helpgrowchange

Being an unlikely source of inspiration

Although I aspire to be an inspiration, try to help people solve their problems and write articles for this blog, it's just weird (and extremely humbling) when I hear how I am looked to for inspiration or guidance.

I'm just a guy trying my best to be the best I can be. I don't expect adoring fans or monetary donations or my name to be tattooed across butt cheeks. I just want to help.

It brings me great joy seeing the smile on someone's face after they've taken up a suggestion I made. It is fantastic to see how they find life just a bit easier, or are making a difference because of a conversation we had.

But it's not just about seeing what I've had a hand in, it's about helping others and how happy they are.

Helping others helps you

There is a TED talk by Michael Norton (watch it here) in which he talks about a study conducted around how you can buy happiness.

The study gave a little money to a number of people and asked them to spend it on themselves or spend it on someone else. After all sorts of measurements, it was found that when the subjects spent the money on someone else, they were 'happier'.

This is how I feel when helping you.

Thank you for having faith in me. Thank you for trusting in me enough to want to improve your life.

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.

Stand up for what you believe in

Being kind and caring is perceived as being weak by naysayers in our lives. Often, they laugh at our caring and demean our kindness – either to smash us down or make themselves feel better. Many caring folk fold under this mockery, become submissive and let the bullies in to their lives, ultimately allowing them to destroy it.

When I first started this blog, I was embarrassed to share that I wrote a blog. When I did mention that I blogged, some people would then mock me about it. Every time a situation would come up, they would disrespectfully say “Maybe you should write a blog post about this”. Even after finding out that I was trying to make a positive impact on this world, some other people would further attempt to put me down, going as far as saying that I will never make a difference as there is simply too many voices in this world.

I don’t give a damn what those people said, or would possibly say. I am helping people in need because it is the right thing to do. It is a risk, yes, but it is worth it. I help people find some purpose, help them see a brighter future, help them in any way I can.

Through me taking action and doing things for others, the bullies in my own life have backed off. They no longer pester me with small-minded comments. Or, I just simply ignore them and filter them out completely.

I believe you should ignore the bullies too. Do not allow yourself to stoop to their level. Do not allow them to play their mind games and wedge themselves in your head – initiating self-doubt and fear.

I believe you should make a stand of who you are and what you stand for. Helping out your brother, your friend, or a stranger is a sign of strength. It’s a sign that you are focusing on something greater than yourself. You are using your precious time and energy to make somebody else’s life better. That is awesome. You should do it more.

“If people are criticising you, you’re doing something right.” – Unknown

The bullies and the naysayers will always be there, trying to get in your face and putting you down. But you know what? That’s a good thing. It means you are making a difference in your world, changing our world for good, and doing what is right (almost like a superhero of sorts).

That’s what I try to remember when I’m being put down. I know what I’m doing is for the greater good. Not everything in this world is as bad as people say. And sometimes, actually most-times, a little kindness goes a very long way.

How you can find your own work-life balance

Working a full time job, budding an online audience, and still being a dad and husband is taxing. I’m not going to lie about it. I want to be home to be the best father and husband, but need to be the best at work so that I can provide for home. How can I achieve that all at once? Can we achieve it at all? I don’t believe so, and here’s why.

I am constantly volunteering to be better. Forever improving myself to be better than yesterday. Always looking forward and up. Moving up the corporate ladder. Forward planning for my team. Yet still having the focus outside of the office to make a wider impact with HelpGrowChange. While this whirlwind is happening, I am applying the same passion and motivation to my loving family. Trying my best to give them the same attention and energy that I am exerting in other areas.

And it’s damn hard. I am wondering how it can all be done. Surely there must be a way to fit it all in?

You might be in a similar situation. Your focus at work is to take the next step up the corporate ladder, or expanding your skillset to gain more responsibility. Outside of the office, you may have a hobby you’re working on, or a book you’re writing, or a business you’re wanting to grow.

Where does your family fit in? You’re probably a lot like me, where you’re trying your best to give them the same focus. At the end of the day, everything you’re doing is for them, right? As I’m writing this, I am realising that the priority of my focus is all wrong. It now makes sense.

Family comes first.

I’m doing everything for them. Working for them. Making money for them. But by doing all that, I’m taking time away from them. This just feels all wrong to me.

This is where the dilemma lies. In order to keep us under a roof, to keep eating, and to be comfortable. We still need to work.

From my research, experts and people tend to say “just forget about work” or “money doesn’t make you happy”. The unfortunate truth for us working-class folk, is that ‘money makes the world go round‘. Money, unfortunately, is a necessity. The age for bartering and living on your own claimed land is centuries gone, and we simply cannot live like that anymore.

Unless we want to be homeless, and live on the street.

No. We have to work. We have to work smart. Smart enough to earn a lifestyle of comfort without the endless hours of business. Freeing up enough time to focus on where our real values lie.

But how? How can we do this without sacrificing work or family. Again, the unfortunate truth is “life is full of sacrifice”. Something will have to give in order for you to achieve your goals. In order to be the best father and husband you will have to compromise your financial success. In order to gain financial success, you will have to give up your family gains. These are really (really) tough decisions to make. You can’t achieve everything at the same time.

However, there may be some possible ways around this.

Break our day into segments. For example – the standard ‘work’ time is 9am-5pm; (allow time for commuting); 6pm-9pm is family time; and the remaining 1-2hrs is ‘alternative work’ time. This splits any given day into workable chunks where dedicated time and focus can be given to the respective areas of our lives.

A schedule can be marked on the calendar where certain days of the week can be the focus of certain areas in our lives.

An agreement can be reached within the family about how a combination of the above can be used.

At the end of the day, I don’t believe there is a solution for this problem that has plagued our working society for generations. It may just be the fact of us having to stop trying to achieve everything and only focus on one or two values that we find critical to our own happiness.

I’m still in limbo with finding my focus, but I’m trying my best. Are you struggling with your time at home? What do you find that works for you?

Decide to make a difference

Do you feel like you can’t make a difference in the world today? The world is so noisy and filled with so many voices that it is near impossible for you to hear or say anything of value. I feel like that sometimes. But the truth is, you can (and you do) make a difference.

I used to be anonymous (I still am to some degree). I had thoughts, dreams, and things I wanted to say. I thought they were only applicable to me and believed no-one would care to support my thoughts, let alone look forward to what I had to say. So I said nothing. I kept my mouth shut, accepted what I received, and didn’t ask for anything more.

As time went on I shared my thoughts and dreams. I began to question the world around me. Is this mediocre life worth it? Is the financial burden worth the daily commute? What do I need to do in order to spend more time with my family? I started a blog to journal the journey I was travelling.

A strange thing began to happen. People responded. Not just friends and colleagues, but strangers from around the world. They were going through similar experiences or seeking guidance, and I was helping them through it. This really took me by surprise. How could I, an average Joe, be helping people around the world? What could I possibly offer to the people around me that they couldn’t get from a self-help book of some kind?

I now truly believe that ‘anybody’ is a ‘somebody’ in someone’s life. For example, Richard Branson can tell you a lot about business, but your entrepreneur friend, Jack, will teach you more. Dr. Phil can tell you a lot about psychology, but your therapist cousin, Francine, will teach you more. Why? Because they’re local, they’re personal, they have a direct link to you. They can directly influence you, your skills, and your experiences through life. So, too, do you make a difference to others around you. You might not see it, but people are being influenced by you all the time. It’s the little things where you can notice it first, like which movie to watch or which book to read.

You are just as important to someone else.
You have knowledge that nobody else has.
You have your own spin on the world that is unique to you.

I struggle with my thoughts and fears every day, thinking that there are so many people saying the same thing as me. I’m constantly thinking that I’ll just be another whisper in the wind. But I then think of my family, the people I’ve helped so far on my short journey. It gives me hope of making this world a better place for all of us. I’ve seen the impact my words have had at home, with friends, as well as colleagues.

You can make your own difference too – you really can. You directly impact your surroundings. You don’t need to rely on the big players out there. You know what’s right for you, no-one else. The best place to start is at home. Share your thoughts, dreams, and message with your family. Mention it to trusted friends. Try it at the office. You may just be surprised where you will end up.

Why not start right here? Leave a message in the comments below.

[Featured image by Paul Proshin via unsplash.com]

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