What do you stand for?

The majority of people on this planet have a voice and its up to each and every one of us how we use it. To me the important thing is that we all use it. Regardless of how big or small your voice, it should be used and used in the right way. Never forget that many little voices together can make a big noise.

If someone you knew were asked to say what you stood for, what do you think they would say? If you are passionate about something, do you let other people know? One way we make a difference and impact in this world is by letting others know how we feel and think. You are more powerful and influential than you think, your circle of friends and family will be affected by what you say and the way you think so make sure you do let them know what you think. Just by impacting one friend, which could then impact to their circle of friends and so on and so on.

Action

This weekend some friends of mine have organised a walk through the city of Plymouth to raise awareness of modern day slavery as part of a global effort to one day see an end of human trafficking. These guys saw injustice, were passionate about doing something to help and are making their voices heard. The great thing about this event is that it will see many people coming together in solidarity, in one voice, who will through their actions spread the news of human trafficking through their community.

As many on you who read this blog regularly will know I am passionate about improving dementia care and awareness around the world. If any of my friends were asked what I was passionate about, I hope that the main response that came back was something dementia related. The only way I am going to make sure that happens is by being bold, loud and outgoing with my thoughts and actions. I am proud to be making a stand for dementia and I would be even prouder to be recognised as someone that is making a difference in that area.

Power

Remember you don’t have to stand for what other people stand for. You don’t have to stand for what is popular but as the saying goes ‘if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.’ Never under estimate the power of your voice and your actions. Your voice and actions can be as loud and big as you want them to be. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your opinions don’t matter and that your voice can’t be heard.

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.

Don’t just read the news – react to it!

In every aspect of our lives we are surrounded by news. When we put the radio on in the car, switch the TV on, go on the Internet, go on our phones, go to the shops and when we speak to others that we meet, we can be faced with all kinds of news.

So many of us just consume it without giving it a second thought. For that minute when we are engaged with it we are interested and then when we turn away, turn the page or switch it off, it doesn’t matter any more. So many times we will read a news story quickly, immediately form an opinion and move on to another.

An article is more than just a headline

Do you spend the time to read a full article and not just a headline? Do you let the article sink in and give yourself time to think about it? Do you spend time to find out more about the situation?

With the throwaway media culture we currently live in and with the explosion of 24-hour news I think we have to guard against just becoming a world of passive news consumers. We must make sure our hearts do not get hardened to the news. It is too easy just to not emotionally react or connect with the news, as for many of us there is only so much bad and horrific news stories you can consume before you disconnect from the human side of them.

We don’t need to feel helpless

Sometimes we feel helpless and think that we can’t do anything to change or help the situation that we are hearing about. We can allow ourselves to think that we can’t make a difference or to think it isn’t our problem. I want to say in this blog though that you can make a difference and my belief has been further inspired by the response to a news story I heard about this week.

After a football match in England between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford, Watford fan Nick Cruwys was attacked on his journey back to the train station and left in a critical condition. Nick is now fighting for his life in hospital. Many news companies, like the BBC, covered this incident:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-31789223

I’m sure many people had a read of this news story and then clicked on to another article or another website. One person however decided they could do something. That person was Ollie Floyd who set up a fundraising page with a target of raising £1000 for Nick and as I type the total currently stands at £22,974:

http://www.gofundme.com/o8itrk

Now at the moment Nick needs to pull through and needs the best care but what this page has done has acted as a place for people to offer support and hope. The page has helped lift the morale of the friends and family around Nick and has kept people thinking about Nick by keeping this story in the news.

One person can make a difference

It took one person in Ollie Floyd a small amount of time to set up a page but this small act started a movement. It showed that we don’t have to feel so hopeless when we read the news. It showed that it just takes one person to inspire others. When you read or hear a news story there will be many people around the world feeling the same as you about it but sometimes it will take you stepping out and doing something to give other people the chance and confidence to do something.

What you do doesn’t have to be about raising money or setting up a web page it can literally be anything! Your response could be to campaign, to volunteer, to help someone or choosing to give your custom to a different company. Your response doesn’t have to be big, your response doesn’t have to change the world but your response is needed.

Ollie could have set this page up and got no responses but at least by doing it he would have been able to go to bed that night knowing he tried to do something. If you try and do something because of a news item and it doesn’t work, do not give up or be discouraged. The more we all try, the more we will all be encouraged and the more news stories like that of the online response to the original news article, the greater chance we have to change the world. I want to live in a world where our response to news events is as news worthy as the original events themselves.

Let’s be the generation that reacts to news. Let’s get emotionally connected, let’s care, let’s talk about it, let’s react to it and let’s do something about it.

So, I’m different! Aren’t we all?

One thing I love about life and the world is how we are all different. There are not two of us 100% identical inside and out. I think the fact that we have different personalities, interests, thoughts and looks, makes this world an interesting place to live.

One of the ways I stand out is my hand tremor that I have as a result of having Arnold Chiari Malformation. Now I bet you have never heard of it and I hadn’t too until I was diagnosed, so here is a bit more information on it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold%E2%80%93Chiari_malformation

Assumptions

Thankfully my symptoms aren’t as severe as most but it has led to a lifetime of meeting people who before getting to know me, were more interested in finding out why my hands shake or making assumptions on why my hands shake.

Some of the most common questions I have been asked by strangers are: “Are you nervous?” “Are you cold?” “Have you taken too much of your inhaler?” or just the simple “Why are your hands shaking?” In these situations I have been made to feel like people think it is more important to find out why my hands shake, than getting to know who I am and what I am about.

Visual People

I think as human beings many of us our visual people and like to question what we can see and we start doing that right away, whether we verbalise those thoughts or not. It normally takes people longer however to start questioning what they can’t see about people and I personally think its what inside of us that is more important, not what’s on the outside.

Because of my hand tremor I stand out and I think the reason people question it, is because we live in a world where the ‘normal’ exists and it seems that there is this pressure to conform to it. I think this unseen pressure stifles a lot of creativity and stops a lot of people from standing out and being the world changers that this world needs.

Standing Out

I’m not making a conscious effort to stand out with my hand tremor; it was just something I was born with, so for that reason I dislike when it is what people notice about me. I want to be noticed for the reasons that I am trying to stand out, not those enforced on me.

I think when you take the opportunity to get to know people on the inside, you get to know the reasons that they want to stand out for, as these maybe quite different than the ways you think they stand out.

I know everyone is different when it comes to the physical ways they stand out from others, some want the chance to talk about it, some don’t want it referenced and some don’t really care. To me I would rather my physical difference was something that I didn’t have to over think, or make a conscious effort to talk about.

Handling Situations

Whenever I know I am meeting someone new, doing a presentation or going for an interview, I have to think to myself whether it is best to bring it up in discussion or not. I can’t just concentrate on the situation in hand by itself. The decision I make whether to bring it up or not, can then impact on that situation which I don’t think is fair. Will talking about it put the people I meet at ease? Will talking about it worry people or lead to more questions? Will people be able to work it out for themselves? These are just some of the questions that go through my mind.

I don’t think anyone with something that makes them different from others should be forced to talk about it. I have experienced this many times in my life when I have either been forced or felt forced to mention it and I think this is wrong. People who don’t have conditions like I have aren’t forced to talk about things that they may not want to talk about, so why should I be?

Sometimes I think my hand tremor is the elephant in the room when I am in social situations, which can affect the atmosphere. I should feel confident to go in to situations and it not be something that I was born with that affects the atmosphere. I also shouldn’t have to tell people before I go somewhere “just so you know I have a hand tremor” but sometimes I feel like I have to. My choosing to talk about my hand tremor or not shouldn’t dominate my life.

After saying everything that I have, I am not oblivious to the difficulty people have when knowing whether or not to bring up someone’s physical difference. Being able to figure out whether or not someone wants to talk about it can be very difficult and you yourself shouldn’t feel bad for not doing the right thing if your intentions were good. I just wanted to put you in my shoes and the shoes I’m sure of some others who feel like I do.

My personal opinion is whenever you want to talk about something that makes people different, make sure it is a thing that person wants to stand out for and not what you think they stand out for.

We All have a Platform

If you talk to anybody in your day to day life whether that be at work, at school, at home or on the street, you have a platform. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, WordPress etc you have a platform. Some people are blessed to have bigger platforms than others but that doesn’t mean you can’t make noise from yours.

By using your voice, by using your creativity and by using a keyboard you can change the world in some way, because I think more than ever now people are listening. An example of this would be this small blog. It is still in its infancy as we continue to grow and develop but yet we are getting the attention of influential people. Recently I posted on this site an open letter to the footballing world about the level of betting adverts displayed around football media, which can be viewed here:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/open-letter-to-football-teams-players-staff-and-tv-companies-that-screen-football-in-the-uk/

Then yesterday I went on and looked at the traffic stats for this site, on this admin page it shows me who is linking to blog posts and referring to them. In the box for the blog featuring the open letter was the intranet of the Gambling Commission. Inside the top authority on gambling in the UK they are talking about my blog post.

It just shows you that regardless of the size of your platform you can get your views seen and heard by the people that matter. When you go out in the world you need to be conscious of the platform you have. The words from your mouth or your fingers have the power to change hearts and minds; they have the power to positively influence the world. Sadly many people use their platforms in a negative way and for negative reasons and this is why we all need to be careful. As the saying goes “with great power comes great responsibility.”

If you feel passionately about something – tell someone about it! If you disagree with something in the world around you – say something about it! We have more power at our fingertips today than anyone ever had, so let’s start using it. Let’s start engaging with the world around us more. Nobody will ever listen to you if you don’t try, lets stop complaining or talking behind people’s backs, lets be the generation that grasps what we have and uses it for good.

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.

Facebook

I have to admit to checking my Facebook feed about 50 million times a day. At the end of each day I would hate to think how much time of my day had been spent reading it. Every once in a while I learn something about a friends life but for the most its words and photos that I won’t remember tomorrow.

I use to be guilty of putting a post or update up just to see how many likes I got. I think for many people Facebook is a place to show off, to validate their own existence or to try and make them look better than other people. They don’t care what names and what people like their status they only care about the number of likes.

Why should a post about me going to work at Wembley Stadium get more likes than a post saying that I am having a good afternoon with my family? At the end of the day or the end of your life what is more important? To me I would say its spending time with your family. I think we need to start liking people living happy and fulfilled lives and not just people showing off.

For me life is about relationship and I think Facebook should be the same, the more you care for others, hopefully the more they will care for you. Instead of just stalking people online or just liking statuses all the time lets work on our relationships, as clicking a button does not a relationship make.

Don’t take peoples Facebook accounts at face value. A Facebook profile for many is a projection of what they hope or want life to be. So don’t just like what they say, engage with what they are saying and connect with them properly so you know how they are really feeling. Lets enjoy the good moments together and be there for the hard times and lets know how people are really feeling.

Recently I had a huge cull of friends on Facebook and it was easier than I thought it would be. I had lots of people on there that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years and is that really a friend? Yes I may get a lot less likes to the posts I put up from now on but after re-evaluating, that is not what I am on Facebook for.