You Matter Most #25 #cong23 #reality


For some people there is a very thin line (if any) between perception and reality. Because of this we tend to exert a lot of focus and energy on all the externals around us (what others think/say, judgements and opinions of me, etc.).

A much better use of this focus and energy should be to look internally at yourself – to determine what works well for me, what am I most happy with, what could I consider changing, what might success look like for me, and most importantly am I happy and contented with myself. Note that happy and contented with oneself doesn’t mean that there’s no room for improvement. It does mean that the power over what others think or say becomes significantly reduced or even removed.

So be true to yourself and your reality.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Be contented and kind to yourself
  2. Beware of judging others – unless you can walk in their shoes
  3. Control what you can control – you determine how you show up
  4. Life is short – have no regrets

About John Murphy:

John works with clients at or approaching a crossroads in their life to determine the best answers to “What’s next for me?” to have a fulfilling and successful life – finding the preferred re-balance of business, family and self in the next chapter(s) of your life.

Contacting John Murphy:

You can connect with John on LinkedIn or send him an email.

By John Murphy

“You Matter most”

When I was in my late teens I was “volunteered” to go with my Dad on a pilgrimage with the Ferns Dioceses to Lourdes as a Brancardier/helper to assisted pilgrims. At the time I thought I had problems, be it worrying about exams, coping with peer pressure, often trying to be something I wasn’t, trying to impress others, etc. Being there among the assisted pilgrims I got a real “reality check” in a very short period of time – here were people who were facing very different and challenging futures, in some cases for those with terminal illnesses their future was extremely limited indeed. The amazing thing I noticed was seeing how bravely and unselfishly most of them accepted and just got on with living for today while they still had the opportunity.

My Dad had warned me not to be inquisitive about what others were facing, but be present to assist them in anyway way I could, or just to chat with them about stuff in general. The big no, no, was never to judge or assume the challenges that someone else is living – just because someone could walk, looked or behaved “normally” does not mean that he or she was in perfect health or mindset. The only way to understand someone else’s reality is to walk in their shoes for a sufficient period of time to then appreciate their internal turmoil or demons.

So let’s now look at our internal reality and what that means for me. As an executive coach I regularly work with leaders whose perception comes to the fore more frequently than reality. Some might say that perception and reality are the same, but I beg to differ. For example high-achieving leaders and mangers that have been promoted to newer and bigger roles often face the challenge of “imposter syndrome” where there is self-doubt of intellect, skills or on accomplishments. It’s like that little voice in your head that keeps saying that people are watching you, you’re not good enough for this new role, or that they expect more from you than you can deliver. The person often has no data or facts to confirm these perceptions but their focus is only on looking outwards and not inwards at themselves.

Once a person can accept themselves for what they are and be content with their lot, then all of a sudden what others might think of them becomes significantly less impactful. Bear in mind that if you’re not happy with yourself then why should you expect others to think any differently of you.

A mantra I find useful that relates to Emotional Intelligence is as follows:

“The way you show up …..
….. determines the way people feel,
and the way people feel …..
….. determines the extent to which they can engage,
and that impacts pretty much EVERYTHING …..
…..about the outcome of the relationship.

So instead of focusing on things that are totally outside of your control (what other’s think, say or do) put your energy and focus into what’s within your control – don’t point the finger of judgement on others but judge what you say and do, and don’t spend time worrying what others are or are not doing but hold yourself accountable to what you’ve committed to and look to meet or exceed what’s expected of you. At a minimum seek clarity of messages, ask questions and don’t ever leave space for assumptions. People are not mind readers and “assumption is the mother of all mistakes”.

And as a final reflection on reality, I am going to defer to “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing is a 2011 book by Bronnie Ware inspired by her time as a palliative carer.

According to Bronnie Ware, the five most common regrets shared by people nearing death were:
1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

These are examples of facing reality by people who were no longer in a position to do something about it. Please don’t let yourself make the same mistakes, while you still have the opportunity to alter and positively impact your reality.

Supporting Youth Volunteering in Rural Ireland #56 #cong19


Much of the resources and research on youth volunteering has highlighted the need to meet motivations, promote the benefits and ensure recognition of young people to boost community participation. How can community engagement meet some of the big challenges of increased anxiety and depression reported amongst young people in an era of increased social media communities?

Key Takeaways:

  1. Resources like the Youth Social Innovation programme and research findings give voice to young people’s issues.
  2. Can we think creatively to allow under 18s volunteering to go around barriers like insurance.
  3. What are the health benefits of community engagement in communities of rural Ireland in partnership with virtual social media communities.

About Lorainne Tansey:

Lorraine works at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society in NUI Galway.

Contacting Lorainne Tansey:

You can follow Lorainne on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or reach her by email.

By Lorainne Tansey

Young People and Stress

Almost one third of young people deemed the mood of their generation as stressed. The research carried out by the Young Social Innovators (YSI) programme (2019) highlights the growing anxiety, stress and depression sixteen year old youth respondents feel in contemporary Ireland. We all have a responsibility to address this and offer opportunities to engage with young people for change. Yet many programmes are limited to youth and under 18s cannot participate due to structural barriers. Innovative solutions like family volunteering, buddy and shadowing programmes and more could include young people and their voice. Inclusivity in communities is challenging and not easily done. Yet the imperative is here to model for and with young people the communities we want to see in the future across Ireland.

Young People as Volunteers in Community

Much of the resources and research on youth volunteering has highlighted the need to meet motivations, promote the benefits and ensure recognition of young people to boost community participation. For example there is a significant emphasis on youth volunteering as a means to employment and skill development. Young volunteers are motivated for a variety of reasons, some being instrumental and yet others demonstrate their empathy for local and global concerns. Increased youth participation in community does result in benefits for all stakeholders. National programmes like Gaisce are vehicles for youth participation and provide insurance and mentorship thereby combating the structural limitations placed on youth volunteering. The overriding ‘over 18 only’ requirements for many community activities due to child protection constraints is seen in an era of increasing managerialism of the sector. This is echoed in the YSI research that indicates 4 out 5 young people feel listened to by their parents but only 2 out of 5 feel listened to by their community. There is a real opportunity to build youth voice in our communities and provide avenues for their greater participation in decision making.

Young People and Virtual Volunteering

Community engagement can meet some of the big challenges of increased anxiety and depression reported amongst young people. The Gen Z Index research by YSI highlights the significant role of social media in youth lives. The research indicates that more than half of young people aged 16 spend four or more hours on their phone. Perhaps virtual volunteering through online communities is an opportunity to connect with youth and their desire to engage. Climate change is identified as the key theme that young people want to make a positive impact on and contribute to. In particular, online activism for climate change issues can help to bridge individual local actions to macro international efforts. According to YSI research only 1 in 10 young people feel listened to by the government or politicians. Collective activism in communities that address policy change is a powerful vehicle for youth participation and to see influence in government. 

Call to Action

When asked about their future, young people (40%) indicated a successful life is one that has made a difference in community. This strong call to action from youth to be part of opportunities for change and impact is one that we need to nurture and celebrate.  Can we make it more natural for young people to be active volunteers and contributors to our communities and challenge structural constraints that marginalise their voice? If so, how do we combat the practical limitations and respond to the enthusiasm of youth to support them to overcome a narrative of stress and anxiety. 

Reference: Young Social Innovators, May 2019, Gen Z Index