Author Archives: Leah Pant

90 Year Old Persistence

90 Year Old Persistence

One of the best gardens in Mentone belongs to a Meals on Wheels client of mine. The lawn is always freshly mowed with neatly trimmed edges. Flowers bloom all year round. Vegetables grow in the backyard. It’s a feat to be proud of especially when you consider my client is nearing 90 years old.

At his age, how does he manage this when others struggle to leave their armchair? The answer is simple – persistence.

He has a frail frame, walks with a hobble and is often recovering from a small hospital procedure. What makes him special is his determination and persistence. He mows his medium sized suburban lawn in 4 or 5 batches across the day, sometimes taking a snooze during one of the breaks. During summer, he starts earlier to avoid the afternoon heat. He is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished against the odds with commitment and persistence.

I will always remember the beautiful orchard he cut fresh from his garden and gave to me in appreciation. Priceless.

Brene Brown – The power of vulnerability

Brene Brown – The power of vulnerability

Brene studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame. She is a phenomenal ‘research story teller’ (quantitative researcher). An intellectual humanitarian.

I relate to her story with my struggle to fully embrace Twitter, revealing my true self in a public forum. Letting people see my grammar is not perfect and that I often omit words or rehash a sentence without rechecking the final result for readability.

Below are notes I took from her Ted talk:

Stories are data with a soul.

Connection is why we are here – it is what gives us purpose in life. Neurobiologically, it’s how we’re wired.

Shame unravels connection. Shame – the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection.

Shame is universal, we all have it, the only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or human connection. No one wants to talk about it and the less you talk about it, the more you have it.

In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

Some people have a strong sense of love and belonging. Other people struggle for it.

Only one variable that separated the two: those who have it, believe they are worthy of it. Whole hearted people living from this deep sense of worthiness.

What whole hearted people had in common was a sense of courage, compassion and connection.

  • Courage to be imperfect.
  • Compassion to be kind to themselves first then to others.
  • Connection – as a result of authenticity, you have to be yourself for connection. Willing to let go of who they thought they should be to be who they really are.

They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. Willingness to do something where there are no guarantees. Vulnerability is necessary. Fundamental.

The way the whole hearted live:

Vulnerability – core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness. However it’s also the birth place of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.

We live in a vulnerable world.

We numb vulnerability – we are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in US history.

Problem is, you cannot selectively numb emotion – vulnerability, shame, grief, fear, disappointment without numbering other affects or emotions, joy gratitude, happiness. Then we are miserable.

Think about why and how we numb:

  • We make the uncertain certain eg religion
  • Blame – a way to discharge pain and discomfort.
  • We perfect – but it doesn’t work.

We should say to our kids, “You’re imperfect, your wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging”.

We pretend that what we do doesn’t affect people.

Be authentic and real.
To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerability seen.
To love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee.
To practise gratitude and joy.
To feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.

To believe ‘I am enough’ .We stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and to ourselves.

Lovely Grace

Lovely Grace

I enjoy my Meals on Wheels round on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month. It’s my opportunity to care a little for elderly people in my area.

Our position in old age is outside our control. Will we be healthy and physically and mentally capable of caring for ourselves? Will we be financially independent? Will our friends and family offer support, care and love? Only time will tell.

I spend a brief snippet of time with each person I deliver a meal to. It is interesting to observe the level of interaction and personality of each client. There are a range of responses illustrating a multitude of personalities, from appreciative, endearing, cheeky, vibrant, optimistic, surviving, struggling, lonely, hermit to no longer hygene conscious.

Grace was one of my favourite clients. Although she’d had a stroke that left her with physical challenges and some slight communication issues, Grace was always resilient, appreciative, pleased to see me, happy, pleasant, engaging. I didn’t mind taking 20mins or so to chat with Grace and to assist her write out her menu selection. The contrast between Grace’s lovely nature and that of one of my other clients left me curious from a social science perspective. The contrasting client whinges every single time I deliver a meal. The glass is always half empty. I leave wondering whether all her life she has held this negative, critical outlook. How has this influenced her friendships, relationships and opportunities in life?

I hope I can age Gracefully.

Turning Point – belief, encouragement and an hour

Turning Point – belief, encouragement and an hour

I encourage you to notice someone within your family, friends or workplace with untapped potential. Would they benefit from your expressed recognition of their skills, your belief in their ability to achieve their potential and a small amount of your time? I want to share my story of how my university degree can be attributed to an hour of time a former boss invested in me and how I too hope to support someone so they can create a turning point in their life.

At the completion of year 12, I returned to Melbourne after spending a year living in the country with my mother and sister. At seventeen years old, I found a job as a clerk at one of the major banks. I was a conscientious and hard worker so I regularly assisted management with their enquiries and other tasks. Within a few years I moved into their IT area where I enjoyed reading system user manuals, performing user testing and writing some simple business requirements.

At twenty-one, my boss offered me a job as a trainee computer programmer and encouraged me to attend university. I estimate he invested an hour of his time preparing a letter of recommendation for the university and assisting me with the process. This was a turning point in my life for which I will be forever grateful.

After the Black Saturday bush fires, I donated some new and used outdoor furniture to my old boss whose house unfortunately burnt down. I gave him a card thanking him for playing such an important role in my life. He was unaware that this seemingly little deed, such a small investment of his time, made such an impact.

I hope that I can assist others achieve their potential by supporting them with belief, encouragement and a little of my time.

Social Yikes! Australia, we need to change.

Social Yikes! Australia, we need to change.

I attended Trampolineday.com on the weekend. I decided to put my name down for an open discussion session on ‘Tools and solutions to address key issues facing our society’.

Melbourne is the second most liveable city according to the Global Liveability Survey list – compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, yet I don’t believe we’re the second healthiest and happiest nation.

I am alarmed by statistics and trends around the rate of antidepressant usage, obesity rates and alcohol consumption. Thankfully, I believe technology and social media can reverse these trends. In the following paragraphs I outline a few concerning statistics and discuss great examples of technology based solutions.

Depression & Mental Health Disorders

  • Antidepressant use continues to escalate in Australia. In 2008-2009, there were 12.3 million scripts written for antidepressants, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s report on Australia’s Health 2010.
  • The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that an estimated 3.2 million Australians (20% of the population aged between 16 and 85) had a mental disorder in the twelve months prior to the survey.
  • The World Health Organisation has predicted that by 2020, depression will be the second biggest health problem world-wide, behind heart disease.

 

Obesity in Australia

  • More than 14 million Australians are overweight or obese, according to Monash University’s Fact & Figures.
  • If weight gain continues at current levels, by 2020, 80% of all Australian adults and a third of all children will be overweight or obese.
  • Obesity and being overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases including: Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke and certain forms of cancer.

 

Alcohol Consumption

  • It is estimated that about 3200 people die as a result of excessive alcohol consumption and around 81,000 people are hospitalised annually. The cost to the Australian community of alcohol-related social problems was estimated to be $15.3 billion in 2004/05.

 

“Alcohol plays an important role in the Australian economy. It generates substantial employment, retail activity, export income and tax revenue. Alcohol also has an important social role. It is a familiar part of traditions and customs in this country and is often used for relaxation, socialisation and celebration. Eighty three percent of Australians reported drinking alcohol in 2004. It is a drug that can promote relaxation and feelings of euphoria. It can also lead to intoxication and dependence and a wide-range of associated harms.” http://www.health.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/nas-06-09

Tools to help fight these trends:

I feel we need to collectively take a more active role in discussing and finding solutions to key challenges facing our society. We could start by raising awareness of the issues and talking about solutions.

I’m pleased with the changes introduced affecting the cigarette industry, government banned glamorous advertising, made packaging contain health warnings and look hideous, ran advertisements alerting you to the dangers of smoking and hopefully shifting your attitude towards smoking, increased the purchasing age, introduced legislation so supermarkets no longer display stock and can only use black and white stickers to show the brand and price, increased taxes to make the product less affordable. Do some similar style changes need to be applied to our Fast Food industry?

Technology Based Solutions

Technology – Global Collaboration Challenges

An awesome, American based 5 day speed innovation challenge called ‘ No Right Brain Left Behind’ was run in collaboration with Social Media Week 2011. Advertising agencies, innovation companies, design consultancies and communication schools were invited to concept ideas to for the creativity crisis in U.S. schools http://rightbrainsare.us/ “The power of an idea can transcend wars, politics, races, and economies. We hope that this collaboration will demonstrate the ability of our leading creative minds to step up to the challenges where conventional thinking fails.” At the end of the 5 days, the best ideas were selected to pilot in 2011 and 2012. I submitted a few ideas to Bud Caddell’s Bucket Brigade entry: http://whatconsumesme.com/2011/posts-ive-written/join-the-bucket-brigade-to-support-creativity-in-education/ The power of opening up social problems to the world for feedback is why I am a huge technology fan. Interconnected Social Media applications make collaboration easy. I saw Bud’s tweet using TweetDeck, clicked through to his WordPress blog and submitted my entries via his Google Docs form. He then compiled and reviewed all the entries and submitted 14 entries http://rightbrainsare.us/author/thebucketbrigadeinternational/ to the competition. The ‘crowd’ then voted for their favourite entries by using the ‘Like’ button. The most ‘Liked’ entries were shortlisted.

I hope that industry, individuals and the Australian Government can run a similar speed innovation challenge to address some of the key issues facing our society.

Technology – Online Memberships fostering real life Meetups

Humans are social beings. I believe we’ll reap huge benefits by increasing social participation. I recommend the site www.meetup.com. It is not a dating site, it is a site that allows you to find groups of people with similar interest in your area. Their tag line: ‘Do something, Learn something, Share something, Change something’. In Melbourne the photography club has 700 or so members that get together and help each other learn and improve their skills as well as socialise. There is a ‘two legged walking club’ which arranges walks across Victoria and grades each walk so that people of varying fitness levels can participate. I hope to see a rise in the number of applications developed harnessing the power of ‘Location Based Services’.

Technology – promoting good causes

Great initiatives run by not for profits, community groups and government are now more visible:

Hello Sunday Morning – for those ready to take a three month break from our drinking culture and find out what life is like without a hangover. http://hellosundaymorning.com.au/

Blossom Project is designed for young women aged from 16 to 25 who are experiencing anxiety and depression. http://www.lantern.org.au/our-services/blossomproject/

General Comments

How can friends ‘sponsor’ their friends, to help them reach their goals? For example, agree for a friend to come to their house and weigh in once a week, talk about their eating habits and share favourite healthy recipes.

The lunch shop at my children’s school sells: hot dogs, dim sims, party pies, pizza, chicken schnitzel rolls, zappos, crisps, sweet biscuits etc. I believe they are consequently endorsing poor food choices. My son gets a treat in his lunch box most days, for example an Uncle Toby’s muesli bar which is roughly 35% sugar or an LCM bar which is very highly processed and full of sugar, however he complains that there is only one other child in the class that gets less treats than him and that most children get multiple treats each day. Healthy nuts are banned. How about banning processed foods with a sugar content above 20% or saturated fat content above 10%. Ultimately, I want a healthy and happy future for my kids.

Chocolate Quit Campaign – what are the percentages of women that would say chocolate contributes to their weight related issues? Mmm, chocolate.

Where to from here?

I will share this blog entry and continue to research and talk about these issues and encourage others to do the same.

Links:

http://hellosundaymorning.com.au/ For those ready to take a three month break from our drinking culture and find out what life is like without a hangover.

Monash University article on Obesity in Australia: http://www.modi.monash.edu.au/obesity-facts-figures/obesity-in-australia/

Article ‘Tackling the blues – facts about depression’: http://www.femail.com.au/tackling_blues.htm

Government preventative health initiative:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/preventativehealth/publishing.nsf/Content/AEC223A781D64FF0CA2575FD00075DD0/$File/nphs-overview-oview.pdf

National Alcohol Drinking Strategy 2006 – 2009 – Towards Safer Drinking Cultures: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/B83AD1F91AA632ADCA25718E0081F1C3/$File/nas-06-09-1.pdf

Ten tips to cut down on alcohol:

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/ten_tips_to_cut_down_on_alcohol

 

Embracing Our Traits

Embracing Our Traits

A trait of the suburb Docklands is that it is frequently windy. What could be done if Docklands embrace this trait rather than have it take visitors by surprise, leaving them without a windproof jacket and shivering with the cold. Why not have their mantra as the kite flying capital, host a kite display and kite flying competitions?

I spend a lot of time reading about all things web. I’m reluctant to converse with the majority of my friends about the lastest book I’m reading in case they stop inviting me over. I keep it quiet that instead of buying fashionable new shoes or handbags with my credit card reward points, I bought domain names. If I embrace this trait, I could find some other IT mums who are also keen to get their children to start their first website and create their own blog entries. We could run workshops, share knowledge and have some geek fun.

Upgrade Cheaply and Donate Items to Flood Victims

Upgrade Cheaply and Donate Items to Flood Victims

It would be a great initiative to have anyone who is considering upgrading their TV (and other needed appliances/household items including computers) to do it now and send their old ones to under or uninsured floor victims.

It saddens me to see so many potentially working or fixable TVs thrown out at hard rubbish time because they’ve been upgraded to a sleeker modern version or perhaps a 3D TV. People who have multiple TVs may also want to donate one. I find just owning one TV brings the family together (and you can always watch ABC iView on your computer if you really don’t like what’s on TV).

The government is requesting businesses to dig deep. Sponsors could step up and offer:

- free trucking/rail/airline services to transport the appliances

- a discounted bulk deal for new appliances to encourage people to upgrade and donate their old appliances (GroupOn style)

- electricians and technicians to test the appliances for safety and fix any items needing repair

- donations of discontinued or obsolete stock

- collection points to accept donated appliances

- heavy discounts to flood victims

- free IT skills to set up the website which maintains a register of numbers and types of items required, donations being made and where you can register to offer a GroupOn style deal or where you register your interest in a particular type of appliance that you would purchase if a deal came up.

- marketing expertise and production capabilities (print, online etc)

- free advertising

It would be sensational for Australia to collaborate and get this project off the ground.

I’d be keen to be part of the website team.

What could you do to help?

Blue Puffle Customer

Blue Puffle Customer

Our unfed virtual pet Blue Puffle ran away. Have you fed your customers lately?

My sons use clubpenguin.com. They earn credits by playing games then spend these credits on virtual pets and items to furnish / decorate their virtual igloo.

Jaiden hadn’t played for a while and forgot to buy credits to feed his pets so his Blue Puffle ran away, never to be seen again. It made me think about customers, whether you’ve ‘fed’ them, whether they’ve run away and if so, can you get them back.

I guess I liked this analogy because it used some of Chip and Dan Heath’s SUCCESsful idea checklist: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credentialed, Emotional, Story. Simple by using an analogy of customers running off, Emotional because a child’s virtual pet ran off and Story because it occurs in the virtual land of ClubPenguin.

What are your favourite strategies used within games?

What strategies do you use to touch base with your customers from time-to-time. I think we under utilise adhoc emails and newsletters to keep our customers nurtured. I’m off to send out a couple of emails to my favourite customers.

Collaborative Book Writing – Faraway Tree 2011

Collaborative Book Writing – Faraway Tree 2011

Our current bedtime story is The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. I asked Aaron what land he’d like at the top of the Faraway Tree. He replied “Computer Games Land, $100 Bill Land and Everything Land.” In the book, Joe, Beth and Frannie collectively decide to take hens, a goat and a shovel for the family from “The Land of Take-What-You-Want” (1939′s essentials v 2011′s excess).

I love the concept of collaborative writing and believe it will become more widely used in the near future (I’ll search for a collaborative authoring iPad app ).

Since my early 20′s, I’ve wanted to get a group of seven scientists in a room to co-author a sci-fi book.

Today, I’d like to see primary school children each write their own 2011 version of a land they’d like to visit at the top of the Faraway Tree. They could all vote for their favourite then a book could be produced containing the most popular. It would be great to run this along with the existing Premier’s Reading Challenge (Premier’s Writing Challenge). It might provide a nice passage through time if it was written every five years. Profits could be donated to education programs in developing nations.

What other books would be great to write or re-write on a collaborative basis?