Sunday Column (502)

This is my holiday post. So a bit more personal, less topical. I am sure I wrote it the other day – apologies but I have a few articles sitting at the ready, so I don’t remember where the wording is – that I am not much of a holiday person. I find it difficult to switch off, so this time I tried to force myself to switch off, which of course doesn’t work either. Having said all that I had a relaxing time, and the amount of sleep I got was amazing. Plus, thanks for the feedback regarding my topical posts, I am glad you are enjoying them.

Having finished my contract work and got my first few days at the new job, having a two week break should be easy. And actually, it was. I was yet thinking a lot about the job, but I refrained from checking emails etc., as I am too fresh into the job as someone really needs to rely on me. Hence, this was probably my only chance for a while for a “work detox”. And I am keen to get busy for one job only too.

On the other hand, I cannot sit still. I am creating an article a day almost, topical blog posts, thinking about my career and developing my podcast ideas. As the brain relaxes, there are new brain connections to be made, resulting in new input, new ideas and fresh thoughts. I try not to write on my book though and focus on other things first. There are podcasts I am going through whilst running and seeking new inputs. Not many podcasts recently chime a chord, and I found books that I put away after a few pages. Time for change is on the horizon. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got!

However, holidays 🙂 Yes, I enjoyed our two week break. We went to Singapore. A lot of people warned us that 10 days were too long but given we lived in a hotel/flat complex where we had our own little flat, pool and breakfast, this was as much a pool holiday as exploring the city as visiting family living out here. And it wasn’t too long. It also was the idea of introducing the kids to a different culture, whilst knowing it is one of the safest places you can imagine. What’s not to like? A holiday where we could use the gym to keep up with our training, park the boys in the pool for half a day whilst writing blog posts, and meeting expats that just came over to Singapore and stayed at the complex before the final move to a long term arrangement. The kids and us both loved it. The weather of course was amazing, hot and humid, just as it was when we left the UK 🙂

I finished reading Richard Branson’s ‘Loosing my Virginity’ biography (the latest one) as well. It was a stunning read and I read a lot about things I didn’t know he was doing. It almost felt like he had me around for a cup of tea, whilst telling me the story of his life. Not only do I agree with him on most topics like Brexit, Trump, Obama and others, the Elders, climate change and saving the world, are all topics I am keen on investing more time on. It almost feels like I would love to work for him on some projects now and help him make a difference. Let’s see where my life will develop into, as I only turned 40+1, wrote 500 blog posts and finding my own path as we speak. I got plans, they slowly materialise and are put on the right tracks I feel. Patience, as always, is the key to everything. Anyway, I tweeted that man, allegedly he reads them all, maybe I might get a reply too.

Another thing I learned on holidays, and would love to have people’s opinion that experienced similar, is the saying ‘Sorry, I don’t think it is worth it’. I said that to (luckily) a friend who when I apologised laughed, but I didn’t mean it in an offensive way at all. I texted him saying ‘attending his birthday party, giving timing and train journeys, is not worth it’ – in German ‘lohnt sich nicht’. It made me think, as neither the German expression or the English one is meant in a negative way. However, the Germans are very direct in their language and appeal to the nature of the event, saying it is hardly worth anyone’s time to be at a party for 1-2 hours. The Brits on the other hand see it as ‘you are not worthwhile my time at all’. Latter is very rude, former is German directness, hence I me translating one with the other isn’t working at all. I can see that now and hope I haven’t offended anyone prior to this, or won’t in the future. Anyway, if I come across to anyone as rude again, just let me know. Most of the time this isn’t intentional and might just be down to a wrong translation.

And that’s really it from our holiday. I was asked why there haven’t been any pictures shared on social media, and I’d like to answer it here. I enjoyed the holidays. We took about 850 pictures and we had a fantastic time. Family and friends would have seen some pictures, but I personally do not think that I need put an album up on Facebook or Instagram to share what a great time we had. I have been thinking a lot about social media recently and it is nobody’s business to see the intimicy of our holidays, or for me to show off what a fantastic, expensive hotel we lived in. Does that make sense? Oh and it wasn’t that expensive either. I have never done that in the past, and that was partly due for me not wanting people to know I was away, but this time we had someone staying at our house at home, so this was the time to let people know where we went. It is different when you are on work trips I believe, and you will find the odd picture on social media, but the majority….I do not know, not for me anymore. In the past I shared far too much, not thinking about implications but these days I feel a lot wiser tbh.

I came a long way, as did Facebook for the past 12+ years, of how I use social media. And when I think back to when I was a child, I had 2-3 rolls of film, 36 pictures each, and had to develop them after the holidays for expensive money. Now over 20 times as many pictures are sitting at the palm of my hand. I saw people running around with GoPro cameras and I wonder if anyone ever sits on holidays and takes on the experience, and to remember it the way they want it to be remembered? What I mean is that we had good and bad times, as you always have anywhere you go, and I just want to remember the good bits. That’s what I have always done, I don’t need to monitor everything all the time and sometimes like to let go.

Actually, I do feel a lot more relaxed than before, a lot better for it and fear the jet lag, the shorter nights, the going back into the routine and….I will be fine. And unlike me, I am planning the next holiday already. The boys would move out to Singapore in a heart beat, let’s see if we can discover more places like that. Let’s be Brexit ready, but before we know it I am in a new job, new routine, the boys will attend the same school and we get a deal for Brexit and life will just move on as we knew it. Won’t it?

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Success like it was 2013

As recent as 5 years ago I wrote a PowerPoint with the ‘Top 10 Principles of Success’. I rediscovered them by accident when researching for my latest work on ‘Principles of Success‘. The principles are based on my interviews on my podcast, Stories of Success. A lot of success in there.

So in 2013 I collated the following:

1. Begin with the end in mind, focus on the outcome and make sure you have stepping stones which are like mini goals on your todo list for your big goal
2. Communicate: whether it is active listening or understanding people
3. Think Win/Win: sustainable business and business ethics, trust and belief in building a relationship
4. Have fun, be positive about work and enjoy what you are doing; be passionate
5. Reflection: take time off to relax, calm your mind and meditate
6. Time Management, whilst a topic in itself, made it on the list with planning only 70% of your time and using a trusted system
7. Financial Planning: Taking a calculated risk, be able to live of less than you have, creating a buffer for unexpected expenses
8. Helping, developing and coaching others
9. Having mentors
10. Balancing life and stay fit, looking at hobbies and purpose for yourself in life

Fast forward and the Principles of Success I collated from my podcast are not much different.

Success is …

1. Not all about money
2. About improving the world around you
3. A journey
4. Being lucky
5. About balance
6. Created and helped by visualisation
7. About values
8. About routines
9. About meditation and relaxation
10. About Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
11. Accepting failures and move on
12. Having mentors

Over the next few weeks I will go deeper into my learnings from the podcast and share more examples, a more in depth analysis and more content around each principle.

But I love how over the past 5 years things have not changed that much really.

Old vs. New:

– 1 matches 6
– 2 is somewhat related to 2
– 3 is related to 2, but also to 1
– 4 is underlying in 1,2, 4, and 5 – a lot of my podcast guests mentioned to have fun and enjoy themselves
– 5 matches 9
– 6 matches 8
– 7 isn’t really reflected, if it was then in 11
– 8 matches 2
– 9 matches 12
– 10 matches 5

So you can see that there is a lot of correlation and my new principles are very much a development of the old ones, without having taken the old ones into consideration. So it is nice to see that what I developed 5 years ago is still strong today and supported by my own research via the podcast.

Watch this space for more content around success later in the month.

Have a successful day,
Volker

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Sunday Column (501)

How are we doing? The height of summer and it is warm. Or it has been warm. Allegedly this is due to the jet stream not moving air and weather around the way it normally does, because there isn’t enough cold air above the Artic which means hot and cold air aren’t making the jet stream flow. See this article for a more scientific explanation. I did some research for this topic and want to share accordingly. But also as this heatwave goes on globally (!) there are more articles emerging, including one that had highlighted the high temperatures above the Nordic hemisphere being above 30 degrees Celsius for far too long, and higher than ever before 🙁

We shouldn’t complain, yet the heat gets to me. It’s not what I am used to. And I am probably too British to not complain about the weather. Either way, too good or too bad. What I really worry about though if that’s the start of global warming or if that’s a one off. The Independent says that our minds are ‘clouded’ with our own short term memory and that the weather might just be going through cycles and there is nothing unusual about it. On the other hand, of course, climate change results in spring happening earlier and the seasons being affected, yet is the heat wave down to climate change?

The Guardian on the other hand says the heat wave is due to carbon monoxide, and again not unusual but supported by climate change if I read and understand it correctly. So if I summarise, we should get used to the weather being more extreme and warmer in the spring, colder in autumn, seasons are shifting but the heat wave as such isn’t due to climate change on its own but more a result of a few factors coming together, which as such are also influenced by climate change. Not sure if that is all sensible or not? And surely the Arctic being warmer is due to global warming. Maybe it’s just another earthly cycle, which means we get a colder atmosphere and ice age again sometime too?

I cannot help myself but getting worried. And maybe it is because of the books I read like Sapiens and Homo Deus. The Doomsday scenarios of the world, historical and futuristic, are there. Should we put people in charge who think the world is going to end and we are all ending up in an escape pod or spaceship? Are we relying on finding a solution to the problems humans have created in the first place? On top of that we have Brexit, see my comment last week. Are we living in the most peaceful times on our planet yet instead of going after other nations and cultures we decide to kill ourselves via carbon monoxide emission, ocean pollution and all of the changes affecting our weather? And if that isn’t enough we start changing the political system to add a bit of spice to life? Sorry for a big rant 😉

We should just worry about everyday life, our jobs and families, about not having too much sugar and how we pay for our pension and mortgage. And maybe we should worry about AI and it taking over the world (Human Deus)? Shouldn’t we be happily engrained in society, helping others, and wonder what our kids want to do with their lives? Wasn’t that the life our parents had just one generation ago, or is that me painting a rosy picture of the past? Have I forgotten the struggles they had? Instead, we are worrying if the first person living to 150 years has been born, and if we all live past 100; and in the same breath we talk about our planet being destroyed and us having to go to space. I sometimes don’t really know what to think anymore. And maybe I should stop reading books like Homo Deus and just enjoy the weather as it is…. What do you think?

Given my nature, I just cannot stop thinking about the global impact of those changes. Over 25 years ago I was part of an environmental group warning about the pollution of the oceans and global warming. What have we done to our planet since? I feel like I am turning into a philosopher to a certain extend, and wonder if we end up in space ships driven by AI? Or if we all die young, so we don’t have to worry anymore. Or as Elon Musk or Homo Deus states, maybe we are part of a big model, actually living in the year 3000, and we went back to experiment with the planet to see if we can save it. And will we? And are we? If it is an animation, we would, wouldn’t we?

Given the other part of my nature, I am an optimist. I am positive and believe that we will always come up with a new solution, something that will save mankind. Of course I would not rely on it but somehow we will. There might be mass exodus and mass extinction, and maybe another war, but similar to the TV Series of 100, there will be few of us that will be saved. Maybe that’s what the planet needs? Aren’t we all in it together?

Maybe not my most motivational post, but I thought I share this, as there aren’t any other news. Sommerloch, the German saying of ‘summer hole’, no news in the summer. And I don’t really want to bore you with my day to day all the time 🙂 Hopefully an entertaining, yet thoughtful post. Next on my reading list is a book about AI – maybe you get more posts like that.

I hope you enjoy the summer.
Have a good one, wherever you are,
Volker

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Sunday Column (500)

Today is my 500th blog post. That makes it 9.62 years 😉 Wow. I have been writing a lot. If I assume that I write about 500 words on average, that makes 250,000 words, similar to a phd thesis I suppose or double the size of an average novel. Oh I love a bit of writing. Thanks for staying with me and reading regularly, participating in my thoughts and life.

Today I want to write more topical…the heat and Brexit! The weather, the British most favourite topic, and I am seriously more British these days than German. Then I flew to Germany again this week for a farewell of an interim Managing Director position I have been contracting for. It was a nice farewell, but with over 30 degrees, just a bit too hot for my liking. Never mind, I survived. Just.

I worry about the weather and decided I write a more topical post about it next week. To spare you with weekly summaries. Maybe you have more ideas on how I can change my Sunday Column a bit, as when I originally started it was about opinions on topics. And I kind of do that whilst reflecting on the week. Yet maybe I need to research topics and give you my opinions on it? Let me think about it.

Let’s look at Brexit. There is a doomsday scenario of food being shipped to Northern Ireland, and border controls taking part of the motorway to deal with backlog of customs. Really? We are preparing for that and a potential additional 3,000 people we might need to employ in order to deal with it? But we have so far failed to negotiate anything with the European Union? The new Brexit minister inherits a tough tasks and of course opinions are divided if the new government proposal is working, but hopefully we agree something with the EU this autumn. Some people seem positive.

As a native German, a British passport holder, and someone who not only enjoys living in the UK but also has his life in the UK, I don’t want a Brexit. I want more freedom for Britain to be in charge of what they can negotiate, and I do want certain rights, but I am not an advocate to leave the EU. Not currently anyway, over time this might be different, as I have been saying for 20 years that the EU will fall apart. But there are so many positive things about it, like the agreements around healthcare, free travel, custom union, cultural exchange, people exchange, and Europe coming together in any aspect. Think about agreements to work with other companies across Europe to foster innovation in healthcare, technology etc., Airbus being a prime example. Wouldn’t it be awful to isolate ourselves?

I am hopeful. I am positive and usually an optimist. Things will be ok, as most people don’t want to be in a worse situation than before, e.g. they will make sure Brexit will work. Will Brexit mean Brexit how 50+1% of the population wanted it. Maybe not. Maybe Brexit 2019 will be a first step towards a new way of working with the European Union which then will continue to be negotiated over the next few years to come. Who knows at this point in time. Stay positive.

And of course we have asked the question whether to leave the country. We have friends that did. But I am about to start a new job. My sons are going to be in a good school, and they have their friends. On the other hand they could benefit from learning another language and getting different cultural influence. This isn’t an easy decision and we decided to stay. For us, Britain means home. This is where my heart is, where I feel home. I have yet to find another country I would like to live in. What I mean is that I wouldn’t want to go back to Germany which would be the obvious choice. I will always carry my accent and heritage, but a return to Germany just can’t be the solution for me. Of course we monitor things and my new job is very international, so I am sure I will be alright.

See, I can fill a Sunday Column on a topic rather than writing to you how exhausting the week was and how pleased I am that the youngest loves cycling. And we went on a cycling tour and had so much fun. That is all still happening whilst everything else is going on.

Life is full of change. Change is happening all the time and the only constant we have. Let’s embrace it and hope it is for the better.

Love and kindness from my corner of the world.
Volkerbrexit

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Sunday Column (499)

A full working week it seems. Not quite, actually, only four days, but I was working in London and I was busy. I suppose I will get used to it again very quickly. I also recorded another podcast and managed to finish the audio book Sapiens. In all honesty, I wasn’t as taken with the book as everyone else seemed to be. Some interesting snippets of human history but a lot of bla bla about life. Never mind, another book done. I very much enjoy reading Richard Branson’s biography, it is a fun story of a successful man’s life. Stories of Success, really.

However, I then started Homo Deus by the same author of Sapiens and it is more interesting as it is looking to the future. It is about how things might look like moving forward for humans, and mankind and on this planet in general. A philosophical book, it gets you thinking, but again if I didn’t listen to it whilst out running, I am not sure it is my time worth spend taking it all in. Nevermind.

I started writing this post as I sit at Clapham Junction on a Gatwick Express service, air conditioned, cold and with wifi access. We were held as London Victoria got evacuated due to a fire alarm. When the train guard announced that we were held due to London Victoria station being evacuated, you could see how people got really quiet on the train. I am not sure if my perception comes due to me reading about 9/11 in Richard’s book, or because everyone went really quiet, but people just seemed to be worried. And that’s a fear we are living with: terrorism. Although, based on the Homo Deus book, more people die of overeating than undereating these days, and terrorism or airplane accidents are very rare. That of course doesn’t necessarily go in line with our perception of things.

What both books show me time and again is that our thoughts form what we make of our environment. I wasn’t too worried it being a terrorist attack but it crosses one’s mind. And then your mind can go on a rampage. What if the city was under attack, would it not be better to sit in Clapham? It surely would be. It was a false alarm, which is good and we continued our journey. Your thoughts however determine what you make of things.

On that note, on Friday I had a day off. My last one for a while but holidays with the family, and I spend with cars. We had a courtesy car from the garage, an SUV, a Skoda Kodiaq. I really enjoyed driving it but it isn’t sportive, it is an SUV. On the one hand I like sitting up, maybe changing my driving a bit and enjoy more comfort. Skoda has a nice ‘Landrover green’ colour they introduced and next year they bring out hybrid models. Let’s bear all that in mind for now 😉

I also spend the day looking at a few Jaguars. My choice of a second car is clear: a Jaguar XK8 or XKR, 2006 model or younger, as the older model is too small for me. Now I need to find the budget and the time to look at one and buy. Or will I hold off and be sensible. But for what? Life is for living and who knows how long we can enjoy it. Anyway, lots to think about.

And on that note it was the last day of school for the boys. Now I got two boys in middle school from September, they are just growing up so quickly. I love that as much as I hate it. Being able to join the leavers’ assembly was great, a bit emotional but overall it is great to see them moving on, growing up and becoming little grown ups. What will the future hold for them? Will AI and robots rule the world when they will be our age? Nothing ever stays the same, things always change.

Let’s use my parents as an example who have been able to connect with us since the introduction of What’s App. I remember putting coins into a phone booth when calling my grand parents from a holiday. Nowadays we send pictures instantly, whilst then we had to develop a roll of 36 pictures and got them a week after the holidays. Wow. We are talking half a life time here, and things will only get faster.

Have a great summer, enjoy things whilst they last.
Volker

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Sunday Column (498)

Often, when I am asking for feedback about my blog post, the answer is ‘it’s the same, it’s ok’. What I would really like to hear is ‘it’s great, it is inspiring’. But I guess I am not inspiring to the readers that I ask 🙁 However, please provide me feedback on what you would like to see and read on here. I feel like it is a weekly summary, with some thought-excursion based on my weekly experience, and then some. It is less topical, more personal. And the blog definitely provides myself with an opportunity to digest my experience. Also, I hope it provides you with a snippet of personal entertainment 🙂

So this week, as usual recently, I started a new contract, the one that leads to my new full time position. That makes it interesting, as essentially I am getting my introduction over the forthcoming weeks, then start fully later on. It’s a good way of doing it, because you get all the administrative things out of the way, and can focus on the task in hand the moment you start fully. In the meantime I went to Dusseldorf again, a slightly shorter trip which seemed convenient because of the football game, but actually was because we planned the week differently and it didn’t make sense to hang around all day. However, it was nice to see England from the comfort of my home with my boys.

And what a fantastic result for England. Not like Germany, England made it all the way to the semi finals. A shame they didn’t win against Croatia, but hey, it is what it is. It’s a young team, a team that in 2 years at the Euros or in 4 years at the next World Cup stand a much bigger chance to win. We will bring it home eventually. They brought it home to the nation, a nation crazy about football, and it made us all get a bit closer together, living the same dream. Of course, as expected, France then won the World Cup and all the money I bet on the individual games came back to me, as I put a bet on France very early on. I don’t normally bet but the Grand National or the Euro or World Cup.

Anyway, what else is going on in the country? Besides the Trump visit which I just ignore to be honest, Brexit looks like a disaster. I hope it will stay like that, e.g. the Brexit turns into a soft version of what everyone voted for, resulting in us staying in the custom union, the economy not being hit as hard, and yet carve out some rights as a non EU member state. But what a mess, no question about it. It is troublesome to see the government falling apart, no leadership and no progress. Shambles. Boris Johnson being gone can’t be a bad thing, but I am sure he comes back on the scene sooner or later.

Of course travelling makes you tired, yet running in Dusseldorf early morning felt a lot easier than in London. I am wondering if that’s the milder temperature or if that’s anything else? I feel like having a virus recently but besides a sore throat there are not many other symptoms. Is it hayfever that’s worse in the UK? I don’t know. I just hope it will go away soon. But I don’t want to bore you with my ailings. Just the opposite. I tried for another 15K on Saturday but had to stop and finished a 10K instead. Too warm, too tired.

The week concluded with another amazing thing: a street meet in our cul-de-sac. I started collecting some emails a while back and put the idea forward for a BBQ, some games and get together for our street. It was a great success and turn out, and we all came together, chatting, meeting each other and got a bit closer. Isn’t that what life is all about.

So a nice week, productive, thoughtful, and maybe a bit inspiring? Let me know and hope to see you again next week.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (497)

Whilst I am not sure what the main highlights were this week, yet surely England playing in the World Cup would be one of them. A stellar performance beating Columbia, finally winning a penalty shootout in a World Cup. The nation deserves a good football result in the World Cup, it would surely boost its confidence and get the nation closer together. And we are on our way to bring it home, what a great game against Sweden as well.

I know, we Brits always complain about the weather. But seriously, we are not used to good weather, heat waves and that lasting for more than 4 weeks! We are blessed somewhat with a proper summer this year, however I find it too warm and too muggy and just not very pleasant. 15 degrees, sunshine, that’s all I would ask for. Then next summer it will be all wet, raining all the time. I bet you, we will complain again 😉

Then, I spent another two days in Germany this week with one of my contracts. Not only do I get the feeling that I can help, it also makes me think about Germany. What is it like to live there? Could I ever consider it again? And one of the conversations I had was about ‘the lost generation’, a phrase I coined a while back, and I wrote about ‘my Germany’ before on this blog, and you find a few reviews when you search for it. The generation I am talking about, and I am not 100% sure you can nail it down to specific years, but if I had to I’d say people born 1975-1979. A generation heavily influenced by the generation that lived through the war, or was born during or just after the war. People that heavily influenced your upbringing based on old views of the world. Yet the generation is also heavily influenced by what came after, a Germany open to foreigners, growing up with a large Turkish community for instance. A multi cultural, open Germany. So having found someone who understood my theory of sitting in between the young, integrated and the old influencer society, was nice. I truly enjoyed chatting about the feeling and meaning of ‘being German’ and how it has influenced our decisions to e.g. move abroad, travel or explore other homes outside the fatherland.

You can see I still have strong bonds to Germany and interesting enough met someone too, who has done the opposite swap: moving to Germany from the UK due to finding love there. And those are the reverse stories of myself, the stories life writes. I like to look at all of them at some point and tell them to people. I think there are so many great stories surrounding a closer Europe. As I mentioned before I went through a lot of interviews with French people recently in my job search, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Isn’t it great, a united, borderless Europe. Now, there was this thing called Brexit, wasn’t there? Don’t get me started.

So a thoughtful week, an intense week, a very warm week. A good week though, it was good to have the conversations I had, the emails I sent and received. I could have slept more, particularly the hotel I was in, but that’s part of a travelling job. I slept a lot over the weekend trying to make up for it. It is what it is, and I enjoy it, which is nice. I love seeing the progress and how things just fall into place. Buddha bless.

And next week? Another trip, another start, and hopefully it all falling into place.

Wish me luck, you can never have enough of it.

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (496)

I don’t believe it’s the 1st of July already. Half ways point. The days are getting shorter and we are closer to Christmas now. The weather is spoiling us.

This has been a very busy week. Admittedly, I started out with a day off on Monday. Funny how when you not contract for a day, you take the day off. But isn’t it a mental thing to mentally shut down and off? We, the wife and I, went down to the beach, got a bit sun burned and enjoyed an ice cream. I am storing energy, producing some great content around my podcast and getting ready for what lies ahead of me.

The days in the office were busy this week. I love the company I am contracting with at the moment, and love the product offering they have. My main role is in Germany, so Thursday and Friday I spend in Munich, next week Duesseldorf and then Hamburg. It is good to be able to help and to reconnect with friends across Germany. Life is good, busy, or as Darren Hardy says ‘we strive on stress’. To a certain extend I agree, we are by default used to flight/fight responses, to exciting situations and to stress. Yet, I am not actually stressed, which is nice also 🙂

Also, this week I decided on what to do next. Where is my career taking me. I decided to join a service unit of a big agency group to position their product within Europe. Sounds not very clear? I know, I will fill in more details on LinkedIn and personally over the next few weeks and after I start in mid August. Things falling into place and I am relieved that things are moving forward too.

But I have to say, and I am not sure who all is reading this, that the decision was and wasn’t easy. I was humbled by the offers I received and it came down to two companies in the end, out of four (who would have believed that back in February), that I thought were a perfect match. It wasn’t easy to make that call to say no. Naturally one wants to say yes to all the good fits. The way I described it to a close friend this week: you have to make a decision, it isn’t personal, it is business at the end of the day. So I made the decision, however difficult and yet easy it might have been.

I can only repeat my thankfulness for everyone who helped me on the journey. The beginning of the year has been rather dark, yet people are generous, pick you up and maybe it was always GDPR that slowed things down, who knows. We will never know and it doesn’t matter. I learned from it. I learned about consulting, see below, and I learned about believing and patience, and that over time things will always work out.

I have been enjoying the freelancing, consulting and contracting world. I enjoyed helping and making a difference in a short period of time. And I continue that for another four weeks. But at this stage in my life I prefer a pay cheque at the end of the month. A pension scheme. That might change again in the future but for now, that’s what I would like. And I am delighted to join people I have known for a long time and I trust and I look forward to learning from them, working with them, making things happen. Yes, I am excited!

So, as the Germans would say, “Ende gut, alles gut”. All’s well that ends well (Shakespeare). I always knew it was, and I never doubted it yet there were a handful of days that challenged even me. Some nights you wake up worrying. But the future will always be better than the past, and things will always work out and be ok. Trust in you. Trust in the universe aligning things to help you.

On the note of Germany. The football team was playing awful from the start in this World Cup and frankly I prefer the way Columbia or England are playing. Funny that both of my favourite teams are now facing each other in the play offs. Then I don’t know much about football. What I do understand is that there is something missing in the German team: support, comraderie, team spirit. I can see and judge that. And as I said a few times this week, the guys out there on the field are all top players, it’s the team that makes the difference. The team spirit I shall say. As in any job or sport. Anyway, let’s hope the World Cup is progressing nicely for England, they would deserve a good ending.

With that in mind, Ende gut, alles gut.
Volker

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Sunday Column (495)

How are you all? Did I catch a snippet of someone saying that global warming results in us having stints of good weather for longer and then stints of bad weather for longer. Clearly we are in the former and I cannot say that I do not enjoy it. BBQs all weekend 🙂

Let’s speak about muscle memory this week. I was very proud of running a 10 mile run outside last Friday. I thought I coped well when I went on a 10K treadmill run earlier this week but one of my weak muscles gave in a bit. Too much too soon maybe, and maybe I need to take it slower. When recording a podcast with an Ironman runner on Friday, he said 50% of progress is recovery.
But that wasn’t the only muscle memory event this week, I also went back for an 8 am flight from Heathrow. That meant a 5.15 taxi pick up, 90 minutes drive to Heathrow and so forth. I must have been on autopilot having done that every week for a few months. Now I am back doing this on occasions with my new contract work, and as much as I enjoy the variety, I don’t like the strain associated with travel. But probably I never will, or nobody ever does.

It is funny having had a break from flying for so long and then coming back. The same people, the same characters if you like. The same breakfast, routine and queuing system, nothing ever changes, and nothing ever stays the same. Mentally I am preparing, sorting out my life. I am creating a blank canvas, like a new start for myself. It might sound funny to some of you but I started sorting my shirts out, topped up on a few; I sorted my shoes out. My running routine is being sorted, thoughts around stabilising the above mentioned muscle group. Everything is going to change and everything is staying the same. What I really miss at this stage of my life is a routine. A regular occurrence of events that make up most of my life. Like going to work Monday to Friday. This week I didn’t even make it up to London and I didn’t miss it.

Life at the moment is a bit like Yin and Yang. Life is driven by 6 human needs: insecurity and security. Or variety and habits for me. The habit and security part is a stronger need for me. Then it is about significance and love / connection. A job or even a contract brings significance, otherwise you are sitting at home without a purpose, and that is ever so daunting. The following level is growth, and I am definitely one for personal growth, and contribution, being able to give back and help. On a good job, a good run, a good life phase, I am ticking the boxes. But it comes back to the first two to really trigger me off on small things.

Sometimes I want a life where I want my family happy, my health good, my mind right, my finances flowing and no drama. Of course this cannot always be the case, but wouldn’t that be nice. I remember when we started out in our first flat, then house; having a lot of unknowns threw us off. Those are still there but resilience took over. Less worrying about the small stuff, and focus on changes throughout life.

What I am trying to say is that as you grow up you realise to not sweat the small stuff. You start focusing on the things you can change, the now. You realise less is more, whether in exercising or other things.

I am happy. And, subject to all coming together, happiness can only increase I suppose. Life never stays the same, it always changes.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (494)

Experiences. Given I write this blog a week in arrear just before the weekend, the reflections are almost a week old. Never mind, the story last weekend was more experience. We rented some kayaks and went onto a small lake. Needless to say the boys are in an age now where they love it. We got wetter than anticipated, yet not totally soaked, and enjoyed the new experience. Following on from that we of course had some ice cream and time to play in the park; finishing the weekend with a BBQ in the evening sun in the garden. What else to wish for? We might never get a summer like this again, so we must make the most of it whilst it lasts. I very much appreciate what we have, what we enjoy. Every moment matters.

Now, 10 years ago this week we moved into our first house. That was back in Beckenham, just after the house prices came down. We probably overpaid, were naive and inexperienced but loved the experience. Exactly to the day a year on, we had our first son. I cannot believe he turned 9 this week. Watching the smaller kids on the playground last weekend makes you appreciate how far you have come and how grown up our boys are. How far have we come? It’s this amazing journey of bringing up a human being, to teach, to love, to develop. Nothing ever prepares you for it, and I hope this journey will continue a life time for me, a bond only father and son can have. I am truly blessed with my two.

I am not sure if I used the analogy before but my job hunt which turned pretty much into a consulting role, became an episode of waiting for a bus. Looking back at some of my conversations, thoughts and opportunities in February, compare them to April and then the big promise of part time work in May, only ever materialised in June. This week I got rather busy and enjoy the work I am doing, working with a few companies to see how things can progress.

Actually, I really enjoy being able to help, offer advice and come into a company and give a new perspective of what’s happening. Then again, I can still do that in 5-10 years time when I have even more experience, when I had another few learnings under my belt. What became clear across the board was that people appreciate me ‘getting stuck in’ and ‘my management style’. I just love working with people and want the best for them. And I am not one for taking the mickey either. I like to get sh*t done.

Yet I resigned from one role this week. It was time to move on as I had done what I could do. The other role is just ramping up and there is something on the horizon – so I hope anyway. It is a good position to be in if you can choose, to be able to make decisions. Put your head where your mouth it, is that the right expression? Maximise your impact, maximise your outcome. And on top of that I had the privilege to spend some quality time with a mate. Those moments are rare. I cherish them. We talked odd stuff too. Enjoy the moment, know when you can enjoy it, be within it. Be in the now.

Friday I had a day off. Often happens these days, and I decided to go for a 10 mile run. Why not. The wifey went for one, and I kept up well. It was one of the first runs outside, and I definitely have the fitness, just need to get used to the running outside bit again. So I am planning another 10 mile next week. Back into it. One of my podcast guests suggested me to run the London marathon for her charity, and I happily accepted. The episode goes live week after next. I am excited again about running, about making things happen in life. Now, just another few days and hopefully life will be sorted for a few years….famous last words.

Keep your friends close. I really appreciate what I have, what help I have received, and life has in stock. I am passing things on as much as I can. Be well, stay safe.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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