For those people who are on their feet all day, a good pair of comfortable shoes is a necessity. Not long after I started facilitating full time, I realised that I would need new shoes. They would need to be comfortable, as I spent most of my time standing. They had to be black, business style shoes, and because I travelled regularly and didn't like to over-pack, they would have to be good quality with the ability to be worn for long periods of time, day and night.
After some searching, I settled on a black, lace-up pair from Ecco, which at $250 was an unusually big investment for me on shoes. This one pair lasted me for a good three years before, reluctantly, I needed to buy a new pair as they were becoming worn and scuffed. Now I say reluctantly because I probably should have changed them earlier, but they were still comfortable! I didn't throw them out though - they were put into a cupboard where I could get them again, just in case.
And so today, some two years on, I find myself back in a familiar position. The new pair I bought were not as good this time. They scuffed earlier and the inside of the heals have fallen apart, resulting in them rubbing, and even though moulded to my feet as if a part of me, they really can't be worn anymore.
Now my head said it was time to buy a new pair of shoes, but for some reason, my heart seems to object every time. For a start, there's the cost; but my shoes owe me nothing. Its more about the comfort - they are part of me and I don't want to let go. New shoes are uncomfortable, they're stiff, when you bend your foot they crease awkwardly. You walk a little weirdly and all of a sudden, you're in the spotlight!
“Oh Cam, you've got new shoes!"
Yeah. Thanks for noticing...
So whilst these are only shoes, and you'd be right for thinking, “why is he writing about this?", the reality is I'm talking about my fear of change. And many of us have it. As human beings, we have a tendency to stay within our comfort zone. We can be creatures of habit - we take the same route to work, pick the same seat on the bus, choose the same meal at a restaurant.
Why does this happen? Well, most of us will fear, or feel discomfort with, change because of our evolution. Humans like routine; heredity and genetics predispose us to a dislike of change predominantly because we like to be in control. When this normal fear of change becomes out of control and irrational, perhaps through experiencing traumatic life changes, the person can suffer from a full blown phobia. In this case, Metathesiophobia, from the Latin 'meta', meaning change and ‘phobos’, meaning fear. At the extreme end of this fear, sufferers can fnd it difficult to move or change anything outside of routine. This can result in panic attacks, a reluctance to or avoidance of change, or to withdraw and disconnect from others. In these more extreme cases, therapy is recommended, but when it comes to most of us, we need to consider why we fear change in order to do something about it.
The example of my shoes is actually a great metaphor for fearing change, despite being completely true! My shoes were comfortable, they were part of me, moulded to my feet like reliable old friends. I perceived that the pain associated with buying new shoes was actually greater than the pain I felt wearing the old shoes. l’d have to pay for a start, and they would be stiff and uncomfortable. Yet in some way, the greater fear for me was feeling different, perhaps even teased like I was at school for having new shoes. So I'd take the pain until it became too much, and even then, elected to move backwards to my previous pair rather than the perceived pain of moving forwards.
For many people, the pain associated with changing is, in their minds, far greater than the current pain they are in, so they become frozen, unwilling to move and convincing themselves that nothing can be done. Whether in careers, relationships, smoking, drinking or life in general, we settle for what we've got, trapped in sadness but yearning for the happiness we are not prepared to chase because it hurts, it’s hard, it’s painful.
For those of us who do not suffer metathesiophobia, what can we do to reduce our reluctance to change?
The last four 'Cartesian' questions are designed to really get you thinking and aligned to the possibilities that come with change. Reframe your thoughts about change. Change is not hard, for many of us it is simply unfamiliar. Seek ways to strengthen your change muscle and you'll be more empowered to move forward.
Achieve your goals, fulfil your potential, live your dreams.
As a young engineer working at a large steel processing facility in Victoria, I was fortunate to hold the position of Power Distribution Supervisor. This role was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the plant's high voltage electricity network, which operated from 220,000 volts coming into the plant, down to 6,600 volts throughout the process lines.
One particular afternoon, I was due to head up to our 220kV substation, to take temperature readings from one of the main supply transformers which was showing some unusual signs of elevated temperature, and required monitoring. Now, an electrical substation is generally not a safe place to be. Most people are aware of the dangers of electrocution (which can be relatively easily managed), however it's also important to be aware of the explosive force that exists if a piece of equipment happens to fail.
That day, my short drive to the substation was fortunately delayed. A matter of minutes, due to a conversation I was having with my team's leading hand. As our conversation ended, the CB base station in the office crackled into life with reports of a plume of smoke rising from the main substation and a number of processing lines shut down without power.
Upon arriving at the substation, we found oil spread across the yard, and shards of sharp porcelain insulators blown throughout the substation and well beyond the perimeter fence. This included large pieces that landed directly in front of the main supply transformer's temperature gauge, where I should have been standing earlier. The oil and porcelain shards were part of a 33,000 volt current transformer (CT), which now lay on its side, blown off its mount, its steel tank bulging from the explosion within. Clearly a catastrophic failure had occurred and I was lucky not to have been standing anywhere nearby when the CT let go.
Typically, when high voltage equipment ages or as it is put under stress, the insulation inside which is designed to stop internal components and wires from short circuiting, degrades over time and can eventually break down or fail completely. When this occurs the end result may be an earth-shattering KABOOM, with explosive force as happened in this case.
On top of regular maintenance and internal testing throughout the equipment's life, special protection and control systems are designed to prevent it from being damaged in this way. It's a little bit like the emergency stop button on a train. If something dangerous is happening, hit the button and the train screeches to a halt allowing for intervention. In power distribution, this protection system rapidly and automatically cuts off the flow of electricity to minimise damage. But if any part of the protection and control system fails, and the equipment itself has problems, the results can be disastrous and dangerous, and you do not want to be around when that happens. So, of course, a thorough maintenance regime aims to monitor and maintain both the main equipment and the control system in peak condition.
Great, Cam, nice introduction to high voltage protection theory, but what are you on about?
There is actually a really important human analogy here. More and more companies theses days love to talk about 'sweating their assets' or driving asset utilisation as hard as they can, for as long as is viable, either running equipment to failure, or with a just in time maintenance strategy. In some cases, whether intentional or as a consequence of other strategies, this may include sweating their number one asset - you. Of course, driving your main asset into the ground may not be related to your work at all. Perhaps your own lifestyle choices see you burn the candle at both ends, or play life fast and hard. And so just like my story about electrical equipment and insulation degrading, as we age or are put under increased pressure for extended periods, so too our bodies become more vulnerable to injuries, disease and breakdown.
Physically, the signs can be obvious on the outside of our 'human equipment'. We may put on weight, our fitness levels may change, we may feel constant exhaustion or our behaviours may deteriorate. If we are ill, we might notice a fever by increased body temperature, or there may be other external symptoms which can then be verified on the inside by testing blood chemistry. Yet, some of us still choose to ignore these signs, perhaps believing we're immune somehow to the inevitable deterioration taking place.
And then there is our protection and control system, our brain and mental health, which may not outwardly demonstrate the signs that problems are occurring until it is too late. Inherently our physical and mental health are interlinked, though if we commit to investing any time at all into our wellbeing, we still tend to place the greatest importance on our physical condition. Unless we commit to regular analysis and maintenance of both our human equipment and our control system, we run the risk of both deteriorating, perhaps creating our own version of catastrophic failure or an explosive event.
So how is this relevant to you?
After reading the article The Sacred Art of Pausing, Tara Brach got me thinking about the importance of taking time out. Tara makes an excellent case for taking time out to suspend activity, to not focus on goals for a period of time, to take your hands off the controls for a while, which is so valuable and important for mental wellbeing. I believe it is also important we to take time out to monitor and consider any changes required to the way we operate when we are working towards our goals. In other words, pausing in this sense is like scheduling planned maintenance on yourself. And this is very much about staying in control. Taking your hands off the controls too frequently or for a long period when looking to achieve work or life goals, could see you end up off track in an uncontrolled manner that could itself lead to that catastrophe.
So here are my tips for maintaining your number one asset:
So for all the analogies around electrical equipment, humans are not machines and nor should we expect ourselves to be. But when we reach the point of catastrophic failure and the explosive force that goes with it, we not only hurt ourselves, but those around us. Maintaining our physical and mental health ensures our goal of leading a long and happy life is more likely to be achieved.
Tell, me what do you think? What are your tips for maintaining your number 1 asset?
Achieve your goals, fulfill your potential, live your dreams.
Human beings are intelligent, aren't we? Just look at the technological advances that have been increasing at an exponential rate over the years, decades and centuries. Flight, space travel, medical advances, computers, the internet, mobile communications just to name a few. No other species on this planet have the capability to achieve what humans have.
Yet, I believe we can also be incredibly stupid. Is there any other species on the planet that is capable of not only wiping itself out, but everything else with it? And at times we seem hell bent upon achieving this - because we are so clever.
Let's take a look at climate change. Now I'm no climate change evangelist, and nor am I a naysayer. Simple logic would suggest to me that we have had, and continue to have, an impact on climate. Perhaps it is a part of a larger cycle, perhaps not. Still it makes perfect sense to me that with the real possibility of global warming, we would be best to proactively do something about it - right now. Yet our energy goes into arguing about whether it exists or not, rather than putting our very intelligent brains to use to look after the planet.
Then take a look at world events over the last couple of weeks. Chemical weapon attacks by Assad on his own people. Trump retaliated by attacking Syria. Putin started his own sabre rattling and comments were made that the USA and Russia are closer to combat than ever. North Korea looks set to initiate another nuclear weapons test, and so Trump has sent an 'armada' of warships to the Korean Peninsula for potential preemptive strikes. It seems that if we are not clever enough to let the climate slowly destroy the planet, we'll take matters into our own hands and use very intelligent weapons to do it for us.
Since 1947, the members of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board have maintained the Doomsday Clock, which hangs on the wall of The Bulletin's office at the University of Chicago. The clock originally represented an analogy for the threat of nuclear war, and since 2007 has come to include climate change. Midnight represents the hypothetical human-caused global catastrophe, with The Bulletin's opinion on how close the world is to catastrophe represented by the number of minutes to midnight. In 1947, it was set at 7 minutes to midnight and has moved 22 times since then. The largest setting was 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, and the closest was just 2 minutes to midnight in 1953 as both the USA and USSR tested nuclear weapons.
With the Trump Administration taking power, the threat of a new arms race between Russia and America, North Korea openly seeking a nuclear arsenal, and the disbelief in scientific opinion on climate change, the clock was set at two and a half minutes to midnight in January 2017.
In days gone by, this would have been quite alarming. Perhaps in an era where terrorism is becoming the norm, we are becoming desensitised. Or perhaps we just believe it won't happen. And yet as very intelligent human beings, it did happen in 1945 when the very first nuclear weapon was dropped on Hiroshima, predominantly on civilians, in what can only be described as the most horrifying thing human beings have unleashed on other human beings. It is a familiar story. Locked in an arms race with Russia to develop the bomb, Hiroshima had been spared fire bombing by the Americans to be groomed as a demonstration site for the power of the weapon, in a show of force aimed at Stalin as much as bringing the war in the Pacific to an end.
I visited Hiroshima in 2015 and I defy anyone to visit and not be deeply impacted by the A-Bomb dome, the Peace Memorial Park, Sadako's Cranes and the Children's Memorial. And that's without seeing the horrifying exhibits in the museum - a pocket watch stopped at 8:16am when the bomb exploded, shadows burned into stone steps created by the blinding flash. It is beyond my comprehension that we could ever do this again, yet as intelligent human beings we do not seem to have learned. Perhaps the current crop of world leaders would do well to visit Hiroshima, a city now devoted to peace, to understand the power sitting beneath the touch of the nuclear button.
So for now, I fear the flame at the Peace Memorial Park will continue to burn for years yet as it waits to be snuffed out by a world free of nuclear weapons. Though if I believe that if you can dream it, you can do it, then it is possible to envisage a day when the Doomsday Clock is wound backwards, both by fixing climate change and ridding the world of nuclear weapons. For that to happen, we have to stop believing we can't do anything about it, stop ignoring what is going on around us, and start becoming more proactive in our own destiny and that of our kids.
Sadako Sasaki attempted to fold 1000 paper cranes before she died in 1955, aged 12, raising the plight of the hibakusha, the bomb affected children.
Don't become immune to the world around you. We must consider what we can do to achieve a better future for generations to come.
I love March in Melbourne, when the weather is beautiful and the Grand Prix comes to town. The high octane race is a spectacle, probably best described as a circus, as the rich and famous come out to play in the Paddock Club, and corporate-types 'entertain' across a range of marquees. There's still plenty for everyone and I love seeing the Formula 1 cars tearing around the track and the RAAF displays overhead.
As with the racing, I marvel at the technology on display. The F/A 18 Super Hornets scream overhead demonstrating their high manoeuvrability, flying horizontally at first, slowing vertically, then launching up words like a missile before levelling off once more. Then there's the Formula 1 racers; faster than ever before, yet their speed and power is delivered by a 1.6 litre, V6 engine, smaller than many cars on the roads, and hitting speeds of over 300km/h.
Are we benefitting from such advances or are we sucking the humanity out of our existence? As I sit here writing this blog with an Apple pencil on an iPad Pro, there is no doubt technology has benefits. The internet and fast communications media allow me to easily reach an audience authors could only dream of when literary works needed to be professionally published. Yet, I secretly long for the days of putting real pens to real paper, to send a letter that would surprise someone in the mail, and perhaps be surprised myself upon receiving something in return.
There is no doubt technology creates efficiencies by improving speed and reducing mundane tasks once performed by humans. Technology can improve our safety in many areas. In today's conflicts, soldiers can be well away from harm with the introduction of drones to fight in the battlefields of war. Drones also help to assess damage after catastrophic events too dangerous for humans to enter. The medical world has seen phenomenal advances in technology to prolong life.
Aside from safety, technology opens up opportunities. In my own world of training and facilitation, technology and digital media are opening up possibilities that see greater accessibility to programs, and reduced face to face time in the busyness of corporate life.
But are we going too far? There are two areas that I see technology adversely impacting. The first is human connectivity. When I wrote letters, it was done with careful consideration, with feeling that didn't require emojis, in neat, personal handwriting. And if I needed a more rapid response, I'd make a call or even go and visit. Today, I believe we are losing the art of communication, the art of conversation, as we hide behind emails, text messages, Tweets and Facebook posts. I notice handwriting, spelling and grammar has deteriorated.
On trains and trams, we are glued to screens. Walking the streets, people dodge each other with heads buried in phones, prompting a ridiculous trial of traffic technology in Melbourne - pedestrian lights installed in the footpath.
The second area is the removal of human control. Driverless cars are expected to be on our roads within 5 years. I personally love driving; the feeling of freedom and being in control of a machine, guiding it along roads. Consequently, I don't see the need for driverless cars. Unless we advocate only driverless cars, I envisage driving skills will be reduced as people become used to the driverless option under certain circumstances (traffic, rain etc). The lack of ability to drive potentially makes these drivers less safe when automation is either unavailable or not used.
You see, humans are emotional beings. We choose to do things based on how we want to feel. Technology can take emotion out of life. Many people love the feeling of holding a real book and turning the pages, holding a beautiful pen and writing with ink on thick paper. Taking the human connection and control away with technology makes us nothing more than observers or passers-by in a life that has so much more meaning, and so much more to offer.
Therefore, I feel the need not for speed; I feel the need, the need to breathe. Now, I'm not suggesting we should becomes Luddites, rather that we embrace technology where it enhances our lives, without it sucking the life out of humanity. We should remember to be involved in what makes us human. Here are some simple things you could do daily:
This perhaps sums up my view perfectly:
"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."
Give it some thought and let me know what you think.
And achieve your goals, fulfill your potential, live your dreams.
In 1927, Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created their first animated cartoon character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Audiences were enamoured by Oswald and numerous cartoons were released and distributed by Universal Studios.
In 1928, Disney took a train to New York to renew the contract with distributor, Charles Mintz, and seek a slight increase in pay. On arrival, he found that not only would he not receive any increase, but he did not own the rights to Oswald and Universal had encouraged most of Disney's staff to move across.
Faced with ruin, Walt returned to Hollywood and with his brother, Roy, and Iwerks, set about rebuilding the studio. With the belief they could start again, but not knowing how, they set about creating a new character. That character would come to be synonymous with the global giant, The Walt Disney Company, as we know it today. That character was Mickey Mouse.
"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse."
Like Disney, many successful entrepreneurs are dreamers, daring to allow their imaginations to take flight. Consider Elon Musk who dreams of reducing global warming and colonising Mars to minimise the likelihood of human extinction. Whilst many of us dream, Musk, like Disney before him, has an unwavering belief that his dreams will become reality. Not only do we have Tesla electric vehicles, but similar innovative battery technology is used in Tesla Powerwalls, and these could potentially be utilised in commercial scale installations to reduce power reliability problems, such as those documented in South Australia. And just recently, Musk's company, SpaceX announced deep space tourism would commence in 2018 with trips around the moon.
It would seem to me, therefore, that the secret ingredient to any success is belief. And often strong self belief, as this is the bridge that takes dreams and turns them into the plans that make them reality. Now we're not all going to be a Walt Disney, a Steve Jobs or an EIon Musk. But with a strong set of beliefs, we can achieve our own goals and dreams.
You see, beliefs are simply assumed truths. We build them up over time through parents, our environment, media, friends and colleagues, what we read or watch, amongst other things. And because they are assumed tuths, our mind goes in search of evidence to support our beliefs, to strengthen our beliefs, whether they help us or hinder us.
What's far more important then, is not so much what we believe, but whether those beliefs empower us, or limit us in achieving our goals and dreams.
So take a moment to write down all of the things you believe about yourself and your aspirations. Then ask yourself, which of the beliefs are supporting me to get to where I want to go, and which ones are actually preventing my success. As Henry Ford famously said:
"Whether you believe you can, or you can't, you're probably right." - Henry Ford
The good news is, because beliefs are assumed truths, you are free to change them, and allow your mind to find evidence of your empowering beliefs.
Of course it's not always easy and it does take discipline. I have been guilty of believing I'm not good enough and that I'll always have the stigma of depression. Instead, I choose to believe I'm exactly where I need to be and can play my part in helping others.
So why the picture of noodles? Those familiar with Kung Fu Panda will know that the mighty Dragon Warrior, Master Po Ping once said:
"There is no secret ingredient. To make something special, you just have to believe it is special." - Master Po Ping, Kung Fu Panda
Now it's over to you...
What limiting beliefs will you let go of, or change, in order to achieve your goals, fulfil your potential, or live your dreams?
Growing up as a boy, I used to love going to see my grandparents. They lived in the City of Wangaratta, in the north east of Victoria. Back in the days when the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney was not duplicated, we'd often leave in the evening and travel up at night, Dad driving, Mum in the front and me sandwiched between my two brothers in the middle of the back seat, straddling the hump. I hated that, but at least it helped me to try to stay awake so I could see the statues of Ned Kelly, at Glenrowan.
Fast forward, something like 40 years, and some things have changed; a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves travelling up a fully duplicated highway to visit my grandparents' graves. I was driving, my wife was in the front seat, my kids were sitting comfortably in the back. No one was sitting on the hump! The highway bypasses Glenrowan now, so Ned can't be seen, but the police are ever present with radar at the ready, pointed like guns at a different type of metal armour.
And some things don't change. As I went out for a run that evening, I decided I'd head to my grandparents' house at 16 Turner Street. It was evening and the smells of a warm, summer evening, complete with delicious smells of BBQ in the air, took me all the way back to my childhood. Smells are the strongest anchors, or triggers, of memories and my happy thoughts came flooding back. When I arrived, there the house stood, just as I remembered it, in the warmth of a Wangaratta twilight.
What I realised at that point was, I knew very little of my family history, of who I really was, of how I came to be here. I'd squandered opportunities (as we often do) when my grandparents were alive, to ask more questions, listen more, find out more. It suddenly became important for me to understand my past.
In years gone by, researching your family would have been a time consuming task, interviewing relatives, searching births, deaths and marriages etc. With changes in technology and the internet these days, researching your heritage can be as easy as signing up to Ancestry.com. And so I did. Within a week, I've traced my family back 5 generations. I've discovered Scottish, Irish and Maori heritage. We appear to be connected to ancestors who arrived on the Second Fleet, and my somewhat infamous Great, Great Grandfather, Nathaniel Bates, died of drowning having 'fallen' from a bridge, supposedly resulting in the now widespread phrase, "Did he fall, or was he pushed?"
OK so great, Cam, you've found out stuff about the past. So what?
If you read my last blog, you'll recall that change is constant and that I'm not that good at handling it! And really, this article also deals with change; from past (perhaps the things we're comfortable and familiar with), to the present (what we're doing now). But why is researching the past so important and what about its linkage not just to the present, but importantly to the future?
The past is definitely worth looking into. We cannot ignore it, nor should we dwell on it. It tells us how we got here, our background and importantly gives hints as to why we hold the values and beliefs that we do. Many have been formed and passed down through generations, perhaps modified as time goes by. This may help to explain why we behave the way we do now, and therefore importantly must help us to formulate how we want our future to look.
Here's something for you to consider: if my current set of beliefs don't work for me now, then how could I change them to create a better future. Importantly, as my trawling through Ancestry.com has also highlighted to me, that in the future, your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren etc. may look to find out about you. What will they read? What will you want them to read? What will your legacy be?
If you want to create history, you must plan for the future.
First, have a dream, whatever it is. Determine what you want, your legacy, no one else's - and deliberately and consciously set your internal GPS to steer towards it. Write it down, be tenacious, monitor your progress, adjust your course and keep the dream in sight.
Andy Dufresne achieved it. Ellis 'Red' Redding achieved it. I intend to achieve it.
So how are you intending to get busy living? Leave me a comment and start a conversation.
Go catch your dreams.
"'Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes" - from The Cobbler of Preston by Christopher Bullock (1716)
I believe it's fair to say that that we can add a couple of other items to that; change, and arguably our response to change. We've been dealing with change throughout time so this shouldn't be news to us at all, however we do know that change these days, even when measured in technological advancements, is exponential. What that means for us is that we are going through, and responding to change more often and in some respects more deeply than ever before.
We only need to look at the world stage right now. Who would have thought that a dubiously successful realestate 'moghul' and reality TV host could ascend to become 'leader of the free world'. And is it really possible that the majority of people in Britain voted to 'Brexit' Europe? This air of dissatisfaction and desire for change is beginning to permeate its way to other countries, including Australia, bringing with it a great deal of uncertainty.
What about your own life? When I look at mine, I see change as a constant (and often a constant struggle, as you'll see). In less than two minutes, I wrote down: schools, homes, countries, friends, jobs, roles, companies, careers, relationships, health, mental health, lifestyle, salary, just to name a few.
Is change a good thing or a bad thing? Electing to embrace change see's us learn new things and grow, which is a positive for most people. The down side is 'change-fatigue', when change happens so often that we just can't handle it anymore. The case for not changing is that we stay comfortable, we reduce the risk of failing and that simply means we stagnate, become less vital, which may translate to a life without meaning.
So to our response. A useful model to understand many peoples' response to change is the Kubler-Ross Five Stage Model, developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and published in her book, On Death and Dying, in 1969. The model seems to hold true for most personal and organisational change, though it is accepted that the reactions she describes are generalised. The five stages defined by Kubler-Ross over time are:
Each reaction can be seen to change our level of resourcefulness, which impacts our behaviours and therefore the results that we get. In order to get through change, we have two levers we can pull. We can look to reduce the time over which the reactions occur, pushing through the change curve more quickly. And we can look to reduce the depth of the curve - in other words, look for ways that limit the impacts of our reactions, or indeed choose to respond rather than react.
Sounds great in theory, however in my personal experience, it's just not that easy! As the people closest to me know, I don't handle change real well - at all! In terms of the Kubler-Ross curve, I'm pretty damn good at hitting anger very quickly and deeply. Anger is a highly unresourceful state for me and so my behaviours become 'brattish', my results drop, I get angry, I get more brattish, my results drop further and hey presto, I've hit depression (which sits on top of the clinical variety that walks around with me normally). So I cycle around the anger and depression for quite a while before acceptance slowly kicks in. The end result - exhaustion, arguments, unhappy family and friends, loss of credibility and trust, disillusioned teams etc. Not ideal when you're a leader!
Wouldn't it be great if we could manage our way through change so that we get a better outcome, more quickly, with less stress? In dealing with my own reactions recently, I turned to modelling the behaviours of a friend who demonstrates incredible resilience when under the pressure of change. Here's what I've discovered.
When going though massive change, seek professional help. This applies particularly, but not only, to males. Whilst we'd all love to be super heroes, we're not, and professional help will get you through the change curve more quickly, and to reduce the depth of your reactions.
Understand the curve and accept where you are in it. It is ok to feel anger and even depression - we cannot be happy all the time. Accept the emotion and consciously choose to change your behaviours so that you don't spiral down, limiting the depth of the response.
Don't wallow in the valley of excuses - you know what I'm talking about. That's where you make excuses for all the reasons you can't move yourself forward. If you do feel the need to join a 'pity party' where you and few others get together to collectively bargain, share anger and do group depression, go for it. AND limit yourselves to a period of time, beyond which you consciously decide to move forward. Oh, and don't do this in public unless you want the pity party to turn into an out-of-control rave advertised to all on Facebook. Not cool.
Move yourself into acceptance more quickly by reframing the situation. Ask yourself early on in the change process, "what could be good about this?" and keep asking yourself that question. Other questions to ask could include the classic Cartesian Questions to get yourself aligned:
And watch your head spin for a bit!
Look after yourself and change your physiology. In terms of looking after yourself, do the right thing by your body - eat properly and sleep well. When it comes to physiology, we know that every emotion has an associated physiological state. So instead of taking on the physiology of anger or depression, move your body into something different. Go for a run, walk, lift yourself up, push out your chest and just for good measure, crack a smile. Join in the office banter, laugh...
After all, as a wise friend told me recently: "Everything will be ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end." (This quote is often attributed to the late John Lennon.)
There is a common theme amongst those people who consistently achieve their goals, fulfil their potential, and live their dreams. And that is, not only do they get comfortable with the idea of change, but they thrive on it.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Get comfortable with discomfort in order to succeed.
I've found it difficult to write over the last week. Indeed, I'd admit that I've had some difficulty focusing in general, as many people would. Whilst much has been said and written about the tragic event that occurred in Bourke Street, Melbourne at 1:39pm on Friday 20th January, 2017, I realised that there are some things that I need to write in order to move on. The callousness, the lunch hour timing, the distance driven and therefore the multiple locations of those murdered and injured, has left the city I love the most shattered and saddest I have ever experienced.
The business I work for, RogenSi, is located at 460 Bourke Street, diagonally opposite the RACV Club, and in a stretch significantly impacted by the maroon Commodore's rampage along the southern footpath. Here are 5 key lessons I've learned personally from this inexplicable, senseless act of violence.
Lesson 1 - Terrorism is Not the Domain of Islam
And it never has been. Yet we have come to associate terrorism with religious or political fanaticism. We pour money into protecting our society against ISIS, Al Quaida, splinter groups or individuals who create terror within civilians in order to force change in western governments. So while we think about that, remember the USA is a country that has used its own brand of terrorism to change governments. Let's not kid ourselves - Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not military targets and it was never about Japanese surrender. It was about sending signals to Russia. (Hiroshima Nagasaki, Paul Ham.)
Whilst the Bourke Street massacre was not politically motivated, it used techniques developed by 'terrorists' in recent months to create fear in the population. And it has. The fact that Bourke Street was not politically or religiously motivated makes it no less terrifying for victims, survivors, families and witnesses.
Whilst we are right to protect our nation from externally motivated terrorism, we must look to protect society from within. Whether that relates to bail conditions, parole conditions, proper mental health and human services provisions, the system in Victoria failed us. It must be fixed.
Lesson 2 - No One is Immune
Melbourne takes pride in our standing as the world's most liveable city and as the nation's sporting capital, yet I believe most of our inhabitants have not seriously seen ourselves as a target. The Lindt Cafe in Sydney was a terrorist attack on a truly global city, yet without an ISIS flag it could have been any other person with a grievance that used violence as a means to an end. So in line with Lesson 1, the motive does not matter. We live in a society where violence against innocent people has become an unfortunate norm.
In Australia, all of our population centres are at risk, not just from 'mainstream' terrorism, but from those who seek to use harm as a method of highlighting their own plight. There is currently no mechanism in place to prevent another Bourke Street atrocity happening tomorrow - and I don't think there can ever be, short of shutting down our beautiful city. But right now, Melbourne lives in fear of home invasions, car jackings, breakouts from youth detention centres and our state government responds in a knee-jerk manner with rhetoric, not action.
Let's stop putting our heads in the sand. Do we accept this as society or not?
Lesson 3 - The Impacts of Violence are Far Reaching
On Wednesday evening, as I ate pizza in Hardware Lane, metres from Bourke Street, I broke down, uncontrollably. When the attack happened, I wasn't in our office, I had just returned from holiday and a colleague and close friend had let me know to turn on the news. Yet just 5 days after the tragedy, I was a mess, watching life go on around me just metres from where the deaths had occurred.
Violence like this resembles ripples created by water dripping into a trough. Of course, the closer you are to the violence, the more concentrated the ripples. Yet I was not physically close at all. In this case, I see the ripples as being dependant on your association with the location - or those within the police tape, and those outside it.
Those directly inside the tape are those most significantly impacted. The victims, the witnesses, the first responders. Then there are those indirectly inside the tape - the family and friends of those there physically. In most cases, the crime scene is small but in this case it stretched for more than 3 city blocks. There were many impacted inside the tape.
But in such a large crime scene, those outside the tape were impacted as well. My colleagues out for lunch who could not return, a close friend who turned right this day instead of left and ended up outside the tape. Those of us who work, who walk inside the tape each day but weren't there this day feel guilty that we weren't...
Like ripples in a pond, this violence spread wider than Bourke Street and further than we will ever know.
Lesson 5 - Love Will Prevail
The final and most important lesson. The heroism, the compassion, the love shown by ordinary Melbournians during this tragedy stands above the evil. Those inside the tape did not know if they were at the start of an attack, the middle of an attack, or whether it was all over.
In our office, and outside, calls were made, messages sent, head counts taken... And it continued through the weekend and beyond. Strangers stood together by floral memorials along 4 blocks of Bourke Street and ask each other if they were ok. Where were you? How are you doing? Can I help?
And that is what we must continue to do.
If there is any conclusion to this it is that life is unexpected and short. We cannot hope to fully control the evil that exists in this world, and we should not live in fear of it. We must rise above this, live our lives, live our dreams and whether it is politically, religiously, or just plain criminally motivated terrorism, we must continue to rise against it as a community, as a city, as a state, as a nation.
Melbourne has seen its share of violence, but not like this. We're grieving on many levels and we long for the hurt to be washed away. At some appropriate time, the floral tributes that honour the dead, the injured and their families will need to go so that we can all move forward.
We must not allow fear of any type to pervade our lives. We must live our lives to the fullest, daily. We must not miss a chance to tell those closest to us that we love them. We should live as if tomorrow will never come and hug our friends and loved ones in case it doesn't.
Love will prevail, but I long for a shower of rain to wash Bourke Street clean.
As my latest Japanese journey comes to an end, I've spent some time reflecting on why it is that I love coming to this amazing country. What sets it apart from the other places that I've visited, particularly around the Asia-Pacific region? I decided that a big part of what I enjoy so much is the Japanese culture.
I realised that the culture has been built on hundreds of years of history, yes some of it dark, and it seems to be ingrained. The Japanese are proud people, proud of their country, their heritage, their customs. They are incredibly respectful of each other, of visitors, of the elderly. Cleanliness, order, presentation are all so important - there is virtually no graffiti, no rubbish and few rubbish bins because they are respectful enough to take rubbish home.
So what is culture? Some people say "it's the way we do things round here". In fact, more to the point, it's what we do round here when no one is looking that is a closer definition of culture. To that end, culture is actually determined by the values we hold, whether we live those values, and what the consequences are if we stray from them.
You see our values represent our internal or moral GPS - they guide us in our decision making to get us where we want to go. A strong culture requires a strong set of values and an equally strong determination to set our course by them. In fact all of the qualities I love about Japan's culture are in fact their values on display; respect, national pride, order, interdependence on others and team work. All taught from the earliest of age, over generations.
Values are important at all levels. As individuals we have values (are you consciously aware of yours?), organisations have values (hung on the walls yet rarely lived) and countries have values, to name a few. Whether individually, as teams, organisations, or indeed nations, if we are to be successful we must determine our values, be aligned and agreed on them, passionately live them and use them to guide us to success. There must also be consequences for not living our values or they simply die a natural death.
Where we do not align in our values, or we have a values mismatch, we have conflict, as ultimately our values are on show via our behaviours. Misaligned values in couples may lead to break ups, employees whose personal values are not aligned with that of the organisation lead to conflicts within the workplace, countries that are not clear on their values or who do not respect the values of others may end up with political, social, civil, or religious unrest and even war.
So what are Australia's values? Freedom? Multiculturalism? A fair go, mate? If these are our values then why do we have asylum seekers locked up, why are we in fear of home invasions in Melbourne, why is there racism, why can't we live side by side with indigenous people and why is there no gay marriage?
If we don't know what we value, if we can't communicate our values clearly and if we can't align on them at least at some fundamental level, then no political party will be able to lead us successfully.
In your own life, in your business life and as a country, it's time we took the flashy values with their shiny pictures off the walls and put them into our lives.
Do you have your internal GPS switched on to guide you? What are your values? What should Australia value?
I don't have a bucket list.
And don't really know why though I suspect it's been all too hard to put together. I spend much of my time living in the now - not even in the moment - just looking to do what needs to be done right now. That's great sometimes, but it does mean that life has the potential to pass me by.
As a child, I loved trains. I had train sets that I played with and always loved travelling by train. I'm old enough to remember the 'red rattlers' in Melbourne, followed by the blue trains, and was always excited to spot the newest silver ones, which are now probably 40 years old and quite possibly still in service. I 'graduated' to the MTR in Hong Kong, the Intercity 125s in Britain, the TGV in France and the Chinese high speed trains being constructed frighteningly quickly between major cities.
There is, however, only one train that I really dreamed of going on from the moment I saw a picture of a Japanese Bullet Train, the famous Shinkansen, rocketing past Mt Fuji. I'd heard stories of their lightning fast speed and their punctuality. That dream is reality right now as I write this article. I'm aboard the Hikari 473, 13:03 super express Shinkansen, heading to Kyoto from Tokyo at around 300kmh. It's an amazing experience, my fourth now, and I sit in awe each time. At this speed, the Japanese country side rockets by, the electric motors scream their high pitched whine, the air rushes past, then suddenly a thud and slight rock as we pass another Shinkansen in the opposite direction. The ride is so smooth that my delicious bento box and can of Asahi don't move.
So if I had a bucket list, the Shinkansen ride would be ticked off. But in my mind, a bucket list is not about crossing off a place or activity on the list. It should be about truly experiencing each item and taking something away from it. Today, I lived the picture postcard I remember from my childhood. I saw Fuji-san, it's top covered in snow, savoured the flavours of the chicken, dumplings and rice in my bento box, enjoyed the maltiness of the beer, marvelled at the technology hurtling me down the track, felt genuine respect for the people of Japan who are courteous, polite and welcoming.
You see, bucket lists are important. If we want to live a fulfilled life, we must do more with ourselves and our minds than sitting behind a computer screen, phone screen or TV screen. As human beings, we grow through experience, we learn through adventure. Life passes us by as rapidly as the countryside outside the Shinkansen window, and we risk stagnating. Don't just have a bucket list to tick off places, to just take a photograph and move on; have one to drive the experiences you want to have, to feel the emotions you want to feel, in order that you grow and become who you want to be.
Walt Disney said "If you can dream it, you can do it." You simply have to take the first step towards whatever dream you have. And do it today.
Leave me a comment. What is on, or should be on, your bucket list? What have you ticked off and what did it mean to you?
I don't have a bucket list, but I certainly will now.
Live your dreams.