Posts Tagged challenge

Sunday Column (515)

Hello. I got about seven regular Sunday Columns left. That means Christmas is not far away. I managed two early Christmas presents for my boys, one is a trip to Manchester in order to see Man City play; the other one is a basketball hoop. Latter is also an early present for myself, but that aside. I can’t stop myself supporting the boy’s ambition to play sports, be healthy and exercise. How could I?

Today it has been 100 years since the end of World War One. It is hard to believe. My grandparents would be over 100 years old now and the world has moved on. Thinking about it, I introduced my youngest to some ‘oldies’ music from the 60ies and 70ies, another (Vietnam) war generation only 50 years ago. He wasn’t too keen. It reminds you to appreciate the peaceful times we live in. Despite mid term elections in the US and Brexit. A year from now, the world is a different place.

On that note, I read an article on the BBC about the decline in fertility rate. It is scary that we might not have an overpopulation problem but a problem of not too many kids to sustain our ever growing older people base. We are all going to live longer and no one there to follow us, meaning we need to work longer potentially. Our generation will see a lot of change.

For myself, post marathon, I just felt hungry this week. A bit out of place, not having anything to strive for. I was surprised how little I felt in terms of ‘weakness’ after the marathon. My knee felt fine from Tuesday already and all worries about that are gone. Some niggles around an insect bite I got during the run, and still some stiff legs. Nothing a massage, a stretch and a short run on the treadmill couldn’t cure.

The feeling after a marathon is interesting. You are in a hype bubble for a while, then it sinks in. It’s a super high and then a huge come down. It’s a phenomenon called the ‘marathon blues’, I read up a lot on it, and it isn’t nice to be honest. You spent three months or longer working towards something and then it’s done. It’s over. I can see the addiction to do more and more. It reminded me a bit of smoking cigarettes, you get this super high, then the low down, so you have another, and another. It is addictive for sure.

I find, at least for myself, that once it sunk in, it is almost as if it wasn’t there. But then it lingers around, that feeling of achievement. Not that I run around smiling, but it is that feeling of ‘yes, I have done it’. It definitely gives me energy, and wants me to run another one. So we shall see.

I was warned. The challenge is really to have the time and commit or sacrifice precious family time to running. That’s the hardest bit. The fitness and the mental strength builds up as you go along. I haven’t really decided yet, the next few weeks are quiet in terms of running, so plenty of time to think about it. But I might have just caught the running bug 🙂 (not that I didn’t run before anyway). Who knows. Maybe time to channel my time and focus to other projects, like basketball or building car models again. Who knows, nothing has been decided.

But those moments are decision moments. When running the marathon I was thinking of situations in my life where I went out of my comfort zone. The navy came to mind, now over 20 years ago. Night marches. Going beyond your limits. And compared to others, my training wasn’t that hard. And university, when being in the fraternity and fencing with sharp blades. Those moments of discomfort and going beyond the usual are moments that define you. They never go away. The wall as I call it, the next wall is there to come.

As I started writing this I am on an earlier train. If you don’t exercise in the morning and your body is used to a 5 am start, there is only that much you can do. My new breakfast routine takes 5 minutes (a nutrition shake), so I will be at work early. There is always something to do and sort. It was occupational therapy this week, work and food, and from next week things will change again. Time to go back to the gym, do more runs and decide on the next wall.

Don’t worry, there are still things on my bucket list. And maybe some of them have less impact on my knees. Maybe I need to learn a new skill. Maybe something to involve the kids. I believe I am through the blues. The weekend was great, getting on top of loads of work this week and being able to have a nice meal out with the wife. For our anniversary, to celebrate life.

I dreamed I had the chance to go up in a rocket to see the ISS (International Space Station) and paid a lot of money for it. And when it was about to take off, I wasn’t sure if I should go. What’s the worst that can happen to you out there? You never come back, you die. But you won’t. You will be fine, and things will always work out. If someone offers you a ride in a rocket, take it. Fear is a good thing.

I felt that last weekend, I went into that rocket, despite fear, and I came back. Yes, it was a hard come down, but now it is time to find the next rocket ride. Some training at basecamp and up to the next stars.

I almost don’t want to quit this post, but it’s time to let go. Literally. 7 more weeks.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (514)

This is a special post. Why? You see below.
I have made a few decisions this week, based on having a few hours to think about life and life’s priorities. From January, I will stop writing my Sunday Column. 10 years, over 500 posts and a collection of over 1000 pages are enough for now. It helped me in my personal development, my reflection and I aim to use it as a base for some further book writing, including a publication of the posts in an e-book. It might just take a few months/years to review and publish.

When I started my blog in 2009 I was childless, working in search marketing and just bought my first house. Things have changed. I have developed over the years and have found my blog both a creative outlet and therapeutical. However, it is time to channel that energy elsewhere. Stay tuned. This doesn’t mean I will stop writing, and occasionally you will find a topical post here. Instead I want to continue with my podcast, another creative outlet where I personally, and hopefully the listeners, gain more from too.

Finding a wall. You might remember that I took part in a 24 hour endurance race last year, having had to pull out due to injury after about 35K. I wanted a new wall, and leisurely went for a marathon. When I say leisurely, training in the heat, on the treadmill during our holidays in Singapore, and running my longest run after a week in India, literally off the plane, jet lagged and having a cold. It was awful and I feared for the worse for this weekend. Life is about those walls, the challenges, the things that push you further. That’s how you learn and grow.

This weekend was marathon time. I spent the last week worrying. As a mentor of mine says you can be a worrier or a warrior. The former dominated my last week. It’s a phenomenon called ‘maranoia’. Any little niggle might stop you running the marathon. The worry something could go wrong. My knees not holding up, too much pain, too much food, etc. – a lot of the marathon training is in your head. You need to be physically fit but the “head fitness” should not be underestimated. And everyone who knows me has said, if I don’t have the headspace to do that, who does? Maybe. Anyway…

And so I did it. Saturday we embarked to Kington upon Thames, for me to run the Thames Meander Marathon. A non gradient run, officially a trail marathon, but really a mixture of gravel, soft and paved grounds. Along the Thames river, watching the rowing boats, and too many people in your way at the water front. But that all aside. I didn’t hit the wall until Kilometer 38. I walked a bit around that mark and closer to the end. Mainly to refuel, to digest, and to drink. It was hard, in my head, in my bones, in my knees. My aim was to run it all which I mainly achieved, and also to come in under 4:30 hours. I did that too.

This is probably one of the few times where I would admit I am proud of what I have achieved. It’s an achievement, and I enjoyed it. Whilst running a marathon is for oneself, it is also the official rubber stamp to have achieved one – if that makes sense. Joining the club. And without my wife, I couldn’t have done it. The endless hours of training, the impact on the family, the grumpiness. And she has done 5 😉

A lot of people already asked me what’s next. You can see above, and I wrote about it this summer, my life gets more focus. I am feeling settled in my job, and I have done a marathon. I will cut back on my blog, focus more on my podcast. And there are more plans, which I will share when appropriate. Life never gets boring.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (345)

This was a good and successful week!

Having a purpose in life and finding your identity is a great skill to have. Just this week I finished reading another book on destiny and success. On how to structure your life and thoughts to achieve what you want to achieve. I started writing more seriously on my second book and finished drafts for the first chapter. Onwards and upwards. Nothing like getting things done early morning on the train to set yourself up for the day.

Somewhat I got carried away with a few wine and ale nights, yet again managed to catch up with loads of people and done some great networking. Amazing.

On the opposite side of things I did sign up for a 24 hour run. My challenge in 2016. A team of people to run a relay of 10K for 24 hours. This is going to be my ‘wall’ – Kevin Jorgenson spoke about his free climb record at a conference this year and suggested everyone should have a ‘wall’. 280 days to go.

Q4 is in full swing with lots of different ups and downs, meetings being moved, cancelled and decisions for next year to be made. Yet on top of that I managed to network with great people, spend time having coffee with key influencers and made some significant progress. Things are moving in a very right direction, and I enjoy the buzz of Q4 and the industry as a whole.

Then I helped someone very close with an application and the next step in life. This gives me much satisfaction to actually being able to influence one’s future and helping someone to find their purpose, identify and future. That plus helping with career choice, selling oneself and assisting to go beyond your comfort zone. I enjoy doing that.

I am happy. I enjoy my family and had a great morning this week when my youngest woke up early and didn’t want to go back to bed. So we had breakfast together, lots of cuddles and read a few books. All that before the rest of the family woke up. It was a special morning, a special time and connection. I cherish those moments and I am now able to push work and disturbance aside to truly be with him in the moment.

This is important for me, and it is so important to give kids this undivided attention. I am grateful for being able to do that, and my weekends have changed a lot since I got kids. They are my main priority. They are what my weekends are made of!

Making the progress both at home and at work satisfies me deeply. Building lasting relationship and being approached for a big project make me realise what I read in the recent book: the best time of your career is to come from 40 years onwards, and you reach your prime when you are 50+. Yes, let’s go for it and really ramp it up over the next couple of years to avoid the mid life crisis and make life happen. And, it is happening already!

I am up for it, are you? How far can I push myself? What else can I achieve?

wall

As you might be able to tell, I am buzzing with excitement what life still has to offer. That is without losing focus on what life offers now! I managed my runs this week. I had endless discussions around what is the best thing to do and what I want to achieve with my running. For me this is about fitness, not about running distances, yet I will utilise it for my challenge.

At the weekend we managed to catch up with an old mentor of mine from university. She now lives with her family fairly close by. It was good to see her and catch up on how life has changed over the past 10+ years. We both got married, have kids, established in our jobs etc. Chewing the fat with someone who knows you when your main purpose in life and your identity was different. Changing your identity and belief systems are key to success. Being able to realise that you can influence anything in life and that being fit and healthy can be a life style choice rather than something you think you can never achieve, is a realisation that came to me over the last few years.

I finish the first draft of this post as I pull into Victoria station in London on Friday. It is a gloomy day, but it is Friday and I am looking forward to the weekend and finishing off some key projects at work. It is a day filled with meetings around video and data. Not a boring day at all 😉

Hope you had an amazing week yourself!

Stay well,
Volker

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Buddhist Thoughts: Learning from difficult people

Just before Christmas, think of the following. It states my most practised and my most admired principle of Buddhism:

Eventually we will find (mostly in retrospect, of course) that we can be very grateful to those people who have made life most difficult for us.
– Ayya Khema, “When the Iron Eagle Flies”

I love that! I have been using this approach for many years. Whether it is a boss or whether it is a challenge at work, or at home. All those challenges you come across in life need to be solved in order for us to move on. If we master the challenge we get to the next one. If we die before we master the challenge, we will be confronted with a challenge that resolves a similar issue in our next life.

Hence, whenever you think you can escape life (suicide) or a situation (change jobs, avoid certain individuals), rest assured you come across the same situation again until it is resolved. The suffering, the ongoing samsara, will be part of this and future lives. The suffering will ease by solving one challenge, but the next one is around the corner.

Until we resolved them all. Until we become enlightened.

Buddha bless, have a great Christmas.
Volker

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November Challenge

Hi,

Not that you think I am slacking…but there won’t be a November challenge either. Why not?

Simple: I have the man flu, and a new position which will see me travelling more.

Hence I will make a few changes to my schedule and life in November. I hope to be able to start exercising again before the end of the year. I need to lose weight and get fit again.

So I keep you posted, but no special challenge this month.

Cheers,
Volker

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August Challenge (2)

As you know I am t-total for the month of August.

Today is hump day, half way through the challenge. I have tried to find some answers online to support my assumptions and experience, but all I find is advice on how to give up drinking all together, and for recovering alcoholics. I am definitely not fitting into that category!

After I gave up chain smoking from 60 cigarettes a day to none from one day to another, I gained a lot of weight by substituting cigarettes with chocolates and sweets. But I can do it, I have a very strong mind and great will power. The trick is to work around your habits and routines, changing them one by one. Steppingstones as a coach would call it.

It is the same with alcohol, if you come home from work fancying a glass of wine, just have a different drink. Or treat yourself to a lovely fruit juice. I think that after two weeks I have mastered it easily, not thinking about the drink I used to have coming home, or the glass of wine when having a pizza.

A big change I have noticed is my sleep. I am more tired. Whilst part of me thinks that it is a detox that makes me more tired, I also believe I sleep a lot deeper. I don’t have sleeping problems anyway, but with alcohol I can easily wake up, feed Rohan at night, go back to sleep, get up easily in the morning. Without alcohol I could sleep all day, don’t want to get out of bed, and often wake up for the night feed not being able to open my eyes properly. The sleep I am getting is much deeper than I experienced it for a long time, if not ever. I am curious to see if this changes over the next two weeks.

I guess the detox has taken place now, and my liver is on its way to recovery. I like the thought that my organs enjoy the absenteeism, recover and feel like I should never drink again.

So with that note, I will enjoy another 2 weeks before indulging myself with a lovely bottle of Shiraz 🙂

Have a good one,
Volker

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August Challenge

Ok guys.

Here we go with my 30 day challenges. I will start with a classic one:

No alcoholic beverages for the next 30 days. Means, for the month of August I am going to drink no alcohol, no beer, no wine, no whisky. Nada.

Wish me luck. Working in media, having a few BBQs coming up, and the lovely summer month of August, this might be a classic challenge, but not the easiest.

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New Challenge – no wine for a month

Ok, this might seem odd at first, but I have decided to not drink any wine for a month. Although the sign says ‘no meat’, this is untrue in my case 🙂 no wine

This is not because I think I drink too much, as I won’t stop drinking. However, I find that I spoiled myself with good wines lately and don’t find as much pleasure drinking the cheaper wines. Now, you could argue I am doing this to save money.

Again, this is not the real reason. I believe the real reason is that I want to see how my taste buds change over a period of a month and whether the cheap wine is still very much a “no go” or if I am happy to touch that wine again. Also, will I still be in favour of the lovely high priced wines?

We shall see. My weekly wine column has been written until early October, so don’t worry, they have all been tasted already.

Cheers 😉

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