When was the last time you helped someone?

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I think helping someone is one of the greatest acts of kindness you can perform. Doing something to help someone else is like making an investment. By helping someone you are giving something to improve something. Time is an asset we all have and time is something we all have the power to give away.

So many people go through their day without helping anyone, which I think is quite sad. Giving help doesn’t have to be big, it can be as little as just stopping in your car to let someone cross the road. The great thing is that anything from the smallest act of kindness to the biggest can gain the same reaction…a smile.

Change the world

The one way that nearly all the human population has at their disposal to change the world for the better is performing acts of kindness. Sometimes the world seems so out of control and you can start thinking ‘well what can I do?’ Acts of kindness are something we can all control and although we can’t control what will happen after the act of kindness, I truly believe the more kinder we become as a world the more change we can make.

Whether you realise it or not, most of us in this world will be on the receiving end of acts of kindness in our lifetime. I believe it is so important to be aware of this and use this knowledge to sew acts of kindness back in to others. Sadly too many people are too blind or too egotistical to acknowledge the kindness they have received and believe that they achieved everything they have in their life by themselves.

Building communities

One thing kindness builds is communities. When we go out of our way to help those around us, relationships are built and togetherness is formed. An act of kindness is an investment in to the lives of others. If you want to improve your community, you have to get involved in it, you have to be the one to start being kind to others for that kindness to start rubbing off on others and a kindness snowball can start to grow.

So my word of advice for everyone out there this week, is to not let it go too long since you last helped someone, the longer that time builds the less effective you are being in the world. Recently I was on the receiving end of amazing kindness when people backed my book project financially, to help get it released in print form and I am determined to pay that kindness forward.

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The Power of Football

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I was out walking in a neighbouring city the other evening and saw something which made me stop and think.

Whilst I was walking, I walked past a Bar that was showing a football match and they had one TV that pointed out to the road so any passer by could stop and watch. In front of this TV was a homeless man. He had set his piece of cardboard down, sat down and seemed hooked on the match, to the point that the rest of the world around him didn’t seem to exist. This man was reacting to every close shot and every bad decision by the referee, he probably looked a lot like I do when I sit and watch at home.

Enjoying the Game

In the short time that I was there no one tried to move him on and no one bothered him, which was nice to see. Like any football fan he seemed to just want to enjoy the game of football and was allowed to do so. This event helped put football further in to prospective for me.

The game of football is an international phenomenon, played at the top level by people who will earn more in a month than I might earn in my lifetime. It is a game that now in this country if you want to follow it live on TV you have to pay obscene amounts of money to the likes of Sky, Virgin and BT Sport.

Key Strengths

Football is a game you get caught up in, a game that can give you something to look forward to and a game that can help you forget your troubles. These are the things that I think are its key strengths and I hate that in this country that it isn’t accessible to all.

I think more needs to be done at higher levels to make this sport more accessible. In a classroom of kids, for those that are in to football there shouldn’t be a class divide over football, where there are some kids who have parents that can afford the subscriptions to watch the games and some that can’t.

Lets Help Others

I would love to live in a world where those that can afford the subscriptions to watch live football invite people over to their home to watch games, people who they know can’t afford the subscription but enjoy the game. If I lived next to the street I think I would be tempted to put a TV up to the window for passers by to watch the game.

Lets use football, lets share football, lets do something ourselves, if more and more people are going to be priced out of the game lets bring them back in to the game. To the man I saw the other night, I hope you continue to enjoy football and that one day someone invites you in to watch a game with them.

The news is a scary thing

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I was shocked when I opened up my Facebook last week and saw a local newspaper was requesting to be my Friend. Now I am all for newspapers having Facebook pages to promote their newspaper and news stories, which people can choose to like but I didn’t like that they had set up a personal account. Through this account they seemed to be actively friending people through it with no perceivable connection to the newspaper besides living in the area of which the newspaper covered.

Access

Should newspapers be allowed to have access to people’s personal updates and should they be actively wanting it? The only reason I could see for wanting Friends instead of Likes on Facebook, is to gather news without having to leave the desk in the office. With access to peoples Facebook profiles, it gives the newspaper quick access to people opinions and personal stories, which they may not want shared in a newspaper and spread to the community in which they live.

If a newspaper was to directly quote from a person’s Facebook account or base a story about information they share, then it could negatively impact that person in their community and could do untold damage to their relationships and mental wellbeing. The news shouldn’t be about invading our lives, it should be a reporting of things happening in the world, that we can choose to engage with at whatever level we feel comfortable.

Moving in the wrong way

I know newspapers are trying to move with the way the world is moving and trying to do everything as efficiently as possible, but I think this is a step too far. The newspaper market has come under massive attack from the digital revolution, so anything for them to grab attention and do things cheaply I’m sure appeals to them and I can’t blame them for this, so this is why I think we need industry standards, laws and government to look at things like this.

Now you mustn’t get me wrong, I have no problem with news companies searching the Internet to look at user generated content that users are happily sharing with the public. I think this is wise as it helps gauge opinion and helps get the human side of stories to put them in to balance. What I think is dangerous is this want for more and this thirst to know everything and to know more than competitors, which leads to things like them trying to connect with people who don’t share information outside their friends groups.

Information is dangerous

Why should a news company get to choose what information you share is relevant and worthy of using? Information in the wrong hands or used the wrong way is very dangerous. So my message to news companies would be to stop and think about the damage that could be caused before they think of doing something similar.

I voted with a click of a button and declined their friend request and all I can say is that I hope others do the same. I don’t want to live in a ‘news state’ any more than I want to live in a ‘police state’ but I fear things like this are bringing us closer to that.

Why I don’t like the term ‘Unsung Hero’

After winning many ‘Unsung Hero’ type awards myself, I don’t think many people would expect me to have such an issue with the term ‘Unsung Hero’ but I do!

In towns and cities around the world various ‘Unsung Hero’ awards are given out every year, like the ones in the links below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/get-inspired/27037119

http://www.prideofbritain.com/

The key thing I don’t like about these awards is the fact they are every year. For years and years we have had these awards and we will have them for years to come. This proves that these awards aren’t really changing the public perception and attitudes, as we still have to have these awards so these people are recognised and celebrated, which I don’t think is a good thing.

A pat on the back

In award ceremonies the Unsung Hero award is never the main category. It is normally always the only award with the word unsung in it, as everyone else gets to be Fundraiser of the Year, Carer of the Year, Teacher of the Year etc. To me, by the way the award is treated, it is like giving someone a very patronising pat on the back.

Dictionary Definition

Why can’t the Unsung Hero award be just the Hero award? As when I looked up the definition of hero on Google it said:

A person, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=%27unsung+hero%27&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=89vRVOCFDYGL7Aba7oCgDg#q=define:hero

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Can we change the term?

Now doesn’t that sound like what the winners of Unsung Hero awards are? Why do they need the word ‘Unsung’ in front of it? Wouldn’t the award get more recognition and people talking if they were called the ‘Hero Awards’?
There shouldn’t be a separate category for the amazing people who win these Unsung Hero style awards. The winners should be put in the same echelons as any other award winner, in any other award category and any awards show.

Surely the point of Unsung Hero Awards are to shine a light on them and to get them more recognition? Sometimes I think the way these awards are branded it is having the opposite effect. The awards should be about changing societies opinion on who we see as a hero and who we should be talking about. The type of people that win these awards should be getting recognised everyday, not just when a company wants to give out an award. After someone has won one of these awards it seems like we don’t hear about him or her again, but they are probably still going around everyday doing great things in their community.

Proud

Don’t get me wrong I am proud to have won the awards that I have, I just wish we did more for these people and that we didn’t need to have the awards. In every community there are many heroes and I think it is all of our jobs to recognise them. Lets not just read stories about those that win awards. Lets look around us and make sure we are noticing those that are doing great things that haven’t won awards.

At times it seems the only way to get ahead is to be all about yourself. I think caring for and supporting others are some of the most important things we as humans can do. I think its time that these people start getting pushed to the front, not by awards alone, but by supporting them and honouring them in the best way we can. It is only when we do this that more people will be encouraged to be and have that desire to be what I think a hero truly is.

Are you listening?

The older I get the more I notice that we live in a world where there are more people that want to talk than want to listen. The art of listening has been lost for many I believe, with people fighting to make sure theirs is the opinion voiced and that no one else can get a word in edge ways. Talking a lot and talking about what you want to talk about seem to be some badge of success in professional and social realms.

I am a listener and I believe without listeners this world and the people in it wont be as successful as all of them could be. I also think there is much to applaud in those people that actually think before they talk and that are able to say the right things at the right time. Quality and quantity are two very different things and if you have a lot of quantity in what you say, the quality will be lost.

We’ve all been in those meetings when people are just talking for the sake of talking, because they need to be seen to be leading the conversation or having opinions on things to justify their involvement. In meetings I think it is always important to ask the opinions of the quieter ones because normally they are the ones listening and the ones that will have interesting insight in to the issues at hand.

We’ve all been at those parties and social gatherings where people are trying to dominate conversations to try and be the ‘cool’ one, trying to show off or just trying to make sure they get to talk about what they want to talk about. Sadly I think its these people that struggle to notice when people aren’t listening, so they might as well be talking to a brick wall. In many cases the more you talk the more people around you are switching off.

Some people think that by talking a lot you can hide an inadequacy, a lack of knowledge and that it impresses. I personally think it just highlights these things and doesn’t impress.

So remember, just by talking it doesn’t mean people are listening. Communication is a two way street, the more you show that you can listen the more people will want to listen to you. The art of talking should be about people listening. Don’t forget its not just about the words coming out of your lips its about your relationship with the people you are talking to and how they perceive you. I would work on these things first before opening my mouth to speak as if you do, the words coming out of your mouth are going to mean so much more.

Ask yourself this question – did you learn more by listening or by talking today? To improve as a person I always think it is more important to learn about more things than you could ever get round to talking about in your lifetime.

Happy Christmas

Around the world at this time people are greeting each other with the words “Happy Christmas” or “Merry Christmas.” From strangers in the street, to those nearest and dearest to them, people are going out of their way to greet each other with festive greetings. There is a feel good factor in areas and places where Christmas is celebrated, however at this time we need to make sure we don’t forget the people for whom it is an unhappy time.

This time of year can make people feel lonelier than they already may be feeling and can make people dwell on sadder times than happier times. Christmas is an emotional time which can bring up a lot of different memories for different people, so don’t always assume that it is a happy time for your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours.

Just by someone saying Happy or Merry Christmas doesn’t mean it will be a happy or merry one for him or her. Lets keep an eye out for these people and make sure they don’t get forgotten about this Christmas. Lets make sure they know that they are loved and thought about. If you feel led to, why not invite them over to your home during the season. If you are talking to them in the street or on the phone take those extra minutes to really see how they are and make sure they know that they are in your thoughts.

I for one really enjoy Christmas with my family and I know millions of others around the world do too. To me it is a really special time that I really appreciate. It is one of my highlights of the year. I think it is a time of year we should enjoy and celebrate as much as we can. You shouldn’t feel bad or be made to feel bad for enjoying the season. We just need to remember those less fortunate or those who can’t enjoy this time for whichever reason.

Lets do our best to help as many people as possible have the best Christmas they possibly can.

Before I go on this edition of the blog I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers and followers of this website for your support this year. I also hope that this time of year is the best it can be for you and that it is even better than any Christmas you have ever known before.

I’ll Ride With You

I know I am a bit late in talking about this, which is not a good thing as everything about the online world is about being instant but I had to blog about this.

Earlier this week a siege in Sydney was shown on news outlets around the globe as many were kidnapped inside a café and some lost their lives. This was an awful story and big news, as compared to some other developed countries Australia had not had to deal with too many headlines about terror attacks in their country before.

I came home from work that day saddened by the news but then my wife told me about something that gave me hope. My wife showed me the online postings of many Australians using the hashtag #illridewithyou. For those not familiar with this, this is what Australians were posting soon after news broke of the attack to tell the Muslim population, their fellow Australians that if they were worried about travelling anywhere because of fear of reprisals that they would accompany them on their journey.

From an event that sparked fear in the hearts of many, Australians reacted with a message of love, tolerance and community. We may never know how many people did ride or walk with someone who was fearful but I think that this worked on many levels. Not only was this practical support it also spread a message to everyone, that Australia isn’t a country that would tolerate the harassment of others because of their faith which I think probably stopped a lot of that kind of behavior before it had chance to start.

In crisis and terror situations I think many members of the general public feel helpless or feel that they want to help but don’t know how but this simple hashtag showed that people can take back control. This campaign started spontaneously and was people power at its best. It showed that love is how you win people over and support them not fear or hatred.

I had the pleasure of spending 3 weeks travelling across Australia in 2011 and I can honestly say that I found Australians on the whole to be an amazing bunch of people that really do care and look out for each other. If you were ever thinking of going to Australia don’t concentrate on the siege, think about how the masses showed how much they cared for each other.