The Puzzle

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I’m a member of the University of New South Wales Toastmasters, and I actually studied at that university for 4 years. I graduated with a science degree, majoring in nanotechnology. So after 4 years of studying cutting edge science, I decided to look for a job. So I’m at home in front of the computer, I log onto Seek.com.au and type “nanotechnology” into the search box. 0 search results. I log onto CareerOne, MyCareer, Jobsearch.gov, etc. Nothing. So eventually I get a job in a chemistry lab, doing some every day routine lab testing, cleaning test tubes… that sort of thing. But you’ve gotta start somewhere right?

I’ll never forget a man named Ken who worked on the lab bench next to mine. He was in his sixties… he was tall, thin… he wore a white lab coat everywhere he went. He was a veteran of the organisation; he’d worked in the same job for forty years. He was very particular… he meticulously kept a diary of his every day tasks, and sometimes just to show off, he’d pull out his old diary and tell you what he was doing on this exact day 30 yrs ago.

One morning I arrive at work, and there’s an envelope with my name on it. Now I don’t usually get mail, so the first thing I did was open it. Inside the envelope was a box. I open the box to find a letter and some scattered pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. The letter was an invitation to a day of golf held by a partner organisation. The jigsaw puzzle had to be assembled, and the picture would reveal the details as to where and when the golf day was to be held. Free golf, my lucky day!

So I get to work on the jigsaw puzzle. As I assembled the puzzle, making connections and fitting pieces together, I started to feel intrigue; a desire to find the hidden messages, to discover the greater picture unfolding. And when all the pieces were in place, I felt a sense of satisfaction, but also a sense of loss, that the puzzle is over for now, and it’s time to move on to other things.

I mentioned it took me 4 years to get my science degree. Well in my 3rd year of the degree, I actually decided to drop out. “This degree isn’t what I expected… I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.” I told my parents (who weren’t too happy about the situation), I told the school coordinators, and just as the paperwork was being finalised, I had a sudden change of heart. I was scared. I knew that I didn’t want to do this degree anymore, but I didn’t know what else I was going to do. I convinced myself to keep at it and finish what I had started. So I continued on with science class.

Now in science class… that’s where you learn about all things great, on the smallest scales to the biggest. The energies that make up atoms, atoms fitting together to form molecules, molecules which form cells, cells which make up all living things, animals, plants, the continents and oceans that make up our Earth, the Earth which sits in own perfect spot just the right distance from the Sun, in harmony with the other planets. On every scale, as everything seems to fit its own perfect way, a greater picture unfolds. Just like the pieces to a puzzle.

Could we just be pieces to another puzzle? Is there a greater picture to all of this?

I picked up the puzzle pieces and placed them back into the box, along with the letter that I had received in the envelope. I remember feeling tired that day, which is usually how I’d feel if hadn’t had much sleep the night before. You see, there were times where I would wake up, drive to work, be focused on the task at hand all day long, leave work, drive home, and as soon as I’d get home, I’d get straight into doing those things I love most: creating music, videos and writing speeches. You know that feeling where you get so into something, you lose track of time? It’s like nothing else matters except you and that thing that you’re doing. What is it that drives us to these things… these things that we love?

Shortly after I decided to continue on with my degree, I had a conversation with a fellow studying the same degree, but he was in the year ahead of me. He was in the same situation. He’d decided the degree wasn’t for him… his true passion was business. He was fascinated by a man named Sir Richard Branson, a man who had poor academic performance as a student and at the age of 16, dropped out of school. But because of his ability to connect with others, he was able to take ideas and turn them into businesses that delivered genuine value to many people. He is now a billionaire, founder of Virgin Records, Airways, and Mobile, amongst other things.

How did a man with poor academic performance succeed, purely because of his ability to connect with others? He did not follow a typical path to success. But he did do one thing… he realised his unique ability. And through harnessing his strengths, he was able to live as his true self.

To live as your true self. All those times I would be up all night working on my own creations… could that be a reflection of my true self? I admit, I have many things to learn, but I do know one thing. I have a natural desire to do these things that I love. When I do these things, I get to express my unique abilities. When I share this with others, I feel worthwhile. I feel like I can really help people. If we’re just pieces to a puzzle, then it feels good when I’m being my own piece.

To be your own piece. You see, if you hide your abilities or try to be something other than you really are, that’s like trying to disguise your individual piece to the puzzle. When you disguise your piece, it makes it hard for you to connect with others. But when you be your own piece and cherish your unique abilities, you can more effectively contribute to the greater picture… you can more effectively help others, by connecting with them in your own unique way.

Follow your desires, and be your own piece. Whether you’re destined to be a billionaire founder of many successful businesses, or a 40 year veteran working the same job in the same organisation… let your unique abilities shine, harness your strengths, and share with the world the gift of your true self.

And when your piece to the puzzle is in place, help others remove their disguise and be their own piece. Give others the chance to be their true selves… to really feel worthwhile. Or you could just invite everyone you know to a day of golf. That’s where it started for me. And this is where I am. I want to thank you for being a significant piece to the puzzle that reveals this wonderful picture we have in front of us. This wonderful picture, of a friendly, supportive environment, where you can be your own piece.

(This speech was inspired by a blog post which can be read here)

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Conscious Growth Workshop – weights analogy

I attended the Conscious Growth Workshop on January 15-17 in Las Vegas, hosted by Steve Pavlina. In the workshop we worked with the universal principles of growth, as illustrated in the Truth Love Power triangle below.

Truth Love Power triangle
Truth Love Power triangle courtesy StevePavlina.com

Steve used an analogy that I found particularly useful in reminding me how to use these principles. The analogy refers to weights you would lift at a gym in order to improve your physical strength.

Truth refers to accepting the real situation of where you are now, and where you want to go (your goal). When you exercise the principle of Truth, you become clear of how heavy the weight is (i.e. how difficult it is to get to where you want to go) and how strong you are (i.e. your ability to get to your goal). When you are out of alignment with Truth, you are not fully accepting your situation and/or the consequences involved in getting to your goal, so it will be difficult to get to your goal. Truth can help bring clarity to the situation, so you can figure out where you want to go, what the consequences will be, how difficult it is to get there (how heavy the weight is) and your current ability to get there (your ability to lift the weight or how strong you are). Exercising Truth involves fully accepting where you are now. It also involves fully accepting the consequences of getting to where you want go.

Power refers to your ability to get to your goal (i.e. how strong you are). Just like progressive training (progressively lifting heavier weights to get stronger and stronger) you can undertake power exercises to progressively train the abilities that you need to get to your goal. Exercising Power involves progressively training your abilities so that you become stronger and more able to lift the weight required to get to your goal.

Love refers to your social support group which directly affects how difficult it is to get to your goal (i.e. how heavy the weight is). When you are surrounded by a positive environment, it becomes easier to get to your goal (i.e. the weight becomes lighter). However when you are surrounded by negative influences that hold you back, it becomes much more difficult to get to your goal (i.e. the weight becomes heavier). Exercising Love involves engineering your social support group to make the weight lighter so you can more easily get to your goal.

Truth, Love and Power give rise to four more principles. I recommend reading Steve’s book or attending a future workshop to get a grasp of how these work. Essentially, the idea is to re-align your life with these principles. When you analyse your life in terms of the Truth Love Power triangle, it becomes clear what area of your life is out of alignment. Exercising the appropriate principle will be critical in getting you on track to achieving your goals.

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How to deal with angry people

Do you remember the last time someone was angry at you?

Recently, someone close to me was abused. Who knows why that person acted in an angry manner? Was it because of a false story they heard? Was it because of their own false beliefs causing them to interpret the situation inaccurately? When someone close to you gets abused, how do you feel?

I’ll tell you how I felt. On hearing about the incident, my mind raced furiously, trying to understand why someone would act in such a manner. But it was hopeless. Whatever possible reason my mind would come up with, I knew that really, I didn’t have enough information to draw a conclusion. There was not enough truth to this situation. And there never would be. The only thing I could do was act with love, reflect on the situation, and take what learnings I could.

To that person close to me, this was my advice: That person was not angry with you. They were angry with them self. They were seeing things in their own way and were doing the best they could, even if they didn’t know it. That is simply who they were at that moment. Continue being yourself. I know your mind will try to reconstruct the situation in every possible way and try to place the blame. But there is no one to blame. Learn from this, you will become stronger.

When someone gets angry at you, understand that they are seeing the world in their own way. They are doing the best they can. Feel every motion that is triggered within you, acknowledge those emotions and fully receive them. Don’t resist these feelings, let them happen and pass. You know that person you desire to be, that person you know you can become? In what way would that person act? Would they retaliate? Would they accept the person for who they are? Would they accept the situation for what it is? Start acting in the way you would if you WERE that person who had all your desires. This takes practice, but eventually this will become an automatic process that lets you stay focused on enjoying every moment of your life. After all, your time here on earth is temporary. Would you rather be enjoying yourself, or having your time wasted?

Then again, when was the last time you were angry at someone else? You’re not angry at them. You’re just angry at yourself. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you can start working on those beliefs that caused you to react with anger…

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How to get the respect you deserve

There was an incident during art class in my first year at high school. One particular student was an introvert, but if you had been there, you would have marveled at the sculptures and paintings of this particular student. There was another student, who many would have considered as much less talented, but excelled in another area, getting the teachers attention, due to misbehaving , or simply by engaging in friendly small-talk. The teacher was a good man, but pretty relaxed and care-free in the way the classes were conducted. Often times the teacher would assign work and then disappear for much of the class, only to return at the end of the class to collect any completed works. To the students though, it was clear that there was one particular student who was most talented. This talented student would create artworks with such care and passion, that it was inspiring to watch. One afternoon, our expectations were shattered, when the teacher returned the marks for a recent assignment. The talented student was given average marks, ranking the student somewhere in the middle of the class. What shocked us the most was the ranking given to the much less talented student. This student was given high marks, ranking the student, second in the class. I doubt this was the sole reason, but it could have been a factor in causing that talented student to leave the school, and join another school, in the following year.

Why didn’t the talented student get the respect that was deserved? Have you asked yourself a similar question? Have there been times where you haven’t received the respect you deserved?

In this episode I will give you a method to get the respect you deserve every time. This method works regardless of your situation, or the situation of the people around you. But it will take practice.

Lets take a moment to consider this: what have you done to earn that respect?

Regardless of your past or present situation, you’ve been through your life creating something valuable: your experiences, your knowledge, your abilities. In your current situation, what value do you have, that other people need to receive? If these people don’t receive this value, you won’t get the respect you think you deserve. As a student in high school, we understood the passion of that talented student. As students, we received the value created by the talented student. On the other hand, did the teacher receive this same value? Probably not. In what ways could the talented student have delivered this value to the teacher? What can we learn from the much less talented student, who did get respect from the teacher? It doesn’t matter if the teacher was right or wrong. He was simply doing his best.

To get the respect you deserve, you need to deliver your value in a way that people can receive it. Another way of saying this, is that you need to meet people at their energy level. This was one of the biggest challenges I faced in my experience as a corporate employee. Often times I felt I was not receiving the respect that I deserved, but then again, what had I done to deserve that respect? Did my surrounding employees know the full extent of my past? Did I communicate to them my experiences and opinions? What relationships did I develop with them? I wasn’t receiving respect because I hadn’t delivered my value to them. In their eyes, that value did not exist. As soon as I started opening up to people in a way that they could understand, the value of my experiences was delivered, and I started to get the respect I deserved.

I’ve found that beliefs can play a big part in this. One reason you may not be delivering your value is because, you feel you don’t have any value to give. You might be thinking, “I’m not good enough” to be expressing this or this about myself. You might also be thinking the opposite. “These people aren’t good enough” to hear about what I have to say, or to receive what I have to give. These are limiting beliefs that can lead you to thinking that you aren’t getting the respect you deserve. But when you realize that these beliefs are false, and that your experiences hold incredible value, then you can start delivering your value to those who need to receive it.

Following these approaches, if you continue to feel that you aren’t getting the respect you deserve, then consider this. Is your current situation right for you? Are there others that you can surround yourself with, who can much better receive the value that you can give? Maybe you’ve done your best in your current situation, you’ve been respected, but you feel you deserve more. Maybe you need to give yourself the respect you deserve, and move on. You are doing the best you can. So is everyone else.

Also, understand that you DON’T have to get the respect you think you deserve from every single person you interact with. Others may be more suitable at connecting with those people than you are. Some people may simply be at an energy level that is out of your reach. Acknowledge this and move on. Of course, love is an energy that can be shared and received by all…

So next time you feel you aren’t getting the respect you deserve, remember, deliver your value in a way that people can receive it. You ARE good enough to deliver your value. Others ARE good enough to receive it. Surround yourself by those who are in the best position to receive the value you can give. Understand that you DON’T have to get the respect you think you deserve from every single person you interact with. Act with love, and stay focused on enjoying your journey.

After all, everyone has been through their own experiences. Everyone sees the world in their own way. Remember the story about the talented art student from high school? It doesn’t matter if the teacher was right or wrong. He was simply doing his best. He saw the world in his own way. Perhaps the friendship from that less talented student was a more valuable offering to him. Many people would think so too.

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How to find your passion in 3 steps

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Driving home from the city one night, I was giving my friend Jim a lift home. I always find car rides a good opportunity for conversation, and on this particular ride, the topic was career and personal development. At the climax of the discussion, there was an empty silence, so i jumped at the opportunity and asked the question: “so what is your ultimate goal?”. Jim was a working accountant, but also a very talented speaker and experienced Toastmaster, amongst other things. He replied that his goal was to be a professional speaker in the field of personal development. Having been in the audience of some of his speeches, I knew he was very capable of achieving such a goal.

Do you know people in your life in a similar situation? Making a living doing one thing, but with a passion for something else. What about you? Are you making a living doing one thing, but with a passion for something else? Or maybe you don’t know what your passion is.

In this episode, I will give you 3 steps you can use to identify your passion. At the end I will give you a final exercise to identify your next step, so that you can start living your passion today.

But let’s first get clear about what it means do something you’re passionate about. When you do something you’re passionate about, chances are you get so into it that you lose track of time and place. Nothing else matters except you and doing that thing that you love. These are the things you could become great at.

You could be passionate about different things at different parts of your life. In high school – I developed a passion for personal development and breakdancing. At uni I studied a science degree, but regardless, I developed a passion for business. After uni I developed a passion for video editing and public speaking.

Reflecting on these experiences, I’ve discovered 3 steps you can use to identify things you are passionate about. I will give you 3 questions. Ask yourself each question, and write down your answer.

1. Do you see someone succeeding and think “I want to be doing that” or “I want to be living like that”? If so, what are they doing? Whenever I would see an entrepreneur, running their own business and delivering their products to those who could benefit from them, I knew that was something I wanted to do, and perhaps being an entrepreneur was something I could be passionate about.

2. Do you cringe when you think someone is “doing it wrong” and you know ways to help them do it better? If so, what ways can you help them do it better? Now as an experienced public speaker, I would cringe whenever I would see speakers at work or on TV make an amateur mistake, because I knew that if they would fix 2 or 3 small things they’re presentations would improve dramatically. Now this was an area where I had to figure out a way to deliver that knowledge to those who could benefit from it. Again, this could be something I’m passionate about.

3. What excites you the most about life? This is a broad question but I assure you if you cycle back through your memories and identify those moments where you have felt the most excited, you will find something you are passionate about. As part of an English assessment in high school, we had to take part in a class play to be performed to the rest of the grade. This got me incredibly excited. Those brief moments where I acted on stage and said those few lines could possibly have been the most fun I had that year. In recent times, I get to feel this excitement when I give a speech, because to me, a speech is a type of performance art where I want to give my best every time.

Did you write down your answers to each question? Take the answers you get from these 3 questions, and see if they fit together into something you can start doing right now, today. Perhaps you’ve identified that you love music, in particular playing the guitar, and you would like to someday record a solo album, play a live gig, hold guitar workshops, organise music festivals, or manage other artists and help them commercialise their work. Whatever your answers are, identify where you are now, what you know, what you need to know, and figure out that next step that you can take now, to start living your passion today.

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