Monday, 4 December 2017

Two questions just for you


Successful people build each other up. 
They motivate, they inspire and push each other.

Unsuccessful people hate, blame and complain.

Quick question # 1
Which type are you surrounded by?

Quick question # 2
More importantly, which one are you?





Thursday, 16 November 2017

Team Dysfunction - hints and tips for both leaders and team members

Hi you!
Great to see you back. How has your week been?

A tricky subject because dysfunction can be obvious and subtle.

This post is in no way trying to be confronting like I have all the answers, because I don't. These are simply a few things I have been taught and thought a good idea to share. As always with these posts, take out of it what you find useful, dismiss what is not. I'm by no means an expert and the aim has always been to offer up my own learnings to promote sharing and empowerment.
Feel free to add in your own thoughts or suggestions in the comments below.

So this is specifically in relation to teams that somehow lose their way, get caught up in frustrations from small issues which then eventually become near impossible impassable mountains.
Team dysfunction almost always increases individual anxiety, pushes up absenteeism, creates friction, causes collective stress (and often perception changes of how an entire team "views" things) and generally lessens the team's effectiveness in working towards their common goal. Bottom line - it can affect a teams reason for existing. More often than not, workloads go from "coping" to "impossible", even without actual workloads actually increasing. Again, its that perception thing.

I've been very lucky in my working career to have worked with a great many teams and individuals. I've run high performance teams, varying levels of dysfunctional ones, right through to supposedly "broken" teams, those of which, thankfully didn't remain that way for long.

But how did I turn the two latter types around? No, I'm not the worlds greatest manager. I just employed some awareness and realised a few home truths, things I have been taught.

Keep reading.

The truth of the matter you need to realise is, there is no team that is ever broken or beyond repair. Same goes for every individual within it. Sure, some people may be unsuited to their roles, choose to move one, be let go or be encouraged to go elsewhere (as is the nature of business) but the main key is to realise that in the majority of situations;

NO ONE COMES TO WORK TO DO A BAD JOB.

There are always other factors that prevent individuals from being positive members of their team.
Realising these key features (for both you as a team member or as the leader) can certainly help how the team progresses from that point on. Being aware there is dysfunction is half the battle.

The next key feature relates to the below picture - taken from works by "The Table Group's CEO, Patrick ​Lencioni - click http://www.tablegroup.com/ to learn more.

If you are the leader of the team, in my experience it has always been vital to work on repairing each of these 5 dysfunctions via working both one on one with the team members and as the entire group themselves (so everyone hears the same thing, a consistent message from you).

Just as important, if you are the team member, it is your job to be aware of the dysfunction and work on addressing each of the issues for yourself within your team, as a part of it.

For instance​ with your new awareness of any dysfunction, you have to take some responsibility too and look at yourself. A team is only ever as strong as its members, right? What if you're inadvertently adding to the dysfunction?

As a leader or member of the team, a good thing to try - ask yourself, are you (perceived or actually) any of the following people?


If you are, then the time has arrived to do something about it. You didn't come to work to cause others problems did you? I'm betting you said no, of course not. The trick will be if you can be honest enough with yourself to answer accurately.

If you have been perceived as being The Arrogant, start being more empathetic, try to understand the challenges your fellow team mates are experiencing. Empathy is something I cover often in high performing teams as this can often be lost in the pursuit of better measurements. It is a solid method of seeing something from someone else's perspective. It can also change your own.

If you're The Confused, make a list of the things you're confused about and get the answers you need. It's amazing how knowledge can deal with confusion. So many people dig themselves holes by not fronting up to say they dont understand something. Ask yourself a question - which is better? To know how? Or to pretend you know how? You get the drift.

If you're The Panic Machine, try and figure out why you feel this way all the time. A good tip is to deal in facts and logic more often than dealing with emotions. Emotions are good, but if they're causing you to panic with knee-jerk reactions, go with logic and facts about what is "actually" happening, not what you're afraid "might" be.
Consider this - if I tell you "dont think of a purple elephant". Read that again. What did you do? You thought of a purple elephant, right? This proves hacking your brain is possible. Find your purple elephant.

The Blamer - is nothing ever your fault? Are you absolutely sure about that? Not taking responsibility for your actions or your part in actions is detrimental to any team make-up. Likewise, if you are the leader and The Blamer, then you are creating a culture of fear within your group. This behaviour from a leader creates all five of these types. Like the arrogant one, employ some empathy and look around as to how people are reacting to you. You might be surprised.

The Fearful. Ok, you, my friend, need to have more faith in yourself. Helps to know that fear often comes from a combo of confusion and panic that occurs in situations you think/feel you are ill-prepared for. Worst case scenario feelings. History can also be an influence on you too. My best advice is to read some of my other posts or google up what you can do. All you need is a little bit of self-belief, ensure you have an accurate picture of yourself and to develop some trust so you can ask the questions for the answers you need to feel better. And trust me. You can do it, the world wont end if you admit your fears.

You may also be one of each of the types at different times of the day, week, month or year. Is there a trend you can see? Do you always become the Panic Machine every time you deal with a particular person? Or Blamer when dealing with someone else? Either way, being aware is again, half the battle won.

As the leader of the team and you have these people within your team, it is always your responsibility to help them/facilitate the changes these people will eventually want to strive for under your guidance. By helping, you can address the 5 dysfunctions of a team as represented in the pyramid.

But most of all, remember, no team is ever broken. Some do lose their way at times but believe me, success is never as far away as you might feel it is in the beginning when you realise something might be up.

AGAIN, NO ONE COMES TO WORK TO DO A BAD JOB.

Once you deal with the barriers causing dysfunction, your team will feel better about themselves as individuals and as a team. Team cohesion will begin, smiles will start being a lot more common, the ability to empower rises up and any historical-type difficulties will be handled by yourself and those around you, almost to the point where the team can self heal from injury. 

This post only just scratches the surface of what's possible, like I said, I'm no expert. I make plenty of mistakes, and I'm still learning. This is simply stuff I've been shown and taught in the past and is tried and tested - it works.

Yes, it will take effort and yes, it will take time and yes again, you may make mistakes too, but the thing is, if you are the leader of a team that is struggling, it is 100% your responsibility to help them resolve the issues as best you can. You have to try. You were put into your position as a leader for a reason. Back yourself like you've been backed, get advice if you need it, and get in there.

The effort now will save you time in the future. 100% guarantee.

Likewise, if you are the member of a team that isn't running right, you have a responsibility to help it too. Look at yourself, look at those around you. You already know everyone would prefer to be happier, right? And since you're all in this together, doesn't it make sense to do something about it? Consider the alternative. What if no one does anything? Your team will become even more miserable, some people will leave, your team may collapse entirely.

I sincerely hope some of this has helped you. If you have any questions or even just some clarity around some of the points, please don't hesitate to ask. If I don't have the answers, I'll find some.

Have a great day.





Wednesday, 1 November 2017

What would you tell a younger you, if you could?

Hi! 

Welcome back! 


Before you ask, yes, that is me. All of about 6 years old, driving a tractor. Back when in the very late 70's, driving a tractor was considered normal on a farm. Kids had jobs. Some got paid in lollies, others with family trips to the beach.


But reminiscing is not what this post is all about. Well, not quite anyway.
This all started just the other day. I was reading a couple of different articles on the subject of teenagers/tweens, with the idea of looking to help my son who - like most teenagers in 2017 - is dealing with things like his friends not being very friendly at times, peer pressure, the presence of drugs and alcohol around him, sex and sexuality, increasing schoolwork, exams, teachers, which menu to choose from when we go out (kids or adults), not to mention him finding out where his place is in the world, what he believes in, his take on the meaning of life, how to handle conflict, job, car license, fear of the dark etc. 
Yup, all good times. Sometimes frustrating for both of us. Some just the same as when we were young, some not. All the time, we try to stay supportive. 
But it has struck me quite a lot lately, just how different being young nowadays is (in places) from when I was young, or from even when you were, no matter how old you are right at this minute you are reading this. 
Almost $1,000 iPhone's in the hands of 10 year olds seems almost common place these days, not to mention the insane levels of connectivity they have. My 3 year old granddaughter can drive YouTube on my tablet or phone, without even knowing how to spell or write.
In places, times have changed...but at the same time, some things just haven't. 
For instance, I think when boys aged between 5 and 25 hang out, the collective IQ of the group drops to the guy with the lowest IQ in support. See it all the time, plus, I should know. I've tried roof surfing on a van at 80 km/ph, have grass-skied behind a car doing 50 km/ph with a pair of shoes nailed to a skateboard deck and done tonnes of other dumb stuff. And now my 16 year old son is doing dumb stuff too, even when he is a lot smarter than I was at his age. Thankfully nothing as dumb as mine, but then like I said, he and his friends are a lot smarter than my friends and I were.
But the outcomes are more severe now. Because everything and everyone is connected.
The pressures and expectations seem to be very different than they were a decade ago, and they will be again with every new generation. Buzz words like "Busyness" aim to explain how being busy is now the new normal. What about the changes in yours and your team members expectations? Consider commerce in general. 
Intensities do seem to be growing. Things are moving faster. I don't think its overwhelming or anything, just being aware of the fact things change quickly is enough of a fact to deal with.
So where am I going with all this? Why would I write the subject "What would you tell a younger you, if you could?"

Sometimes its important to look back, before you can go forward.
Are you interested in what you would change now as a result of the things you would tell yourself back then? Would you still date that girl? Marry that guy? Invest in that get-rich-quick scheme?  
And if you would tell yourself NOT to do those things, have you considered the good things that happened as a result of doing those bad things? Maybe you had a child with that person, maybe you met the love of your life in the adjacent jail cell or someone taught you the error of your ways and now you lead a life all the better for it? Maybe all that TV helped you become a winner on a game show. 
Lastly, how interesting would it be to find out whether or not you still do the things you would tell yourself not to do? Do you still stay quiet when you want to - and know you need to - speak up?
Here are a couple I found on the internet to start you off.
  • Use your voice when you have something perceptive to add. Don't be afraid, because others will be using theirs. It is better to be heard than drowned out by some who are just being loud just to be heard, not because they actually have anything worthwhile to say.
  • "Different" does not mean wrong, different is just that.

  • Fear of the unknown should be embraced - you're about to experience something brand new that you have never done/experienced before - lucky you! But be careful. 

  • Regarding equality: You deserve it. It's not conditional. You don't have to exchange anything in order to qualify for it. It's yours. Take it, and make no apologies for doing so. There are times when you'll need to apologise for the things you've done, but don't ever apologise for demanding to be treated like a human being. Don't let the fear of retribution chip away at your voice until you wake up one day and realise that you've forgotten how to speak.

  • Regarding strength: You will meet people in this world who will try to convince you that you have none. They need you to be weak because it's the only way they can feel any power over you. But you are stronger than anyone could possibly imagine. You are bright and fierce and beautiful and your feelings matter. YOU matter. And you are not alone.

  • Work harder. Surpass expectations. Ask for help when you need it.

  • Enjoy the little moments; celebrate all the good things that happen to you, no matter how small.

  • Listen to others when they speak no matter what their role in your life. Sometimes the greatest advice comes from the least likely place.


Now if I had to talk to me at 12-13, here are a couple I would have to add;

  • You will not die a horrible death when you ask out that smoking hot popular girl and your voice goes from Barry White to Barry Gibb (Bee Gees). Your face - no matter how red - will probably not explode.

  • Putting hand-fulls of cutlery into a microwave and putting it on HIGH for 5 minutes is NOT a good idea. Yes the sparks will be kinda cool and hypnotically pretty, but the smoke pouring from the front and sides will not. Nor will the look on your Dad's face. Or the Fireman's.

  • It is not the best idea to pop a fully inflated dead cow that has bloat and been sitting there for a few days waiting to be picked up. Yellow and green are not flattering colours against your skin tone. Nor is an aroma that makes other living things cry.

  • It is also not the greatest plan to stab a fully inflated Hilux 4x4 tyre with a steak knife "like in the movies" just to see what happens. It will be loud.  It will be painful. As will the five finger marks be on your leg. Also - yes, Adults can run A LOT faster than you think.

  • It is likely Mum WILL NOT appreciate the fine construction of the metal sharpened ninja stars you make in metalwork. Nor will she appreciate how amazing it will be that you are able to throw them around the house with such mind-numbing accuracy and not smash a single picture on the wall. And no, the "holes" will not add character to the house. 

  • And finally, coolness and popularity are not the be all and end all. All those popular cool kids - some who want you to hang with them, others who tried to put you down - will not be the most successful people in life you know.  



So that's mine, now its your turn to share. 


What would you tell you?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Leadership: What would happen if I empowered everyone in my team?




Have you ever heard a manager or leader speaking about their teams and say something like: 

"Yeah, I hire the best employees I can, empower them and then just get out of their way to let them get on with it"

If you haven't, this is a hugely powerful message to rally toward, not to mention strive for in your own leadership journey. It also makes for smart business.

There are teams that function on being told what to do, a micro-managed "can't think for myself" environment where the preference is toward just doing as they are told. In these teams, performance and professional growth are all tied directly to the person leading them.

Imagine if that were you leading a team like that. A hard ask, right? That's a lot of pressure on your shoulders. 

What if there was another way?

How would you feel if you had a team of people who were trusted and knew it, were empowered, had the ability to do their job and do it with real a sense of ownership? Let me tell you, its one of the best feelings a manager can have in his or her role. 

But so many leaders worry that if they were to do something like this, that manager / leader would do themselves out of a job! 

Let me reassure you. You won't lose your job. You will just perform it differently, at a new next level.

Not only is this "get the right people then get out of their way to let them do it" ideal bigger than just you and your role, this should be the distinction you aim for, for three very simple reasons.

1. You will increase your team's development / job satisfaction
2. You will increase your own development / job satisfaction
3. You will increase your own businesses development and profit

To back this up, my manager recently found an article on LinkedIn and shared it with me, knowing this is the direction I aim for in my role as a Team Leader. I've been exceptionally lucky to have taken over a team of people who all fit firmly into the level one category already, but there are a few things I look for beyond my teams borders and do attempt to follow this diagram below. 



As you can see, Eric Chester here has had some great ideas and this is an excellent way of displaying them.

But what does each section actually mean for you and your team?

Again, from the LinkedIn post, here are the breakdowns. 
I have added in my extra bits in italics so as not to offend the original writer.

1. Hire Talented People of High Character: Trust is the foundation of autonomy. So, while you want talented people on your team, if you’re forced to choose between someone who has the skills and someone you’re certain you can trust, ALWAYS choose the latter. Go to great lengths in the hiring process to make certain you’re bringing on people who have unquestionable ethics and character.

Skills can be taught, a great attitude, is a lot more difficult to teach / gain buy in for change. 

1a. Hire people who will be a great team fit: This is something I have worked ever since I first saw what could be accomplished by following this idea. Firstly, a leaders goal is to "protect the team". You want to add something to the group of people you look after, that will enhance how your team operates. Look at your team and try to see what might be missing. Is it someone who loves numbers? Someone who beams positivity? Do you need a tried and tested? Or a real go-getter to inspire the others? Or do you have too many socialites keen on talking all the time? Do you add in a couple of quieter members of the team? Always consider what you need to help the existing team members. Consider what new people will bring.


2. Clarify Goals and Objectives: Cultures that promote autonomy need employees to work toward targeted, concrete objectives—priorities and deadlines set by their manager. Think of it like establishing the rules of the game before the players take the field. The employees have the opportunity to use their strategic skills and creativity to score more points, but they must know what victory looks like.

KA's, Measurements of Success, whatever you want to call them, these hold the keys toward providing autonomy for your team members. If they understand the goal, know what is expected of them, they will take the bull by the horns and go for it. The WIIFM (whats in it for me) will assist you empowering them because they will prefer ownership of their success much more than you owning it. 
NOTE: your KA's or Measurements of success must allow for the creativity of doing "more". Agree first on what those might be. An example would be "your yearly score was "X" but you went above and beyond by doing "Y" so will now increase your "X" score to a higher "Z" score.


3. Train Process and Procedure: The confidence to correctly make difficult decisions stems from the training an employee receives. That’s why great companies are relentless in their training processes. The Container Store ensures that all new hires receive hundreds of hours of training before they ever set foot on the sales floor. At Marriott Hotels, every employee is cross-trained to do just about any job in the hotel just in case they need to fill in for someone at a moment’s notice. At Wegmans, the deli worker can tell you the reason that a particular type of prosciutto costs $ 90 per pound is that it came from an Iberian pig that was hand-fed acorns from an organic forest in Brazil. Great companies know that training doesn’t just make a difference; it IS the difference.

In just about all cases, your teams training needs will fall into these four categories. 
1 - Up-skilling 2. Cross-skilling 3. Re-skilling or 4. Inductions. 

All of them can have anyone in your team involved. They can help with any category, even to the point of delivering the training. NOTE to consider: Growth can be both limited and enhanced with this design of utilising your own people. Limitations follow a path of "I was taught this way so I will teach this way" and "We've always done it this way, so will continue to do so" and can impact resourcing levels. The enhancements come from allowing your people to spread their wings by doing the teaching. You must retain sign off for all training in the early days to ensure you allow them to question the norm. In larger organisations of 150 plus, enhancements are driven by someone who has "trainer" as their full time occupation. Trainers push like coaches and therefore help "become" the difference mentioned above. 

Regardless of how your business is set up, an employee life-cycle (fig 1) needs to be considered at all times and set against a robust training methodology (fig 2), just to keep your eye on the prize. 
As per the beginning of this 3. train process and procedure, ensure consistency is a goal and a single source of truth is found/created so that each person understands and can easily find answers should their systems (or memories) fail. 

Fig 1                                                    Fig 2


4. Empower Your People: The key to ‘letting go’ is to begin empowering people to make small decisions and work their way up. Use those occasions when your employees approach you for help as opportunities to empower them to make the decision. 

Ask questions like "what do you think we should do?" to encourage them to begin coming to you with confirmation questions rather than straight up questions. This will traverse them from just asking you with no thought, to thinking about the answer before they ask it. 

Empowering can be done simply by providing opportunities for them to show you what they can do. Provide mini-projects, let them teach someone, bring them along to a "higher up" meeting, expose them to other parts of the business. Most of all though, listen to what they want or help them find what they want by asking the right questions. 

The idea is to trust them make a decision and encourage them regardless of how it plays out. However, be sure to hold them accountable for the outcomes as it will motivate them to carefully think things through and take responsibility for the results. That’s essential for building leadership skills.


In the end following these 4 steps, the results will always speak for themselves. 

If the employee demonstrates the ability to make good decisions, they should be granted more trust and more independent decision-making latitude. But if things go awry, take it as a sign that they need more support from you. And scolding them for a bad result or micromanaging them to the ‘nth degree is not what is implied by the term support. It simply means that they may need a more clearly defined goal, more training, or even more confidence. 
And that will come from your trusting them again.


And thats the end of the LinkedIn article. You might notice I still haven't answered the title question of "What would happen if I empowered everyone in my team?"

So, here we go. What does tend to happen?


By following these guidelines, your team will perform at higher levels than ever before, they will (incredibly) feel all the better for it because they have more say, they will have more ownership, more confidence, be more involved, understand more about the business, attain better pay increases and have more interest in how your business performs and want to come to work more often. 

You will have the proud fact that you managed to create a high performing / positive / agile team delivering better results than ever before, have more time to spend working strategically to help them (and your business) be even better, have more time to plan opportunities to continue the growth, you will be managing a happier team who will be better to manage, not to mention it being highly likely that you will be recognised and rewarded for all of this great stuff too.

The business you work for will become more agile as a result in both the marketplace and inside its walls, make more money without compromising any ideals or their culture because everyone is working toward the same goals, will stand head and shoulders above their competitors and be a more positive, sparked environment to work in.

And all that, just from "hiring the best employees to add value amongst your already brilliant existing team, empowering them all and then just getting out of their way to let them get on with it"


Not a bad outcome for just thinking about this leadership stuff slightly differently, don't you think?  


Any questions or comments? Please write them in the comments field below this post.

And will see you next time.



Darren













Sunday, 8 October 2017

Hi there, glad you could make it.

Welcome to this blog site!

Before we get started, please read the DISCLAIMER on the right there (mobile users, click the drop down). It's important that you get your head around the reason for this content.

Yes, it deals with Leadership (amongst other things) but truth be told, I'm not an expert on this subject. I'm not even 100% sure that anyone really is, or even can be.

Leadership is not limited to being employed as a leader either. You can be a leader at the most entry level position of the business you work for. Leadership is not a title, its a caring, helpful attitude. It is also one of those things that changes with not only the environments in which you lead or are a part of, the content you are responsible for, the ever changing situations you find yourself (and your team) in, not to mention all the different people who roll through your leadership in general. Each situation, task, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, and even every person can subtly change your team's dynamic and the overall requirements to succeed. Think about it - you can start a year with 5 people and end it with 5 completely different people. I hope you don't, that kind of impact likely wouldn't be a positive one. Regardless, in every case, each person will either add something or take something away from your team - and either can be good.

A few constants that will definitely help you on your leadership journey [reminder- you dont have to have a leadership title to be a leader], are self adaptability and adaptability with other people (because everyone is different), a wide awareness by "seeing" how your team are feeling, believing in who you are, being open to any change, care and concern for the people you lead and by simply being yourself.

It sounds like a lot, but it really isn't.

Knowing who you are and understanding others needs, is 80% of the leadership journey, the rest is stuff to try. By knowing yourself and others, you're well on your way to empathy town which just so happens to lead straight into being-a-good-leader-that-people-will-want-to-follow-ville.

Cheesy yes. True? Also yes.

And this is where this website hopefully comes into it's own for you. All going well. 
Topics I cover here are designed to help you do things smarter, not work harder. They are simply things I have covered in one on one sessions with staff/peers or through mentoring outside of work or are things great people have taught me. These are all items that people down through the years have found helpful and have said as much. They often deal with serious issues and helpful ways you might be able to handle them without losing your cool or mind.    

The Japanese have a perfect word for the "why" here too - Keiei (kay-aye) which loosely translates to "making an effort developing societies harmoniously and trying to raise the well-being of the people". It goes hand in hand with where I work as well. 

"To enhance the quality of life for the elderly and disabled..." 

This site is all about raising the well-being of people in general, helping and making some kind of positive difference. There is no agenda except to hopefully cover something that might empower either you or someone you know to handle something they didn't know how to before. 
As is life sometimes, you and I both know - tough times are tough times. No one is a stranger to them. Being a leader either going through them yourself or helping someone else go through them, is just as tough. Having a place like this where someone is giving you some support/back-up might be good. Take a look at the URL of this site too - it says it all. It's like an old Japanese statement which speaks to underdog / fighter in all of us;
You can be knocked down, but the strength of your character gets you back up. Every time. 

You'll note I reference a fair bit of Asian thinking too and no, it can't be helped. I'm the product of my environment as well, exactly the same as you :)

So with all that said and the disclaimer read, please post comments in with anything you can add, you can even submit your own post if you wish. Happy to hear from anyone with advice that will help.

All that said, feel free to read on....




Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Attitude - it can be your saving grace


First post.

Like everyone who is reading this knows, yep, life can deliver a few hard knocks, get a bit frustrating or just get you tired of being tired. Maybe you haven't had a holiday for a while due to circumstances beyond your control. End of the year can sometimes have this affect too - you've put in 12 months and worked hard, exhausted. 
Similarly starts of the year can weigh in like pro-fighters with fists the size of your face as well. Add to that deaths, divorces, dramas, break-ups, teenager issues, smaller children acting like teenagers, work problems etc and all of sudden, it can feel like you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders whilst riding on a 4 x G-force roller coaster. 
Needless to say, sometimes these pressures can build up (see what I did there?) and both big and small annoyances can feel like mountains in no time flat.
But there is some good news - in just about all cases.
Consider this - if you were able to stop and look around, take a few calming breaths, plus deliberately alter how you are viewing things by challenging yourself, mountains CAN get smaller. Even if only by a millimetre or two. But a millimetre is a millimetre, right?

Its an improvement.
Often people who care about you, will act as catalysts by kicking you in the ass when needed, offering you support you didn't know you had,or maybe you'll just read something that will pick you up just enough to help. All o​f these things can allow you to see differences in your day that you couldn't see when you were upset/angry/frustrated. 
Its 100% true that anger and fear both cloud judgement.

But you can change all that. 
And like the title states, with attitude.
But how? 
Well, for everyone it's different, but in every case, the first step to be brave. Take that nervous or flustered feeling and turn it into something that works for you. A few stomach clenches with some even breathing will help too.

Once you've started that, here are a few things to get you started.
i) Lame as it sounds, you can tell yourself "I'm in control of how I'm going to handle this" - just dont do this in a mirror. That's weird. Especially if you get caught doing it.
ii) In any situation where you are feeling anxious/afraid/stressed out/annoyed - take a few calming breaths – oxygen is your friend. Just don't over do it. Breathe normally. Focus on it.
iii) Take a step back mentally (and physically if you need to) to get an objective/less stressful look at where you're at, even where others are at.
iv) Often the key to taking anxiety out of a situation is to ask questions to find out more. Knowing what you're dealing with is better than guessing. "Fear of the unknown" is a common problem - so fix it and ask so its not as unknown anymore.
v) Be brutally honest with yourself - try to analyse "why" you might feel the way you do about things - may not be the reason you thought. Did you fail to prepare? Do you still have time? Prepping is more important than you realise.
vi) Make a no-nonsense plan with how you're going to deal with the cause/s with how you will react - either physically or mentally – the actual cause make no difference. Again, you're deciding how you're going to handle this, how you are going to react.
vii) "Attack" your own negativity/fear/anxiety. These things will breed given half the chance. Remember - you're choosing how to react - I can't state this enough - it really is your choice.
viii) Act positively - do what you planned to do - you're taking your own power back from the situation/mood that took it away. No matter how bad the situation might appear to be, its on you to try and improve it for yourself.

...And surprisingly all these things can literally take seconds to work through.

The key is always around trying to have an objective look at what is happening around you. Increasing your awareness to your environment. Emotional content can be the one thing that hinders you trying to think logically. By finding a way to remove some of the emotional content, often the situation cane become clearer. 
Now I'm not saying you should be emotionless or Mr or Ms (Miss, Mrs etc) Positivity or over the top prepared either.
...but a little internal positivity and logic can go a long way.
And once you get into the habit, changing your attitude and the way you view a situation can get easier.

Clear heads see clear things.

To wrap this up, these are just the tips of the iceberg. Hopefully something in here has made a bit of sense and perhaps it has helped. Attitude is one of those things about you that can keep you safe, can be a powerful line of defence when you need one, and can change the way you view the world.

Through it you can help yourself.
As an aside from looking after yourself and gettin' your own head on straight, something else you can consider, is the picture below. 

Whilst you are getting yourself together, spare a thought for how your own attitude might be impacting on others. They connect and have the ability to grow with those around you. If yours is positive, often those around you will head in that direction too. It has to be real and genuine though.

Give it a shot, and good luck. 
So, post over. Thank you for coming by. Please feel free to offer any helpful suggestions you might have so that any others who might come by for a read get the value of your insights too.

#strongerthanyourealise #yougotthis

Darren



Saturday, 30 September 2017

Mental health and suicide prevention


Hi and welcome back, good to see you. 

The world found out that the 18th May 2017 marked the day that a legendary rock musician - who I, like so many others have followed and been amazed by his vocal talents and song writing abilities - had taken his own life after on-going battles with drugs, booze and depression.

Rock radio stations are dedicating entire days to his music, social media is alive with his name and kind words.
Chris Cornell - Soundgarden and Audioslave front-man - has gone. 
Reports all say he hung himself in a hotel room. Apparently there was no warning, no cries for help, he had just finished another successful concert in Detroit. 

He leaves behind a wife, three kids, close friends, fans and an amazing charity foundation that developed projects and programs with leading charitable organisations and partners raising awareness and mobilising support for children facing tough challenges including homelessness, poverty, abuse and/or neglect. 

This guy seemed to have it all together - and perhaps that's a HUGE warning to the rest of us.

As such a longtime fan, I saw him at Soundwave in Brisbane. He was the epitome of rock-god cool, a genuine connection to the crowd and a vocal range that easily took in 4 octaves. He, Myles Kennedy (Alterbridge) and Mike Patton (FNM) have always been vocalists I have aspired to sing like but can never quite get there, the awe around their talent and hard-earned skill impressive to say the least.

But with all of those things outwardly going for him, he was human just like the rest of us. 

Whilst I luckily cant understand what it takes to drive someone to those depths, or the emotional turmoil that could be strong enough to push someone so far beyond help that for them, there can be no way back, it does raise serious action points for all of us to consider.

When was the last time you "checked in" with those around you? Just to make sure they were okay?

When was the last time you looked at someone you know and consider successful and asked if everything is okay with them?

When was the last time you just took time out from your busy life, just to look around and see if you can identify someone who might need some help? Look beyond the facade's that everyone puts up?

Consider people you don't know too. Where is the harm in tweeting someone famous or well known that has somehow given you the vibe that they might not be alright? Or just contact them out of the blue and write a heartfelt "you are amazing" message to them. 

As human beings, do you really think they manage to ignore every single negative tweet, FB post or magazine article written about them?

If they are hiding their depression as so may creative people do, how easy do you think it will be for them when they read the real harsh/nasty stuff on the internet about them? Think you could cope if the roles were reversed? Employ some empathy. 

I would like to think we could all cope if given the circumstances, but the truth is probably quite a leap from that, no pun intended.

So here is the call to action.

As part of the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride where we try to raise awareness for men’s mental health and prostate cancer, the biggest gaps seems to be openness and inactivity.

There will always be the tragedies like Chris Cornell (and others not at all famous) but still dealing with issues they can’t get past. There will always be those who leave without warning, those who have put up years’ worth of the facade that no one got to see behind. 
I wish there weren’t any people like them, but the truth is different.

But we can make a difference, you and I.

And it’s not that hard to do. Two words we need to follow and act upon – 


“Pay Attention”

What do I mean? 

Pay attention to everyone around you. Pay attention to yourself.

Pay attention to things that might seem irrelevant initially, but might not be so irrelevant to someone else.

Pay attention to peoples expressions. It’s true that the eyes have it. Take a look, see if there is anything of concern there. If you can’t see anything, ask them.

Pay attention to things that people say/write/do – listen more than talk. It’s amazing what you can discover and the impact you can have on someone who just needs to have someone pay attention to them, sometimes when they don’t realise it themselves.

Pay attention to your environment and make a difference. Take an active part in the world, try to feel for those you come into contact with, regardless of whether they are famous or not. Everyone is human. Treat them that way.

Open your heart and get it done. You know you can. All you need to do is try.

To Vicky Cornell, their children, their family and all the children they have helped through their foundation, but also to everyone who has ever lost someone to suicide, on behalf of everyone worldwide, we offer our deepest, heartfelt condolences and offers of support to you. Our thoughts are with you. We wish we could help, just give you a hug whenever you needed one, let you know you are connected, supported more than you know.

Suicide needs to be addressed and the support in place for those left behind.

If you're reading this post - please pay attention. Then do something. I don't think its too much to ask. 

Chris Cornell (born Christopher John Boyle)
July 20th, 1964 - May 18th, 2017

NZ helplines (all 24hrs)
NZ Lifeline - 0800 543 354 
Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 
Youthline - 0800 376633 
Kidsline - 0800 543754 
Whatsup - 0800 9428787  
Depression Hotline - 0800 111757

Take care of yourselves and others.

Darren