Humility and change

I learnt humility last week. It hit me like a freight train. I am still thinking about it almost a week later. I wasn’t prepared for it. And it has forced me to rethink the way I go about my life.

Ok, not quite that bad, but the feedback I received last week was still pretty shitty – forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and exactly where I needed to be.

About seven months ago, I got the opportunity to lead a new team. I saw it as a challenge as I hadn’t worked with the team before, didn’t understand the tools they used, or technologies they worked with. I was unsure as to how they would accept someone without the relevant technical experience to lead them forward.

Over time I have strived to build strong relationships through mutual trust and respect, both as a team and with each of the individuals. One of the questions I am continuously asking is for honest feedback about me and how I am leading them.

This question often brings out an array of opinions ranging from ‘you are doing great’ to ‘maybe change the time of the team meeting’ or ‘there have been a few misses, but overall it’s great’. These responses are fairly minor, and I can work pretty quickly to adapt and grow. That is until last week.

The discussion I had then hit the core of what I strive to achieve with the team every single day. What I thought I was doing right, was being perceived in a completely different way – a way detrimental to the growth of this team.

I was stricken (in a leadership sort of way).

At first, I wanted to justify myself. I wanted to use all the excuses in the book to explain why this action was taken, how it benefits this person and the team. But then I put myself in their shoes and realised that they are different to me. They are perceiving the situation through their eyes. I realised I simply needed to listen.

After this person had finished, I didn’t retaliate. I didn’t try to justify myself. By then I had realised that in order to grow, one must receive and process all feedback. Because this feedback was core to my leadership style, I needed time to mull it over. I thanked them for being so honest with me. The whole situation made me realise one thing.

If you want honesty from someone, you need to build trust and respect first.

You won’t get honesty right off the bat. It doesn’t come overnight, nor is it easy. A strong relationship needs to be built first, then the true changes begin to happen. When we become comfortable with someone, we open ourselves to vulnerability. We open ourselves to honest criticism. We need to be open to this criticism.

Without being open, we cannot learn anything new. Without learning, there is no growth. Without growth, we can’t be better than yesterday.

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]

Continue the struggle, you’re doing well

Bills. Sickness. Stress. Day in, day out. Why do we carry on? What is the point of doing the same thing day after day after day. We have all felt this way at some point (and for those of you that haven’t – you will, don’t worry). Some days it is hard to carry on through the doldrums. Those times when you’ve tried your best, and life just hits you back down. Disasters strike, plumbing bursts, or even as simple as public transport prices go up.

We may get angry and frustrated, but there is a reason to carry on.

We work our asses off to make ends meet, stay healthy, maintain a house. All this effort and energy put in to no avail. We stay within the rules, we pay our dues, we ‘do the right thing’, and yet it is so frustrating to see other people around us take shortcuts, get away with it, and trot along to their wonderland with not a care in the world.

I think this way sometimes – probably too much. It makes me frustrated when people cheat and still win. It pisses me off when they steal and profit off of it. But after a while I become content. And here is why.

When I lay in bed at night and review my day, I know I have done good. I’ve gone about my day and my life as best I can. I’ve helped other people, my wife, my children. I’ve deepened relationships. I’ve shown respect. I’ve shown leadership. I’ve made a positive difference in someone’s day. I’ve stayed true to my values and morals.

My life has gotten richer, deeper, and more meaningful without the need to steal, cheat, or lie.

I may not have gained a load of money, got a major discount on a product, or even have the kids stop fighting for a day. But I got an overload of experience. I got to experience time with my boys. Time to teach them right from wrong. I was healthy enough to walk outside and breathe in the fresh air after the rain. I made a difference.

And there is still tomorrow.

Tomorrow brings further opportunities. More time to spend with the people we love. More discoveries. More everything.

Tomorrow will allow us to improve, to be better, to gain more meaning in life than the shortcut taker, the cheater, and the thief. They will need to deal with their own conscience when their time comes.

[Featured image: RayBay]

The Power Of Human Interaction

While on the train commute home the other day, I chatted the entire ride with someone I worked with a few years ago. We are more acquaintances than friends. Even when we worked together we never socialised about anything outside of work. This train ride was more personal, and it felt good. It felt real. I discovered a bit more about him, his family, and his goals. He, in turn, discovered the same with me.

I felt a sense of accomplishment when getting off the train. A sense that something good had happened. I realised this is how I felt after every good conversation, how we all feel after a good conversation with someone.

The proliferation of digital communication has caused our world to be riddled with inconsistent conversation, meaningless memes, and other crap that doesn’t add value to our lives. Whether that communication is email, social media, or text message, society has become used to hiding behind these communication channels putting on a pseudo-image of themselves, rather than the real thing.

I know I have drifted every now and then over to the dark side of pseudoism, whereby I would rather hide behind a digital screen or a certain perception I gave on Facebook. I would rather send an email to a person who works on the same floor as me, or text a 3-page essay on my phone. It somehow felt safer to use digital communication.

I am a big fan of social media. It certainly adds another perspective to a relationship. But the digital aspect should only be an addition to the real-world relationship. It should not be the only means of communication – especially if the person is in the same office or house as you. Hell, digital communication should not be the sole medium if you are in the same city.

Invite said person for a coffee and talk. Talk about anything. You could even use the updates you’ve seen on Facebook as a conversation starter.

That conversation on the train ride home I mentioned earlier really helped me understand that the people here, right now, are the ones that matter. The people you can see, touch, hear, and interact with are the ones to put your energy into. They are the ones that will bring you through the tough times. They are the ones that you can experience life with.

Coffee, dinner, movies, concerts, good old barbeques in the backyard. Life experiences with people in the real world is where the action happens. And that is exactly where you need to be. To laugh, cry, argue, high-five, pinkie swear – whatever it is that will help you build the relationships around you.

Next time you are out with a friend, or friends, don’t worry about your phone. Ignore the Facebook notifications, or the Twitter alerts coming through. You have someone sitting right in front of you who can give you the interaction you want. The human interaction you need.

There is so much more benefit when having a real conversation with people. Body language, nuances in a joke, touch, even the surroundings add to the situation. Typing on the keyboard simply does not match up. And there is no way that it ever will.

The exception to this is ‘what about people on the other side of the world’. Well, that is also completely feasible, but it’s a completely different type of relationship. All you are communicating with is a bunch of sporadic social media updates (and maybe a few emails too).

No real conversation. No undertones. No experiences.

I’m not saying a digital relationship is a bad relationship. My family and lifelong friends are on the other side of the planet (literally). I am building new relationships through Facebook and Twitter that I hope will develop into longer term ones.

But at the end of the day, no relationship is complete until physical presence is obtained. No existing relationships will keep their meaning unless physical presence is maintained. It is sad. But that is human nature.

We are beings yearning for physical interaction.

Who is that someone that you have been meaning to contact for a while now? Pick up the phone, send a text, or send a Facebook message, and invite them out for a coffee and a chat.

[image: Flickr user Guian Bolisay]

All articles