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My 6 World Vision kids keep me grounded.
They make me realise I am useful.
Each letter I open shows me I am valuable.
Each picture reminds me I make a difference.
I also advertise the difference I am making by telling my clients that they are making a difference every time they pay me.
Here is the last letter:
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This is Amily Sun. She is one of six World Vision kids that we have in our martial arts school.
Firstly, please tell your kids that your family helps pay for her education and some medical supplies. Just by mentioning this and showing the photo, it will plant a seed that ensures everyone helps everyone else. It also reminds kids how lucky they are to live in the best corner of the best state of the best country in the world.
Now, I post this for a few reasons.
Mainly, I believe in altruism and want to show the young members of MRMA that that is what our duty is. I chose World Vision because we can put a face to our contribution. It hits home for us.
I could have chosen an organisation where more of the money goes direct to the person that needs it. (82% of World Vision fees go direct to the person in need.)
But everyone knows World Vision and the reporting process. Photos that are sent and personal notes mean there is a connection made. Your money doesn’t just seem to disappear into a black hole every month.
My second reason is a personal one.
I read a book about The Killing Fields. The author is the same age as me. When he was 15, Cambodia was embroiled in a war where huge numbers of people were slaughtered. The author’s teenage years were spent witnessing bloodshed that is the stuff of nightmares.
As I read the book, I realised that at the same time, I was in Years 10, 11 and 12.
At that age, my main focus was on doing the minimum amount of schoolwork, surfing, and the opposite sex. This realisation and subsequent embarrassment moved me to do something for those less fortunate. Maybe 40 years too late but I was unconsciously incompetent at the time.
I have told this story many times to the kids in the martial arts school in the hope that, by example, they will realise that it is their civic duty to do what they can.
I implore you to show your child the picture and explain how we are helping her.
Sean Allen
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So, that’s it.
Simple acts repeated add up.
Read that again. It works in all areas of life. Positive or negative.
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What Is Art?

Posted: January 11, 2017 in Meryl Streep, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I recently heard some advice that was so eloquently spoken that I felt it would be wasted not to share it.

Although the speaker – Meryl Streep – has come under fire as a result of her speech, we need to look at the part that resonates with what we do and the effect we have on the community, not to dismiss the entire content because one part offends us.

For me, here is the pertinent part of her comment:

“This incident … to humiliate, when it is modelled by someone in the public platform by someone powerful, it filters down into everyone’s life because it gives permission for other people to do the same thing.
Disrespect invites disrespect.
Violence insights violence.
When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose”

Now, I am a teacher and a martial arts instructor. Whether I like it or not – I am a community leader. Our youth look up to role models. They copy them, they emulate them … they believe them. It’s a duty to take that responsibility seriously.
As mentioned above, when we say something in public (in my classes) it filters down into everyones life because it gives people permission to do the same thing. Now that’s quite a responsibility.
If you don’t have the ability to speak in public, to articulate your thoughts clearly, then you run the chance of having your teaching misused. And that is something no one wants.
To not use our skills for the greater good is a missed opportunity of the highest order.

Skills and knowledge. We can never have too much.

Here is the video – go to the 4 minute mark.

Oh, one final thing. Any action can be raised to an artform – where execution of the movement looks effortless. Take Kelly Slater of surfing fame. 11 times World Champion. I sat at a competition once and watched him receive a perfect ten from one wave.

THAT was surfing raised to an artform.

The question NOW is – what is it that you do that can be raised to an art form?

IMG_3405Pororoca Part 1
The world’s longest wave first made an impact on me in the form of a large screen in an Australian pub. Looking for a break from my struggle with depression and life problems I was standing in a bar surrounded by people 20 years younger than me. On a large screen was an aerial view of a surfer riding on a wave.
No eyebrows raised there.
Then the shot panned back and on either side of the wave were rolling green fields. The wave, with the surfer on it, kept going… and going… and going.
I stood, transfixed at the natural phenomena that I was seeing. You see as a surfer this is a dream come true. A wave that doesn’t stop. The discussion with the person next to me informed me that it was somewhere in South America. He had seen a documentary on the National Geographic Channel. His interest turned to matters of the other sex but I was transfixed. Somewhere deep inside of me I made a decision that would change the direction of my life for ever. One that would take me to the other side of the world and into one of the most remote places on the earth. An area where time stands still.
The longest wave in the world takes some time to get your head around. It rolls down the Amazon River only twice a year: once in March, and once in September. It is the result of the tidal flow of the largest river in the world when it meets the incoming tide of the ocean. Combined with a full moon, the moving bodies of water clash and form a tidal bore wave. Scientists call it a “hydraulic jump”. At this point, I had no idea it would help to put my problems into perspective.

Pororoca Part 2 Tomorrow.

World Suicide Prevention Day today.

Posted: September 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

Some of you may know I am a speaker for Beyond Blue.
I registered as a speaker after a friend of mine died by suicide two years ago. I knew he was struggling with depression. I had talked to him about it. I had encouraged him to get help – which he did. He went on medication and changed his lifestyle. I thought he was in the clear even though he spoke of his continuing struggles.
I thought of calling him in the weeks before his suicide.
I got busy and life just got in the way.
It was just a phone call but I put it off.

These days you can plug your hands-free ear piece in and call when you are driving. Just to say Hi. That’s all it takes.

Who knows. It might just be the difference that is needed to get through one more day. And life hits us one day at a time.

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I think of him often. Usually at sunrise or sunset. Seems appropriate as heaven is within reach on these days.

So You Want To Become A Samurai?

Posted: August 13, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Are there simple things that the Samurai did, on a day to day basis, that forged a strong mental character? 
The answer is yes. 
It seems that the actions needed to show strength weren’t that different from today’s deeds.
Daidoji Yuzan was a Samurai who lived until the ripe old age of 92. Born in 1639, he travelled around Japan and, like many people today, found that the young Samurai of his day lacked the strength of constitution that the warrior class was famous for. He felt they needed direction in living. To correct this, he started a series of essays that still exists today. His writing formed the backbone of actions that warriors looked to for guidance in a life of service that ultimately could end in their own death in battle.

His advice includes:

  • Protect your health fully
  • Be moderate in desires for food and drink.
  • Give wide berth to matters of sex (he called sex the primary deluder of men)
  • Respect your parents.
  • Rise early.
  • Practice.
  • Speak little of prowess in ability.
  • Be prudent in finances and be disciplined in savings.
  • Take care of clothing and possessions.
  • Keep in mind the desire to perform at least once in life a great meritorious deed.

Yuzan rightly so, said that, “One can distinguish with no confusion the brave man from the coward, even in times of peace and tranquility”.  

So it seems your training starts now, whilst reading this.

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Why try?

Posted: July 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

I share this moment with you as it happened today.

It was a clear flashback of a moment in 1980. It was a decision I made that changed the direction of my life for the next 35 years. Today I revisited that moment as if it took place only yesterday.

Throughout the 70’s I was a small boy who had moved schools regularly due to my father changing jobs. As a result of being ‘the new kid’ I seemed to attract the attention of the local bully who usually didn’t physically abuse me but did much worse. He made me feel ineffective. As a result, I developed a burning desire to never feel that way again. To feel confident when threatened.

This feeling became second to my love of surfing. When immersed in the ocean, I felt a peace that didn’t seem possible on land. It was a deep contentment as if I had finally returned to a place that I had always belonged.

This feeling was always there and never dimmed.

So in 1980, in my late teens I found martial arts. At last, a way to create a sense of power over those who belittled me as a child. My instructor was a powerful, tattooed man who exuded power and confidence with every move. Although very different from me, it was his presence that I desired.

So I threw myself into training every night.

I remember one afternoon, I was in my special place, the Indian Ocean. It was nearing my favourite time – sunset. I was feeling at one with the ocean and realised that if I was to make it to training, I had to leave now. The hunger to improve myself nagged at me to the point that I knew some changes had to be made. I left the surf early and made it to the class on time.

35 years went by. My white belt turned black, I won full contact kickboxing state titles, created muscle bulk through weight training and, through self imposed hardship, created an ability to push myself past limits I thought I had. Any fear I had as a child had long since disappeared.

Just today, I stayed in the surf until after the sun had set. As I walked back in that euphoria that only a surfer knows, that moment in 1980 came back to me. A memory as clear as my last wave.

I remembered the decision I made that changed my life and smiled as I realised I had come full circle.

So, what does this teach me?

  • It teaches that pride can only be achieved if a person throws themselves fully into an endeavour. Whether you are successful is not as important as the commitment to see it through.
  • It teaches me that a journey that is incomplete is as good as one you never started. So keep going.
  • It teaches me that regardless of an outcome, if you hang in there, it’s all good. It’s worth it in the long run.
  • Going off track by chasing different dreams is ok. Just don’t chase too many.
  • Knowing which dreams to chase is key. It’s something no one can teach you. You have to work it out yourself. But that is where the reward is.
  • When it’s all said and done, being proud of your effort is all that matters.

As they say in Australia, “Give it a red hot crack”

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Justin is 54. When he was 12 years of age he started competitive swimming. This lasted throughout his teens. Five days a week, up at 5 AM to do an hour in the pool.

You remember those kids. Wet hair at school at 8:30am.

When Justin’s competitive years finished in his late teens he kept up the early morning ritual. He still does it today.

He says that the early morning ritual sets him up physically and mentally for the rest of the day.

The point is not that swimming is the answer. The point is that the ritual is the answer.

A Ritual Gives You Perspective.

Ever notice that you can see things clearly when you are distant from them? Holidays in remote locations give us the clarity that is absent when we are in the thick of things. Early morning rituals provide a snapshot and the same result.

But perspective of what? It is sometimes called a helicopter to the ceiling. It means separating yourself from your day to day life and stepping back.

Leadership

Psycho hygiene.

Victor Frankl, author of  “Man’s Search For Meaning” talks about psycho hygiene. As author of one of the most interesting books around which is an account of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, Frankl coins the term psycho hygiene. As we all know, physical hygiene means small things done on a daily basis to contribute to glowing health. Psycho hygiene would therefore mean the same thing. Small things done on a regular basis that contribute to good mental health. A good routine every morning is one of the many things that contribute to solid mental health.

Mine is simple. Meditation, Goal writing in a journal and 15 minutes on a personal project. (The actual project isn’t important)

That’s it.

Simple and effective.

Keeps me balanced and happy.

We all do it. 

You probably did it as you read the title.

Choosing thoughts needs to be quick.

You definitely did it as you looked at the picture.

Our critical mind judges in an instant.

We play ‘devil’s advocate’ and call it ‘reality’.
This process was originally designed to save your life in the form of an adrenaline surge when we were flooded with fear after hearing a lion’s roar. It demanded our attention and jolted us out of our daily chores.

Makes sense so far.

Later, we detected situations where danger was likely and the same thoughts entered our conscious mind. Then adrenalin. Just like Pavlov’s dog, we found ourselves sweating as we entered the scene of our last encounter. But it helped us to survive. Being smarter than the average bear, the signs and signals of danger made a permanent imprint on our minds and we gained control over most situations.

This permanent imprint now follows us and creates it’s own havoc today. With few situations that threaten to cull our population, the thought process continues. It means we remember the negative more than the positive.

We need to un-learn this, but not completely as it still has value.

So where to now?

We need perspective. And a story to illustrate the process that is necessary.

The Monk And The River

Two monks were walking on a narrow trail near the base of the Tian Shan Mountains, in Northern China. They had both taken a vow of celibacy and silence. Mile after mile they consciously walked without talking. After a while they came to a shallow river. At the bank of the river was a beautiful young girl who was looking for a crossing. As the monks approached, the first monk picked her up, carried her across the river, put her down and continued walking. The other monk was exasperated and after sometime could hold back no more. He exclaimed, “How could you do that? How could you pick up that beautiful young girl?”

The other monk replied, “My friend, I put her down on the bank of the river. Why are you still carrying her?

It’s Not That Hard.

So like the monk, we need to drop mental baggage when we decide it is not necessary. Deciding on the validity of a thought can happen in a split second. Without energy. The trick is to smile as you do it.

Smile? Yes, smile. Well maybe not on the outside but on the inside.

You see, we may not have the ability to stop a thought from entering our head, but we sure can decide on whether or not it is useful.

Here is an example:

Imagine waking up from a nightmare. As we realise we were asleep, our logic says, “It was just a dream’. We instantly relax and smile. The same process can help us weed out negative thoughts.

“Ah, it’s just anger.”

“Ah, it’s just jealousy.”

“Ah, it’s just regret.”

Labelling thoughts puts them in a box and allows us to move to something that will help us enjoy life. To enjoy the moment.

Your next thought will come whether you like it or not.

It just did then.

“Wake up. It’s just dream.”

In Thaiboxing, the brutal national sport of Thailand, fighters fight full contact for 5 x 3 minute rounds. Blood is plentiful. Knockouts a regular event. Lots of money and bright futures for the winners.

Now an interesting phenomenon happens in the last round when a fight is one-sided. Quite often the winner will stay stay away from the loser saving them both injury. They’ve effectively “give up the fight” knowing the end is near and the result obvious. Plus they want to fight again the next week.

Pretty logical.

So is it giving up when the end is in sight and the result is obvious? Is that what Robin Williams did? Was it as rational as the action of the Thai fighter?

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I did my first public talk today about depression and my experiences.
In an effort to put on a good show, I videoed myself delivering the speech beforehand.
Here is the video.
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