Thank God for closed doors

I THANK GOD FOR CLOSED DOORS.

This past few years has been a really difficult journey for me. I gave up a job I loved to pursue my olympic dream again and after all the sacrifice, hard work and effort to get there again, and after being in the best shape of my life (physically and mentally) – that Olympic journey ended up with a bizarre, unexpected and devastating crash in front of the world’s media at the Vancouver Olympic Games. I couldn’t have scripted that Olympics worse if I had tried. But that’s another story. And then on the job front I made a slight change with my career and ended up working for a firm which was the antithesis of everything that I am, that I embrace and how I operate. And the parting gift from this work stress was glandular fever. But that’s another story. I’m better now but things on the work front have still not taken shape the way I want them to. I feel like I’m walking through mud and treading water. Of course there have been some good times and some good things along the way – it isn’t all bad. But, there is no doubt – it has been a tough time.

And yet, despite not having found the next open door yet, I actively thank God for closed doors.

Enter Tyler. It was a post of his that inspired this blog and what he writes below I completely agree with. Thankyou Tyler for the encouragement and wisdom. I hope this inspired all of you too.

“When I wake up in the morning and see the sunrise as I’m running, I thank God for new mercies every day. As I was running this morning I started thinking about this and you know how much I like to share my morning thoughts… LOL

I was out just thinking about my life and all the times that I wished that a door had opened. All the times I had promoters and people lie to me saying that they would help me… I remember wishing the bank would approve my loan request for a house or a car (usually one I couldn’t afford at the time). I wished that this person would help me or that person would do something to help my business, or this person would help my dreams come true.

As I look back now I’m so glad that none of those situations worked out. I’m so glad God closed those doors because they forced me to find the right path for me. If you’re in this situation and you feel like doors are closing all around you and you are frustrated, here’s something I’d like you to think about: Life can be like a living maze. You know what a maze is. In a maze, you start out at one end and your objective is to find your way to the finish line.

Many times you may make a turn and hit a dead end and you have to go another way. Just like life, that door closing on you sends you another way. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, it just means you need to go another way. If you keep moving, eventually you will get to where you’re going.

Another thing that is important when you’re in a maze, as in life, is to remember where you have been. If you get turned around and confused in a maze, in order to get out, you have to remember the dead-ends that you have already hit. Just like in life you have to remember all the doors that were closed so you don’t waste time going that way again. If you want to get to your dreams you can’t expect to get there by doing the same thing and going to the same spots. You must try something different. I’m not saying give up on your dream, I’m saying try another path to the same dream. Same maze, same dream, but take a different direction to get there.

I feel sorry for people who have a dream and give up because it gets hard. Let me tell you something, “IT’S GOING TO GET HARD!” And my answer to that is, “SO WHAT? MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!” Don’t stop because a door closed. I have learned to thank God for closed doors. You have to know that if God wanted you to go that way, no man could close that door. But for some reason he allowed that door to be closed, but if that one was closed I assure you that there is one that is open somewhere. And it’s the right one. Don’t stop until you are living your dream.”

Challenge
Closed doors happen. Thank God for them. But don’t stop there. Keep going until you find the open one and until you  are living your dreams. We’ve only got one life – so let’s make it count !

Pay it forward – give a little love, get a little love

Posted October 15th, 2013 by admin and filed in A Life That Counts

I thought it was time for a video and time for some more inspiration. I don’t think we can ever have enough of that !

So here’s to paying it forward and the powerful life principle shown so well in this video – give a little love, get a little love.

Challenge
I wonder what you’ll do now after watching this video …

It’s a matter of justice

I just got back from the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park and … wow … what a day. This was definitely one of those moments in life that will stay with me a long long time. And I truly hope it does !

Was it Alicia Keys singing her song ‘Empire State of Mind’ live in central park 30m from me to the 60,000 people? Or Stevie Wonder singing ‘Imagine’ or ‘Superstition’? Or Bono introducing the first democratically elected female president in Africa (Liberia) – an incredible woman (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) who is 74 and looked like my grandmother but has the spirit of someone younger than me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or the Secretary general of the UN (Ban Ki-moon) being there in person? Or the Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus who founded the Grameen Bank and microfinance? Or the two young Australians (Hugh Evans and Tim Diamond) who were behind this incredible event and who are single handedly changing the world?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or just the knowledge that our generation when united (and when our actions not just our words speak) … can truly make a difference and as a result that we can see an end to extreme poverty in our lifetime?

It was all of these things. But it was much much more. And that is what moves me and why I am so proud to be an ambassador for The Global Poverty Project.

If you asked me if I could meet one person in this world, who it would be ? I would answer you, without hesitation, Nelson Mandella. And here’s something that he said that represents everything that today stood for.

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice”

You see The Global Citizen Festival was far more than lights, and glamour, and rockstars, and celebrities. It is about the world’s poorest people. The 1,300,000,000 people that live every day on less than US$1.25 a day. (That’s 1 in every 5 people on this planet !!!). It is a movement to act for the people in the world that have no voice. About appreciating how much we have and acting for equality. It is about giving people the same opportunity that we have and recognising that in many ways they are not poor because they chose to be, but because they were unlucky to be born in the country that they were born in, and that we were lucky to be born in the country we were born in. It is not about charity -it is about justice !

At the Global Poverty Project (which organises the Global Citizen Festival) we want to make sure this momentum converts into action. And that’s why you could only get a ticket by registering at the Global Citizen website and earning points by completing an array of awareness-building tasks focussed on alleviating extreme poverty. You then went in a ballot and got awarded your tickets – in effect, you earnt them. Good hey ?!
And here’s what we focussed everyone on …

1. Education

Our goal: 57 million children are denied access to basic schooling. We want these children into school by 2015. How can we do this? By calling on the US government to support the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the world’s only multilateral for delivering basic primary education.

My mother always told me “knowledge is no burden to carry”. And it’s true. Education is something no-one can take away from anyone else. So if you want world peace. If you want the next generation to bring change then you must educate them to think differently. To see unity and not division, peace instead of discord, possibility instead of difficulty.

2. Health

Our goal: 1 million community health workers in the global south by 2015. How can we do this? We call on the Global Fund and GAVI to fund training and deployment of hundreds of thousands of community health workers. We will be asking telecommunications companies like Ericsson, Digicel, and Novartis to provide free airtime, data and smart-phones to community health workers.

Health is safe drinking water. And safe drinking water means people aren’t sick. And don’t have to waste hours to go and get it. Instead they can be in school. Watch this video.

Health is not having > 1,000,000,000 people defecate in the open every day because they don’t have toilets and therefore reaping the bad health that comes from such poor sanitation. Watch this video.

3. Women’s Equality

Our goal: The equality of girls and women to be made a global priority. We call on UN leaders to ensure that equality for girls and women remains a development priority now and in the future.

You want to change the world – invest in a girl. It’s powerful. Watch this video to see why – it’s called the girl effect.

4. Global Partnerships

Our goal: To garner support for public and private partnerships committed to ending extreme poverty by 2030. We call on Global Citizens to support socially responsible organisations such as Cotton On Foundation, who are providing education to children in Uganda and HP, who support entrepreneurs throughout the global south.

This is about everyone be united and working towards the same Milennium Development Goals. So it doesn’t matter which organisation you support or what they’re focussed on – whatever resonates most with you (just make sure their acting strategically and efficiently). This is about changes at the coal face and changes at the big end of town in public policy, funding, priorities and budgets.

 

My Challenge

So after all that, you can see why that was an amazing concert … but there was and is so much more to it than the obvious. So join with me in the global movement to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. Let it be our generations greatest achievement, just like other generations before us saw the abolition of slavery and the end of apartheid. Let our generations mark on this earth be the end of extreme poverty.

It isn’t charity – it is an act of justice !


Go to http://www.globalcitizen.org or http://www.globalpovertyproject.com and get involved.  

Are you happy ? … 10 things to give-up in exchange for happiness

Happiness. We all want to be happy don’t we. It’s on top of all of our lists when it comes to things we want in our life. And its the same for everyone – regardless of where you live in the world; no matter how rich or poor you are; no matter your background or your age – we all want to be happy.


The question then is how ? Some try and achieve it through money and wealth (buying happiness). Others through service and charity. Others through achievements. Others through meditation. Others through drugs and alcohol. Others through relationships and sex.

So what makes you happy ? Perhaps you remember a past blog I wrote on happiness where I shared some findings around happiness. Some of the key points I wrote about were:

  • Surprisingly, according to this research, genetics play a bigger role than we would have first thought in our happiness. And yet, life’s circumstances (our wealth, material possessions, what happens to us) play a much smaller role than we would have first thought. It is why a Masai herdsman can be as happy as a multi-millionaire (see details here). Or why a lottery winner and a paraplegic can return to the same previous long-term happiness level (see this article and see here).
  • Most importantly, a big part of our happiness is determined by our intentional activity – what we think and what we do. And the good news is that this is in our control – so in this way happiness is a choice. So if we find and use strategies focussed on increasing our happiness (exercise gratitude, enjoy pleasurable activities, improve your stress management skills, manage and harness your thoughts, focussing on those things and those people that make you happy, make sure you are striving after the right goals for the right reasons etc) it can have a big effect.

So with that in mind, here’s a great article written by Tamara Star featured in the Huffington Post. Ten strategies you could use in an effort to be happier. 10 things you could give-up in exchange for happiness.

1. Give up caring what other people think of you. I know it seems counter intuitive as we humans are primal pack animals that don’t want to be cast from the village, but spending time worrying what others think, is a waste of energy. You’ll never please everyone and it’s none of your business what others think of you.

2. Give up trying to please everyone. Unless you’re living life to the beat of your own drum, your tribe won’t be able to find you. Be the best version of you you can be, and you’ll naturally attract in the people that are supposed to surround you.

3. Give up participating in gossip. 100 percent of the time, those sharing gossip with you will gossip about you. Believing gossip is like gambling everything on a horse sight unseen. It’s naive.

4. Quit worrying. Where thoughts go, energy flows. Worry is investing time and energy in something you don’t want to have happen. Learn to let go and trust.

5. Let go of insecurity. When we take ourselves too seriously, we think everyone else does too. There is one version of you on the planet. Be it, own it and quit worrying about it. No one really cares or watches you that closely.

6. Stop taking everything personally. Truth is, most people are too consumed with their own life to really consider what you’re doing. As my first boss said so well: “The world doesn’t revolve around you. Most people’s reactions have nothing to do with you, so let it go.”

7. Give up the past. We’ve all been hurt, we all had parents that made mistakes and we’ve all been through hell. You didn’t listen to your parents when you were younger, so why are you still listening to their voices in your head now? Every experience in life has taught you something or made you stronger.

8. Give up spending money on what you don’t need in effort to buy happiness. Living simply allows the space for life to flow. We complicate our lives by spending too much money and filling our home with “things.” Less is truly more.

9. Give up anger. Anger burns a hole in the hand of the person still holding on to it. Move it out once and for all.

10. Give up control. Control is an illusion. We live in an out of control world. Learn to embrace the new and welcome change; otherwise you’ll grow old through your own rigidity. Learn to let go.

My Challenge
Choose 1-2 of these strategies and make an effort to embrace them and implement them in your life.

And let your happiness be the judge and proof of it they make a difference. 

I believe …

Posted September 10th, 2013 by admin and filed in Life lessons

I’m always reading books on life lessons and wisdom. Perhaps it is me just getting older. Or perhaps it is me getting wiser 🙂 and realising that the smarter person learns from the experiences / mistakes / lessons of others, rather than needing to learn everything through their own experience. Either way, I hope you’ll like this. I saw it on Facebook and thought I’d share it with you, along with a few of my own additions throughout. Enjoy.

 

I believe … You should take more photos. A Birth Certificate shows that we were born. A Death Certificate shows that we died. But pictures show that we have lived !They remind us of all out adventures and experiences. Of the people we’ve met and the friends we’ve had/have. They remind us of the good and the bad times; the funny times and the sad times; the silly times and the sacred moments.
I believe … That just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.

I believe … That we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I believe … That no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that. No one is perfect after all and we all make mistakes, whether intentionally or not.

I believe … That true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. The same goes for true love.

I believe … That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life. Regret is a terrible thing.

I believe … That it’ s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I believe … That you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. And even if it isn’t, telling people how you really feel is such a great way to live your life and enrich your relationships.

I believe … That you can keep going long after you think you can’t.

I believe … That we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I believe … That either you control your attitude or it controls you. And this is one of the hardest battles. To conquer that little voice and to master your speech and thoughts. But it is a battle that is worth winning. As mindset and attitude are such keys to living a happy, enriched and fulfilled life.

I believe … That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. And the greatest heroes are often the ones no-one sees.

I believe … That money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I believe …  that trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body. (A great quote by George Carlin – and its true. True happiness is so much deeper and broader than just possessions or money.)

I believe … That sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.

I believe … That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

I believe … That it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I believe … That no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for your grief. For better or worse, life goes on.

I believe … That our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I believe … Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I believe … That your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don’t even know you.

I believe … That even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you – you will find the strength to help.

I believe … That credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I believe … That life is precious and that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

I believe … The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have. Or said another way – happiness is not necessarily having everything you want, but wanting what you have.

I believe … we were created by God. That the world he created is incredible – from every different animal; to the miracle of birth; to the intricacy of the human eye; to the power of the human brain; to sun and wind and snow and sand; to the conscience he imprinted on everyone’s hearts. I believe that Jesus was born, lived, died and rose and that he is God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that the bible and science aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that there is a lot we don’t yet know about the world and a lot we may never know. I believe that religion is man-made and has a lot to answer for – and that religion and what Jesus actually taught and stood for (as we read in the bible) are often very different (sadly). I believe that God gets a bad wrap – that he isn’t a kill-joy or out to get us. He loves us far more than we will ever know and delights in doing us good. I believe you don’t need to see things to believe in them.

I believe … that wars never solve anything and that love is the answer.

Change – there’s 3 things (not 2) that are certain in life

Posted August 27th, 2013 by admin and filed in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

The saying goes that there are two things certain in life – death and taxes. Well I disagree. There are three things certain in life – at least life as it is now – death, taxes and … change.

And oh how we hate change. And oh how we fear it. We want certainty!

In fact, we spend inordinate amounts of time at work in strategy and planning meetings – scheming the future and planning for that predictable outcome. And in our own careers and lives we do the same – planning and pursuing the dream of a certain future.

There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and I am probably the worst offender at this. Personally, I like routine and structure. But, the reality is that we live in uncertain times and there will always be change. It will be a constant companion throughout our lives. Yet too often we treat change with contempt: we ignore it, overlook it, run away from it, pretend it does not exist, or believe that we can control it through planning and strategising. We believe that our comfortable routines are the best or only way, and any attempt to disrupt them is very much avoided.

But here’s a thought – it is often our desire to avoid change and our over-attachment to certainty that can be one of our biggest enemies. Perhaps we should embrace change and not run from it. Of course unplanned events can and will impinge on our lives. Change is inconvenient, frustrating at times, uncomfortable and sometimes painful (ever tried changing a habit?). But change isn’t necessarily bad.

Change brings opportunities. People get promoted through change. People get to show their wares in new roles because of change. Change brings new techniques, methods and inventions which can result in better performances and better productivity. Change gave the 19 year old Australian cricketer (Ashton Agar) the chance to score 98 runs and break records in their first test. Change brought TV, computers and smart phones. Change gave me the random opportunity to do bobsleigh and go to two Olympics. Change gives you the opportunity to improve things. Change brings variety. Change gets rid of the old. Change brings new seasons.

So perhaps we should change our mindset around change and instead of running from it, try and embrace it and the opportunities and possibilities it brings. After all, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

But more than that – let’s not think that it needs to be a case of predictability and stability or chaos, randomness and change. Life is more complex than just saying it is one or the other. I think we should appreciate that it is neither and/or both.  Unplanned events, surprises and change can and will happen. And plans aren’t bad and they can and do work. But we shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t work out precisely as you predicted, or if they fail. Satisfying and productive lives can be sufficiently ordered to enjoy a degree of stability, but with an openness to the randomness of change and the opportunities that comes with it. Both planning and change can exist together.

My challenge

Change your mindset to embrace change and figure out how it can benefit you, personally and professionally.
For example, what change would you like to see in your life right now ?
Or what change or uncertainty are you facing right now that you can see opportunities and possibilities in?

 

We’re both scared but for different reasons

Posted August 13th, 2013 by admin and filed in Fear, Uncategorized

We’re both scared but for different reasons.
I’m scared of what I wont become.
You’re scared of what I could become.
I wont let myself end where I started.
I wont let myself finish where I began.
I know what’s is within me even if you can’t see it yet …
I will become what I know I am.

Fear holds so many of us back. And it comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It could be the fear of failure. Or it could be the fear of success. It could be the fear of letting others down. The fear of disappointing your parents or teacher. It could be many things.
But here’s something I’ve learnt it my own life and also when interviewing the 10 famous Australians for my book A Life That Counts. Successful people face the same fears as we do. It is not that they are not afraid. It is that they choose to ignore it. They choose to do something regardless of their fear. They choose to adopt a different mindset with that fear.

You see fearlessness is not the same as the absence of fear. The fearless person is well aware of the fear she faces. The fear, though, becomes a compass, not a barrier. It becomes a way to know what to do next, not something that has to be denied or an evil demon to be extinguished. When we deny our fear, we make it stronger. And trying to deny it doesn’t make us fearless.

But acknowledging your fear and moving on / choosing a new (brave) mindset permits any fear to exist without strengthening it or letting it control you.

“We’re both scared but for different reasons.
I’m scared of what I wont become.
You’re scared of what I could become.”

Challenge
The fear will not necessarily go away. So what new empowering and brave mindset will you adopt despite the fears you have ? 

 

 

 

 

The best ‘yes’ is saying ‘no’

Posted August 13th, 2013 by admin and filed in Efficiency

A Hungarian psychology professor once wrote to famous creators asking them to be interviewed for a book he was writing. One of the most interesting things about his project was how many people said “no.” Of the 275 creative people that he contacted, a third of them said “no.” Their reason was lack of time. Another third said nothing. We can assume their reason for not even saying “no” was also lack of time and possibly lack of a secretary or simple organisation. Here’s a few of their responses …

Secretary to novelist Saul Bellow: “Mr. Bellow informed me that he remains creative in the second half of life, at least in part, because he does not allow himself to be a part of other people’s ‘studies.’”

Secretary to composer György Ligeti: “He is creative and, because of this, totally overworked. Therefore, the very reason you wish to study his creative process is also the reason why he (unfortunately) does not have time to help you in this study. He would also like to add that he cannot answer your letter personally because he is trying desperately to finish a Violin Concerto which will be premiered in the Fall…

And that’s the lesson I’ve learnt over the years. You can be busy but not productive. They’re entirely different things. In fact, I think many people in companies appear busy but are not the least bit efficient or productive. I’ve written a number of posts about how to become more productive in the past.

But I believe this particular learning is one of THE most important and if you get hold of it it is powerful and can become a cornerstone to you having a productive future. Learning to say ‘no’ will save you so much time. Learning to say ‘no’ crystallises your priorities. Learning to say ‘no’ helps you focus on those things that either you WANT to do, or that you NEED to do. Learning to say ‘no’ is the basis for the economic principle of comparative advantage – the same principle we see in action today when people outsource. Learning to say ‘no’ guards your time and so is immensely powerful for all the things you say ‘yes’ to.

Management writer Peter Drucker wrote: “One of the secrets of productivity is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours – productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.

Or perhaps Charles Dickens, when rejecting an invitation from a friend, embodies what I’m saying. “‘It is only half an hour’–’It is only an afternoon’–’It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes–or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day… Whoever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.

Now obviously this sounds pretty rude doesn’t it. And in fact we have been taught that saying no is rude. It is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a passive form of resistance. But if you want to be productive you need to learn to say no. And in any case – saying no doesn’t have to be done in a rude way. You can say no politely. Here’s an example – “Thankyou you so much for approaching me / considering me / thinking of me. As much as I’d love to be involved / participate / help, unfortunately I wont be able to with the commitments currently on my plate. But all the best. I hope you / it are a a big success.

Remember, time is precious and how you spend it is important. Time is the raw material of creativity. It is the currency of practice makes perfect, of thinking and finding solutions to problems, of relaxing and having fun, of trial and error, of researching, or getting in and just finishing things. Once it is gone you can never get it back.

Productive people know this. They know how to say ‘no’ and they understand the consequences. They know that saying ‘no’ is effectively saying ‘yes’ to other things that they need or want to do.

My Challenge
Learn to say ‘no’ – it is more powerful than you realise. 

 

Making a better tomorrow

Posted August 1st, 2013 by admin and filed in Miscellaneous

Words have the power to start wars or create peace

Posted July 30th, 2013 by admin and filed in Miscellaneous

I think we often underestimate the power of language.

Words have the power to start wars or create peace, destroy relationships or strengthen them.
They are far more powerful and have far more affect than we often think. That goes both for words that others speak to us or self-talk.

I was recently running some workshops for elite athletes at the Institute of Sport and was explaining this to them in a sporting context. I was explaining to them that our words and language affects our thoughts. Our thoughts affect our emotions. Our emotions affect our actions. For example, for an athlete, if they’re on the starting line telling themselves that they feel tired and the person in the lane next to them will probably win, don’t you think that those thoughts will affect their emotions and expectations? And these will most definitely affect their performance. Similarly in normal everyday life – if we think we don’t deserve something do you think that will affect the drive that we have for going after that thing.

How we feel about anything (our emotions) is shaped by the meaning we attach to it. And the words you consciously or unconsciously select (our words) to describe a situation immediately change what it means to you and thus how you feel.

So choose your words carefully. They are far more powerful than you think.
They have the power to start wars or create peace.
They have the power to destroy relationships or strengthen them.
They can build up children or tear them down.
They have the power to stick with someone, wound them and affect their actions years down the track.

 

Challenge
What words are you speaking to others ?
What words are you speaking to yourself ?