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Confidence. Standing Tall

December 11, 2017 12:50 pm

Standing Tall

Michael (pictured) is a bartender that serves me on a regular basis. He is 29 and somewhat smaller than me in physical stature but is incredibly tall when it comes to his confidence. He is cheeky, always happy, assertive, moves at a fast pace and is a delight to engage with. The smile on his face makes his customers smile. To reach the taps he jumps up on a stool to pour the beers and when he serves people at the tables he is the perfect height – eye level.

What I have learnt from Michael is that confidence comes from within. It is not about what we have and what we don’t have. It’s not about our strengths or our limitations. He has taught me that no matter what we are born with (or without), one can adapt and make the most of this life we’ve been given.

I stand at 185cm. Michael in some respects stands taller than I – a good example for us all.

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Staff Pain

November 28, 2017 8:52 pm

Pain

I was at a restaurant last night and got chatting with the girl who was serving me. While she was very professional in her service and communication, I detected something was troubling her. After two questions and within about 60 seconds, I managed to uncover what her pain was and she talked openly about it.

There are two primary roads we can take in our view of staff.

  1. The Dis-integrated Model. They are here to do a job and they need to leave their personal issues at home.
  2. The Integrated Model. People are whole beings and work and personal are interlinked.

Our staff NEVER leave their personal issues at home. They might function in their role at work but thoughts and emotions still surface and can derail them during their days – thus distracting them, decreasing their ability to engage with customers and co-workers and decreasing their productivity overall. They can compartmentalise but still, complete detachment for most is impossible.

If however, managers treat staff as people, not just workers; if they tune in to those they’re managing; build a culture of humanness and trust and engage with their staff at both a personal and work level then there are higher chances of increased productivity and particularly loyalty. Some staff are closed books but many are open if they know that acceptance prevails.

A supervisor told me today: “I am being totally transparent and open with (my boss) about the challenges I am having.”  That demonstrates the power of an integrated model where the leader treats their people as human beings, creating a culture of transparency and trust.

Staff pain. We can see it as either our ‘staff are a pain’ or that we honour the reality of their pain, using the opportunity to build greater rapport with them, helping diminish fear and driving both the well-being of our people and our organisation. Ultimately, everybody wins.

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The Discomfort of Transition

November 20, 2017 12:08 pm

transition

The discomfort of transition can be a disconcerting time.

  • The things that drove us no longer provide a motivational impetus
  • The answers of the known give way to the questions of the unknown
  • The value and self-confidence we derived from that which was our standard operating mode and environment start to erode
  • Uncertainty replaces certainty
  • Fear blocks a voluntary transition

While transitions can be difficult they provide:

  • Growth
  • Freshness and spark
  • Education and the learning of new skills
  • Mountains to climb rather than plateaus to exist on
  • Personal expansion

Some transitions are involuntary – redundancy, our partner advising us they are leaving or a health report that requires surgery and a new way of caring for ourselves. And many are voluntary in that we choose to take a journey into the wilderness of the unknown. A transition often has no time frame. For some, it might be weeks, others years. Given the uncertainty of change, many choose to stay within the known and never poke their head outside of their current comfort cave. It is safe to stay inside. It’s warm. It’s comfortable and while it might be monotonous at least it’s certain.

  • My relationship isn’t fulfilling but at least I have someone
  • My business is doing OK so we will keep doing what we’ve always done
  • I feel personally stale but at least I know what is happening tomorrow
  • My work is boring but at least I have a paycheck at weeks end
  • Two of my managers really need to be replaced but better the devils I know than those I don’t
A brave and honest transition assessment

Bianca, the owner of a business that I am working with, bravely gave me some of her journal notes this week (and permitted me to publish them) about the discomfort she is experiencing as a result of her business and subsequent life transition – as we move her business from being largely reliant on her to systems and (other) people reliant. She says:

“Today I found myself in a really odd situation and mood. No contact with work at all. Really? Nothing?

“Bad as it is, I am hoping when I go to work tomorrow there are issues for me to deal with. This whole situation is making me feel out of control. I am now starting to look for things I can control or things that I will take back to control. Just say I don’t find something and I let it run its course. What will I do? I need something. My brain is too busy to relax!”

“…lots of questions, all broken down to one thing – AM I NEEDED.”

Bianca is one of the brave souls who understand that there is more to life than work and busyness and is courageously facing transitional uncomfortability head on.  Whatever transition you are in or have been putting off, take heart – there is someone else out there that has jumped off the edge of safety and is now learning to fly.

You can read Bianca’s full journey entry here

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A Brave Transition

November 20, 2017 11:47 am

transition

The following is a journal entry* from one of my clients, Bianca, who is in a transition from working 80 hours a week to a 24 hour week – as we move her business from being largely reliant on her to being systems and (other) people reliant. It provides a brave and honest insight into the transitional discomfort that many of us feel when we are in these situations.

“Today I found myself in a really odd situation and mood. I took the day to take Rocky (child) to a doctors appointment on the Gold Coast – no contact with work at all? Really – nothing? One phone call at 10.40am which was Zach (employee) asking me if I wanted lunch. He didn’t even know I was away for the day. Not sure how to process this. My mind is going a million miles – lots of questions all broken down to one thing – AM I NEEDED?. 

I had great self-control not to call today. Call anyone at work to see where it was up to. I was busy with kids but in the moments I had to think, it was all regarding work. This thought was making me angry and I had no one to express it too. Who would understand? Bad as it is, I am hoping when I go to work tomorrow there are issues for me to deal with.

This whole situation is making me feel out of control. I am now starting to look for things I can control or things that I will take back to control. Just say I don’t find something and I let it run its course. What will I do? I need something. My brain is too busy to relax.” 

For more on this topic read my related blog post The Discomfort Of Transition

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Today I Let Go

November 20, 2017 11:26 am

Bree Hodge

A worthwhile read – reposted with permission from my daughter’s blog – My Upsidedown Journey To Wholeness

Today I Let Go

Today I let go of avoiding pain and discomfort with meaningless distractions and temporary satisfactions, and I welcome in leaning into the discomfort and I welcome in nurturing myself through the fear I feel. Today I let go of the need to fix peoples problems and the need to rescue others’ from their pain, and I welcome in vulnerability and curiosity, exploring deeper into my own fear that surfaces.

Today I let go of this anxiety that sometimes sweeps in when I am enjoying stillness and rest. This fear that sometimes still tells me that I need to be continually working on myself like an unfinished project, editing all my flaws whilst preparing for my future, so that one day I am worthy of love and feel seen, heard and valued. I let this hustle for my worthiness go and I welcome in acceptance and forgiveness and choose grace over shame.

Today I let go of the hype of productivity and the need to fill up my life with to do lists and I welcome in being okay with just being. I welcome in silence and stillness and I welcome in living at a much slower pace, to allow all my senses to drink in the beauty that surrounds me in each moment of being alive. I welcome in the knowledge that all is as it should be in this moment and that I will arrive at each destination of my life at the right time without any force.

Today I let go of conforming to the culture so thick in bullshit that surrounds me, and I welcome in marching to the beat of my own drum. Today I let go of the need of having others approve of me and my life, and I welcome in trusting my own voice and giving myself the approval I seek from others. Today I let go of fear making my choices, and I welcome in courage and all my other values to fill this full-time position.

I’m letting go of the old to allow space for the new. I’m clearing out rooms in the home of my life and with this newly found space. I welcome all those things that match the woman I am today and nourish my mind, body and soul. Today I welcome in living a different way to what I have known, a way that resonates with the truth of my soul and a way that feels damn good!

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A Case For Micromanagement

November 14, 2017 6:35 am

There is a case for micromanaging employees and the only three situations that I think are relevant are:

  • In the very early stages of employment
  • When they are not taking responsibility for their role and failing to meet performance measures
  • When they are making continuous errors

Micromanagement is about managing people at a detail level (as opposed to the larger macro – oversight level) which makes sense in the situations above, however…

The trap in this, for us as leaders, is that we fail to see that this management style should be seasonal, for periods of time – what I have termed as Interval Advancement Management. This style of micromanagement is designed to effectively advance an employee or manager quickly, over a short period of time with the end result for them to be taking full responsibility for their role without our direct involvement at a micro level.

Where managers and business owners fail in this style of management is that they micromanage continuously as a management style rather than utilising it for short-term advancement.

3 Reasons Why Leaders Tend to Continuously Micromanage

My ground level observations about micromanagement in relation to leaders often relate to the following and in many ways are interrelated.

  1. Wanting to maintain complete control
  2. Lack of trust
    “No one can do it as well as I can.” This is often not verbalised as such but in reality, we want quality, we don’t trust our people, and so we have to be in all the details, functioning partly in everybody’s roles, checking absolutely everything (and driving our people crazy.)
  3. The Need To Be Needed
    A very honest business owner client of mine said it this way. “I am scared that when I have everybody in place with all my previous roles fulfilled, I will be no longer needed. What then?”

An Employee’s Comment About Their Boss

During a conversation at a Melbourne Cup party last week a woman said to me “I am looking for a new job. I have been with my company for 12 years and they have had 100% staff turnover this past year. I know my job inside out but they micromanage me and I’m over it. ”

My Recommendations

  • Don’t dismiss micromanagement but do it short term and perform it as Interval Advancement Management with ONLY those employees or management requiring next level advancement.
  • Establish performance measures, reporting, quality checks and balances etc. that allow the person to do their job independently while at the same time, you as the leader understand if their performance is meeting the required standards. If they are, take your hands off and let them do their job. If they are not meeting expectations consider the Interval Advancement method.
  • 360-degree reviews can be useful here to allow employees to rate their managers. Ensure you give your employees a voice as they have the capacity to change our organisations for the better through ground floor understanding and frontline insights.
  • If you are a micromanager and find it hard to let go, ask yourself:
    • Why? What is it within me that drives me into everybody’s role (and drives them crazy and out the door in the process)? Why can’t I trust my people? Why do I have this need to be needed? Why do I derive my personal value from being busy and active?
    • How would you feel if someone came into your organisation and started micromanaging you? How would it make you feel? Would it empower you or disempower you?
    • Who in your organisation needs Interval Advancement Management and how can you best get them to where they need to be?

Micromanagement has its place but only for short periods of time to help people perform at the level required.

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A Lesson From The Birds

November 2, 2017 1:49 pm

I spotted a bird from my back deck this morning with a twig in its mouth. It’s that time of year when they are busy nest building. It is an intrinsic part of their annual cycle.

As humans, our lives are made up of different seasons and just as the birds know when the seasons are changing, we have the innate ability to do likewise. Sometimes, the seasons are those of growth, learning, innovation and fruitfulness; other times it can be those of nesting, deep disappointment,  contemplation, solitude or rest.

Organisations and businesses also go through various seasons. If we are always in the growing season we have the potential to grow too quick, burn our people out and drop off quality and customer satisfaction.  The converse is applicable. If we are always in maintenance mode, not looking outward with a perfect internal order, an entropic state can ensue.

Take a lesson from the birds. They don’t strive, they don’t avoid these shifts through overt busyness and avoidance strategies nor do they use Outlook to know when to nest build – but in this season they KNOW what to do and follow through accordingly. Listening to ourselves and the heartbeat of our organisations;  understanding that seasons change and exercising the courage to embrace these changes are critical to journeying through these times wisely and holistically.

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A Simple Equation For Employee Re-engagement

October 25, 2017 2:53 pm

I am currently working with the owner of an electrical business who has exemplified a simple but powerful method for re-engaging one of their employees in his work and which I thought was worth passing on.

The Employee.
Is an older man who has recently hit a ceiling in his work after having started his new role some months ago. He started dropping the ball, not being attentive to details and was generally letting the broader team down. As a person, he is slower paced in his work processing, people oriented and is indirect in his communication style. He has the skill set for future growth in his role but lacks personal confidence.

The Business Owner.
As a person, the owner is very much the opposite to the employee. She is much younger (approximately 25 years); she is direct in her communication style, fast-paced and adaptive, preferring task completion and managing the business rather than dealing with people. She also has a goal to extract herself from the business so that it becomes others and systems reliant rather than owner reliant.

Re-engagement Approach.

  1. The business owner addressed the situation directly and quickly.
  2. The employee said that he felt like he couldn’t do the job to which the owner countered, “do you legitimately feel like you can’t do the job or are you just sulking?” (Love this question.)
  3. The owner then went on to say that she fully believed in him and that she had no doubts that he could go to the next level, however, if he didn’t want to work in the role any further, she would find him another company to work at immediately.
  4. At this point, the employee got quite emotional and jumped back on board for climbing to the next level in his role.

Summary…
While the above is a brief synopsis, a few things are worth highlighting. While the owner prefers task accomplishment over people involvement, to her credit she took time to understand the employee and then worked with him from beside. She expressed belief in him, took time to talk things through and offered to help him personally to reach the next level in his job role. She also said those magic words “but it’s OK if you want to leave.” I have found over many years that providing this option to employees either helps fully re-engage them or assists them to leave quickly – for both their benefit and the benefit of the organisation.

Understanding the person + getting beside them + expressing belief in them + offering to help them + being willing to let them go…an incredibly simple yet powerful equation for re-engagement.

You might also be interested in…
I gave an 18-minute speech recently entitled “How To Bring The Best Out Of Your People.” Click here to listen to the audio

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Rediscovering The Art Of Play

October 11, 2017 3:48 pm

I love watching children at play. Before they reach a certain age they have no regard for what other people are thinking. They laugh, squeal, run and frankly can be annoying at times – but it’s all because of their inborn natural instinct to play.

I think we were born to play but as we grew older, we were told to restrain ourselves, instructed to act our age. In our teens, we became conscious of ‘cool’ and what our peers thought of us. Then, as we’ve grown older we largely lost the art of play due to the responsibilities we’ve shouldered, the worries we’ve carried.

A few years ago, I discovered the art of play through dance and then that has led to other types of activities where I find refreshment; to laugh, connect with others, get some physical exercise and sometimes just be my playful childlike self and embarrass others. Like the time I asked a girl to dance and she introduced me to her husband. My immediate response was “great, two people to dance with. I’m not bi-sexual but I am a bi-dancer.” For some reason, neither of them were that keen to dance with me…

Play is different for all of us and I think the key is abandonment. Abandoning ourselves in the moment with activities that nourish the soul; where we lose track of time; where fun is the core of the activity; where we lose being ‘cool’; where sometimes we feel guilty for having wasted time having indulged ourselves – guilty pleasure as I like to call it.

If you are not laughing like you used to and feel weary from the weight of responsibility make it your mission to rediscover the art of play.

Ray

PS. And just so you know… I purposefully let go of ‘cool’ with this silly looking video thumbnail of me 🙂

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Seeing Beyond

September 26, 2017 5:23 pm

The recent software malfunction that resulted in massive delays at Sydney airport and beyond, no doubt brought disappointment and frustration to many travellers.

As I was watching the news coverage of the event, one woman said something to the effect of, “I feel really sorry for the guy who pushed the wrong button.” While it doesn’t appear to have been the case, I admired her ability to look beyond herself, appreciate the bigger picture and not be reactive in circumstances outside of her control.

Whether it’s dealing with people in our organisations, confronting challenging obstacles in our paths of progress, navigating relationships or negotiating win-win outcomes – having the ability to see (or question the cause or intent ) beyond our own initial perceptions, inconveniences, impatience and aggravation is wise. What we see with our eyes or hear with our ears may, in fact, be just a minuscule part of the bigger picture.

Seeing beyond. It exemplifies kindness, wisdom and astute leadership.

 

 

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Street Lessons

September 20, 2017 4:59 pm

Travis

I’d like to introduce you to my street friend Travis.

I met this man (through my daughter’s introduction) twelve months ago on the streets of Melbourne and sit with him most Saturday nights. He was homeless, raising money through begging and sleeping in a local car park. He has since been provided with a home and still comes out weekly to ask for money to cover his costs.

Recently at 2 am on a bone-chilling Melbourne morning,  I sat with him on the footpath talking more about his life.  The thing that struck me was his gratitude.  He is no longer a heroin addict, he has a roof over his head and loves his daughter dearly. He is incredibly grateful for his life and for the smallest amount of money or food that people provide him. He is also a very gentle man; always interested in my world, his face lighting up every time he sees me.

When I asked him about why he chooses to come to the street to beg for money instead of working for it (part of my personal quest to deal with my own judgements around this issue) his response blew me away. The workplace is where he got his earlier heroin addiction from and now that he is clean he is extremely hesitant to go back to that situation again. Travis sees a counsellor on a regular basis, is bettering himself through educational courses and is looking at doing voluntary work to help others live better lives.

Travis has reminded me of two critical things in the time I have known him.

  1. Gratitude.
    No matter whether we live in a mansion or a car park, we have much to be grateful for and it’s the practice of gratitude that is the key as opposed to what we have or don’t have.
  2. Acceptance.
    He’s reminded me (and as I wrote last week) that everybody is doing the best they can and how easy I judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a homeless person by their situation. The act of acceptance, with or without words, communicates love powerfully.

The name Travis comes from the Old French traverse – meaning to pass through or cross over a bridge/boundary.

My street friend is traversing his own streets, rivers and bridges as best he can and doing so with grace, gratitude and a big heart. A good reminder from the street for our own life traversal.

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They’re Doing The Best They Can

September 8, 2017 11:37 am

They’re Doing the Best They Can

Over my years of consulting, business owners or managers, in describing their people have sometimes said “this person is hopeless” or “they just don’t get it”. The most memorable was “I work with a bunch of dickheads.”

Brené Brown in her book Rising Strong mentions a concept that I’ve really taken hold of in my own personal journey and in my coaching work with others. That concept is that everyone is doing the best they can. The understanding that people are generally doing the best they can,  given their history, emotional and physical health, current skill set, strengths and weaknesses, habits, life circumstances and so forth.

She says, “It can be painful for organisation leaders to answer this question (are people doing the best that they can?) because…what often comes up is the realisation that instead of prodding and pushing someone, they need to move on to the difficult task of helping them, reassigning them, or letting them go.” [Bracket insert mine]

Brené goes on to say “This doesn’t mean that we stop helping people set goals or that we stop expecting people to grow and change. It means that we stop respecting and evaluating people based on what we think they should accomplish, and start respecting them for who they are and holding them accountable for what they’re actually doing. It means that we stop loving people for who they could be and start loving them for who they are. It means that sometimes when we’re beating ourselves up we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, “Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.” [Italics mine]

A large part of my consulting and coaching work over the years has been to help employees and leaders within organisations to become more productive. The approach I’ve taken is, go slow to go fast.  I take time to get to know who the person is as per the areas I mentioned in the first paragraph. Once I know who I am working with I can steer them appropriately. For some it can happen within the hour, for others, it can take numbers of meetings – dependant on the person. From this approach I get to know:

  • if they have the potential to be a star player
  • if they have reached their capacity in their current role or within the organisation
  • if they need to be demoted or promoted
  • if they need to be released to work elsewhere that is more suited to them.

Once I know the above about a person, having built trust with them along the way and when they know I have their best interests at heart, the process of getting them where they need to be can be rapid. It’s a win for the organisation and a win for the employee. Both parties come out on top.

For you as an influencer and leader of people, taking this empathetic leadership, they are doing the best they can approach, means that you start with where the person is; accept that who that person is now is what you have to work with and then to work alongside them from the ground up as opposed to from the top down.

Everyone is doing the best they can. I am doing the best I can. It has the potential to revolutionise your organisation and your own life.

Watch The Video

 

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Let It Go

September 5, 2017 6:56 pm

 

Edited  Video Transcript
“80% out the door is better than 100% in the drawer.”
Some wise advice I was given many years ago.
One of the things I have realised through life is our penchant for perfectionism and it’s a curse. There is no destination if we live on Perfection Drive – it is one large roundabout.
We strive to have everything perfect, and if it’s not perfect it doesn’t see the light of day. Our in trays are full – good intentions but they’re full because nothing’s quite perfect. We’ve got proposals and quotes, invoices and draft emails that have to be double checked and triple checked before letting them go, creating bottlenecks in our organisations. We have new ideas for business development but because they are not fully formed to perfection we continue with what we’ve always done. We fail to trust others because “no one can do it as good as me.”
Some have got songs that are sitting in the drawer that are at 95% that never see the light of day. Artists – their paintings never see the light of day because they’re not perfect.
Some things need to be given the 100% treatment. Workplace Health and Safety is one that has serious ramifications if we fall short of the mark but much of our output can be let go at less than perfect. The time it takes to perfect something compared to the value received by others doesn’t necessarily correlate.
One of the things I’ve learnt over time is to continually produce, and if it’s 80% or over in my estimation I let it go and I perfect along the way. Does that mean that we shouldn’t strive for excellence? Not at all. Excellence is a great goal, perfectionism, as I said, is a curse.
So in your life, in your work, in your artistic endeavours, in the gifts that you’ve got to share with the world, 80% out the door is a whole lot better than 100% in the drawer.
And it’s up to us to understand what needs to be at 100% and what can be released above 80%. It’s different for everyone and different for every organisation.
Simply said…Let it go.


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The Fresh Breath Of Inspiration

August 25, 2017 10:59 am

Video transcript below…

I’ve just come out to the country and this place is amazing. I always find the country one of those activities and places that deeply refreshes my soul. I’ve been reflecting on this whole concept of refreshment and inspiration. I had a look back at the original Latin of where the word inspire originated from and it comes in two parts. The first part means into. The second part means breathe. Effectively, inspire means to breathe into. I’ve been researching this and thinking through how I can live more consistently in an inspired state and how my clients, those I coach, consult, mentor, how they can do the same because life has a way of sucking the life out of us, leaving us anything but inspired.

I’ve found that there are various connections with people that breathe life into me. Some people are so valuable in my world. There are different forms of spirituality for different people that breathe life into them. There are different activities that also have that work and the converse is true. There are things and relationships that suck the life out of us and it’s really for us, it pays to look at what are the things that breathe life into us, the connections, the activities and what are the things that rob our joy, rob our life, and to start filling our world with breath, with life-giving activities.

I just finished reading the book Tuesdays with Morrie. Great read. Mitch said when he came away from being with Morrie, he felt like he had been rinsed with kindness. My friends, that is inspiration and the more we are topped up and filled with breath, with life, the more we can be an inspiration to others.

My name is Ray Hodge. You can connect with me at rayhodge.com.au and thanks for watching.

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Risky Security

August 22, 2017 9:13 pm

Risk

  • Don’t risk working for yourself. You should get a good-paying job as it’s more secure.
  • You’re 40 and single – you should be married.
  • Pay your home off first, don’t invest until then.
  • Make sure you are always seen to be strong. People can take advantage of you if you are vulnerable.
  • Being a musician, dancer, actor or artist is too risky. Go to uni and get your degree first.
  • Don’t upset the apple cart.
  • Make sure you’re insured to the hilt.
  • It’s too risky travelling overseas.
  • You might fail and lose everything if you start that business.
  • If you express your true feelings to them you might get hurt.
  • Work hard for the next 40 years, play it safe, build your nest egg, then, when you retire you can live the life you always wanted to.
  • Save for a rainy day.

Ever come across any of these – the well-meaning voices from our loved ones, friends, family, society or self?

Security is needed in different realms but taken to the extreme, it will override the voice of the heart and the accomplishment of what is truly important in our lives.

The chase for security can cause:

  • the reversion to (or the existence in) the realms of certainty and the known rather than risking the pursuit of our heart and intuition.
  • putting up with paid life-sapping work rather than truly working in our strengths and passions which promote happiness and joy.
  • the blinding to opportunity.
  • lack of personal growth and stretch.
  • the maintaining of our personal walls and shields to protect us from being fully known by others.
  • maintaining the treadmill tedium, the rat race run, the tail chasing circuit.
  • a dulling to the beauty and magnificent of all life has to offer.

Those who highly prize security generally encourage the same – don’t take risks, just play it safe. They tend to watch on as others get on with their lives and comment how lucky the person was if they succeeded and are the first to say “I told you so” when the person fails. When we live solely to please others, we sell our soul to buy their approval.

Better to take a risk, designing your security needs on that path than only heeding the voice of security and risk missing the whispers of your heart.


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

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Attending My Funeral

August 1, 2017 4:54 pm

I attended a funeral last week of a man who left an indelible mark in the area of which I reside. The words that were spoken by his family and friends were heart warming; the effect that this man’s life had on the broader community and his belief in others were impacting.

As I sat through the service I envisioned that I was given the opportunity to attend my own funeral.

  • What would my children/family be saying about me? Would they have to rummage around in the corners of their memories for a few good things to say or would history be replete with examples of love, tenderness, kindness and fun of which they could easily recall?
  • Would my friends have significant things to say about how I impacted their lives for good?
  • Would people say I loved them more than my work, my successes, my things?
  • Would any of my work colleagues/employees attend the funeral and what would they have to say about me?
  • Did anyone from the broader community attend?

It was pause for reflection to contemplate what I want to be known for and what I would like people to be saying on my day, along with the realisation that my time here is but brief yet I can still make it count.

What do you want people to say about you? What lasting impact would you like to have?  We can let things take their course or we can purposefully go about ensuring the course is how we would like it to be.

And lastly, when we pass from this earth, it won’t be the luxury cars we drove, the houses we owned, the businesses we built, the material things we acquired that will be in attendance at our funeral. It will be the people we loved and who loved us in return.

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It’s Monday!!! How to achieve more this week.

July 24, 2017 3:48 am

Arriving at work on Monday can find us immediately immersed in a mountain load of to – do’s, meetings and demands that we are not quite prepared for and for many, Friday appears and we think “I feel like I’ve achieved nothing all week.”

If you find yourself facing a lot on your plate I would suggest that you take 10-15 minutes today, to list 3 – 7 major things that you would like to achieve this week and then block time into your diary for their accomplishment.

Focused managed task completion is much more effective than bouncing from item to item in a reactive style with your to-do list more likely to become the have-done list by weeks end.

You might also like…
Time Analysis Planner – Free Template
Priority Identification – Article

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Finding Your Way Back Home

July 17, 2017 6:00 am

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Most of us get personally lost at least once in our lifetime. Some are disorientated for a matter of weeks,  others months, and for others, years or even decades. Being lost is an awful place to be. We feel disorientated, disillusioned, aimless, uncertain with accompanying effects of fatigue, boredom and depression for some.

One of the gifts of our lostness is that we discover things about ourselves, others and life that we didn’t know existed in our prior state. When things change in our lives, we change – it’s the nature of life’s course and often, we have to get lost in order to truly find ourselves.

I experienced a period of lostness for around three years. After my separation/ divorce, the landscape was incredibly different. Trying to navigate new roads in unfamiliar territory was incredibly challenging, to say the least.

On one dense foggy night as I was driving home from a friend’s home in the country, I had to keep my eye on the white line given I could see only a few metres ahead. I knew that if I simply followed the line it would lead me home. I realised that in my current personal fog, all I had to do was find that life line that would lead me out into the light of day.  I couldn’t see very far ahead but if I simply did one thing at a time, moving forward with at least some semblance of future direction, I would eventually find my way home.

From that point, I took the time to re-create a picture of what I wanted my life to look like in five years time. I then created some individual goals in order to help me arrive at my ideal destination. I then took those goals and created start dates and then placed those particular activities into my diary to be completed on a regular basis. Doing this accomplished the following:

  • Gave me a sense of my future destination/home (which I can change anytime I want to)
  • Clarified the white lines – the next thing to do in order to get me one step closer to home
  • Provided some metrics in order to assess progress
  • Gave me a return point due to the high likelihood I would go off course. i.e I can go back to the white line – my action plan

If you’re out on foggy roads or in unfamiliar terrain, stop, locate your ideal destination, design how to get there and then follow one step at a time. And, try to enjoy the mystical experience of the fog on the way. Sometimes that in itself can inspire even the most lost soul.

Ray

PS. Here is a link to a document (My Little BIG Dream Planner) that I created to help me find my way. Also, click here to go to the related video

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Growth Spurts: The Osgood-Schlatter Disease of Business

July 11, 2017 5:58 pm

Businessman bending the knee in front of Doillar currency symbol.I recall being in my early teens and having to cease playing football due to falling prey to the Osgood-Schlatter Disease – a disease that often occurs from growth spurts when muscles, bones and tendons are experiencing a rapidity of change. Pulling back from strenuous activity, rest and exercise were the measures I had to put in place at the time for my body to cope with the growth.

I meet with many business owners and managers who are experiencing growth spurts in their organisations. A constant stream of work and its correlated demands pour in the front end pushing their revenues/sales up significantly. They take on more work and as a result have to feed that front end demand with extra people, plant and equipment and so forth. While these are exciting phases to be in, the growing pains can be significant and I have seen firsthand the effects that some these periods cause. Some of these have been:

  • Disgruntled customers
  • Unhappy staff who are stretched to breaking point
  • Personal exhaustion of the business owner
  • Cashflow being smashed
  • Running well behind schedule
  • Going into liquidation

My recommendation is that if you are in a growth phase or know one is potentially on the horizon, that you give equal attention in your planning to both the front end and back end. While you resource the front end growth, give strong consideration to what is required to support that growth – people, managerial processes, systems, cashflow management, your own personal rest requirements etc.

My personal growth pains in my knees couldn’t be planned for but business is different. It’s much better to take a small hit on profit to resource the back end than to boost sales and go out of business altogether.

 

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I Want Another Drink

July 5, 2017 2:33 pm

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When I first starting consulting, my first client was an exceptional Life Coach. We arranged that I would consult with him in return for his coaching me. He was very gracious in being my first client. We agreed that when the coaching came to an end, we would share a bottle of Penfolds Grange. We arranged to have dinner and purchased a bottle for a small princely sum. Apart from the wine being the best I have had to date, the one thing I shall never forget is that upon every mouthful, it created the intense longing for the next sip. It stimulated my senses in such a way that I just wanted more.

One of the things I have noticed in my own life and those that I work with is that when we enjoy the tasks and activities (the Grange experiences) that we are engaged in, we are energised in the process. We do a bit, and we just want more – sometimes losing ourselves in the process.  We enter a state of ‘flow’, the term used by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his profound book Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

The converse is also true. If our lives are filled with things that are laborious and that we don’t enjoy, our energy is depleted, stress increases and happiness is what belonged to another era. We procrastinate and avoid those areas as much as possible.

Take time to do a flow – happiness inventory. What are those things that you engage in with ease and that you WANT to do? Some of those I work with have found meaning and joy in varied activities. One works on his cars;  meditation inspires another; my accountant absolutely loves business analysis and for another, it’s time in the garden. When it comes to our actual daily work, what are the elements of it that you truly enjoy doing? Identify these and seek to work 80% of your time in those areas – outsourcing, delegating or stopping altogether the rest. It may take you some time to get there but is worth making the journey.

Similarly for employees. If you can work increasingly on having your people work in their strengths and what they enjoy doing – their happiness and engagement levels will increase thus their productivity and your profitability.

Where our greatest enjoyment is located is often an indicator of where our greatest strengths lie and ultimately our gift to the world – our purpose beyond ourselves.

Whatever it is for you, find those Grange experiences – the one or two things that inspire you and that create happiness and joy in the process, creating a longing for more. Life like wine is to be savoured and enjoyed. And after all, drinking bad wine for the rest of life is not a very pleasant thought.

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Empathy. The Leadership Performance Driver

June 30, 2017 12:41 pm

In last week’s edition, I talked about the importance of validation. The day after I wrote that piece I was reflecting on a conversation with someone I had just met with and realised that I neglected to validate their current experience. Easy to write about, easy to agree with but much harder to do in practice – but absolutely worth the journey.

Validation is expressing to another that it’s OK; you’re allowed to experience, think and feel that – after all, you are only human. When I, on the odd occasion, am in a shitty mood and I choose to be vulnerable and disclose my feelings to a trusted other, their validation strengthens me, helping shore up my inner emotional foundation. It shows me that I’m normal and provides perspective – “you’ve travelled all week, worked 80 hours and then danced all night – no wonder you’re out of sorts with yourself today.” And interestingly, the origin of the word validation means strong, effective, powerful, active. It also forms the basis of the word valiant.

This week, a friend of mine sent me a report compiled by Development Dimensions International (DDI) which is the analysis of 15,000 leaders from 300 organisations in 18 different countries. The findings from the research indicate that EMPATHY is the leading driver that contributes to high performing leadership stating that “Overwhelmingly, empathy tops the list as the most critical driver of overall performance.”

Whether your leadership is in the home, in social settings or at work, if you want to increase your effectiveness it might pay to visit the empathy factor. Empathy is a learned skill and is derived from the ancient Greek word empatheia. This is made up of two words which mean “in or at” and “passion or suffering.” If we take empathy directly from its origin it effectively means that we enter into another person’s emotional state.

And this entering into another’s emotional state is the leading driver of effective leadership? Who would have guessed?

While validation says “it’s OK – you’re allowed to experience that,” empathy says “I get you. I feel what you feel. I hurt your hurt. Your excitement and joy are mine too – let’s go celebrate.”

Leadership isn’t just about vision, planning, focus, inspiring and the host of other traits that exemplify good leadership. At the core of it are the people we are leading – those who are following us. And it makes sense that when those following our leadership know they are important to us, are valued, that we take time to connect with them personally, validate their experiences and walk an empathetic journey them…this creates followers who will largely produce more, stay with us longer, go the extra mile and demonstrate increased loyalty.

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Validation

June 30, 2017 12:34 pm

Speaking with an acquaintance recently they asked me how I was doing. Given they had asked I thought I’d give them an honest answer. I chose to disclose a certain personal area that I was challenged with but instead of acknowledging it they continued talking about themselves.

In this case, my disclosure, the way I was feeling and the challenge I shared were not validated – it was passed over.

When someone chooses to share something of a personal nature, they are trusting us with their stuff. Their vulnerability says something about the relationship you have with them – they trust you.

Validating a personal disclosure happens intentionally. We have to be present in the conversation and then responsive. No response, no validation. The power of validation is empathy without judgement.

That must be difficult for you
I can’t imagine what you’re going through
How are you coping with that pressure?
How is that working for you?
I don’t understand your situation but I can imagine it would be painful.

No judgements but simple statements and questions that validate the disclosure.
And sometimes, people just want someone to listen – the act of being fully present and simply listening validating the person’s situation.

From validation, trust is increasingly built. From increased trust, (and particularly when the discloser asks for it) direction can be provided. Direction and solutions too soon can invalidate the person’s disclosure.

Validation… a powerful connection tool with those in the workplace, home and community and interestingly, my observation would be that those we lead in the workplace stay in their jobs longer and are more productive when validation is evident.

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Wanky Marketing

June 28, 2017 12:48 pm

Garbage bins

No doubt you would have been approached by salespeople or marketing material that just didn’t seem to ring true.

I recently received a message from someone I don’t know personally who started by saying “you truly are a consultant with rare opportunity to be successful doing lucrative workshops. Have you ever considered doing your own…?” He’s obviously never read my website where there are two workshop related pages. He then went on to say “I find myself really motivated to help you here Ray. So much so that I’d even go ahead and invite you to my …workshop…as my VIP guest.” And I’m guessing, the same message went to all his contacts – that everyone was remarkable and everyone was VIP status.

Another marketing email I received once started with “I’m sitting here writing this email barefoot on the sand in front of my beach house.”

Two words that define wanky (used in the title here) are worthless and stupid.

My suggestion is that when you market yourself or your business; when you are meeting with a potential buyer to discuss their purchase of your product or service; when you are in negotiations, you do it in a manner that has the seal of authenticity stamped on it. Otherwise, apart from being assigned to the rubbish dump of the worthless and stupid, the delete button is within easy reach.

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When Listening IS The Solution

June 15, 2017 2:47 pm

At the end of a discussion with a friend yesterday after we had plumbed the depths of simple topics such as death, life and depression they said “I like talking with you. You don’t tell me how to fix things, you simply listen.”

It was a good reminder…

People simply want to be heard. Sometimes, listening IS the solution – all that’s required in the moment.

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Leadership Lessons: When Leaders Act Like Children

May 25, 2017 4:22 pm

happy child kids group have fun and play at kindergarden indoor preschool education concept with teacher

Leadership education comes in a myriad of forms – from Universities to Kindergartens with children often overlooked as being those we can learn from.

  1. Children are inclusive.
    I watch how kids include one another until they learn the art of rejection. They see one of their own playing individually and will often initiate contact and make friends easily. They work together to accomplish tasks.
    Good Leadership is about personnel inclusivity and fostering team participation
  2. Children are curious.
    Children have a penchant for learning, for asking a million ‘why’ questions – they’re curious about what things are and how things work.
    Leadership is about continuous learning and curiosity.
  3. Children attempt new things. 
    Not given to mundane living, children are willing to try new things. From lifting the impossible to taking a first step to jumping on (and falling off) their first bike.
    Leadership is pushing the boundaries of ‘what is’ to ‘what could be.’
  4. Children help others.
    Until they learn the art of selfishness, kids are prone to help where they can even if they can’t really be of assistance. It’s an active demonstration of generosity on their part coming from an innate desire to be helpful.
    Employees respect Leaders who are seen to be helpful; who demonstrate a willingness to upgrade their (employees) skills, provide additional assistance in whatever area is required.
  5. Children are playful.
    It seems that we were born to play but as we grow older we sometimes lose the art of having fun. One of my children grabbed a stick, held it skywards and yelled: “God, touch the end of this stick.” I’m not sure whether God did but it was sure fun to watch. There is a simplicity in the way they have fun without regard for what others are thinking. They’re not concerned with looking cool.
    Leadership is about being responsible AND having fun along the way – both in our personal lives and with the people we lead.
  6. Children are dreamers.
    While kids entertain unrealistic daydreams at times, their little minds are free to explore.
    Leaders don’t allow the past or present to determine the future. They intentionally allow their minds to wander in order to discover. 

Children. Little people who have much to teach us big people about life and leadership.

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Self Awareness, Lifestyle Design and Career/ Leadership Connectivity

May 18, 2017 5:18 pm

   Self Awareness – Lifestyle Design – Career, Leadership Effectiveness

The above graphic demonstrates the connection between:

  • one’s self and the related personal growth
  • the design of, and living out a satisfying and meaningful personal life
  • a career that is aligned with who we are at the core with enhanced Leadership effectiveness.

Connection and Authenticity are central to the process.

Self-awareness is about connection. As I grow in my understanding of who I am, my likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, my gifts and talents, behaviors, personality and so forth, it connects me emotionally and pragmatically to who I am. I am self-connected and in this awareness, I am better able to connect with others.

Authenticity is a life lived congruent to our growing self-awareness. When I understand who I am, I am better equipped to not subject myself to the shoulds and expectations of others. I live a life that is increasingly congruent and authentic in all areas.

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What Is, May Not Be For Always

May 18, 2017 4:25 pm

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The popular Brunetti Cafe in Swanston Street, Melbourne is being torn down to make way for the Metro Rail, an $11 billion rail project. Some of the words used in one of the articles about the various businesses affected were disappointed, struggle, relocation, disruption and in the dark.

When things change in our lives these words can reflect what is experienced on the new journey. Whether we have chosen the change or it has been forced upon us, there is disruption and often a prolonged disconcerting uncertainty. We long for what was. We sometimes mistakenly assume that our current life situation, our success, dreams, and aspirations are the way it will be for the rest of our lives – but life has a way of changing. And then when the building starts to get torn down, we attempt to revert to past methodologies and thought patterns to deal with the disruption. But as I have found, disruption, disappointment and the shattering of what was, demand new ways of thinking, being and acting. What served us historically won’t necessarily serve us in a new future. And, while the current season can change dramatically overnight, the future season can take a significant amount of time to adjust to.

If you or those you know are going through seasons of displacement, be gentle on yourself, on them. Allow time for adjustment – there is no time frame.

And often the tearing down of what was, is making way for a greater what is to come.
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When was the last time?

April 6, 2017 9:59 am

Lifestyle reflection

When was the last time you:

  • did something for you?
  • played with a child?
  •  ‘wasted’ time on meaningless activities?
  • laughed so hard that tears ran down your face?
  • were truly grateful for your lot in life no matter how good or shitty it appears to be?
  • heard the birds singing in the morning?
  • went below the surface in conversation?
  • felt vulnerable in connecting with another?
  • didn’t agree with someone yet were empathetic and non-judging toward them?
  • had a decent nights sleep?
  • asked questions in order to learn from another who has a totally different point of view?
  • played like you did when you were a child?
  • took a risk?
  • ‘wasted’ money on someone you love?
  • gave thought to your life and your future?
  • enjoyed a work day?
  • sat with a teenager or a homeless person and learned something new?
  • purposefully expressed gratitude to those you work with?
  • drove the long way around or walked a different way?
  • reflected on your lifestyle i.e the style of life you want to be living

When was the last time you made yourself a coffee, closed the door, put your feet up on the desk and stared out the window? Maybe now is a perfect time.

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Thinking about Thinking

March 10, 2017 10:53 am

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Today I visited the inspiring Victorian location of Healesville – a town nestled in the wine region of the Yarra Valley. I went to catch up on some work, particularly to write but found myself sitting for a long time, staring at the landscape in front of me – doing nothing but thinking.

I recall the story of a group of business students being taken on a tour through a factory. As the tour progressed they came across an older gentleman sitting on a chair staring into space. As the story goes, one of the students asked the factory tour guide, “what is that man doing?” The guide’s response was “he is paid to think.”

Thinking creatively, reflectively or futuristically can be hard work. If we are acting, moving fast and ticking things off our to-do list we feel that we are contributing meaningfully and getting somewhere (even if we are on a road that is leading us down to a dead end). Being busy can be an illusion of productivity and profitability.   If we take time out, however, to think long, hard and purposefully we tend to feel we are not being productive.

I think that thinking purposefully, while being one of the more challenging activities for many,  can be one of the most rewarding in the longer term.

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Melbourne Heartbreak. A Personal Reflection

January 30, 2017 6:39 pm

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For those of us who live in Melbourne Australia and no doubt for many across the world, the recent senseless killing of five innocent victims by a man speeding up the footpath into lunch time crowds is simply judged as abhorrent.

Last week, I went to dine and work in the RACV Club of which I am a member. Outside were two separate memorials made up of flowers, teddy bears, cards, photos and notes. Those passing slowed their walk, sometimes stopping – quietly absorbing the scene confronting them. They shared in the grief of loved ones who for most, the victims are personally unknown. It was apparent that many walked away with heavy hearts and falling tears.

My primary reflection as I moved between the two memorials was two-fold.

The first was that relationships matter. It often takes events like this to drive home the importance and appreciation of those we have in our lives.
To hold each other a bit longer
To encourage each other a little more
To express appreciation more often
To give of ourselves and our resources more freely

Secondly, I was mindful that none of us knows when our last day might finally arrive. Those who died were aged from three months to their early thirties – all non-deserving of a premature earthly departure. Both they and their loved ones never suspected that this particular Friday would be that day – the day that would cause them to sleep in the blankets of death rather than returning to the warm beds of home. It served to remind me that while we have breath it is a life to be lived fully with gratitude, with purpose and intent. To enjoy what we have and those around us. To make a meaningful contribution to the lives of others, to the society we live in – just as those Melburnians exemplified for us in assisting the injured and dying – some in their last moments. It served to remind me how often I find myself complaining and getting worked up over things that in light of this tragedy count for absolutely nothing.

Loving wholeheartedly with gratitude; living a thankful purposeful life that contributes to the betterment of all those in our relational circle, our organisations and our broader world is I think, at the heart of humanity.

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The Open Home Christmas Poem

December 24, 2016 10:30 am

The children woke early only to find
Their parents still asleep,
“Wake up, wake up you sleepy heads,
for today, is Christmas Day.”
With eager expectation
They gathered round the tree,
In laughter, shrieks and heartfelt thanks
They gave and they received.

Immersed in littered paper,
The children suddenly squealed,
“It’s time to open the door,
to let all the people in.”
And as they said the words,
A knock on the door it came,
It was Jane the next door neighbour
The one who lived in pain.

Then Bobby he came after
Whose wife had recently died,
Then Sarah, Tom and Samantha
All friends who lived alone.
And one by one the home was filled
With grateful sounds of love,
At times it sounded like angel song
Descending from above.

For the parents had schooled their children well
That Christmas was for all,
A time to give and to receive
It wasn’t just about themselves.
So if you know those who might this day
Be spending it on their own,
Open the door as the children did
So that nobody eats alone.

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3 Reasons Why Goals Are Not Achieved – A Personal Perspective

December 14, 2016 8:38 pm

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At the end of every year, I take the time to reflect on the progress I made, both at a personal level and in my business. I list all the achievements, all the challenges – what was accomplished and that which was unmet. When I review the list I take note of the unmet goals asking myself “why?”

Here are a three realisations that might be useful

  1. They weren’t my goals
    Even though I wrote the goal down and I apparently desired to achieve it, it wasn’t ‘my’ goal. I was motivated by someone else’s goal e.g. my mentor earns $1,0000.000 per annum so if he can do it so can I. I have also seen this corporately where goals are handed down from the top or someone who I respect says “you need to achieve this.” When there is no personal ownership there is no corresponding drive to fulfil that goal.
  2. The desire was faint
    As I have learned more about myself in respect to goal fulfilment I have come to understand that goals must represent something that I really really really want to achieve. The stronger the desire the more likely it will be ticked off at year’s end.
  3. Lack of discipline
    If I have someone else’s goal and my desire is slight, disciplined actions may or may not fulfil that goal. If however it is my goal and my desire is strong, discipline is more likely to follow and it will be a joy to work hard toward it. Sometimes though, we get sidetracked. Good ideas pop out from everywhere of which we sometimes follow, taking our eyes off our core annual objectives. Sometimes adjustment is needed yes, but often these good ideas caused undisciplined and unfocused actions toward goal fulfilment.

What Would I Really Like?
These days, when looking at the year ahead I ask myself “what would I really like?” The reason for this question is that it then becomes self-directed, not other-directed. It’s all about bringing it back to what interests me, what I would love to see at year’s end.  This generates personal enthusiasm around creating a future that is important to me. The outcomes can be other centred in the sense that this year I will sign up to volunteer with the Salvation Army and help the homeless but firstly it must be derived from our personal drivers and interests.

Intrinsic  Motivation
When I pursue things which interest me, that which fires my heart and my mind, motivation comes from within whereas if it is someone else’s goal or simply a good idea, being motivated to achieve the goal is a hell of a lot harder and generally, the objective remains unfulfilled at year’s end.

As you cast your eyes forward, see if you can catch those horizonal glimpses that spark something within your heart. If you’ve had unmet goals for years consider whether they were really your goals and if they weren’t, don’t write them down for the year ahead. Create instead, a few goals that if achieved you will feel like a million dollars even though you may not have earned it in cash.

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Introducing My Acquaintance, Depression

November 28, 2016 9:28 am

During the last couple of years I met a person called Depression of whom I’d like to introduce you to.

Our initial introduction was at a time of significant personal loss when, quite unexpectedly, he dropped in and offered his quiet consoling presence in order to remove me from my present pain into a numbing darkness. It was in some ways attractive – that removal from the confusing world I knew at the time. He anaesthetised my brain and my soul, painting my world a comforting dark grey. When the pain persisted he would recommend other numbing activities such as loveless sex and the sedation of alcohol. I know others experienced various recommendations that were unique to them however, these were my tailor made remedies. I followed his advice and while he was right (in that these things helped for a short period of time), the after effects pushed me further into reliance upon him. It was a bottomless downward spiral – from grey to black. While he promised comfort it turned out he was a liar and a thief, seeking only companionship for himself and not giving a shit about my personal well being.

That was some time ago.

Occasionally to this day he still visits me, particularly in times of vulnerability. I have got to know his particular insistent rapping on my door and sometimes, in these times of weakness, I am persuaded to walk through that door and take his hand – all the while knowing this will lead to nowhere good. He reminds me to not hope for a better day because this is as good as it gets. He encourages me to not share my pain with my life giving friends; to not dance, not read, not laugh, to procrastinate, not attempt to love again, not go to work, not go out, not eat, not seek new enlightening experiences. Sometimes he even suggests that life is really not worth living at all. And if I follow him out that door… instead of leading me into the open sunshine (which he indeeds promises every single time) he guides me back into that dark and dank cave that I know only too well. And once I get there I realise I have yet again been fooled once more.

If you have Depression in your circle of acquaintances, you might at present be arm in arm with him and if not, one day in the future you may experience as I do, his unannounced visit or that quiet yet insistent tapping on your door. As I have got to know him I have come to understand that he is deaf. Despite me telling him I never want him to revisit he doesn’t seem to hear. He just keeps dropping in from time to time. I have come to accept this and now have strategies in place for when he does. Simply hoping he would never visit never kept him away.

The next time he pops in on you, instead of opening the door and instead of allowing the falsely comforting numbness to take hold – take a step the other way and reach out to a true friend to let them know what you are feeling and experiencing, as I did this morning to my friend Jo. Not all my friends are aware of my acquaintance Depression and that’s okay. They’ve never been introduced to him and some even deny his existence. I am happy for them (as I wish I had never met him either); so these friends never get to know of his presence in my life. I am very selective in this process.

Reaching out to others in these times, in order to bounce into the light  is counter intuitive as the easy route is take our acquaintances hand and progress into the counterfeit comfort of darkness.

But reach out we must.

Cultivate friends who care for you, who have your best interests at heart. Build a life giving circle of a few that might include a therapist as I have had in my circle at times. Create and live a life where your soul is regularly refreshed and happy, for Depression detests healthy joyful people. And finally, create a simple strategy so that if Depression does happen to knock on your door, you know exactly what to do and who to call in order to ward off his advances.

Copyright 2016 Ray Hodge
Illustration by Bekky Halls. 
http://saintdamascus.blogspot.com.au/ 
Used with permission

Note to the reader.
If you are currently struggling with depression or you’ve realised that you’ve lost your happiness and life is mundane, may I encourage you to reach out to a trusted friend and/or seek professional help. As my beautiful daughter keeps reminding me, we are only as sick as our darkest secret – thus the light of admission and open conversation helps reduce the power of soul darkness and assists us in moving forward one step at a time.

Feel free to also get in touch with me. A large part of my daily work is with business owners, executives and employees – assisting them to be happy and productive in their work and personal lives. I can be contacted directly on +61 403 341105 or at ray@rayhodge.com.au

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Fresh or Stagnate

November 7, 2016 2:05 am

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Over the years I have enjoyed drinking from crystal clear flowing mountain streams avoiding the stagnate murky waters in favour of the fresh.

Keeping ourselves fresh is essential if we want to be life givers and by that I mean, those who others enjoy being around and whose lives are refreshed for simply being in our presence.

Having a positive mental outlook, physically at ease and rested, emotionally aware and connected, growing and learning – are some of the components for freshness. And whether our work colleagues, our families, our relationships… others will benefit from drinking from the fresh stream of who we are.

Whenever I have been challenged in any area of life or need to get perspective I reach out to those who represent a fresh stream. Those I can sit with are those who:

  • Believe in me
  • Impart wisdom and positivity
  • Embrace me as I am – not judging me for what I was yesterday but accept me for who I am today and express hope in my future
  • Are questioners and listeners not tellers
  • Are insightful

One stream has fresh incoming water with solid flow, the other an inert pond. Fresh or stagnate. Choose the former as both your life and the life of others will be all the richer for it.

 

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100 Percent from 10 Percent

October 4, 2016 11:23 pm

Living in Melbourne’s West has been an incredible experience this past weekend with the Western Bulldogs winning their first grand final in 62 years. The passion, the belief, the palpable emotions and excitement of fans has been infectious. Not only for a team to win after such a long drought but to win from behind is a credit to their belief and hard work.

When captain Bob Murphy was sidelined for the year with a knee injury in round 3, the senior coach Luke Beveridge said the club had not panicked and stated “The probability of that time we didn’t make it here (to the Grand Final) is probably really high, probably 90 percent – even higher,” he said. “So there’s a 10 percent possibility that we get there. We’re 100 percent on the possibility. And I suppose that’s what the boys did. We attacked the possibility. So if we were 100 percent of 10 percent, we ended up being 100 percent of everything. That’s the thing – you’ve got to stay glass half full…” *

Attacking the possibility.
Whatever the arena, we all suffer injuries and can often feel like we start from behind. They might include the death of a child or marriage, significant downturns in business, career ending events, mental or physical health challenges, financial issues, the sense of talent lack and so forth. The comment from Beveridge relates to most of us at one point or another on lifes journey. To do our absolute best with what we feel we have (or have left) – whether that be 10%, 50% or 80%; to stay the course with the view of the glass half full; to at times absorb the pain of discipline and hard work rather than the pain of defeat – all keys to pushing forward to victory.

If you feel that you are starting from behind, that you’ve suffered setbacks of one kind or another, you’re in good company. Build on what you have and attack it with 100 percent focus. You never know… you just might, like the Doggies, end up passing all the others who seemed closer to 100%.

* Quoted from the Sun Herald Oct 2, 2016

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Universe Offloading

August 25, 2016 1:45 am

“There is a reason for everything” I hear people say. When things go wrong, when the consequences are painful others comfort us with these words. The other sentence is “the universe sent this along to teach me”.

I think there are reasons. Sometimes the reason is our own stupidity for creating the shitty situation in the first place. Other times we have worked hard and struck gold along the way. Other times there seems to be no real reason when external incoming bombs came in from left field and blew us of our feet.

Can we learn from everything?  YES.  Is there a gift in everything? YES.

To credit the universe for our pain or pleasure; to offload our stupid actions and resulting situations into the expanse of cosmic escapism I’m not sure is correct. Personal ownership and perseverance in it all is paramount. But that’s just me offloading!

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Closing The Door On The Day

April 25, 2016 8:13 pm

Those of us who care about our work with the added fortune of an active mind find it difficult to not have the brain whirring of an evening or a weekend on work matters. Here is one suggestion with two physical variants that might be useful.

15-30 minute prior to leaving work, jot down your key tasks for tomorrow and enter them onto your calendar. Once complete, slowly review the list, your day tomorrow – signing off on the day just done. Then (and here is the key) physically close the door to your office and mentally leave your work there as you head home.

The variant to this if you are in an open plan office and don’t have a door is the physical closing or shutting down of your computer or the cover on your day pad.

Closing the door on work enables us to not only be more effective when we show up at the office next day but also when we show up at home that night.

 

 

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Depression: When Blokes Talk

March 21, 2016 3:07 am

Women seem to disclose their challenges quite naturally. If they are having a tough time of it,  they will more readily confide in their girlfriends and lean on others for support. Guys on the other hand tend to be closed books. Lots of things written on the internal pages but shut tight with lock and key.

Watching a band on the edge of a dance floor in Perth last week I got talking to a guy I’ve got to know over the last few years. The conversation led to the point where I told him I had struggled with depression recently. He then opened up and shared about the loss of his son and the journey he had been on. All this while the band was playing and the dancers were dancing.

He finished off the conversation by affirming the importance of guys talking to each other through the tough times and then questioned, “How often would two blokes have an honest discussion like this?”

I have learned over time that if I drop my guard and share something personal it then frees the other person to open up, even if only marginally – but its a start. Our start in life was into community – a family. As men, we then tend to grow up and live in locked up emotional isolation.

Whether it’s a hotel, dance floor, restaurant or your home; to a mate, significant other or therapist start the process of allowing people you trust into your life. You will travel the healing process through tough times more effectively and be the richer for it – and so will others from your vulnerability.

 

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Five Cents

March 15, 2016 1:09 am

Over the years I have had a collection of five cent pieces that was growing by the day. A couple of years back, upon moving house, I threw them into a suitcase forgetting their existence. This week, after moving house again I discovered them. They were held in an enclosed box and were dirty and grimy. I decided to make use of them by washing them to take to the bank in order to convert them to dollar notes. The pieces on their own are worth little but collectively they are of significant value.

When we look back over the years, the isolated experiences and learnings that we’ve been involved in are seemingly insignificant – amounting to not much more than five cents. Whether they be falling in love, raising children, a work promotion or demotion, meaningful friendships, being educated in a certain field, misdemeanours and conduct failure, crisis and pain… all of these and more, are isolated incidences of seemingly small value collectively growing over the years. They may seem of no value at all but collectively, every single experience amounts to something.

The value of time and the passing of years builds this wealth slowly. We can choose to lock them away in the suitcase of our mind and emotions or we can take them out and cash them in for something of higher value.

Some of the coins are clean. These represent the positive life experiences like falling in love or a new challenging career. Other coins are dirty and grimy. These are the perceived negative experiences we’d prefer not come to light, not to deal with, to stay locked away.
I have come to see that both the clean and the grimy all have value. Nothing is wasted.

Take time to reflect on the five cent experiences of your life. What were they? What are they saying? Who are you now because of them? With the individual experiences of your history, what do they tell you about the present and where you possibly should be heading in the future?

Take time to cash them in. The value could be enormous.

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