helpgrowchange

My Sunshine Award nomination

No matter what anybody says, we all love a little recognition. We all appreciate a little acknowledgement for the effort we put in. Something to show that what we’re doing is being heard.

This is what happened recently when Titia from w{e}mbrace nominated me for a Sunshine award. Thank you, Titia. Thank you for taking the time to remember my blog. It makes me glad my message is getting through to at least one person.

The Sunshine award is an award bloggers pass on to other bloggers to encourage them to carry on with the great work they are doing.

The rules:
According to the rules, a nominee should:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate other bloggers for the Sunshine Award.
  • Write the same number of questions for the bloggers you nominated as you received with your nomination.
  • Notify the bloggers you have nominated.

Titia’s questions with my answers:

Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to make a positive impact on the world around me. My blog allowed me a place to take the words out of my head and put them somewhere. As I published more, I discovered people were actually reading my stuff, and it was changing their lives. That’s why I continue to blog.

If you could give other bloggers one tip what would it be?
Be yourself. Don’t try too hard to fit in with what the masses are writing or doing. There are other people out there like you. They will read your articles, they just need to find you first (which comes down to content marketing).

Bonus tip: have an effective content marketing plan if you want to be found. And no, I don’t have one…yet. 🙂

If you had unlimited funds what would you do with your time?
Tough question. I certainly wouldn’t be sitting on my ass. With unlimited funds, I think I would find ways to make environmental sustainability attainable and affordable in my community/town/country.

What are you most grateful for?
My loving wife who has supported me since we met. My 2 healthy young boys. A roof over my head at night. Everything else is a bonus.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?
Our world will never be perfect, no matter what we change. But I think money has a lot to do with the state we’re in at the moment. So, I’d get rid of money. No more rich/poor. No more societal status. No more corporate greed. Eventually (hopefully?) it will be a world of bartering and re-use, rather than a money-making machine.

What’s one of the top things on your bucket list?
To fly. Whether it be a glider, or hand glider, I want to be soaring through the air with no machine noise.

My questions to my nominees

  1. What inspires you to be the person you see in the mirror?
  2. What phrase or quote do you tell yourself when you’re in need of a self-peptalk?
  3. What are you most grateful for?
  4. What is your favourite post on your blog, and why? (Be sure to include a link)
  5. What awesome lifehack have you discovered recently that has made you more productive?
  6. If you could gain any superpower you wish, which would it be and why?

My nominated blogs

Mind Fuel (http://mindfuelstuff.wordpress.com)
Paul Jarvis (http://pjrvs.com)
Skye Water (http://skyewater33.wordpress.com)
Winnie Lim (http://winnielim.org/)

Life is passing you by, and you don’t even see it

As you sip your cup of tea this morning, while you get ready for another monotonous day, have a think about this; Your life is passing you by, and you don't even see it.

"What?!" You might say. Bear with me for the length of this article, and see if you have the same reaction when you reach the end.

How does your day look today?

During the work week, it might look something like;

  1. Wake up, get ready for work. Be groggy. Mope around the house while dreading the day ahead.
  2. Commute to work. At the same time every day, following the same (or similar) path.
  3. Perform said work. Deal with the same political crap each day. The same feeling of being overloaded and underpaid. Dream about how you would rather be home.
  4. Commute home. At the same time every day, following the same (or similar) path.
  5. Perform the same nightly chores. Make dinner, bath the kids. Watch mindless T.V., read a book. Ask yourself whether it's the weekend yet.
  6. Go to bed.

What about the weekend?

  1. Wake up.
  2. Feel too lazy to do anything productive, so go shopping instead.
  3. Feel guilty, do house chores anyway.
  4. Do an activity you enjoy like biking, hiking, sewing.
  5. Visit friends, watch a movie.
  6. Go to bed.

For some of you, that might seem ok. It's about taking life one day at a time, right? Doing what needs to be done, rather than what you want to do. It's the right thing to do…

I say bollocks to that!

Why? Why do we allow ourselves to be restricted like this. We are naturally curious beings. We love to create, to learn, to understand the world around us. Yet we have been trained and guided into submission.

You are living your life with a false sense of achievement. Take a few seconds and think back over the last 6 month to a year. Ask yourself what have you achieved?

Maybe you finished reading a book? Watched a season of Game of Thrones? Achieved level 100 in the game you're playing? What have you actually achieved? Ultimately, not much.

A whole year has gone by, and you're still in the same place you were before. Doing the same thing, with the same concerns, fears, and worries.

I used to be like this – I still am. I get lulled into a false sense of achievement when I have a slight change in schedule, performed an extra house task, or even wanting to buy a newer phone.

These are not achievements.

They still sit within your comfort zone. And before you know it, months have passed – years have passed. How often do you hear people say that the years are flying by? It is because we are stuck in a monotonous rut.

What happened to your dreams of the future? How have you tested and pushed yourself? Have you taken action on them? Or come up with excuses.

I performed this little exercise on myself. 2 years ago, it would have looked rather mediocre, with the only real difference being me starting this blog and doing some freelance writing.

In the last year, though, my life has changed. My family's life has changed. Our eyes have been opened to the possibility that we can break this mould we're in.

To give you some context, I've run 2 10km races, I've studied social psychology, Neuro-linguistic programming techniques, and social media marketing, I've changed my eating habits to cut out sugar (mostly), and spent more time with my boys than ever before. My wife and I are starting businesses (which is extremely new to us).

Although these are only small changes, I've had to push myself mentally and physically. It's surprising to see how far we can go when we step out of our comfort zone.

What is really interesting, though, is by experiencing all these new factors in my life, this past year has felt longer. I've enjoyed each day a lot more. I am paying more attention to what's in front of me, rather than waiting for a T.V. show tonight or the lazy weekend.

I urge you to change something in your schedule today. It could be the spark to break you out of the monotony you've been feeling for a while.

You are more than the chores you need to do, or the work you need to attend to. Take the plunge and do something you're not entirely comfortable with. You won't regret it.

Ask yourself these 3 questions before stepping into the unknown

Stepping into the unknown is extremely daunting. Every one of us, at some point in time, has hesitated when crossing the threshold into some unknown. It’s only natural for us to feel this way. What matters is how we react in these situations, and how we convince ourselves to continue moving forward.

This very blog was a daunting unknown for me. Before I started, I was deliberating whether I should even start it. I was afraid of being ridiculed. I wasn’t convinced anyone would want to know what I thought. My wife is working meticulously in building her business, yet just a few months ago she was also debating the merits of starting it – afraid of the complaints she might get, the quality of her goods, or even no buyers at all.

It constantly amazes me how we build these false illusions in our heads. Illusions which serve as barriers, obstructing us from taking risks (which aren’t really risks in the first place). It’s probably due to some ‘keep safe’ mechanism in our brains. We perceive a certain situation as ‘risky’ (such as starting a business or blog), and so our minds build these internal barriers in order for us to stay protected. We have to convince ourselves that it is ok, and the danger is not as apparent as it appears to be.

While trying to convince myself about starting a blog years ago, and discussing with my wife about starting her business, we asked a few questions of ourselves which considerably helped in giving us courage to cross the line.

We took our first steps into the unknown. And the rest, they say, is history.

The heart says one thing, the mind says another.

There are many conversations we have with ourselves when we’re determining the merits of taking risks. Different sides of our inner self want different things, and it’s quite funny how there can be such differing of opinions with oneself.

To battle through this and gain some sort of clarity, I’ve found these 3 questions will guide you forward (I’ve put in some handy answers too).

Question: What have you got to lose?
Answer: Almost always there is nothing to lose except a bit time and money

Question: In 6 months time, what would you be doing if you didn’t take this step now?
Answer: Probably the same thing you’re busy with now – no better than before. The time would be summed up as ‘All talk and no action’.

Question: Could this open other opportunities?
Answer: Almost always this is a resounding yes. Unless, of course, it’s a complete deadend. Even then, you’ve learnt from the experience and only lost a bit of time and money.

Move forward, no matter how slow.

Regardless of how small a step you might be taking – it is a movement in a forward direction. You are not where you were before. This is a powerful place to be.

What are you currently afraid to step into? Is it to publish your book, start a blog, learn a new skill? Ask yourself the questions above, contemplate some more ideas, and let’s see how you get on.

No matter our status, we are still human

Every day we deliver judgement on people in higher societal status positions such as Presidents, CEO’s, celebrities, even our managers. We expect them to be 100% correct all the time. We expect them to act perfect all day every day. We lambaste them when they falter.

What we fail to realise most of the time, is they are still human – just like you and me. They, too, love watching a good movie. They also enjoy the relaxation of a lazy Sunday afternoon, or the sweet success of finally completing a personal project.

And – again, just like you and I – they fail. Often.

Recently, I watched the first few episodes of a new T.V. series named Lip Sync Battle. It’s a show in which celebrities attempt to perform a live act on stage while lip syncing to a song of their choice. It’s hilarious.

What was more interesting to me, was the opportunity to see a little more of the people behind the celebrity faces. Dwayne Johnson letting off steam to The BeeGees, or Anne Hathaway pulling off Miley Cyrus. The banter they had going between sets added further personality and insight into who they are.

It’s about time we stopped putting celebrities and people of power on a pedestal. It’s time we stop perceiving them as unattainable, different, or better than us.

Because they are not any different to us. They are still human.

Next time you’re reading the gossip magazines, or news headlines about some mistake one of these people have made. Stop. Try put yourself in their shoes. Would you act the same way? What would you do in their situation? Have some empathy and compassion, as they are making the best decisions for them at any given point in time.

Bringing this closer to home, think about your managers, your friends, your family. What compassion can you show them when they have made a decision? What are they feeling when they make certain decisions? Sometimes, they certainly make bad decisions or a different one to you, but they made a decision all the same. How do you want people to treat you when you make a bad decision?

I’m guilty of being judgemental of others’ decisions. I have laughed at celebrities, or baulked at a politician’s personal response. I know I’m wrong, and I’m an ass for even thinking it. But I believe our world won’t get any better if we continue in this way.

These people are human. Just like you and me. I can’t imagine the pressure of the world watching me 24/7. Watching, waiting, pouncing on every word I speak with a vengeance, and talking as if they know me.

So, I’m going to cut them a little slack. How about you?

How to make social media meaningful

We all interface with social media in one way or another. We like and share with our friends on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, or share our vintage photos on Instagram. There are a plethora of options for sharing ourselves and our views of the world on the Internet. But why is it that we still ‘do’ social media so wrong?

Because we don’t interact. We don’t engage enough. We don’t connect with another.

Think about when you have a face-to-face conversation with a friend. They’ve come over to your place for a cup of coffee (or tea if that’s your preference), and you two are chatting away.

Do you both talk at the same time – trying to shout over each other? I doubt it.
Do you just ignore a story of theirs, and carry on with your own? Nope.
Do you shout something at them, then get up and walk away without saying a word when they comment about it? Of course not!

Many of us are still coming to grips with how socia media is impacting our lives – and where it fits into our social spectrum. We still see these platforms as shouting boxes for people to see us and how awesome we are, but we don’t take the time to truly connect with others online.

Make connections

I’ve been on Facebook since 2007, and I’m only now beginning to understand how to use it as a medium to connect and grow the relationships – almost like another means to get to know and understand them better.

It’s about commenting on their status, showing empathy when it’s needed, tagging them where necessary, or simply liking their posts.

The more you interact, the more meaningful your social media experience will be.

I’ve built some real connections online over the past few years. Friendships that have formed purely online across continents, people such as Jay, Brandon, or Annie. We interact fairly often, and I anticipate meeting them in person one day.

And as for the people I have met in person already, social media is another tool I can use to strengthen these relationships further.

It’s all up to you

You need to think about why you want to be on social media. Do you just want to brag about your successes, shout out your opinion at anyone and everyone who might be interested? Are you online simply to spy on your family, friends, and acquaintances? (I really hope you’re not, that is just creepy and wrong)

Or do you want to be a better person. The person who wants to really connect with their friends and family in a meaningful way. Keep it simple. Treat your special connections with extra attention. Add some personality to your posts. They will remember it, remember you.

Today, while you are browsing your Facebook or Twitter feeds, why not reply on someone’s post and ask a question? Spark a conversation. You never know where it might lead.

Be competitive, just don’t forget about sportmanship

We live in an extremely competitive world. We compete against somebody almost every minute of each day. We compete in how many tasks we do in a day, how fast we can run, or even how much money we make in a year. There is nothing wrong with some healthy competition, there is something wrong when people disrespect their competitors.

I’m a huge believer in sportsmanship. It is about playing the game, giving your best, and still respecting your competitors. Whether you win or lose, you have to acknowledge how well your competitor did.

The best example of this is through sport, such as rugby. Tackle after gruelling tackle, two teams absolutely smash eachother during a game. Yet, when it’s all over, they shake hands and start chatting like long lost friends (particularly in New Zealand).

Another great example of sportsmanship was in the Cricket World Cup 2015 semifinal, in which New Zealand batsman, Grant Elliot, smashed the ball to win the game. The South African bowler, Dale Steyn, crumpled to the ground in defeat. What did Elliot do? Instead of celebrating wildly and running to his team mates, he went over to Steyn, helped him up, and showed respect for a game well played. It still gives me goosebumps remembering it.

You can be the same in your day-to-day dealings. There is no reason to leave people in the dirt when you are successful. There is no reason to sabotage someone else’s career because you’re jealous of their success.

You are better than that.

I believe we should be comfortable in our own abilities, compete against ourselves, and continually strive to be better than before. We need to acknowledge the strengths of people we are competing with – admire them even.

Think about an activity you are busy with in which you’re competing with someone. Are you putting them down? How about urging them on? Are you wishing ill on them? Why not wish them the best? Are you mocking their weaknesses? Have you analysed your own? (Yes, you do have weaknesses)

Congratulate your competitors when they win, respect them when they lose. Be competitive. Win the game. Just don’t be a dick about it.

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