helpgrowchange

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.

When is the right time to give advice?

It’s ironic that I’m writing an article about how we shouldn’t give our opinion or provide advice, when my whole blog is me giving you advice. If, like me, you don’t heed any advice thrown your way when you didn’t ask for it, then it’s time to stop reading this article.

In reply to my latest article, one of my newsletter subscribers replied asking how one could push past a lazy period (my article was about laziness) if they suffered from depression. Depression is a whole other beast which I cannot claim to know anything about. I admitted this to the person in question, and she thanked me for my honest answer. She went on to say how people often offer advice, even when they truly don’t know how to deal with depression.

Sometimes listening is all people want. My wife taught me this, and it’s taken me a few times to learn it. Actually, she will tell you I still try to solve problems that aren’t there (which is true).

More often than not, it is just fine to admit you don’t know anything. People will respect you for having the courage to acknowledge your limit. If you are caught out after claiming you know something (but you actually don’t), you will lose trust and respect quicker than you can say ‘I told you so’.

I don’t want to be the person who appears to have it all together, who appears to be the best in the world. I’m not that guy. I’m just like you. Struggling through this world, trying to make out what’s right from wrong. I’m hoping to make a change with the impact I make.

But it has to be an impact that is wanted – not one forced on you through my obnoxious opinions.

Even if you have a wealth of experience which you know will help another person, wait to be asked your opinion, rather than throwing it out there with no restraint. If people ask for my opinion, I will gladly provide it if it will help them with their cause. But I am learning the value of keeping my mouth shut when not asked.

We can’t solve everyone’s problems. We cannot claim to know enough about them or their circumstances to effectively help them. The best we can do is listen, console, and only offer your solutions when asked.

Think about who you go to for advice most often. Is it the person who ‘knows it all’ and won’t hesitate to force their view on you? Or is it the humble one, who knows less, but knows who you are, understands you, and offers honest advice?

On the other hand, I’m already forcing my opinion on you. So take what you’ve read today with a pinch of salt.

Climb out of your past to face your future

Sometimes we are stuck in the past. We go about our routines and habits because we have always done them this way. It’s safe, comfortable, and we don’t want to ‘break something that is not broken’ as some people say.

This is where the problem lies.

If we are stuck doing the same thing at the same level, we will never grow – you will never grow. There will be no improvement, no joy of discovering something new, nothing to stimulate your mind or soul. But you know what? You can change it. No matter what some of your naysayers might say, you can change all of what you can control – which is a lot more than you believe it is.

You have the power to change your own future, and it’s time you claimed your own life back.

This is so much easier said than done – I know. There are many things to worry about like finances, skills, life in general. The biggest hurdle of all, though, is you. You need to decide that you want to change your life. No-one can change it for you. Sure, they can offer you opportunities, but it all comes down to you wanting it and deciding to take action.

We all have dreams, yet so often that is how they remain – dreams. From when we were children, we may have dreamed of changing a person’s fate on the operating table, or testing the boundaries of human discovery in space. Let’s face it, some dreams are unrealistic (possible, but unrealistic).

For your own sanity and confidence, you need to be serious about what you want and what you can achieve. If you’re like me, a 30-ish person stuck in a desk job, the odds are we are not going to be an astronaut any time soon. We’re not going to be working on a critical procedure on the operating table, unless we are the patient. You might still want to achieve those dreams, but you have to let them go for now.

You need to focus on what you have right now, and what you can change for your future.

I still dream of being some hotshot owner of a popular technology company, but as the years roll on, I’m accepting the fact that I’ll probably not achieve it. So, I’m looking for alternatives. I might not be owner of something big, but I can be an owner of something that provides value. I’m looking at options in my current situation where I can help, grow, and change other peoples lives.

This blog is my first example of such a change. My wife is starting something of her own. There are a couple more things we’re working on as well. Our excitement is building about the future opportunities presenting themselves.

The changes you make don’t need to be drastic. Small ones here and there make massive differences further down the line. How about investigating the possibility of some free studies, such as Coursera or Codecademy? Start a blog about your expertise? Volunteer in your local community? As you make one small change, I promise you it will become easier to make more changes. Bigger changes that will truly change your life.

The past cannot be changed, but you can still prepare for your future. What will you change today?

Persistence almost made me cry

It is amazing how dogged persistence gets results. They can be good or bad, but they are results nonetheless. My wife and son showed persistence recently that had me frustrated, bored, and close on tears from their shear willpower. They showed me how persistence will get you what you need in the end.

My wife was on the lookout for a logo for her new business venture (coming soon!). It involved a search lasting almost a year, scouring the web for possible pictures, me sketching a few ideas, and even asking our friend over at iCreate to draw something. Then, finally, on a fateful rainy day, an image was found. It was simple, effective, and perfect for what my wife wanted as the face of her brand.

There had been many possible logos throughout her search, but they never felt quite right. She had an image in her mind of what she wanted, and wouldn’t settle for anything less. It was both admiring and frustrating to see the dogged persistence.

Her story showed me we should not settle for less than what we deserve – especially when we can change it. So often, do we compensate our needs because we don’t want to ‘rock the boat’, or deal with too many challenges for any length of time.

We make do with average, or never feel the true happiness of achieving and having something we know can be better.

Similarly, persistence is needed to push someone else out of their comfort zone, which brings me to potty training and making me cry (well, almost).

It was time to rid my 3 year old son of his nappy during the day. My son has one of the strongest stubborn streaks of anyone I know, so this training was always going to be a battle royale – our parental persistence against his stubbornness. Bear in mind that potty training generally takes up to 5 or 6 days, more due to bladder-control accidents rather than stubbornness.

The first day started off like any normal potty training, with some cajoling and accidents. The second day was flat out refusal from my son to co-operate. It didn’t improve after 3 days, 4 days, 8 days. He would randomly agree to potty, but it was never consistent and always after lengthy battles between parent and child.

On the 10th day my wife and I were at our wits end. Still with no improvement, we were on the verge of tears, almost giving up in the process. We were especially frustrated because we knew he was being defiant. We seeked guidance and consolation from friends and family, but were told to ‘leave him be’, or ‘he’ll get there in time’. We simply could not accept this outcome because if we gave up now, we would have to start all over again another time.

We persisted.

12 days in to potty training, and success! My son finally grasped the concept that it was easier for everyone (including himself) to not be restricted by a nappy anymore. This was a classic sign of how we stay in our comfort zones for far too long.

Sometimes it takes the persistence of others to break through our barriers and pull us to new horizons.

In any type of persistence, there is frustration, there are challenges, and there comes a time when you think there is no end in sight. But the great thing about persistence is exactly that – persistence.

Carry on driving your message. Continue to pursue your goal. I’m not saying it will work out in the end, but looking at one more picture might get you your logo, or continuing training for one more day might get your child potty trained. The simple act of trying just one more time might get you what you want or where you want to be. What will you persist with today?

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