My Mental Health Day



Today started with me feeling agitated and out of sorts…an uncomfortable feeling, one that needed an immediate intervention  .. or to put it another way a feeling that demanded that I grant myself a mental health day.

My preferred form of self intervention and form of mental health day is to disappear and go fishing. There is something about being around water that is healing. I love sitting by the water and just watching the world go by while I sit, exercising my patience.

For a raft of reasons fishing has a lot of parallels to life and provides an opportunity for some zen moments. Moments to absorb the scenery, like that in the photo above that I took today, and moments to think about many and varied subjects…. like poetry?

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

                               – William Wordsworth

Well not really.. as much as I love poetry, I was actually thinking about remembering to view the world with the joy and wonder of a child, because far too often we don’t notice the beauty that lies right before us, and Wordsworth’s poem is a beautiful expression of those thoughts.

When sitting by the water and letting the agitation wash away, I start to notice things.. the bird life, the movement of the water, the clouds, the interaction of the wind and trees and I am reminded about how connected everything is. The more I notice the more amazed and interested I am.

The more amazed and interested that I become the more a quote that I shared on Facebook the other day (well a paraphrased version of it, if I’m honest)…. a quote by Albert Einstein came to mind.

As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.

It caused me to reflect on just how little I actually knew about the fish I was fishing for, the birds that I was watching, the trees, the interactions between them all. Sure I knew some of their names/species etc.. but in reality I knew very very little about all of them, and so began a cycle of being amazed at how much I do know, and how much I don’t know…..and how as one grows, so does the other.

An afternoon of fishing is a great antidote to the feeling of agitation.





Whack! Did that make you think?


Sometimes something or someone comes along that just whacks you in the head and makes you think differently……

People who whack you in the head..

I’m lucky to have a connection to a guy by the name of Sean D’Souza who himself has that knack, but he also has the knack of finding and pointing to material and/or other people who do the same (there’s an example coming up below)

Things to be whacked in the head about…

You have probably seen a whole lot of things that tell you that the richest x% of people control y% of this or that.

The mere fact that you are reading this post on your computer of your smart phone says something about where your position in that equation, it also says something about where you sit in the energy consumption equation of the human population. All that energy consumption has to have consequences somewhere, and therefore you would have to have been living in a cave if you had missed the ongoing discussion about global warming and if, like me, you are an Australian then you certainly could not have missed the debate about a carbon tax/emissions trading scheme.

Most of the debate has either been around dry academic arguments about the validity of the science of global warming and the need to reduce carbon pollution, or about pure politics associated with selling us the concept or scaring the hell out of us about the economic implications of attempting to do so, but NOBODY in Australian politics or media has cut through and delivered a lesson like a man (who is neither Australian, a politician or journalist) by the name of Hans Rosling.

Prepare to be whacked


Nick, Nack, you’ve been Paddy Whacked…

Hans Rosling and his magic washing machine have taken some pretty hefty concepts, whacked us in the head with  a story that is easy to grasp and challenges us to think differently about our energy use, the implications of economic growth and power consumption and by association presented a challenge to think about changing to greener sustainable energy…. WOW all of that in 9 minutes and 16 seconds (including TED’s intro!)

The ability to distill and deliver a message like that is amazing….

If you need someone to help whack you in the head regularly and help you work on getting your messages as good as the one delivered by Hans Rosling you could do a lot worse that connecting up with Sean D’Souza! Sean is a man who works hard helping other people think about presentation skills, marketing, customer focus etc etc and you can find him and his various programs at   psychotactics or keynotenut (please note these are NOT affiliate links but if you connect up with Sean give him a gentle nudge that it was me that sent you his way ;-} )

Did you fail?


To kick off the year I shared the post – guaranteed way to fail at your new years resolution…….. did you fail at your new years resolution yet?…are you part of the 100% failure rate for new years resolutions? The good news is that I have and will continue to be successful, but if you want to know why you will have to go back and first learn how to fail by reading –guaranteed way to fail at your new years resolution 🙂

Running on empty

Running on Empty - Jackson Browne - photo by Hectorir @flickr

Running on empty?

Running on empty – Jackson Brownes lyrics said it all…

I had been running around shuttling the family from one place to another and  finally got around to heading home to pack the car and take the family away for the weekend to unwind.

Running on Empty

All was going great until I got about 5 km’s away from home and then the car STOPPED…………The fuel gauge in this picture is what I was confronted by……EMPTY!

After a long walk to and from the service station to get more fuel, and then taking quite a while for the fuel pump to decide that it wanted to actually re-prime and pump enough fuel to start the car we finally headed off for our weekend….. a couple of hours later than we should have. Needless to say we got to our destination VERY late and the first night was a write off.

The fuel gauge as a metaphor

That day was not an atypical day for my family… running around from appointment to appointment, trying to maintain being on time and looking forward to the next thing on the agenda wondering how/when we are going to get there.

On the way home I looked at the fuel gauge and thought… yep that will be enough to get us home and around to purchase some fuel… WRONG!

Over the days following my embarrassing episode of running out of fuel I really started to think about that fuel gauge as a metaphor for life.

Watching your fuel gauge

Cars are built with fuel gauges so we can see how much is left in the tank, in fact most even modernish cars have a warning light and/or buzzer that tells you that you are getting low on fuel.

You and I on the other hand are not built with a gauge… and we have to try and look at our physical, mental, emotional and social fuel tanks and try and monitor them all at once.

How often have you been running around, getting from appointment to appointment, looking at yourself and thinking, “yeah, I’ll just keep going at this pace until…..”  What is that until?

Until the weekend, until your next holidays are due, until… until… until…

Until your physical, mental, emotional and social fuel tanks fuel tanks are empty and you breakdown on the side of your desk, you are worn out and you haven’t seen your family or friends in how long?

Warning signs?

Even though we aren’t built with gauges to flash or buzz at us when our tanks are getting low there are often warnings signs that your levels are being depleted…..

Some of us are better at seeing and paying attention to those warning signs than others….. let’s help out a few others by listing what your warning signs are in the comments….

The state of charity, cause related marketing and sustainability

charity, cause related marketing, corporate social responsibility, sustainabilityThe state of charity, cause marketing and sustainability – the start of the debate

I have recently been engaged in discussion with a national company regarding the issues of charity, cause marketing and sustainability.

It started with a post at the site Mumbrella dealing with a cause related marketing project that was undertaken by 1234 (a subsidiary of Sensis who are owned by Telstra). You can find the original Mumbrella post here.

I posted a comment because the story  struck a note with me.  What really caught my attention was the level of  return to the charity involved appearing to be out of proportion to the potential value of the use of their well deserved community image.

A great deal of commentary went back and forward between people on the site, including from members of the ad agency which produced the campaign, representatives of the charity involved in the campaign and representatives of 1234/Sensis. Some of this conversation was around the issues of what is cause related marketing vs sustainability vs corporate social responsibility and by default what constitutes charity.

I expressed my opinion as did quite a few others, with one of the consistent threads seeking some clarity about what the rationale behind the campaign.

In the comments I hope I was clear and transparent, and I declared my interest and the fact that I run another charity (which is the Samuel Morris Foundation if you are unfamiliar with me or this site).

A right of reply to 1234

Mumbrella provided 1234 an opportunity to respond directly with a quest post to set out the company position. An opportunity that they took up in the post why Sensis believes in the cause. You can make up your own mind about the quality of the “official” response from their communications manager.

Getting it right by the personal approach

What I found interesting and what I greatly appreciated was the personal response from Sensis’ head of sustainability.  Jillian reached out on a personal basis offering a direct line of contact and offering a discussion about the potential of undertaking a project with the Samuel Morris Foundation.

An exchange of emails and information took place and information about the Samuel Morris Foundation was circulated to the marketing teams  around the country within Sensis. The communication with the head of sustainability was friendly, efficient and very clear including explaining a number of items around Sensis’ strategic cycle in relation to choosing community partners etc.  [in the interests of full disclosure there is no project between the Samuel Morris Foundation and Sensis, this post is just my thoughts on the discussion]

A win or a loss?

I suppose it is a question around any debate, but I don’t think this is a win/loss situation.

Ultimately the original cause related marketing  charity partner appears happy with the outcome of the project. Sensis/1234 have taken some positive action in relation to assisting in a social issue and a senior member of their team has reached out to a potential new partner on a personal basis and has helped make a number of people within her business aware of the work of a charity that they may otherwise not have heard about.

So while there may be some debate about the original project and some of its elements the important point is that Sensis has shown a commitment to working with community partners, something which a lot more business’ should be doing.

I think that on many levels this overall discussion has been a win/win.

what about charity, cause related marketing and sustainability?

They are really interesting things to think about and a lot can and has been said. I think however that this RSAnimate clip featuring work by philosopher  Slavoj Zizek and his thoughts on the surprising ethical implications of charitable giving says way more, far more eloquently than I ever could…

so if you are interested in the concepts of charity, cause related marketing, corporate social responsibility and sustainability take 11 minutes out of your life to watch this…