Intention versus outcome … The perfect match?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Most of us start our day with good intentions. “I will stay calm around my children.” “I will be kind to my significant other.” “I will get that project at work finished.” “I will do something today that makes the world a better place.”

At the end of the day you are left with the feeling that you have ended where you started and the next day looks like it could all be happening again.

But, from my personal experience and observation, sometimes the outcomes just don’t match up. The kids are too tired to reason with calmly and they just need you to set boundaries; the significant other is in a completely different head space; an important email completely derails your plans for the work day; and your best intentions have been replaced by the sheer need for survival. At the end of the day you are left with the feeling that you have ended where you started and the next day looks like it could all be happening again.

In my opinion this is ultimately one of the great things about life. If something was easy to achieve the first time why would we keep trying?  Just because sometimes our best intentions aren’t achieved by the end of the day doesn’t mean we should stop setting them; it does however require us to recognise that they weren’t achieved and be prepared to try a different approach the next day.

The same can be said then for organisational intentions. Again, from my observations, all too often businesses, Governments and NFPs get carried away by  day-to-day survival and forget to check back in to make sure their outcomes are matching their intentions.

To me a glossy annual report is not an outcome; a screaming front page headline is not an outcome; and growth in staff is not an outcome – not unless each of these is specifically tied to achieving something tangible for the business or the community that you are working with or on behalf of.

… every now and then the process of just being blurs the lines and unknowingly the organisation drifts into a space where their day-to-day work no longer relates to tangible outcomes but instead becomes about some base level of survival.

I have never doubted that 99% of people start working on something with the best intentions – they want to build a solution to solve a problem; they want to lead the community to towards a better place; they want to create something that has a lasting positive effect.

But every now and then the process of just being blurs the lines and unknowingly the organisation drifts into a space where their day-to-day work no longer relates to tangible outcomes but instead becomes about some base level of survival.

One of life’s greatest lessons though is that it is never too late. Taking the time as an individual or an organisation to reflect on where you began and why, and what it was that you were hoping to achieve, can at times be the calm within the storm. It can help you and your colleagues re-group and importantly it can help you check in on what is the right approach for the time you find yourself in.

Taking the time as an individual or an organisation to reflect on where you began and why, and what it was that you were hoping to achieve, can at times be the calm within the storm.

Ultimately, sometimes your intention is simply not achievable as an outcome, but even this realisation requires you to stop and reflect.

My intention in posting this today is to remind myself to stay connected to my ultimate, authentic “why” – but if it sparks a moment for you too then for that I am grateful.

What was your intention when you got out of bed this morning? What was you intention in going to work where you do? Are your intentions turning into tangible, positive outcomes?

Here’s to positive change,

Kylea

Einstein was a clever fellow!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

I know I could be accused of stating the obvious but quite recently Einstein’s brilliance has become very personal to me and it appears, even though he passed more than half a century ago, his thinking still has the power to motivate someone like me to embark on a new adventure.

We’re joined together in one bold ambition – to work with companies, NFPs and individuals to ensure not only fantastic business results but positive and tangible community outcomes

I read the below quote from Einstein some time ago and it is fair to say the consequence of considering it is why I find myself where I am today. His quote:

“I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ ….

For if we decide the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our …. resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls …

If we decide … that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims … and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.

But if we decide the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our … resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives.”

From the first time I read this it forced me to consider – how did I see the Universe?

From the first time I read this it forced me to consider – how did I see the Universe?

I’d certainly had experiences that had left me doubting it – having someone show up at your office wanting to confront you personally or someone ring your home threatening your children can do that to the best of us. At those times the Universe appeared terrifying!

But then there have definitely been the times when I have believed in the Universe’s tenderness and wisdom. To me that is evidenced in the miracle that is my kids, when you look at the good work that is done when people have pull together for things like #WBTTAus or to help fund a McGrath Breast Care Nurse,  or when you look at the people sent to you in tough times.

On balance though I think I tended towards a belief that it wasn’t such a great place and therefore protecting myself, and the ones I love, by building bigger walls, was the most important thing I could do.

But then it struck me – the quote I loved I was suggesting that I could either just settle for the status quo and use what I knew to keep myself safe or I could trust in something bigger than myself and use my resources to do better.

With the commencement this month of my new enterprise – Kylea Tink & Associates – I’m happily launching into the latter category.

“What is this business,” you ask? It’s exciting, it’s fresh and in many ways it’s everything I have ever wanted to do.

We’re determined to smash inertia

It’s based upon the strength of a collective of people – in fact some of the most talented people I have ever had the pleasure of working with – from all walks of professional life.

We’re joined together in one bold ambition – to work with companies, NFPs and individuals to ensure not only fantastic business results but positive and tangible community outcomes.

We’re determined to smash inertia. Think great chemistry between corporates and their charity partners that creates more than a simple handover of resources to get company logos on websites or at events; individuals enabling smart NFPs to achieve tangible outcomes; NFPs revisiting what they doing to ensure they are achieving what they set out to do; and ultimately a robust and constructive conversation that challenges thinking, inspires people, and creates amazing social outcomes.

I know this means there’s new work and challenges ahead of me but I believe the universe is on my side and everywhere I turn it seems to be supporting my decision by delivering amazing people to work with, exciting projects to tackle or by simply dropping little gems of wisdom into my lap.

Expectations are contagious…. And most … depend on support – persistent, generous support to create a place where leaping can occur.

A case in point Seth Godin’s post earlier this week as I literally turned on the lights in my new office and wondered what I really was doing. His post (which I had just subscribed to) said simply:

“Expectations are contagious…. And most … depend on support – persistent, generous support to create a place where leaping can occur.”

That simple statement helped me to see – the best I can do is go in with positive expectations, be open to opportunities that may arise and ultimately stay authentic to who I am.  I believe the universe is friendly and ultimately waiting for good to be done.

How do you see the universe? What are your expectations?

Be part of a better future,

Kylea

Time … to What?

Tags

, , ,

“Time flies when your having fun” or so the saying goes. If you’d asked me 12 months ago though if I was having fun, after I had just resigned from full time work due to sheer exhaustion, my answer would not have been easily given.

You see, having worked in a number of demanding, emotionally draining, time sapping but incredibly rewarding roles for the better part of the previous 25 years, last April I was only just beginning to question what it meant to actually be completely aware of how I was using the most limited of my resources – my time – on a daily basis.

While it (time) might fly when your having fun, it also expands and contracts at its own pace, blurring through laughter and tears. It seems at times both plentiful and scarce. It is literally a resource you cannot replenish – once used it is gone. The presence of it can lull you into security or slap you in the face when you least expect it. Ultimately it is a gift and how it is used is the testimony of our life

Was I using it consciously, or was I just caught in a slip stream where the opinion of others and an external arbitry definition of failure or success mattered more to me than anything else?

Was I appreciating that it would (or certainly will) literally eventually run out- that there are no do overs and that the most powerful moment is the one that you find yourself in right now?

Was I living mindfully, aware of how my actions not only impacted others and the environment around me?

When I did actually stop I was able to give myself a very short answer – no.

I was however doing what I thought I had to do because I was caught up in a crazy race to a finish line that simply kept moving.

Don’t get me wrong – so much of what was achieved while I was in that mindset was incredibly worthwhile. An amazing team was built, literally thousands of families were being helped and some kind of magic was indeed being created (see mcgrathfoundation.com.au to see the ongoing work in this area).

Twelve months on though I can honestly say I see things differently.

If it doesn’t come back, don’t despair or worry. In the moment that you recognised your love for it, it was real. Some places, faces and feelings are simply not meant to last forever. Even so they are valuable as it is experiences that you accumulate travelling through life that ultimately define your time.

I’m very grateful to all of the amazing people that have seen me through this time, those both well known and loved, and those newer to me. That’s not to say that I’m sometimes sad and disappointed at the way some things have worked out but rather than responding as the older version of myself, where I would of raged against the change and tried to control it, I’ve learned that sometimes the only thing you can do is honestly let go.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I often offer that old chestnut of advise in the face of change:”If you love something let it go. If it comes back, it’s yours – if it doesn’t it never was.”

I don’t know that I had really ever consider the impact of this advise for myself. I mean how do you know if you’re the one doing the letting go or if someone else has actually let you go and they are waiting for your return. Seriously tricky stuff!

But rather than expend any more time worrying about it all I’ve decided that we need only add something more to this philosophy and given my personal experience I’d suggest that something should be along the following lines:

“If it doesn’t come back, don’t despair or worry. In the moment that you recognised your love for it, it was real. Some places, faces and feelings are simply not meant to last forever. Even so they are valuable as it is experiences that you accumulate travelling through life that ultimately define your time .”

After all, while it might fly when your having fun, it also expands and contracts at its own pace, blurring through laughter and tears. It seems at times both plentiful and scarce. It is literally a resource you cannot replenish – once used it is gone. The presence of it can lull you into security or slap you in the face when you least expect it. Ultimately it is a gift and how it is used is the testimony of our life.

With this in mind then I really try very hard to now be a conscious consumer of this resource. “How did I use my time today?” you might ask. My answer – “as best I could enjoying the company of friends and family and consciously trying to leave a positive impression on the world around me.”

Yours in being time aware,

Kylea

We Are Better Than This – We Both Know It

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please join in me in sending a message of hope to our political leaders. A message that says we truly believe we’re better than this. Who knows what we might end up creating together and how proud we may all feel to be able to tell our Grandchildren of the role we played in making our country a more compassionate place?

While I wouldn’t usually repeat a blog topic I thought, given the huge amount of ground made in this movement in just the last 7 days, in this case it was warranted.

It’s a fact that I have always been drawn to high adrenaline deadlines but to think that just over 2 weeks ago we didn’t even have on operational website is really to shine a light on what can be achieved when people truly pull together – personal agendas and egos aside.

…to think that just over 2 weeks ago we didn’t even have on operational website is really to shine a light on what can be achieved when people truly pull together

The reality is this has very much been a group effort. Thirteen incredibly experienced, ordinary Australians have given their time and skills, completely free of charge, to get the #WBTTAUS movement off the ground. Interestingly not only have we given time though –  the individuals involved in the movement have also covered all of the unavoidable out-of-pocket expenses – and there isn’t even a tax advantage!

In addition, over 30 high-profile Australians, from all walks of life, travelled to Sydney and gave most of a day to record and produce the amazing single that has been released on iTunes tonight. See WBTTAUS.org for further information and to help us send a clear message to people in power – we believe we are better than this.

See WBTTAUS.org for further information and to help us send a clear message to people in power – we believe we are better than this.

With all that said, the focus now is really on what comes of this and where it goes? We didn’t do this to just create something you can hum along to (although I’ve got to say the tune is more than a little catchy!). In the end it is absolutely about driving change in Australia’s current policies around holding children, who are seeking refuge with us, indefinitely in detention camps.

Given this I wanted to share some of the things that I have learned in the last little while with you as I honestly believe that, once they are known, it’s that much harder to turn your back on the truth. The truth is:

  • There are currently over 700 children being detained indefinitely in detention camps at the behest of the Australian Government. That’s our Government!
  • Independent health experts agree these centres are damaging both physically and emotionally. These kids are routinely in poor health. Psychologically they are exposed to extreme stress across the detention population including their “grown-ups” and peers. Many of the kids self harm.
  • Many also don’t even get a regular nights sleep as they are routinely woken twice a night by a light shining in their face to determine their identity.
  • These innocent kids are denied the everyday freedoms we, as ordinary Australians, take for granted: walking where we like; sharing space and time with our friends and family unmonitored; being educated consistently and knowing that if we are unwell we have access to one of the best medical systems in the world.
  • Perhaps most shockingly for me though was learning that upon entry these kids are given a number and many of them are then only known by that number for the during of their internment. Not their names – their numbers!

There is no question these environments are simply not suitable for anyone, let alone kids, but that’s where we have deliberately focused this movement because it is in the children that the behaviour seems so much more abhorrent. Who else can advocate for these voiceless people?

These kids are only here because someone loved them enough to either run with them or send them away from an environment where they were truly fearful for their lives.

So why do we, as ordinary Australians, allow this? I want to believe it is simply because we are currently afraid. I want to believe it is fear, and not just selfishness and ignorance, that has got so many of us worrying about letting these 700 kids into our country.

I want to believe it is fear, and not just selfishness and ignorance, that has got so many of us worrying about letting these 700 kids into our country.

Fear of what? I guess fear we will be overwhelmed by people seeking help; fear that the customs they bring won’t be aligned to what we’ve come to expect; fear that in having to actually deal with these people we are in turn are acknowledging that, no matter how far removed we are, things happening on the other side of the world do affect us and will continue to affect our children.

I’ve also come to believe fear though is the lowest of human emotions. It stops us from being the best we can be and ultimately, it is frequently proven to be unfounded.

Whether we like it or not every single one of our forebears were, at some point, effectively “boat people” or “refugees”. We’ve all come to Australia looking for something more.

Anyone who knows anything about Australia’s history knows the first white settlers were indeed criminals removed from their home country as undesirables. Now, descendants of these people, detain others taking the same trip; not because these new people have been charged and found guilty of a crime but simply because they naively thought that Australia was somewhere to aspire to be: a place of freedoms and dreams.

Please join in me in sending a message of hope to our political leaders. A message that says we truly believe we’re better than this. Who knows what we might end up creating together and how proud we may all feel to be able to tell our Grandchildren of the role we played in making our country a more compassionate place.

#WBTTAUS

 

 

 

 

What Wouldn’t You Do For Love?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I think it’s a question we have probably all asked ourselves at some point in time.

Would you wear your hair a particular way? Would you change the way you dress or the way you speak? Would you pen an unsigned letter and leave it where it could be found, in the hope of making a heart flutter, or to test that heart’s worth?

Would you fight for love? Would you literally stand in front of a danger that is headed in your love’s direction so that it collected you and not them?

Would you kill for love? Would you run for love?

Would you kill for love? Would you run for love?

It’s this last question that has been playing on my mind of late. As most of you know, for all my quirks, one thing that has always been consistent for me is my belief that things are brought into your life for a reason.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve had a tough year. Many of the assumptions I had made about life were challenged and found to be wrong. As hard as it has been though, I can now say that I am more content than I have been in a long time.

I guess for me the ultimate validation of this contentedness was the universe seemingly asking me to get involved in something much bigger than myself again. What I’ve come to recognise as this “need” literally found me, and in finding me, I know it was also looking for you!

What I’ve come to recognise as this “need” literally found me, and in finding me, I know it was also looking for you!

Given this I’m reaching out to you to see if I can get you thinking about joining me in a new movement with the sole purpose of bringing our society to a better place.

You see I have thrown my lot in with an extraordinary group of people who are giving their time and resource whole heartedly, without any monetary return, to draw our community’s attention to the faults in our country’s current approach to dealing with children who have shown up here looking for refuge.

I know that a percentage of you have immediately been put off by me raising this subject. After all, I’d have it as a guess that this topic is right up there with climate change and religious beliefs in terms of how split our community is on what is right and what is wrong. The boats have stopped after all!

I’m not here to judge your opinion or argue with you about it – what I am here to do though is to draw your attention to a particular part of this story that I sincerely believe is not currently being dealt with well.

I’m not here to judge your opinion or argue with you about it – what I am here to do though is to draw your attention to a particular part of this story that I sincerely believe is not currently being dealt with well.

Did you know that there are currently over 700 children being held is various detention centres both here in Australia and off shore at the behest of the Australian Government?

Did you know that, on average, these children have been in these centres for over 400 days?

They have witnessed the distress of the adults around them; they have been woken up, up to twice a night to have their identities checked; they have been denied the right to move freely within their environment – they live behind fences and are escorted to appointments outside the facility by armed guards. To the system they are a number and many actually report being called by their number instead of their name.

In most cases they weren’t part of the decision to flee here. Instead someone who loved them made that decision for them. Where-ever they were, or what-ever they were surrounded by, it was frightening enough for those that loved them to either send them in search of a better life by themselves or to flee with them looking for that.

I know that this topic is so divisive that I could lose friends because of my stance. I’ve already enjoyed a number of really animated and vibrant conversations and I love that so I don’t actually fear losing friends. What I do fear is that we will continue to live in a society where we simply don’t even discuss it or draw attention to it. Where we continue to believe that “it” simply wouldn’t be possible for our Government – our Australian Government – to treat children in this way in our names.

… somehow this amazingly beautiful and proud country has let fear step so far in front of any other emotion that we can’t see that holding children in this sort of circumstance is immoral.

Whether we want to own it or not every single one of us is in someway a boat person. We all came here from somewhere else looking for something better but somehow this amazingly beautiful and proud country has let fear step so far in front of any other emotion that we can’t see that holding children in this sort of circumstance is immoral.

How many other people’s and populations have turned their eyes away not wanting to see something that made them uncomfortable? Do we really also want to be that society.

I’m not here to argue about turning back boats. I’m not here to argue about where people should be allowed to come from and where they shouldn’t. What I am here to argue for though is that once someone makes it to a part of the world where we are responsible for their welfare – particularly when that someone is a child – I believe we are better than we are currently acting.

What I am here to argue for though is that once someone makes it to a part of the world where we are responsible for their welfare – particularly when that someone is a child – I believe we are better than we are currently acting.

As Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We all know that it only takes a certain type of complacency from good people to allow horrible things to be done.

I know there is nothing that I would not do for my children. I may have forgotten this at times, when work was crazy and life seemed so demanding in so many other ways, but listening to what is happening to these kids that are under our care has reminded me how precious all children really are. They are our future policy makers, our future peace-keepers, our future dreamers, and yes – in some instances our future trouble-makers – how can we let any of them experience this sort of treatment for any period of time and the question will always be what role have we played in making them so?

If you do nothing else please just dig deeper on this part of this issue. Get across the facts and then if you find that, like me, you are moved to try to ensure our country lives up to the promise of what it can be, join me by standing with the We’re Better Than This or the WBTTAUS movement – http://wbttaus.org.

Find it online, on Facebook (We’re Better Than This) or through Twitter (#WBTTAUS) and don’t let your voice be one of the many silent ones that continue to support a practice that you actually know in your heart is just plain wrong.

Yours in never settling for less than our best – Kylea

PS I’m sorry it has been so long since my last post. It might sound crazy but I literally had nothing that I thought was really right to share. I was trying too hard to work things out for myself but now I feel like my voice is back is I’m looking forward to getting back into these conversations with you. Through it all I have never stopped thinking x

Trust me: 6 Easy Way to Change the World

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

What role am I playing in sustaining an unsustainable consumer market? Why do I so frequently opt for the convenient solution when every fibre of my body knows that nothing that is wrapped in plastic can be good for me? And why is it that a lot of us seem to  be talking and “tut-tut”ing about it but practices are so slow in changing.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sense of over consumption in society? The first time I ever experienced it was during a tour of a slaughtering facility in the chicken industry. I simply couldn’t believe how many birds were butchered and packed every day. After all growing up in the bush, it was an “occassion” for my grandmother to select a hen from the chook yard and butcher it for a meal. It certainly didn’t happen every week let alone every day.

Lately this sense of unease has raised it’s head with me again. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m home more and therefore I have more time to consider what I need to buy and when, if it is just part of growing up or if it’s just that my beautiful friends and I have found it a colourful topic for conversation recently. The bottom line in these discussions though, about how much and what we consume, has really got me thinking.

What role am I playing in sustaining an unsustainable consumer market? Why do I so frequently opt for the convenient solution when every fibre of my body knows that nothing that is wrapped in plastic can be good for me? And why is it that a lot of us seem to be talking and “tut-tut”ing about it but practices are so slow in changing.

Many years ago as new convenient foods rolled into our pantries and onto our shelves I remember my grandmother clearly saying, “Kylea Jane it’s simple! If it can go bad it’s good for you, if it can’t it’s not!”

And yet now, some 30 years on, I look on as brown paper bags for apples have been replaced by pre-packed punnets wrapped in plastic, milk has come out of glass into plastic, and almost everything on the shelf claims to have some added protein, benefit or marketing claim (what is A2 in milk and aromatherapy in tomatoes. And can free range bacon really have that sort of shelf life!). Consumer skepticism seems to be evident but for some reason we don’t seem to follow through with actions.

What can I do to reduce the part I play in accelerated consumerism

So I got to thinking: what could I do to reduce the part I play in accelerated consumerism and this is what I came up with.

1. Be consciously aware of what is in season and buy only those things that are. My daughter loves strawberries but the sad fact is they are simply not in season in Sydney at the moment. On the other hand, oranges and nashi pears are, so from now on my family gets only what is in season and not what has come out of some deep freeze process, been shipped over 100s of kilometers or been imported.

My thinking here is that not only is this better for my environment but it is also better for my family as they will be consuming more of what their natural biorhythms need at any given time of year. After alll Mother Nature is infinitely smart – who else but she would have thought to bring oranges into season now to provide the Vitamin C that we need in winter to fight colds or to bring root vegetables to harvest for nuturing soups.

2. Buy nothing that has an un-necessay additional wrap of plastic. Good-bye apple punnets, good-bye loose green leaves in plastic bags and good-bye prepackaged potatoes. From now on, if I need to put something into a bag to purchase it, I will reach for a paper bag. Alternatively I will shop where they let me place produce directly in to my shopping basket and then straight into my own shopping bags.

3. I will take my own shopping bags with me. I must own 1,000 of these things but somehow at least one in three shops I end up at the counter without one. So from now on I am going to ensure that every shopping bag that I have makes it back into my car once it is unpacked or that there is a fold up bag in my handbag.

4. Reduce the amount of meat that is consumed by family each week. My family may rebel in the face of this but I’m determined to introduce at least 3 meat free nights into our week. Feel free to help me by inspiring me with your tried and tested meat free recipes!

5. When I do buy meat, I will buy it from a reputable butcher and talk to the butcher about what is the best option to meet my need. I am fortunate enough to live in a part of Sydney where there are a number of good butchers around and while I always chat to them, I rarely actually ask their advice on what is the freshest and best option for my current need. This has meant I’ve often come home with schnitzels that are disappointingly still frozen or meat that is bright and red through the plastic (and onto its styrofoam plate) only to find it is a completely different colour underneath.

6. Hit the growers markets. This for me is one of the biggest challenges as, from what I can see, almost all of the type of markets happen on a Saturday or Sunday when family and sporting commitments keep us running from one location to the next. Surely, in being closer to it’s point of origin, the food will be more authentic.

7. Finally, as much as I applaud their food hygiene procedures and all the “good work” they do in the community, I am not going shop at  Coles and Woolworths for the next month. Instead I am going to actively explore what other purchase channels are out there. I’m pretty sure the big chains won’t even miss me but they might just miss us all if you choose to join me?

I’m pretty sure the big chains won’t even miss me but they might just miss us all if you chose to join me?

Growing up in my home town we had a lovely family who owned the local supermarket for years. Old Mr and Mrs Woo were the sort of people who would slip you a jelly bean from the candy counter as mum bought the box of Weetbix. They bought all of their fruit from the local orchardists and their meat from the local abattoir/ butcher.  On a Saturday, when the newsagency closed, the last thing the newsagency staff would do is drop the left over days papers down to Woos for sale.

When the family eventually sold out to Woolworth’s some years ago my home town did indeed get a big flash new store but I’m not sure th e gain outweighed the loss.

When the family eventually sold out to Woolworth’s some years ago my home town did indeed get a big flash new store but I’m not sure the gain outweighed the loss. The local orchards were mostly bulldozed as frozen fruit was freighted in. The connection with local meat was lost as the abattoir closed and meat was also shipped in from out of area.

Sadly I also worry that something quite fundamental to the community is been lost or at the every least being severely challenged and that is the community’s ability to support a multitude of small, family run businesses – the local video store has closed (who needs it when you can buy the latest releases off the shelf or download them over the internet). The newsagency fights to compete with the magazine shelf in store, as does the local toy store. The milk run is gone and even shopping hours have been stressed. In my little home town where everything used to shut at 1pm on a Saturday, and time with your family and community then took centre stage, you can now shop until 9pm at night and as a consequence other stores are lengthening their hours.

I get that convenience is something that we all want. I just wonder if it really is something that we all need?

Yours in making a conscious consumer decision right now x

 

Are You Syncing Seasonally?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

As a species how is that we have seemingly completely lost the ability to sync with the season?

This probably sounds ridiculous but it only struck me this past week that it’s winter*! Travelling overseas recently to an American and European summer helped delayed the inevitable but as August rolls around I’ve been acutely aware that the temperature has dropped, the days have shortened and most things seem to be moving and growing more slowly. I can’t remember when I last heard a lawnmower and my niece’s pet turtle is curled up under his rock ledge happily hibernating.

I say most things though as, as I look around, I also see there has been little to no slow down what-so-ever among my family and friends. Work is as demanding as ever – if not more so as the new financial year kicks in, kids activities are still needing to be accommodated – dance lessons and rugby training sessions now just start and finish in the dark, and social functions are still kicking into the wee hours of the morning – even as the temperature drops below 5 degrees Celsius.  Many of us are struggling to overcome coughs, colds, infections and the general lurgy that seems to just “hang around” never quite letting us feel like we are at the top of our game.

That all got to me thinking – as a species how is that we have seemingly completely lost the ability to sync with the season?

By simply looking up and around we can see that pretty much everything in our environment has slowed down – plants are barely growing, pets and animals either lay sunning themselves in a warm spot for most of the day or, like my nieces turtle, have tucked themselves up tight and are resting – even the birds arn’t singing until that sun pops up just before 7am.

In our wisdom though, we’re still rushing the kids out of bed to get them on buses by 7am (or earlier) or dropped to school by 8am, we’re turning on our car headlights  to drive to work, or jogging with torches attached to our foreheads, and then we’re turning on as many lights as possible to allow us to work that little bit longer in the evening.

Why are deliberately defying the season rather than embracing it and allowing our bodies, minds and hearts the time to retire, reflect and re-energise that winter seems to accommodate so fundamentally?

In this context it strikes me that we are deliberately defying the season rather than embracing it and allowing our bodies, minds and hearts the time to retire, reflect and re-energise that winter seems to accommodate so fundamentally.

The past few months have definitely been very reflective for me. I’ve gone from working 60 hour weeks to now having and loving the space to consciously consider my surroundings and my way of life. The perspective that this conscious consideration is giving me is actually pretty amazing and I only wish I had more of it sooner. Somehow once that race starts it’s really tough to find an opportunity to look anywhere other than straight ahead.

As I spoke to yet another girlfriend this morning who’s voice was croaking, who’s head was aching, and who was complaining that she had been sick all season it really struck home for me. Knowing that many of my friends and colleagues are still occupying the space which I left has made me determined to share my new perspective and so this week I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that we seem to have created a society so completely out of sync with our human nature that we have forgotten what rest and recuperation are really all about.

So my appeal to you this week is embrace this next month – our last month of winter for 2014. Consider going slower in the morning, get home earlier and put that fire on and snuggle up on your lounge, enjoy slow cooked meals and soups that nurture your soul. At the same time be conscious of those who you care for who might need a bit of extra help – kids might just need to lounge more and do less. Of course people still have to work and kids still have school but maybe, by working together a bit more, we can make it a gentler experience.

At the same time be grateful for the warmth, love and food in your life and remember those doing it tough. Spare blankets and warm clothes are always welcomed by charities at this time of year and I’ve never met someone who didn’t appreciate a homemade chicken pie for their dinner that night when they are feeling unwell.

Finally, be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend or family member in your same situation and for goodness sake – if you are not well stay in bed! You are both your mind and body and if either one is sluggish, sick or tired you will not be performing at your best anyway. Do your family, friends and colleagues a favour – stay home and get well! You can then go back into the fray running at the 80% that winter expects when your body lets you know it is recovered.

Yours in searching for my book and a sunny spot x

Embrace this next month – our last month of winter for 2014.

  • Go slower in the morning and get home earlier
  • Enjoy slow cooked meals and soups that nurture your soul
  • Be conscious of those who you care for who might need a bit of extra help
  • Be grateful for the warmth, love and food in your life
  • Remember those doing it tough
  • Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend or family member in your same situation
  • For goodness sake – if you are not well stay in bed!

*For my overseas readers go ahead and gloat but then file this away to be referenced as your northern winter rolls through and the glorious Aussie summer hits.

Taming the Lion?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Have you noticed the lovely idea sweeping Facebook in the last month or so? It seems to come from a positive psychology perspective as it aims to get people to focus on three positive things every day for five days. Sounds easy right?

It strikes me that in a world where lack of time, technological hyper-drive, negative media and over extended social commitments keep us moving at 1000 miles an hour, some have welcomed the “permission” to stop, reflect and celebrate all that has been good in their day.

What I’ve found most interesting in observing it sweep across social media channels is the number of people picking up on it: “it” being what I see as the seeming novelty of the idea.

It strikes me that in a world where lack of time, technological hyper-drive, negative media and over extended social commitments keep us moving at 1000 miles an hour, some have welcomed the “permission” to stop, reflect and celebrate all that has been good in their day. With some prompting we’ve relished the time to be grateful, to actually see the magic that is our lives rather than just getting on with our “to do” list.

According to many social psychologists,  one of our brain’s primary functions as an organ is to protect us. It’s why on a day where the sun shines, we eat and drink well and friends make us laugh we can still end up feeling frazzled and stressed at the end of it all because the traffic on the way home had us on high alert, we’ve run out of time to prepare the dinner we had planned and the kids are whining. Our mind has evolved to look more keenly for the negative than the positive. It’s on high alert for what could hurt us or what could need to managed in the immediate future to protect ourselves and our family.

Our mind has evolved to look more keenly for the negative than the positive. It’s on high alert for what could hurt us or what could need to managed in the immediate future to protect ourselves and our family.

In a world where our days would have been seen us rising with the sun and heading to bed as it sunk, having enjoyed eating the bounty of what we had gathered, grown or hunted, you can see where this predisposition would have been essential. Knowing that some part of us was always on the look-out for the” lion on the savannah” would have been reassuring.

But how do we cope with it in today’s reality – where the “lion” is lack of time, over stretched resources, over stimulation through media and information overload? Where things are constantly coming at us at such a pace that they often appear to be a blur and no sooner has one issue passed than the next presents itself.

… the “lion” is lack of time, over stretched resources, over stimulation through media and information overload?

Unfortunately we can’t just stick our head in the sand. Rather, my personal opinion is that many of us just move faster! The old “if I don’t stop and think about it, it can’t catch me!” approach.

We all know this works in the short-term. You can watch endless news reports on tragic circumstances and take comfort in that fact that, while it’s bad, it’s not as bad as it could be – right? After-all, as my nine-year old daughter recently offered “the next day’s news always seems to be worse mum!”

Where did the reporting on the positive go? In its absence, is it any wonder we can sometimes be left feeling like it is all too much? To think that the simple idea of stopping, acknowledging and honouring the good in your day can have such a positive influence on you and those around you seems almost too good to be true.

To think that the simple idea of stopping, acknowledging and honouring the good in your day can have such a positive influence on you and those around you seems almost too good to be true.

I’ve loved reading friends posts – they’ve made me smile and meant I’ve enjoyed some of the small wins right alongside them. Imagine if we challenged the major news networks to incorporate some of this type of content in their nightly bulletins! Could they even find it?

Having said all of that, while I love the idea I actually also think it’s sadly flawed as it appears to be consistent with our social desire for a quick fix.  Five days isn’t long enough to fundamentally change a person’s psychology or to really positively influence their environment: that takes months and continuous challenging.

With that said it is absolutely true – “your focus becomes your reality” and this very simple exercise is a lovely way to help people elevate the good in a day. Interestingly I would also suggest that many of the people who I have seen get on this band wagon early are indeed positively inclined anyway and I love that they have chosen this way to inspire each other and their friends.

I wonder though, what would happen if we all chose to live this way, every day – not just five days but 365 days?

I wonder though, what would happen if we all chose to live this way, every day – not just five days but 365 days? Would the world be more peaceful? Would people look up and smile more often than they rush by with their heads down? Would conversations become more fulfilling and time pressures less intense?

Well I searched the internet and there was no single answer, so I’ve decided to give to give it a go. Starting tomorrow I will begin and end every day for the next 365 days with a loving kindness meditation –  it won’t take longer than 10 minutes and I’m keen to see what difference it will make, not only to me but to those around me. Will I offer more constructive, kinder, less judgemental advice? Will I be more relaxed in the face of perceived time pressures? Can I be the change I want to see in the world?

I’d love it if you would join me and let me know how you find the experiment?  Who knows: it might just be the start of a world-wide revolution which focuses on and consequences harnesses human possibility for the positive rather than driving us all to live on autopilot and in fear of the negative.

Yours in trying anything once x

Do you have the courage to live by your convictions?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

There is nothing noble in my post today. Rather my reflections come from a place of immense sadness. Like too many people I lost someone I admired, and a friend, when Malaysian Airlines flight M17 was brought down late last week.

It is a sad but true fact that in the 25 odd years I have worked in both the commercial and charity sectors I have often worked with people who believe it is more important to subjugate authenticity to ensure the societal norm is not disrupted.

You know the language and actions I’m referring to. In the corporate world it’s things like “brand speak”; “standard work hours”; “KPIs”; “profit” over everything; and “corporate sensibility”. On the global stage its” first world versus third world”; “our friends” as our Prime Minister calls them as opposed to our “….” what?; and actions made in the interests of profitable trade agreements at the expense of human beings or the environment.

“So what?” you might ask. Well events of the last week have got me thinking – what if we didn’t just accept all of this as “is”? What if we actually started to really explore our own convictions and refuse to live by anything other than those? What would happen? Are we brave enough?

I have always found the people who have been brave enough to bring their humanity to the forefront of their life’s decisions, be they work or personal, make extraordinary things happen. People, and in particular women, have generously given me what time they had to do extraordinary work while at the same time being there for their family and friends. Companies dropped the “brand facade” and allowed the human element to shine through in making their business decisions. People truly connected not just on a superficial level but on the level of their basic human reality. People with no common language, from different backgrounds and different languages, have smiled, laughed and helped each other.

Like too many people in this past week I lost both someone I admired, and a friend, when Malaysian Airlines flight M17 was brought down late last week. Sister Phil had come into my life just over two years ago when I was struggling to find meaning in it all. She was part of the Madeline Sophie Barat programme that aimed to push me outside my comfort zone and asked me to see my full potential. The cliché in this instance is true – in losing Sister Phil only the best was taken. While being extremely sad, her loss has also caused me to stop and consider again – what it is all about? Why was Sister Phil brought into my life and how can I honor the person she was?

I believe the biggest changes always start with the smallest steps and our only true failing would be in lacking the courage to try.

In this spirit of reflection I want to share with you the things that I learned from Sister Phil – whether she really meant to teach them to me or not! They’re not hard or difficult to understand but I feel an urgency for them to be acknowledged and discussed as I fear if we do not do something radical and quickly, humanity will be lost to itself.

From the outset I would say Sister Phil was the antithesis to the “I” mentality. Her ego did not drive her decisions nor did it provide a false shield for her that could be raised to create distance between herself and others.

Rather, when I think about her, I am struck by someone who was completely present in the moment. Whilst absolutely believing in something bigger than herself she appreciated that it is this moment that matters – the connection you make, the direction you take. Whether you were speaking with her, or just in a room in which she was also holding space, you sensed she was fully aware of her surroundings and her place within it.

In this way Sister Phil undoubtedly modeled the power of just stopping and being in the now – to notice what it feels, sounds, smells, or tastes like? She was always looking for something that she could do to make the world a more peaceful place whether that was simply offering you a smile, or one of her huge hugs and kisses, or actually stepping in on a situation to offer support. She was the calm that the environment around you so desperately needed. Can we not be more like that?

Is there something you could be doing right now that would help make the world a more peaceful place?

I also believe Sister Phil lived within an environment of pure love. She didn’t judge, she didn’t scoff, instead she would listen, reflect and then offer an observation from a place of love. She offered her shoulder and her hand to those that were struggling. Above all else she believed that our very being enables us to make decisions that leave a trail of betterment rather than destruction.

Given all of this then I honestly believe that while Sister Phil would have prayed and done whatever she could have for those on board the flight she would also have prayed for those that brought the plane down. While she would want to see justice done fairly she would not have seen them as monsters who deserve to be hunted and punished but as fundamentally failed human beings who had made a dreadful, life altering decision for all involved. She would have prayed for their souls as well as those others affected.

This compassion is not cowardliness but indeed is the bravest of all paths. There is nothing simpler than striking out when someone hurts you or someone you love.  It’s the easiest thing to whip up greater hatred and cause hurt. It takes a much bigger person to step back and see the event from both the perspective of the victim and the perpetrator and to ask, in the face of this sort of hurt, for love and compassion to rise rather than vengeance.

This compassion is not cowardliness but indeed is the bravest of all paths. There is nothing simpler than striking out when someone hurts you or someone you love.  It’s the easiest thing to whip up greater hatred and cause hurt. It takes a much bigger person to step back …. and to ask … for love and compassion to rise rather than vengeance.

Finally Sister Phil also taught me the importance of authenticity. Be who you are not what you think you should be. Do not let the accolades of others fool you into thinking something that sits awkwardly within you is actually ok.

I completely reject any person who says this is all too big for us – that nothing can be done; “it’s too late or too far away”. I believe the biggest changes can only start with the smallest steps and our only true failing would be in lacking the courage to try.

In signing off today then I thank the universe for peppering my life with wonderful people like Sister Phil. I only ask that it now give me the courage to use the inspiration provided by people like her to continue to strive to be, and create, the best world I can understanding that my responsibility extends beyond myself and my immediate surroundings. Will you join me in not accepting that anything is “inevitable” but instead striving to truly live by your convictions? The future is never predetermined – only we can direct it towards a place of peace, compassion and love by rejecting societal rhetoric and instead insisting on authenticity.

 The future is never predetermined – only we can direct it towards a place of peace, compassion and love by rejecting societal rhetoric and instead insisting on authenticity.

Living in hope of the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Sister Phil – I trust we will see other again xx

I wish someone had warned me …

Tags

, , , , , , ,

It’s recently struck me that there seems to be quite a lot that we actually just don’t talk about.

Whether it’s because we are time poor, embarrassed or just plain concerned we will be judged and found wanting, we seem to spend significantly more time talking about all the great things that happen in our life and keep the slightly darker stuff hidden. You only need look at the average Facebook profile to see that everyone is popular, on holidays a lot, out with friends frequently and eating amazing food and drinking lovely wine. If not that, then we are all inspired by something that we have read or seen and this causes us to share it so that others can be similarly moved.

You only need look at the average Facebook profile to see that everyone is popular, on holidays a lot, out with friends frequently and eating amazing food and drinking lovely wine.

So that’s where this post may make some people uncomfortable. You see I want to talk about something that was never mentioned to me prior to my own experience. I don’t think that knowing what was in store for me would have changed my mind but I do believe it may have made the whole transition a little easier if I had recognised that others had been through something similar before me. Surprisingly it seems it is something that many people, particularly my female friends, have experienced themselves – but it just never gets talked about. I’m going to call it the Jack and Beanstalk Effect.

“WTF,” I hear you exclaim! Stay with me while I explain.

As many of you know, earlier this year I took a massive leap into the unknown, quitting my full-time job, stepping down from every organising committee I was sitting on and bowing out of many other activities. I did it because I was tired and I was unhealthy. My body was telling me, in not too subtle ways, that I had pushed too hard for too long and it was time to make some changes.

Me being me then there was no half way in this experience so I stepped back to “spend more time with my family” and I thought that transition would have been like something from a fairy tale – you know the Walt Disney kind where you overcome some obstacle and then everyone lives happily ever after.

I’d actually argue that I was right  – it has been like a fairy tale but I’d suggest it’s more like a Brothers Grimm version complete with a Bogey Man, fear, loss of control and a still to be determined unpredictable ending. What was I thinking!

When I stopped work I honestly thought life would be simpler – that time with the kids and in my house would provide me with some sense of calm that had been missing. What I didn’t anticipate was the sense of loss – loss of identity and purpose – or the rising sense of panic and anxiety. Who do you become when you are no longer who you thought you were?

Who do you become when you are no longer who you thought you were?

Initially I also felt completely alone – there were days when I quite seriously asked my husband if he thought I was going crazy. I just couldn’t seem to function without a deadline to chase down, a meeting to talk through or a strategy to scheme up. Amazingly kids and dogs don’t cooperate like professional peers and frustratingly building suppliers aren’t as reliable as providers in the business service industry. Where had that controlled, high achieving, compassionate and ultimately sane woman who I had been gone? And who exactly had replaced her?

Then, just recently something amazing started to happen. When people asked me how it had been to “enter retirement” I started telling the truth – it’s been hard! I’ve really struggled with the transition and have experienced panic attacks and anxiety and it’s actually only now, some three months on, that things seem to be settling down. I’ve described it as being like what I imagine an addict goes through in coming off a substance – coming down from the adrenalin rush and professional high flight has been brutal.  Amazingly though the more I have shared this experience the more other people have turned around and said “Yeah – it’s tough! I found I felt isolated/ afraid/ incompetent/ stupid …. The performance appraisal system at home doesn’t often give great feedback”

I’ve described it as being like what I imagine an addict goes through in coming off a substance – coming down from the adrenalin rush and professional high flight has been brutal

 

So why would I describe this as the Jack in the Beanstalk Effect? From my perspective, taking such a big step in your life is kind of like Jack throwing those beans away.  They are thrown out in desperation or exasperation, following a feeling of being somehow duped. What you had hoped would be achieved in your life just hasn’t materialised and then you realise, in chasing it, somehow you’ve duped yourself.

In throwing those beans away though, you then see something magical happen – something completely unexpected springs up. Just like Jack then you turn to face the climb with both excitement and trepidation – you’ve got no idea what is going to be at the top of this thing. You’ve just got to keep going.

When you get to the top though, no doubt after a few slip ups and some serious scrambling you then find there is a hulking great thing that scares the life out of you. It’s big, it’s hairy and you can’t just simply outrun it or turn your back on it. For me this was the complete loss of self. Instead of trying to out run it you need to face it and try to out think it. Only once that is done can you make your way back down the bean stalk to your new “normal” life.

For me I think I’m somewhere towards heading back to the top of the bean stalk. I’ve faced the giant and found a number of tools to man up in the face of it. Ironically meditation, yoga and tea with friends are activities that are now valued as highly by me as once corporate client gatherings or Board meetings would have been. I feel like a more complete person and, as a dear friend said to me recently, despite it all, I am happier.

I just wish someone had warned me!

Yours in sharing the truth and in encouraging to throw your beans x