helpgrowchange

See the constant in everything

There is no discrimination when it comes to the cycles of nature. The Sun still rises every day, Winter still arrives in an icy chill, and the tide still wades in and out to its perfect timetable.

Ever notice how events seem to come in waves? There are periods of time where very little is happening, then it feels like everything is happening at the same time.

"Why is that?"

It is the constant in everything.

Everything, and I mean everything, is in a cycle of some sort. The planet is orbiting the Sun, water is constantly making its way to the ocean only to be evaporated and taken back to the mountains, we are waking up in the morning – every morning – starting a new day. We breathe in, we breathe out. Life itself is but a cycle. From the day we are born we are already on our way back to where we came from.

Within these cycles are more cycles. Constant cycles within cycles. It's all around us, constantly working.

"So life is happening. What's the big deal?"

Once we realise this and learn to accept that we're in a cycle and everything around is in constant motion, we can grasp a very important concept. No matter what we are doing or where we are, it is only temporary, and things will never stay the same.

If we're happy, sadness will come. If we're sad, happiness will find a way back. If you're sick, you will get well (unless of course your cycle of life is returning to the beginning). After your shower, you will get dirty. The fully-charged battery on your phone will run flat.

No matter what we do, we cannot stop this continuous motion, these constant cycles in our lives. We can influence and delay them, but the completion of the cycle is inevitable. It is the Way of things.

"How does this help me?"

Learn to accept that the situation you're in is only temporary. You can't control what will happen. Yes, you can adapt to certain conditions and control your own emotions and thoughts to the situation. But you cannot control the outcome – it is inevitable.

Remind yourself constantly that your situation will pass (both good and bad). Rather than try control the situation, why not live it? Be in the moment and take comfort that change is around the corner.

The effect we have

As I walked through some secondhand cigarette smoke on the way to a train station this morning, the cold air kept the smoke visible for ages after this person had exhaled. I watched as it drifted and floated. How it rolled and swerved as I moved through it.

Normally, cigarette smoke dissipates pretty quickly. This was the first time I could physically see the smoke for any decent length of time. Other than how I feel about secondhand smoke, this got me thinking about how we, as individuals, impact our environment.

We go through our lives not realising the physical effect we impress on this world because we don’t see what happens. We are so self-centered, focused on ourselves and our future that we don’t think there is a problem.

Our trash gets picked up every week, we flush our toilets, we drive our cars, we exhale cigarette smoke. All of these are examples of how we use things, then once we’re done with them, they disappear ‘somewhere’. We don’t see it anymore so it’s not our problem.

I’m guilty of this. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. It’s (mostly) not our fault as we’ve only been doing what we’ve been taught.

Maybe it’s time we started to see and understand the bigger picture. Where does your rubbish end up? What’s happens to all that shit you’re flushing away (pun intended)? What effect is your secondhand smoke having on the people around you, bearing in mind you are one of hundreds of millions of other smokers exhaling their smoke into the air?

Climate Change is a massive problem and humanity has to face it otherwise we’re in big trouble. The issue is too vast to overcome with expansive agreements and contracts. Governments have been trying that for decades – with no success. This isn’t ‘somebody else’s’ problem. It’s your problem and it’s my problem.

Change begins with the smallest step, and that means each of us individually. If you make a change now and influence at least one other person, that is magnificent. Imagine if they influence one other person, and that person influences the next, and so on. Eventually, we will find ourselves in the majority, all helping each other save our planet.

What can we do about this? Well, you can start off by separating your recyclable trash, really think about your power and water usage at home – I mean really think about it. Do you need to leave the T.V. on while you’re on the other side of the house for 2 hours? Do you need to run a hot bath every night? Maybe switch to short showers on alternate days. Switch lights off if you’re not in the room. It makes a difference. Seriously.

If you’re already doing that, then try moving to compost bins for your food waste. Or look into more eco-friendly products (cleaning, hygiene, you name it, it’s out there). Think about packaging. How much of it is recyclable or reusable. It can take a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it. The more people are living environmentally friendly, the more mainstream it will become.

Remember this is our only home, and if we run it into ruin, we are fucked. What are you doing today to help humankind survive?

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.

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]

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]

3 Ways to initiate change

I’ve written a number of articles trying to pass on the message that you can change your world. You can make your own changes in your life to better your job, your family, or simply… you.

You’ve been thinking about making a change. But you don’t know where to start. Do I start a new hobby? Should I try change my team structure? What will happen if I say no when asked to do something?

After re-reading some of the articles and some thoughtful feedback from my wingman (ie my wife), it has become evident that I often don’t mention how. Let me remedy that right now.

When you want to initiate change, there are 3 is simple rules to remember:

  1. DECIDE
  2. TRY
  3. LEARN

Decide

The first thing that needs to happen before any action happens is to make a decision to do it. We have to be willing to take that first step. We have to be willing to take a risk. We have to be open to the possibility that this might just fail. We might fall far short of what we dreamed and planned. In the same breath, we might surprise ourselves. We might far exceed our expectations. We might just make it happen.

Decide on a new hobby. Decide on a possible new team structure. Decide on whether you are going to say ‘no’.

We choose change by making decisions. The magic begins with the decision to at least give it a go. We have to try.

Try

Action must be taken on the decisions we make. We simply just don’t know what will happen when we try. Good or bad, the truth of the matter will only appear once we attempt to make the changes necessary. The attempts don’t have to be big either. I’m suggesting that you make small ones.

Like starting one little bit of your new hobby, or reviewing the team structure with peers or the team, or saying ‘no’ when you can’t take on a new task.

What happens next is just as important. Whatever the outcome of our actions from decisions, we must learn from them.

Learn

There is no point in trying out our decisions if we are not willing to learn from the outcomes. That is like hitting your head against the wall and hoping the next time won’t hurt.

Enjoyed the introduction to your hobby? Make the decision to explore some more. Didn’t enjoy it? Ditch it and make the decision to try something else.

The review of the team structure didn’t go so well? No problem, now you know what the team really wants.

What happened when you said ‘no’? The person maybe said ‘ok’, and carried on their path. Or they asked ‘why’, and a more fruitful conversation evolved about your workload.

I seem to have oversimplified how you can initiate change, but I fully believe it is as simple as this. Make the decision, try the decision, learn from the experience.

[Featured image: Sylwia Bartyzel]

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