There Will Always Be Somebody…


Faster, stronger, taller, leaner, smarter, richer, quicker, etc.

Any or all the above and more; there will always be somebody somewhere who you’ll find has an advantage over you in those regards. Some of you will say, “So what’s the point?”, with respect to trying to be better and give up.  Others will say, “That’s exactly the point!” and they’ll give up too. A third group of responders will say, “I see that person as a source of inspiration of what could be, but I’m not competing with them in the first place – and that’s the point!”

Are you out to be better than everybody you know or are you out to be the best you can be – just measuring your self against your own history? You don’t after all have any control over someone else’s training schedule, diet, study habits, stamina, investments, etc. In fact, you only have control over what you do yourself; and over this you have full control.

It’s you that drives change dependent upon how much effort you’re willing to invest in making what you want to come about in your own future. Commit to improving and you set a mentality in motion. Give in, give up, give out and you stay the course, possibly even degrade and diminish.

So exactly what are we looking at here? Self-improvement I suppose. You could opt to be the best you can be or you could opt to be a better you than you are at the moment. Quite often seeking to be a better you in whatever area of your life you are looking at is a preferred option. After all, the absolute best you could be sounds like it requires maximum effort; perhaps an unwavering effort because no matter how much you improve, you could always be better than that new level of improvement.

Seeking to better yourself on the other hand means putting in more effort, not the most effort, and if you’re stuck at the moment frustrated with yourself that you’re just not making ANY effort, some seems more obtainable than expecting yourself to make a complete 180 and go at change with 100% commitment.

If you’re looking to lose weight and you want to shed a sizable number of pounds, motivating yourself to cut your weight little by little, a few pounds a week can be very motivating. Expecting 10 pounds a week by crash dieting, working out with extreme intensity when you haven’t worked out for 25 years is just a recipe for extreme disappointment and letdown. Not to mention of course it puts you in danger.

Now job searching? Ah again with the hunt for employment! It works the same way. A lot of people have spent years trying to decide, “what to be.” They think about careers, worry themselves sick (literally) with worry. Ironically trying to, ‘be’ like everyone else who know their purpose in life, have found meaningful work to do, and who make it all seem so easy. Why are they comparing themselves to others in the first place? They live their lives, you live yours. Your path is unique to you, as is theirs to them.

Improving your own fortunes might be what you’re after in a job. Maybe its financial independence, getting the money to buy a cottage and boat. Maybe for you it’s about making a difference in the lives of others; finding fame and glory, owning your own business and calling the shots. Or maybe it’s really just about finding something you don’t hate; that ‘loving’ your job seems too extreme. You’d be happy just finding steady income and having someplace to get to in the morning when you rise.

My advice is to look around at what others do for sources of inspiration. Ask people what they do, if they like their jobs or careers, how long it took them to land in the jobs they have, what they did before they found what their doing today. Sure, as I say, look around for inspiration and get ideas about what’s out there. However, you’re unique from everyone else is everyone you know. What’s seemingly right and a great fit for others may not be right and the best fit for you.

I’m glad you want to be better; that you want more for yourself in the future than you have at this moment. Being a better you is really a good and healthy personal choice. Being the best you can possibly be might sound impressive – and it truly does – but that comes with extreme personal accountability and responsibility that you probably aren’t ready to commit to given where you are at the moment. In other words, you’re setting yourself up for setbacks, disappointment and increased stress brought on yourself by no one other than you.

Being better means you’re committing to being better but not being infallible. You’ll have days where you blow the diet, fail to job search or lose money on an investment. The key is you know these will happen but overall you have days with more effort than you’re putting out at the present. You’re overall movement is forward; you’re improving and getting better.

Being the best you can be might sound good at first thought but be out of reach. Being a better you is extremely commendable and far more realistic. Absolutely nothing wrong with setting your sights on personal improvement.

 

 

Growth Starts With An Open Mind


Your future is likely to replicate your past and present unless an element of change is introduced. In other words, do what you’ve always done and you shouldn’t be shocked to find that things stay relatively the same. This is wonderful if you generally like things the way they are. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something different, hopefully better than what you’ve got, change is more than just desirable; change is critical.

Most people are quite open to change actually, as long as the change required isn’t uncomfortable or involve too much effort on their part. These kind of people have a guiding philosophy that goes, “I’m open to change as long as things stay relatively the same; or if the change is occurring in people around me and not in me directly.” Uh, that’s not going to work.

This article however has the word, ‘growth’ in the title, so why the focus on change in the opening couple of paragraphs? Growth occurs simply put when change occurs and one learns from the process. Just because things change however doesn’t guarantee that growth occurs. A person can move from one city to another hoping for a fresh start with that change of address. While the intention might be good, without behaving and acting differently, it is likely that the person will find themselves living the same kind of experience and being treated by others the same way they were in the past because change only occurred in the address not the person. Their behaviour remained the same and thus the world around them continues to interact with them in a similar way, and they continue to experience their reality in much the same way.

Personal growth occurs when new challenges are initiated, new experiences are undertaken and one is open and receptive to receiving. An open mind; seeing things perhaps that have always been there before us but looking at them through a new perspective. Sometimes this comes about through instruction from a mentor, an expert or an instructor. Sometimes things become revealed to us equally through the eyes of a child, by accidental discovery or through pause and reflection.

We can of course open our minds to a problem every by simply by introducing a different stimulus. If you’re having a problem with something, you’ll often find that taking a break, going for a walk or any diversion really can help you return with a new perspective and often a solution you hadn’t considered before. What’s occurred is the break in the thinking process; you’ve returned without the linear thought lines you had, and see things anew.

I have found that for me personally, there are many moments when I’m working with other people which places me in a position to learn. Formally speaking, I might be the facilitator in a workshop, the expert helping give employment advice or being the listener as someone shares their troubles. While I might be seen as the one imparting the advice or sharing my knowledge, these are moments of growth for me personally if I recognize them as such and open my mind to the moment.

So for example, when I’m passing on some information, I may find that the person I’m attempting to instruct is having a challenge grasping what I’m saying. If I keep repeating the message over and over hoping to drive the point home eventually I may succeed, but it’s unlikely. Why? Because the way I’m delivering the message isn’t being received in a meaningful way by the other person. By opening my mind to other ways of delivering that same message, I will invariably find I meet with success. How? I opened myself to the moment, reassessed the situation and arrived at a new way to make a successful connection, having my message not only be sent but most importantly be received in the way I intended at the start. True communication has occurred as a result and we both learned something in the process; each of us growing as a result.

You’ll find that many employers are wary of the seasoned veteran; the know-it-all who comes to them with decades of experience. It appears to the applicant that they’ve got this sizable advantage over the relatively inexperienced competition who they don’t legitimately give much thought to. However, often times an employer will favour and select an individual with less experience simply because they are open to change, receptive to new ideas; in short they will grow in the position. They fear the person with decades of experience will be – despite their assurances to the contrary – close-minded to learning new procedures, methods and practices. This is the classic, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” mantra.

There is a fallacy in white-washing an entire population or group with the same brush however. Some older workers make excellent employees because they marry their experiences both work-related and life-wise with an open mind. They continue to grow and learn and are genuine in their excitement about continuous learning. The challenge they face is expressing this and being believed.

Wisdom would seem than to be going about with an open mind, being on the lookout for learning opportunities which are around us daily. Seeing things from multiple perspectives, being receptive to new ideas, and pausing to reflect when hearing views different from those we hold ourselves. May you continue to grow.

 

 

Wheelchair Basketball And Relationship Building


Over the last two weeks I was fortunate to be among those presenting workshops for my colleagues in the Social Services Department where I work. This was an inaugural event; hopefully the first of what will be an annual undertaking. I say I was fortunate because there were only 3 workshops offered in any one day and to be involved in facilitating 1 of them was my privilege.

In addition to the workshops, there was a keynote speaker, some testimonials from those in receipt of our services both past and present, and there was a presentation on local workforce statistics too; giving us a fairly tight day. There was of course a much-appreciated luncheon too; if you feed us, we will be happier!

I tell you though, one of the most unusual and looked-forward-to activities of the day however was the opportunity to play some wheelchair basketball with my co-workers during our lunch break. It wasn’t the only option either. Some staff opted to join a drum circle; where 2.5 foot bongo-style drums appeared and a trained player came in to lead whoever opted to join the activity in learning how to play.

Oh and the third lunchtime option was sitting down and learning how to turn those plastic milk bags – the ones that hold three plastic milk bags inside – into a weaved mat for families in poorer parts of the world to sleep on as a makeshift mattress. That was even more unique than the wheelchair basketball; I’d never heard of such a thing and it was indeed something to see completed.

My choice was to get out on the court and try out my skills while confined to a wheelchair and unable to use my legs in the process. It was so much fun the first day, that when I returned on the following two days, I opted to play a second and then a third time too. As those attending each day were different people, it gave me the chance to interact with fresh faces and play with or against co-workers I both seldom see or work with. Our department is very large you see, and we are spread across 5 locations so we don’t actually meet face-to-face often.

If like me, you’ve never had the chance to sit in a wheelchair and play the game, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity if you can. Forget about your natural talent or lack of it. This wasn’t about finding out who the great athletes are and separating the good from the bad. This was all about having fun and interacting with people we’d only normally interact with in a strictly work-like capacity.

We’d all assemble on the court, strapped in to avoid falling, and then experiment with manoeuvering around the floor. Learning how much speed we could generate, how to turn left or right, how to pick up the ball from the floor and most importantly of course, how to shoot the ball without being able to generate any power whatsoever from our legs. That was a great leveling experience! One of the adaptations we were glad to see was the hanging of two hula hoops from the basket at each end. The lowest hoop counted as a point, the higher one worth a couple and if you did score in the traditional basketball net, it was worth three points.

Make no mistake it was fun; it wasn’t about which team won, how many points were scored or defended against.  We had I suspect about 7 players on each team, although no one really stopped and counted. There were no substitutions or referee, no out-of-bounds even when the ball did go where the traditional boundary lines were painted on the floor. We were lucky in fact that there was netting all around the playing area to catch stray passes and missed shots.  We were onlookers too; curious co-workers cheering on the group of us, curious enough to hang out with us but not interested in actually playing.

Like a lot of activities it accomplished what it was designed to do. Give staff the opportunity to bond with each other and interact in a fun way. In this sense, we all won. It was a good time. So good was it in fact that some wondered aloud if that wouldn’t be a great social activity for upcoming birthday parties with friends. That might sound unusual plans for a birthday party, but it put a lot of smiles on our faces.

When you play together you work better together. Relationship-building is something many good organizations seek to encourage in their employees. The people I typically email or speak with over the phone, but whom I seldom see face-to-face except in training events I now know better. The fun basketball get together is really the vehicle or tool that gives us some common ground upon which to strengthen our working relationship. It accomplishes the same thing for those I work with daily, including the person I share my office with. Getting together in a non-traditional way.

Mission accomplished. I’ve yet to hear anyone involved who didn’t have a good time. I feel that (heaven forbid) I should lose the use of my legs, I have something positive to look forward to, not to mention a real appreciation for those who unlike me, can’t get up and walk away when the game is over.