If you are looking to improve your character as individuals and culture as a collective, you need to be looking in the right spot, asking and answering the right questions and building understanding in a way that makes sense to you. It’s not always easy, it can be confronting, but it is always worth it.
Get in touch to begin the process now and kick off 2019 with open minds, open hearts and a commitment to excellence as humans. You deserve to be the best you can be and we believe the world needs you to be the best you can be too.
We aren't here to demonise for-profit or non-profit organisations. We are here to demonise waste.
We don't believe that good will is more important than good skill for people in need.
We believe that we can change the way that people help people, but we need your help, if you or your organisation are looking to have a more significant and relevant impact in the world, get in touch.
We've come a long way with encouraging men to speak up about their poor mental health and to let people know when they are struggling.
But what are we doing after that?
The Just Be Nice Project is committed to not only improving the conversation around mental health, but also improving the access to the material support required to create environments where people can flourish.
You can support our work by subscribing and becoming a JBN Legend Here, we can't do it without the support of our amazing partners and subscribers.
Helping people feel good about doing good is an important element of engagement, but it cannot be the end-game to getting people involved in positive impact.
Is it easy to feel good about things that don't do that much good? Absolutely. Is that the best we can do? Absolutely not.
The end game, and point of help, should always be about what happens for the person in need. Teaching people what effective looks like for people in need, rather than finding ways to make people feel good about attempts at help, is the real future of helping people, help people.
Our work at the Just Be Nice Project is about harnessing the potential of every organisation and individual into effective impacts for those in need, while remaining engaging, relevant and worthwhile to those providing the help. There is a better way.
Creating extraordinary positive change in the world, by helping people make ordinary positive change.
People in need with cancer.
People in need facing extreme prejudice.
People in need of mixed abilities.
People in need without employment or a chance of employment.
People in need growing up in disadvantage.
People in need who are suffering economic distress.
People in need with mental health issues.
People in need without a place to live.
People in need who live overseas.
People in need who have inadequate education.
People in need who are sick.
People in need who fear for their lives.
People in need who look after people in need.
People in need with empty bellies.
People in need who have had a life of privilege and find themselves facing tough times.
People in need who have never had the privilege of a resource rich environment.
We see people in need.
Rather than fight about what cause is the most important, and argue among causes, we believe in creating an eco-system that works to help people in need.
It starts with an acknowledgement that people find themselves in need in many different ways, at many different times, for many different reasons. Rather than take the needs of any one community as more important than another, we consider the knowledge of one community about the most effective ways to help that particular community as important.
Fighting for causes too often means causes fighting against causes. We are here to fight inefficiency. We are here to fight inequality. We are here to fight for people in need.
We are not here to fight inequality with only a spreadsheet and a calculator, but we are also not here to fight inequality with only misguided good intentions and a short-lived peak in emotive interest. We are not here to do things the way that they have been done in the past, because we know that we can do better. We are here to fight alongside people who believe that we can do better. We are here to fight alongside people who are tired of seeing wasted money, time and good intentions.
We are here to fight for those in need.
We would love you to join that fight.
The notion of the feckless poor is a common narrative among conservatives the world over. The persistent insinuation is that people are poor or 'under-performing' because of a lack of morals. Poor because they don’t work hard. ‘There is opportunity everywhere’ the conservatives say, you simply have to take ownership of your life and pursue it, if you don't, there is no one to blame but yourself.
This week, after a series of circumstances and events that one could not describe as anything but farcical, dishonest and lacking character, Scott Morrison was installed as leader of the Liberal party and Prime Minister of Australia.
Among the values espoused in his first press conference, the common call to arms for conservatives of, ‘if you have a go, you’ll get a go’ featured.
If you have a go.
The reality is, in action, there are plenty of people who ‘have a go’ and don’t ‘get a go’ in this country. The asylum seekers imprisoned on Manus Island, having a go, seeking asylum, as is their right. Is undertaking a treacherous journey to protect your life and that of your family not really having a go?
People on the NDIS, leaving about half of the people with disabilities worse off than they were under previous schemes, despite the government spending twice as much. Are these people not having enough of a go?
The 2.9 million Australians that live below the poverty line, including the 36% of them who rely on wages as their main source of income, are they not having a go? Should they simply, as Malcolm Turnbull put it “…seek to earn more”?
Is the renewable energy sector, with it’s huge strides towards creating cheaper power than fossil fuel sources by 2020 not really having a go?
Are students in under-performing schools not having a go? Hamstrung by funding cuts and a teaching profession that treats teachers so poorly that 50% of teachers leave the vocation within a few years of starting, are we sure that these students not having a go?
We need to beware of claims of equality that aren’t matched by the relevant social and legislative supports -
…in societies which claim to recognize individuals only as equals in right, the educational system and it’s modern nobility only contribute to disguise and legitimise in a more subtle way the arbitrariness of the distribution of power and privileges which perpetuates itself through the socially uneven allocation of school titles and degrees. – Pierre Bourdieu & Jean-Claude Passeron.
If we are really serious about giving everyone a go, then we must be serious about improving equality of opportunity for everyone. Not demanding contributions upfront from the most vulnerable, but making it our job to help them get to a place where they are able to contribute.
Regardless of our ability or circumstances, we are here to make a contribution, rather than take one; that in order to you to do better, you don't think someone else has to do worse – Scott Morrison
The real test of the government will be to see how serious they are about building an environment that does, in fact, foster growth and opportunity for all, and not simply a chosen few. We will be watching closely.
Organisational dissonance occurs when an organisations stated beliefs, purpose, culture and actions do not all align.
There are plenty of examples of organisational dissonance, and currently, in Australia, we can see it playing out in the highest levels of government as well.
Some of our bug bears, and most glaring contradictory misalignments include;
Organisations that claim that businesses should be a force for good but are themselves, non-profit entities. Taking the benefits of non-profit status, while having the stated aim that it is, in fact, businesses that should be the driving force for change.
Political parties that are staunchly anti-union, anti-strike action and generally have an attitude of ‘grin and bear it’ when prescribing action to their constituents, shutting up shop and closing down parliament to sort out their own internal problems, rather than simply do their jobs.
Non-profit organisations that claim to want to have long-term impact, but only focus on selling and promoting short-term, instant gratification projects and activities without working to have programs and frameworks for the long-term. At the same time failing to help their supporters understand and see the value in long-term engagement to solve problems.
Organisations with stated aims to assist members of a community through a single area of intervention, wanting to help a group of people, but only providing one element of the help. Ostensibly because they care about the welfare and opportunities of this particular community in need. At the same time they are refusing to work alongside or collaborate with other organisations, who provide different kinds of necessary support, to the same community. This kind of in-fighting among organisations is rife and causes misery inside and outside of the organisations.
Schools that claim to value education and delivering quality education to children, that simultaneously cut the lowest performing and most in-need students in order to keep their performance results high.
Organisational dissonance is one of the biggest blocks to actual equality of opportunity, as we descend further into a culture of ignoring the gaps between stated aims and beliefs and actions. No-one is perfect, no organisation is perfect, but systemic hypocrisy and dissonance should be identified and changed. Quickly.
When the Just Be Nice Project works with out partner organisations, one of the first things we look for is signs of organisational dissonance, staff dissatisfaction, cultural difficulties, uncertain future goals and a lack of trust. It is possible to align what you say you want to do, and what you do and how you do it.
It might not be easy, but it is possible. That is what makes character-led organisations so valuable.
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.
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Often we are asked about how it is possible to deal with particular issues.
For many, the journey into the world of positive impact is sparked by a feeling of needing to do something about a particular issue. Often people search for things to do based on these particular issues, rather than searching for the most appropriate way to help people in need of help. They are not guided towards the most appropriate way to help based on what they do the best and what is most needed by those seeking help.
This misdirection, taking the focus from effective help to particular issues, is exacerbated by the language that we use around these individual causes. The sector is constantly battling to promote issues as more important or more emotive than others, rather than focusing on the most important fundamental process;
Ensuring people in need, get the help that they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.
Disadvantage doesn’t have one look. It isn’t limited to one particular issue, it is a complex web of many different factors and manifestations, often overlapping and interlinked, nuanced and time dependent. In the same way treating a scratch early prevents it becoming septicaemia, dealing with issues of inequality early can prevent them becoming life-threatening and community destroying.
Working to fight disadvantage means working to level the playing field. At the Just Be Nice Project we believe that working towards an equality of opportunity for everyone is the only real way to build a system that helps anyone.
So if it’s not about any particular issue, what is it about?
Well, lets look at what disadvantage is. Among many things;
Disadvantage is having the collective noun for you and your friends go from group to pack in the media.
Disadvantage is having to share a white bread sandwich with vegemite three ways for lunch.
Disadvantage is time on the phone negotiating bill paying extensions with every, single, service provider.
Disadvantage is being kicked out of your rental property because you were late on the rent because someone ran into your car and you couldn’t afford to fix the car you need for work, and the whole rent this month.
Disadvantage is failing school because you are busy looking after your sick mum.
Disadvantage is having a disability and being unable to access the help you need. It is having the same disability and being unable to access the leisure and social activities we all need too.
Disadvantage is getting a bill from DHS for the damage that was done to your rental property when your husband put your head through the plasterboard wall.
Disadvantage is having Centrelink make an administrative error and not pay you for a fortnight, so that for two weeks you and your family are unable to eat.
Disadvantage is getting too sick to work and not having any sick leave because you are a casual employee, and disadvantage is the scramble over the next few years to pay back those credit cards and money you borrowed.
Disadvantage is having a mental illness, and nowhere to go.
Disadvantage is coming out of rehab and having nowhere to go. It’s the only place offered to you being a harm-minimisation facility where people still take drugs. It’s avoiding that place because you want to stay clean, so you sleep on the street, and get told “Surely anywhere is better than sleeping on the street.”, “Ungrateful”, “Sort your life out”.
Disadvantage is the kid in class who can’t concentrate, for years, because from the ages of 3-10 she doesn’t get sufficient breakfast or lunch and gets told she is dumb because she is ‘falling behind.’ By the teachers and ‘dumb’ by her peers.
Disadvantage is waking up in the middle of the night as a 10 year old and checking to make sure that your Dad isn’t beating up your Mum in the living room.
Disadvantage is all of these things, and many, many others. Disadvantage can strike people at any moment and some people are born into disadvantage. We believe that all people should have access to the help they need, when they need it, for as long as they need. We believe that it is possible to create extraordinary positive change in the world, by helping people make ordinary positive change, and we would love your support.
Just Be Nice
A collection of articles relevant to pursuing the effective execution of altruism in the search for equality of opportunity.