helpgrowchange

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?

New limits are set when you disregard your current ones

How often do you find yourself saying “Oh, I can’t do that”, or “That is so out of my league”? I’m guessing pretty often. Don’t worry, we all do it. We downgrade our abilities before we’ve even started – before we’ve even thought about starting.

We look at others, and see them running for miles, selling up a storm, or climbing mountains. We are happy for those people, and we congratulate them on their achievements. But we never actually think about doing it ourselves because we’re not as fit/charismatic/courageous/(enter appropriate word here) as them. I may not have achieved much in my life (yet), but there is one thing I can tell you – and that is you can achieve as much or as little as you want.

Most of the barriers we face in our lives are self-imposed limits.

We limit ourselves in our quiet comfort zones. Those places where we know what we are doing, what will happen, and we feel ‘safe’. We become used to this lifestyle and soon forget we can achieve more. We forget there is so much more to enjoy, if we only just test our current boundaries.

Testing your limits isn’t easy. You have to figure where your limits are, how you will test them, and then the hard part comes into play – actually taking action to push past the barriers. For me, the toughest battle I fight, is internally with my own mind. My mind tells me I can’t do something (like having the audacity to ask or running 5km in under 25 minutes). I believe my mind’s words to be true, but persist in trying anyway.

New limits are set when you disregard your current ones.

When reading motivational messages, the consistent message seems to be ‘YOU CAN DO IT!’, ‘DREAM BIG, REACH HIGH!’, ‘JUST GO GO GO!’. This creates a perception in our minds that we need to go big or go home. Take this advice with a pinch of salt. There is some truth in these messages, but they are creating a false future.

You’re not going to be blazing a 10km run tomorrow, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next week, or even making dozens of sales by the end of today. If you believe this, you are setting yourself up for failure.

You need to courageously test your limits through tiny little incremements. We are all operating at different levels, with different mindsets and skills. Set yourself challenges to improve – small enough to be achievable, and large enough to be just outside your comfort zone.

Every time I run, I increase my distance a little, or run a little quicker. Even if it is a few hundred metres more, or only a few seconds less – it is better than before. Similarly, you can do this by testing yourself ‘just a little more’.

There is more in you

This simple saying really helps me test my limits just that little bit more. It implies that we have the energy to take one more step, we have the mental power to practice one more time.

As you test the limits of your comfort zone, you will find the boundaries begin to shift outward. Those limits you thought you had, have long since disappeared. You now know what you are capable of, and soon you will be testing your new limits again.

You may not move mountains today or tomorrow, but you are one step closer and that’s what counts.

Improve your decisions with one simple mind trick

We make decisions in everything we do. In the way we brush our teeth in the morning, when we decide to buy coffee, or where to sit on the train. Every single one of these decisions impacts our lives in ways we cannot imagine. Each decision moves us towards a destination we may, or may not, have set for ourselves. We need to make our decisions count.

So often, I see myself and others faltering on their decision making. Some folk make rash decisions (I’m guilty of this), while others find it difficult to make a decision on much of anything. We go about our lives rueing the decisions we’ve made – or not made.

So how do we change this? How do we become better decision makers? Well, there isn’t much we can do, really. Yes, there are a plethora of options available, ranging from gut feeling to the Kepner Tregoe Decision Making process, but the trouble is we can’t go about performing a problem analysis for every decision we make – especially if it a subconscious, sub-second one made in the spur of the moment. Neither can we simply go on gut feeling when the decision requires more thought. The trick is to find balance between the two.

One method that has worked for me is to focus only on the object of the decision. For example, I’m trying to make better decisions when I’m thirsty, specifically drinking water instead of Coca-Cola. I focus only on the area I want to change – drink water. I consciously bring that decision to the front of my mind when I’m thirsty, or every time it crosses my mind. I replace the thought with the object, like ‘Water, water, water‘, ‘drink 2 litres of water a day‘, or ‘drink water now before you want something else, you lazy bastard!‘. I find the next time I am thirsty, I choose water instead of Coca-Cola.

This method has worked for me in other things too, such as;
– exercising each morning (saying ‘Drop and give me 20!‘, instead of ‘I’m tired‘),
– focussing on tasks (saying ‘Another one knocked off‘, instead of ‘I have so much to do!‘),
– and even showing my family appreciation (saying ‘These people are my foundation‘, instead of ‘Where is my time going?‘).

Many decisions we make are due to habits we instil in ourselves. We’ve made these habits consistent enough to move to our sub-conscious. Once there, most of the decisions we make are automatic. Because we’ve made similar decisions before, our brains move the mental processing out of the way so that we can make these decisions quicker.

Changing these auto-decisions requires you to fuse new thought patterns and habits into your sub-conscious. No easy feat, but certainly possible. And it is easier than you think. It all starts with a little focus, and some habit forming.

What will you change about your decision making process today?

[Featured image Ashley Batz via unsplash.com]

How will you make 2015 better?

The trouble with life is that it just gets in the way of your dreams. It sits there and sniggers when you haven’t achieved a goal you’ve set for yourself. It constantly intervenes to hamper your progress towards bigger and better things. Life laughs in your face, especially when you’re down.

The truth is, it’s not life that gets in the way, it’s us. We are the ones that allow distractions in. We are the ones that lose the momentum when the going gets tough (or too easy for that matter). We are the ones that allow our end goals to slip away.

Last year, I experienced just this. The year started off with a bang. I had started my newsletter, my work was being posted on other blogs. I was gaining exposure in the right places. But then I got lazy. I lost focus, and the year just fizzled out into mediocrity. I was extremely disappointed with myself.

I learnt something important during that time. I learnt my limitations and what I need to do to exceed them. I learnt more about myself and what I want to do with my life. I learnt I am not as awesome I as I think I might be. Finally, I learnt humility.

It seemed to be a recurring theme. I needed to find a way out of this habit. Thanks to my beautiful wife, that path may have been found. During Christmas my wife bought Leonie Dawson’s 2015 workbook, and I found Michael Hyatt’s free introductory videos for his best year ever course. Both are about setting goals and achieving them. They offer a system you can use to effectively and confidently achieve your goals. I am intrigued at how similar these methods are, and I believe there is some common sense in them.

My wife and I worked our way through Leonie Dawson’s workbook. It had us thinking long and hard about what we want to achieve in our lives this year. I’m excited about what opportunities will present themselves – if I can stick to my guns. I’m confident that by using the methods learnt through Leonie Dawson and Michael Hyatt, my work life, home life, and life in general will be changed for the better.

What about you? Have you thought about what you want to achieve this year? How are you going to do it? I highly recommend implementing a system for you to achieve all you can.

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]

Create something out of nothing

Are you an artist? Can you pick up a paint brush and whisk up a wonderful piece of work? Can you write up a song or story that will take our breath away? Don’t worry, neither can I. But you know what, you can create anything you want. It doesn’t matter how wonderful it is. It is something that you have taken out of your head and made it available for all to see.

What we tend to forget about ‘artists’, is that they live and breathe their art. Before the great works of art were created, they have practiced for years on end, moulding, sculpting, tweaking their skills to make them perfect. They worked endless hours making countless mistakes. Failed many times. Even now, they make mistakes and fail every time a new piece of work is created.

We are all naturally creative. Look around you. Who created your office workspace, who created your budget at home, who decides what paint colour to put on your child’s bedroom wall, who decides to lay out the lounge seating arrangement? It’s not all about a paintbrush or a song. It’s everything you do, every decision you make. You are injecting your own creativity, adding your own flair and imagination all the time.

Sure, it might not be the best, or look like something from a top designer. People might not buy it. But you know what? Who gives a crap? It’s yours. You created it. It came out of your fantastic mind. You created something out of nothing.

You took that thought, you acted on it, and you made it.

Creating your own stuff has a few side effects. Passion and Confidence. When you realise that you have actually created something, a sense of achievement can appear (at least for me, it does). The realisation that me – an average non-creative person – can create something from nothing. You feel inspired to do more, to test the limits of this new found creativity. You wake up each day excited to work on your project. Even once you’ve finished the project, you can’t wait to start on the next.

After a while you come to a further realisation that, actually, your creations are not actually that bad. You take the chance of sharing with a friend, and another, and another. Naturally, you become more confident as you practice. Confident to take on something bigger and better.

I pose a challenge to you.

I know for a fact that you enjoy doing something, everybody has something they have liked during their lifetime. Something that has piqued your interest. Explore that interest. Try something new. You might fail, you might discover that it’s not for you. The main point is that you tried. How do you know what your true creative outlet is until you actually try it? You might just be pleasantly surprised.

[Featured image: Jennifer Trovato]

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