You are valuable #justbecause

Yesterday a 24-year old friend called me concerned that he hadn’t yet done anything meaningful in his life. While this may seem laughable to some, the striking regularity with which I hear this is disturbing.

To give some idea about this young friend, he is incredibly inspiring and likeable. He is creative, compassionate and has a real interest in making a contribution to the world. Yet he like so many people falls into one of the greatest traps of the human condition – comparing oneself to others.

He is concerned that at twenty-four he has not successfully founded a non-profit, started a movement, achieved Young Australian of the Year or been recognised in a Top 100 Most Influential People or 30 under 30 list. The benchmarks by which young people are judging their own success and self-worth are climbing higher and higher each year, to the point that they seem unattainable to many.

Statistics around the poor mental health of young people in Australia has reached epidemic proportions. Young people today are more likely to need mental health care than they are to be admitted to University. Suicide, depression and anxiety seem to be part of the everyday experience of modern Australia.

This is not to say Australia doesn’t care. Australia has numerous innovative and effective mental health organisations, full of competent and committed people who have dedicated their life to supporting Read more

YOU are your business

A wise teacher said to me recently, “You are your business”; and seldom has a truer thing been said. We live in a world where we celebrate building things outside ourselves – companies, campaigns, architecture, change. Yet on some level these things are not outside of us, they are outward expressions of our inner lives. They represent our dreams, hopes, strengths, weaknesses and more. Our creations are also our teachers. They have the unique power to teach us that which we most need to see in ourselves.

When going Outward Bound, we used to use the phrase: “let the mountains speak for themselves”. This pedagogic dream was only as effective as the student’s ability to listen to and understand what the mountains had to say. What are your mountains saying to you? What is your business, life and work teaching you?

It was no surprise that I ended up in social entrepreneurship, and it wasn’t because I was a brilliant entrepreneur. On the contrary, this choice of life path emerged more because of what I needed to learn than what I had to offer. Social entrepreneurship was an ideal vehicle to learn more about discipline, focus and channeling my creative energy. Quite simply, we do what we do because of what we don’t know more than what we do.

Why is it that some people choose the go into partnership while others choose to go solo. Is it because one method works better than another? No. When we choose our strategies we are subconsciously choosing our teachers. Every little part of your business, job or work is trying to teach you something about yourself; it is trying to perfect you in some way.

I became a CEO not because I was an expert leader. I became a CEO because I needed to learn more about the ethical use of power. I needed to learn how to discern between what was my stuff and what belonged to others. For anyone who has served in this role, they will know that it forces you to face yourself. Read more

Whatever you do, don’t trust the process!

“Trust the process” is one of the most frequently used phrases in modern personal development. When I hear it I usually shudder, partly because it is so overused, partly because I have been previously asked to trust a process that didn’t warrant trust, and yes, I too have asked people to trust a process.

As is often said, never trust the person who says “trust me”. If someone needs to qualify their trustworthiness by declaring it, that is the time to start questioning.

The phrase is usually used by a facilitator who understands the process a participants is in.  They have knowledge of the process, its design, methods and what is coming up. For them, they are able to trust the process because they know what the process is. What is often not recognised by facilitators who use this declaration, is that they are in a position of power. When you have knowledge that your group does not, and the ability to make decisions that will impact their experience without their knowledge, awareness or consent, this creates a strong power differential.

Knowing and respecting the power differential between a facilitator and a group is a critical skill.

When a facilitator pulls out the phrase, “trust the process”, it is usually because they have seen or heard signs that someone or a Read more