Lead a vivid life that does good

Category: Do Good (Page 1 of 3)

 “Treat others, the way you would want to be treated.” Easy to talk about. Hard to do.

Treat others, the way you would want to be treatedTreat others, the way you would want to be treated!

This is a post about how The Golden Rule is easy to talk about, hard to think about, and harder to do!

You could read the post.


You could put it into action, right now, for one person!


Easy to talk about…

At face value the Golden Rule is a great concept, although I’m not sure how it became golden or a rule.

Most world religions have a form of the rule, although its best known in the west through Jesus words, where he indicates that the essence of the bible is to live this way.

You’ll hear it talked about with kids, in schools, at churches, in communities and even in the business world.

And it’s easy to talk about, probably because we would all like people to treat us that way.


Hard to think about…

Pause and consider these questions:

Consider that challenge your friend is going through right now. If you were that friend, how would you want to be treated by the real you?

Put yourself in the shoes that person who is ‘unjustifiably’ grumpy with you. If you were that person, with all their feelings, beliefs and experiences. How would you want to be treated by the real you?

Ponder being a homeless person on the streets. How would you want to be treated by the real you?

Think about how it would feel to be a parent with a starving child in the third world. How would you want to be treated by the real you?


Harder to do…

In all honesty, my answers to those questions are often not reflected in my actions.

Which could be disheartening, because I can’t help everyone in the world.

But I can help one!

And I can do that today.

Imagine a world were even 10% of people truly completely lived the Golden Rule.

Or imagine working in an organisation where everyone, always lived the Golden Rule first and foremost. (Hint to my coHired & Agoge teams this is essence of ‘love people’)

Or imagine our own life, how radically different would it be if we chose to treat others, the way we want to be treated.

What if treating others, the way we would want to be treated,

stopped being some abstract golden rule,

and instead became our life mantra?

Compassion is the only acceptable response

Compassion was the only acceptable response.Disappointed? Yes.    Appalled? Often.   Outright angry? Sadly.

This describes some of my emotions as I’ve read various opinions in the weeks following the Christchurch mosque shootings. Christians up in arms about the call to prayer; a Hamilton City Councillor suggesting we “move on”; criticism of wearing the hijab; Katie Hopkins ranting from the other side of the world; and off course Destiny church protesting across the road from the mosque.

Before you think I’m about to question your beliefs or opinions I’m not … so relax.

So, why was I disappointed, appalled and angry?

Because these comments aren’t what compassion looks like in action. Or what love does.

Compassion and love are so much more than pity or sympathy or even empathy.

  • Pity:   I can see you are suffering.
  • Sympathy:   I care about your suffering.
  • Empathy:   Me Too – I feel your suffering and grieve with you.
  • Compassion:   I’m here with you, beside you, ready to help. “You are us.”

So what does aroha or love in action look like?

Hint: Having all of the above!

Yesterday President Trump said he had the “deepest sympathies” for the most recent synagogue shooting in the US. Compare that to how Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded. She acted with kindness and compassion and love and aroha. She showed love to the people directly affected and demonstrated compassionate leadership to the rest of us. If I was a victim connected with that horrible day I’d have wanted more than pity or sympathy or empathy. I’d have wanted the Prime Minister to show compassion and love.

Which is why I’ve been disappointed, appalled and angry.

Because compassion should always be our response. And if we can’t or aren’t prepared to really show compassion, probably best we shut up, keep our opinions to ourselves and stop criticising the people who are.

Action speaks loudly!


NB: At best I had empathy. Which is a challenge to me in and of itself.

It is better to be present than give presents.

It is better to be present than give presents. Thank you to the many people I’ve connected with this year, who gave me an unimaginable gift.

Thank you for the irreplaceable gift of your time.

As I head off for a short break tomorrow and I didn’t want to leave without saying Thank You!

Thank you for meeting, talking, messaging, listening, reading, coffee’ing and connecting with me. Thank you for encouraging, challenging, stimulating and evoking me.

My life is honestly so much richer because of you! And I wish I could list you all!

You were present.

You gave me the gift of your time.

Thank you!

And as we head towards time with friends and family and then into 2018 it reminds me…

It is better to be present than give presents.

May we be ‘present’ this Christmas!

Aroha Nui

I can’t imagine war

THANK YOU for giving more than we can imagine. I can’t imagine what it’s like to go to war.

I can’t imagine having the courage to leave my family. To say goodbye to those I love.

I can’t imagine being shipped off to some distant land to fight for people you don’t know.

I can’t imagine long periods in trenches. In jungles. On battlefields. Bored. Exhausted. Cold, wet and scared.

I can’t imagine entering the battle. To be ordered into such great danger that my life is no longer in my hands.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to start shooting. At humans. Real people. To take a life.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to see people killed. Not just people, but friends. Close friends. Killed right in front of my eyes.

I can’t imagine being shot. To feel the excruciating pain. To know I am in the middle of nowhere. In the middle of a battlefield. To fear for my life.

I can’t imagine returning home. Emotionally and physically scarred. To have the scenes, the sounds, and the bloody images locked permanently in my mind.

I can’t imagine.

I also can’t imagine our country. Our life. Our freedom. Had you not imagined our freedom for us, and then given everything.

I can’t imagine we could ever thank you enough.

THANK YOU for giving more than we can imagine.

Letting Go

If you want people to grow - you have to let go“You don’t understand,” I said partly in jest, “It has nothing to do with their fear of change. It’s ALL my own insecurities.” As soon as I heard the words leave my mouth, even though I was meaning them to bring humour, I knew they were true.

I was trying to work out what my role should be in Agoge, the social business I founded and own. Hearing these words changed everything. I realised that so much of my identity and status and self-esteem was tied to being the leader.

And allowing my insecurities to win, would eventually lead us to lose.

This week Jim Grafas, was promoted to CEO of Agoge. I couldn’t be more excited to see a person who I trust and who is an amazing friend take the role. More importantly he is a phenomenal leader who people love to work with, who deeply cares for people, and who passionately believes in Agoge’s vision of People Matter ∴ Do Good.

I will tell you something else about Jim. He doesn’t yet know everything he needs to know to be CEO, which means he will make mistakes. Which is exactly how he will grow.

If I allowed my insecurities to stop me stepping out of the way. Then I not only stop myself growing, I stop Jim, and the amazing team beneath him from growing as well.

If you want people to grow, you have to let go.

Since having the insight about my own insecurities, it’s amazing how often I have heard it in others. So many leaders and managers and even parents are holding great people back, purely because they won’t let go.

Our role is to help people grow into the best possible version of themselves.

We don’t do that by holding on.

We do it by letting go.

If you want people to grow, you have to let go.


Finally in case you’re interested. I haven’t retired. I’m now the MD of Agoge and still passionate and emotionally invested in its future. I’ve also teamed up with Vivek to co-found a new social business, that aims to have the same ethos and purpose that Agoge does, but solve a different problem.

Leaders must do good.

alan-kurdi“I hope all the leaders of the world can try and do good” Abdullah Kurdi says a year after his two sons and wife drowned trying to flee Syria.

A year ago this image of the limp dead body of his 3 year-old son Alan, shocked our minds and grabbed our hearts as we were exposed to desperate plight of the refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. And while the image has all but drifted from our minds, for Abdullah the heart-break of losing his family seems as real today as it was a year ago.

“I hope all the leaders of the world can try and do good,” he says “that the wars will stop and people can go back to their normal lives.”

And while his cry is to world leaders, there is a sense in which his cry for hope sits with all leaders.

It is the responsibility of all leaders to do good!

If you lead in any way, you can impact the world by doing good. You may not solve the Syrian crisis, but you can bring hope to the people you help.

That’s what intentionally doing good does.

It brings hope.

As a leader of a business whose vision is “People Matter ∴ Do Good”, I’m reminded of the proactive nature of doing good. As I go about my days at work, opportunities to do good rarely present themselves to me, rather I need to seek them out.

Doing good is not something we stumble upon.

We need to go looking for it.

Don’t let big numbers stop you making a difference.

663 million people with no clean water.As this post goes live, my friend at work has her 1 billionth second on this planet. HAPPY 1,000,000,000 seconds.

As humans were generally not that good at understanding numbers. A Million or a Billion, not that much different right? Well…

  • A thousand seconds, is 16 minutes away. Make sense, feels about right.
  • A million seconds, which is 1000 x 1000, is 11.5 days away. Less than a fortnight.
  • A billion seconds, which is 1000 x 1000 x 1000, is just on 32 years away. I think I just gave away my friends age.

There is a massive difference between 1 million and a billion.

Count the population of NZ at 1 per second … 52 days. Count the population of the world at 1 per second … 228 years!

I love the way that counting seconds gives us a better perspective on large numbers.

Numbers like…

  • Only about half the world’s population have water on tap, which means at their compound. That means 3.7 BILLION people don’t. Imagine counting that high (114 years.)
  • Worse yet, 663 million people have no access, zero, to clean water.
  • And as for sanitation. 2.4 Billion people have no access to toilets.

It’s big numbers like these, that drove Jim & I to set up the Good Trust. Not because we alone can get water to 663,000,000 people, but because we know we can make a difference to a few.

It turns out its easier than you’d expect, for you, 1 person, to make a difference for many many people.

The key.

Don’t let the big numbers scare you.

Over the last few years Good Trust has provided clean water to over 6,000 people, and we are super excited to be visiting some of our projects in Cambodia in April. Thanks to our supporters! We have the ideas, you’ve made things happen. We look forward to sharing stories.

If you would like to support the Good Trust, we’d love it if you made a donation. It would be a great use of a few seconds.

Finally, back to my friend, who is now many seconds past 1,000,000,000. Congratulations! I know that your next Billion seconds will be your best yet!

Its never the right time.

1000 reasons not to startOver the last couple of years I have met quite a number of incredibly intelligent uni students who want to make a positive dent in the world. Many are passionate about social enterprise and using business to change the world.

As their degrees come to an end and it’s time for them to move to the next thing, almost all of them choose grad programmes at big corporates. They reason that they can make some money, pay off their student loans and then once they have everything all together they will start to change the world.

What they miss of course is the fact that it is never the right time to start something new.

There are always loans that need to be paid off, and in the future families that need to be supported.

The reality is that now is as good a time as ever.

In fact, now is the right time.

If you are brave enough.

Note to self. Now is the right time. In fact there has never been a better time to start something new.

Stop hiding behind a thousand reasons not to, and start.

Is chasing security really going to change the world?

How are you seeking to make an IMPACTIn your job; at school; when at home; or even in your relationships … are you seeking security or impact?

Security equals safety and stability. It’s the status quo that is free from the fear of change.

Impact on the other hand is a forceful word. Think collision.

It’s influence.


And forward momentum.

To seek impact though, is to risk failure and mistakes. It also takes time and work. Sadly that’s why many people choose security.

By choosing security, we rob others of our unique place to shape and contribute and make an impact.

Are you seeking security or impact?

Please, please, choose IMPACT!


How to use an email to make someone’s day!

Nicest person on the face of the planet“You’re the nicest person on the face of the planet! Thank you for being so gracious” was the response to me from one of the staff at a partner organisation, that does amazing work in bringing clean water to millions of people. All I had done was make their life a little bit easier by not pursuing a minor issue, and I received that response.

Of course I’m not “the nicest person on the face of the planet,” and I’m not sure any individual can be.

But for a brief moment, when I read the email…

I felt like I was!

Her comment reminded me, that in every email interaction, we have the opportunity to make audacious statements that makes the recipient feel incredibly special.

Even if it’s just for a moment.



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