Imagine a scenario where you are in need of help.
Perhaps you are homeless, perhaps you are a struggling single parent.
You have been battling this scenario for many years, you have made efforts to improve your situation, but it is exceptionally difficult.
From time to time, over the years, people have popped in, asked for your story. They have listened, empathised, express sympathy. You have told them your story, your fears and difficulties.
It is emotional labour. Exhausting. You trust that they care.
Then they do one thing for you, maybe two… Maybe you never hear from them again.
Maybe after the story they don’t do anything.
Sometimes, after a big effort of help, for a period of time, when it all gets a bit much for the acquaintance or friend, when the service runs out of resources, or when the family lacks the material means to continue to assist.
Then, after the glimmer of hope. After the baring of your soul and exposing your most vulnerable fears and difficulties, nothing.
The promise of help, the promise of understanding and a feeling of connection and possibility.
Now imagine this happens over and over again.
And over and over again.
Eventually your ability to trust that good things can happen, that help is real and might work is damaged. Maybe irreparably.
When real help turns up, after all of these disappointments. When actual opportunity knocks, how would you have the capacity to not only recognise it, but to take it up wholeheartedly?
Consider if surgeons started surgery before they were confident that they knew what was wrong, or that they started doing surgeries without taking the time to do the training and learning about how to diagnose and perform surgery. Consider if they started operating before they had the resources to finish the surgery, stopping halfway and leaving you open and vulnerable on an operating table. We would consider that to be negligent, we would not consider ‘isn’t some surgery better than none’ to be an adequate excuse.
Likewise, sometimes rushing into ‘help’ without proper a proper understanding of what is happening, what is needed to help and the resources to help can be worse than waiting, taking your time and ‘not helping’ right away.
People in need, do indeed need people to be nice. We can all be nice, if we are already nice, we can all be nicer.
It is harder to do good.
Doing good requires time, dedication and resources. Doing good requires more time, but being nice can happen right now.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel compelled to do good for someone in need, maybe take a moment to audit your capabilities and the needs of the person you are speaking to. Is it a moment to Be Nice, or is it a moment to Do Good? Be honest with yourself and with the person in front of you. How many botched surgeries would it take for you to distrust surgeons and perhaps end up avoiding life-changing or life-saving surgery because you'd been let down before? If that same surgeon had simply said,
"I don't know just now. I can't do anything right at this moment, but I am working to get the skills and resources together to be able to fix this for you or others in the future. Right now I can be nice, be understanding and apologise that the help that you need is not available. I can seek out people who may be able to help, but I'm not sure where they are or where to start. Right now, I can give you a coffee, a sympathetic ear and a moment of empathy and understanding. I am sorry that the help is not right here for you. I will help those who help others so that this does not remain a problem for ever."
In the future, the person needing help may indeed have the trust required to buy in to the help, when it finally arrives. Improving the process and outcomes for everyone.
We encourage everyone to be nice, on their own time, all the time. We help everyone to do good, ensuring that you become part of a process that provides the assistance that people need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.
If you'd like to be a part of the solution. Subscribe and get in touch below. We'd love to have you.
Values alignment is a waste of time, what matters is how you execute your values, and whether you consistently do what is required to build character. If you have a lovely set of values and never action them, you might as well not have values in the first place. If you find values-alignment in a person or organisation you need to make sure that you express those values in the same way, or you are still going to find conflict.
Look for character in others, develop it in yourself and reap the benefit of building resilience, a greater sense of self and a more fulfilling environment around you than simply looking to align something as lightweight as values.
If you are looking to find ways to develop actionable principles and form character for you, other individuals or your organisation, get in touch and we will contact you regarding our Character-Led program.
You matter, We care and remember to Just Be Nice.
Today marks the 18th time this year that a shooting has occurred in a school in the United States. The shooting in Florida has resulted in at least 17 dead and many more injured at the time of writing. <Source CNN>
There are a number of cultural and historical objections to gun control in the United States, but there has not been an enemy on the doorstep of the worlds largest economy since the war for independence in 1773. In 1861 they endured a Civil War, that however, was not one involving invasion or international threat.
Unlike middle eastern states who have had war raging around them for decades, the threat of war on US soil has been virtually non-existent for over 150 years (Bay Of Pigs notwithstanding). At this point, logically, the argument for gun control is surely strong enough to warrant at least some action being taken to mitigate the risk of assault rifles and other high powered, high capacity weapons being easily available across the whole country to all and sundry.
This, however, isn’t an argument for gun control, or a ‘prayers for the victims’ post. It is simply posing a question.
There are myriad social problems, inequalities and difficulties faced by numerous communities in democracies across the globe. Why doesn’t the murder of innocents and children shift the needle for one solitary issue (The issue – What should we do about constant shootings)? How can we formulate plans to instigate change on far more complex, nuanced, subtle and less in-your-face issues?
How do we improve education standards across the board, across all ages, delivery methods, subjects and outcomes? How can we level the playing field of opportunity for minorities, women, people with disabilities and low Socio-economic groups? How can we address the growing wealth inequality, which is caused by dozens of factors, when a world leading economy can’t agree on how to mitigate a gun violence problem that is so glaring?
The issue here is not only gun violence. It is the lack of a coherent and sensible pathway to address and manage blatant problems in our societies today. How do we establish evidence and fact-based responses to problems, free from hyperbole and emotive over-reaction? How do we remove the bureaucratic dilution of efficacy, putting in place plans that are effective and simple, rather than ineffective and complicated?
How can Australians, and other democratic countries around the world lead the way on sensible decision making and character-led leadership?
The increasing partisanship and divisive, emotion driven politics of the day are driving us further away from environments in which positive, inclusive and long term-change are possible. While in Australia we very fortunately don’t have the problem with gun violence that our Allies in the US do, we can still lead by example by working on solutions rather than name calling. Working on bringing communities together, rather than wedging them apart for votes. We can work on being more inclusive and providing more opportunity, rather than jealously guarding our own privilege while demanding that others remain happy with their lesser lot.
It starts with electing leaders that genuinely have the best interest of people at heart. Not only big business, not re-election, not avoiding internal party factional disputes. Leaders that walk the walk and don’t just evasively talk, redirect and finger point.
Make no mistake, change is difficult. If murdered children can’t create change, what will?
At the Just Be Nice Project, we are committed to developing Character-Led individuals and leaders, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Have you ever considered how hard it is for someone who has everything that they say they want or need, but still feels unhappy and down for some reason?
Wondered how someone who seems so happy, so full of life, could ever get to a place where they could harm themselves or those they love?
Felt down and out, when logically and physically everything is actually going quite well and found it hard to find your happiness again?
Perhaps its because the binary nature of our discussion of happy and sad is a bit off the mark. The language we use to speak about these moods informs our opinions about them, informs the way we seek treatment and the advice we give to those we know regarding moods and emotions.
Rather than a dualistic relationship of happy/sad - instead; Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson suggests we should consider that positive and negative feelings exist separate scales of their own.
Critical to feelings of well-being, the ability to achieve a positive state is important. Considering a standard Bell Curve distribution of attributes, we can see that it most probably looks as follows.
No doubt we all know some people that somehow maintain their effervescent levels of positivity with ease, while others have a very tough time remaining positive even for a minute at a time. In the middle of the bell curve reside the majority of the population, who either skew towards finding a bit easier or a bit tougher depending on a whole range of physiological, social and psychological factors.
The opposite of not being able to sustain a positive state is not necessarily constantly maintaining a negative one. Rather the second scale relates to our ability to rebound from a negative state.
Resilience is not necessarily about rebounding from a negative state to a positive one, it is more about rebounding from a negative state to the middle-ground. A functional place that doesn’t negatively impact your ability to live your life. It might not be a joyous, hands in the hair, dance in the street positivity, but it absolutely is not being stuck down in the doldrums.
Understanding people who occupy opposing ends of these scales simultaneously can be challenging. Those bubbly, vibrant individuals who are mostly full of positive energy, but find it nearly impossible to bounce back from a negative state. Otherwise happy people who suddenly find themselves unable to cope with the onset of a negative state.
Conversely, there are individuals who find it hard to maintain a positive state for any length of time, but always, without fail, bounce back from negative states and show incredible resilience.
Each of us has the two scales inside of us. Understanding where we sit on both allows us to better work on solutions for either resilience or positivity. If you are someone who struggles to maintain a positive state, there are many practices you can do to maximise your time there.
A healthy diet, exercise, a meaningful social life, meditation and positive reflection, gratitude, avoiding stress etc, can all help.
Likewise, if you find yourself struggling to rebound from a negative state, all the above can be of significant use, as can speaking to someone, taking positive actions to remedy a negative situation and perhaps even stoic philosopher Epictetus can offer a thought to mediate on, focusing on what is in your control;
“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquillity and outer effectiveness become possible.” – Epictetus
Take note of where you and others might sit on these scales, and use them to better judge what areas need the most attention. If you need help bouncing back from a negative state, there is no shame in seeking it, if you are resilient individual who finds it hard to live a joyous life, there is no shame in that either. If you rarely feel positive and can’t bounce back from a negative state, then you know that there are two separate things that you can work on, rather than needing to be positive first, you can first rebound from negativity, then find a positive state (or vice-versa).
When we look at positive/negative as individual characteristics, rather than opposite sides of the same coin, we are provided with wonderful tools to better understand not only our own needs, but the needs of others.
Keep smiling, keep looking after each other, keep paying attention and of course, Just Be Nice.
Today we are pleased to hear the latest Podcast from Purposeful featuring Just Be Nice Project founder Josh Reid Jones.
It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Mike and discuss impact, social responsibility and being nice!
Listen below or follow the iTunes link - apple.co/2lhU5st
Like, Listen and share it around!
Effort Equals Improvement.
Effort equals improvement. It is a lesson that I have long believed to be one of the most important fundamental building blocks of not only success, but achievement in any aspect of life.
Working with at-risk youth, or even adults that come from a disadvantaged background, it is a lesson that all too often has been left out of their development. Given the incomplete nature of the educational and character development of individuals that grow up lacking opportunity, this is not a big surprise. It is however, a shocking surprise to see how few post-disadvantage programs address this fundamental developmental issue.
Teaching the correlation between effort and improvement takes two things… Effort and improvement. You have to provide an interesting avenue to young people to engage them in an activity, any activity, that allows them to begin the process of improving through concentrated effort. It might be boxing, it might be dancing, basketball, reading, maths or cooking. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as it is interesting and can improve with concentrated, guided effort over time.
In all honesty, we have attracted young men to boxing programs because they come in looking for ways to be better at fighting. Sure, we aren’t really trying to equip disengaged youth with better skills to go out and fight each other, but they will not improve at anything unless they are interested in it.
Once they are interested in improving, they have to put in the work. Even in resource-rich environments, working on tasks, skills and activities that you are interested in is easier than working on projects that you struggle to relate to. Once you have been putting in the work for a while, you will start to notice improvement. We are not looking for the next Jeff Horn, Jeff Fenech or Jeff Harding, (or any boxing world champions in particular) we are looking to actively engage youth in a process of learning what they are capable of with support and effort.
A side-effect of having put in work into something you are interested in, is that you are now invested in the process. Once you are invested, then as educators, supporters and mentors, we are able to help these individuals see the value of investing in other opportunities. We can use their investment as a means to help show that there can be consequences for their actions in a way that is not simply punishing them, but supporting them with consequences.
A classic example is the young man that trains hard in the gym, his boxing improves, his discipline gets better, his temper from day-to-day cools and he is invested in the process of being coached and improving his boxing. He then makes a mistake. Fighting at school, missing training, not doing his school work etc. Now we don’t ban this young man from training, we don’t tell him that he is no-good and doesn’t deserve these opportunities. We take him to the side and tell him that for the next week, he will be relegated to watching others train, mopping the floor and helping the coach. He will be learning, he will add value, but he will miss out on improving on his own skills fully.
This is a tale that has saved countless young people across the world, young people who lacked the opportunity to care enough about something for long enough to understand that being your best at everything, is the only way to potentially be the best at anything.
Working with an individual that understands, believes and has experienced effort equals improvement, we are able to turn their effort to almost any task. Whether it be vocational, educational or in relationships, with guided effort you can improve to be the best you can be at any given thing at all.
In communities where the correlations between scholastic improvement and employment outcomes are not so easy to see, playground skills can be a great gateway to the interest of at-risk youth. Boxing, backflips, free-throws, rapping and breakdancing can be the interest hook that starts moulding these young people into understanding that to improve, they need to embrace guidance and hard work.
Note that it is not arbitrary hard work, it is guided. Teachers, coaches, parents, uncles, aunties, youth workers and anyone who has connections to these individuals can take up the mantle of helping to guide their effort in the right direction for maximum returns. This provides a two-fold benefit, firstly they learn the all-important lesson of effort = improvement, secondly they are exposed to the long-term support of someone being invested in them. Caring enough to help someone progress is one of the biggest triggers for change in people who lack opportunity.
These interventions need to be long-term. Short-term programs find it hard to change the attitudes of people that otherwise have defaulted to their basic human natures of finding the path of least resistance and focusing on self-preservation rather than self-improvement. Long-term programs that focus on individual improvement rather than arbitrary outcomes are the most effective way to ensure at-risk communities become functioning, active participants in school, workplaces and their communities.
While it’s not imperative that young people direct the outcomes of their learning, they can certainly direct their interests. Through effective long-term engagement via interesting projects and skill development, we can change the entire life-time potential for youth and young adults from marginalised communities.
Long-term effort for improvement applies to those attempting to change the fortunes of those less fortunate. Just Be There, Just Pay Attention and of course Just Be Nice.
Just Be Nice Project Founder - Josh Reid Jones
We are in the midst of a Marriage Law Postal Survey at the moment, being given the option to vote on whether Same Sex Couples should be allowed to marry in Australia.
This weekend, the Coalition for Marriage held a conference in which the topic of same-sex marriage equality was twisted into a tirade on the future effects of freedom of opinion or speech if we allow same sex marriage equality.
We have decided to draw a graph illustrating what we are actually discussing in the SSM (Same Sex Marriage) debate.
Equality of Opportunity means, everyone has the same options ahead of them, that they are able to pursue outcomes with an equal footing from where they start. Now, there is equality of opportunity surrounding your ability to have whatever opinion you might care to have. The vote will not change your right to disagree with same sex marriage, or heterosexual marriage, or global warming. If you choose to have an opinion about any of these matters, you are free to do so.
What we are actually being asked to give our opinions on, is whether or not same-sex couples should be afforded equal RIGHTS. Rights that are already available to heterosexual couples and are currently only denied to same sex couples based on their sexuality. Not on whether or not they are fit to be in a relationship, make independent grown up decisions or have great hair. It is simply because they are in relationships with people of the same sex.
This is not the beginning of a decline into polygamy, or people marrying animals, or religious fundamentalists who don't like same sex marriage being locked up for their opinions. It is about simply providing equality of opportunity to an institution that already exists in Australia right now.
At the Just Be Nice Project we strongly support a Yes to equality of opportunity, a Yes to same-sex marriage, and of course a yes to people to have their own opinions. We believe that if you are of the 'No' persuasion, perhaps refrain from voting. You are not voting for a right to your own opinion (as you can see from the graph, you already have that), you are actively voting against equal rights for people who have had to have the viability of their relationships debated in an open forum, by people who aren't even in those relationships.
Look after each other, vote yes, and as always, Just Be Nice.
Collaboration: the action of working with someone to produce something.
At the Just Be Nice Project collaboration isn't simply an aim, its a method. Helping people, help people.
It was our pleasure to assist with the Little Dreamers Australian Gala in August, with Just Be Nice Project Founder Josh taking on the role of MC for the evening. We are thrilled to have been a small part of an evening that raised $26,000 for the support of young carers and special siblings in Australia.
For more information on Little Dreamers, feel free to check them out HERE.
If you, or your organisation is looking for ways to Just Be Nice, get in touch! We'd love to work with you!
Part of the amazing Education Changemaker team, we caught up with Summer Howarth at the Northern Territory Learning Commission in Katherine, NT.
Great work being done by wonderful people, for wonderful people. It's what the Just Be Nice Project is all about!
Check out the great work they are doing at Education Changemakers and come down to Educhange on the 25th-29th September in Melbourne and meet the Summer, John from the Northern Territory Learning Commission and us in Melbourne!
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Check out the great work that Kym is doing at CHAMPION LIFE and check them out at EDUCHANGE 2017 where we will also be working to improve opportunities for teachers and school communities to have effective positive impact through presentations and workshops!
Champion Life is another wonderful organisation and initiative that we are rapt to be a part of, going into schools in 2018!
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Just Be Nice
A collection of articles relevant to pursuing the effective execution of altruism in the search for equality of opportunity.