Saturday Musings - Give When You Can't Get

Saturday Musings - Give When You Can't Get

A few years ago I had the stupidest idea come to me as I stood at the check-out of our local supermarket. The idea was perplexing, somewhat terrifying and definitely made me incredibly nervous. No, I didn’t plan on robbing the store…..I planned on doing something much more adventurous.

I said to the lady in behind me, “I hope that you don’t mind but I’d like to pay for your groceries.”

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I could feel my heart beating like crazy as I said the words but at the same time I felt oddly good about the state of the world.

She thanked me for the offer but said that she’d pay for her own groceries. I smiled and said, “I’ve had a really good year this past year and I really want to share some of that around. Please let me pay for your groceries.”

In the end she let me pay.

Let me tell you that I got the better end of the deal. After paying the bill (which wasn’t really that much) I left the store feeling so good I felt that I could almost fly. It was the effect of giving to someone that will never have a chance to give back. I hope that she did the same thing to someone else…..sort of like the movie “Pay it Forward”. If you haven’t seen this movie then I would highly recommend it.

I’ve done this similar sort of giving quite a few times…..one of the best ones is paying for the car behind you at the McDonald’s drive-through and then just driving off. It’s awesome!

Right now it’s the Christmas season and to me Christmas is all about giving. If you don’t have money then try giving some of your time, making something or just giving some love by listening to another person’s story. It’s easy to give when you may get something in return but how about if you never can?

So try something adventurous this Christmas and give to a stranger. You’ll be amazed at who gets the better deal. Feel free to share your own stories here about what it was like for you to give.

Merry Christmas!

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
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mgilmour
Kassey, what a great story! I'm sure that the experience you related will be a real highlight for you for the rest of your life. I... Read More
13 December 2014
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Saturday Musings - Life in Four Buckets

Saturday Musings - Life in Four Buckets

This past week I was talking with my two adult children, Tim and Sarah, about life and how I manage to choose and allocate my time to what I do. I love these conversations and find that they are some of the most precious and special times with my children.

We ended up speaking about goals and how to managing some of the conflicting opportunities that life presents. For example, should you go for money now or education? This is when I began to speak to them both about my buckets.

I think of my life in terms of four buckets. The first bucket is my short-term bucket and it’s for things that put food on the table now. This bucket often has things in it that I don’t like doing but like any job it isn’t all bad. When you don’t have a penny then this is the place that you need to focus on to make sure that you aren’t forced to go on a diet by the bank.

I then have my medium-term bucket. It’s where I go to find projects that may last for a few years or less. It’s the place for things like finishing a degree, writing a book or launching a business.

The third bucket is my long-term bucket. When I look into this bucket I see things that are on my “bucket list”. For instance, I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly and a few years ago I achieved this goal. It was firmly in this bucket. I have a quite a number of life goals in this bucket and when I pull one out to achieve it I end up getting an incredible sense of satisfaction.

Then there’s the last bucket. This is what I call the eternal-bucket. This can sometimes be known as the “faith” bucket but I think that it’s broader than that. It’s about what I’m doing now that will either positively impact generations or develops my personal character. We all have failings that need to be worked on. If you've tried to change something about yourself you will have found this bucket has really hard tasks in it!

In my discussions with Tim and Sara I suggested that they always need to work on all of their buckets. They may need to change their emphasis and focus but keep on nudging all of them.

In other words, you may have to focus on earning money now to pay down a debt but don’t neglect the fact that you may have always wanted to write a book, scuba dive and give some time to your community. You may not have a lot of time but write those hundred words, research online about diving and pay for the groceries of the person behind you in the queue at the supermarket.

For example, I suggested to Tim that he needs to get a part-time job to pay for his living expenses but don’t get a full-time job. Why you may ask? He wants to write a book about his recent adventures so a full-time job would make this more difficult. I also suggested he complete his degree part-time as it may contribute to some of his more long-term goals. Finally, attend church as it’s one of the few places that really focuses the mirror on developing your character.

It will be interesting to see what Tim chooses to do but I’m confident that he’ll make a series of decisions that are right for his own buckets. The problem comes when people don’t make decisions for themselves but let other’s do it for them.

My buckets really help me and I hope that you find the analogy useful in sorting out your own life goals and desires. Have a great weekend!

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Saturday Musings - Finding True Happiness

Saturday Musings - Finding True Happiness

So it’s been Thanksgiving this past week….for the people in North America anyway. We don’t have this holiday in the rest of the world but it shouldn’t stop us from being grateful for the good things in life.

A number of years ago I heard a message at church where the minister challenged the congregation to develop an “attitude of gratitude”. I completely agree with him. Particularly in western countries we have so much to be thankful for and yet for some reason we seem to be some of the unhappiest people on the planet.

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Research organisation Gallup Inc, created a “Happiest Countries” scale from a number of metrics and then published the results with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. What was interesting was that countries such as Mali in Africa was only 2 points behind the USA. Where is Mali you may ask? In the midst of suffering from Ebola in West Africa.

About 12 months ago there was a great Youtube video produced by nigahiga called “First World Problems”. The video’s has over ten million views but it really depicts many of the so called problems that we face in the west are plainly rediculous. Where some people are happy with getting a good meal we stress and worry about the size of our televisions.

So at this time of Thanksgiving I think that there are so many things to be grateful and happy about. Family and friends for a start. The incredible domain industry that many of us work in. How about having a roof over your head and food on the table….they seem pretty good to me.

So how do you really get happy? From my experience it’s not how “I” can get happy….it’s all about how “I” can make someone else happy. When we think of others something magical happens…..we ended up frinding true happiness ourselves. When we focus on trying to make ourselves happy then it all just seems so false.

So here’s my advice, if you want to be really happy. Think about doing something special for one person and be grateful for all the things that you have. Do these two things and you’ll be amazed at what you will discover about life.

Please leave comments about your own experiences here….I’d love to read about them!

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
Click here to advertising on whizzbangsblog.com

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Skunk works and visions

Skunk works and visions

About eighteen months ago I started writing a series of episodes for a science fiction website that I started. Over time this grew into a manuscript of 106,000 words and this week a lot of the final pieces of publishing my first novel finally fell into place.

For a start I purchased a block of ISBN numbers. These numbers are used to uniquely identify each version of a book (eg. ebook, paper back) for libraries, shops etc. It was a great feeling buying the “codes” that my own book will be designated by.

Just yesterday, I commissioned an artist to do the front cover…..you’ve got to have a decent looking cover as many people will judge the book by it. So where did I find the artist? I perused thousands of illustrations from artists all over the world at DeviantArt.com (it’s a great site). I then narrowed down the selection to about five artists I thought best represented what I was after. Of the five artists, three responded and I interviewed each from there.

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This Sunday evening I’m having a group of beta-readers provide their feedback on draft five of the manuscript. It’s the final feedback prior to me doing any minor clean-ups and fixing some grammatical errors that may have slipped through. It will probably be around two weeks work…..so not too long!

So in about four weeks I should have my first science fiction novel in print and e-published (fingers crossed with all the rush up to Christmas). It all started with a vision of writing a book.

Like anything worthwhile, it takes a lot of effort but it’s the vision that empowers you to move forward. I had some really difficult times in this journey and some rather severe critics of a partially completed work…..the vision helped me to move through these obstacles.

Over the years I've seen too many people coasting through life without any clear sense of what they're trying to achieve. I do think that it's important for there to be seasons in your life that are like this....but I wouldn't recommend making it a habit. Before long, you're old and full of regret.

When I was a teenager my grandmother said to me, "Michael, you only get old when you think you are." She had a zest and zeal for life which inspires me to this day. In her late sixties she and my grandfather went on an adventure that involved criss-crossing Africa and even traversed the Sahara desert in the height of summer! WOW!

As well as a vision I find that it’s personally important for me to develop another creative outlet that's not directly related to any of my businesses. This time, it was writing a book. I like to think of it as my skunk works project that just refreshes and energises me in everything else that I do…..besides, you just never know where these projects will lead you.

So I have two questions for you?
1.    What is your vision?
2.    What is your skunk works project?

Having a vision is like oxygen and when the vision is a passion that is a bit out of left field then all the better. You see, I can have a vision for a business that I have no interest in whatsoever. It will help move the business forward and help me through adversity but it really isn’t going to get me excited.

Now having a vision for a passion…..that’s another story! You get fired up and look forward to spending those few moments where you can do what it is that gets you excited about life. So my suggestion is….stop reading this and go and do something you’ve always wanted to.

Have a great weekend!

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face.
Click here to arrange time with Michael
Click here to advertising on whizzbangsblog.com

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What a CATastrophe!

What a CATastrophe!

The other evening my wife Roselyn and I went out for a bike ride. We left the door to the garage open and upon returning I made sure that I closed it so that it didn’t bang with the wind in the middle of the night.

Around lunch time the next day I asked Roselyn if she’d seen Pepper, our cat. She’s a wonderful cat that often curls into a ball in some hideaway in the house so it’s not unusual if we haven’t seen her for a while. She always comes when we call her name as she hopes to get some tasty morsel or two from us…..strangely this time when we called her name there was no sign of her.

After hunting around it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I’d inadvertently locked Pepper in the garage. Sure enough, after opening the garage door there was our cat staring with accusing eyes back at me. I apologised to her with a can of tuna and all was good.

So let’s unpack this story a little as there’s so much to learn from it.

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When I closed the door of the garage from my perspective I had done nothing wrong. In fact, I was doing right by making sure that it didn’t bang all night. From Pepper’s point of view I was the most horrible person in the world! How dare I deliberately lock her in the garage!

This is often exactly the same when two people have a disagreement. It’s all about perspective. Like Pepper and I, it’s often the case that neither party was trying to do something deliberately to antagonise the other. Stuff just happens.

I could have tried to prove to Pepper that I was right and the cat was wrong for going into the garage in the first place. Pepper could have hissed at me that I should have checked the garage before closing the door. Both of us would have been right…..and also wrong.

The key here is the apology (ie. the tuna). An apology is all about recognising that you’ve hurt another person’s feelings, it’s not about whether you are right and they are wrong. In fact, it really doesn’t matter if you’re right or not.
My father used to tell me that you can win an argument and lose a friend or say sorry and keep a friend. It’s your call what you want to do.

This past week I wrote an apology and it did not matter whether I was right and the other person was wrong….what mattered was “I’d locked them in the garage” and they were hurting. A genuine apology was needed to help rebuild the bridges in the relationship that I’d inadvertently broken.

When I read some of the comments on the article it was clear that many of them missed the whole point of the apology as people rushed to take sides. It wasn’t about rights and wrongs at all…..and hence, for the first time ever I closed the comments on an article.

One of the comments would bear mentioning, as it really struck me…..it was suggested that I looked weak by apologising. You know what, I personally believe that someone who is willing to apologise is actually strong. It also means that when they mess up or hurt your feelings etc. they are willing to place the relationship before their pride. This is not to say that I’m some great “hero” but it’s a good life lesson to ponder. It’s also one of the major reasons why I’m still married after 27 years.

Let’s take this cat and garage story one bit further. Let’s imagine that Roselyn had asked me whether I’d locked the cat in the garage. I would have said, “No, of course not.” Later after the cat was found in the garage Roselyn could have said, “You’re a liar!”

No, I wasn’t a liar. From my perspective I didn’t lock the cat away. Luckily my wife is very understanding and she didn’t say these things but how often have we leapt to conclusions about someone’s actions and disparaged their character? It’s easy to do and it’s very destructive. My advice is to be very careful before you judge another person’s actions.

Over the years, it’s been my observation that many arguments are the result of different perceptions of the same events. In my case, the can of tuna went a long way to mending my relationship with Pepper and last night she curled up on the couch next to me. :-)

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mgilmour
Thank you Kassey!
16 November 2014
whizzbang
I'm a regular visitor to your blog.. but never commented on anything.. But This time I'm commenting... I would like to say that S... Read More
15 November 2014
mgilmour
Kan, it's great to see you here and comment on this article. It means a lot.
16 November 2014
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