a bit crazy), rather begin to formulate a plan.

Write it down

While you are dreaming about that phone, holiday, or training course, write it down. It doesn’t matter what format, just whip something out and start writing the ideas down. Things like what time of year would be good, what is the actual price of the item, why do you need it?

Slowly, a picture will form. A picture showing you what is required for you to attain your dream. When I’ve done this before, I have found that I think of other factors that I would not have thought of if I were simply dreaming about one day. For a holiday, necessities like passport requirements, currency, or even local hazards such as earthquakes or volcanoes. For a phone, I would think about specs and data speeds that are compatible with the phone. And even for more money, it’s a matter of what do I need to do to get there?

Plan it

Once notes have been made and a little research done, you will feel a sense of achievement. That is because action was taken, something was done, a step was taken towards that dream.

When you physically note something out of your head and onto paper (or a screen), you have taken your dream and made it a plan. You make your dream more real, more feasible, more attainable. You have something tangible you can work with. You can mould it, shape it, and work with it to reach that dream.

You can also decide where you will go next. Do you need to save money? How much? For how long? Do you need to compare products, services, providers? What area do I need to focus on to improve in order to get that promotion?

All these questions can be answered with a little planning and action.

[Featured image: Thomas Galvez]

All articles