In the current discourse, there is a lot of discussion about what men 'shouldn't' be. It is important to call out bad behaviour, entrenched biases and call a stop to attitudes and actions that are unacceptable. There has had to be a call to arms to halt damaging behaviours and attitudes, but as we go through this process, it begs the question; What is a gentleman in this day and age?
Is a gentleman a gentle-man? Is a gentleman a rough and tumble, one-of-the-lads kind of knockabout guy? On a first date does a gentleman pay, or does a gentleman split the bill, or let their date pay? Does a gentleman get in fights? Or does a gentleman always walk away? Are they book smart? Street smart? A smart arse?
What is a gentleman in this day and age? Well, I’ll give you my thoughts on the matter.
A gentleman pays attention. All the time, to all the people, things and environments that he is around. A gentleman pays attention to what people are doing, what they are saying, what they need and where they are. A gentleman pays attention because attention is the first step to understanding, and a gentleman takes the time to understand.
Understanding is knowing when to pay and when to split a bill. Understanding is knowing when something is hurtful, mean or upsetting and when something is actually just a bit of fun. A gentleman fights from time to time, but he fights for what is right, he fights for what is just and he fights for people who can’t help themselves. A gentleman doesn’t fight for his own ego, to prove a point or to try and get one-up on someone. When someone says or does something to deliberately offend a gentleman, if there is an opportunity to walk away, a gentleman walks away. A gentleman knows that someone who is doing this deliberately is really the person who is hurting. A gentleman knows that someone who does this by accident didn’t mean it, because a gentleman assumes good intent.
The gentleman can walk away because he is not easily offended by others, a gentleman knows his own mind and keeps his self-esteem strong through the influence of his own actions. A gentleman is not concerned about easy likes or quick wins at the expense of others, and doesn’t concern himself with the attempts by others to unsettle him.
A gentleman is playing the long game. Developing himself through the good times and the bad to be the best version of himself in every situation. A gentleman is a strong man, but strong in the sense that he nurtures his strengths and works on his weaknesses. Always striving to be the best he can be, a gentleman may be physically strong, but he may also be smart, kind, thoughtful, studious or any other combination of virtues. A gentleman is vulnerable, because only by being vulnerable can a gentleman ever truly be strong in any aspect of his life.
A gentleman is respectful. Respectful of differences in sex, culture, language, race, social status, body type, hair colour, socio-economic standing, job title and any other point of difference between two people. A gentleman is respectful of experience and wisdom, because a gentleman is striving to achieve these things and he knows that they take time, effort and patience. A gentleman respects any other person who has taken the time to cultivate these qualities.
A gentleman is open. Open to learning, open to loving, open to participating. A gentleman will be scared of things but do them anyway. A gentleman will face his fears head on, without delay. A gentleman sets goals and works to them, knowing that no-one is responsible to the attainment of these goals but himself. Being open, a gentleman will be open to help, open to asking for help and open to giving it in return wherever he can.
A gentleman knows the difference between right and wrong, and always chooses right. Even if it means personal sacrifice, a harder road or losing face. A gentleman chooses justice over convenience and actively keeps eyes open for injustice, in order to work towards balancing the ledger for those who need it most. A gentleman is honest. A gentleman looks after his family, his peers, his friends and those who are fortunate enough to come across a true gentleman. A gentleman seeks ways to build a world where everyone is looked after in some capacity, wherever they are.
A gentleman prefers knowledge over ignorance, kindness over dominance, strength over capitulation, hard work over idleness, character over dishonesty and virtuousness over underhandedness.
A gentleman seeks the example of the gentlemen who have come before him, to take the best of them and learn from them. To take the worst of them and learn from their failings. A gentleman knows that no gentleman is perfect, but that in the search for perfection we might attain something that gets close.
A gentleman knows that doing the right thing is easy when things are going well, but that doing the right thing when times are tough is how strong character is forged. Character is the foundation of being a gentleman. Deciding who you want to be and relentlessly pursuing the best vision of yourself in every moment, of every day in every way. A gentleman is the best version of himself, and he is proud of himself for doing everything in his power to be that person.
A gentleman is a good person, a real person. A person that cries, laughs, feels and acts for the good of others. A person that takes the time to understand themselves, and understand others. A gentleman might be physically strong, but is absolutely strong in character. A gentleman might be or may not be of superior intelligence, but will always seek wisdom. A gentleman knows to Just Be Nice.
In every culture, we get tend to get more of what we applaud. Aspirations are set by expectations. If instagram followers are the standard by which your character is judged, people will aspire to have lots of followers. If wealth is the sole measure of worth, then at all costs, people will aspire to accumulate wealth. If a culture of character-led gentlemen is one that we aspire to have, then we need to actively get behind people who live those characteristics. We can move the needle through calling out bad behaviour, and we can move the needle by applauding those who are exhibit the very best of what we could be.
Everyone has the capacity to be a gentleman. The best time to start is from when you were born, the second best time is right now.
If you'd like to support our work, and ensure that we don't leave anyone in need behind (and we definitely need your support!) you can do so by joining our community of subscribers who are committed to the best possible outcomes for those in need here.
Or if you are looking for ways to integrate meaningful positive impact into your life and organisation, become a character-led individual or business; Get in touch with any questions and stay up to date HERE - We'd love to have you on board.
It really is ok to not be ok, none of us should feel uncomfortable with experiencing the full gamut of regular human emotions.
Independent of mental health statistics, at one point or another, each of us will have a moment of ‘not being ok’. The causes of not-being-ok are infinite, and if we were to examine every individual reason or cause that leads to someone ‘not being ok’, we will be here for a long time.
The current uptake in the proclamation of this sentiment; “it’s ok to not be ok” “it ain’t weak to speak” “speak up” etc; is usually related to the discussion of where you may be sitting in the broad spectrum of ‘mental health’, letting people know that it’s ok if you have feelings, and ok to talk about them.
The truth is, it’s also ‘ok’ to have a broken leg. It’s ‘ok’ to have cancer. It’s ‘ok’ to suffer horrific injuries in a car accident. The difference is, we don’t expect people with these conditions to sort out their own treatment, we don’t expect the laymen around them to be the ones to fix their ailments, and we don’t demand that they get better on their own.
Hospitals, Doctors and Allied Health professionals take responsibility for making sure that people get better. They are accountable to an outcome based on the person they are treating getting better, not based on whether there was an opportunity for the person to talk about their illness, or whether some mild attempt was made to make them feel better about the fact that they were sick or injured in the first place.
We understand that some chronic illnesses like cancer can take a very long time to treat, that cancer goes into remission and that it may come back again. It may come back and manifest itself in the same way as it appeared last time, or it may be different. It can affect people of every age, sex, race, socio-economic status, and as a result – our universal healthcare system provides an avenue for treatment, as often as required, for as long as required. If it takes 20 specialists to diagnose and treat your cancer, then so be it. If you are treated for cancer for 15 years, rather than people looking at the clock and the balance sheet and exclaiming;
“Gee, that’s pretty expensive, and it’s taking a long time, why is it taking so long? Don’t you think you should have had it sorted by now?”
We see people who are battling 15 years of cancer treatment as inspirational, as strong people for enduring all of the uncertainty, setbacks, challenges and horrible feelings that go along with being treated long term for their cancer.
Anyone who has attempted to help a person with limited resources, and long-term mental health issues, knows that no such responsibility is taken when people are struggling from non-medical causes of disadvantage. There are no institutions that take responsibility for ensuring that people who are struggling and have been struggling for a long time have access to everything necessary to get them to a place where they are ‘in remission’.
The Just Be Nice Project is the only organisation in the world that is focused on building infrastructure that takes those in need and works with them until they are housed, employed and have good mental health. Just like cancer, some of these people require 15 years of assistance to get there. They may relapse and fall away from the path they are on. They may have secondary, tertiary or quaternary complications that manifest during the process, they too should be dealt with along the way.
The Just Be Nice Project is committed to building the infrastructure beyond the posters and the conversations. Into the nitty gritty of ensuring those in need are supported and safe on their journey back to agency and positive mental health. Moving beyond phone lines and good intentions into active, material help for people and those close to them who want to help. Making sure that there are places to stay, people to help and pathways to outcomes, regardless of how you come to need help. Supporting those on the phones so that they have places to send people to continue to get the material help they need alongside the emotional support they may be getting.
It’s ok to not be ok, but how we treat the people that aren’t ok, is not ok. We need to do more than listen, more than just talk, more than just ‘raise awareness’, more than simply tell the most vulnerable amongst us to step up and speak more; especially when we don’t put the same effort into making sure that when they do speak up, we can take responsibility for ensuring that they’’ll get all the help they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.
If you'd like to support our work, and ensure that we don't leave anyone in need behind (and we definitely need your support!) you can do so by joining our community of subscribers who are committed to the best possible outcomes for those in need here.
My goddaughter was running through a playground, she tripped, fell and hurt herself. To be fair, I think she mostly got a fright from the fall, rather than got properly hurt, nonetheless she was upset and crying.
It wasn’t my fault though, so why should I bother to do anything?
It is cringey to even think that I would consider leaving a two year old to just bawl on the ground because ‘It’s not my fault’, when the truth is; as someone who cares, is there and is in a position to help, it is my responsibility to do so.
In philosophy the utilitarian dilemma is based largely around when and where the limit of responsibility ends. I think that as it stands right now, we need to improve our conversation around where responsibility begins.
It’s time to re-frame responsibility not as a burden, but as a privilege. To take responsibility is to take you part in positive improvements and forward movement in all areas of life. To live in a world where you relish every moment to contribute, even in small ways, is to live in a world full of wonderful possibility.
Climate change isn’t wholly my fault, and yet it is my responsibility to do what I can to alleviate it.
First nations dispossession, inequality and disadvantage isn’t directly my fault, and yet it is my responsibility to work to level the playing field.
It is not my fault that there are children growing up in poverty, without education, food, medicine and safe environments, and yet I will gladly take responsibility to work relentlessly to improve the lives of those children.
It is not my fault that there are hundreds of thousands of Australians living below the poverty line, that millions are without basic necessities across the globe. Gross inequalities in the western and developing world are not my fault. It is not my fault that people live in isolation, that millions of people suffer from stress, anxiety, despair and a lack of agency in their lives. It is not my fault that the temperature of the planet continues to rise and that thousands of species of animals have been wiped out in the last century. None of these things are ‘my fault’, and yet they represent a chance for me to take responsibility. Not take responsibility for everyone, or for solving all of the problems at once, or for solving them completely on my own (it is not possible to solve them solo), but I can take responsibility for what I do to improve them. I can look for every opportunity to take responsibility for moving the needle in the correct direction on all of these issues and more.
Responsibility falls on the shoulders of ‘those who can’. If you are fortunate enough to be one of those people, or one of those organisations ‘who can’, then you must take that responsibility. Be humbled by the great gift that it is to be able to take responsibility. Be excited by the opportunity that your hard work, privilege and position present to you. Find motivation in the chance to develop ‘those that can’t right now’, into part of the team of ‘those who can’.
Your capacity to be generous, your connection to the people and communities around you, your ability to positively impact the world and our legacy as a moment in time are all tied to our appetite to take responsibility for creating a world full of people ‘who can’ and people ‘who do’.
Just because something isn’t your fault, doesn’t mean it isn’t your responsibility.
If you can, you must… And if you’re reading this. You can.
If you'd like to support our work (and we definitely need your support!) you can do so by joining our community of subscribers who are committed to the best possible outcomes for those in need here.
If you are looking for ways to integrate meaningful positive impact into your life and organisation? Get in touch with any questions and stay up to date HERE - We'd love to have you on board.
Read more about the Just Be Nice Project and how we can help your organisation improve here.
The truth is, you cannot fix problems you don't identify, and the first step to change is identifying what is wrong in the first place. Currently, there is a severe lack of impact literacy, part of which stems from the fact that people are generally reluctant to have a conversation that ranks impact from not-very-good to excellent. So much so that the sentiment "Their intention is good' actually seems to count in the discussion about whether or not an intervention, organisation or outcome is good. If we are to improve outcomes for those in need, we need to be better at identifying what is a good impact, and what makes a good impact. This is a long article, but contrary to popular discussion, the solutions and ways forward to deliver best in class impacts to communities in need will require a bit more in depth discussion than pithy one-liners and strong PR campaigns. It's time to acknowledge good, and therefore, not-very good impacts. At the Just Be Nice Project we have multiple frameworks for assessing, managing and creating impact opportunities. Objective, complete, transformational frameworks and outcomes. When you cast a critical eye over the space of social impact, it turns out, unsurprisingly to some, that 'Awareness' is the lowest form of impact. It's time we did better. Here we discuss the scale and how each step up makes the previous step redundant and unnecessary as an outcome in and of itself. Here is the to future, and of transforming business and communities, for good.
Impact Outcomes - From Least Impactful to Complete.
Awareness: Telling people that something exists. I.e. Maths is a thing. Mental illness exists. You can get cancer in various body parts.
Awareness is the lowest form of common impact, so why is it so popular? Partly because it requires no expertise, time in or infrastructure to tell people that something exists. All that is required is a platform or a megaphone, with social media providing everyone with a platform we see a proliferation of support for awareness and awareness-organisations. One challenge with this is that there are an infinite number of ways that people come to experience disadvantage and difficulty of all kinds, which means there are infinite opportunities for ‘Awareness’ organisations. However, there are not infinite outcomes that we want for people who are experiencing difficulty. Typically, we want them to have the support they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it. We want people to be safe, housed, employed, fed, clothed, healthy and enjoying good mental health.
Telling people that a problem exists, and that’s it. Is the lowest form of impact.
Remove Stigma: ‘Removing Stigma’ is similar to awareness, except that instead of telling people that something exists, it is telling people to not think what they might already think about something. I.e. Don’t think that mental illness is not an illness. Don’t think that maths is useless, and not worth studying. Don’t judge people for thinking differently than you do etc.
Unfortunately this is ineffective as a premise for impact for several reasons;
1. Humans are confirmation bias machines, “Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it.´ How many of you have read this far in the article thinking about all the times you thought that awareness and stigma removal as a good thing to do? Getting ready to tell me that removing stigma and awareness is important. Telling people to not think something that they already think is a really ineffective way of changing minds.
2. ‘Stigma’ is relative, subjective and culturally different.
Stigma; “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.”
The online dictionary definition of stigma uses the following example; "the stigma of having gone to prison will always be with me". This is a great example, because in some cultures going to prison is frowned upon, but in others, if you have gone to prison to protect members of your group, then there may be positive associations with you having gone to prison and you will receive respect for it.
3. Anything and everything can have a negative ‘stigma’, it doesn’t mean that it is worth pursuing impact in that space. Nazis have a stigma, the Swastika has a stigma; I don’t think anyone would argue for the general cultural removal of that stigma, however among Neo-Nazis and Japanese Buddhists, the Swastika means very different things (It is used as a Japanese map symbol for Buddhist temples).
4. Because stigma is relative to cultural concerns, cultural norms and peoples individual views, experiences and environments, removing it is a low impact outcome. Instead, we should look further up the scale of impact towards education and improving understanding. Broadening general understandings of how and why people think the way they do.
Consequence Based Action: Consequence based action is low impact because it lacks the ‘stickiness’ of more impactful interventions and outcomes. When we simply pass a rule, a law or create negative consequences around actions without following up with improved understanding, then the impact that we leave is often weak.
Take for instance the case of speeding in your car.
Awareness: I say speeding is bad. (Consider yourself aware).
Consequence: If I catch you speeding, you will get a fine. Most governmental or knee-jerk cultural changes stop at this point. Because of this consequence I may slow down around speed cameras, or past police officers (or cars I think look like police) but it hasn’t fundamentally changed my understanding or belief about speeding. So I will slow down under the bridge, and then speed up again. We would consider this a poor impact.
Understanding: If we take the time to teach you about why speeding is bad, in a way that is relevant, understandable and meaningful to you. Then we have a chance to change your attitude towards speeding to the point where you never speed, no matter what. (This is higher on the Impact Scale ahead).
Consequence based action, while simple, can often have the unintended aftereffect of driving behaviours behind closed doors or into smaller cultural groups. When a crack appears in the negative consequences those behaviours once again flow to the surface. If I didn’t believe speeding was bad, and there was a day when the police said they weren’t booking anyone because of strike action, I would probably speed. If I had racist opinions and wasn’t allowed to voice them until the political climate changed, when it did, I would once again be publicly vocal about my previously privately held beliefs (we have seen this in the United States more in the past couple of years).
For these reasons, simply creating punishments/negative consequence-based action is a low form of impact.
Incomplete/Token Intervention: A good impact is comprehensive. There are few things as damaging to the pursuit of comprehensive impact outcomes for those in need, as satisfaction with the incomplete/token intervention.
Incomplete interventions are incredibly detrimental because they;
1. Provide a false sense of having done something to the people contributing to the intervention.
2. The break the trust for the person or community receiving the help. Removing the trust that they will ever get the complete help they need, rather than the token help that someone is prepared to give them.
Promoting ‘some good’ as better than ‘no good’, and allowing excuses to be made for individuals and organisations who are doing things ‘with good intentions’, is one of the glaring reasons that the charitable and philanthropic sector is so unbelievably inefficient and ineffective at helping those in need. If we are to improve the standards of care, and outcomes for those in need, we need to stop promoting these interventions as high impact. They are low impact, and in many cases, detrimental. The only reason they are higher impact than the others is that they do involve action. These interventions come in below education because ill-advised, amateur and ill-considered actions are worse than taking the time to actually know, understand and deliver quality help. If I was to simply attempt a heart surgery, in a café, out of the blue on a friend of mine who was having heart troubles, I would most likely kill my friend, and I would get into serious amounts of trouble. If I was truly committed to being able to operate on hearts, I would first need to go to school/medical school/graduate school and do decades of learning and practice before I was in a position to do the surgery. If you believe helping people who are experiencing disadvantage require a lower level of skill and understanding to help then that, then you are in need of some impact literacy training. Learning is more important than simply jumping in and ‘having a go at something’. We are killing people through these kinds of interventions, in much the same way as I would have killed my poor friend with my amateur surgery.
Educate/Improve Understanding: Education is about responsibility, making sure that people understand and have the tools to further develop their understanding in a space. If I stood in front of a class of English speakers and taught maths in Russian, we can’t consider them ‘educated’ about it. Even though the information I gave them was spot on. They are educated when they know and understand what I am trying to teach. As all teachers know, that means usually a broad explanation, followed by individual adjustments and explanations over time to continually build on existing knowledge. Teaching isn’t done when a keynote is finished, it’s done when the people you seek to teach understand.
Changing understanding takes time, investment and continuous effort to meet people on their terms to bring them around to a complete understanding of problems, issues, experiences, solutions and frameworks for decision making/evaluation. It has been said by many great philosophers and thinkers that understanding is the antidote to fear and prejudice, and I tend to agree. Through broadening understandings and educational outcomes, we empower the educated and improve the chances that low-impact interventions are never even considered, because we know better.
Further to that, the best impact any person or community can have, is doing what they are good at. If you want the simplest way to improve your capacity for impact, be better at what you are already good at and doing. Through education we can take a lay person and turn them into a brain surgeon, through education we can take a lay person and turn them into someone who is capable of being a high-impact participant in a system of help for those in need that gets the job done. Inequality in education and socio-economic indicators in general create greater disparity between the lived experience and understanding of people different classes and backgrounds and causes insular, exclusive outcomes for certain groups, often at the expense of others. We should invest heavily in improved impact literacy and education outcomes for individuals of all ages, communities and corporations alike.
Work On Solutions: After Education has improved, work on solutions is the next step up the impact scale. Taking the emphasis on knowledge, understanding, rational logical consistency, outcome-driven work and building comprehensive, long-term, inclusive, high output/low input solutions is an essential and highly impactful activity. Bearing in mind that when it comes to the broad categories of disadvantage, we need solutions that are comprehensive. All solutions should be pointed towards taking responsibility for those in need, and ensuring that everyone has access to the same outcomes, of being housed, employed, healthy and having good mental health. A ‘solution’ is not simply something that address a token or incomplete part of a problem. A solution solves the problem completely.
Gains in efficiency and economy can be made once the solution and outcome is reached. The attitude of ‘what is the smallest possible, single thing that we can do to help people’, has to change. It is leaving people and communities behind, and we can do better. The first step is to get people to an outcome, the second step is to find economical ways to deliver those outcomes. The first step is not, find an economical ‘easily scalable’ single intervention and see if that’s enough. It isn’t.
Solve Problem: Almost the very best impact you can have. Solving the problem. Creating an environment, framework and pathway that ensures the person or group you are working with reaches an outcome. A solution will rarely be static and concrete, it will have dynamic flexibility built into it. It will rarely require one intervention, rather, it will need coordinated, multi-part, multi-stage interventions. It will require a developmental focus, responsibility will need to be taken for those receiving help and need to be pointed towards complete outcomes for those people & communities. The Just Be Nice Project has spent over a decade delivering frameworks and integrated solutions for organisations, communities and individuals. Ensuring that we can build out outcomes focused interventions that leverage the skills of interested parties and partner organisations to deliver the best quality outcomes for those in need. Through regular engagement and integration with organisations we get the chance to teach, and improve understanding along the way.
Make Solution Universally Available: Having a solution, a comprehensive, long term solution for a problem is great, but until it is available to everyone who might need it, the job is not done. I.e. A cure that is reserved only for those who can afford it, education that is not available to everyone who would benefit from it, water/power/housing/clothing/nutrition solutions that remain inaccessible to large percentages of the global population.
This is the ultimate gold standard in impact; universally available access to the help that people need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.
This will take quite some time to achieve as it will require a lot of collaboration, responsibility, accountability and resource allocation. Culturally it will take an understanding that human beings all over the planet largely want the same basic, fundamental things for them and their families, safety, community, nutrition, opportunity, a place to call home, good mental health, something engaging, meaningful and relevant to do. If we can understand that the outcomes that we want for our children and our families are the same outcomes that everyone else wants, and deserves, then we may be able to shift our perspective to one that leads to less fear, greater equality, unity and opportunity for everyone.
If you work your way through the scale of impact to the top you will find that every outcome mentioned is met by the very best possible impact – Universally available solutions. Every low-impact outcome is met by the higher impact outcome above it, rendering it unnecessary on it's own.
The Universally available solution – (working backwards) Solves the problem, improves understanding, co-ordinates all interventions, removes stigma and increases awareness (through understanding and engagement). There is a pinnacle of impact that we can aspire to, so let’s stop being happy with poor quality, low-impact interventions. I’m not saying that low impact is ‘no impact’ exactly, but why should we settle for the lowest possible impact? Or spend money on it? You can raise awareness for free, so lets start paying for solutions rather than awareness and let the awareness happen as part of that process.
Let's raise our standards and the standards of help for everyone at the same time. A rising tide lifts all boats, and it’s time we lifted everyone up instead of sitting back and pointing at problems, saying they exist, and calling it a day. This is the work that we are committed to every, single day, and we believe that we still have much of the most important work yet to be done. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this, do reach out if you'd like to discuss any of it further, or improve your own personal or organisational impact outcomes.
If you'd like to be one of our legendary financial supporters, you can subscribe here, helping us to create an eco-system of help that ensures everyone gets the help they need, when they need it for as long as they need it. We can't do it without the collective help and support of people and organisations committed to a better future of social impact and equality.
"To create extraordinary positive change in the world, by helping people and organisations make ordinary positive change"
I wrote my mission statement years ago, after much deliberation on how to communicate my life goal, which is about providing a simple outcome for people in need. A simple outcome which requires a sophisticated framework of support, solutions and interventions to achieve.
I know people often look at 'ordinary positive change', and interpret it to mean ‘lowest common denominator tasks’. Thinking ordinary positive change is just doing one or two arbitrary 'nice' things from time to time. Looking for opportunities where they can 'see' the impact. Queue- painting a fence, working in a soup kitchen, packing a hamper-type work.
This 'ordinary positive change' is interpreted as having 'extraordinary positive impact' because charities sell that message daily. Selling the idea that to have the biggest impact you should do something you don't normally do. Get out of the office and paint a fence, run a race you don't normally run, have a fancy dinner, work in a soup kitchen etc.
The truth is, the best impact you can have is always, doing what you are good at. If you are truly looking to expand your potential for impact, you should focus on being more skilled. That is your avenue to exponential impact. Always.
Ordinary positive change is actually about integrating impact into your day to day life. Based on things you are good at, things you are already doing and things that you do regularly. It is about making transformational, rather than transactional change in the lives of individuals and organisations. It is about paying respect to your hard-earned skills and aptitudes, because people in need deserve the best quality help, and that comes from people helping in the areas that they are skilled in.
Ordinary change isn't about picking an 'ordinary' task, it’s about putting your impact opportunities on the end of what you're good at. Making change that is 'ordinary' for you, but extraordinary for those who benefit from that change.
It's time that we do better and make sure that people who need help, get the help they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it. Regardless of how they come to find themselves in need in the first place.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep being excellent, and as always, Just Be Nice
- JBNProject Founder; Josh Reid Jones
Are you looking for ways to integrate meaningful positive impact into your life and organisation in a way that makes sense to you? Get in touch with any questions and stay up to date HERE - We'd love to have you on board.
Read more about the Just Be Nice Project and how we can help your organisation improve here.
This year we sent out August with a bang in Sydney, with the Annual Professionals In Sport and Sponsorship lunch at Kingsleys Steakhouse (King St, not Woolloomooloo!).
As always, a fantastic event, with plenty of laughs, hugs and friendly conversations over a delicious lunch. Our panel guests for 2019 were Rugby League superstar; Luke Burgess, Rugby Union legend; Drew Mitchell and Wallaroos Player of the year Emily Chancellor.
Hosted by the inimitable MC Matt De Groot (a name we can only guess translates as Matt The Great, a fitting name indeed) and Andrew Swain, one of the biggest and best that Fox Sports has to offer, in talent and actual size.
On a strictly be there, or miss out basis, we heard some fantastic stories and yarns from some of the finest athletes and people in the country. If you'd like to be a part of it next year, pencil in Friday 28th August 2020 for the next PROFIS Sydney event, it is one you won't want to miss.
A massive and deeply heartfelt thank-you to the organising committee Woody, Doc, Jeff, Shannan, Shane and Rochelle, who pulled together a fantastic event once again. To Matt and Andrew for being two of the best hosts in the business and the athletes Emily, Luke and Drew who gave up their time for this event, along with all the sponsors - including Kingsleys, Billson's, Venues Live, Accolade Wines, Think Spirits and The Rabbitohs we raised over $4,500 which is an amazing result. We could not be more grateful if we tried.
We can't wait for next year. We'll see you again for steaks, good times and great impact in 2020!
While it features heavily as a buzzword among business leaders, entrepreneurs and educators; Empathy, and the reliance on it as a prime-mover of social conscience has some very significant shortcomings.
Empathy; the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either, without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.
I am speaking at the moment of the kind of empathy that focuses on the empathiser feeling (or believing that they feel) the emotional state or experience of another.
This definition of empathy, as opposed to a more high level of cognitive and rational understanding of the lives of others, is one that is frequently touted as beneficial because if you believe that you feel what someone else is feeling, you are more likely to have sympathy (feeling compassion, sorry or pity for hardships encountered by another) for them. And the emotional response of sympathy is the most effective driver of action.
One of the main problems with empathy, is that we are not wired towards global-concern, or global, wide-ranging empathy. It is hard to imagine the feelings of 1,000 people, while much easier to put yourself in the shoes of one particular person. Empathy is skewed by culture, personal beliefs and experiences. Independent of facts, we are generally able to feel more empathy towards people that we look like, share cultural values with or who are going through moments similar to events we have experienced.
Because of this, empathy works as a particularly effective advertising model, it is wonderful for heart-string-tugging advertisements, fundraisers or policy promotions. Like anything that works best in micro moments however, empathy acts as a spotlight. Spotlights have a time and a place, but in the context of solving large scale problems, building stronger understanding of the global village or improving equality of opportunity for everyone, including people that don’t look or sound like us, it is left wanting.
An over-focus on individual empathy, over a wider context of understanding, learning and genuine connection poorly affects outcomes for problems that affect large numbers of people, require lots of intervention points, take a long time to achieve and are difficult to compute all at once.
Well meaning, empathetic acts can, without a doubt, enhance the long-term suffering of people in need for a variety of reasons. Through promotion of inefficient, incomplete, short-term modes of assistance. Through promotion of highly emotive, visible and easy to understand kinds of disadvantage. Through a sense of ‘having done something’ through a single interaction, rather than a sense of ‘seeing what needs to be done’ that can be cultivated through an attitude of understanding and learning.
Empathy can be exceptionally useful as a parent or a friend, to help identify the perhaps unspoken needs of those close to you, but as a vehicle to wider-reaching impact, it lacks the breadth to be up to the task.
We should instead, focus on teaching understanding, opening eyes to broader contexts of life, difficulty and disadvantage. Improving exposure to the lives and ambitions of people from different cultures, countries and communities.
We need a commitment to creating an eco-system focused on solving problems on a larger scale, for everyone, and ensuring that eco-system is able to function across a broad range of outcomes. The Just Be Nice Project is committed to building that eco-system, to establishing an integrated, long-term, comprehensive suite of programs that is dynamic and flexible to meet the needs of individuals and communities experiencing disadvantage.
Regardless of whether the spotlight is on them or not, people need help. We intend to build the infrastructure that will deliver it, while teaching those involved and our partner organisations how to better understand, expand their worldview and participate in exponentially effective impact.
If you’d like to be a part of that process, we’d love to have you. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch here.
In a time of unparalleled prosperity, general economic and technological advancement and inter-connectedness, how is it that there are still so many people in need?
Today, rather than start at the top and look at notions of wealth distribution and inequality, I would like to unpack the notion of charity as it operates in our modern world.
Charity; “the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.”
“kindness and tolerance in judging others.”
Charity is voluntary. It is related to our judgement of others. It requires an imbalance of resources, allowing for discretionary distribution of those resources along ‘charitable’ lines.
It is possible, to be wholesale contributing to the suffering of others in your day to day life, your work, or your business while still being ‘charitable’. Therein lies the main problem.
The paternal, hierarchical nature of modern conceptions of charity leave the door wide open for manipulation, misdirection, misunderstanding and worst of all, incomplete, inconsistent and inadequate outcomes for those in need.
A kind of modern day, PR driven papal indulgence where we can transact to save our souls.
If we replaced notions of ‘Charity’ with notions of ‘Justice’, how would that change the way that we made efforts towards improving equality of opportunity?
Justice; “the quality of being fair and reasonable.”
Could we ever consider it ‘just’ that we fail to pay living wages to people? Could it be considered ‘just’ to punish someone for a lack of guidance, education and resources? Could a ‘just’ society unevenly distribute the ways and means for people to advance to be the best of their abilities, hamstringing people who might otherwise grow to be outstanding, productive, contributing members of our communities? Could a ‘just’ society ever allow people to go hungry when there is food, go cold when there are enough roofs or remain uneducated in a time of unprecedented knowledge sharing capabilities?
I am not advocating for a free-market, capitalist, neo-liberal ‘the market fixes everything’ approach as the alternative to charity. I am talking about changing the way we speak about our responsibility to others, to continue to move towards an understanding that everyone needs help at some point in their lives. A society that values justice, “the quality of being fair and reasonable.” would try and ensure that everyone who needs help, gets it, regardless of how and when they come to need it.
It is time to move from a conversation that focuses on paternal transactions for ‘people in need’, a conversation where the emphasis is on the giver, not the receiver. To creating a conversation about the needs of ‘People’ in a just society.
If you are ready to move from a transactional model of altruism to a transformational one, The Just Be Nice Project is the only organisation of it’s kind working to change the way people help people. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more, we’d love to hear from you.
“People don’t talk enough about how hard it is to make a change in the world, then you start and it’s really hard, and it isn’t talked about enough so how are people to know?”
While this isn’t verbatim the conversation I had this weekend, it is a version of a sentiment echoed by a friend with aspirations to make positive, concrete change in the way that people go about their day to day work.
I made the point that in fact, there are heaps of examples of people talking about how hard it is to build something significant, to change the way the world is.
One of the challenges is, we are hearing about the tough times from people who are through it, the success stories, and we are far more exposed to the successful end result than the behind the scenes hard work that went into it, and rightfully so, most stories are only worth hearing if they’ve finished the job.
Secondly, it is difficult because when you first hear about the tough times, it is usually in the context of your own excitement, enthusiasm and positivity around the beginning of your journey. I hear from new entrepreneurs, charity founders and young professionals;
“I know it’s going to be hard.”
“I’m prepared to make sacrifices.”
“It’s better to be doing it for my own thing, than stressing about doing the work for someone else.”
The narrative then often goes, you start something, then there is a ‘dip’ or a tough point, then you get through that, then you are home and hosed. Your dream is becoming a reality.
A dip, or ‘the dip’ conjures up a vision of a downward run into difficulty, followed by a climb back up to where you were before, back on the path to success.
In reality, building change is not about dipping off a path, it’s about climbing mountains.
There are big mountains, and small mountains, some are steep, others more gentle. There are well-known mountains with established routes to the top, and also non-conventional, less-crowded, but more difficult routes.
When you set out to change the world or build something, you are choosing a mountain to climb.
Are you choosing a mountain that has been done many times before? If yes, then perhaps because some of the pitfalls will be well known, you can anticipate certain challenges. On the flip side, you will most certainly have competition on that route because most people like to tread on paths that they can see. There are very few legitimate trailblazers in the world.
This can apply to industries and jobs and ideas that are already fairly well established.
The downhill is the easier bit, not the hard part, it happens once you summit and you’ve gotten where you want to.
If you want to get to the top quicker, because time is your main concern, you pick a smaller mountain, an easier, more visible route and you do more practice runs before you tackle it. There’s no shame in that at all.
If you want to go somewhere no one has gone before, or blaze a trail that no one else has done, from start to finish, you are choosing a tougher mountain.
This is not a dip, it is a difficult, unknown, uphill climb from day one until you get to the top. There will be almost no help, no map, no well-established place for you to rest. It will be hard, your will and resilience will be tested. There will be unknown hazards and you might be up there so long that the seasons change, you face rockslides, your gear fails, your hands and feet go numb and you are shaking from cold and hunger.
If you tap out of the climb, you never make the summit.
Leadership is not being in front of a group of people going up a well established trail, that is tour guiding. Leadership is blazing a new trail, on a new mountain.
The higher and steeper the mountain, the harder it is, the longer it will take. You cannot know all the challenges, you must only be prepared to endure whatever it takes to summit. If you come back down and never try again, you have failed.
If you come back down, up-skill, get in better shape and have another go, and another, and another until you summit… That is what resilience and commitment looks like. You can change mountains, you can jump onto a more established path, but you cannot claim to be a trail blazer at the same time. Commitment is getting to the summit you decided on at the very beginning and sticking at it until it’s done, not shopping around for easier mountains to climb.
If you are treading an established path, study up, learn, go with a guide a few times before going it alone and you’ll find the journey on your own far more predictable. If you are blazing a trail, be prepared for difficulty, for people to think you’re nuts, for risk and for pain. The less preparation you’ve done, mentally, physically, with your equipment or your team, the harder any climb will be.
If you are looking to make a change, a real, indelible, permanent and significant change, the only option is to take the hardest, steepest routes, the biggest mountains and blaze the trails that everyone else is too scared (or sane) to take.
Downhill is something to aspire to, not be scared of. The downhill is the reward. Don’t fear the dip, fear not making it to the top.
While I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of Tony Robbins, he said it well “Life's greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve.”
Change isn’t easy. Be a leader, not a tour guide.
- Josh Reid Jones - Founder - The Just Be Nice Project.
Just Be Nice
A collection of articles relevant to pursuing the effective execution of altruism in the search for equality of opportunity.