helpgrowchange

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.

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.

What happens when doodles and a dad meet

I am endlessly testing new ideas in an attempt to see what works and what doesn’t in many areas of my life. I’ve tried different methods for earning extra income. I’ve tried to better understand people through studying social psychology and neuro-linguistic programming. I’ve learnt to love better by reading marriage books.

Today, this article is about a new avenue I’m discovering. It involves doodling, being a dad, and sharing a message with more people. I would like to invite you to take a peek.

If you’re not worried about the story, and just want to see the goods, click here!
(Don’t forget about the voucher code – THXFROMHGC – valid for the month of May)

As you might know, I’m a firm believer of creating something new and taking action. Late last year, I rediscovered another passion of mine – drawing. Since I’m no good at any sort of fine art most people expect to see, I’ve been practising by simply doodling. Some of these are not half bad, and it was suggested I should sell them.

Crazy! Who would want to buy my doodles?

But I did some research anyway, and found the quality of some pieces of work being sold out on the web are questionable. So, I took the plunge, braced myself for criticism, and created a store on Etsy.

Through DoodlingDad, I want my pieces to be simple, meaningful, and a little fun. My hope is for people to enjoy them when they look at them.

It would be awesome and fantastic if you can have a look, and let me know what you think. And if you really enjoy them, why not buy one for yourself?

Click here to go see the doodles!

For the month of May, use the following voucher code to get 50% off: THXFROMHGC

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?

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.

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