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Functionally Dysfunctional

Functionally Dysfunctional

Functionally Dysfunctional

    A Shift of Focus

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    business man watching his business finances grow

      Yesterday I spent some time with a bloke who wants to shift his life focus, change his career and begin doing some work with people who are struggling with certain challenges in their world. Over the last year he has had a few significant experiences which have given him a different perspective on life, a better understanding of certain things and a much greater level of awareness, consciousness and empathy for other people; all good things.

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      Here’s part of our conversation:

      BLOKE: “When I’m a little more organised and I’ve got all my crap together, I want to be able to help people turn their lives around and make a difference in a real and practical way – kind of like you do.”
      CH: “In that case, you’ll never help anyone.”
      B: “What?”
      CH: “You heard.”
      B: “Why do you say that?”
      CH: “Because you’ll never have all your crap together.”
      B: “What do you mean?”
      CH: “I mean everybody has issues and if you wait for personal perfection before you start to help others, you’ll never help one person. It’s simple.”
      B: “Hmm…” (thinks deeply)
      CH: “Nobody has all their crap together, everybody has issues on some level and we’re all works in progress. It’s called being human. In fact, the person who tells you that they have no issues is usually the one with the most!”
      B: “I guess so.”
      CH: “What many people don’t understand is that it’s in our efforts to help others – despite our own issues – that we begin to help ourselves also. By investing into something bigger than us, we stop being so self-focused, paranoid and egotistical and we begin to see the world – and us in it – from a healthier and more balanced perspective.”
      B: “But I would feel like a fraud helping people while I still have my own issues to deal with.”
      CH: “Welcome to the I-feel-like-a-fraud club; it’s a whopper.”
      B: “Are you a member?”
      CH: “A foundation member.”
      B: “You?”
      CH: “Yep, I have felt like a fraud many times over my journey but I arrived at the point where I realised that being human and being perfect are incompatible. Doesn’t happen. I have issues and I always will. Sometimes helping others is less about ability and more about availability. I have simply made myself available. Despite my flaws. Far too many people inhabit the I’m-not-good-enough paradigm and that – not their ability- stands between them and their potential to impact the lives of others in a meaningful and positive way.”
      B: “But what about the things I’m dealing with right now?”
      CH: “Keep dealing with them but don’t be obsessed with them. Do you think that someone like Oprah might have a few issues of her own? Imagine if Miss O waited for perfection before she decided to impact the lives of others or seek to do good in a tangible and practical way. Just because she has some personal challenges doesn’t mean she can’t help other people – clearly. She’s been a very public work in progress for decades and along the way she’s managed to help a lot of people – despite her imperfections.”
      B: ”Yeah, that makes sense.”
      CH: “A few years back I mentored a dietician for about six months, helping her work through some issues. She is a very successful and competent health professional, she consistently produces great results, she’s in high demand and at that time… she had a major eating disorder. Specifically, she was bulimic.”
      B: ”Really?”
      CH: “Yep and despite her own challenges, she consistently produced great results with other people. She’s better now, but that challenge in her life has made her an even better dietician and teacher.”
      B: “Hmm..”
      CH: “Every mentor, teacher, coach and personal development guru (whatever that means) has secrets, insecurities, doubts, fears and destructive habits. Every one. Every outwardly-strong person has fears and internal struggles. Don’t necessarily assume that the shiny cover of the book is a reflection of the pages that lie within. In order to know the book, you need to read the pages…. all of them. And most people will never allow that.”
      B: “You have those same fears?”
      CH: “Of course.”
      B: “When?”
      CH: “Every once in a while when I’m about to do my regular television segment, the insecure, fourteen year-old fat kid drops by before I go on air just to remind me that I really shouldn’t be handing out advice on national television; being a stupid fat kid and all. I thank him for dropping by and do my segment anyway.”
      B: “Okay, I’m in.”
      CH: “Good for you.”

      There’s a big difference between self-improvement and self-obsession and sometimes in our quest for “better” we actually create worse. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t consciously and consistently work on “us” (natch), but I am suggesting that sometimes the best way to help ourselves, is to help others. A little holiday from your issues might be just what you need. Works for me. Give it a bash.

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      More by this author

      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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      Last Updated on January 25, 2021

      What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

      What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

      It’s always fun to do something new, but often we fall into the trap of spending our weekends the same way.

      If you’re stuck in the same old routine, it might be time to try something new.

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      What should I do today? No ideas?

      Everything listed here is something you can easily do no matter where you live, and even on a tight budget! Try out one of these 30 new things today, you’ll be happy you did.

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      Try Out These 30 New Things To Do Today

      1. Visit a suburb in your city that you’ve never been to before, or somewhere you haven’t explored much.
      2. Learn ten phrases in a new language–what about Japanese, Italian or Portuguese?
      3. Listen to a genre of music you haven’t tried before–perhaps Jazz, Punk or Blues?
      4. Have a picnic in your local park complete with a packed lunch and your animal friends.
      5. Start a daily journal to write your thoughts in.
      6. Try a new cuisine–what about French, Lebanese or Korean?
      7. Visit your local library and borrow some books for the weekend.
      8. Plant some flowers in your garden. If you don’t have one, try an indoor potted plant.
      9. Visit a local museum or art gallery and view their latest exhibition.
      10. Learn a new skill–what about sewing, gardening or cooking? You’ll be surprised what you can learn in an afternoon.
      11. Say hello to a neighbor you don’t usually talk to.
      12. Make a card for a friend and send it to them with a handwritten note.
      13. Learn how to cook a new dish for dinner. We all get tired of eating the same thing, why not try making something new?
      14. Re-read an old favorite book. Don’t leave it gathering dust on your book shelf; get it out and read it all over again.
      15. Research the culture of a different country online–what about India, Guatemala or Sweden?
      16. Go for a walk or bicycle ride around your neighborhood.
      17. Watch a classic film like Casablanca, The Godfather or The Wizard of Oz.
      18. Make a photo album of a recent holiday you took. Don’t let your memories get lost on your computer hard drive; make a special keepsake album of your trip.
      19. Visit your local farmers markets and pick out some fresh produce. Farmers markets are full of delicious fresh fruit, veggies and more. Find your local market and take a visit.
      20. Plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city–it might be the seaside, mountains or another city!
      21. Check out what community events are running in your area and attend one.
      22. Make a birthday present for a friend. Handmade gifts are personal and much more special than anything you could buy from a store.
      23. Attend a play at your local theater. Support your local theater and have a fun night out at the same time.
      24. Volunteer with your local nature conservation society to plant some trees. Conservation societies are always looking for helping hands; do your bit and plant some trees.
      25. Be a tourist in your own city and visit all the popular tourist sites you’ve likely never been to (don’t forget your camera!)
      26. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently and have a good long chat.
      27. Put on your favorite song and dance your heart out. You might be surprised at how much fun you have!
      28. Invite some friends over for a BBQ. There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent with good friends and good food.
      29. Try out a new form of exercise like Pilates, tennis or swimming.
      30. Organize a clothing swap with your friends. You’ll have a great time, and save some cash and the environment all at the same time!

      Now that you’ve read my list of 30 new things to try today, my question for you is, “what new things will you try today?”

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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