Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Living in the real world

December 1, 2015
    We need to stretch to reach our goals ...We need to stretch to reach our goals …

Do you find that life can get in the way of living?

I have recently. Looking back, I find I haven’t posted in nearly three months. I had set myself a weekly target.

Writing is one of my key priorities. But how can it be when I haven’t written a word in months? In this case, there’s an important distinction to be made: between the priorities I set for myself and the priorities others set for me.

We all have things we need to do. Work, family and social engagements can drive our actions, and it’s important to meet our obligations.

This is how many people live their lives and are happy doing it. But to make a difference we need to do more. The key to success is finding some physical and mental space to follow our dreams.

Unfortunately these can be like dessert; we get to it when the rest of the meal is finished. And sometimes we just don’t feel like it. I find it difficult to be creative when work pressure goes into the red. This malaise comes in two parts; the physical space of time and being too tired, and the mental space of lacking a clear mind and creative outlook.

For the last few months I’ve had plenty of both. I’ve travelled the country, attended a conference in California, visited a trade show in Germany and had meetings in France, Belgium, Fiji and New Zealand. I’ve run a week-long conference for customers and welcomed my second grandson into the world.

It’s been a busy time, but I could have found 20 minutes a day to write … on a plane, in a hotel, when I arrived at work early, or even late at night back at home. But it didn’t happen.

It’s about priorities and I’ve had mine around the wrong way. So now I’ll get refocused and back to it. I’ll enjoy the satisfaction of working towards my goals, and my actions will ultimately make me better at everything else I do.

How about you? Have your dreams slipped?



What is the meaning of life?

August 28, 2014
Finding the meaning of life

Finding the meaning of life

This is a question, perhaps as a consequence of turning 50, I’ve given some thought to recently. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted: immerse yourself in the mental gymnastics required to grasp this question, if indeed it is one, and you may find yourself with more questions than answers.

This is exactly what I did flying from the East Coast of the United States back to Australia; three flights and north of 30 hours to keep my mind occupied, save watching all three ‘Indispensables’ movies, which clearly proves nothing is forever, especially action heroes.

So where does that leave us with the question?

Perhaps it’s not a question at all, but a rhetorical statement. It may also be possible that there is an answer but we’ll never know what it is. Perhaps that’s the point. Conversely, it may be hiding in plain sight, so obvious that we dismiss it out of hand, preferring to find a deep spiritual revelation that will set off a cosmic buzzer when we stumble across true meaning.

What if the true meaning of life is meaningless? And what if this is too terrible a concept for us to cope with, requiring consoling illusions of our own creation so we can ‘stay calm and carry on’?

Our concept of life may be nothing more than a necessary fiction. Without a huge admix of fantasy, reality might grind to a halt.

Would it be so bad if there was no purpose, and no next … and how would that change our lives? Do we need to create meaning where none exists? Do we look outwards to our God or inwards to our soul? Or is this the same thing?

See, I told you about that whole more questions thing! In future posts we’ll unroll the cosmic carpet and see what the pattern tells us.

Someday I’ll have money …

November 26, 2013
 live the dream!

live the dream!

Someday I’ll have money
Money isn’t easy to come by
By the time it’s come by I’ll be gone …

Someday I’ll have money, success, happiness or many other options for a prosperous life – and, as the song says, they aren’t easy to come by.

Finding success and happiness is not always the easiest path to follow. People start off with lots of dreams, then make lots of compromises, get distracted, find themselves in situations they didn’t intend, and then just go along with what’s happening at the time.

Perhaps it’s not giving up, but rather getting lost in the day-to-day busyness of meeting our immediate obligations.

There can be many hurdles, and overcoming disappointment and setbacks can be difficult. If you’re clear on your goal and have an action plan, then sometimes the best advice is to just keep going. You can’t know the implications of what you’re doing now until later anyway. Accept the uncertainly and give it your best.

Sometimes it won’t work but many times it does. There are so many examples of people achieving their dreams that you can be confident that it’s possible. For you, as much has them.

You may end up somewhere other than you initially planned; making mid-course corrections is smart, and the experience may take you somewhere better. Whatever decisions you make, make them at one hundred percent, and don’t live life in half measures.

Success and happiness come together in balance. Get serious but be considerate, pursue your goals but help others, achieve success but have people to share it with. Then you’ll enjoy being who you are while doing what you’re doing, and ‘someday’ will be today.

Capitalism for the people

November 6, 2013
Is greed good?

Is greed good?

‘Western’ style capitalism has been criticised for its lack of soul. Critics have pointed to the excessive focus on greed, with little regard for the well-being of employees, customers or the environment.

It’s true that capitalism creates a dichotomy.

On one side there’s people first, a higher purpose, care for the customer. On the other it’s profit and the rigid adherence to the ‘bottom line’ and whatever it takes to get there.

Yet some companies have shown that doing the first can lead to the second; particularly in a world of savvy consumers with choice and a voice.

The late Steve Jobs used to tell his people that by showing up at their best they’d have the opportunity to ‘make a dent in the universe’. What a great idea. To stand for something bigger than ourselves.

It’s important to make a profit in business. It’s important to make the business excellent, provide high quality products and services, to be innovative and grow.

It’s important to provide people with the opportunity to be their best, to be inspired, engaged, rewarded and motivated. And thus will they create a future for themselves, support their families and, ideally, have some fun along the way.

When we give more than we take, create positive value and provide opportunities for a better life, customers notice that and our business is successful. That’s profit with purpose.

No turning back

September 10, 2013
No turning back from here ...

No turning back from here …

We’ve talked before about the power of focus and cultivating the ability to remain true to ourselves, our goals and our progress in life despite other’s attempts to discourage or hold us back. This can be conveniently masked by other people’s assertions that they’re helping us, even when it’s for their own selfish reasons.

However, we don’t operate independently in the world and must, in most cases, interact and rely on others to assist us on our journey. In one way or another we’re all being tested every day of our lives. How we handle it impacts the results we achieve.

Sometimes the test is simple and non-threatening; a traffic jam on the way to an important meeting, someone being rude to us in a store. How do we handle that moment? Do we become angry and impatient? That is the test.

How we handle small problems can determine our reaction to and the outcomes of more serious ones. Learning to cope with small things can preserve our well-being and contribute to our perseverance with goals.

Life’s a risk. So is operating outside of the box, where danger abounds. It takes courage to pursue our goals and to expect and accept that we will be tested.

Which brings us back to process and progress. We’re told to enjoy the journey; to live in the moment and not to defer happiness until we achieve success. Success is in the now. But the now is part of the journey, not an excuse to idle at the starting line. You can live in the moment with a plan for the future, as always it’s a game of balance.

We worship the outcome of things and, by doing so, miss the virtue of the process itself. There’s no guarantee that the future will arrive so all we have is what we’re doing right now. So we need to do it well.

There is nothing to turn back to. Make the most of today.

A purposeful life

November 14, 2010

Anything's possible when you jump into life

A purposeful life. That’s a promising topic for a blog post on success.

The source of this statement makes for an interesting story. Last night my wife and I attended a presentation from the teaching staff at our son’s new secondary school. He’s making the transition from primary (junior) school for the next stage of his schooling life.

When we arrived, the statement ‘A purposeful life’ was up on the board, the first slide of what turned out to be a far more interesting evening than I was expecting. It struck me what a fantastic objective this statement is. And one equally relevant to us older folk who have left school far behind but still yearn for purpose in our lives.

Most 12-year-olds have such a wonderful optimism about life. Anything’s possible. They can be an inventor, race car driver, astronaut or paleontologist. Why? Because no one has told them they can’t.

Children are engaged by life. There’s so much to discover and be excited about. It’s easy for us adults to forget that life can be a discovery, with mortgages, school fees and high pressure jobs weighing on our minds. Perhaps it’s time to take a lesson from the kids.

The principal talked to us about the philosophy of the college:

Their purpose: ‘To enrich the cultural, intellectual and spiritual capabilities of young people to live purposefully in the community’.

She went on to explain the college’s approach for preparing children for the world:

– Every child matters every day

– Know yourself; be yourself

– Build learning through a breadth of experience

– Focus on innovation and creativity

– A strong sense of community

– Have fun

– An exciting journey filled with exploration and opportunities.

I was inspired. This alone is the basis of many self-help books. Perhaps many of us know it, but it also becomes buried in the noise of daily life. I would love again to see the world through the wonder of a child’s eyes. And this also makes me sad for those children whose circumstances don’t allow these opportunities.

Then we heard from the year level coordinator:

Everyone has a place and role irrespective of their differences. There must be a balance across academic results, sport, music and special interests.

Again, these are objectives which in adulthood we constantly strive to achieve – work, life balance.

The college seeks to create partnerships based on expectations, communication, trust, achievement and support networks. To provide clear instructions on what to do and what is expected.

They start the first day of the new school year with a three-day camp. This allows the teachers to get to know the kids and work out who are best suited to work together. From this camp, the classes are formed. The camp teaches team and relationship building, problem-solving strategies, building on strengths and sharing ideas.

The kids are taught to respect everyone and value the differences that exist between them. What a wonderful lesson for us all.

Perhaps we need to dispense with our high priced corporate strategy consultants and ask a year 7 teacher to spend a couple of days in our businesses and talk to us about life? They would make it fun too.

Playing to your strengths

October 22, 2010

Where are your hidden strengths?

As I read and discuss the topic of personal development and success I come across a recurring theme for those seeking success and fulfilment. Simplistically, it’s to identify your strengths and focus on those traits, while excluding actions that you don’t do well. Pass these tasks onto someone else so your focus is on the most productive and powerful aspects of your life.

Sounds logical: focus on what you’re good at and avoid what you’re not. But what happens when life doesn’t turn out as you planned? What then?

The idea is that when we identify and apply our personal strengths the results will lead to happiness and a greater possibility of success. This leads us to believe our strengths are equally applicable to every circumstance.

We know that circumstances often test us and our ability to adapt. If we maintain a ‘what I do well’ (strengths) strategy what happens if we fail? Do we then assume our identified strengths are not very good after all? Does this then reflect on us as an individual?

Perhaps a better strategy is to view our strengths more like growth opportunities that can be improved through effort. This allows for the satisfaction that comes from achieving personal growth and the ability to change our approach to suit the situation.

When things don’t work out as planned we feel the disappointment of failure far more when working in areas of ‘strength’ than when working on areas of development. The first leads to a sharp feeling of failure that reflects on us as a person (I’m a failure and I’m giving up) rather than the situation (It didn’t work out this time but I’m getting better with each attempt).

If we view our strengths as key areas for growth, then occasionally falling short will feel less like personal failure than if we’ve internalised these strengths as our basic personality traits.

If we only ever played to our strengths and succeeded, we would achieve the same results every time. Now, this might be great … consistent success … or it might be boring, because you wouldn’t be growing, you wouldn’t be challenged.

Whether in sport, the arts, business or life, the best performers are constantly looking for the edge, that additional level of performance that allows them to grow and do better. To beat their time, produce an even more beautiful work, to grow and feel the satisfaction of achievement.

It’s important to adopt a flexible approach to our strengths; no matter how naturally they come to us or how good we are, there’s still room for improvement.

Living with an attitude of ‘I must grow to succeed’ will bring far more satisfaction and a willingness to try new things than an ‘I must not fail’ mentality. After all, how much can we truly achieve in life if we’re not prepared to accept some level of failure as a key ingredient to personal growth and an interesting life?

Showing up for your life

September 10, 2010


Showing up for life

The way we walk into a meeting says a lot about the way we live our lives. When we walk in on time and prepared, interested about what’s happening, willing to engage and be engaged then we are respecting others. If we’re willing to be an active participant with something to offer, this shows that we respect ourselves.

When we walk in with our eyes down, nervous and holding ourselves back we show to those present that we lack the skills and confidence required to be in the room. If we’re not really showing up for our own lives how can we ever hope to add value or move towards a state of personal fulfilment?

The one thing we can’t buy is time. Days, weeks, months and years escape our grasp at an ever quickening pace. Time allures us with the promise of a future with space to get things done so we don’t do them now. We get RSI – Repetitive Selective Indifference doing the same things day in and day out.  Don’t live life tramping down the same rat runs while your potential grows over with weeds.

When we show up for our life, we’re actively participating in being happy; achieving our goals, and living the life we really want. Anything less is a waste.  A waste of time, space and energy for everyone involved. There’s nothing to be gained from going through the motions. Sitting back and waiting for everything to come to you will only result in disappointment.

Life offers so much more. Ten years from now, what would you give to be back here today? To buy back time, to have another decade? We’ve learned to make a living but not a life, to buy more but enjoy it less. While time rushes on.

There is a way to show up for life: Make every day count and enjoy the journey.

If you need help, begin the process of seeking out those who can support you. If you need experience, find the opportunities that give you the experience you need to be successful. Whatever you need, look for it, and when you find it allow yourself to have it. Live life consciously and account for every day. Success will sneak up on you.