Posts Tagged 10 years

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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Sunday Column (469)

Merry Christmas.

Given today is the Holy Night, and Christmas morning tomorrow, I don’t anticipate many people reading my column. That is fair enough. It should be a time of year when you don’t check your social media and relax a bit. You should have down time, and you should not have to worry about what is happening in the world. Christmas for me is all about having a week off, knowing everyone else is off, and you are not missing out on anything.

Merry Christmas to you, peace and happiness.

I want to use this week to look back – personally – on the year. It has been a turbulent one to say the least.

First things first: family. My first priority. We keep on learning how to bring up our children, we make things up as we go along, and I am absolutely enjoying it. From holidays in Centre Parks, travel to Legoland and day trips down the coast, Brighton football games, grandparents visits and trips to Germany, and time for the wife and me in Edinburgh or London. It has been an eventful but good year, and – being hopeful to say that every year from now on – we are getting better at being a family. Not that we weren’t before, but I am a strong believer in a growth mindset, and a collective unconscious. I feel like things are falling into place and we are growing together, and that is so nice to feel and experience. To speak of two things that made my year, I’d say the youngest starting and enjoying Karate classes, and the oldest working hard for 6 months to win a trophy in football. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of my two boys, and without my wife, Jenny, I couldn’t be doing all this. She has been on my side for 10+ years and I love you more every day! I am very grateful, thankful and full of appreciation of what we have.

On the other hand there is my career, which still takes up most of my week. That’s true for work for most of us. In January I joined a plc which I knew might be sold or change its proposition in one form or another. It was somewhat a gamble to join them, yet you never know who might buy a company. Looking back it was the right decision as I got to work with some very talented people, joined a fantastic culture and got a lot of learning from it. Unfortunately, I spent 2-3 days a week in Germany from April to October. That took time away from the family, and juggling two jobs, this put a lot of strain on me, family and the job I was originally employed to do in the UK. But I made it work, working from taxis, airports and making up with the family at the weekends. I loved the experience and sincerely think that I made a difference for the company. I lost out on a lot of things at home and burned a lot of energy.

Then over the summer things got quiet and the company sold. It became apparent, that moving forward, my role might be made redundant. I did what I could to avoid redundancy but likewise appreciate the help and support I got in the process prior to leaving last month. Whilst redundancies are never nice, I have so far enjoyed the time off to re-position myself, to re-evaluate my life and career. I might even go as far as saying that I have grown and gotten more confident. I know what I am doing and got confirmation of that a few times in the past few weeks. New projects will be announced early 2018. Based on the first few months of the year, I shall decide what the long term plans are. Most importantly, I am looking forward to align work closer to my values and my life expectations. Similar to the family, I am growing up too, still, always growing. And the break of a few weeks was needed, I felt burned out a bit. But I got my energy back, and that is the most important part, and of course I made up for some lost time with the family.

In the meantime I want to spend as much time as possible with the most important people in my life. As I do over Christmas. My family. Having had the privilege to spend more time with them over the past few weeks was amazing. From school drop offs and pick ups, them helping me testing some new equipment, watching Star Wars and making a routine and habit work at home. I am training them well I think 😉 They make me realise every day why I am doing what I am doing. They are my inspiration and motivation. Somewhat I enjoyed working and juggling two jobs and a family and going out of my comfort zone whilst upholding a 5 am routine and exercise, and meditation and personal development practise. As I said, I grew over the year, and that is the most important thing for me. It makes me who I am. I am happy. Yet, closer to Christmas I did notice my body getting tired, so time to have a few days off and relax.

A turbulent year. Just as well I am now relaxing and unwinding for a few days. And so should you, to my point earlier, there is nothing to miss out on. Don’t feel guilty and have another glass of wine, the extra piece of cheese or turkey/goose/duck. And if you are a grinch like me and don’t like Christmas, or you might not celebrate it due to religious reasons, enjoy the quiet time. Enjoy not having to read emails, not having to watch the news and spend some time looking deep inside yourself. Embrace yourself. And hug the person next to you, show them appreciation for them being them and being here.

And thoughts for 2018….you are the one that already knows where you want to be, what you should be doing and what is right in life. And you must always trust that the dots connect looking backwards. Hence, move forwards, always, and the right path will open up. You know it will. Trust in the future.

Speak to you in the New Year. All the best for 2018.

Love and Kindness, Peace and Happiness, and of course a Merry Christmas.
Volker

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Sunday Column (460)

I don’t even want to start with….Monday again 😉 I love sitting on the Monday morning train. I did my 7.5K run this morning and had a mixed weekend. A stomach bug and feeling quite run down. Not as relaxing as I hoped. However, there is a silver lining: my MIL was visiting this week and helped us with the kids. The other silver lining is that there is no travel planned for a while – at least not for work and not on a plane. Isn’t that nice? Even though coming to the end of the year with no more flights, I would on average (!) have done a trip every other week over the year. What I get in return is experience. And the nice thing about experience: it will help you connect the dots moving forward. As Steve Jobs says, in times of uncertainty and unrest, when you don’t know what happens in the future and how the dots will be connected, you need to trust your gut. You need to trust your heart, your inner self and that things will work out and the dots connect moving forward. And they always will. Believe!

I took a sick day this week as well. If I say sick day, I stayed home for two days, really WFH (working from home), so not getting as much rest as I should have. I had a bug lurking around since my trip to Belgrade and it was going on all week. I couldn’t shake it off. I dragged myself in on Monday and Thursday, feeling that I should but I don’t think my body appreciated it too much. I also tried drinking Coca Cola which I hadn’t done in many years, and it was awful. And it didn’t help. I thought I’d try, after all it was invented as medicine. At that stage I would have tried almost anything. One of my former managers used to say: you are worth nothing to the company being ill or not feeling 100%. Take care of yourself first before taking care of others and the business. And he is right. When in an airplane, do you ever watch the safety instructions where they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others? That’s the way to do it: you cannot help others if you aren’t up for it. Did I mention this was the first “proper” sick day in this job? And this besides the extensive travel? I guess I am doing ok then, and my immune system is up to scratch 🙂 The reason I am saying this is because a few years back I didn’t take care of myself and ended up being ill for weeks on end. That has changed. Mens sana in corpore sano. The exercise, better eating, more active life style, less booze. It pays off to look after yourself!

But let’s talk about some positive things. 10 years ago this week I wed my wife. A few years before we met when I was a bouncer at the first O’Neil’s in the UK, in Aberdeen. I remember meeting her in the summer of 2003, just as I had finished my first degree, and I thought, I’d like to see her again. For whatever reasons she didn’t come back to the club until February the following year. The rest is history. No, the culture clash wasn’t easy, but there was such a strong attraction that we even made it despite living apart in the first year we met: London and Wellington, New Zealand. When she came back, we got engaged, bought a house, had kids and lived (and continue to do so hopefully) …. happily ever after I suppose. She is an amazing woman. Very patient as you can imagine and very good with the kids. A supporting pillar without which I couldn’t have coped in life so far and I never want to miss her moving forward. I haven’t met a kinder, more caring person and 10 years on I love her more than ever before. Here is to the next 10! Thank you love!

Oh, and what I think the secret to a good marriage is? Fight regularly, make up regularly, and marry someone with a different mindset but same values. The latter is maybe the 80% that counts, as if your values don’t align, how do you bring up your kids or decide on anything?

On Friday, and thanks to Imodium 🙁 , we went out for a nice meal at Le Gavroche and also stayed the night in London, coming back home after a lovely breakfast. The experience at Le Gavroche was amazing. Besides a superior service and food to die for, the experience was worth the visit itself. The restaurant is run like clockwork. The staff are super trained and don’t miss the tiniest thing. Friendly, chatty and non pretentious. It makes it the best (posh) restaurant I have ever been to, and I would come back to this relaxed atmosphere anytime again. The flavours and composition of food were amazing and in a way you only get in a French cuisine. Thank you to my wife for wanting to go there. What a splendid night.

It is nice to just take a day to connect again, to only worry about ourselves, not the kids and knowing the kids are in good hands (MIL). It was really nice! After the week I had, it was good to just chill, and we even got some shopping in.

What’s next for me? As most people know there are changes coming up. And, there are still so many projects I’d like to do: like writing another book, doing the plastic model I haven’t started yet, spending more time with the kids making up for the travel, and doing the school runs to help the wife. And there are other projects lurking, so we shall see. The dots always connect looking backwards.

In other news, we saw some great skies in Europe this week, a red sun caused by hurricane Ophelia carrying Sahara sand. It was a bit gloomy on Monday and my youngest got really scared. Just as he got excited about Halloween. Poor him 🙁 It is so interesting to watch how we (us humans) react to the change of light and associate it with danger and the end of the world. Deep down we are very much connected with our blue planet and everything happening on it. We don’t call it Mother Earth for no reason. I would have loved to be on a plane this week – I know this contradicts what I said above – as someone was describing how beautiful it was to watch the phenomenon from up there. Maybe ironic that I didn’t travel this week.

So a proper mixed week. Feeling ill most of the week, sorting some stressful things out, worrying a lot about things, and trying to balance that with normal life. But what is normal these days. It isn’t easy sometimes. Life isn’t just straight forward, that would be too nice, wouldn’t it? Or boring, really. But guess that’s what it is. I had to cancel a lunch with a friend and I hate doing that, because a) I still didn’t feel right and b) I had a clash with work.

Life isn’t always fair, but we must make the most out of it. We need to sit back, relax, take a deep breath and be grateful for what we have, and what we have achieved. We have to look out for the ones that need our help and the ones we can help on the way. I am a firm believer that if you help others, then others will help you. And everything in life happens for a reason. You attract goodness in your life by giving goodness to others, you are attracting good things. Closing the loop.

In that sense, have a good week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (414)

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Life is heavy going at the moment. I am loving it though, or do I? Of course I love it? Where do I start? We had a great weekend with my folks, discussing some heavier topics. Guess that’s what you do when parents reach a certain age. Then Monday I felt rubbish. The virus that has been lurking around hit me hard. I should have stayed at home but went in instead. Result was that I worked from home Tuesday trying to rest up a bit. It helped so by end of week I was back on the treadmill. Still not 100% but 100% better than Monday. Then last night a temperature hit me, I felt rotten most of today. I guess it is end of year and I am running on empty a bit. Lots to do, lots to sort out before the end of the year, and not much time left. We will be ok. I envisage myself to sit there on Christmas Eve with a glass of wine in my hand, looking back at the year, and smile. And to be honest I will. I know I will. There are some other challenges going on I cannot speak about in public. Things I have seen and experienced before, but to see them with closed and loved ones gets harder. They touch you differently. It is different. But before you panic, it won’t be as bad as it might sound. Sometimes it is difficult to share things here which I cannot speak about as people might interpret it the wrong way, so don’t even try 😉 And just when you think you got things aligned to work through, someone hit our car at the car park and made a runner. WTF is going on? It feels a bit like I cannot win, which makes me even more determine to succeed. In ALL aspects.

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So what’s the exciting bits at the moment? My book is almost there. I’d say end of year is the time I publish it on Amazon or find a publisher, who knows. Yes, I am very excited about it. Another deadline to become more British. I signed up for the next attempt to pass the Life in the UK test. Actually it seems rather simple (touch wood) once you lived in this country as long as I have. It makes sense in the process, yet the first time around they didn’t accept my ID. So the pressure is back on and I am planning to do it all before Christmas. Fingers crossed. Another step closer to Brexit and Naturalisation. A friend of mine is considering to leave the UK, another one already has. Theresa is aiming to negotiate better deals for European Citizens to stay and vice versa, British people to stay. There is a lot of insecurity in the air, making life a bit daunting. Hammond fights with the budget, as more people getting self employed to evade taxes. I totally get all that, yet I couldn’t leave Britain. I love it here. I consider myself more British than German. And where would I go? Even the wife isn’t considering NZ anymore, so it might be Hassocks for a while longer. Or Bali as a friend suggested, but I have never been. That is, if Southern gets their train services sorted. Whilst I had one train this week being early, next week the drivers start striking on top of the conductors’ strike. I guess I will be working from home a bit, and the economy will suffer more. Southern is so sh*! The only silver lining are a compensation of one month rail ticket and delay repay for 15 minutes delay. Wow, that means I can claim every other train! The next weeks are going to get tough train wise but we will survive. Think Christmas. Think wine.

The kids are excited about Christmas. They wake us up early and ask if Christmas is happening yet. Bless. I thought they might have got behind the Santa Claus story by now. But they haven’t, which is really nice. Of course I could do with a lie in rather than being woken up at the weekends but who am I to complain. An afternoon nap in front of the fire sorts me out.

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I look around the train, then out of the window, as I started writing this post, and the houses on my early commute and a touch of frost covers most roofs. It looks idyllic. Life is great. There are millions of people that got up this morning, thought it was cold, put the heating on and a cuppa. However, then I am thinking of those that are not. Not getting up, not getting a warm cuppa. We are in a very fortunate position where and how we live. And in times like these, when winter blues sets in, I keep reminding myself of it. My wife said she read a ‘rubbish’ article suggesting the world comes to an end in 10 years time (see quote above). Let’s assume for a moment that this could be right. What would that mean for you? What if you once of a sudden had a deadline to miss. Would you pack your bags and live your dreams? And if so, what are your dreams? What is on your bucket list to do in the next few years? What is the plan if it fails, either the world coming to an end or your dreams. I don’t believe that dreams can fail. You don’t want to look back in ten years and have regrets, do you? If the prediction fails, you would just go back to what you did. You cannot loose. It is not possible! So you would try and do what you should and most probably succeed, as your energies align positively. Wait for my book!

As I am sitting on another train journey, studying and reading, I think this was a good year so far. I am in an amazing place with amazing people doing some outstanding work. I feel I am making a difference, and touching lives for the better. That’s amazing. That’s fun, and it gives me a great inner satisfaction. As I am getting older, I am more intrinsically motivated, a discussion I had with one of my staff this week. I blink against the morning sun and see the world go by, listening to my favourite tunes. Life is actually quite amazing.

Have an outstanding week. Touch some lives. It makes you feel great.

Best,
Volker

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