Saturday, 26 July 2014

Stepping Into Your Future

Recently on a day trip to a small country town I drove past this funny sight. My first impression was to laugh and fool around. Guess that just highlights my dry and laconic sense of humour. A few photographs later and I had this brilliant idea. (well I thought it was brilliant :P)

Stepping Into Your Future

When you think about building your home what do you really desire? When you look into your future, what do you see? Just before you open that door what are you hoping is on the other side? Yeah, I know they are deep questions and all the hippies cry out 'Heavy Man'. Are we aware of what we are putting into our future?

We build our futures with our dreams, our hopes, our aspirations. What we think about, what we focus on becomes our future. Whether you believe it or not, our thoughts are the building blocks of our future homes. Sometimes we may have original thoughts and sometimes we merely regurgitate what we are immersed in or recycle the topical conversation of the moment. Whatever was on last nights news or current affairs program.

It's been a week since I last watched the news, yep I tossed that crap away for 7 whole days. And I must admit that my focus has changed noticeably. Yeah sure there are still problems in my life but I'm not focused on them, instead I am asking myself 'where are the solutions'? Why would we take the negativity of the #massmedia and try to build a positive future? Recycling might be a good thing for conserving the natural environment, but why would we even attempt to build a house from rotten wood? Neither will society succeed in building a tolerant and compassionate culture by constantly focusing on problems and negativity.

Let me #encourage you to unplug from the media, even if it's just the news, for a week. Find some inspirational stuff to fill your minds. Your favourite novel, comic strip, movie, poem, music, heck get on YouTube if you want to and watch clips about heroes to gain some inspiration. You can change your mind, you can chose which way to turn, you can decide what to build your future home with. It's personal, it's private and it's real.

Until next time,

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Beauty Of Harvest

Driving through the farms of the Burdekin, watching as the farmers harvest their crop, seeing the machinery churning it's way through the ripe crops of sugar cane and watching as the supply chain kicks into gear is really quite amazing. As the season of harvest is well and truly in swing there are so many analogies we can draw about the cycle of life. Harvest is only part of the season.

The harvester travels up and down the rows of cane; scooping cutting, dicing before finally throwing the cane stalk out of the chute. Up and down, back and forth, the harvest follows the same pattern the sower followed over twelve months ago. The picture below clearly demonstrates the harvester is actually useless without a cage to dump it in, so the trucks must follow along to collect the cane stalk. Two machines working toward a common goal and following the assigned rules. Teamwork is amazing, necessary and it's not over yet.

The trucks must take their full cages and place them on the tram tracks. Cages are linked together to form a train that is transported to a local mill form processing into what we know as sugar. Notice another truck is now next to the harvester whilst this truck places its cage on the track. The harvester is constantly in motion whilst the trucks shuttle back and forward between the shunting yard and the further from the tracks the more trucks that are required.

Different types of machinery, different amounts of machinery, different goals for each machine but all working together to gather in the harvest. Just like our families each person has a different role; the father to protect, the mother to nurture, the children to play and learn, and so on into the extended family. At work we each have our own unique roles that contribute to the profitability of the business. It is in society at large where the cultural norms have been broken down that many of us are unsure of our place and purpose in our neighborhoods, towns and cities. The cultural mores have been broken down and thrown away by generations of rebellious self-interest groups with no other agenda than to satisfy their own pleasures. There is no harvest there. But back to the hard working farmers ... whose produce is now in the hands of others as it is taken to the local crushing mill.

Cane growing is a natural process that is governed by the local environment (soil, bugs, etc) and local weather events (rain, sun, cyclones etc). Whilst harvest is an annual event its timing is to some extent governed by the seasonal vagaries too. An astute farmer knows how to overcome the specific difficulties of their local environment.  But the plant, grow, tend, harvest cycle does not changed, rather the ability of the farmers and machinery to enter the fields can be hampered by the weather. The local environment and local social events affect the timing of your opportunity, the quality of your opportunity, even whether or not you will can reach the field of your opportunity. Knowing the environment we operate in gives us the ability to be proactive, wouldn't you agree?

One method some local farmers use to supplement their soils and ensure an income throughout the seasons is crop diversification. What we see above is pumpkins in the foreground (bleeerk), mango trees to the left and sugar cane in the background. Diversity has it's benefits and drawbacks, but the days of a generalist becoming wealthy are long past and we all have specialisations today. Just like the crops above we might have different opportunities but we need to know each one intimately. Does the farmer harvest pumpkins with the same machinery used for sugar cane? Of course not and nor should we apply one mode of thinking to all the different aspects of our life; technical, family, relationships, wealth, farming or wherever you are.

Knowing the rules of natural cycles can free us to follow the rules and when our roles are defined we are able to fulfill them with greater efficiency. Once we understand our local environment we are able to make increasingly speicalised decisions. When we can ignore the processes out of our control and focus on what we can change, could you see your life becoming more simplified and peaceful?

Here's to our success.

P.S. I will likely be moving my posts over to my own blog when I get it set up at very soon. Thank you all for taking the time to read this one man's thoughts.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Dreaded Slump

There’s a glut of information surrounding us and our continued consumption of the vast amount of dis-information is driving us to distraction. Everyday there is another online forum, a social media post, a marketing webinar to attend. Small businesses failures are increasing in rate and cause. Is it any wonder why ordinary people fall short of success when confronted with devising strategy, setting goals, developing technical skills, working on customer communication, meeting deadlines etc. Perhaps we have been programmed through mass advertising so prevalent in our consumerist culture to believe consumption is living?

But let me ask you, do you remember that first time? The first time your heart rate quickened when you started talking to that special person? The first time you drove a car under your own direction? The first time you dreamt of working for yourself? The first day at that new job? We all have a lot of firsts in our lives and no one can deny the excitement, the passion, the intensity of desire during these times. How fresh life seemed with anticipation, how much fun it was to imagine the possibilities, the rush, the thrill, ohh to be totally into life again.

Magpies are renowned for collecting shiny objects
You see I think one of the main causes of failure is the slump. Not lack of technical skills, nor poor communication skills, but lack of drive and direction. It is so easy to give up when you don’t know which way to turn, would you agree? Some days we are unable to make a decision and loiter as if procrastination is our best friend. As we lose our way and momentum starts to fall we can start to look elsewhere for inspiration taking even more focus away from our goals. (ever heard of shiny object syndrome?) And it’s no surprise we start looking elsewhere because that’s what we associate the rush with, new possibilities. As the flame starts to fail we look for a new ignition source instead of tending our own fire. To run our own lives, we need to keep our energy, our intensity, our passion up, so that we may remain focussed and on task.

Please allow me to share something I find #ironic with you. In order to work hard and stay on task, we need to rest. Yep, let me put it this way; to climb out of a slump we need to stop work. Just like the football players at half time, we need to stop! Not only do we need to stop, we need to get off the field. If you are operating a home business this is even more important. I'd like to know; where is you field? Athletes rest their bodies, information workers rest their minds. #irony to climb out of a slump we need to stop work, go figure.

We need to remember everyone goes through ups and downs? The venture capitalist invests in a loser, the real estate mogul who gets burned by council rezoning which kills off a project, the batsman who failed to score in the last six games, or the basketball player whose basket percentage is under twenty five percent. Yep even the highest achievers have gone through periods of poor performance.

Did the real champions get off the field, take time out and get re-focussed, or did they complain, throw in the towel and look for another game to play? If you’re asking yourself what’s the point, why am I doing this, stop and take the time to figure it out. To breakout of the rut, to reignite that fire, to get reenergised and back on task, stop and take the time to reconnect with your why. We all love the shine of those new toys, the smell of that new car, the taste of that freshly BBQ’ed steak. I’m guessing after cooking that two hundredth steak the novelty has worn off and complacency is setting in? It’s about time for a beer with some friends, time to get off the field and do something completely different.

Now let’s ask ourselves why we need to wait until we’re in a slump before we change and get off the field? Ergonomics is the study of human interactions and talks about three dimensions of endeavour; the physical, cognitive and social. For example: how to set up a computer workstation to lessen the impact on our bodies and there is even a recommendation to have regular work breaks, ten minutes in every hour. Hmmm, funny that? Dare I mention Sunday as the day of rest? Working 7 days a week has got to be one of the quickest ways to burn out, hit a wall, get into a slump. Who doesn't enjoy the weekend, c’mon be honest, do you look forward to Friday (or the end of your shift rotation) ?

My suggestion is that if we follow this work/rest cycle then it will be easier to avoid the slump in the first place. Let’s form some good habits, stop work every hour and every week. Heck if you’re super organised you could even have every seventh week off. Imagine that. What if your long service leave came around every seven years? Stop, rest, regenerate, and completely change our environment to get refocussed.

What field do you need to get off; the physical, mental or social? For most of us who work with information all day long, it's the mind that gets fatigued. One of the quickest ways to reset the mind is … exercise. Get right out of your home office and go for a walk, heck you can even take the dog. The whole physiology aspect of being human completely transforms our mental focus, when the blood starts pumping, the heart rate rises, the oxygen level increases and away we go.

I don’t care if it’s raining, cold, windy, or dry, hot, still. Our excuses don’t take away from the truth of the situation. Regular breaks make us more effective and focussed where we need to be. And hey, do your remember the last time you really engaged with nature? That walk in the rain, the snowball fight, lying on the hot sand at the beach or having the wind howl all around you. Do you remember how invigorating that was? Maybe it’s dark and you don’t feel safe going outside, fair enough, so how about getting on the floor and doing some push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks,  or walk on the spot with gusto and vigour, but let’s not get to carried away here. When we get up and get active on a regular basis, we will reset our minds.

Get invigorated

Now if you’re thinking, Oh I dunno I’d feel stupid doing stuff like that. Well what’s the consequence of this choice? Are you prepared to feel a bit stupid for ten minutes or go into a slump for days, weeks, even months? Heck, get the kids, your partner, what about the dog there with you and hack through the short term pain for long term gain. It’s your life, make it happen you are worthwhile. Get your adrenaline pumping, get your excitement back, recapture that new car smell that’s in your business.

I wish you all a great day, be encouraged to take a break from your current activities before the slump. If your mind is wandering, stagnating or just plain gone, get up and get active away from your workspace. Take the chance, look after yourself, that way when you need to concentrate on a task you'll be more able to meet the challenge. Welcome to the world of the proactive :)

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Greatness Within

When I was first getting started as an online entrepreneur, I was blessed enough to participate in a 100 day Business Building Challenge. It was like an intensive cramming session for newly pressed online marketers, but there was no exam at the end. The real test was entrenching good business habits into our daily routines. The single biggest change many of the participants gained was an understanding of the greatness within them.

Part of the process early on, was to come up with a vision board. You know the kind of thing where you pick different pictures that have personal relevance and meaning? The images on the board are there to inspire us; pictures represent our dreams, illustrations that embody our visions. The purpose of this kind of vision board is to get you dialled into your ‘why’, to sustain you in the lean times and keep you grounded in the fertile times. Your reason for being here, your ‘why’, is one of the most important things to discover in this life.

One picture that I chose to put on my board wasn't particularly exciting, just an old dilapidated country pub. Strange choice you may say, after all this exercise is supposed to inspire, isn’t it? Well yes, and the horror of seeing this run down old pub got me thinking about my retirement. Would I end up in some run down old peoples home where you have to walk around the holes in the floor? It focused my attention like nothing else. Most of my life I have been a worker, a link in the production chain, a cog in the wheel of manufacturing. Never did I ever imagine the government making the pension age 70 and the cost of living so high you can't afford electricity anyway. This is how I drew my inspiration to start my own home business. It drove me to earn enough money so I could secure my own source of residual income. I purposed to buy from ethical manufacturers; resolved never to trust a multi-national corporation press release ever again, or believe another political campaign promise. But I couldn't rely on negativity to build me up, I had to develop the greatness within.

The fact of the matter is, when we try to live up to our own expectations we annoy everyone around us, so we tend to shy away from our own greatness. Maybe we've come to accept we aren't great because we haven’t achieved anything yet. Sometimes we look at others and think to ourselves, when I am like them, I will be great. Ever suffer from comparitis? Compare your skills to any great champion like; Cadel Evans the bike rider, Ian Thorpe the swimmer, Pat Rafter the tennis player, and every time you will come up short. They turned up to practice day after day; they chose to develop their greatness within. It’s time to wake up and realise you already have greatness within you.

Here in tropical Australia, we have two seasons, the wet season and the dry season. Now during the dry season (winter to most people around the world) life is pretty normal, but during the wet season we have over 300mmm (12 inches) of rain in one day. Do you know how much the damn grass grows with that much water on it? The stuff grows so tall that it quickly overgrows bush tracks, bikeways, footpaths, buildings and even encroaches on to roadways. Out comes the mower, or ride-on, or in some cases the tractor with a slasher in tow. Now let me ask you, is your favourite walking track still there even though the grass has overgrown it? It’s just a matter of mowing the grass and once again we can walk your favourite path.

That’s so much like the greatness within you. Honestly it’s not about developing new skill sets, creating new knowledge, doing things differently. When you uncover what is already hidden within you; joy, enthusiasm, energy, excitement start to shine through in your life every single day. So if your backyard is overgrown by the grass, let’s mow it down and uncover your greatness. Whatever is overgrown; fern of fear, shrub of sarcasm, hedge of hatred, tropical tree of temper tantrums, native flower of negativity, starting today you are going to cut them down. Let’s clean up this wet season’s growth and free you from all those years of your family and friends pouring water on your greatness. You have the ability and now you will take responsibility for cleaning up your own backyard.

People who can’t acknowledge their own greatness, look at the overgrown backyard and think, that can wait for the dry season and the grass will die off all by itself. Some people might dream of employing a builder to come in and concrete the whole yard so they never have to mow it again. But why would you bury your greatness? Others may want to spray noxious poison all around to kill of the grass. Ask yourself how can pouring scorn and negativity into your soul build you up? You are not broken, you don’t need to be fixed, replaced, covered over. What you need to do, what I encourage you to do, is find the greatness within!

Look, I realise it’s easier said than done. It’s not that easy to see yourself as excellent, to acknowledge how great you are. But just get out in that backyard and start mowing down the grass. Hack down those overgrown layers of self-doubt, cut through all the self-pity and frustration, mow over all your anger, setbacks and failures. You can see the immense value in this because it will improve you as an entrepreneur and a make you a better person. When it’s all cut back and cleared out it will be so much easier to keep it clean on a daily basis.

Let us uncover our greatness, now we have a different context, a different perspective. A lot of times we don’t see how damn amazing we are. We think to be great we have to be in the ring with Mohamed Ali, but if you’re only at level two, why jump in the ring with a level 10? As if we really enjoy getting the snot beaten out of us? And while we’re here, forget about limiting yourself to level 5, just keep cleaning and uncovering your greatness daily. The best thing about being an entrepreneur is you don’t have to be the best to win, but you do have to turn up.

We are turning away from the negativity so common in today’s culture, news, movies, rap songs. Whilst you’re mowing your lawn; hook up with thanksgiving, gratitude and happiness. Find the reason you are here on earth, because that will bring you the greatest joy. The day you adopt the mental attitude of stepping into your greatness, instead of looking toward the negative and being fearful, holy cow, that is powerful + right there. Could you imagine how you will feel when you get past these self-limiting attitudes?

Your faith and belief in your greatness will come across in your videos, ad copy etc and that’s what people want to follow. If you lead with fear/pain then you will absolutely get people’s attention, but are you going to keep it? Just imagine for a minute how people will react to you when you get their attention and share with them your greatness? You tell them it’s not about running away from the pain; it’s about living up to their potential. Powerful.

Until you believe in your greatness, that has been, is and always will be inside of you, then you’re missing the mark. Now I realise this sounds like I've gone nuts and some of you will be thinking, Ah c’mon ren0vator, there’s no way this is going to work for me. But it works for thousands of people, every single day, all around the world.

Are you here to accept scraps from someone else’s table, eking out a meagre existence? Or are you here to make dreams come true? Forget about working at your J.O.B. because we are here to change lives. We are here to make a difference. If you can see life this way, congratulations, you are starting to see your greatness and your role in the big picture.

Now if this fires you up even just a little bit, run with it. You've got a glimpse of the greatness inside of you. The time is past for ignoring your greatness! Aren't you tired of hiding from yourself? Open that blind eye now you have turned and faced yourself. Is it easy to step into your greatness? No, but it’s simple. It’s a decision you can make at any time of the day. Is it scary? Heck yeah because as you put yourself out there, people full of negativity are eager and willing to pull you down. Is it hard work? Damn straight! But you've just got to make an honest assessment and push your mower until that catcher is ready to be emptied again. Don’t try and mow the whole yard in one go.

Now you are mowing other questions will come to you. How might I mow longer, faster, straighter? This is such an important breakthrough for you because now you are questioning your how instead of your who. You can become more of your true self instead of this overgrown heap of who you should be. True strength is coming to you by making this realist decision to mow daily. Don’t be afraid of your greatness in your backyard, step into it. It will be the single biggest contribution you can make to the world around you. And… and it will help you live a better life and build a very powerful and sustainable business.

This is not about business this is about your lifestyle. This is not about financial windfall; this is about your fulfillment. Step into your greatness, show the world and let it inspire others around you. This is the passion and soon you will be living a life you deserve.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Perspective (again)

Think your problems are so big they can't be overcome? #perspective