Why I Write

Street poet

In regard to blogpost writing, I’ve had a rough last week or so.

The past few days have seen me write thousands of words, engineer and re-engineer hundreds of incomplete sentences and paragraphs and spend hours exploring real-life stories against truths I believe the world needs to hear.

All these actions work toward crafting that brilliant blogpost, the one with enough substance to impact the next person that reads it, who will positively impact the next person they interact with, and so on.

But this week, it just hasn’t been clicking.

I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s the change of season, maybe it’s the other projects happening in my life beginning to impact my ability to order my thoughts – I can’t quite put my finger on it.

But one thing I do know is this – my latest rough episode of blogging has not left me discouraged.

It’s because the reason I blog goes beyond clocking up large numbers of readers to follow my writing (though I am extremely humbled by the number that do) or the encouragement I’ve received to continue sharing my thoughts in this way (though this encouragement is appreciated).

The reason I blog is because I have a conviction that I am part of a group of people seeing the world differently for us, who have the capacity to share what they see, believe or hear from angles the world has never seen before.

I believe all of us are part of this group in some measure. We all hold something (or some things) that the world has not seen, heard or read about yet, until you’ve painted, played or written them for us.

And this is why I am not discouraged.

My belief that I hold pieces of writing within me that the world hasn’t read yet, and needs to hear, far outweighs my feelings of anxiousness when I can’t string two coherent words together within a timeframe I define.

I know I hold messages that need to be heard. And I know that my readers hold things that need to be shared too.

So for those reading my writing, I apologise for the delay between new blogposts. This piece is a little insight into my last week.

If you enjoy reading my writing and want to see more of it, be encouraged in this: I know I hold written pieces within me that can change the world, and that is why I write. That is why I share. That is why this pursuit continues.

That is why I am not discouraged. The right words will come. And when they do – I’ll be ready.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scootervagabond

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My All Black Team Prediction for the 2015 Rugby World Cup

RWC2015In some ways it seems like the 2011 Rugby World Cup was not that long ago.

It doesn’t take me long to conjure up the emotions I endured on that World Cup Final night as our All Black warriors tackled to a standstill to end our country’s 24-year World Cup drought. Oh what a night.

With the first game of the next World Cup scheduled for September 2015, somehow we are already at the halfway point between Rugby World Cups (man that went quick). So at this halfway stage – it is a great time for All Black enthusiasts like myself to begin to dream about how our team will take shape in the games premier showpiece.

This piece is not about how the All Blacks will fare in the 2015 Tournament – it’s focus is more on the players making the right noises in the New Zealand game to be selected for that All Black team to defend our Rugby World Cup crown.

The All Blacks completed a dominant year of results in 2012 as World Champions only dropping the one game and have yet to taste defeat after six tests in 2013 (including tests against France, Australia and Argentina). Some older heads of the New Zealand game are still making the right noises and Steve Hansen has introduced some exciting new talent who have shown real promise.

So based on these considerations, if New Zealand make the 2015 RWC Final, the team that I believe will be selected to run out onto Twikenham to defend our Rugby World Cup crown on that afternoon, will be:

15. Ben Smith

bensmith

In 2015, Ben Smith will be ruling the roost from the back. He will be at the peak of his powers come tournament time taking his kicking and running game to another level. This will be a close race with ‘Izzy’ but ‘Ghost’ will make every post a winner from now till the tournament cementing his place as the 2015 All Black first-choice fullback.

14. Julian Savea

‘The Bus’ will be making big noise as a player in 2015. Savea will give the All Blacks that power game they’ve utilised so well over the years. He has already scored 13 tries in 13 starts for the All Blacks. Potential superstar of the game.

13. Conrad Smith

‘Snakey’ will return from his sabbatical rejuventated ready for one more tilt at World Cup glory. He continues to lead our backline defense with aplomb and remains a cool head amongst a backline brimming with instinctive players.

12. Sonny Bill Williams

043085-sonny-bill-williams

If you caught SBW’s try assist on the weekend for the Sydney Roosters you would probably have come to the same conclusion that I did – SBW is far from done at the top levels of rugby, regardless of code. I’m picking him to terrorise defenses again, in union, in what will be his second Rugby World Cup tournament.

11. Cory Jane

Can you really go past this guy? I’m sure when opposing teams see his name on the team list they immediately put a strike through the words ‘aerial game’ on their strategy list. He’s the safest thing we’ve seen in the air in years. He also turns the impossible into the delightful with ball in hand. He’ll still be mesmorising defences in 2015.

10. Aaron Cruden

The future is here. Thank you Dan Carter for your wonderful service to New Zealand rugby but the 2015 Rugby World Cup will be Aaron Cruden’s time. Now back-to-back Super 15 Champion first five and still with a 100% winning record in tests he has started, Manawatu’s finest will be our best player to direct All Black traffic from the pivot at the 2015 tournament.

9. Aaron Smith

Continues to grow from strength to strength. Has shown that he belongs at this level and after back-to-back performances outplaying arguably the world’s top halfback (Will Genia) there are signs that he too may have it in him to be the worlds best come 2015.

8. Kieran Read

Possibly the most uncontentious selection across all enthusiast team lists for 2015. A natural leader and ball player, has all the markings to be in that top bracket of all-time All Black greats when he hangs up his boots.

7. Richie McCaw

His swansong. The Big Engine that always could. Will silence the doubters again. The G.O.A.T. Easy selection.

6. Steven Luatua

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Will be a star of the game in 2015. A glimpse of a new prototype/hybrid rugby footballer, a player with the work ethic, graft and strength around the ruck fringes who can seamlessly take position in the backline as a great passer, runner and decisionmaker.

5. Sam Whitelock

A workhorse in the tight and around the field. Will be an automatic selection. He also brings tournament experience (will be his second RWC tournament).

4. Brodie Rettalick

A throwback in locking circles, will be a great asset for his hard edge and tenacious style. Will have grown into the role and will be firing on all cylinders come World Cup time.

3. Owen Franks

‘The Pitbull’ will be a 70+ test veteran of the game by the 2015 RWC Final – at the ripe old age of 27. Will still be a force in the game and possibly just hitting his straps at the tournament. Scary thought.

2. Dane Coles

Like Owen, Dane will also be 27 years of age but at a totally different point in his career. Yet to cement a place in the All Black squad at the moment, Dane has revealed glimpses of his ability with ball in hand. With Andrew Hore and Kevin Mealamu turning 36 in 2015 the tournament may be a bridge too far – so Dane, you’re next in line.

1. Tony Woodcock

Will be 34 years old, that’s only 28 in ‘Propping’ years. This would be Tony Woodcock’s final test for the All Blacks. The best loosehead on the planet at the moment, will have the fire to make one last statement before heading back to the farm in Kaukapakapa. An unassuming legend.

The Bench

16. Andrew Hore / Kevin Mealamu – hoping one of these two can still provide us with impact from the bench

17. Charlie Faumuina – explosive runner, good scrummager

18. Luke Romano – powerful, great work ethic

19. Liam Meesam – strength, impacting ball runner

20. T.J Perenara – quick, great passer and decision-maker

21. Dan Carter – one of the all-time greats

22. Israel Dagg – you’ve seen what he can do

Potential bolters: Tom Taylor, Ryan Crotty, Brad Shields, Benji Marshall, Ardie Savea, Frank Halai, Ben Afeaki.

So that’s my 2015 RWC Final team prediction.

Keen to know who you think will be making noise come 2015 RWC time.

Exciting times ahead. Go the All Blacks.

Photo credits: Richie holding cup – www.stuff.co.nz, Ben Smith – uk.eurosport.yahoo.com, Sonny Bill Williams – www.foxsports.com.au, Steve Luatua – www.superxv.com

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The Difference Between Smart People and Wise People

owl3So for people who are following my writing, I thought I would share a bit of my story.

When I was 19, for about a year I acted, danced and sung my way across New Zealand with a performing arts company – one of the coolest things I’ve done.

It was a great experience. I performed in some iconic New Zealand theatres, met some fantastic people and made some life-long friends – but looking back in hindsight these were not the things that would impact me most on that tour.

The tour introduced me to a person who would shift how I see the world – someone like noone I’d ever met before.

He was an interesting character. A gentle giant who stood at about six-foot-two (or it seemed so at the time). He would’ve been in his fifties then – a tall,  lean, white male who everyday donned the same set of thick glasses perched lightly on his nose and had a head of greying hair that always looked slightly unkempt.

A part of his role on tour was to drive our tour bus. We spent hours on that bus – travelling from city to city – town to town. And while he drove, I found myself for hours on end sitting next to the guy, picking his brain about everything and anything. From practical stuff to big picture stuff, from people’s everyday problems to life’s big questions.

On that bus, for that year, I learnt more about myself and the world than I had learnt in any other year in my life. That person taught and helped me experience life concepts and ideas that still inspire and bamboozle me to this day.

Given all this – there was one lesson he embodied that stood above them all.

He modelled for me what a wise person is.

And this led me to explore the difference between a smart person – and a wise person.

Beyond that tour bus, I have interacted with many different kinds of people from many different walks of life, and in my experience the people I’ve met have fallen into one catergory or the other. Few have fallen into both.

So – based on my experience (and opinion) – here are several differences I have encountered between smart people – and wise people.

Smart people know a lot. Wise people apply what they know well.

Smart people tell you about something. Wise people show you something.

Smart people present arguments. Wise people walk you through experiences.

Smart people can make the simple complex. Wise people make the complex simple.

Smart people protect what they know benefitting themselves. Wise people share what they know benefitting others.

Smart people revel in the mystery of their work. Wise people willingly help others unlock their mystery.

Smart people hate being wrong. Wise people recognise being wrong as an opportunity to be better.

Smart people look to critique others. Wise people know the critiquing begins with themselves.

Our Parliament is filled with smart people… not necessarily wise people.

Our universities are filled with smart people… not necessarily wise people.

Our churches are filled with smart people… not necessarily wise people.

My hope for all of us is that one of the big pursuits in our life would not be limited to just becoming smarter.

My hope is that like my now friend from that tour all those years ago, we would continually pursue becoming wiser.

I wanted to finish this piece by honouring that friend I met all those years ago on that tour. Those conversations we had on that bus have changed my life forever. Thanks Gee.

Photo credit: www.zazzle.com

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The Practise of Pausing Time

me at the altar3Fifteen minutes is a long time when you’re waiting at the altar.

Hollywood movies warned me this was the way it was meant to play out, but that did not prepare me for how I was feeling at that moment.

Two o’ clock, at a snails pace, turned to two fifteen. I could sense from guests a small amount of pleasure at watching me squirm. To be honest I would’ve enjoyed the squirm as well from the pew seats.

Surely she’s not too far away.

And then like the Hollywood movies – our wedding story began to unfold.

A light murmur spread through the church as my future wife arrived outside. Once the murmurs settled, our wedding song began to play, and one-by-one the bridesmaids elegantly made there way down the aisle. My wife then joined the party by entering at the rear of the church.

And then it happened.

As soon as she came into my vision…

I paused time.

I paused it. There’s no other way to explain it.

And for that paused moment, which may have been brief, I was not bound by that hour – or that minute – or that second. I was freed to live that moment out with the intensity and fervor that it deserved.

Her elegance, those eyes, the breathtaking beauty, the nervous excitement, that dress – the moment became bigger than the timeframe it was lived within – removed from the confines of time and space.

When I close my eyes I can still relive the whole moment in its intensity and entirety.

***

It’s this practise of pausing time that I think is a great lesson for all of us.

For a lot of us, with time –  it always seems like we’re running out of it or we don’t have enough of it. I’ve been a victim to its pressure, encouraged to save it and told not to waste it away.

My past has conditioned me to pursue being on it – to set plans to it that are bound by it. And I’m told if I’m wise I should manage it well, set it aside and watch it carefully.

But these are not the concepts that grind me the most about time. It is my feeling that I am subject to it. Like time is my Master.

Well today is a new day. I’ve been looking at it wrong.

Time is a means – it is not an end. It exists for us, we don’t exist for it (let that breathe for a while).

Time is a tool with which we live within not a master that we serve under. We need to master it, not the other way around.

We must engage more in the practise of pausing time.

And I’m not talking about planning our time better – that’s too mundane. I mean we must learn to pause time – more.

In moments like walking down the aisle toward your future husband, holding your baby in your arms for the first time, standing atop gorgeous mountains or walking alongside flawless lakes – in these moments when time stands still – we need to stand with it. Be attentive, be immersed, be still.

Mastering this practise opens up a whole new world of heightened awareness and sensitivity in the moments that matter.

You are not subject to time – time is subject to you.

So this is my challenge – in the moments that transcend time – I dare you to transcend with them.

I dare you to more often engage in the practise of pausing time.

Photo: That’s me waiting at the altar – she did eventually join me there:)

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5 Books That Changed My Life

boys-readingI hated reading growing up.

At school the choice between a book and a basketball was an easy one. My heroes were Michael Jordan and Brian Lara not Dickens or Tolkien (I did think Roald Dahl was cool though – Boy was one of the only books I read cover to cover as a kid).

But as time passed, and my world began to open, reading became a staple in my life. If not to satisfy my appetite for knowledge, to help shape how I see the world.

I love the ‘exchange’ that takes place while reading. Authors are able to share their ideas on the topics we love based on research, history, convictions and experiences and us, readers, are able to uphold our pre-conceived ideas on that topic against what they’ve written, either challenging us to shift our thinking or to reinforce the beliefs and ideas we hold onto.

This is why I’ve grown to love books (I’m unsure of what this love of books does for my street credibility – but this is my truth).

So of all the great books I’ve picked up so far in my life – these titles are the ones that have had the greatest impact on me.

5 Books That Changed My Life

Tribes by Seth Godin

A book urging people to form tribes around their passions. Seth Godin is a world renown blogger / business innovation thinker. Tribes is written from a business angle but the principles can be applied to the rest of your life. Great read for people looking for that last ounce of inspiration before stepping into pursuing their dream line of work. A classic.

Orthodoxy by G.K Chesterton

A champion of the early twentieth century writing and speaking curcuit, G.K Chesterton lit up packed houses of his day with his wit and thought-provoking life concepts. He wrote in a way that made life’s seemingly mundane – moments of magic. One of the most challenging books I have ever picked up. Concepts so complex that like me you may only be able to read the book one concept per day. For people who want their worldview blown out of the water.

Leading with a Limp by Dan B. Allender

My favourite book on leadership. Dan Allender proposes a new idea on leadership, that adjacent to focusing on your strengths as a leader, some of our greatest leaders led out of the transparency of their weaknesses. A challenging and refreshing take on an important topic.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

Inspiring book about hope in hopeless situations. The book is framed by the story of a warrior who against-all-odds defeats enemies in impossible situations. Great read for people who themselves are battling some form of opposition: work, relationship struggles, depression etc.

The Bible by Various Authors

In my eyes, the undisputed champion of literature. Can’t be imitated, neither underestimated. The most controversial book of all time. Premise for some of the worlds greatest acts of grace and worst acts of tyranny. Above all books this book has shaped my worldview more than any other. So complex and simple it has kept me in continuous intrigue since I first picked it up. Haven’t put it down since. The heavyweight champion of books in my eyes.

So there you have it – 5 books that have changed (and are still changing) my life. I hope that they are able to impact you in the same way they impacted me.

What books have changed how you see the world? Would love for you to share. I’m always keen to have my worldview challenged.

Happy reading.

Photo credit: http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/creating-readers/creating-reading-culture/boys-and-reading

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Why I Want to Die Empty.

empty jarNote: I recommend you read this post slow and let it sink in.

When I initially penned the title of this post I thought it may be a little morbid. And it probably is.

To be honest I don’t intend to offend anyone – but I do want to share my truth.

A lot of people have asked me why I started this blog – and the topic of this blogpost provides a large part of that answer.

It’s because I want to die empty.

I want to make sure that when my day comes – I have nothing left to give this world. That there is nothing left in my tank.

I want to make sure that every bit of creativity I have within me has been spoken out, written, sung or performed.

I want to make sure that every God-given idea I’ve been gifted has been prayed upon and explored.

I want to make sure that every word of encouragement or inspiring thought I can share with others, is shared with others.

I want to make sure that every ounce of my love for my wife is completely expended.

I want to make sure that my faith is whole-heartedly lived out.

I want to die empty.

And I want you to die empty too.

You see the thing that holds a lot of us back is the same thing that could move us all forward. Fear.

We all generally have a fear of regret and a fear of failure, and one will overcome the other depending on which one we allow to affect us.

Our fear of regret HAS to overshadow our fear of failure – because when all is said and done – failure is  not gonna be our biggest disappointment. Regret is.

Fear regret – more than you fear failure. Turn your FULL life (of talent, creativity, wisdom) – into an empty death.

So –

remember that poem in your heart that you wanted to write…

that great business idea that you wanted to start…

that piece of art you dreamed of painting…

that building or piece of furniture you wanted to build…

that epic movie that you wanted to make…

Now is your time to make it happen.

Now is your time to start your journey toward dying empty.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9110803@N08/5377485512/

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Richie McCaw. The G.O.A.T.

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Richard Hugh McCaw.

To all those who were kicking dirt onto his rugby playing casket last week? Shame on you.

Richie McCaw is the greatest rugby player of this generation – and when he decides to hang up his boots, will be upheld as the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time).

Last night in Sydney was another example of why this statement is not far-fetched. Yet another masterclass on how to influence a game. How to turn the ball over in the tackle. How to pick your moments at the breakdown. The guy is just out of this world. Indomitable.

It’s hard to see anyone close to him in that G.O.A.T conversation – he’s that good. Other players will give you great skillsets, but Richie will win you games – period.

Richie is something we have never seen before, doing things at a level the world’s greatest players have never done. And the scary thing is – he looks far from finished.

If anything, the sabbatical he has just taken looks to have rejuvenated him. Scary thought.

Two things separate Richie from the rest of the rugby playing world.

His engine. He reminds me of Ironman – the superhero with the bionic heart. The man has only picked up the oval ball a handful of times over the last eight months. For 99% of players that is not enough matchplay to step into the cauldron of test rugby.

But see that’s the thing with Richie, the test arena is not a cauldron – it’s his playground. The interview he had the day before the game was not with a man under pressure, under the bright lights – it was with a man who was coming home.

And his leadership is out-of-this-world. What he does for the players around him is just incredible. His presence makes good players great, and great players – legends.

Have we ever seen leadership like this on the rugby field of this magnitude?

The team that dismantled the Wallabies last night is not the same All Black team that played the French earlier this year. His influence is that immense.

The way players buy into excellence when Richie is on the field is mesmerizing.

So Richie’s back everyone. Enjoy him while he’s here.

The All Blacks were awesome last night. 47 points on the number three international team in the world is a strong statement.

The All Blacks are back to dominate world rugby. And their leader is going nowhere. Beware.

Photo credit: http://bestjobsboard.com

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