Helping Others

Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The dynamics of helping people, and in turn allowing ourselves to be helped are intricate and complex. It is not just about giving someone money so they go away.

To truly help someone, one needs to have some kind of understanding of who the other person is, what their needs are, and to also understand their world view.

Helping others involves a considerable amount of courage confidence and compassion. We need to be willing to look outside ourselves, to observe others, to see where we can help, then decide to step up and do that we think needs to be done in a way that empowers those who we are helping. A basic understanding of these deeper aspects of another person are the things that allow us to compare ourselves to others and make critical decisions or observations about ourselves!
By helping others we automatically presume that we are able to help, that we have the necessary skills and expertise to enable us to do what ever it is that we have decided to do to help that person.

In essence, helping others is not just about giving to some one in need. Helping others is a wonderful social way of assessing our selves, our skills, our confidence and self worth. That good feeling that you have as a result of helping others is not necessarily some mysterious spiritual epiphany, but rather a realization of how good we really are.

In helping others you are helping yourself!

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Formulating a Plan

We all want to be successful, get ahead, reach the top of our profession. We all want to thrive in areas that bring us happiness, joy and fulfillment.

It is possible for each and every on of us to attain these lofty heights and not only attain them, but also maintain them.

Success is an ever fluctuating and adapting experience of excellence, like a surfer riding an endless wave, constantly making fine adjustments to stance, weight transfer and balance to maintain forward momentum. Success is not a single thing. There can be many things, both spiritual and physical, and there can be many interconnected layers to your success.

To achieve success, we need to clearly define what it is, and then to have specifically defined points on which to focus so that we don’t get lost along the way.

Consider what success means for you right now. Define what success would be if you were to be living it now.

What details of success hold your attention and why are those details important?

Be greedy for a moment and say I WANT……

Now that you know what it is that you want, you can at least eliminate the behaviours that will hinder your progress towards achieving what you want.

Look at what you need to do with the resources that you have at your disposal to get you to that success. Assess how many small achievements need to be made to get you to where you want to be. This is like reading a road map and listing all the towns that you need to pass through to get to your vacation destination. You will instinctively know where you need to stop and consolidate your gains, and where you need to push through difficulty to get to the next point on your journey.

Trouble shoot your plan, look for weak points and have possible alternatives ready to help you through should things become difficult.

This is your plan!

Draw it our as a flow diagram or a mind map and pin it up somewhere convenient so you can assess you progress and maintain your motivation and determination daily.

Once you have a plan, anything is possible!

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Turning “Hype” to Advantage

Through history masses of people have been lead, slave like, by charismatic and or eloquent people to do or change things that the charismatic or eloquent people want changed. In most cases this action goes contrary to what is both logical and in the interests of the people being lead or prompted to action.

The three areas of our social engagement that top the list of this type of behaviour are sport, politics and belief systems.

Why are these three social structures so powerful when it comes to moulding and leading masses of people?

As human beings, we like to associate with or perpetuate what we know and are comfortable with. Because of this we will naturally gravitate towards supporting our local team, then our country team. If we have had a profoundly good religious experience, we will go back to that place where we had that experience. We attend a political rally and our frustrations are addressed by believable rhetoric that makes us feel empowered in that moment.

This type of action creates a comfort zone of familiarity for us where we no longer need to engage our defense mechanisms, we feel good in a group that is familiar, and we feel safe. We there for tend to suspend the degree of critical thinking that would cause us to question our experiences. Taken to an extreme, the collective that we are now part of sees any critical thinking as a threat, and we ostracise the individuals who are questioning. We label them unpatriotic, sell-outs, heretics or similar.

To deepen an understanding of yourselves and you experience of life, I urge you to question your comfort zones – don’t destroy them, but rather identify them and understand the value that they are adding to your life. This will allow you to gracefully mould and adapt them, instead of the comfort zones moulding and adapting you!

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Finding Meaning in your Work

It happens to all of us at some point in our lives, sometimes even on a regular basis…

We look around at ourselves, our job and how we are spending our time, and we ask ourselves;

What am I doing here, what’s the point?

We would all rather be relaxing on a tropical beach or adventuring up a remote mountain, but we all have responsibilities to meet and are doing the right thing, working hard, getting paid and moving forward with our lives as best we can. However, doing the best we can in the every day grind does not always satisfy us and give us meaning. Meaning comes from a personal feeling of achievement where we can reference ourselves to others or a situation from a position of personal success.

There are three simple things that we can do to allow ourselves to feel that success or meaning every day.

  1. Quantify your achievements daily. Find a task or set of tasks to complete, or goal to achieve every day. Make a point of writing it down in your diary and giving yourself a score out of 5 as to how satisfied you are with your achievement. The will-full completion of simple tasks consciously is a powerful way to program your subconscious for success and helps to create a positive spiral of self worth, achievement and meaning.
  2. Set a fun goal to achieve. You are working hard for your money, so set a simple goal to reward yourself for all that hard work. Start saving some of your hard earned cash for a weekend away with your friends or loved one, save for a new car stereo or BBQ, or new gym trainers. Something that can be achieved with in four to six months. Working towards and attaining that goal serves to deepen or spiral of achievement and meaning that yo started in point one.
  3. Set a realistic goal to become financially free. If necessary sit down with a financial planner and work out a schedule and course of action to follow to attain your financial freedom. Once you are debt free, life takes on new meaning and new purpose. Be prepared to shift your goals and expectations to the financially free option and you will be surprised at how much more motivation and meaning you have in your every day life!

Start today and prove to yourself how good you are!

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Changing Limitation to Success

Walking past a sports apparel store the other day, I read a quotation under a sports celebrity’s photograph. It read; “I trained for 19 years to become an overnight success”

That made me stop and laugh. I had one of those gestalt moments where I saw myself in perspective with all my strengths and faults, striding through life as best as I can, and that it was all just fine and orderly.
I tend to forget that I am not alone in the world with my insecurities and fears. I forget that we are all human and that we all have our skeletons in our closets and that the point of life is to understand and transmute these limitations as best we can. The funny thing that I have noticed with life is that our fears or limitations are much more prevalent in our lives than we would like. It must be part of the whole matter follows thought system – we consciously or subconsciously focus on our fears or limitations more, so we manifest them and experience them in our reality more.

Changing limitation into success is a three step or three meditation process, and as always with my suggestions, it is simple!
1. Be honest with yourself the next time you meditate. Take a long hard look at your limitations or fears. Identify them and just observe them. Take note of your observations and feelings id your meditation diary.
2. Start be meditation on or contemplating your feelings as discovered above. What do they mean to you and what is your payback – why are they important to you, or what need within you do they fill?
3. In your next meditation, decide if that need or payback is still relevant in your life. Can you enhance and perpetuate it or do you want to drop it now that you understand it?
What action do you need to take to move from this position to the success that you want to achieve – take the first step!

Enjoy being alive on earth, rise to your challenges courageously and have fun!

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Managing Conflict

There are many conflicts that we partake in or endure every day. Conflict can even be seen as a way in which we grow, learn and calibrate ourselves in our world. The inevitable result of conflict is a personal understanding in some form or another. This learning experience may not always be fun or graceful, but we learn something none the less.

I have observed two main sources of conflict in my life.

The first is a conflict between base animal instinct and expected civilized behaviour. We are programmed as animals with animal instincts yet in most cases we need to deny these instincts for the greater good of a society. This is perfectly acceptable in most instances, and our training and education in our formative years is designed to help us understand our animal instinct and why we need to replace it with a more social mode of behaviour. We teach our children to share with others and to not be wasteful of resources because in the long run, the learned collective behaviour will ensure our survival as a species. The collective takes precedent over the individual for continued survival. If we encounter a person with a different world view who is behaving in a way that we find unacceptable, we experience a conflict which we then act upon to try to either understand or bring our world back into balance form our world view.

The second type of conflict occurs when we either stand to gain or lose something that we like or want. We defend a behaviour or idea that we feel is important, and we willingly go into conflict to defend our position if and when it is challenged.

An easy way around conflict is to understand that in most instances, we as humans have more in common with each other that we have not in-common. As best you can, listen and observe where practical to what is creating the conflict and see what you can learn from it. Then decide on a course of action that will resolve the conflict and allow you to move forward with wisdom. Absorb the impact of conflict, understand it as best you can and then respond in an appropriate way.

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Reward Yourself

Imagine for a moment that you are a primitive hominid foraging in the wild, collecting edible fruits, berries, leaves. Always on the look out for danger, but right now the warm sun on your back is comforting, the wind in the trees is gently working with that warm sun to cause you to relax, to drop your guard. Everything in that moment is perfect, abundance of food, good weather, total freedom… Then… A huge predator, a sabre toothed cad bursts out of the bushes a few meters from you!

You run, committing every single resource and skill that you have to survive, zigzagging, jumping over boulders, ducking under branches totally unaware of various thorns and injuries you are incurring in your mad survival flight.

You find a tall tree and in a flash you are up in the lower branches, barely touching the branches as you scramble higher and higher. You get to a sturdy branch right at the top of this tall tree and stop. You feel the same warm sun shining on you, you are sore, scared, tired and elated.

You are alive, you feel alive, breath alive, think alive. In that moment you know that every single piece of knowledge and experience that you have gathered up until that moment has been applied and has allowed you to survive. Your continued existence re-enforces all that learning, experience and action.

Take a moment to look around you right now. Look at the co workers, the stuff on your desk, the phone in your hand, what ever it is. Realise that, just like your primitive ancestor, right now in this moment, every single piece of information, experience, understanding and belief that you have now and have ever experienced has brought you right to this point, right now. You are alive, you have survived and that is wonderful. Take a deep breath, reward yourself for being you, congratulate yourself for having the courage to come so far. Sit with that for a moment, suspend all judgement for a moment and just be you, alive on the planet – Well Done!

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Dont get Lost

I love to see politicians squirm when having to answer difficult questions, to see robust debate and even physical confrontation in parliaments or political assemblies. I love to read the heated comments on news forums, watch the inner warrior come to the fore and propose or defend a particular point of view or opinion, I love to watch and see how opinion is swayed against logic by skilfully crafted emotional argument.

Am I mad you may ask – possibly!

These forums and parliaments are supposed to work like that!

We are supposed to engage each other to explore, explain, express and air our frustrations and grievances in ways that are not physically harmful to ourselves or others.

The problem with this is when we lose ourselves in the debate, when we suspend reason and logic and engage in maliciousness and hate.

Every single one of us is unique and as such we are always perfect all the time. Don’t lose yourself in the cacophony of external opinion, engage that opinion yes, but maintain your humanness, your personal values and identity.

If you have never thought about this why not write down what is important to you. The usual suspects will appear, family friends and work, but I urge you to delve a bit deeper. Look at your inner core and see what is important to who you think you are and how you define yourself. These observations will change over time, but for now understand the core of who you are and what you stand for and why.

Then revisit those forums or parliamentary debate channels and see how your interaction has matured.

Don’t lose yourself in the drama, rise above it with wisdom and enjoy it!

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I was recently asked to give an impromptu seminar on loneliness. I flippantly agreed in the moment and for the hour before the presentation, I was overcome with a heavy sense of fear. All that suppressed “stuff” was coming back!
The fear, the anger, the insecurity, the self worth issues, the supposed shame of my adolescent suicide attempt…

With trepidation I walked into the seminar room and warmly greeted the people waiting for me. Then, as I started to speak, ask questions and engage with people, everything started to come together, the seminar had a life of its own and we all held on and enjoyed the ride!
We found that there was a difference between aloneness and loneliness. Aloneness was agreed as being a time when you are contented with being yourself in the moment. At this point, loneliness was agreed to be a feeling of loss or lack when one is alone.

The discussion deepened and we explored why there was a difference between the two. We concluded that the problem arose in us when we compared ourselves to other people or circumstances. How we feel about ourselves when we are with another person dictated the amount of loneliness that we felt. It had very little to to with us at all! This explained why we feel alone in the company of others!

The simple solution to this would be to change the way we see and feel about ourselves. This will automatically change how we feel about ourselves in relation to other people. Try doing a simple meditation every day. Sit quietly some where for ten to fifteen minutes and be alone with your mind and your thoughts. Suspend all judgement and expectation for those few minutes, be humble and gentle with yourself, just allow yourself to be who you are right there in the moment. As you repeat this meditation, you will notice that your loneliness slowly changes to aloneness and that life becomes more satisfying.

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Calibrating Our Goals

We are back!!!

The holiday and craziness of the “silly season” seem like a distant memory, the work load is piling up, taking projects home at night to finish up and sneaking an email or two over the weekend – work, work ,work!
That is how I always feel in February, there is this driving force pushing me to work harder and achieve more.
I sat back yesterday and had a look at my life, what I had achieved so far this year and what tasks were demanding my time in the present moment. I found that I was sacrificing my long term strategic goals for short term quick achievement goals that were not even closely related to the long term strategy goals that I had set for myself in early January. I was so eager to feel a sense of accomplishment that I was running around doing stuff and not going anywhere fast.
I stopped everything in that moment, made a cup of tea and decided to take my power back. I wrote down every single project that I was busy with from my long term Ph.D. studies to my need to cook supper. I them separated these tasks into mundane every day things like domestic chores – things that need to be done but are related to survival rather than goal achievement, and things that were goal or business orientated. I then went through the list and found the most important thing that I needed to do on each list and numbered it number one.
Within half an hour I had two columns of tasks to complete listed in order of importance, and I had a few things that I dropped completely. Miraculously, in half an hour I had become the “goal alchemist”, I had brought order out of the chaos and was once again on track to achieving my goals quickly, easily and efficiently.
Running around, pleasing others, helping others and finding satisfaction in completion of things are natural human attributes, but sometimes we need to take a step out of the craziness, take stock, assess ourselves, re-calibrate ourselves and then get back into the mix!

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