Finding your why

Several things have occurred recently that have led me to a similar set of thoughts.

Firstly, I bumped into a parent at Cai’s school and we sat down together and talked. Craig Zablocki is a funny man and he makes his living public speaking and using improv techniques to “get in people’s faces; in a good way.” Basically he likes to make his audience think about actions they can start now to make a positive change in their life or work.

Our conversation covered similar territory to my intention with this blog. When I write here, I am often reflecting on what makes us the best we can be. The trouble is that many times I am uncomfortable because I understand optimal behavior academically, yet I am human and I do not always take my own advice. I feel as if I have been asleep for rather a long time and therefore recognize that perhaps I am more of a sham than a shaman when I ponder the words I type. This feeling of disconnect ultimately leads to procrastination on a large scale.

While Craig and I talked and laughed I realized that he was asking me to hold myself accountable to at least one immediate action that was going to change my path. This aligns with two other sources of thought that I am currently being accosted by. The first is a book by Simon Sinek titled “Start with Why“. Sinek’s thesis is a simple one. Good leaders and organizations stand out because they do something simple yet profound; before telling you what they do and how they do it they communicate why they do what they do. We buy into their belief. If the belief (why), the actions we take to realize the belief (how) and the result of the action (what) are in alignment then people see us as being authentic and naturally trust us. Elegantly spartan, Sinek campaigns for us to consider our belief and values first and make a clear statement of them before we start to think about how we are going to make them happen and finally the measures we will put in place to know we have achieved what we set out to do.

The final thought I wish to share is a four minute talk on by a volunteer fire fighter Mark Bezos. Mark recounts an amusing story of going into a building to rescue a pair of shoes. I will not spoil the ending for you, his pitch though is worth waiting for. Again it is simple; start doing small things today.

So what do I take from all of this? Well I agree with what Tony Robbins says in his TED lecture; we live in a therapy culture, one where most of us believe that all we are is our past. Biography equals destiny. He goes on to say that decision is the ultimate power. Well here is one of my decisions, it is a small action I can start today and one that helps me a great deal. I will commit to writing this blog once a week and I will use it to ruminate and create material that I can use while teaching.

What small action are you going to take which will positively shape yours or someone else’s future.

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All I really need to know I learned outside

Hi my name is Wil Rickards and this is the first blog in a series which I hope will be filled with ideas and activities that you will find useful on the journey of reaching your true potential and maybe finding a job.

Today I am going to introduce myself by explaining where most of my real learning has come from. Author Robert Fulghum wrote a popular book called, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten; all I can say is that I must have been a late bloomer because I did not figure life out quite so early. Yet, if I examine my own experiences, I believe what I found out for myself, often the hard way has stood me in the greatest stead.

My most effective classrooms were the mountains, rivers and seas of my teens and early twenties, here every action and reaction was relevant and feedback was usually instant.

  • If I forgot my rain gear or spare layers I was left cold or wet
  • If I could not be bothered to prepare for lunch I went hungry
  • The less I had the more resourceful I became and the easier it was to move
  • Hard work was often rewarded; I am left with lots of mental images of stunning views
  • The people I shared most trust with are the ones I am still good friends with decades on down the road
  • I learned trust by putting myself in situations where I had to trust and I gained a great deal from doing it
  • The hardest objectives needed to be prepared and trained for the most and are the ones I still remember
  • The more committing and dangerous an adventure the more carefully I chose a partner
  • Enjoyment stemmed not only from the activity but in a large part from the company I kept and yet doing something alone was often more emotionally challenging and provided a different benefit
  • Being part of a tribe gave me cultural identity, role models, mentors (both savant and otherwise) and quelled some of my impetuosity while still being a nursery for my confident aspirations
  • I dreamed most peacefully when, I slept the sleep of the warrior, my arms still aching from the travail and my mind spent from the exertions of maintaining optimism and focus in the face of fear and adversity
  • My performance improved most significantly when I set concrete, positive goals and shared the journey with a partner who wanted the same thing and was happy to help me push when life became difficult
  • Being self aware and training my weaknesses while playing to my strengths paid the most dividends
  • The meditation of being thoroughly in the moment brought the most development. This was most easily obtained when I had to focus and the consequences were real
  • Mimicking natural processes was often the most efficient path to follow
  • There was no point in getting upset with a situation, it just needed to be dealt with and it was especially rare that I could blame someone else while maintaining integrity; even if I wanted to

Surrounding myself in nature has provided me with these examples and the added benefit of grounding. Standing on top of a precipitous mountain, feeling the surge of a river dropping over a rapid or sitting amidst a vast ocean in a small boat has helped me to know how significant I really am. It has also filled me with joy and allowed me to recognize the value of my choices and the control I have over them.

So that is a little about me. Have you recognized I like transferable learning? Here are a few questions for you. How do you know what you know? Are you like me and need gentle reminders of your own truth? Does taking time out to think about the lessons you have learned in your past give you insight into how to deal with your today? Please do comment, I love reading people’s thoughts and ideas and next time I will share a gem for staying upbeat when life is wearing you down.

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