Getting better in 2015

I’m looking for ways to better myself and others in 2015.

2014 was such a difficult year as I focused so much on work (as there was a lot to do) and had little time for other things.  It;’s not who I am so in 2015 I am getting back into the way

I want this year to be different.
I need this year to be different.

I’ve gotten back into my blood/plasma donations but need some help and ideas on what else to do in 2015.

Giot any ideas? let me know!

Soften the Fck Up

Last week, a new initiative launched called “Soften the Fck Up“.

My buddy Gavin has written a great post about this new initiative to get men to accept that it’s OK to soften up and admit when things aren’t going well.

I met with one of the founders Ehon Chan last week and had a fabulous chat with him about the issues we (men) face and how ‘Soften’ is attempting to change things. It’s related to the decision behind why Raz, Robbie & I started Riding4aCause. I hope theres an opportunity to combine the 2 in the future!

David Brooks: The Social Animal

In February 2011, Writer, thinker and NY Times columnist  David Brooks presented “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement”. In this 18 minute presentation he touches on something that everyone should strive to understand. Watch the video and see if you can spot what this is:

Did you spot it? For me, it’s this point:

Reading and educating your emotions is one of the key central activities of wisdom

For many of us, we believe that our rational minds can help us live better lives, and that emotions or feelings are not important. This is not so. Neurologist Antonio Damasio noted that in a number of patients who had lost the ability to experience emotion were no longer able to make a decision. What should have taken a few seconds was now taking minutes. What should take minutes was now taking hours. David Hume (an eighteenth century Scottish philosopher) declared that “reason was the slave of the passions” (lifted from How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer). David Brooks supports this view as well, and urges us all to become better at understanding our emotions to not only become better individuals, but a better society overall.

Some other points from the video you may find interesting:

  • When we think about human capital, we think about things we can measure easily – things like grades, SAT’s, degrees, the number of years in schooling. What it really takes to do well, to lead a meaningful life are things that are deeper, things we don’t really even have words for.
    • The first gift or talent is mindsight – the ability to enter into other people’s minds and learn what they have to offer.
    • The second skill is equal poise – The ability to have the serenity to read the biases and failures in your own mind.
    • The third trait is medes, what we might call street smarts – it’s a Greek word. It’s a sensitivity to the physical environment – derive a gist.
  • Limerance. This is not an ability, it’s a drive and motivation. The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or task.

Are you ignoring your emotions, or are you precisely tuned into them? I’ve shared some of my thoughts above and would love to hear yours in the comments below!

A textbook way to live your life

It’s not often you find someone who’s laid out a list of rules/guidelines on how to live (what I believe) is a great life. There are a number of interesting points in the license agreement for Eugene Blanchard’s 2007 textbook Introduction to Data Communications. I am not sure there are many books out there with such a great outlook on how to live your life!
Image courtesy of ThinkTank Media

  • That you will try to be a better person today than yesterday.
  • That you will exercise your body as well as your mind.
  • That you will tell the persons dear to you that you love them.
  • That you will defend the rights of those who are unable to defend themselves.
  • That you will not hurt your family members emotionally or physically.
  • That you will respect your elders and care for them in time of need.
  • That you will respect the rights of others in their religious beliefs.
  • That you will respect the rights of others in their sexual orientation.
  • That every man, woman and child has the right to be here and is equal regardless of race, creed or color.
  • That you will act honorably in all aspects of your personal and business life.
  • That your family is first and foremost the most important thing in your life.
  • That when you make a mistake, that you admit it and make amends.

This book is available online in the hope it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

I resonate with almost all of them – Which ones do you believe in? Which 1 (one) would you choose to work on for the rest of 2011?

Note: this article originally appeared on boingboing & quoted from here.

The bike crash – Part 2

This is a continuation of the story of my motorcycle crash on 9th November 2006, 20km out of Orbost on the Bonang Highway in rural Victoria. In this part of the story I will share more of my thoughts, insights, learnings and realisations in the time since the bike crash.

“Any crash you can walk away from, is a good one” – Launchpad McQuack

Crashed VFR800
Crashed VFR800

At the time of the crash all I was thinking about was how to tell my wife that a) I was OK and b) the bike was not. At 7:30pm that night (the first opportunity to relax a little and make the call) I called my wife and said “Hi darling, I’m fine, but I’ve written off the bike”. Succinct enough and should get the important stuff out of the way. Well, it does convey the message succinctly, but no matter how it sounded (both in my head and in actuality), it did not get interpreted the same way. It also didn’t help that the crash happened so far from home and she felt completely helpless – questions start piling up but it’s not the time or place to ask them. To me, I was fine and that’s the most important aspect to it.

One other thing to note: this was a crash. It was an ‘accident’ insofar as it was not intentional (i.e. I did not intend to crash the bike), however I feel calling it a crash is the most realistic way of conveying the event. Plus, the word ‘crash’ also conjures up images of something hitting something else quite hard – which is exactly what happened.

In the weeks and months after the accident, I had been asking/answering questions and pondering quite a bit in the time after the

Having a nap
Having a nap

crash. Questions like:

  • Did my life flash before my eyes (no)
  • Did I feel lucky (yes – extremely so – more on this later)
  • Was I angry about the crash (no – these things do happen)
  • Was I sad about it (yes)
  • Did I cause it (yes, I should have read the warning signs re: fatigue and lack of concentration)
  • Do I know why it happened (yes, with hindsight and calm recollection)

The first question is the most interesting as many people seem to ask it of you when you have a serious crash. It’s true that a crash on a motorcycle is usually far more serious than a crash in a car as you have no crumple zones, airbags or seat belts to help keep you as safe as possible. At no stage did I fear for my life nor see my life flash before my eyes.

Bruised Leg
Bruised Leg

So what’s changed since the crash?

  • I now know & ride within my limits. I was fatigued and lacked concentration at the crucial end of the day. I had been riding well up until that point and did not know I had crossed an imaginary boundary that would rob me of such critical skills when I would need them most.
  • Any group rides have very clear rules set out and understood by all. This is something that will resonate with any of my fellow riders from the East coast on the Black Dog Ride (as part of the Riding4aCause project). I played ‘Dad’ a few times making sure everyone knew where we were headed next and even headed back to chase up the stragglers on a few occasions. To my OzVFR buddies this may be a change from my earlier riding!
  • No matter what you say, your message may be interpreted differently. What would you say in your first phone call to a loved one to let them know that a) you’re OK and b) the bike (or vehicle) is badly damaged?
  • I began working from home full-time. At the time, I had all the things in place to do so, but still felt a need to go into the office 4 days a week. Not being able to do more than just hobble around on my sore leg soon showed me I could do my job from home and be just as productive. I had wonderful support from one of the best managers I’ve worked with and she continues to be a wonderful friend and confidant to this day.
  • I realised I was put on this earth for a reason, and that I had not yet fulfilled it. I wasn’t sure what this was (at the time) but knew I was here to do something wonderful. I spent the next few months trying to work out what that was, but didn’t realise it. You know how the more you look for something the less likely you are to find it? This was one of those moments.
  • No matter how good you are; you can always be better. Up until the crash I thought my riding was brilliant. We’d
    The OzVFR Guys
    The OzVFR Guys

    travelled 650+ km’s from Jindabyne to Orbost and I was feeling good, being able to keep up with the others in most areas (I was not afraid to slow down to a pace I was comfortable with on some of the roads). History shows I didn’t truly learn from this…

This is by no means the end of the story, there are more thoughts to be shared with you in the 3rd and final part of the story where I will expand on the last 2 points and share with you exactly how this crash has changed my life and outlook. How have ‘big events’ in your life changed your views/outlook on life?

It's a journey, not a destination!

This is a minor rant, so be warned! 🙂

I’ve had enough of people looking at health & fitness the wrong way.

Fitness (and that dreaded hanger-on “Diet” and his ugly sister “Weight Loss”) are not one-off things you ‘do’!

  • Right now your fitness level is your fitness level. It can be better and it can be worse – it’s not fixed
  • Your diet is your diet – whatever you eat today is your diet. if you eat differently tomorrow that becomes your diet – it’s not fixed
  • Weight Loss is the result of taking other courses of action (such as increasing your exercise and changing your diet)

Many people see fitness/diet/weight loss as a one-off, thinking “once it’s done I’ll be awesome”, and then they can stop. I’m the bearer of a wake-up call to let people know that all of these are part of a journey, not a destination! Here’s the simplest way I can put this: Focus on becoming fitter. Do this through:

  1. More exercise and
  2. Eating better (note I did not say eat less…there’s a difference)

Focus on the act of becoming fitter! With this, you will need to change your diet; weight loss will happen.

Cycling does something great for me, and when I miss out, I feel bad (not for missing the cycling, BUT for missing out on the benefits – It relieves stress and makes me clearer in my thoughts and more resilient when things go wrong). It’s winter time here and getting out on the bike is hard(er) to do. I know I need the exercise in my week to keep me balanced! Make Fitness your focus through exercise and changing your diet and your journey will be more successful (I know, because this is what I have done!) 🙂

What are your thoughts on Fitness, Diet and Weight Loss?