People I admire
As we progress through life there will be people we admire for all sorts of reasons. When we’re younger they might be TV stars, sports stars, the sort of people who will appear in celebrity magazines and websites. As we start working, we might start to admire others in our field who have achieved considerable success – we might aspire to do what they have done to receive the same sort of recognition and reward.
Things have changed for me. I now have a lot more respect for those who I wouldn’t once have even noticed, the people who do the work that make our lives easier, who can seem invisible until what they do isn’t or can’t be done, making us realise how vital they are.
Finishing work last Friday evening quite late, I checked the board near the alarm panel to find that the cleaners were still listed as being on site. Because it was late, I went for a walk to make sure the last cleaner just hadn’t remembered to remove their name. I walked around the freezing school to find a cleaner still on site, vacuuming a junior room. This incredibly hard worker was working after everyone else had headed home, doing a task that gets little positive recognition, yet is so essential. People like this are true heroes in a community, we should be so grateful for the work they do.
Work really hard on one thing
This is another idea I heard from author Ryan Holiday and it’s one I found very empowering. The idea is a simple one around transformation. Essentially, if we chose one thing that we want to get better at, then consistently work really hard on this one thing, we see results and become really good at this one thing.
You could take just about anything as the thing you want to focus on – from becoming physically fit and strong, to mastering the game of chess. All that’s required is the following:
- Choose your focus area.
- Create a plan to follow.
- Work hard on implementing the plan.
There is just one catch, this being that all steps have to be followed. It really is a simple plan.
Be the verb
Some great advice shared by Ryan Holiday, also known as The Daily Stoic, on The Diary of a CEO podcast. Ryan talks about the way we think of ourselves as nouns – a runner, an artist, a performer, yet we might not necessarily back this up by doing the very things that are required to actually earn these titles.
Ryan’s belief is that we need to ‘be the verb’, and rather than saying we’re these things, we need to be doing them: for the three examples given above, actually run; produce art; perform… by actually doing, you will become and rather than convincing yourself or others through words, they will instead know what you are through actions.
For the community
As I am writing this column, there is a chiropractor clinic [Koha Chiro] taking place, along with other health services. These take place a few times a year and anyone can come along for a free treatment session and something to eat. There are no strings attached and no upselling, it’s just something done by a group of people who want to help and support their community.
This is just one example of groups and individuals doing things in our community for no other reason than it’s a thing to do that will help and support others. I’m certainly not comparing myself to the fabulous Koha Chiro crew, but I can say that these columns are done in my own time, for no financial reward, with the sole reason to share the positivity that I see.
It’s often said the best things in life are free. I’d add another slant on this, stating that the best feelings can come from doing things for free to help others.
Less is needed
I remember years ago listening to the Minimalists. A key message they shared and still do, is that we need a lot less stuff than we think. They tested this theory by storing pretty much everything they had, then only taking out and using what they needed, when they needed it. Eventually they got to the point where they had everything they required, when only a tiny percentage of their stuff was accessed – the rest was surplus to requirements.
This is a great message, especially in a time in which so many are under pressure, while at the same time being encouraged by relentless marketing to keep acquiring more stuff. The fact is that we can get by with so much less than we think and once we realise this, it’s incredibly liberating.
How to get unstuck
On The Daily Jay, a daily presentation from author and podcaster Jay Shetty, Jay shared about what he does when he’s stuck on something – something he refers to as a freeze. His strategy is a simple one, just start by taking the smallest of steps. Perhaps it’s study for an exam – the smallest step could be to just take out a reading and nothing more; or it could be a goal of running a 10k – the smallest step for this could be to walk 100 metres from your door, then the 100 metres back again, just in normal clothes, without having to get changed into training gear.
These very small steps will be the first actions towards the larger goal. As momentum builds, the enthusiasm will also grow, making what would have been almost unimaginable at the beginning of the process now accessible and achievable.
The power of small steps should never be underestimated. They really are the beginning of a journey to take you to where you want to be.
How to be successful
This comment is related to the English Premier League (EPL), but the idea could apply to any individual or organisation. It was shared by Brentford F.C. player Ivan Toney, who was asked in an interview why Brentford, despite spending so much less than other teams in the EPL, has had so much success in the two complete seasons since they were promoted. Toney’s answer was that everyone in the club works incredibly hard and values doing so.
This answer doesn’t relate at all to what other clubs tend to do get more success, this being to spend huge amounts of money to buy in players. What Brentford does can be done by anyone prepared to work hard.
When we look inwards, almost all of us know there are ways in which we could put in that little bit more effort and, in doing so, we will have great life satisfaction and rewards. We just need to be prepared to do it.
Tim Nelson is principal of Lakeview School and author of the book Small Steps for a happy and purposeful life. He endeavours to learn something new every day by reading books, listening to podcasts, and engaging with a wide range of other content.