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Archive for the category “Personal attributes”

Want to change your life? First you need a support team

surround yourself with peopleAs some of you may know, I am currently participating in a 12-week Transformation Challenge.

What most people think of when they hear the words ‘Transformation Challenge’ is that if you really focus, you can have an amazing body at the end of it.

Well, that’s what we are led to believe with shows such as The Biggest Loser gracing our screens.

While some people do have amazing physical transformations, the biggest transformation you can achieve is that of your mind.

Improving your confidence, learning how to set goals, learning how to step out of your comfort zone and do things you have never done (or didn’t think you could do), is all part of changing your mindset. Part of the mental transformation may involve turning your negative thoughts into positive ones. Sometimes it’s about learning to change unhealthy habits into healthy ones.

I have done a couple of Transformation Challenges and while there have been transformations in my body, they haven’t been as amazing as those that have happened in my mind. I have learnt to be more positive, to set goals (in all areas of my life), and have grown in my confidence and belief that I can achieve my goals — even though some of them will take some time.

One of the most important things you need when undertaking a Transformation Challenge (or when you set out to change any part of your life), is a great support network.

One of the key people who has been supporting me in my quest for a happier, healthier life for over 12 months now, is Mel Cook, founder and owner of Run With Life. She offers personal training, nutrition advice, running coaching and is one of only 30 trainers world-wide who is a Level 4 trainer in Metabolic Precision (MP) — a science-based approach to achieving permanent body transformation.

You could say, that Mel is very knowledgeable when it comes to the world of health and fitness.

One of the most amazing things about Mel is how she has built a community of people who support one another. Her Run With Life community is made up of people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Some of us are super fit. Some of us are working to be super fit. Some of us are part of her running crew and some of us are not. However, the one thing that we all have in common is that we support each other, no matter what our goals are.

I’m pretty luck really, to be part of such a group. So this week, I thought I would introduce you to one of the people in my support group, who inspires me each day to make the right choices in order to reach my goals.

Please meet, Mel Cook.

Why did you become a personal trainer?

Do you know what, I actually never wanted to be a personal trainer. I used to be so shy, it scared me to think I had to talk to and tell people what to do as a trainer.

I went to Uni and did health sciences. In my degree I had the option of following exercise science but I decided to follow health promotion and nutrition. When I finished my degree, I got a desk job in health promotion and that’s when I started running. In my desk job, I always seemed to try and find more ways of challenging myself. Then I came up with the idea that I wanted to educate people on how to start running or start exercising. With my nutrition background, I thought it would be good to put the two together and form my own business.

So off I went, I left a secure, great paying job to take a risk, to challenge myself to see what I could do with my own health and fitness business and for other people

What do you love most about your job?

My clients’ gratitude 🙂

How do you get the best out of your clients?

I develop a great trusting relationship with my clients and get them to be 100% honest and truthful with me. No more ignoring the actual underlying factors that are causing the problems. And of course follow the structure of MP.

What do you think your clients value most about you?

I am not too sure. I have never asked them the question. But if I were my client I would value that I offer them the best program possible, which is Metabolic Precision. Without this program many people fail. On top of this, I would also value how much time and energy I put into each of them. Little do they know how much I think about them and do for them outside of when I actually see or talk to them.

What differentiates you from every other personal trainer out there?

Well, I don’t think there is another trainer with the name Mel Cook who combines the Metabolic Precision system with their running clients at the level 4 level. There are only 30 of us worldwide who have completed level 4, and now another 25 who are completing it this year, so I believe I am in a unique situation. I am not the best trainer out there, and I definitely do not know everything, but I am changing the way people who run view training and nutrition. I am changing the way a lot of people view their training, nutrition and health. I also invest a lot of my time and money into bettering myself so I can deliver the best possible program.

Why is running such a key part of your life?

I am going to keep this answer simple. Having something that you can train for and keep getting better at pushes you to places you will have never been before.

When you have a skill that you can keep training for and achieve goals with, the person you become is amazing and the experiences along the way teach you so much that nothing else can teach you about yourself.

What motivates you?

Life motivates me. Seeing people who have missed or wasted opportunities, or didn’t even realise they had the chance makes me so mad/sad/frustrated. Making the best life for yourself is so important.

What are your goals this year?

Last year my fitness goals were on hold whilst my body decided to work as optimally as I wanted it too, so at the moment I just want to get back into training hard.

I do have goals for later this year. I want to sprint. I want to be an athlete — I have the discipline and motivation to push myself beyond limits and I think I have so much in my tank to give. It will take me a while but I aim to be able to sprint competitively by November this year. If not, then early next year, and then I would like to see what I can accomplish by the time I am 30.

I would also love a sub 40min 10km this year. That would be amazing 🙂

What accomplishments are you most proud of (you can have more than one)

Setting up Run With Life and also running my fastest 10km (40mins 22) and my first marathon (3 hours and 29mins).

In order for someone to accomplish their goals (whether it be fitness or something else), what qualities do they need?

The most important quality is to be willing and able to learn.

The person has to want to be resilient and be able to handle all the ‘nos’, downs and disappointments because that is when we learn, when we get stronger and what helps us achieve our goals.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to make a change in their life?

Mel Cook - a super supportive and knowledgeable trainer

Mel Cook – a super supportive and knowledgeable trainer

Do it now because life is way too short and when you have made the change you will regret not starting earlier.

When you are healthy, feel fit and strong, I can tell you, life doesn’t get any better than this!  And…….please do not give me an excuse 🙂

So if you are looking to make positive changes to your health and fitness, but don’t know where to start, contact Mel at Run With Life. Not only will you have access to a highly educated and dedicated trainer, but you will become part of a group that provides great support, no matter what your goals may be.

And that my friends, is something that money just can’t buy.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

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Why dreams don’t belong on the shelf

Do you have goals, dreams or aspirations? Are you working towards them? Do you have a plan?Go get dream

If you do, then nothing should stand in your way right?

Wrong!

You see, I have goals and dreams. Things I am working towards. I even have a plan.

But this week, I have discovered there was a BIG obstacle in front of me. One I never saw coming. One I didn’t even expect.

ME!

All of a sudden, it all seemed too hard.

My goals seemed unattainable.

The work involved loomed in front of me, too huge to overcome.

My belief that I could do it had disappeared.

Small things, which previously were inconveniences, suddenly seemed insurmountable.

My attitude was one of doubt, fear and negativity.

I was dragging my feet, feeling tired and beaten.

So what had happened to cause such a turnaround? After all, I was feeling on top of the world come New Year. And I had experienced great success last year as I worked towards my goals. What had changed?

The truth was, I had stopped protecting my dreams.

I had let ‘life’ get in the way of doing what I needed to do, to make my dreams a reality.

I had let the busyness of the end of the year stop me from focusing on my goals on a daily basis.

I had let ‘holiday’ mode make me complacent.

I had stopped visualising myself achieving my goals.

I had let a lack of routine dampen my enthusiasm.

All in all, I was what happened.

You see, if you have a dream, you need to protect it. You need to protect it from people who want to steal it, or sabotage you or ridicule you, or doubt you.

But most importantly, you need to protect it from your own complacency.

When we dream a dream, or set a goal, we need to look after it. In some ways, it’s a lot like a new-born baby. It needs to be looked after, fed, nurtured, protected, allowed to grow. In the beginning, doing these things is a pleasure, part of the excitement.

But over time, it is easy to become less vigilant.

When our children grow and become more independent, it’s easy to think that they don’t need as much protection as they did in the beginning. This is true, to some extent. However, they still need nurturing on a daily basis. They still need protecting from certain things and they still need to be encouraged to grow.

The same goes for our dreams.

Just because you have set a goal doesn’t mean you can ignore it and still hope to achieve it. Even if you start working towards it, you cannot afford to be complacent about it.

Dreams are precious things. They should be cherished, nourished and looked after. Not placed on a shelf, allowed to gather dust.

For when they are on the shelf, they are open to all kinds of negativity, doubt and fear.

If we don’t give our dream the protection or attention that it needs, it begins to wither and die, until all we have left are remnants of something we wanted to achieve, once upon a time. Distant memories of something we started but never finished. Discarded dreams left upon the shelf, covered in dust.

This week, I almost gave up on myself and my goals — almost.

I was lucky in that I realised what had happened to cause me to feel this way. And instead of shutting the door on my dreams, I have shut the door on the doubt.

I’ve taken my set of goals down off the shelf, dusted them off, and put them in a prominent position where I will see them each day. I will read them, I will visualise them happening, and I will continue to work towards them.

What about you?

Do you have any goals you need to take off the shelf?

cropped-twitterpic.jpg

Nerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

Why you shouldn’t make New Year resolutions

As the year is beginning to wind down, and most of us are in the process of putting the final (or even the beginning 😉 ) touches on Christmas, some of you may be thinking about the next big event — New Year’s Eve.New Year resolutions

And what goes with New Year’s Eve? New Year resolutions!

I’m sure all of us at one time or another have made New Year resolutions.

I’m going to lose weight.

I’m going to quit smoking

I’m going to get fit

I’m going to get a better job

I’m going to save more money.

Blah, blah, blah.

Well, I don’t believe in New Year resolutions.

Why?

Because they never amount to anything.

Some research I came across recently stated that only 8% of people achieve their New Year Resolutions.

Just 8%. So why bother making them at all then, if they are just going to remain wishes and dreams until the next New Year rolls around and you do it all again?

People who make New Year resolutions are really just making a wish. Saying they want to achieve something, yet leave it to fate. As if by putting this dream into the ether will make it manifest before their eyes.

If you want to make next year better than this one, then you need to set GOALS!

Over this year, I have achieved some truly great things. Most of these were a result of getting serious about setting goals, rather than making a wish.

During the past few weeks, I have been thinking about what I want to achieve next year, and am now in the ‘goal-setting’ phase.

For those of you who think goal-setting is boring, you haven’t done it properly. When you set goals, you should become excited about what you are going to achieve. You should feel motivated. And you should come out of it with a plan on how to make it all happen. Which excites you even further. And having a plan helps you believe you can do it.

Over this past week, I have set my health and fitness goals for the year. I will be sitting down with my trainer and some like-minded people later on this week to clarify them further and to make a plan so I can achieve them. That is very cool.

During this week and next, I will be setting aside a good few hours to clarify and set my business goals for 2014. I already have a fair idea of what I want to achieve but I need to put it on paper and make a plan so these goals become a reality.

I have also been thinking of some more personal goals I want to achieve. These are not tied to my health and fitness, nor to my business. But rather, things that I would like to achieve just for me.

One of these is quite huge. It’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time, but the timing has never been quite right. Well, I am beginning to think the timing might be better next year, so it’s on my list. I have moments of believing I can do it, and then other moments when I question it.

Nevertheless, I am setting it anyway.

Because once something is on your goal list, things begin to happen.

So now that 2013 is drawing to a close, why don’t you think about some real GOALS for next year instead of wasting time with resolutions.

set a goal so big....

10 tips to make a change

Over the past 12 weeks, I (along with 18 other people) have undertaken a 12-week Transformation Challenge.far from what I once was

While the focus has been on transforming our bodies (into one that has more muscle and less fat), for me the challenge has been more about transforming my mind. I have made changes to the way I think about food and exercise, the way I think about my goals and the way I go about chasing them down. I have made changes to my attitude towards setting big goals and I have changed the way I see myself. I have also made changes in the amount of self-belief and confidence I have, in all areas of my life. All of these changes have been positive ones.

While I knew that undertaking this challenge would involve hard work, I thought the process would be reasonably straight forward, seeing as I have done two before this. However, this challenge turned out to be one that taught me the most.

So, I thought I would share with you some of the things that I have learnt over these past 12 weeks.

  1. There is no such thing as a comfort zone — so keep moving ahead. If you want to make change, then you are obviously not comfortable where you are, nor do you want to go back to old habits. Moving towards your goals will involve doing things you are not comfortable with, but if you are going to be uncomfortable anyway, why not move in the direction of your dreams?
  2. Motivating others also motivates you. When you become part of someone else’s cheer squad, the positive energy and encouragement you give to them rubs off on you. So next time you lack motivation, try encouraging someone who is working hard at reaching their goals — and you will feel encouraged to keep pushing through.
  3. You must compare apples with apples. There is no joy to be gained by comparing yourself, or your journey with someone else. Everyone has obstacles to overcome, but they differ for everyone. Everyone has different goals they want to achieve. So comparing yourself with your perception of someone else, will only distract you from your progress. If you must compare, compare yourself now to yourself 3 months ago, 6 months ago or 12 months ago.
  4. Time goes by anyway. Regardless of how you are feeling in the moment, time is still ticking by. Sure, you may not feel like taking the steps you know will lead you closer to your goals. (I had a week where I was not particularly motivated to eat well or do all of my workouts). But don’t let your feelings dictate your progress. Do what needs to be done, regardless of what you ‘feel like doing’. Because if you don’t, you will kick yourself. (And yes, for the record, I did every prescribed workout during the whole 12 weeks.)
  5. There are opportunities everywhere. It doesn’t matter what you are working towards (e.g. a better body, improved health, the job of your dreams, buying your first house, etc.), there are always opportunities to move you closer to that dream if you look for them. When you spot one, make the most of it.
  6. Food does not solve problems. During the past 12 weeks, I had a health scare. Luckily it was just a scare. But I was tempted to turn to food (a McDonald’s sundae with the kids to be exact), to comfort myself. What I realised however, is that no amount of ice-cream was going to change the situation, ease my worry or alleviate the stress. So I said ‘no’. Instead, I drank my water and focussed on positive thoughts.
  7. Small achievements add up to big ones. It can be daunting to set out to achieve a goal. Particularly if you have a fair way to go to achieve it. However, instead of focussing on all you have to do, focus on little steps. During this 12 weeks, in each workout I focused on getting out one more rep, or increasing the weight just that little bit. When I compare what I was pulling and pushing 12 weeks ago to what I can do now, the difference is huge.
  8. You are stronger than you think. I’m not referring to physical strength, but mental strength. Undertaking a challenge (of any kind) should require you to push your mind to places you never thought you could go. Don’t run from the challenge. Instead, embrace it and see just how far you can go. There is no shame in failing. Only in giving up before you give it a go.
  9. Focus on what you DO HAVE and what you CAN DO.  It is very easy to make excuses as to why you don’t achieve what you say you want to achieve. But if you are serious, you won’t let obstacles stand in your way. No one has all the resources they need at their disposal. Sometimes money or time may be limited. Sometimes you need more knowledge or experience. Instead of using these limitations as excuses why you can’t achieve something, focus on what you do have and can do. When you take action, things begin to fall into place. And the very obstacles that you saw standing in your way are no longer there — because you have found a path to take in spite of them.
  10. Don’t be surprised if the true value of the experience is not what you intended. You may be embarking on a challenge or working towards a dream for a particular reason. For example, you may enter a half-marathon to ‘tick it off your bucket list’. Or you may wish to go back to study because it will mean you have a higher earning capacity in your career. While those reasons for undertaking the challenge are great, the true value that you get out of achieving those things is likely to be something you never even thought of.

I have my final measurements tomorrow morning and then this challenge is over.

While I am a little anxious about what they will be (I always put too much pressure on myself and set high expectations), I know that I can already be proud of what I have achieved this time around.

Even if I don’t achieve all that I set out to achieve, I am certainly a lot closer to my goal than I was 12 weeks ago.

I am already thinking about my next set of goals, and know that whatever may come along, I am better equipped to reach them, than I was 12 weeks ago.

How not to be better than everyone else

Let’s face it, our culture is very competitive. While there is nothing wrong with competing on the sporting field (see my post on  The rules about winning), competition can get out of hand. You may think you are not a competitive person, but you probably compete without even knowing it.excellence

We all compete when applying for a job. We compete for a car-park at the shopping centre (especially leading up to Christmas!) Many of us try to ‘out-do’ each other when it comes to kids’ birthday parties, or which car we drive. Our kids are already competing with each other with regard to which electronic device they have, or how many ‘friends’ they have on Facebook. I’m certainly guilty of competing when it comes to Scrabble!

Competition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as ‘the act or process of trying to get or win something (such as a prize or a higher level of success), that someone else is also trying to get or win’.

And while competition is fine at one level, it can very quickly get out of hand.

You see, while we are busy trying to be better than everyone else and ‘win the prize’, we lose the gist of what competition is really about — Excellence.

Our primary school has five over-riding values — Respect, Excellence, Confidence, Responsibility and Resilience. Five great values, if you ask me.

At the start of the year, all students discuss what each value means to them. They write them up and they become the values of the classroom. My son’s year level came up with the following statements to define Excellence:

Doing our best — aiming high!
Having a go and learning from your mistakes
Thinking – “I can do it”

My daughter’s grade 2 class came up with this:

Practicing and working hard at everything we do, to be the best we can be.

Awesome!

Nowhere does it say ‘being better than everyone else’.

The problem that arises when you try to be better than everyone else is that you forget about improving yourself. You’re too busy focussing on what everybody else is doing, and trying to do ‘better’ than they are, rather than spending time developing yourself. The focus on ‘doing your best and aiming high’ has been replaced with ‘getting the better of’ someone else.

When we compete, we often end up comparing someone else’s ‘outer’ (or our perception of them), to our ‘inner’. Which is sort of ridiculous. It’s like saying that bananas are better than swimming pools. But many people, especially kids, don’t get that. In their eyes, you are either a ‘winner’ or a ‘loser’.

Which leads to the emotional difference between competing, and striving for excellence.

Competing to win can set someone up for a fall. In most competitions there is only one winner. So where does that leave everyone else? If you only focus upon the outcome of winning, then your success is tied up in victory. If you are not victorious, you are not a success, in other words, you are a ‘loser’. You are not good enough. You need to ‘perform better, do better’. Blah blah blah.

Competing sets you up for jealousy. If you are so focused on the end result, it is easy to envy your competitor for their victory over you. And this green-eyed monster can make it very difficult to see where you can make improvements. Because where there is jealousy, there is also often blame — reasons why you didn’t win. “I was too tired, the referee made a bad call, someone pushed me over, it wasn’t fair”, etc. etc.

But striving for excellence is a whole new ball game. Striving for excellence leads to positive self-esteem, and finding value in yourself for your efforts, rather than in the end result. Striving for excellence enables you to set goals and feel good about achieving them, regardless of what everyone else is doing. Aiming for excellence empowers you to keep trying harder, to be a better version of yourself than you were before. Which leads to confidence. And confidence means you can keep striving for excellence in all you do, for you know there is never failure.

Keeping the focus on excellence also means that there is little room for jealousy. If you did the very best you could have in whatever circumstances, then how can you be jealous of someone else who did the same? I would even go so far to say that being your best self and focusing on being your own ‘excellent self’ opens you up to cheer on someone else for their efforts and achievements, something I wrote about earlier this year (Are you a dream-stealer or a dream-weaver?).

When we strive for excellence, we all win; because excellence can mean different things to different people. It can mean running 5km without walking. It can mean not eating chocolate for a week. It might mean practicing your handwriting. Perhaps it is joining a sporting team for the first time. Maybe even speaking in public without getting nervous or putting in your best effort in an exam.

If you truly want to rise to new levels, stop trying to ‘beat’ everyone else there. Focus on being your most excellent self, and you will be surprised at how quickly and effortlessly you will get there.

The rules of winning

When it comes to sport and competing, my son has one of the best attitudes of anyone I know. Which is pretty remarkable since he is only 10 years old.sometimes you win

When it comes to performing on the sports field, most of his peers are interested in winning — aka coming first. Whether it is an individual sport or a team sport, many of them are concerned with the score at the end and where they came. If they are not on the podium, then many of them get upset.

I have seen kids weeping and berating themselves for not winning a match, or coming first in their race. I have heard parents tell them that they needed to work harder or do better. And I have seen the look on these kids’ faces when they truly believe they weren’t good enough, simply because they failed to meet expectations  —  often those of their parents.

My husband and I never wanted that for our kids. But in a world where you are encouraged to be ‘better than everyone else’, the message about winning and losing can be misinterpreted.

So once our kids were old enough to understand the basics, we explained the rules about winning.

Rule #1: It’s important to participate. After all, there is no way you can possibly ‘win’ if you are not even part of the game.

Rule #2: Enjoy the experience. Have fun while you are competing.

Rule #3: Always do your best. We have often told our kids that we would be more proud of them for doing their best and coming last, than not trying at all and coming first. They know that no matter what the outcome, they can be proud if they have done their best.

But one of the most important rule we discussed was Rule #4: You will never win all the time. Unless you learn to be a gracious ‘loser’ and to accept you didn’t come first without excuses, blame and self-berating, you will never be a good winner. Ever. By all means look at how you can make improvements, but never, ever put yourself down or allow others to do it for you. Ever.

They are our rules about winning. And our kids know that if they don’t abide by these rules, then they don’t get to play.

My son started playing after-school basketball when he was 6. He wasn’t very good. He wasn’t particularly tall and he wasn’t particularly gifted at the game. His first goal was a fluke and it took another 10 months before he got his next goal. Often, when I would tuck him into bed, long after the game had finished and he’d had his bath and dinner, he’d ask: “Did we win?” Obviously the score was not important to him.

As he has grown he has got better at the game. He is still not a gifted basketball player like some of his peers, but he works hard and listens to his coaches. And he plays reasonably well.

But most importantly, he loves the game and he loves challenging himself.

He has played in a few Grand Finals and only won one of them. And while he was disappointed in the result, he was not devastated, like some of his friends.

After the game I would ask him if he was disappointed. He would say, “Well, a bit. But it’s only a game and winning is not everything. At least we had a chance to play.” I would then ask him if he was happy about how he played the game. Always, the answer was “yes”. What a winner!

My son is quite sporty. But he doesn’t excel at anything in particular. He enjoys a range of different sports and does reasonably well with whatever he tries. He represents his school in District Athletics, District Cross Country and District Tennis. He plays inter-school sport and after-school basketball.

But the thing I am most proud of when it comes to his sporting prowess, is his winning attitude. He is always willing to be involved, always doing his best, always accepts the results, always quick to congratulate the opposition and always happy with the experience, no matter what the outcome. In my eyes, he is a true winner.

Winning is not always about coming first, or winning the prize and beating everyone else.

Winning can be:

  • Stepping out of your comfort zone to try new things
  • Participating in something even though you are nervous or worried to do so
  • Setting your own goals and working hard at them
  • Setting your own goals and achieving them
  • Giving everything a go, no matter how skilled you are at it
  • Shaking hands with the person who beat you and congratulating them on their win
  • Helping others reach their goals, while putting yours to the side
  • Competing with a smile on your face
  • Being someone or doing something that inspires others to be better people.

This week, I saw the video posted below. I have seen it before, but it truly is an awesome reminder of what sport (and winning) really should be about.

Take a moment to watch it. I guarantee, it will be the best thing you will see today.

At the risk of offending you…

Yesterday I sat down to write my blogkeep calm and think before you speak

There was something I wanted to write about. This issue had been popping up in various forums all week. It was something that was frustrating me, making me feel angry — and I was feeling quite fired up about it.

There was quite a bit I wanted to say. Some of it was likely to be controversial.

But the trouble was, there was too much I wanted to say — so I edited it.

There was too much that was controversial — so I cut it out.

I ran the risk of offending people — so I toned it down.

And then, there wasn’t much left at all.

It left me wondering how often do we do this? Feel like we have something important to say but water it down because we don’t want to offend people. Feel like people won’t be interested in our point of view so we shorten our conversation.

On the other hand, sometimes we do share what we feel is important but do so while we are still feeling emotional about it.

When this happens, our arguments are not well formed, we usually offend people, (hey, sometimes we don’t care if we offend people), and we lose credibility. I think I was at risk of this yesterday, despite the fact that I strongly believed in what I was writing.

It seems to me that there is a delicate balance of being ‘true to yourself’ and what you believe in, and respecting where others are at.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that we were once where they were — thinking the same things, believing the same things — and we become impatient because we have ‘moved on’ and they have not.

We feel we have the right to ‘preach’ to them that our way of thinking is right and theirs is wrong.

We project our morals, values and beliefs on them, and get frustrated when they don’t measure up to our expectations.

Instead, we should be meeting them where they are. We should understand that their path is not ours. We should remember that they have a right to look at things with different eyes.

That doesn’t mean that we should not speak up about issues we feel strongly about.

It simply means we need to think a little more before we speak.

So, the issue that I wanted to write about has been put on the shelf for a while. I still feel very strongly about it and I will write about it one day.

But for now, the moral of the story is ‘think a little before we speak’ (or write, in my case)!

Cheers.

 

‘Love them in your heart’ — the art of friendship

Life is better with friends

How many Facebook friends do you have? Do you even know? Are you even on Facebook?

Now I’ll ask you a different question. How many REAL friends do you have? I’m tipping the answer to that question is significantly smaller than the number of Facebook friends you have.

Friendship initially seems like such an easy, simple, pleasant concept. People are either your friends, or they’re not.

However, recently in our house, we have been having discussions with our kids about what REAL friends are, and it’s proving to be quite an important topic.

Some of the concepts we have discussed include:

  • Real friends look after you
  • Real friends can be honest with you, even if it means they might hurt your feelings
  • Real friends try not to hurt your feelings when they are being honest with you
  • Real friends want the best for you
  • Real friends, can be jealous of you, even if they try really hard not to be
  • Real friends speak kindly, not rudely
  • Real friends can say things rudely without meaning to
  • Real friends can be good friends without having to play with you, see you and talk to you ALL the time
  • Real friends can like different things to you
  • Real friends try to be friendly all the time, even if they don’t want to spend time with you at that moment
  • Real friends make you feel good about who you are
  • Real friends understand when you don’t want to do the same things as them
  • Real friends take turns (e.g. let each other share the decision of what they are going to play, etc.)
  • Real friends stick up for you when others are being mean (or at least try to)
  • Real friends are there when you need them NO MATTER what.

I’m sure all of you, having navigated the friendship pitfalls of childhood and adolescence, have a reasonable idea on what friendship is. After all, hindsight is a great teacher.

I mean, it is now very obvious that certain people who were my ‘friends’ at primary school, only seemed to be extra friendly leading up to their birthdays. Hmmm. Not true friends.

And those people who always seemed to have a jealous or cutting remark when I achieved something, were not REAL friends. Real friends may have felt jealousy (after all we are all human), but would never have cut me down in that way.

There was also a girl, who was extremely friendly when our parents were around, but at any other given moment, was a nasty piece of work. Definitely not a true friend!

However teaching your own kids about friendship is a different matter entirely.

During these discussions with my kids, many questions about friends have been asked.

  • Why do kids say mean things?
  • Why doesn’t so-and-so like me?
  • How many best friends do you have (meaning me)?
  • When do you know you have a best friend?
  • How do you get a best friend?
  • What is better — having one best friend or lots of good friends?
  • Do you have to have a best friend?
  • How can you and so-and-so be friends, if you don’t see each other a lot?

While I do my best to answer them, an answer always seems to lead into another question.

However, I have concluded that we can’t really teach kids about friendship. Nor can we create friendships for them. Sure, we can help facilitate the friend-making process by organising play-dates, parties and sleepovers, but it is really up to the individual children whether they choose to be friends or not, and how close that friendship is going to be.

Rather than teaching, I think our role is showing our kids what friendship can be.

For example:

  • Some people are your friends for life, no matter where they live, what they do, or how often you see them
  • Some people are your friends simply because you share a common interest, sport or hobby
  • Some people are easier to talk to about certain things than other people. This doesn’t necessarily make them better or worse friends, just different
  • Some friendships last for a short-time, until life circumstances come along to change that (i.e. moving away, going to different schools, or simply growing apart)
  • Some friendships are forged quickly and others grow and change more slowly
  • Some friends are easier to be around than others
  • You may ask some friends for help but not others
  • You can consider some people closer friends than others
  • Sometimes family members can be your friends
  • Sometimes friends can do the wrong things, but if they are truly sorry, (or ‘love us in their heart’, as my daughter puts it), we can forgive them and still be friends.

While there are no hard and fast rules about friendship, there is one thing I believe to be true —

—     You have to be a good friend to have a good friend.

Are you a dream-weaver, or a dream-stealer?

Many of us have dreams, goals, things we want to accomplish. Unfortunately for most people, their dreams only ever remain that — a dream or a wish.make your dreams come true

Why is that?

Imagine what our world would be like if we all went about achieving what we were truly capable of. Seriously… take and minute and think of all the unlocked potential in the world (or at least in your immediate circle).

I’m sure you have had at some point, some goals you wanted to achieve. I’d also hazard a guess that many of these are unfulfilled.

If we really want to achieve something, then why don’t we just get on with it?

I believe it is because we’re afraid of how others will react.

After all, what do most of us do to people who succeed? We cut them down!

What could they possibly be doing that’s legal, to be earning that much money?
Who wants to be that obsessed with exercise and eating for the rest of their lives?
Who do they think they are, boasting about their new house?
They must have stood on a lot of people’s toes to get that promotion.

So we are left feeling scared of being different to the pack. After all, we don’t want people to talk about us like that, do we?

What if things were different? What if we surrounded ourselves with people who cheered us on instead of stole our dreams

Even better — what if we supported others in their dreams and goals, instead of pulling them down?

Something I have learnt over the past few months is the value of building people up. It has a surprising knock-on effect.

Since January this year, I have been part of an online group who all share similar goals — we want to be fitter, stronger, faster and healthier. Some of us just want to lose excess weight and to build muscle; others are chasing their goal of competing on stage. There is one inspirational woman, who at 57 years of age, has set her goal at competing and winning a medal at a Masters Powerlifting competition!

We are all at different stages of our journey and all have different hurdles to overcome. However, the amazing thing is, we celebrate each other’s successes. We encourage each other when the task seems too difficult, and we ask for (and give) advice when needed. I am continually amazed at the genuine enthusiasm, encouragement, care (and dare I say it), love that exudes from this group.

The most amazing part about it, is that most of us have never even met each other!

What this group has shown me is that by building others up, we actually build ourselves up. For every person who you look up to as an inspiration, there will be someone looking up to YOU for inspiration.

Imagine that! Someone finding YOU inspirational.

Just because you haven’t reached your goal yet, doesn’t mean you can’t inspire others.

The mere act of persistence, patience and hard-work, day after day, can inspire others.

The act of setting goals and doing what is required, even when you don’t feel like it can inspire others.

Having the courage to go after something, when the odds are against you, can inspire others.

Most importantly, being full of encouragement, praise and genuine happiness for someone achieving their goals can be inspiring. Unfortunately, many of us don’t realise this.

Not all achievements come easy. Some take years and years of hard-work, commitment and dedication. Certainly, amongst our online group there has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears (literally)!

I can personally testify that changing my body composition (e.g. the amount of fat and muscle I have), changing my eating habits, and training regularly involves hard work and sacrifice. There have been times when I have doubted myself, doubted the process and wondered if it is all worth it. Some days, it just seemed all too hard.

However, by being a dream-weaver myself — encouraging others, celebrating their successes, using their achievements as motivation for my journey — rather than being jealous of them, has helped me achieve success in a way that I never thought possible. It has helped me stay focussed on my goals. It has also helped me not to worry so much about what others may think.

Most importantly, it has led to other people supporting me in my dreams and goals. People who understand what I am trying to achieve, and the hard work required to get there. And that is where the power is.

As a group, we support each other, laugh with each other, encourage and praise each other. As a group, we achieve so much more than we would individually. As a group, we are powerful. And as a group, we are realising our unlocked potential.

While I still have a long list of goals I want to achieve, I am slowly ticking them off.

The lesson learned is this: you won’t find people to support your dreams, if you are busy stealing the dreams of others.

Supporting and encouraging others in their dreams, whatever they may be, opens your mind to more possibilities, more opportunities and more creative ways to make your dreams come true. It also opens your heart a little, so others can be there for you.

So what are you?

A dream-weaver, or a dream-stealer?

Who are you?

On the surface, it seems like a straightforward question. I mean, we all know who we are, don’t we? Or do you think you know who you should be?

Because to me, there is a difference.

Many people don’t like who they are. They don’t think they are good enough. They don’t feel they deserve success. They don’t believe that they are capable of achieving or being more than what they are. They put down any success they have as ‘luck’. Furthermore, they are often jealous of other people’s successes, without even thinking about the sacrifices required for that success. They compare their ‘inner stories’ with the perception they have of someone else’s life. They are simply not happy people.

It’s so very sad.

But why is it like this for so many?

Perhaps they had abusive parents who only put them down. Maybe they have a physical disability that limits them in some way. Perhaps they were bullied as a child. Maybe they tried to do something once but failed, and then were taunted because of their failure.

Or maybe nothing has happened. Perhaps they have just been bombarded with unrealistic images in the media telling them how they should look or dress; where they should work; how they should interact with their family; how they should spend their spare time; how they should spend their money; what their house should be like; or how happy they should be all the time (cue ad of well-dressed housewife smiling as she goes about cleaning an already spotless house).

No matter what your circumstance, there is one universal truth — we are all good at something. Actually, we are all good at many things.

While we can’t be the best at everything, we are all born with different gifts (or abilities if you prefer). Some people are great at listening. Others are natural athletes. Some are brilliant cooks. Some people’s minds (not mine!) are wired for complex numbers. Other people are creative. And on and on the list goes.

What is it for you? What are you good at?

It’s probably the things you do without effort, things you like doing, or things that, (heaven forbid), people actually compliment you on!

When you find something that you are good at, notice it, nurture it, and keep looking until you find another. Because the more good things you see in yourself, the more you will be able to find. And the more good things you find, the more you find yourself. Your true authentic self.

Sure, you have weaknesses. We all do. But don’t let them be the focus of your life. Don’t let the negative things define who you truly are.

Stop comparing yourself with others. Stop focussing on what you can’t do, or wishing you could do what someone else does. Because when you do that, you start to paint a picture of who you think you should be. And that leads to unhappiness.

Dare to be YOU. The very best version of yourself.

To quote a wise man:youer than you

“Today you are You,
that is truer than true.
There is no one alive
who is Youer than You.”

By Dr Seuss.

Are you brave enough to let others see who you really are?

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