Valentine’s Day 2012

Following the ‘keep things simple‘ mantra, I surprised my wife today with a hand-written note for Valentine’s Day.

Even though I tell her many times (and often forget to tell her many times) throughout the year, taking the time to put my thoughts on paper was a fabulous experience – stuff I’d wanted to say but never found the right time; stuff I didn’t have the words for at the time (hard to believe, I know!), or stuff that simply missed its opportunity to shine.

No-one can do anything alone in this world – we are social animals and in more ways than one we need others to help us become great. Let me be clear about this: I could not do what I do without her. Her support for me is essential for me to get done what I get done. Even to the point where it doesn’t immediately benefit her, she still supports me. That’s what love is. That’s what dedication is. That’s what it takes to make a successful relationship.

To my Darling Eva, everything in that letter is 100% true. You are a star and I am who I am today through having you by my side. ♥♥♥☺♥♥♥

David Brooks: The Social Animal

In February 2011, Writer, thinker and NY Times columnist  David Brooks presented “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement”. In this 18 minute presentation he touches on something that everyone should strive to understand. Watch the video and see if you can spot what this is:

Did you spot it? For me, it’s this point:

Reading and educating your emotions is one of the key central activities of wisdom

For many of us, we believe that our rational minds can help us live better lives, and that emotions or feelings are not important. This is not so. Neurologist Antonio Damasio noted that in a number of patients who had lost the ability to experience emotion were no longer able to make a decision. What should have taken a few seconds was now taking minutes. What should take minutes was now taking hours. David Hume (an eighteenth century Scottish philosopher) declared that “reason was the slave of the passions” (lifted from How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer). David Brooks supports this view as well, and urges us all to become better at understanding our emotions to not only become better individuals, but a better society overall.

Some other points from the video you may find interesting:

  • When we think about human capital, we think about things we can measure easily – things like grades, SAT’s, degrees, the number of years in schooling. What it really takes to do well, to lead a meaningful life are things that are deeper, things we don’t really even have words for.
    • The first gift or talent is mindsight – the ability to enter into other people’s minds and learn what they have to offer.
    • The second skill is equal poise – The ability to have the serenity to read the biases and failures in your own mind.
    • The third trait is medes, what we might call street smarts – it’s a Greek word. It’s a sensitivity to the physical environment – derive a gist.
  • Limerance. This is not an ability, it’s a drive and motivation. The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or task.

Are you ignoring your emotions, or are you precisely tuned into them? I’ve shared some of my thoughts above and would love to hear yours in the comments below!

Lessons from a conversation

The below has been doing the rounds for years now and I’ve seen it in many guises, but still has relevance to the way we interact with each other today. We can communicate much better than these 2 below, but how often do we? How often to we take the time to try and dig a little deeper to find the true, underlying intention? If the fellow in the balloon simply asked “I’m lost, can you help me get to X”, how (much) different would the conversation have been? More thoughts and questions after the conversation:

A man flying in a hot air balloon realises he’s lost. He lowers the balloon closer to the ground and spots a man in a field, so he shouts out, “Excuse me, can you please help me? I promised to return this balloon to its owner, but I don’t know where I am.

The man on the ground replies: “You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 350 feet above sea level and 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees north latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees west longitude.

You must be an engineer“, says the balloonist.

I am“, replies the man on the ground. “How did you know?

Well“, says the balloonist, “everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost.

The man on the ground says to the balloonist “Well, then, you must be a manager.

I am“, replies the balloonist, “but how did you know?

“Well”, says the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going.  You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in the exact same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault.

The answer provided by the fellow on the ground was ‘technically’ accurate, but didn’t help the balloon fellow find his way back. I know it’s only a story, but I ask you how can we communicate with each other better than what we’re doing today?

  • I am sure story will resonate with many people, (especially those in the ‘corporate world’) but what can we learn from this?
  • Is it right to simply ‘answer’ every question as it’s asked?
  • Could these 2 parties work together better to solve the dilemma?

Let me know your thoughts on what this ‘conversation’ evokes in you.

The two most important people

Who are the 2 most important people in the world?

Here are some clues:

  • If both of these people are present, you begin Connecting
  • Connecting leads to socialising
    • As we understand more about each other, we move beyond merely connecting into the realm of socialising – of gauging what this other person’s motivations are, their views, their thoughts on various topics.
  • Socialising leads to Relationships
    • Relationships are vital to help us stay in tune with other people. I recently blogged that no one person can do it all on their own; we each have our foundation supporters and people we rely on; who keep the home running efficiently; who allow us to be who we are; who provide the support we need to do what we do.
  • Relationships lead to Understanding
    • Relationships lead to a better understanding of the world, an better understanding of ourselves and a better understanding of just how diverse and similar we are.

Coming back to the question: Who are the 2 most important people in the world?

You and Me

Look after you; Look after me; the rest will look after itself 🙂

What I learned this week!

Here’s a quick summary of things I learned this week:

  • Everyone you meet is on your side until you do something to annoy them or send them running
  • Everyone you meet is fighting their own battle, so go easy on them (If they don’t go easy on you, ask them why.)
  • Losing sense of yourself is a slippery slope
  • Those who have good, strong friendships can weather any storm
  • Riding a bicycle in the rain can be fun and takes me back to childhood when rain didn’t stop play!

And here are some questions I ponder:

  • Does light have/is it affected by friction?
  • If you are not self-aware…what are you?
  • How far in this world someone can get TRULY on their own?

How about you, what are some of the learnings/observations/questions from you this past week?

The new Three R's

There are a number of lists of “The three R’s”:

  • Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
  • Reduce Reuse Recycle
  • Read, Write, Recite.

After a recent discussion at a North Side Coffee Morning (#nscm), I devised a new list of 3 R’s to help focus a little more on things that count (outside the realm of the academic education arena). These 3 R’s can be used in almost all aspects of life, and is something i am trying to instill in my children:

Respect.

esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability*

Respect for yourself and others is an important trait to have. Not much can happen in this world without respect. If you respect the people that matter, it can take you far!

Responsibility.

One of the most important traits you can have is to be responsible: Responsible to yourself, your fellow man and the world you live in. Responsibility is an important part of life because it shows that you care about what you do and the impact you have. Having the fortitude to stand up and admit you stuffed up or hurt someone goes a long way. It’s also one of the cornerstones of trust, an important part of what makes the world go round.

Here’s one of my acts of responsibility I blogged about earlier in Taming the Ugliness.

Resilience.

This is a tough skill to learn. The ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back into it is one of the skills that will see you through many encounters in life, both good and bad! It’s quite a difficult skill to teach, however I have been trying with my boys to get them to understand that there will be times where things don’t go your way. It’s how you act when things are not going your way. It used to be called ‘character building’, but today I’ll call it resilience. Empathy with the ‘other’ side of the story or being able to see things from both sides can help.

Can you think of any other R’s that could make useful traits for life?

* All definitions from dictionary.com

My 2010 Goals :-)

Family/Relationships

  • Reinvigorate my relationship with my wife
  • Enjoy time with my boys
  • More family trips away
  • Talk to my father more
  • Continue nurturing all my relationships with people I have met and yet to meet.
  • Continue to reach out to others to help them in their life journey

Fitness-General

  • Become fitter than I am today
  • Run 500km in 50 weeks (up from 250km in 2009)
  • Run once per week for the rest of 2010
  • Be able to run 5km in 25 mins/10km in 55mins

Fitness-Cycling

Fitness-Running

Leadership

  • Soccer Coach for my son’s U6 team
  • Volunteer more

Motorcycling

  • Riding4aCause – Cross-USA motorcycle ride raising awareness for Male Depression

Social/Economic/Other

  • Eliminate our mortgage as quickly as possible
  • Reduce our burden on the environment
  • Continue to look for simpler/streamlined ways of living
  • Look to expand my career into new opportunities, hopefully utilising my Learning & Development capabilities
  • Reduce, minimise or eliminate negativity

Social Media to me

Here’s a quick post to explain my use of Social media, notably Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

  • Facebook is for your personal network, usually people you used to/still know;
  • LinkedIn is for your professional network, usually people you’ve worked with/done business with in the past;
  • Twitter is for people you haven’t met yet! 🙂

I try and keep my networks like the above, but since starting MyProactiveLife, I have been blurring the lines a little more, and I’m comfortable with doing so. Why? I believe that ultimately we are one person, and you cannot keep things separate forever – who I am is who I am, and I attempt to live my life by a set of core beliefs regardless if it’s dealing with a friend, would-be collaborator or work colleague!

Also, I would like people to know that who they meet and work with is someone they feel they can trust and build rapport with – I am not sure you can garner either of these without being sincere & authentic in all dealings with others.

What’re your thoughts on this?

Understanding yourself

One of the important aspects of looking to become better is to learn more about yourself. I experienced this first-hand last night when I fell asleep ion the couch at 8pm. Something I rarely ever do. This was after I’d ranted and shouted at the rest of the family for no good reason. My amygdala was obviously underworked and needed to make its presence felt right before my body screamed ‘enough’ and sent me off to sleepyville…..

A little background

I have been sleeping with a Mandibular Advancement Splint since 2001 after participating in a clinical trial to test the efficacy of these devices to help prevent snoring + help the user get a good night’s sleep. I had one custom-made and tuned by a Dentist during the trial & have used it ever since. 10 days ago, the splint chipped and broke and is no longer safe to use (it’s made of a plastic of some sort and would now cut my gums/tongue/mouth if I continued to use it). I have been going to bed later and not waking up as refreshed as I had been when using the splint, and didn’t think much of it until this morning.

In thinking back, I have been slowly losing sleep each night (or not getting the right kind of sleep) over the past few nights, and it caught up with me. You can only go so far before your body screams ‘enough’. Before I fell asleep on the couch, I was snappy and Mr Shouty Man (my eldest son calls me that) and took out some hidden/underlying frustrations on the family. This is not an isolated incident and has happened before.

I also noticed that my behaviour mirrored that of my 4½year old son when he’s tired – he becomes unresponsive to simple requests, is snappy with others and frustrates easily.  I should have seen the warning signs earlier, but acknowledge that most of the time you’re tired, many higher-level brain functions do not get a look-in, only the basic desires make themselves known/felt. So looking back on it, I now see that a combination of things banded together to put me in that position last night. I hope that with this new understanding of how I react to things when very tired, it might help me control the behaviour before I turn into Mr Shouty Man!

So what have I done?

  • The above does not condone my behaviour!
  • I have since apologised to my wife & children.
  • I have explained to them why it happened and that it was not their fault.
  • I have bought myself a replacement splint from Instantly Stop Snoring, a great Aussie company helping people get a good nights’ sleep! It just arrived so will let you all know how it goes 🙂

Will that be enough – time will tell, but I hope I have more understanding of myself to help me out next time this happens! (For more information about Sleep and it’s importance, check out one of my fave blog posts on the topic 11 Reasons Why You Absolutely Need More Sleep).

Everything happens for a reason

Just a quick one here to say that relationships can build from the simplest meetings. Yesterday, I attended a coffee tweetup in Leichhardt (known as #wscm) and was introduced to 2 people who can make a huge difference to one of the projects I am involved in – Riding4aCause.

Before attending the meeting I had resolved to ‘give this meeting a try’ as I was in 2 minds about whether to attend or not. Something, somewhere must have given me a gentle proactive nudge to attend, because it transpires that these new friends will help the project in a number of ways!

Sometimes we do not know why but I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason!

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