How to , make people , and start again

How to reduce apathy, make people notice you, and start enjoying life again
By Ross Gelding of Will It Change You?
Introduction and prelude
Part 1 – Success, Happiness, and Where To Start
The tragedy of amazing success
Am I happy with life?
Be grateful
Surprised by a dying patient's final words
The fragility of life: a wake up call
Personal Growth: where to start
Are you ready for big changes in your life?
Finding the will to change your life
Stepping outside your comfort zone
Compassion vs personal growth
Life's not about 'what's better than'
Step up: you might surprise yourself
Why I've always hated goals
Improve productivity, fast!
Its not all about you: the bigger picture
Worry and 'what if?'
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Part 2 – Communication, People Skills and Relationships
How to be liked more
How to lose friends and influence no one!
7 great ways to keep a relationship alive
Great relationships don't happen by fluke
Fake compliments don't count!
How to be a positive influence on your kids
5 of the greatest parenting tips for teens
Look at me: I'm right in front of you!
Part 3 – Giving Out, Getting Back, Staying Motivated
Giving and receiving: a new approach
Control your emotions
What to do about loneliness
No one believes in me!
What next?
Get excited about life!
Life goes on: don't give up!
100 Reflecting on uniqueness
Recommended Reading & Acknowledgments
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Introducing the Writer
For those of you who don't know me, let me first take a moment to introduce myself!
My name's Ross Gelding, and my background to date has predominantly been in health care,
although I've also maintained a fairly obsessive interest in all things computers for as long as I can
remember! I love music, and am particularly fond of acoustic guitar, though I play a bit of keys as
well. I'm partner to an amazing wife, father to two beautiful girls, and currently live at the Sunshine
Coast in Queensland, Australia.
I have a university degree and graduate certificate qualifications in critical care, and have spent the
last ten years working full time with all kinds of broken, hurting and needy people.
I've also been fortunate enough to work closely with people who come from all kinds of
backgrounds: homeless people, broken families, aggressive and violent people, people with mental
illnesses, people with ego's, attitude, bravado. People who want something for nothing, and people
who are willing to give all of their time for free.
By working so closely with such a diverse range of people, I've had the opportunity to develop some
skills that have helped me get through some tough times, such as improving upon my coping
mechanisms, relationship skills, communication skills and ways to stay motivated. What I'm really
passionate about though is enjoying life and helping people.
And so my blog is a culmination of what I've learned, what I'd like to improve on, things I've changed
and things I plan on changing for the better. I guess you could say that my mission statement is to
believe, receive and discover. Let's get started!
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Prelude: Get me out of this boring life!
Do you ever get bored with life? I'm not really talking about a Saturday afternoon when you have
nothing to do, I'm referring to those times when you feel like life has lost it's meaning. Your job isn't
going anywhere, your daily activities are dripping with routine, and you feel like life has lost it's
If you do, you're not alone!
Why do we continue to plod on through life when it gets to this point? The answer is: it's difficult to
change. Really difficult! A simple “go try something new!” doesn't really cut it. For most of us, we
have to consider things like our job, our family, our kids, our friends and social lives, our home
situation, our money issues and time. The logistics behind uprooting a family and integrating a new
job, school, house, pets, friends, sports and social activities can be really challenging!
A year and a half ago I felt exactly like this in my life. I'm happy to report a successful transition to
where I am now, and I feel immensely more satisfied. Was it easy to change where I was at? Yes and
no. I'm not someone who easily gets down or depressed, but I was beginning to feel this way. On
reflection however, I really only have myself to blame for hitting that point without recognising the
warning signs, and the whole experience has been rather eye opening for me. Everything changed
for the better when I realised I wasn't happy and made the decision to change.
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You may be happy in your current job. You may like where your life is at and be happy with where
you are. Great! Just don't let yourself become stale! Once you slip into a mundane, routine existence
your levels of personal satisfaction can really drop. Even for people who aren't prone to depression,
this can really be a blow to your morale. It all starts by deciding to change. And today is the day!
Beginning the Journey of Change
Have you ever found yourself saying “I don't have enough time”, or “I'm just too busy”? The
reality is that needing time to do the things you want to do has little to do with making more time it's really all about how badly you want it, and what your priorities are. Don't be discouraged, you're
not alone – in fact, “not enough time” gets around 94 million hits on google!
And so I found time when I realised I needed to make changes. I found time to blog, time to read,
time to learn and listen, time to focus on my goals. I
plan things, evaluate, dream… and therein lies the
Lo ok After Yourself
What happens when you are struck by the realization that life is not all about working nine to five,
and you begin a quest for more? You learn about attitude. You change your mindset. You buy books
on self-help, motivation, inspiration! You learn about ways to enjoy your life more, why you should
spend more time with family, how to make more money.
Let me encourage you by saying you're on the right path! Be careful, however, of burning the candle
at both ends! The reality is that everyone has the same amount of time in a day – the challenge is to
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juggle priorities. Recognizing the need for change really is the first step, and the key to
implementing it successfully is to push yourself but recognise your boundaries. If you really want
something badly, you'll find time! Quests for knowledge and change can easily turn into frustration
and burnout.
Finding time for me
What are your priorities, and do you actually live them or fool yourself into thinking you do? Ask
yourself: how many times have you sat at the computer hour after hour and convinced yourself
you're being productive, when really you could have used that time to go for a jog or go out for
coffee? Have you been guilty of skipping meals or surviving on very little sleep just to fit more in to
the day?
As you begin to see what needs changing in your life, and start to make those changes for the better,
never forget to:
1. Find time for me. By this I mean regardless of priorities, regardless of other commitments,
every day make sure you take time out for me.
2. Relax. Life is a journey! It doesn't need to all happen today.
3. Enjoy life. This really begins with appreciating the things around you. Looking at birds, insects,
people. Smelling the air, tasting new tastes - enjoying life, it really is amazing.
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Part One:
Success, Happiness and Where To Start
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The tragedy of amazing success
A friend of mine died about a year ago, in fairly tragic circumstances. I use the term ‘friend' loosely,
because we didn't hang out in social situations, but worked closely together and appreciated the way
each other worked. I held him in very high regard: he was like an ‘attitude mentor' and I aspired to
develop in myself, some of the characteristics that stood out in him.
The thing that drew me to him most of all was his drive and enthusiasm for life. He was one of those
guys that can't sit still, always jumping on board the next venture. He had an entrepreneur mindset,
and was very successful in his field. He threw his soul into his work, working long hours (many times
24 hours straight). His success afforded him many luxuries, and as a multi-millionaire he was able to
change cars every 6 months or so. Some of the more memorable ones that I saw over just a couple
years were: a Maserati, BMW M3, Porsche 911 turbo, and an amazing Aston Martin!
“So this is living!” I thought.
In my line of work I've seen lots of tragedies. Fortunately I've managed to develop a healthy
separation of work and home life, and most of the time I don't spend too much time thinking back
about the bad stuff. Having said that, I have thought back about this man several times since he
died. The reason I think back about this man is that to me his life seemed so great. He had a great
family, a passionate drive for life, great work ethics and bucket loads of cash. Aren't these the
measures of success?
Somewhere along the line however, he got things wrong: his priorities were wrong and his values
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were wrong. I think he missed the boat when it comes to that fine balance of juggling work
commitments and family. It's made me reflect a lot more on life and living, and in particular asking
the question, “what's important in life?” Does money really matter? At what cost does it come?
How much of my admiration of this man was for his personality, and how much was for the success
and material things that followed?
Stop for a minute and ask yourself what's really important in life?
Have you ever asked yourself:
Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
I'm sure you'll agree that these are questions that get revisited from time to time as our personal
situations and life experiences change. Sometimes it takes a big event to wake us up and think about
what we value most. Certainly these are issues I've reflected on at length - do they mean anything to
you? On a final note, I guess the saddest part and most compelling evidence that my friend got it
wrong, is because his death was a suicide.
What's important to you in life?
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Am I happy with life?
It's an interesting question - am I happy with life? The answer to this is so subjective. Take two
people and put them in identical situations - you may find that one person feels happy and fulfilled,
and the other person feels like something is missing.
There is no foolproof algorithm that can be applied to make people feel happy!
To help me understand this age old question, I have taken some time to explore why we feel this
way. Obviously there are many stressors in life that can add to feelings of unhappiness, and there are
plenty of personal circumstances that influence the way people feel also. I am a big believer that the
perception of ‘happiness' or living a fulfilled life ultimately starts with your mindset.
“Heard that all before!” I hear you say. But wait, think about it - this is great news! Why? because
you don't have to be subjected to the feelings that you and I experience (unhappiness, depression,
lack of joy or apathy) forever! WHATEVER your personal situation, you can reach a place where you
once again feel happy in your life.
Think for a moment: Why is it that we see some amazing stories about people who are subjected to
horrible things, then have an life changing recovery that sees them become leaders in their field?
These people sometimes go on to become fantastic, inspiring public speakers and help others who
have been hurt. Contrast this with another group of people who have not had any major dramas in
their life, yet easily fall into emotional situations like slums of depression and unhappiness.
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I'm not suggesting that there is a quick fix for this problem! But I do have a greater understanding
that the key to feeling happy with life involves a few truths:
Regardless of past experiences, there is so much to gain from life!
A key to having a happy, fulfilling life is understanding the power of your mindset and willpower.
Ultimately, YOU decide how you will feel, react and respond to what life throws at you.
We can make a conscious decision to change our attitudes!
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Be grateful
My life like so many other people's has been filled with ups and downs, highs and lows. Some events
are memorable, others make me cringe when I think back on them!
Gratitude is an amazing thing. Truly, amazing. Lately I've been reflecting more on the things I'm
particularly grateful for in life. It's fair to say that there are times where I've been in such a hurry with
life, that I've neglected to reflect and be thankful for these things on a regular basis.
What things am I grateful for? Plenty, though particularly the things that mean a lot to me: family
and love. And also for the little things: when I have a good day, when I see an amazing sunset. When
I get a great car park! I try and make it a daily occurrence, but great intentions don't always factor in
things like running late, sleeping in, being preoccupied…
1. warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful.
2. expressing or actuated by gratitude.
3. pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome; refreshing.
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Some of the things that I am most grateful for are:
My wife and kids - they really are such an important part of my life. I'm so glad we've been
lumped together in this crazy world, they mean everything to me.
My health - seeing people who are really sick has given me with a greater appreciation of how
fortunate I am.
Being needed - I'm so grateful that I'm here for a reason and purpose. I feel loved and needed,
and I feel like I have so much I can offer to others. One of the biggest thrusting forces into a life
of self-doubt, depression and pity is when people start to say things like “what's the point of life
Where I live - Nearly two years ago now I made a move to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland,
Australia - it really is a fantastic place to live. For those of us who are familiar with one of my all
time favourite people in life, Steve Irwin, I live about half hour away from his Australia Zoo, and
just up the road from some amazing beaches.
Coffee - what an amazing drink! The sounds of a fresh morning grind, the amazing aromas, the
taste of different beans. Coffee is something I'm fascinated with and so thankful for!
What things are you grateful for? Do you dedicate time regularly to be thankful for things in your
life? Or like me, does life just seem to get in the way sometimes… Take a bit of time out of every day
to be thankful, grateful for things in your life.
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I want to share with you the following two stories that happened to me. They are different, but have
similarities that remind us about the preciousness of life. As you read them, imagine yourself in
these situations, reflect on your own life.
Surprised by a dying patient's final words
Last night I was in an emergency cubicle with a man who was dying. He was 62 years old with end
stage respiratory failure, and had a background of chronic emphysema. His wife was with him and
was visibly upset at the state of his condition, even though he had struggled with his breathing for
most of his life.
I was quite amazed at the conversation that transpired between this couple. She was trying to make
him as comfortable as possible, getting extra pillows and asking him if he was ok. He was either
unaware of the seriousness of this hospital visit or he had chosen to ignore it. Most of his limited
conversation was about completely trivial things - the weather, the upcoming weekend.
At one point he whispered to his wife but she couldn't hear him because he was wearing a large full
faced mask hooked up to a bipap machine. She leaned closer, “what's that dear?” I was also up
close, and could barely make out what he was saying. What last words would he whisper, I thought
to myself. I pictured myself in his position - maybe I would tell my wife how much I loved her, or
enjoyed us being together. Maybe I would plea to my wife to continue enjoying life without me, find
another partner if necessary! Don't spend the rest of your only life lamenting my departure, I would
tell her.
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I found myself once again pondering on how fleeting life is, how everything can change in a split
second. Sometimes it takes a wake up call to truly appreciate things - you don't realise how good it is
to have a healthy body for instance until you become sick!
The man leaned closer to his wife and repeated his question: “big lottery this weekend?” I was
stunned. Big lottery?! What kind of last conversation is that! I thought about the question for a while,
and realised he was just conversing with his wife like he would any other day of the week. He was
sick all the time, and so this day was no different to any other. He was on automatic mode, and just
spoke how he always would around the house.
It made me think about the things we retain as hopes and dreams. Hoping and wanting for
something to happen is something most of us have done at some time or other. I remember when I
was a broke university student, hoping that I would receive a call about some long distant relative
who had left me a massive inheritance! I have long since learned that nothing will fall into your lap
without making some decisions to take action and having the right attitude, but things like the
lottery continue to consume people's every day hopes and dreams.
I thought about my own life. What are my hopes and dreams? Certainly I've met some of my goals,
but there's a lot more that I want to achieve in life! It's a good reminder that the best time to start is
now. I also know one thing for sure - I do not want to be on my death bed talking about the lottery!
Life is fleeting, who knows where we will be tomorrow! What are your goals, have you achieved
them? What do you want to get out of life?
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Take some time to think about where you are now and where you would like to be.
If you need to make some changes in your life, start today! Get on the road to enjoying life - don't
let it pass you by.
Oh, and the wife's response to the “big lottery” question? She paused for a moment then looked
over at me with sad eyes as she replied in his ear softly,“you might get lucky, dear”.
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The fragility of life: a wake up call
Sometimes it takes a wake up call for us to recognise what our real values are in life: how much we
appreciate our loved ones, our families. The wake up call can come in many forms such as a near
miss, a close call or minor accident that could have been fatal. A family member getting sick that
makes you more appreciative of your own health. A partner threatening to walk out and leave if you
don't get your act together. Even seeing major events on TV like a building that collapses, an
earthquake or fire: these things serve as reminders that we are not invulnerable, life can come and
go in the blink of an eye.
I've been fortunate in my own life to not have a great deal of sickness or death in my extended
family, but I do come across a lot of hurt, death and dying through my work. Here's a situation from
the other night that served as a wake up call for me:
A 16 year old girl was in a car crash at around 4 O'clock in the morning. She was brought into
hospital with minor injuries, some neck and back pain, but nothing too major or life threatening. It
turns out that she was the passenger in a car that had been driven a very short stretch up a suburban
street by her friend, also a 16 year old girl that was unlicensed. The car hit a roundabout at speed
and it appears that the car was thrown into the curb when the driver over-corrected, causing it to
spin wildly.
So here is this girl, alone in the hospital while police are contacting the families involved. It made me
think back to things that I had done when I was a teenager, and it made me think about my position
now as a parent with a teenager. Decisions that we make always have consequences, but when you're
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younger it's hard to see that bigger picture sometimes. I'm not saying this excuses decisions made
by teenagers, but our perspective and decision making is so much different as we get older.
I was reminded of some song lyrics from the greatest band ever, The Dave Matthews Band:
Everything's different
With my head in the clouds
I hit this corner
With my foot on the gas
I started sliding, I lose it
Everything's different just like that
Oh my God, wait and see
What will soon become of me?
Frozen heart
Screaming wheels
Does that screaming come from me?
It's amazing what a minute can do
“So Damn Lucky” Dave Matthews Band
Maybe there was alcohol involved, I'm certain there was speeding involved: regardless, when you see
things through a parent's eyes it's hard to feel anything but compassion for this girl. Unfortunately
her friend, the 16 year old driver, was killed in the crash.
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It's amazing what a minute can do.
Why did this happen? It's not fair is it, for the driver's parents to have to come and identify the body
of a child. Can you picture yourself in this situation? And life is full of these situations and extremes:
great pleasures and excitements, horrible tragedies and loss.
For myself, I believe that I am here for a reason, my life has a plan. Who knows what tomorrow will
But for today, I'm pleased to be here.
It would be great to live in a state where we never take things for granted, where we are always
thankful for our lives, our health and our families, but the routines of life and day to day living seem
to preoccupy our thoughts so often. It's like every now and again we need reminders of our place in
life, and just how fleeting life is.
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Personal Growth: where to start
One of the biggest questions people ask themselves when they start thinking about personal growth
is “where do I start?” I know I did! If you're reading this it means you've taken the first step research, reading, hearing other people's experiences. One of the greatest beginnings on your road
to personal growth is making a start.
Life is so much more fulfilling when we are happy! In referring to happiness here, I'm not talking
about the two hours on a Saturday night you're shooting pool, hanging with friends and enjoying
life! I'm talking about holistic happiness, or addressing many different areas that will make your life
feel more fulfilled – personal growth. When you enjoy where you are at, you feel like things have
come together the way they should. To live in this state is really to enjoy living, and you can start to
head in that direction today.
Sometimes we reach a point in life where we are coasting. We get up, make lunches, drive to work,
go about the day and come home looking forward to the weekend. Some of us play sport or go to
church, but really we're just on autopilot. Take some time now and do a bit of self-analysis. Think
about the many parts of life that make up ‘you' – do you need to work on an area?
If you really want to initiate personal growth in your life, and make
some real changes that make a difference, start by looking at the
following 7 areas:
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Family and relationships: Your family and relationships need to rank very highly on your ‘how to
spend my time' list. Are your relationships as solid as they need to be? I know that for me personally,
I'm committing to spending more time with my family this year. Maybe you're like me and need to
spend more time appreciating your loved ones. Personal growth and fulfillment is very difficult to
achieve if you are a selfish person who neglects people close to you.
Work: Are you happy with your job? Think back to when you were a child, or in high school. What
kinds of dreams and ambitions did you have? Have you realised those dreams or are you
‘comfortable' with where you are at? It's very difficult to start a new job, career or business.
Sometimes it means more study, relocating, starting over – but let me tell you something. You only
live one life - don't let it go by & have a life full of regrets. You can do a job that you enjoy! Sure, you
don't have to absolutely love driving to work every day, but if you don't enjoy what you do to any
degree then it's time to get out! You really can and should change your line of work if you want to be
happier in your life. If you're not sure where to start, make some calls – talk to people who are doing
a job you're interested in & find out how they started. Call some universities or look up courses
you're interest in & find out about enrollment. Make some calls today.
Leisure: Are you taking some time out for you? Ambition and hard work are very important qualities,
but relaxing and leisure will do so much for your emotional and physical well being. Some great
family memories also come about from holidays – don't neglect this area of your life.
Emotions: Are your emotions in check? Are you a person that often feels depressed? Anxious? Maybe
you have a short fuse & yell at the kids when you find food spilt on the ground.. When you truly
reflect on your emotions and reactions, how much of a positive influence are they in your life? Spend
some time reflecting on the way you respond to situations & your feelings and emotions in general.
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Start to make some changes where you see the need for change – you can research this very easily,
the point is your life will not feel very fulfilled when you can't control your own emotions. Again - life
is too short to be yelling your head off at people. It's no good for them, and it's worse for you –
control yourself & you will enjoy life more.
Spiritual: Holistic health and personal growth is all about addressing many different areas of your
life. Just because you may not go to church, or have been burnt by past experience, don't neglect
this area of your life. You will find you have a lot less “meaning of life” questions when you address
your spiritual well being. Start with prayer – pray for your loved ones. Pray for yourself! Cast off your
cares and worries, and be specific with what you ask for. You will be surprised at the great results in
your life.
Physical: A person's physical well being is really important in terms of how you look, your fitness
levels and your health. So many problems can be attributed to obesity and other forms of self
neglect. Fortunately, we can do something about our physical well being. Don't accept being
overweight a minute longer if you fit into that category. Be aware of your body and eating habits,
and make a decision to do the best for yourself that you can. You can start with your food choices –
try and dedicate one week to making healthy choices. Not next week, this week: today! Eat lots of
fruit and vegetables, drink lots of water. Get rid of the chips/chocolate/lollies and soft drink in your
house. Start to make some simple changes and you will find it gets easier and easier. Regardless of
your body size, everyone needs to exercise. It's great for your stress levels, your health and fitness,
and your overall well being. You can start by grabbing an ipod and going out for a walk – don't think
about it, just do it! Make plans to do it again in 2 days time. Don't get slack, keep exercising!
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Money: Money is not the key to happiness! You will not be a happier person just because you are
‘rich'. Winning the lottery will not mean you can suddenly sigh with relief and put your feet up for
the rest of your life. However, lack of money or limited finances can be a great source of stress and
worry. You need to make sure you have a steady stream of income that is enough to cover bills,
housing, food, basic requirements + include some leisure time for yourself. What can you do if you
don't make enough money? Start to do something about it. Research other avenues for income, talk
to friends and family about ways to earn money on the side. Change to a higher paying job. Learn
about budgeting, saving, investing. Don't be obsessed with making money or let it consume your life
- money is not everything after all.
No changes will happen in your life if you are content with where
you are at now, or if you stay on autopilot and coast through life.
If you really want to make some changes and achieve personal growth, I've found that it helps to
actually make the decision rather than keeping it as a nice idea in your head.
You can completely turn your life around simply by the choices you make and your level of
How about you kick things off by writing down what you do and don't like about yourself, think
about what you can change. You can also get started by writing down some goals, telling a partner
or close friend about your intentions to change, and remember to stay consistent every day.
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Are you ready for big changes in your life?
Hypothetically, just for kicks, lets suggest that you're at a point in life where you've come to expect
amazing things. You're feeling more and more gratitude for the things in your life, for what you
have.. but remain unsatisfied with your former life: you're ready for change.
You may have previously avoided confrontation, taken a back seat, or let your insecurities or shyness
dominate your life. In all seriousness (and I say this with conviction) - it's time to start living! How
will this happen? By looking for opportunities.
So much of our lives are made up of pre-conceived notions, experiences and learned reactions when your life changes dramatically, will you be ready? Are you serious about personal growth, or
vaguely interested?
Mindset and Perception
Steve Pavlina has written a very interesting article on money and the law of attraction. In this article,
he talks about how the value of money has a lot to do with our mindset. He says:
“How much money is a large sum?
Is $500 a large or small amount? It depends on your perspective.
If you're in a scarcity mindset, it might seem like a huge sum. If you have a wealthy mindset, it
may be a tiny amount. That may be hard to believe, but it's true.”
This same principle applies to other areas of our lives: relationships, personal standards, work habits,
morals, values. When we continue to maintain a skewed perspective, or hold on to previous limiting
beliefs, we are ultimately limiting ourselves with what we can achieve.
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I was reminded of the song inspired by one of Barack Obama's speeches - it was derived from the
union catch-cry 'Yes We Can'. Here's a snip of some of the lyrics:
Yes we can.
Yes we can to justice and equality.
Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can repair this world.
Yes we can.
What an inspiring thought - how many times have we been motivated to make some change.. make
a difference.. do something great, only to be brought back to reality by pessimism, negativity?
Let me encourage you to think about these things this week:
Yes we can change our current existence.
Yes we can believe and receive great things.
Yes we can improve not only our own lives, but that of those around us.
Settling for second best is simply laziness.
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Finding the will to change your life
From time to time I have a look at my blog stats. How people found me, how many people visited on
a particular day, how many went“ooh yuk!” in under 10 seconds - stuff like that! (Side note - I used
to be a compulsive stats viewer, checking every couple hours but I strongly advise getting beyond
this and checking every few days or once a week instead! It does great things for your sanity and
helps get the focus back onto writing whatever you want rather than being driven by stats.)
But I digress. Today I had a look at some of my blog stats, and as part of this I had a look at some of
the search terms people had used to come across my site. Why do I do this? Well, frankly I like the
fact that at least someone is reading what I have to say! And I'm curious as to what people are
looking for.
Here's some of the google keywords from this week:
get excited about living life
how to lose friends and make no one like you
the desire to be liked
the fragility of love
change fahrenheit to centigrade (what the heck?!)
personal quotable quotes
And then there it was. Staring me right in the face:
finding the will to change your life
Wow… Finding the will to change your life. I completely love it. Isn't this really what many of us
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desire? Notice it's not“how to change my life”,“where to start changing”or“what do I do
first?”, but finding the will. In other words, what do we do when we know we want to make changes,
we know there are so many things we can do better and improve upon, but need a bit of a nudge to
get us there? How exactly do we not only create more desire for change, but also find the will to
change our lives?
The answer is not an easy one, because people are complex! We all have different backgrounds,
ideas, dreams. What works for you may not work for me, and vise-versa. Regardless, I'd like to put
forth a few questions:
1. How does will power come about exactly? What drives us to want to put that extra effort in and
get things done? Does it all come intrinsically, therefore meaning some people will never have it? Or
is it a learned skill, one where practice makes perfect?
2. Can anyone do it?
Defining what we want
Willpower is defined as:
“ The strength of will to carry out one's decisions, wishes, or plans.” -
Or, in other words, creating a vision or plan for your life and having enough strength of character to
carry out that plan.
Another definition from the same source is one I really like, check it out:
“Unwavering firmness of character, action, or will.”
Unwavering firmness of character... Marvelous I'll have a double helping, thanks..
Will It Change You?
Have you, like me, ever really thought about the things you want to change in your life? I'm talking
about being very specific. Ever wondered about finding the will to carry out those changes? Where
do we start?
Putting it all together
By definition will power involves having the strength to carry out plans, ideas. The best place to start
therefore is to make sure you have some kind of idea of what you want! Sounds simple, I know, but
believe me - it's difficult to find the will to change your life when you don't know specifically what
you want out of life.
For me, I've started by identifying the things I actually want to do and have.
This exercise can not be done without a pen and paper! I know what you're thinking, I've read similar
opening lines before and plowed on with my reading, completely skipping the exercise. Humor
yourself and go and grab a pen! It takes less than five minutes, and can be more difficult than you
actually think.
Brainstorm for a few minutes and write all the things down that you would like to do and have.
Everything. This includes trips, traveling, holidays, material things, cars, boats - whatever. I've
discovered this is a tough task to complete! What would you go and do right now if you have 20
million dollars in the bank? After you get past the things you think you want (but really don't need!),
you get to the really great part: discovering what would excite you, make you enjoy life more. These
are the things that we want to achieve, that are the basis for finding the will to change our lives. Ok,
your five minutes starts……!
Will It Change You?
Crunch time. Now is a great time to reflect on your current life. Can you accomplish all the things
you wrote down? (Or didn't write down, for those of you who kept reading!) Why not? Is it because
your current existence is incredibly limiting? Or is it because you don't have “unwavering firmness
of character, action or will”? In my own life I've found it's easy to blame circumstances. “I don't
have enough income, cash flow”. “I could never afford that”. “I don't earn enough…”
Why not start to take action that will allow you to accomplish what's on your list? When I am
completely honest with myself, I'd have to say that for me it's because I've become comfortable with
where I'm at. Complacency.
The Will to Change Your Life
There's no magic pile of money waiting for you with no effort required. Sorry to disappoint you!
Waiting for a huge payout to come from nowhere is about as productive as buying lottery tickets.
Finding the will the change your life comes from discovering what you want, brainstorming what you
want to accomplish, formulating a plan and sticking with it.
Are you ready for that again?
Discover what you want (by brainstorming and writing it down).
Formulate a plan. Let me suggest you start by reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon
Hill, and “The Four Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss. They are both incredibly thought
provoking reads packed with ways to start making more, working less and enjoying life more.
Stick with it. This one's not rocket science, but can be easier said than done. With a little more
willpower and action, we can accomplish so much. Don't give up just because something isn't
working straight away.
Will It Change You?
And regarding my earlier questions? I don't think everyone wants to change their life. Many people
say things like “it'd be nice to have more money”. Or maybe it's a new car, going on a holiday… But
when it comes down to making changes to accomplish these things, they don't try to follow through.
And I'm just as guilty of falling into this pattern! One thing I'm realising more and more this year is
that dreams don't have to remain as just pipe-dreams however. Accomplishing what we want out of
life takes a decision to make it happen, and the will power to follow through.
Can anybody do it? I'm not so sure. If you're serious about creating a better life, really determined,
and have started by perhaps researching ways to have more free time or create more cash flow,
that's a great first step. Keep going! If you're that guy at work who whines how he wishes his life was
better but does nothing about it however, well I'm not so sure that kind of personality will ever have
enough will power to accomplish change.
From a life point of view, in recent times I've learned that making lasting change takes time. And
commitment. It's a dynamic, fantastic process that I wish I started on years before! I'm a lot more
appreciative of my life, my family, the things around me, and I'm concentrating more on looking
after myself, my body and health. Be inspired in the fact that you really can enjoy life more and live
life to the fullest - the only thing holding you back is you!
Determination, Drive
and Motivation
Will It Change You?
Stepping outside your comfort zone
I was talking to someone tonight about people who stay in the same job for years and years but
don't seem to like the job! You know the type of person I'm talking about: they always seem to be
particularly moody, never go out of their way to help anyone and permanently seem to fix a kind of
‘half sneer', bitter look on their face.
When coming across people like this in my own line of work, I've often thought “why are they
working here!” It seems that everyone would benefit when someone with this kind of attitude
leaves the job completely.
Many of these people have just become comfortable with where they are at, and even though the
job holds no more joy for them, the comfort of familiarity has kept them there.
I've also found myself in similar situations where I've stayed on with something despite my lack of
interest (to a lesser extent than the above example, I hope!). Jobs that I've held for several years
without changing, people I've hung out even though our interests drifted apart, things I was
interested in but chose not to pursue: all of these were because my current situation was easy.
Staying in a comfort zone
I've been fortunate in the last year to have several things happen that have taken me out of my
comfort zone. Some of these I made a decision to do, like changing jobs. Other things I kind of fell
into as opportunities arose (very reluctantly!) like public speaking in small groups and taking on
leadership roles at work. What I've discovered is that the experiences can be frightening! But they
can also really make you feel like you are living again.
Will It Change You?
I've also been guilty in the past of deliberately (but secretly) avoiding situations that caused me fear
or would be pushing me outside my comfort zone. I've shuffled my roster, made up excuses and
even used sickness as an excuse to avoid challenging or uncomfortable work situations. What I
found is that this only fuels feelings of discomfort and fear, and you find yourself wondering if you'll
have to face that situation again.
Step out of your comfort zone
Why is it important to step out of your comfort zone? No one likes to do it! Some of the benefits are:
It's liberating! One way to fix feelings of boredom or that you're 'stuck in a rut' is make that first
decision to get out! Change can be a great thing.
You gain a real sense of accomplishment. This can be a real boost to your confidence and selfesteem too - stepping outside your comfort zone proves to yourself that you really can achieve
more than you thought.
Fear is limiting. You will never be all that you can be as long as fear is holding you back.
One accomplishment leads to another. As you step outside your comfort zone, small steps lead
to larger ones - who knows what you can achieve, are you holding yourself back?
What do you really want to get out of life? Are you staying in a ‘comfortable' place because it's too
difficult to step out of your comfort zone?
How to take that first step
One of the first steps in pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is to identify what it is that is
causing you to stay there. Some of the questions you can ask yourself are:
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1. What things make me feel anxious or fearful? (for me, public speaking causes anxiety)
2. Why do I feel that way - is it because of past experiences? (yes! see this post)
3. Would I be happier, grow as a person and boost my self esteem if I could do those things?
4. What things have I been holding back from doing or trying?
Having the courage to step out of your comfort zone is not something that you will want to do, or is
easy to do. If you really want to grow as a person, achieve some great things and avoid becoming
stale, it really can be life changing. Also, when you are able to face your fears and push yourself
beyond your current limits, you find that it becomes a little easier each time you continue to do so.
Where to start
Here's some things you can do to push yourself to a whole new level this week:
1. Identify an area that you are fearful of or have been avoiding because you are staying in your
comfort zone.
2. Envision the experience as going really well - see yourself handling it well, coping with it well.
3. Step out in faith! You were not born with a spirit of fear. Think about other people who do that
thing well - they are just a person, like you. This has often been a motivating factor for me when I
have pushed myself outside boundaries. Think if other people can do it, so can I.
4. Put it into action. Take a step! Challenge yourself by stepping outside your comfort zone and
trying some things you have avoided. You will be amazed how much you can grow as a person
by pushing yourself.
Will It Change You?
Compassion vs Personal Growth
Most of the self help and personal growth material I have read recommends that we watch for and
model ourselves on people we aspire to be like. Sometimes it's suggested to find a mentor, find
someone who inspires us and spend some time with them. Other times, we're told to research
people with great lives, to read and learn about how they acted in various situations.
Another popular suggestion is to rid ourselves of people in our lives who drag us down. I can
certainly relate to this, nothing is more life-sucking than having an annoying fly buzzing in your ear,
“you can't do that! It's already been done!” Staying optimistic, surrounding ourselves with likeminded people and minimising contact with pessimists therefore are key concepts that you can hear
reiterated in many texts.
People do have a tendency to remove themselves from people they don't click with. If you get a
phone call from someone who wants to catch up, and it's someone who you just can't tolerate, I'm
sure that suddenly you'll find that unfortunately you have something on and won't be able to make
it. If it's someone who you love to hang out with, suddenly some options open up and you happen
to find the time to catch up!
Sometimes the situation is a little more complicated (particularly when it involves family members!)
but generally speaking, it's fair to say that we will avoid going out of our way to keep people in our
lives when they annoy or irritate us, are pessimistic or for some reason we just don't get along.
Which brings me to my question! (nearly!)
Will It Change You?
“No one ever cares about me”
“Why is it that no-one is ever around to help me when I need help?”
“Life is so freaking boring”
Have you ever heard people talking like that? My first reaction is often to think to myself, “well what
are you doing about it!?” Typically I have a pretty low tolerance for self-pity! My way of thinking is
that when your bathing in that kind of misery, it only fuels itself and makes you feel worse.
And so the question:
Compassion vs Personal Growth
What are we supposed to do when there are people in our lives who bring us
down, who have attitudes similar to the ones mentioned above?
Is is our job to help them, guide them? Do we put ourselves first and remove them from our lives? Or
is it dependent upon whether they are family or not?
Often my natural inclination is to get away from people with these attitudes! Isn't that what's
suggested if you want to improve your own life? It certainly can be really depressing hanging around
people who are in the doldrums all the time. Or should we give these people a bit of support but
play it very carefully - a “one more chance” kind of deal?
Will It Change You?
Balancing Priorities
One method I've seen in action is the palm and remove method: making sure people get help from a
social worker or counselor, then not associating with them anymore. I've also seen the consequences
of being overly compassionate, or not showing enough “tough love”. Sometimes this can lead to
the person with self-pity repeating the same behavioural patterns over and over and over.
I'm not suggesting there is an easy answer, but I think
that somewhere in the middle lies a balance of these
Step out, take some risks..
Making sure our own lives are moving forward and not being held back by other people, yet
Maintaining a degree of compassion.
The question can be applied to many different areas of our lives - money, friends, relationships, what
we do with our time, our career… How much emphasis do we put on compassion, on helping others,
and how much do we devote to looking out for number 1?
Will It Change You?
Life's not about ‘what's better than'
I was listening to a song by the John Butler Trio this morning - if you've never heard of them, they
have a great earthy sound that has been described as reggae, blues, rock, tribal and ‘getting back
to roots.' One of the good things about this band is that their lyrics actually make you stop and think
about things, instead of the meaningless drivel that makes up much of the top 40 hits!
The song I had playing was called ‘better than' - a song that makes reference to earthly possessions
and being happy with what we've got. This is a great reminder for me about what's important in life,
especially because I too have been guilty of falling into the stereotypical “what can I buy next!”
mode - not because I'm overly flippant with cash or possessions, but because some things look good
when you don't have them! It's not too hard to start to think “yeah, that'd be great to have!”.
Big screen TV's, new laptops, music DVD's, new cars - these are all things that have appeal. This
frame of thinking is also fueled by constant pushes from all kinds of different sources such as the
media, society and our peers. Better technology, more fuel efficient, higher resolution…We are
constantly fed a message of you must have something better, faster, stronger!
Lessons from life
One of the stories that helps put things into perspective for me is that of high profile figure Rene
Rivkin - a flamboyant wealthy millionaire stockbroker, who was so unhappy he took his own life.
Rene had amassed a ridiculous accumulation of mansions, cars and antiques, and was considered to
be some kind of authority on the stock market - thousands of people subscribed to his weekly Rivkin
Will It Change You?
While I don't agree with much of what the man stood for or how he went about business, he was
massively successful in what he did (from a money point of view that is, irrespective of being found
guilty of insider trading at the end of his career!).
There are two quotes that Rene made on an interview with Andrew Denton that meant a lot to me,
they were made in reference to money and happiness. If there's anyone who we can learn from in
terms of the value of material possessions and accumulated stuff, it's from someone who actually has
masses of it! He says:
“Money doesn't buy you happiness, Andrew. That's for sure.”
“Happiness is better than money… As far as I'm concerned, the successful person on this
planet is the happy person, and the unsuccessful person is the…um, is the unhappy person.
You know, and it's as simple as that.”
What are your thoughts on money and happiness? How often do you hear people talk about how
they “just need to win the lottery this weekend!”
Will It Change You?
Here's a snip of the lyrics from Better Than by the John Butler Trio:
All you want is
What you can't have
And if you just look around man
You see you got magic
So just sit back and relax
Enjoy it while you still have it
Don't look back on life man and see only tragic
Because you could be better than that
Don't let it get the better of you
What could be better than now
Life's not about what's better than
Do you place high value on material things? Sometimes it's hard not to, the trick is finding some
balance and not being in a place where you're always wanting more.
Will It Change You?
Step up: you might surprise yourself
Have you ever been in a work situation where for some reason a colleague didn't show, or couldn't
make it because of sickness? Maybe staff numbers were down for some reason like cutbacks and
layoffs, or high staff turnover.
It's these kinds of moments where I've witnessed a grand phenomena called (drum roll….)
“step up to the challenge”, also known as
“throw‘em in the deep end!”
By this, of course, I'm talking about when someone else has to rise to the challenge of fulfilling
duties that they would never normally do. The specifics of what actually happens in this situation is
highly job specific, varying greatly between different workplaces; but the basic premise remains people in all kinds of jobs are at times pressured into stepping up.
I've had a couple opportunities where this has happened to me. Several years ago one particular job
I had was lacking in staff because there were a few last minute resignations, and people were off on
annual leave. Because I was the (barely) next senior worker, I was asked to take over a management
role for a few weeks.
I remember feeling a range of feelings: lack of confidence that I could actually do the job, reluctance
to lose the camaraderie of co-workers (as is often the case with an “us and them” management
mentality), nervous and apprehensive about the unknown yet excited at the opportunity. The thing
is, I would never have put my hand up for this role. This is a pretty weak example, I know - many
people would say “a couple weeks in management, no sweat!” But for me, I had no real prior
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exposure to the actual ins and outs of the job, so the feelings were real.
I've seen many people recently in similar situations, where for some reason or other they have had to
fulfill higher duties. A lot of the time my reaction (and that of co-workers) has been to raise eyebrows
high and say something profound, like “oh man.. did you hear that John Barnes is taking over that
division next month!??!”
“I wanted to be scared again… I wanted to feel unsure again.
That's the only way I learn, the only way I feel challenged.” — Connie Chung
Consequences of stepping up
A few different things can happen when someone is thrown in the deep end. The easy way to
explain it is to say “well, they either sink or swim!” This is true, but it goes a little deeper than that.
Some people really surprise you. I mean, really surprise you. When put in a situation that asks for a
lot more than their current demands or expertise, some people respond extremely well. In fact, many
times it's an eye opener for other workers when they realize that the person stepping up is on par or
better than the original person!
Other people fail miserably of course, and are politely thanked and sent on their merry way!
The point is, these people often don't put their hands up and request to step out of their comfort
zone, they simply use the opportunity and rise to the occasion. Often (like in my case) they really
don't know how well they will do! Some people will work hard, others will freak out. After my little
stint in management, I discovered it was a real confidence boost. It was the jolt that I needed in
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order to go ahead and actually start pushing myself more and stepping out of my comfort zone.
This same principle holds true in a lot of other areas of our lives. Have you been been guilty of
staying where it's comfortable, just because someone wasn't there to ask if you could step up? I
certainly have…
Practical ways to rise to the occasion
Here are a few ways to apply this concept to other areas of your life:
Try things you would normally avoid due to feelings of fear or worry
Brainstorm ways you can do more for the people close to you, or your kids
Don't avoid confronting a situation that you know needs to be addressed
What else, what are your experiences?
You have powers you never dreamed of.
You can do things you never thought you could do.
There are no limitations in what you can do except the limitations of your own mind.
— Darwin P. Kingsley
Will It Change You?
Why I've always hated goals
Are you someone who is interested in where you are heading, and what you've achieved? Do you
take the time to sit down and focus on the specifics of what you want, or do you just have a general
idea in your head of what you're after?
When I was in high school, we used to have a class called something like “study techniques” It was
basically a chance for the teacher to give us a 45 minute pep-talk on the importance of studying,
goals, and goal-setting techniques.
The class was mostly school work related, but they linked it to every day practices of goal setting in
all other areas of your life. I swear, ever since this time whenever I hear the word goals it makes me
wince and turn off! Something about that whole “you gotta set your goals!” thing triggers
negative memories in my brain - sitting down with a piece of paper and the titles “short term
goals… medium term goals… ” doesn't make for a fun afternoon!
Why the concept prevails
As you know, there's been a lot written on mindset and the power of your attitude. I recently
watched the video the secret, and a lot of what they talk about also has to do with changing the way
we think about our goals and the things we want out of life. While I may not be thrilled with labels
like goals or being told you gotta set your goals! - the concept of goal setting is actually really
important, and here's why:
You're not setting yourself up to actually achieve what you want out of life if it remains just an
idea in your head
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You are limiting yourself when you don't set your targets high
Lets face it - the things that you want out of life aren't going to drop into your lap from some magic
fantasy land. Likewise, a mindset of “it'd be nice to have that car one day” will not help you to
actually get that car. If we're really honest with ourselves, when we start thinking that way, we're
actually living a reality where the goal is not achievable. Thinking to yourself “I'd love a bigger
house” is not really even a goal, it's just a nice thought.
Set some goals!
If you're like me and have been conditioned to baulk at the thought of “goals”, think of it another
way. “What I will achieve by the end of this year…” “Things I will accomplish in the next 3
weeks..” As reluctant as I initially was to do this, it turns out the folks back at school were right
(doh!) Goal setting works, if you do it right!
Thrust some reality into your goals
Here's a couple quick tips to turn nice thoughts into achievable goals.
1. Brainstorm about what you really want from life, really use the opportunity to think about all key
money and income
life experiences and travel
material things, houses, cars
social life, friends
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2. Write it down! This is really important. Make your goals a reality, not just a concept.
3. Visualise yourself living the life you want: having more money, driving that car. See yourself
actually in the position you would like to be, and begin to eliminate the mindset of living in your
current reality.
4. Keep your eyes open for opportunity. When you have goals and see them as being achievable,
your mind starts to shift from it's current reality, to believing it will happen. Instead of wondering
“how can I achieve these goals!”, start to see yourself already having the things you want.
Don't be afraid to give things a go - use the opportunities that present themselves.
Do you ever worry that it might be too late to do the things you want, or to have a life that's
different from your current reality?
Don't fool yourself!
Believe that good things can happen, write down what you want from life. Stay
positive, and get cracking - today is the day to start living the life you want.
Will It Change You?
Improve productivity, fast!
I've often found my great intentions to get things done during free time periods in the week are
foiled by some kind of external influence, eg:
A phone call from a relative that turns into an epic conversation…
I go to mow and the mower won't start…
The football starts on TV and I get a little caught up…
Someone needs help with some problem that takes up a lot of time…
I lose track of time Digging and Stumbling…!
The reasons are many and varied! You can't solve all of these problems, but there are a few things
you can do to improve your productivity in the home or office. Get cracking with these ideas and see
how much you get accomplished this week!
1. Take the phone off the hook. When you have something planned for a half hour or hour period,
you'd be amazed how easily phone calls can mess things up! Try switching off your mobile/cell too you're not going to miss anything that can't be caught up when you switch back on.
2. Remove other potential distractions. Turn the TV off, put the new magazine out of sight, close
down firefox so that you can get that job done.
3. Start on the task at hand immediately. Don't do a quick last minute email check - this will
inevitably lead to a quick check of a web page, which leads to quickly posting some comments etc
4. Tell other people you are not available. If others are aware you are busy, they will be less inclined
to bother you for trivial things that can slow you down. I've also found that making a conscious
decision to use your time well works better than hoping you get some things done!
Will It Change You?
It's not all about you: the bigger picture
One thing I always try to keep in the back of my mind as I plod through this crazy life is seeing the
bigger picture.
You hear variations of this phrase thrown out there all the time, often in reference to people's work
habits: “He can look at things from a different perspective”
“That's someone who thinks outside the square”
“She's advanced quickly because she sees the bigger picture.”
What does this actually mean, and why should we bother having this approach at all?
Well, initially for me adopting this philosophy was born from a series of failures (like most of the
lessons I have learned so far in life!). I've looked back on many different situations and experiences in
my life and with the benefit of hindsight thought, “I was so narrow focused!” This realization has
helped me not only in my career, but in my personal life also.
Being able to apply the‘bigger picture' approach in my current line of work is absolutely invaluable
in order to do the job well. For example, situations involving dealing with angry, abusive or violent
patients and families can sometimes be de-escalated by understanding where they are coming from.
It's easier to say that on paper than it is to do in real life, let me tell you! The natural inclination is to
get the security guys to crash tackle and physically restrain these people, but the reality is they have
often reached breaking point out of desperation. They may be stressed because a friend or loved
one is badly hurt, they might have financial repercussions from being sick, or perhaps they're
behaviour is because they are scared to death on the inside.
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Applying it to real life
Thinking outside the square is a great way to problem solve tasks. You might be stuck for ways to rearrange an outdoor area to maximise space… Or maybe you're trying to work out how to fit several
appointments into a day… Juggling a budget… Planning a function… It's widely known that by
allowing yourself to incorporate lateral thinking in your approach, you can really boost productivity
and results.
This approach to problem solving also works really well in other areas of life. Consciously deciding to
see the bigger picture can benefit the way you respond to situations. It also helps the way other
people respond to you, and the way you feel about yourself and others. For instance, when you are
in a confrontational situation you might ask yourself, “what will it accomplish if I continue to argue
with this person about how I am right?”. When you're upset about the way someone handled a
situation, ask yourself why they may have done that - what differences in their upbringing or
personal life may be contributing to their actions?
Why not take the time to stop and think outside the square in different areas of your life this week?
In taking a “Bigger Picture” approach, your levels of satisfaction can really get a boost.
Will It Change You?
Worry and‘what if?'
One of my daughters is quite the ‘what if?' person. You know, “what if” we don't make it there on
time? “What if” the dentist has to pull out all my teeth? She always looks quite concerned when
she asks the question, and I've recently been on a quest to try and teach her to tackle problems as
they arise rather than worrying about the might happen scenarios.
While I'm sure this is pretty common in lots of younger kids, I've also seen this kind of behaviour in
adults. Have you ever come across these kinds of people? They spend so much time worrying about
what could happen, they convince themselves that things will go wrong.
Sometimes we slip into this way of thinking without even realising it.
The problem with this approach to problem solving is that it affects not only your own stress levels,
but also the people around you! It's much more productive and better for you own well being to
become as adaptable as possible, and adjust to situations as they arise.
Most adults have common concerns such as work and job situations, finances, mortgages, car
payments: all of these things are valid because they impact our day to day living. But are we tackling
problems as they arise and having a constructive view of potential outcomes, or do we worry too
much about what might happen?
My wife has sometimes criticised me in the past for replying “it'll all work out” in response to a
potentially worrying situation, rather than creating a plan of attack there and then. In truth, it's often
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to buy me a bit more time to go and think of ways to tackle the problem! Regardless, having a
positive attitude that things will work out is a great way to start dealing with problems that seem unfixable, rather than stressing and worrying that there is no way out.
Something I've been trying to do lately is turn any ‘what if' type thoughts into productive ones in
the same way I try to deal with problems as they arise. Rather than worrying “is this really all I can
be?” I've tried to swing my thinking to “what else can I do that would fulfill some of my dreams?”
Have you ever slipped into “what if this happens” mode? Are your concerns reasonable or do you
worry too much? Food for thought…
Will It Change You?
Part Two:
Communication, People Skills and Relationships
Will It Change You?
How to be liked more
If you're anything like me, you've probably discovered by now that it's a nice feeling when other
people like you! Unfortunately you can't really waltz to up to someone and say “hey, wanna like
me?” but there are a few things we all can do to make ourselves more likable.
Often when we go about day to day activities, we're our own worst enemy when it comes to how
other people perceive us. A lot of the time the desire to be liked or wanted comes second to our
established character traits and idiosyncrasies - the very things that turn other people away!
So here are 5 quick tips to improve your likability!
1. Stop talking about yourself so much - people don't always want to hear about you! I know,
this one sounds pretty obvious, but you would be amazed at the amount of people who talk
non-stop about themselves. Nothing is more of a turn off than sitting in a staff room with one
loud skwarker talking about her hair, her money, her daughter's dance recital, her sore throat…
2. Look into people's eyes and smile - have you ever been at a dinner party, where you're having
an ‘ice-break' conversation with someone? You know, “so…. what do you do?” etc. As you're
telling the person about how you work for Bank of England, you notice their gaze is on
something else in the room. This sends out a big signal called “I could really care less about
what you are saying, who else can I talk to instead of you?”
3. Mimic the person's facial expressions - this can help establish a rapport with the person. If
they look upset, don't start smiling! Lean your head to the left slightly if that's what they are
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doing. You'll find you establish a greater connection with the person & improve your likability.
4. Develop really good listening habits - blurting something out before thinking about it has
caused so many problems for people! Sometimes part of being a good listener means thinking
about what you've heard before you speak. If you want to be liked more, really listen to what
people are saying to you. Be slow to respond, and show that you've heard what they said by
reiterating things they have said.
5. Give compliments where they are due - some people find this hard to do. Just as it takes
strength of character and practice to be able to say “I'm sorry” when it's due, you also should
make a deliberate effort to give people praise and thanks where it is due. This can be done in a
variety of ways - send and email, send some flowers, tell a third party about someone while the
person is listening.
Improving your likability and character is not an overnight thing. But, you can start
today to make some changes! Start with these 5 tips, and make a deliberate effort to be
someone people like to have around!
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How to lose friends and influence no one!
One of the motivating factors behind my foray into the world of personal growth really did come
from reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. - a lot of the points
that are made are still valid today (many years after the original book was written!)
I've thought a bit lately about what it is exactly that turns me off in people that irritate me.
Personally, I think I'm most perturbed when people are particularly self centered and not sensitive to
other people. I really think that most of these people have no idea that they act in a way that is
particularly irritating to other people, and I've certainly been guilty of falling into one of these
categories myself from time to time! (I'm often bad with remembering names, for example something I'm trying to work on!) Here's a tongue in cheek look at:
Five of the best ways to lose people's interest, make people hold you in low esteem, and ultimately
turn people off!
1. Look right through people. In other words, look around the room and see who else you could be
talking to instead of the person you're communicating to. I've spoken on this before - people are
very perceptive and if you're giving out vibes that you're not interested in talking to the person in
front of you, it's pretty obvious.
2. Complain loudly and often. No one wants to hear someone who whinges and cries about
everything! People like to be around other people who are positive, uplifting and optimistic.
3. Forget people's names. Nothing really shows someone how uninterested you are than forgetting
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their name, or worse - calling them the wrong name! (I've been guilty of not paying attention to
people outside of my ‘circle' at work - the cleaners for instance, why not say good morning to them
and call them by name!?)
4. Talk about yourself and your own interests and nothing else. While it's great to update the
whole staff room on how your niece is going at her piano recital, don't go on and on and on about
yourself and neglect everyone else in the room.
5. Belittle people or make them feel small. I know a girl at work who does this constantly, and as a
result people avoid her whenever she works. I've even seen people take sick leave and swap shifts to
get away! The worse cases I've seen of this are when people do it publicly and make the person look
These are things that are always good to remind ourselves of - people deserve more than we
sometimes give them!
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7 great ways to keep a relationship alive
I'm happy to say I finally feel like I've worked up enough credit to be able to speak on this topic
(after 13 years of marriage), and aside from some ups and downs in the first couple years, I'm also
pleased to say that things really have gone well overall!
I'd be a fool to believe that it's all plain sailing now even after years have gone by, and it's with this in
mind that I reflect on some of the things I've learned (often through trial and error, mishaps and
regrets!) along the way.
So here are some of the greatest ways to keep your relationship alive, make you appreciate your
partner more, and ultimately stay happy!
1. Go the extra mile.
By this, I'm talking about going out of your way to do things for your partner. If you're tired after
work and sitting on the couch, hop up and help her with dinner for a while. Drive out to the shop
and grab the bread she forgot to buy earlier. The small sacrifices you make will do wonders for your
relationship: showing the person that you care enough to take action is far better than being all talk.
2. Compliment your partner.
I've spoken on the value of compliments to your co-workers, friends and acquaintances recently, and
the same holds true for close relationships. If I want my wife to continue to look great and spend
time looking after herself, complimenting and encouraging is really important! The same holds true
for me also: I'm a lot more inclined to spend time on not just personal grooming and appearance,
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but also trying to be a better person if I'm hearing encouragement and getting support.
Complimenting each other will certainly draw you closer.
3. Factor in some alone time.
This is really hard to do, especially if you're like me and lead a fairly busy life. Throw in shift work and
kids into the equation, and you start to forget who your partner is! It's really important to make time
for each other. You can do this by delaying other tasks that are not as important - if you have an
hour free, go out for coffee together! This is something I've really tried to step up over the last year
or so - we try to go out for breakfast together on a semi-regular basis now, and at the very least
devote some alone time with each other when we're able to.
4. Speak kindly.
You'd think this one would be obvious, but the first year pet names of “lovey, honey-pie,
snookums!” often become a distant memory the longer a relationship is together. Even if you don't
call your partner pet names so much anymore, don't forget to treat each other with respect. Speak
kindly! Don't put the other person down.
5. Address problem areas.
One area of mine that I (still!) need to work on, is being tidy with my clothes. I love nothing more
than to get changed and toss my old clothes into a corner of the room. This works great when you're
living with your parents or at college, not so great in a marriage! If something's irritating you about
your partner, talk about it (not scream!), tell them how it makes you feel. Don't get defensive, work
on addressing problem areas in your own life - it will make your relationship a whole lot better!
6. Don't sweat the small stuff.
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Have you ever met a perfect person? Sometimes some people seem this way when you first meet
them, then you discover they snort when they laugh, they have anger management issues, or maybe
they can't hold a conversation that's not about themselves… There are plenty of things we find out
about each other the longer relationships progress. Letting little things get to you can put your
whole relationship in jeopardy (I'm sure you've heard of a divorce that started over a toothpaste tube
argument!). And for what purpose? So you can get with someone else who seems ‘perfect', until
you discover their flaws? Instead, use the opportunity to think about yourself - what little things are
you doing that might be irritating your partner?
Give of yourself to others
7. Stay friends.
Probably the best contributing factor (and my favourite) in my own relationship, is my friendship
with my wife. We really actually do enjoy each others company! Don't turn into a boring stiff just
because you're getting older - laugh! Muck around! Have fun with each other, and stay friends. This
is a great key to a relationship that is lasting and meaningful.
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Great relationships don't happen by fluke
Something I've discovered along my relationship travels, is that maintaining a relationship doesn't
work on when you're on autopilot! Just when I hit a point where I'm thinking “well at least that's an
area I don't have to worry about!”, I'm brought back to the stark reality that you can't just coast by,
regardless of the amount of time spent together.
It's not completely uncommon for divorce to occur even after 20, 30 years of marriage! You still have
to work at making things work, and it's really important not to neglect some of the fundamental
basics for good relationships.
As time goes by, some parts of a relationship become easier. That period of I wonder what they're
thinking? gradually progresses to becoming more in tune with your partner: knowing how they are
feeling, what they are thinking. You become more in sync with them as a person, and know where
you stand in terms of areas of trust and accountability.
On the other hand, there is a tendency to become blasé about each other! You can become so used
to having the other person around that you forget how important they are. You're not so worried
about hurting their feelings, and doing something special for each other can be a rarity!
Great Relationships
Want to maintain a great relationship? Get a load of this, it's a great place to start:
Respect - the single greatest part of a relationship. Do you respect your partner? How do you
show it? Do you say nice things about them in front of your friends or other people, or do you
criticize and whine about their weak areas?
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Do something nice - when was the last time you did something nice for your partner without
them asking? How about giving them a massage, helping out with dinner, making them coffee,
cleaning up around the house - there's a thousand things you can do. The little things help so
much in a relationship - do something nice often, it will make a world of difference.
Compliments - I always try and compliment my wife on a regular basis. Compliments are not
fake statements made to get something back for yourself - a compliment has to be genuine! If
you don't believe what you're saying, don't say it - really. There's gotta be many good points
about your partner - when you appreciate something that they do, tell them. Do they look nice
today? Have they done something nice? Tell them!
Be appreciative - everyone should take time out of their day to be thankful for the good things
in their lives. Be thankful for your partner, for your relationships - take the time to realize you are
Do things together - What things do you have in common? What things do you not like doing
with your partner? Find something you both like to do and just hang out. Building a great
relationship is much easier if you actually like doing things together. Laugh! Play! Go for a bike
ride, go to the movies, play a game of tennis, bushwalk, go swimming, play cards, go on a wine
tour, go out for breakfast, play twister… Together, you are unique - find something you like and
do it together, at least on a moderately regular basis.
Imperfections - listen up because this one's important. After you have found that perfect
person, life is sweet! You're walking on air! Then one day you wake up and realize that your
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partner has a habit of leaving the milk out on the bench every day, and it irritates you. You
discover they have bad nasal hair… You find out they have a snorty laugh that's really annoying!
The point is (listen carefully) nobody's perfect! When you start to dwell on the other person's
imperfections, have a think about yourself! Are you perfect? Of course not - there's just as many
irritating things that you do. Try not to sweat the little things - and work on your own problems.
Grass is greener syndrome - ever wonder if you've found the right person? Finding someone
else attractive? Do you realize many people regret affairs for the rest of their lives? Factor in the
previous point on perfection - if you change your partner and go off with someone else, will you
find something else you don't like about them? Probably… I'm not suggesting you put up with a
mediocre relationship just because it's never going to be completely perfect in all ways - I'm just
saying don't let your mind fool you into thinking life would be great if only I was with that hot
chick! Don't wreck something great just because your mind (or eyes) are wandering.
Great relationships don't happen by fluke.
Put some effort into your relationships, and
reap some great rewards.
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Fake compliments don't count!
A girl at work recently changed her hair style from straight, tied back long blond hair, to a kind of
shaggy, permed, half mullet looking thing. To say it wasn't flattering would be an understatement - I
even did a kind of half recoil / double take when I first saw her!
I managed to stammer something like, “oh I hardly recognised you!”, which launched her into
specifics of how she needed a change and tried something new etc. I basically nodded and smiled,
but was amazed when I watched most of the girls in the office tell her how fantastic it looked, and
how much it suited her! I even started thinking “are you guys looking at the same hair that I
I've come across this many many times before with girls though - it seems to be that there's some
unwritten code about complimenting looks and styles even if you don't like it! Often times later the
same person who is dishing out compliments will say to me in private “gosh she looks awful!”
Maybe it's because girls are naturally more sensitive to each other's feelings, where guys tend to be
much more blunt with each other, eg “what happened to your head, dude?”. Anyway, the girl
seemed to have a great day & was beaming all day long, which was good!
It really got me thinking about compliments and the value of compliments. I've certainly been guilty
in the past of appreciating someone or something they have done, but not actually commenting on
it or telling the person. Why is it that it's not natural, and sometimes difficult to tell someone how
much we appreciate them?
I was at a function a couple weeks ago where I overheard some people talking about me. I didn't
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hear the whole conversation (and wasn't intentionally eavesdropping!) but the part that I heard was
just a quick throw away comment, something along the lines of “he's really good with that kind of
I knew they were talking about me (because they named me) and it made me feel really good, and
probably had even more of an impact than when people directly give me feedback about things.
Sometimes when people say things to your face (like “gee I love your hair!”) you have a tendency
to wonder whether or not the person is genuine or has a hidden agenda. In this case I knew that
they were genuine in what they were saying because they were talking to each other, and it really
impressed upon me the value of compliments.
Compliments make people feel good!
They will make you feel good too, because you
have taken the time to tell someone you appreciate them when you really do! If your life is a little
hum drum and you want people to like you more, or if you just want to enjoy life more and make
someone happy - start with some positive compliments. Here's a few great tips to remember:
Be genuine with your compliments - have you ever found out (via a third party) about
someone not liking something of yours, or the way you do something after they complimented
you on it? It's horrible! It makes you feel stupid, and you become more skeptical when other
people compliment you! Be genuine with your compliments, really mean them.
Compliment more often - if you're like me and really only compliment people rather
infrequently, try to step it up a bit this week. It's great on so many levels - you can improve your
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relationships, improve your own self esteem and communication skills and make someone else
feel great! Remember to stay true to being genuine also, don't throw out compliments that are
Be sensitive to other people - some people don't like being singled out in public, other people
love it - when you give genuine compliments to someone, make sure you do it in a way that
makes them feel good rather than embarrassed. Be sensitive to the individuality of people.
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How to be a positive influence on your kids
If there's one thing I've discovered this year, it's that kids grow up really quickly!
I've got a teenager in the house now, and even with all the advice I've received on parenting,
everyone's experience is different. To some degree, i think parenting always has an element of trial
and error! I was talking to a grandparent about this today, his reply: “it's been like that since the
dawn of time!”.
Kids are all different. The way that we parent often has a lot to do with our own upbringing, our
backgrounds and experiences, and our fears or hopes for our children. Regardless of all these
differences, kids universally need people who are good role models in their life - people they can
look up to, and people they can really trust completely.
There are some things we can all do to help be a more positive influence on our kids. Lets face it,
kids will model much of our influence in their own lives! I've talked about leading by example
before, and it remains true - If we really want our kids to grow up into the kinds of people we want
them to be, we need to make sure we are good role models for them!
Simple, everyday things we can do to be a positive influence:
1. Spending time. Kids love to spend time with their parents. Also, did you hear me - kids love to
spend time with their parents!! (in case you missed it the first time!). Seriously though, sometimes
we get so caught up in the ‘important things' of life that we forget to take time out for our kids.
For instance, working late at night on the computer - why not take a half hour break and go and
read a book to your child? These are the things they will remember when they are older - or would
you rather their childhood memory be you sitting at your office working all the time?
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2. Listen. It's so important to really show your kids that you're listening to them. Instead of going
about packing the shed, cleaning the garage, cooking dinner etc. while they talk - instead take 10
minutes to sit down at their level and let them talk to you if they have stuff they want to say. Don't
keep interrupting with your own thoughts and ideas, listen to them. Showing them you are a good
listener is extremely important when it comes to trust and building a good relationship.
3. Reduce and/or stop swearing. I come across some big swearers in my line of work! I work in
emergency, so there's always drunkards, druggies and losers of all kinds that come in and out.. I'm
suggesting here that you may need to look at whether swearing is really necessary all the time.
Sometimes people are so used to swearing they forget that there are people who are offended by it!
Maybe you can think about the frequency of your own swearing - is it really so necessary? One thing
you should never, never do is directly swear in reference to your child. I've seen this so often: it's
tacky, it's tasteless, it makes you look like a loser parent and you're setting your kids up to be just like
you. I'm talking about people who start conversations by pointing at their kids and saying
something like, “this little $*^# has been up all night vomiting!”. So what! You're the parent! Help
your child if they're up all night vomiting. And clean up your sloppy mouth!
4. Lead by example. Your child will mirror you. Do things to make them proud, and handle
situations the way you would like them to when they're bigger! Speak to people with respect, try not
to lose your temper, and be a positive influence on your child.
5. Show them affection. This is so important. Be someone who is encouraging! Don't nod at your
child and expect them to know how you feel,tell them. Give them a hug, tell them you love them,
encourage them and reward them when they do well at something. Kids are not as good as adults
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on picking up on non-verbal cues that might mean something-or-other, we need to be straight
forward and direct with our praise and encouragement.
Don't forget - this is only for a short time, your kids will be grown up and out of home before you
know it, and you might miss your opportunity to be a great parent. If there are qualities you want
your kids to have when they are older, get stuck into putting them into practice in your own life!
Your influence can last a lifetime.
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5 of the greatest parenting tips for teens
The last few years of my life have been very ‘interesting' from a parenting point of view, as I've
discovered that some of the old tried and true parenting methods don't always cut it. Discipline for
example is a lot more complex than I think it used to be. We don't deal with all problems with a
smack and time out anymore.
The ins and outs of daily parenting just seem to‘happen' - you respond to different situations as
you see fit at the time. The transition from being a parent to being a great parent however, only
occurs when you don't respond to those situations purely on instinct. Being a great parent requires
that you think and respond to situations involving your teenager with a bit more care and attention
to detail.
Because every parent and every teenager is different, sometimes adopting a trial and error approach
is the best way to find out what works for you and what doesn't. Other times, I've found it's good to
be consistent with things. There are some things that shouldn't change regardless of the situation,
and these are the things that are important to be consistent with if you want to see your child do
well in life. And so, without further ado I present to you:
Five of the greatest things I have discovered for parenting teens
1. Communicate well. Talk with your teenager regularly and openly, and make sure you really listen
to what they have to say. Reiterate back to them to show that you're listening, and give them a
chance to say what they have to say. Good communication really is a backbone for creating an
ongoing great relationship with your teenager.
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2. Drop the accusing tone from your voice. Sometimes it's easy to slip into that loud accusing
voice, you know, like “What is all that mess in the bathroom, I can't BELIEVE YOU!”. Make a
deliberate attempt to control your tone and volume, and speak to your child as if you were talking to
your brother in law who just stayed at your house: “What happened in the bathroom there?”.
Remember, they have you as a role model so set your own standards high.
3. Have the tough talks with them. No one really enjoys having to go and start a conversation
about drugs, alcohol or relationships with their teenager, but this is something you really need to do.
Do you have values that you want your child to adopt? Think that your child hasn't been exposed to
bad things? Ha! You're fooling yourself. Take the time to go and sit with your child and ask direct
questions. Let them know what you expect of them and why, and get into a discussion about the
benefits and negative aspects of important issues. Your child values your input.
4. Don't sweat the small stuff. I've seen so many parents who say things like, “if only I hadn't made
such a big deal about manners at the table”. I'm not suggesting you drop your standards, but the
old saying about spilt milk really holds true - I've actually seen parents lose their heads over a drink
that's been knocked over! Your kids are up and out of home before you know it, really - don't sweat
the small stuff so much.
5. Give them encouragement. Are you proud of their behaviour today? Go and tell them. Are they
doing better in maths this term? Tell them! Teenagers require a lot of feedback and encouragement,
and are not as intuitive as adults with reading between the lines. Build up your child's self esteem,
they will thank you with their behaviour for the rest of their lives.
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Look at me: I'm right in front of you!
A few years ago there was a principal change at my kids local school. The previous headmaster was a
really well liked guy, and many people were upset that he was leaving.
His personality was dynamic! He was a great public speaker and when you spoke with him one on
one, you really felt like he was genuinely interested in what you had to say.
There was a lot of build up over his prospective replacement - a lady with many qualifications who
had beaten several other applicants in order to get the position. She certainly had an extensive
background and was well qualified in the field.
I had several interactions with this lady as she settled into her new role, but I often found it hard to
connect with her. Her introductory speeches at the school were awkward and it was difficult to
understand the point of what she was saying at times. In the initial few months
when a new headmaster takes over it's fair to allow a bit of leeway as they settle
into the new role, so I put it down to “she's just settling in”.
Give People
About 6 months after she arrived, she had adopted a new tactic. In order to get to
know the parents better, she mixed with them after school. This was a great
concept! Simply walking around and saying ‘hi!' to people or having a quick chat is a great way to
meet parents and let them know you are interested in the school community.
There were several times where I had the opportunity to speak with her briefly, and the
conversations normally revolved around “so what do you do?” etc. The more I spoke with her
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however, the less I liked her! I found myself avoiding her when it came time for her to do the after
school rounds, and I remember thinking to myself ‘there's something not right with this lady'.
I wanted to make sure it was not me who felt this way, so I spoke about it at length with other
parents involved with the school. What I discovered was there was a fairly common element: most of
the people felt a lack of connection with her. (Also there were some public speaking issues, but I'll
discuss that another day!)
One day while I was talking with her I watched her really closely and it hit me. She was not listening
to me at all! She was asking the same questions as she did right back at the start: “so, what do you
do with yourself?” but worst of all she looked right through me.
Have you ever come across these people? You're talking to them and they're nodding but not
listening to anything you say. Their eyes are constantly flicking over your shoulder to see who they
can talk to next. I'm sure I could have answered, “oh, I work as a bunny rabbit picking acorns on the
moon” and she would have nodded and replied “oh right, right….”
Look into my eyes - and listen!
The new principal had a really great idea but really poor delivery - it's no good trying to connect with
people if they can sense you have no interest in them at all. It became clear that the meet and greet
was purely for her own agenda: to increase her public profile. She had no interest in really meeting
and listening to people, and gradually her popularity as a principal dropped right off.
A lot of material on relationships talks about the importance of listening to other people and making
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a connection with them. Thinking about this lady has been a good reminder for the way I interact
with other people when I'm not really interested in them! I've learned to adopt a couple of quick
steps that can really help:
1. The most important person is in front of me right now. I always think about this when I'm
talking to someone, particularly if they're not so interesting. There might be an opportunity to learn
something from this person or for them to gain something from you. I'm a big believer in things
happening for a reason - for some reason you have been brought together, remind yourself that the
other things you are interested in can wait.
2. Look into their eyes. This is so important - don't look over the person's shoulder, they can tell
that you are not interested. Give them your full attention. Don't be that guy at the party that's always
looking around the room to see who else he can talk to that's more important!
3. Listen. Really listen to people! Reiterate things back to them to show that you've been listening,
ask some questions - what's the point of you conversing with someone if all you have to offer is a
false nod and a smile?
How do you go when interacting with people that you don't really like or aren't so interested in?
Sometimes it's easy to slip into the natural role of giving off an ‘uninterested vibe' by giving quiet
little mouse answers or just nodding and looking around the room.
Give it a go this week - think about your own interactions with other people and try a few different
techniques. As far a concepts like personal growth,communication skills and improving the way you
interact with others goes, this is a good place to start.
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Part Three:
Giving Out, Getting Back, Staying Motivated
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Giving and receiving: a new approach
If you're anything like me, you're probably interested in making your life count for something. We
may have different agendas, but hopefully share some common goals. One of the things I've been
thinking about lately is the delicate balance that exists between self and others; that is, weighing up
how much time we devote to improving our own lives and how much we devote to helping other
It's an interesting challenge! Personal growth, self-improvement, satisfaction - many of these
concepts revolve around our selves. “How can I make more money? How can I be happier? How can
I improve myself?” These are questions I'm sure most of us have asked ourselves at some stage. The
interesting paradox is that part of the answer lies in doing just the opposite: thinking about others
more, being selfless.
This week I've heard a message by a man named Jason Hamlin. By means of a massive undertaking
of his, the Genesis Project, Jason helps provide food and essentials to large numbers of people who
have been affected by poverty, hunger and lack.
When someone has devoted their life to Repairing People & Restoring Lives as Jason has, it makes
me sit up and take notice. His enthusiasm and charisma alone are enough to be inspiring and
challenging, but part of the content of what he spoke on raised some interesting thoughts that I'd
like to discuss.
Giving and Receiving
Have a think about the context in which you last heard this statement:
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“Give and you shall receive!” or, “Give and it shall be given unto you!” Was it for legitimate
means, like encouraging you to be more giving and selfless, or was it by someone who was
requesting money? Here's something controversial: how many times have you heard that line
delivered by preachers or late night tele-evangelists?
Giving and receiving is not a new concept. It can be found in scripture, and it's also professed
by millionaires that have no religious affiliation. Chinese philosophy talks of balancing of energies, of
opposites complimenting each other. The concept of karma suggests what goes around comes
around. Whichever way you look at it, there's enough evidence across the void of cultures and beliefs
to suggest that you are much more likely to have good favour in your life when you have a spirit of
This concept often comes with qualifying factors, however. One of them is that the giving cannot be
done solely for the purpose of getting something back.
“There's my $10 to charity, now where's my money!?”
You might call it energy, or joy, attitude, whatever - the point of giving to others is that it should be
done in a positive and happy way, not in one where you are resenting the action, or expecting
something back.
I was further introduced to some qualifying ideas on giving and receiving by Jason Hamlin. Jason
suggests that the phrase regarding giving and receiving is often misused in modern culture by
people who really are trying to satisfy their own agenda, and are wanting something back. He
suggests that the concept is not just referring to money, as is often suggested, but some principles
of life.
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When we think about giving and receiving in terms of giving of ourselves to others, we need to also
address some other areas of our life: specifically, ensuring we are not being judgmental or
condemning people, and maintaining an attitude of forgiveness (easier said than done!).
I love the idea of improving my own life where I am able to. The idea here is that when you address
these areas of your life first, you are in a position where you have an attitude of giving. As a follow
up bonus reward, this is when you start to see things coming back to you! I've experienced this first
hand, and I believe it to be true. This doesn't always have to be money, this can be any number of
things: love, help, finances, friendship…
“You reap what you sow…”
I'm the first person to admit that I judge people. It's hard not to sometimes! I've often found myself
muttering to other people about how someone did something I didn't like. Then I have the audacity
to mutter about people who are always complaining! These are areas I'm working on however - I'm
slowly improving!
Putting it into practice
Here's a model to think about:
Stop judging people based on their past - people can surprise you.
Don't be so quick to condemn, to disapprove of people and make declarations about them.
Forgive people when they've done something wrong to you, or you feel you've been hardly done
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by for some reason.
Give of yourself in many areas of life - your money, your time, your gratitude and love.
The follow on is that when you practice these main areas, you find they will happen back to you.
People will be less judgmental of you. People will be more forgiving. You will receive.
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Control your emotions
Emotions are one of the great parts of being human!
Think about the faces you make when you drop one of your partner's favourite things and it breaks you look up at each other…. what is conveyed? Anger? Sadness Irritation? In that split second, your
facial expression tells a thousand words…
One time when I was younger I slammed a door hard, and a wreath fell off and broke on the ground.
I didn't realise it at the time, but it was one my mum had made - it was her first (as I later discovered)
endeavour with some home hobby materials, and had taken many hours to make. Some 20 years
later I can still see the look in her face when she saw it broken on the ground - flashes of sadness,
anger and surprise. And my reaction? Regret I guess… not that it had broken so much, but because
of my mum's reaction…!
Emotions can be a powerful, important tool when dealing with every day situations. We have an
amazing ability to feel and convey six universally accepted emotions (+ a couple others such as love
and shame that don't make the ‘official' list):
surprise, and
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I often like watching people. Not in a freaky, stalker kind of way, but sitting waiting for a bus.. or
waiting outside the shops while my wife is buying something - I like to watch peoples faces. Are they
in a hurry? Are they upset? When we look at people we can guage very quickly whether they are
familiar. We also can instantaneously pick up on their current mood or feelings, and whether or not
they look lazy/studious/old/worried etc - and then we respond accordingly.
We use our emotions to influence our behaviour.
If we feel afraid, we try and escape from the danger. If we are disgusted, we might feel sick. When
happy, we might laugh and relax. We use emotions every day to make lifestyle decisions.
So why is it that sometimes our emotions seem to have a mind of their own - something might
trigger a sad memory and cause someone to become instantly upset, and some people fly into fits of
unprovoked aggression at the drop of a hat.
We need to be able to feel and recognise a range of emotions, but problems seem to occur when
there are extremes of emotions: sadness can lead to depressive states, pleasure can lead to
addictions, sadness can become depression. Feeling afraid in a dangerous situation is natural and
useful, but being too afraid or being unreasonably fearful can lead to panic attacks, phobias and
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What to do about loneliness
People were not meant to be alone…
A simple statement, but one that has genuine meaning.
People thrive on being with and around other people. Depending on your upbringing and
personality, some people find it easier to be around and interact with other people, and others find it
terrifying and difficult. Regardless, we were all made with the ability and need to interact and have
fellowship with other people.
Loneliness is a terrible thing. It's often compounded by the fact that people who are alone often
become resilient & build barriers. This can make it even more difficult to trust people, interact with
people and enjoy other peoples company. Feelings of loneliness can sometimes be reinforced by
continuing to try & get by on your own strength without involving other people.
What to do about loneliness?
The first thing to do if you are feeling alone is not to stew in misery. Staying at home and torturing
yourself with self-pity will only strengthen negative feelings & will not help your situation. Don't
beat up on yourself so much - it's important to recognise that you have great qualities, and were
made for a purpose. Don't let self-esteem issues ruin your life.
If you genuinely want to live a life where you don't feel lonely,
you need to get out of your comfort zone.
Start by taking some risks, speaking up, getting involved. Are the first steps difficult? Yes. But you
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will feel so much better about yourself for stepping out. Here are some things you can try if you
want to get on top of loneliness in your life:
1. Get involved in the community - there are many volunteer and help groups around, you can check
the paper or internet for details
2. Join a church - there are many social aspects to church groups, even if you are not sure about your
beliefs at this stage. Many churches are non-confrontational, and you will find the people that go
there are just people like you, with hopes and dreams - not freaks. (If you find yourself in a cultish
church, change to another!)
3. Join a sport - many individual and team sports are great for meeting and being around other
people. Sports groups exist that cater for absolute beginners of all ages.
4. Do a course - this will at least get you out of the house & involved with doing something and
surrounding yourself with people who have a common interest.
5. Exercise - go to a gym, go to a fitness group, start running.. find someone who wants to walk
regularly - it's great for your fitness & mental well being.
6. Learn something - an instrument, a language etc
7. Be positive! Life is what you make it…
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No one believes in me!
We have all come across people who feel that their life is not fair!
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons why the person feels that way - broken homes, abuse or
neglect, past hurts or failures and other complications all contribute to shaping a person's selfesteem or self-belief.
Other times, it's self inflicted - drugs, alcohol, no money, unemployment etc. People who had the
same opportunities as others have fooled themselves into thinking other people had better
opportunities. Or other people had better luck. “I never get a break!”… “He gets everything
handed to him in life!”…“When do I get a chance!”.
‘Poor me!' syndrome.
There are many things that can happen in life that result in finding yourself spiraling into feelings of
inadequacy or lack of worth. Why is it that different people respond differently to these situations
though? What gives one person the drive to pick themselves up and get back into life, where
another person gives up and falls into depression?
Firstly, one reason why this can happen is simply because we are all so different. Your background,
your upbringing, your personality, character and traits, your past experiences, your fears or worries,
your habits or addictions… Everything that makes up ‘you' as a person is not the same as anybody
Does this mean that you can turn your life around regardless of your background?
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In all seriousness, you can take some steps to be like those other people who get all the breaks!
The truth is, most of the time those people are not lucky. They don't have everything ‘fall into
place'. Sometimes there's a lot going on behind the scenes that we don't see…
An example - my current job does not have any openings. This is cyclic, sometimes jobs come up,
other times there is a full contingency of staff - when jobs do come up they are highly sought after,
and due to the number of applicants, people who would be great in the job often get turned away.
I had a comment made to me after I landed this job - “you're so lucky for getting that job!”. I
smiled and nodded, but in reality I had put a lot of work into it behind the scenes: many hours had
been spent making contacts, showing interest and communicating regularly. By the time I formally
applied when jobs were advertised, I was one of the first to be offered an interview and subsequently
got the job. Luck did not land me the job!
What if no one believes in me and I don't believe in myself?
Making a change in your life starts with you. Decide to change! Even better, put that decision into
action - today! Make some phone calls - ring and inquire about jobs. Think about what you would
like to do or be, and start the ball rolling.
How do I start?
Get creative! Ring and ask some banks or brokers about loans, ring and ask about upcoming courses
to get you started on a new career path. Go buy a book about what you are interested in… GET
STARTED! “Luck” is not going to fall into your lap - I believe in you, you need to start believing in
yourself too.
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This short series began after I attended a school awards night. One of the speeches was on
confidence, and the material presented was not exactly new. But it was compelling. And inspiring! So
I really just want to pay tribute to something I was reminded of - sometimes it's good to hear
material we may have heard before! It helps reiterate what we already know, and gives us a fresh
perspective from another person's view point. From time to time we also learn something!
How many times have you thought to yourself “I'd be really happy if only I had…..” The ending to
this line really depends on what is important to you, but maybe its “if only I had…
… a million dollars”
… a wife/husband” (or maybe a different wife/husband!)
… a new car / house / boat”
… children”
… a higher paying job”
… a winning lottery ticket!”
I've certainly used one or more of those lines before. I remember thinking to myself a few years back,
“If I could make a heap of money, I'd be much happier!”
There were a few events that happened in my life that changed my way of thinking, however (I've
mentioned one of them in a recent post here so I won't bore you with it again!) Lately I've been
spending more time being thankful for what I have in my life. It's easy to take things for granted
when they're around you every day, it's only when we take a step back and reflect on how much
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certain things really mean to us that we can truly be thankful and express gratitude.
What's the point of being grateful?
There are a number of reasons. One of them is that your actions are dictated by your thoughts.
When you start appreciating things more and being more grateful, it's reflected in your behaviour.
For example, if you are taking more time to reflect on and be grateful for your spouse or kids, it can
change the way you act or react to different situations. I can attest to this in my own life - there have
been times when it has helped me not to over-react when one of the kids does something wrong;
instead I've found myself to be a little more tolerant, forgiving.
A great author by the name of Dr Wayne Dyer also talks about abundance and prosperity, and how
these can be influenced by a scarcity mentality. If we believe and focus on scarcity, we evaluate our
lives in terms of what is missing or lacking; we spend time focusing on what we need or want rather
than being thankful for what we have. He states, “People believe they live a life of lack because they
are unlucky, instead of recognizing that their belief system is rooted in scarcity thinking. Yet as long
as they live with a scarcity mentality, that is what they will attract to their lives.” For those of you
who have read or seen The Secret, this also corresponds with the concept of laws of attraction.
Having gratitude in your life therefore is not only beneficial for:
Yourself, but also
The people close to you, and
Other people around you.
Show a little gratitude
What's the best way to stop taking things for granted and show a little more gratitude? I normally
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start with myself. Every day I make sure I take time out to be thankful for my life - for my health, my
sight, my strength. For the person I am right now, and the things I'm improving on.
Then I expand and move out from there - being thankful for the people close to me, my wife and
kids. My family, my work. The possessions I have, the place I live, food, clothes. The great coffee I
drank this morning! I think about recent events and situations in my life and try to be thankful for
what I may have learned, even if it means turning negatives into positives - sometimes hindsight can
give you a completely different perspective on things.
“The secret is to stop focusing on what we do not have,
and shift our consciousness to an appreciation for all that we are
and all that we do have”
- Wayne Dyer
You can then begin to express that gratitude by doing things like:
Buying flowers for your wife (something I need to do way more often!)
Writing someone an email to appreciate a great article they wrote
Phoning your brother or sister just to say hi
Going above and beyond what is required of you at work
Linking to great articles like this one from Billionaire Woman, or this one at Think Simple Now
Volunteering your time to help someone in need
Telling your kids how much you love and appreciate them, and showing them by spending time
with them
A powerful aspect of gratitude is service to others - they really go hand in hand. Once you start
improving on being grateful, there is a natural tendency to want to help other people more.
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“Whatever you focus your thoughts on, expands”
- Wayne Dyer
Gratitude is so important in life, and so often neglected. Taking a bit of time out to be thankful can
have a positive, powerful impact on many areas of your life.
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Have you ever wondered about your destiny? Wondered whether your life was simply a predetermined series of events or in fact a clean slate, waiting for you to fill in the details…
Destiny. What is destiny?
Literally it means a predetermined course of events; the future, what is destined for you. I've heard
this definition misinterpreted as the end result will remain constant, so why bother pursuing
anything with any vigor? This is something akin to blaming everything on fate, which I don't believe
is correct.
For me, thinking about destiny allows me to ask whether my life was meant for something greater
than what it is now.
I heard a great quote recently on destiny that went like this:
“According to Edison, Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
Destiny is 99% preparation and 1% execution. You can prepare all your life, but if you don't go for it,
you don't take that leap in spite of tonnes of excuses and saying you're not ready, you just won't get
Sometimes you gotta just do it. Or why did you spend all that time preparing? Why do you prepare,
and read, and grow… if you're not going to take a step and finish it off?” - Sam D. Kim
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I like this quote because it reaffirms two of my beliefs:
1. We're here for a reason, and we can accomplish great things
2. These things won't happen by being complacent! In order to fulfill dreams, push out of comfort
zones and be all that we can be, realise our destiny, it takes action.
I don't believe that your life or my life will follow a completely unchangeable path. Our lives have a
plan… but we also have free will and the ability to make choices. How much we apply ourselves,
follow our dreams, and persevere will ultimately decide whether or not we become all that we can
be. And whether we fulfill our destiny.
Does this mean you can do anything at all that you put your mind to? Well, let me ask the
following question. Can anyone become a neurosurgeon? All it takes is hard work, dedication,
passion, and unwavering dedication to your studies, right? True, but unfortunately for many people
they are not well suited to the job, it's just not meant to be. In addition to passion and drive, to be a
neurosurgeon you also need fine motor skills, an ability to think and reason quickly, to be a great
communicator and work well under pressure.
So pursuing a destiny means not only following key ingredients for success, but your pursuit has to
also be right for you. Be meant to be. Destiny. I'm not trying to suggest that having all the right
qualities for a job or role should be the only determining factor in pursuing it - of course there are
many other factors that come into play. The point is, don't miss out on fulfilling your destiny
because you didn't give things a shot. Shoot for the stars, and reflect on what your good qualities
and abilities are - don't be completely unrealistic with your pursuits.
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Key ingredients to successfully fulfilling destiny:
Just Do It
Attitude, passion, drive and smart choices coupled with destiny equals results. Negativity, pessimism,
giving up - these attributes will not see your destiny fulfilled.
Fulfill Your Destiny
Here's how to do it. Do you have a great business idea you've been thinking about for ages? Maybe
you're more passionate about painting than your executive job? Think about your life now and where
it's heading - if you've settled for a mediocre existence, then you're certainly not fulfilling your
Check it out:
Things often happen for a reason, we need to be alert and watching for opportunities
Great things can happen in your life, if only you give it a shot
To get there, to fulfill your destiny takes insight, passion, courage and a go for it mentality.
Destiny is about finding your niche and your passion, and never giving up.
At some point, you gotta just go for it. Why not take a minute right now to re-evaluate where your
life is heading?
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Don't settle for second best
Believe you're here for a reason
Look for opportunities
You can accomplish great things!
Above all, remember to Go for it, be Confident, and Don't give up
How frustrating would it be to have a frail, 80 year old body and a realisation that you could have
accomplished so much more with your life.
Are you reaching your potential? On the road to fulfilling your destiny?
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What Next?
Have you ever wondered what's next? Maybe you've thought about it from a long term perspective a career change or major project you'd like to accomplish. What does my life have in store?
Sometimes these kinds of thoughts produce action, other times they remain a dream. I've heard
many elderly people make some comment about the things they missed out on, eg “I always
wanted to be a pilot but it just never happened”. I don't want that to be me saying that in 40 years
So what is the key to fulfilling our existence? To making the most of life and never giving up?
Improving on gratitude and becoming more confident are actions that produce some amazing
results in our lives, however nothing is as big a dream killer as complacency and routine.
Question: when did you last ask yourself “What's next?”
What's next for you this year?
Let me encourage you to think about it from a short term perspective. What's next - what can you do
today that is different from your normal routine? Can you interact with people differently than you
normally do? How about making the decision to drop complaints for one whole day. No complaining
allowed about anything. Or even stretch that out for a month long commitment.
What's next in your relationships - have you done anything differently or are you in the same old
routine? How about a massage? Lunch? Flowers? I'm just a guilty of this as everyone else relationships need a bit of spontaneity to stay fresh!
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What's next for your character? When your character is developed it's tough to change. The ‘loud
guy' at work is not going to have a complete change in personality overnight. But if there are areas
you want to improve on in your life, why not work on them in bite size chunks and start today? I can
always work on being more appreciative of people for who they are, despite their irritating habits! So
I'm going to think about that today, and control the way I react to people.
Surely there are so many other areas where this principle can be applied. What has worked well for
you? Why let complacency and routine get in the way of living an outstanding life…
Gratitude, Confidence, Destiny… These are great topics to revisit and take action on in our own lives.
Let's not let life go by without making the most of every day! And always be asking what's next?
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Get excited about life!
I love seeing people who are enthusiastic and passionate about life!
Kids are great because they don't hold back with their reactions. At a birthday party for example that instant where you see excitement, passion and pure joy across a child's face. They're not
concerned with who is watching or what others might think. It makes everyone in the room smile!
Fast forward 10, 15, 20 years. What on earth happens?! We become so concerned with our place in
society… The way people see us.. What other people think. I've seen adults open some amazing gifts
and then work hard to control their reactions: smile politely, say something like “oh that's
amazing” and be quite ‘adult' about the whole event. On the inside I'm sure they're excited! You
would never know it though.
Why do we lose that excitement about life?
Why do we find it more difficult to get passionate about life
and show our emotions when we feel them?
It becomes automatic sometimes to suppress feelings of joy, excitement and passion.
Part of the answer lies in the fact that it's expected of us! We live in a world where we follow the
socially accepted norms or standards, and are expected to live within those guidelines. I know a girl
who smiles a lot and always seems to be happy - I've actually heard people say “I can't stand how
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she's always happy” and sneer about it. It's not because they don't enjoy being around her, it's
because they don't live up to the same standards in their own lives. It almost looks foreign to see
someone actually enjoying their job and enjoying their life sometimes!
Don't be so worried about what other people think of you.
It's easy to say, harder to put into practice! But seriously - don't worry so much about how you look
in the eyes of other people. They aren't living your life! Most people are not worried about how well
you are doing, or how the next year will go for you - they're worried about themselves! So it's up to
you to start to live a little.. Get enthusiastic about life! Show your excitement. Don't hold back just
because it's the ‘expected response'.
Why is it important to get excited about life?
For two reasons:
1. For Yourself - If you want to enjoy life, show some passion! Get up out of bed, get motivated,
and start enjoying yourself. Live a little! You can decide to change your attitude and start to
enjoy life, or you can continue to live a mediocre life where you feel unfulfilled. Get excited
about life, and you will start to grow more as a person. Your interactions with other people will
also improve, and your enthusiasm will be contagious. Your road to personal growth is all
about a decision to change!
2. For Other People - Like I stated at the start of this article, I love being around people who love
life. People like to be around other people who are optimistic, positive and inspiring. You will
find this happens in your own life - when you love life, get enthusiastic and show some
PASSION - people around you will notice. By making a conscious decision to change your
attitude and get excited about life, other people will also be inspired.
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There's a great quote by Marcus Aurelius that says:
“waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be.
Become one yourself!”
Take this on board this week, and make some changes in your own life.
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Life goes on: don't give up!
It's easy to say, isn't it - “Life goes on”…
I've heard similar statements all my life: “She'll be right, mate…” “There's always tomorrow…!”
“Ah well, that's life”. When I truly think about it though, I find that statement to be both flippant
and correct.
Flippant because it's often thrown out in casual conversation where it's not meant to be taken
seriously. For example, I've left my wallet at home when I need it… or I can't find my keys… “Ah well,
life goes on”. It's not a situation that is going to have any effect on me in the long term.
However, the same flippant statement is also widely used in completely different contexts. The way
people respond to such situations varies widely depending on several factors such as family
background, degrees of separation to the person involved, severity of incident, age of people
involved, spiritual or religious backgrounds, and many many more factors. Sometimes people
scream, cry, yell the place down, start throwing things, collapse etc.. and others go quiet, smile,
reflect on the person or family involved, hug each other or start making phone calls.
Often during these times I will hear such expressions: “it could have been worse”… “At least (such
and such) didn't happen... life goes on...”
The point of the matter is this: it's normal and natural to respond to such situations in a variety of
ways. It's normal to go through a grieving pattern and process, and to handle each situation
differently. When it really comes down to it however, “life goes on” is not such a silly phrase. In
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reality, it's often a sobering but true concept.
It's good to live our lives with a “life goes on” attitude. I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness
of injury, death or tragedies, but it's important to realise that things happen in this world that are out
of our control.
Sometimes they are flippant things that don't really matter, other times they are life changing.
We can go on. Humans have an amazing ability to adjust to given situations, and we really can go
on. Life goes on - how true that is. Often we don't know why bad things happen, we don't know
why we have been put in situations that just aren't fair. When a child dies, why is that?! It's so
devastating for everyone involved.
Life goes on.
Life goes on.
We are all here for a reason, and it may not be until 20, 30 years down the road where we can reflect
on what has happened and truly make more sense of it all.
I'm sorry if you have had things happen in your life that are unfair, or tragically devastating.
Certainly I've also had things happen that are unjust, unfair, sad.
Don't give up! You are an important part of this world, and you are here for a reason!
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Reflecting on uniqueness
Let me close by giving you a minute to reflect on something we often take for granted.
Have you ever really thought about how unique you are? Kids are often told this kind of
thing to build positivity and self esteem, but when you stop and think about it, it really is quite
amazing! Nobody is quite like you. You have your own look, your own style, your own quality.
The way you walk, the faces you pull, the feelings you have… Everything put together makes up a
person that is like nobody else!
Your physical appearance: your hair, eyes, teeth; your size, shape and form. Your inner workings, your
reactions, your emotions… No one else knows what you are really thinking on the inside.
The way you stand, the way you run, the way you laugh.
Do you ever feel lonely? Scared? Sick? Have you got fears that no one else knows about?
Different sleep habits, food preferences, movie favorites. Different hobbies, likes and dislikes.
Different tastes in clothing, fashion. Revel in your uniqueness, close your eyes and be thankful.
It's good sometimes to take a step back from the craziness of day to day living and just reflect on the
good things in life. We've only got one life to live. Lets be thankful for who we are - we really have
been wonderfully made.
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Recommended Reading
Here's a few of the sites that feature in my feedreader these days, please take some time to
check them out.
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Thanks Sue,
For always believing in me.
Love Always,
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