Improving yourself

One thing I am very passionate about is improving myself. My wife and me are always looking for ways we can improve our lives, our world and ourselves. We both want the best in life and don’t like settling for anything less.

The most important thing to us is how we spend our time. This is something we have recently been looking in to and studying. Through studying we have now learnt ways to maximize our enjoyment of each day and maximize our productivity. We know before each day, what we want to get out of it and how we are going to make it work.

Teach yourself something new

Knowledge and skills are other important areas to us. We both study through different sections of Open University, whilst holding down jobs and my wife especially is always learning new skills. Online there are a wealth of tutorials and teach yourself videos that are absolutely free, so there has never been a better time to teach yourself something new.

One key area in our life is the food we eat and the health choices we make. We try our upmost everyday to get in as many different fruit and veg as possible, whilst making healthy meal choices. We have also started drinking a lot more water recently and cutting back on the tea & coffee, which has also made a big difference.

Make a change

Whatever stage or state of life you are in, there are always ways to improve your life, your world and yourself. The great thing is, that most of the best & most important changes you can make don’t cost anything! A simple change you make for free could be worth so much to you later in life. Don’t miss an opportunity to make a change now, which could benefit you for years to come.

Changes don’t have to be big, as it can be the smallest changes that make the biggest difference. My only advice would be to make changes you can and are willing to commit to. Make your changes a way of life, not just something you do for a day or two. Think about what is important to you and why it is important that you stick to a change you have made. We can always improve ourselves and my plan is to never stop trying to improve myself.

Taking any challenge

Sometimes it seems like some of the things that we are involved in will never succeed. That some of the ambitions we have are unobtainable. Some of our dreams just too far away. Some people shy away from projects where there isn’t a high chance of success. Most people are just not interested in trying to do something to help something, which may seem like it is failing.

When I look at challenges I don’t just look for ones that are going to succeed, I look for things that are important to me and things that I can help. Even if the project doesn’t succeed, if I can say that I played a measurable part in getting it closer than anyone thought we would to succeeding, then that is good enough for me and I will sleep well in the knowledge that I got it closer to succeeding than anyone thought it would.

Are you too scared of failure?

We live in a world where people are too scared of failure. Failure doesn’t define you and doesn’t stay with you if you don’t let it. As long as you learn with every failure and can say that you put your all in to it, then you have not failed. Don’t let the chance of failure stop you from putting your hardest effort in either. If people think a project is going to fail they start to think it doesn’t matter if they don try hard but that is a mindset which is not going to get you where you want to be in life.

Offer what you have

Don’t get involved with projects you can’t offer anything to. Don’t just go in to a projectand feel good because of the work of others. If you are going to get in to a project make sure you can contribute to it and give it your all. If time is all you can offer, then offer it abundance. Being able to spin it on your CV that you played a critical role in a successful project may get you an interview but if that is a lie and you can’t back it up, then you will soon be found out.

Regardless of what the project is and regardless of whether people know it or not, I want to go home everyday knowing that I made a tangible difference and that it mattered that I gave up my time to do something for it.

The slow death of the TV talent show

This year will see the final series of one of the forerunners of the modern era TV talent shows, as American Idol bows out with it’s 15th series. With declining viewers and declining advertising revenue, not only has the decision been made to end with this final series, but this final series will also be shorter than previous years by 4 weeks.

I remember when TV talent shows were drawing audiences of 15 – 20 million per show. Now it seems like anything between 5 and 7 million is seen as a success. The thing with TV talent shows is that they are all geared around advertising, sponsorship and phone ins. If it wasn’t for these things then the viewing dip wouldn’t be as important, as for some programming 5 – 7 million is a good number. TV talent shows got lots of promotion and the best TV slots because they were cash cows but without the support of the viewers they will soon be cancelled, as the only slots they can exist in is weekend prime time.

Change in consumption

When TV talent shows were at the zenith, smart phones and tablets weren’t in every hand, streaming wasn’t mainstream, youtube wasn’t being used as it is now and Tivo (DVR) wasn’t in nearly every home. TV talent shows rely on us all sitting down to watch the programme live and that isn’t how we consume TV any more.

TV talent shows tried to combat what was happening by focusing the shows more on the soap style storylines rather than the talent in order to get headlines and column inches, which worked in the short time and kept interest up. However the more sensationalist the headlines got, the more the public and the media got jaded by them and the less newsworthy the shows became.

I do have a soft spot for the TV talent show but I must admit to rarely watching them any more. Back in the day I would watch all the British TV talent shows and even the US ones like American Idol. UK TV stations fighting over the rights to American Idol (an import), just showed you how popular the genre was, that in the UK we were lapping up anything we could get.

Saturation

The main reason I don’t watch them anymore is because when the popularity was growing, the number of programmes and length of programmes in a series just seemed to grow and grow. Live shows turned in to 3-hour marathons and then moved from just Saturday night to Saturday and Sunday night, which meant giving up most of the weekend to follow them.

You can’t just blame one thing for the slow death of the TV talent show but I think viewer fatigue and the way we consume media now means that at least for a while I think they have had their day.

The changing of seasons

Throughout the year the seasons change through winter, spring, summer and autumn. As I sit down and write this blog I can see the leaves falling to the ground out of the window as we go through the stages of autumn. Every year, like clockwork the seasonal changes take place but the question I want to ask this week is how often does your life change?

I think we all have seasons in our life, times where we are in a physical place, an emotional place, a career place etc. and over time we come out of those periods and move in to new places. Can you think back through some of the biggest seasons of your life? Sometimes seasons are full of storms and sometimes they are nothing but bright sunshine but with everything in life the weather can always change when you least expect it.

Moving fast

I think it is important to realise when we are in a bad season of our life and to do all we can to change it. You don’t want to get stuck in a season too long if you have the ability to change it. Life moves pretty fast and if you’re not careful it will leave you behind. It is important to know what you want in life and take control of the seasons, don’t wait for the seasons to change by themselves.

The experience of a season is important. The experience can change the way you view the world and your outlook on life. Even bad seasons can help in the long run and build you for better seasons to come. Sometimes it’s only by experiencing bad seasons that you know where in your life you want to be or where you want to go.

Don’t lose hope

Don’t forget that all seasons do change eventually and never lose hope when they don’t seem to be changing as fast as you want them to. If you are in a good season enjoy it in the knowledge that it might not last forever, don’t be afraid of it ending, enjoy what you have and be ready to move when the time comes.

The people who will succeed in life are the ones who are in control of the seasons of their life, so do all you can to be in control of yours.

Quotes

A few years back I was very much in to reading powerful and motivational quotes. I was so much of a fan of them that I would regularly share them on my social media feeds. Everyday I would be on the lookout for more quotes to get more inspiration. When I found good ones I then took great pride in sharing them and impressing other people with them.

Catching our attention

I think quotes are great at catching our attention. I think I suffered quote overload though. Instead of getting the most out of each quote I stumbled upon, I would be on this race to find another one straight after finding a good one. I was reading lots of quotes but I wasn’t achieving any more with my life than I was before. Inspiring others by sharing them was more important than taking them in. I wanted to be seen as somebody who was great for knowing and sharing these quotes, rather than living by them or doing something with them.

I woke up a few years ago and stopped sharing quotes I found on social media. There are so many automated social media feeds out there pumping out quotes every minute to try and get more likes, shares and follows. It seems quotes have just become a currency on social media to engage people with.

Sharing originality

Now I regularly share quotes I have come up with myself. I now want to add something to the world and to get people to think. I don’t share as regularly as I used to though and I share the quotes to get myself thinking as much as the people who view them.

The one thing I dislike is when people share thoughts and quotes on social media that they have found from somewhere else but don’t live by what they share. Sharing something is pointless if it is just to get a few likes, when you share something you are associating it with yourself and if you don’t live by the quotes you share you just damage yourself and make yourself look fake.

Start of the journey

Remember the quote should be the start of the journey not the end of it. The more you use a quote the more you get out of it. Remember not everyone is going to agree with the quotes you like and share. What is most important is what you get out of it. Don’t overload yourself with quotes. Pick a few which mean the most to you and refer to them often.

Why do people need to listen to you?

This is a question I wrestle with a lot professionally and personally. What makes, what you have to say important enough, that people should listen to you? If what you say is important enough that people should listen, why aren’t they?

Regardless of your position, background, experience and intelligence, most people at some point in their life have an opinion or an idea that they think will improve something in the world around them but no one will listen. When no one listens to what you have to say, you can become very bitter, very quickly. When people won’t listen, there aren’t enough people who will keep on fighting to get their voice hard.

Frustration

It can be very frustrating when people don’t listen to your ideas in the workplace. One thing you have to remember though, is that there are probably many people in the organisation with different ideas and that just because you might think your idea is the best, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best. It is so easy to get blinkered in to thinking that you know everything and know what is best but it is important that you try not to.

It is also very easy to start thinking that you are the only person with the idea you have in your head and that no one else has ever had that idea or one similar. The reality with most thoughts is that others will have already had them before you or at least ones very similar.

Research

When I have an idea, the first thing I do is research it. See if anybody else has had success with it and then really think about the idea from all sides to make it the best idea possible and turn that idea in to a plan.

There is a phrase that actions speak louder than words; I think you need to apply this school of thought if no one is listening to your idea. Can you do a small trial or experiment of your idea to show people in a tangible way what can happen if they used your idea. In todays world people seem to need numbers and evidence to believe an idea will work, so it is up to you to get those things.

Listening

Companies need to do a lot better job at listening to ideas from all levels of staff, as sadly at the moment too many only listen to consultants or managers. This is a hard dynamic to change and you can’t do it by yourself overnight. Until it does change the only thing you can keep on doing is trying to prove that your ideas are better than others. If they still don’t want them after that, then put them in front of a different audience that might want them.

People need to wake up to the fact that ideas can be birthed in anyone, you don’t have to be an expert, a consultant or manager to have an idea that could change the way a company does business.

Get Involved

One thing I would like to encourage all my readers to do this week is ‘get involved’ in something. Most of us have many things we would like to do in our life, but sadly for most they will stay in the ‘like to do’ category forever, instead of moving in to the ‘something I tried’ category.

It is not until you try something that you will know whether you like it or could be any good at it. I would rather try something, fail at it and cross it off the ‘like to do’ category, so I could find more things that I would like to or get closer to finding the thing that I do want to do.

Getting involved makes life more fun

If there is something you like watching or listening to, I find that by getting more involved in it, makes life even more fun. It could be anything from making your own videos, making your own music, helping out at events to running a fan site.

If you want to help someone or something, get in touch with them and offer your services as a volunteer. I have a passion for football, so I got in touch with my local youth club, volunteered my services, became a coach and now a chairman. Being involved in football at the grassroots level over the years has given me an outlet to use my knowledge and experience of football. I have been able to contribute something meaningful in something I love.

Do it better

If you think you can make something better or do something different that hasn’t be done before – get involved. Don’t spend your life being an armchair critic. Criticism never changed the world, but action always does. If you get involved and contribute, more people will be willing to listen to your views and you have a better chance of actually making change. Your viewpoint from your armchair is pointless and doesn’t change anything.

Don’t get me wrong; trying new things isn’t always easy. There will be times where it makes you upset or causes you frustration, but to me that only means that you care and that you should keep going. Sometimes you can start trying to do something you want to do with your life but have to go and pursue it in another way or in another place than you first started. When you get involved and try something new, you have to find the place that is right for you. Never be afraid to change, but before you do always ask yourself if it is yourself or your environment that needs to change. Always try and position yourself where you can make the most impact.

More action – less talk

Don’t be one of these people that say, “I could do that” “I could do that better” or “I would have done that differently.” Be the one that actually does something, nobody likes someone who is all talk and no action. It is much harder to do something than it is to talk about doing something, so I will always do my best not to be negative towards people that are trying to do something.

I have impacted so many more people by getting involved in things than I have from just wanting to do things. So today I want to encourage you to get involved and give something a try.