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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 March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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