Posts Tagged focus

Thursday Flash (28)

Flash….

Taking the right break makes you more productive – similar to last week’s quantitative measure vs. quality measure, taking breaks makes you more productive. Don’t believe me – try!

This is a great article on prioritising. It is all about focus on priority. Then about output. Which one thing can you do today that make everything else obsolete or easier?

This article on Business Objectives and Operational Efficiencies is a good guide on how to measure business success. Worth a read.

Thanks for reading,
Volker

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Sunday Column (429)

Last week was a turning point. I believe, and I mentioned that to my wife, that the next few weeks will be a turning point in our life. There are changes coming up, chapters being closed. I start writing this as I am sitting to wait for a delayed flight to Hamburg on Sunday night. So a week ago, prior to Sunday Column 428 being published. Crazy, but that is my creative output. I love writing, keeping myself busy with thinking and strategising. About anything and everything really. I was asked this week what my next book is about, and I said, probably it is about my life, or life or something. No plans yet…

At the weekend we started to speak more German at home. My wife started taking private tuition and the boys tried understanding what I am talking about. I translate the sentences simultaneously. This is only the beginning but we try to become more bi-lingual at home. The weekend was productive with us having done some spring gardening and we finally built the hedgehog house. It was a good weekend, the wife and I went out, maybe a few too many drinks, but hey, that happens now and then. Not many occasions when we can go out to celebrate. Then we had our yearly debate if St. Patrick’s day is actually the first time we met and kissed. Anyway, don’t let me get into that.

Further, I closed the chapter of writing a productivity book. I sent the final drafts off to publishers at Christmas but didn’t get a positive response. So I put it on Amazon Kindle on Sunday, a link is to the right of the post. It is free to download in the first week, but I decided to make little noise about it. A good read I find, and if people are interested, they will find it. I have other focus at the moment than productivity books and worked on them for a few years now. Time to put that to bed. So closing this chapter and focusing on other things is good. Maybe the new book about life 😉

On the other hand I opened a chapter at work. Not only the first 30 minute presentation at a conference for this employer, but also in German! So a double challenge but it went well. So did the panel the next day. I am trying to help out where I can to present the company and hence I flew out to Germany on Sunday. I will continue to be in Germany more often, as I temporary help in the German market. It will be a drag flying, but it is going to be a lot of fun too and a great challenge. Having said that, I had to wait 4 hours for my Easyjet flight coming back, so no more Easyjet for me. The delays were getting to much and I am only back to travelling, so Heathrow it is unfortunately as it is a pain to get there for an early morning flight, and BA or Eurowings instead of Easyjet. The joys. Travelling is never glamorous, and I was hoping to do less, now probably going to do more. But I love a challenge, a chapter and the opportunity to help and support. That’s who I am, that’s what I do, that’s what I enjoy. And work is very good about it too!

As one chapter opens, another closes they say. I travelled with my German passport. I have done since I moved to the UK in 2001. Yet, since Wednesday, I can be hopeful to soon get the British passport too. I pledged my allegiance to the Queen and became a British national. Now I am British and German, soon with two passports. Wow, who would have guessed. It all happened quicker than anticipated in the end. And the application for the passport has been sent. Exciting times ahead. It feels like yesterday that a friend of mine and I discussed this, sitting over lunch in Farringdon. He said, now you know the process, it is easy to do and you don’t know what the future holds. It gives you security he said. He was right. Security and peace of mind. I beat him to it too 😉

I feel at ease. I feel like spring cleaning my life a bit. I put a lot of energy into the new job and really enjoy the challenge. Is it much different to what I am used to? Yes and no. As a friend of mine said the other day: good tech, great people, and you realise how much you know and how much experience you have. Sometimes you don’t realise how much you know, but in this line of work I very much rely on my experience often and enjoy it. Yet, there are new challenges, different experiences, which help me grow and go outside of what I know. Keeping me on my toes. It is great to see the positive difference you can make. And a great team I have!

Then amongst the travel, I listened to a podcast by Tim Feriss, where one of his guests, John Crowley, who has children with a disease, talks about the IPO with his business. His business is in the biotech space to save humans like his children from this particular disease. When he came home after two weeks on the road after the IPO, his daughter woke up when he kissed her goodnight. He said she would be proud of what he has done. And she said, she was proud and that she saw him on TV. He said, what do you think of me on TV? She said he looked short.
In her next breath she asked whether he was around tomorrow to take her to school. That was the most important part for her.
I understand that feeling. The boys aren’t interested if I speak at a conference or close a mayor sales to bring home money to buy the Lego Deathstar (which I refuse to do btw). They care if I bring sweets or if I take them to school the next day. And that’s how it should be. It is important for me to be up at 6 am on a Sunday to do colouring in or build a model of Bumblebee. That should always be our focus, to spend time with our loved ones, to teach them, to help them, to be with them, to share moments with them. And with all the travel, and my wife planning to go back to work, this is still the main priority and focus. And we make it work, as we make anything work we want to make work. Just like turning a page in a book, we move on with life.

Of course we cannot be there 24/7. But when we are there, we need to be in the moment. We must be with them and make sure they see that. We must help them to understand the world and share the experience. I have done that a lot lately with my boys. Individually. Together. I feel better for it and so does my relationship with them.

Have a great week and give your loved ones a big hug.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (270)

A four day week, and it was a good week. I got on top of a lot of things at work, made a huge amount of progress. That is good I suppose.

I also almost completely shook off this cold. A nasty cough that wouldn’t even let me sleep at night. I haven’t been ill after a stint of three months’ illness at the end of last year (whilst still working of course), and this year with exercise and sauna routines I try to tackle the bugs early. Yet this one came when the guards were down, at stressful times, and hit the whole family. We got over it.

I watched a good movie this week, the rise of Ghenghis Khan. It was on the BBC and highly enjoyable, a Braveheart in Mongolia. Not bad at all. The BBC seems to have a few good movies on recently, and of course great period dramas.

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The picture btw features a super hero drawn by my eldest, hanging on the screen next to my desk at work. My replacement laptop came, it is working without problems, and most other customer service niggles have been resolved, or I have let go.

This week I read a book about letting go by Zenhabits, Leo Babuta, which inspired me to not stress out about things any longer but to let go. Is it going to work? Can I, with my stiff German attitude, ignore the inferior service industry I am exposed to? Let’s see how the next few months develop. I already didn’t moan about…. 😉

In all seriousness. A friend of mine decided to stop saying ‘busy’ when asked how he was. You ever noticed that? Of course we are busy, constantly challenged but we chose this environment we work in. I enjoy it. Yet, even I say I am busy, not well, or tired. An easy way of answering a generic question, instead of saying ‘Yupp, I am fine’. Or, yes, isn’t this the best day in a long time?

Why aren’t we more positive? Because we are stuck in the daily grind, stuck in a rod of routines trying to constantly strive to be better, aim higher and succeed further. So little things in the now disappear to be unimportant, we don’t notice them. If you haven’t seen the video about ‘looking up’ that went viral, google it. We aren’t seeing what’s going on around us anymore.

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I don’t have all the answers. Yet, one of the healthier things to do is to question and analyse your habits. Whilst people’s feedback might be harsh and over exaggerated, it also helps you to lift the veil of your own bad habits. The use of your phone in bed, or whilst being at the till. The patronising tone in your voice or the joke at the wrong time.

Letting go, being able to chill, to not worry and annoy oneself about things that one cannot change. That is what I am aiming for. The ‘super’-balance. The alignment of focus, energy and prioritisation. Doing with life nothing else than you do with parts of your life, focussing on what’s important.
Simple.

Have a great week ahead.

Yours,
Volker

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Sunday Column (262)

When travelling, I enjoy some downtime. Being offline and disconnected on the flight goes down as a treat. However, having an almost five year old that doesn’t understand daddy is travelling, and doesn’t leave for good, doesn’t make it easy. Bribery is key, yet balancing presents and managing expectations of not bringing back lots of presents from trips at the same time is challenging.

Important is the balance and the aforementioned focus. A day working from home to be there for bath time and the good night story, or even taking them to school if the schedule allows. Leaving a paper aeroplane when you leave for a few days or making them a special lunch for the next day, add a little touch and reminder that daddy is still there. And of course, when at home at the weekend, give them your undivided attention.

At my last travel I remember one thing, unrelated to the kids, that my two “row sharers” both had the same rucksack as I did for my travels. What is the coincidence I wonder for that to happen? Also, flying into The Netherlands is always a pleasure. Whilst I would say that working for a Dutch company, the friendly and efficient way of the Dutch is refreshing. Whether that is within the company or in the train or coffee shop (the real coffee that is). I love going there.

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Yet flying over the past few days seem to get a new twist with the disappearance of the Malaysian airplane. My biggest fear is that it was a cyber hijacked. What if people don’t have to be on a plane to control it?

There is an odd thought. I don’t want to be in the relatives’ skin, their situation must be horrendous. Hopefully we all find closure soon. My prayers go out to those involved.

The last week passed quickly. At the weekend, trying to get over a cold which got me to stop exercising, we went to Lewes to visit the castle and to Littlehampton beach. This was great, the weather is fantastic and it feels like spring if not summer.

Being able to lie in the sun, chilling out, eating fresh fish and chips, playing with the kids, watching the world and boats go by. Ice cream. Chocolates. No surprise I am tired, did I squeeze in 18 km on my bike in the morning.

I spent some great time with the boys at the weekend, enjoyed lots of sun and felt tired. Partly this is spring tiredness, fresh air and relaxation. My first really minor cold of the year, and a welcome break for my muscles after extensive exercising the weeks before, got me lots of sleep as I didn’t get up too early. It has been an interesting week.

For next week I hope to continue the progress I am making in my job and some projects I am looking at. Life is truly enjoyable at the moment, more than it has been for a long time.

Have a great one,
Volker

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Sunday Column (259)

Routine. Let me start this post with talking about routine. One is set in one’s routine, set in one’s way. We all are. From the breakfast we have to the bed time routine. Mine hasn’t really been any for the past 10 months. But now I am back to establish my 5.15 alarms, exercises and regular trains.

It means you need to establish your regular night times, hours in bed, undisturbed sleeps, alarms and regular fitness routine. All that whilst still getting used to a new job. It has only been three weeks yet it feels like three months. One could say I am busy but in a good sense. I am really enjoying it! I am still very excited!

Then I saw an interesting graph this week. Focus: the things that matter and the things that you can influence. So based on the graph we really should only focus on the intersection of what we can influence and what really matters. I guess this is part, if not the basis, of productivity.

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Of course that all ties in with routine too. Whilst focusing on my daily workout and focusing on the right exercise for core strength, ankle support and muscle toning, I also need to focus on cardio and the right, healthy food. Nothing seems disconnected. The half pint more at night causes a slight slump in performance the next day. I am getting there, a challenging path still in front of me, well worth at the end. A few weeks or months down the line I will be proud of sticking to this new routine, seeing and feeling the results.

It comes a bit at a price. I have been unproductive on my train journeys into work and instead caught up on sleep. Nothing is disconnected. I am finishing my coaching this week for the foreseeable future and made a lot of progress. I still need to focus on more implementation and continue to work on some things. Yet over the last few months coaching helped me a lot in terms of focus, which now is integrated into my routine.

Last but not least it was half term. I have been jealous about the activities my wife came up with for the boys. Bowling being one of it I missed, poppadoms another. Seeing the pictures I wish I could be with them all the time. It makes my heart sink thinking about them growing up and one day living their own life with us not being there all the time. We need to learn to let go, guess another process to learn. We cannot hold on to time and development just for our own sake. We cannot hold their hands forever or think they stay young all the time.

I guess that’s it for the week. I spent the weekend holding on to what I can and enjoying whilst I can. And getting fit, see earlier post.

Have a great week.

Volker

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Sunday Column (226)

I finish writing this post sitting on our patio, a dram of Lagavulin in my hand and the sunset in my face. Life is good to us. We spent the day with friends in a park in Tunbridge Wells. It is also the 7th of July – so I remember what happened in London a few years back.

First and foremost I’d like to thank everyone who keeps me motivated these days. My family, friends and of course YOU – the reader of this blog. I got quite a few compliments this week for keeping others sane and motivated, and I am glad I can give some of what I receive back. Quid pro quo.

I saw the following quote this week which goes in line with my thinking. Weak companies hire the right experience to do the job. Strong companies hire the right person to join their team. Over the past few weeks I have been speaking to a few companies and some ruled me out for limited experience in one area or another. Whilst of course there is competition to have all the skills for a job, it is also as much about the person you hire, most often even more though. But going from 24 down to the last 2 and then losing out doesn’t pay the bills. Things meant to happen for a reason. Also frustrating is to know that you want to be hired by a company but they don’t have a position suitable for you. That goes in line with above. But I will summarise it all once I reached a conclusion.

On another note I read an article about time management. Someone lost their phone and said that they had the best night eating out with friends ever. And the reason was simple: focus. No text messages to attend, no emails, no Facebook, no disturbance. A lot of us have too much noise in the background dropping in and making us changing our focus from one task to another. Our parents didn’t have that. Emails coming in every second of the day, people wanting your attention and you never ever get to focus on the things in front of you. I have my wife to proofread my book on Time Management and hopefully publish it shortly. It will allude to some of those topics also. Focusing on the task at hand whilst ignoring other things is key.

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Will Smith’s quote, and I didn’t know until recently that he is into motivational things, is quite true. Often people excel after they got hurt or felt pain. If that is after rejections of any kind, an accident or death of someone close. We seem to gain power by proving our point after something happens. His movie “Seven Pounds” is about that too (trailer below). You can do anything you want, anything you put your mind to. Like a Phoenix out of ashes we have a lot more strength after pain, and a lot more reason for achieving something. Yet, we get a lot more attention too.

I guess that’s where personal development comes in and makes you capable of changing your mind set and frame, your thinking, language and attitude towards winning. Contact me if you want to find out more 😉 I’d love to do more coaching and actually signed up to be a mentor for graduates of my old university this week.

A few years ago, Peter Maffay, a German singer, did an album which included songs he recorded with people around the world. One of them was Lokua Kanza from Africa whose album Wapi Yo (Where are you?) I really enjoy listening to. I slowly get a bit of my interest in music back. Allegedly music releases the same hormones or triggers the same reaction in a body as sex and other rewards. They say it takes a few weeks to relax after leaving a job, and that is why you should spend at least three weeks on holidays each year. Disconnected. I might not quite manage that this year but we shall see. Life is full of surprises.

To my astonishment I enjoy my life at the moment. Not that I wouldn’t want to change it, and if I could spend more time with the boys not worrying about the future it would be better, but it gives me great flexibility to spend more time with the boys, we are getting a lot closer I believe. Too soon this will be over. For better and for worse.

One last thought maybe on Beckenham, where we spend 9 years of our London life. We went back to see some friends for a birthday party. We still very much like our friends there but somehow felt we outlived the commuter zone so close to London. People seem less open and friendly and outgoing than people in Hassocks; they seem being more Londoners. Of course not all people in Hassocks are friendly, or all in Beckenham are reserved, but the ones that moved “down from London” like us seem to have done that for the same reason we have: for a better life in the country and for their families. You seem to get along quicker and have more things in common from the outset, similar motivations. We all seemed to have arrived. Arrived at a place we like to settle. This of course is not limited to Hassocks as other people who moved away from Beckenham or similar communities felt the same. I am not sure where I am going with that but it seems that we made the right move for us.

If I could do it all over again I’d done the move years ago. Just before the kids arrived. But things happen for a reason, at a certain time in life. That is what life is about. My life. I love my life. I really do.

However, time to go back to the grindstone, working on my future and the one of my kids. I cannot wait. Fingers crossed.

Have a great week!
Volker

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Inspirational Thought: Dabble your way?

Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular. ~ Tony Robbins

As you know I only recently became a big fan of Tony Robbins. He has done some great stuff.

Often, we just stumble or dabble through life. We don’t focus or have a certain goal. We just live, are happy(ish) with what we have and resist the urge to change.

We don’t feel like we need to master anything. We just need to continue and everything is going to be fine.

For ultimate success, we need to…

– be clear about what we want to master (have a goal)
– take actions towards it (don’t dabble)
– notice what we get from it and
– fine tune until we reach the goal

Try it today.

You will be amazed.

Volker

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Sunday Column (210)

What a week! From snow to sunshine to rain; from a busy day to a hectic day, to a long media night; from proper man flu to a common cold; this week saw a lot of variety. Sleepless nights. Delayed travel. Good chats. Progress. Overall, probably not a bad week.

In retrospective of last weekend , re the dog, I learned a lot. Maybe you want to call me naive but if we were to get a dog, R must be at least 3 years old, and C must loose his fear of dogs, so it would have to be a young one. On top of that it either must be a low maintenance dog or my wife and I need more time. Probably the former; so it will take another two years I suppose before we get one. And in the meantime we can always rent one 🙂 A very good experience though.

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I kept myself busy with a proper fish tank clean and weed out last Sunday too. I enjoy that hobby and have further plans on getting some more fish. I originally dreaded the work and effort but a big clean only happens every 3 months. And the joy for the kids as well as the relaxation coming from the tank when watching the fish, is worthwhile the effort. I’d love to get a second one, just to try out different things. Mad I suppose.

The snow this week caused a lot of disruption. I enjoyed it but couldn’t work from home that day due to 5 interviews I had to attend. It is nice to live in a fast pace environment, and growing company and industry. I caught up with my boss, my boss’ boss, our marketing lead, and realised how far I have come since uni, interviewing interns. Boy, I am getting old, and the skill set and CVs have changed. Besides age you ain’t putting hobbies on your CV any more. I always ask for the latter, as I am keen to understand the person behind the person if that makes sense. Looks like we found an intern and are closer to appointing another key position. Progress! And I enjoy the progress. Those who know me closer are aware that I had some difficulties seeing direction but this is all over now. Things are a lot clearer and moving along nicely. I am a happy person working in an area and company I enjoy working for. Some great people. Some of the finest!

Hobbies: I finally made up my mind as to which bike to buy. So I am going to get, or got by time of publishing, a Specialized Hardrock. An entry level mountain bike with front suspension, hard tail, hydraulic brakes and usual gears. I really don’t have a clue but like what I got. Now I am all set to go to the South Downs every weekend in order to get fit and get out. I cannot wait for next weekend. Plenty of apps share preferred routes and you even get competitions for timings etc. Crazy how “cycling” has changed from when I was a kid. The gear (leg warmers!), the bike, the engineering. Surely there will be more bike posts soon.

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Focus is something else that came up a lot this week. My focus is shifting towards family for a while, now hobbies like cycling, fish tank and weekends. I guess family almost forces you to do that, and I mean that in a good way. However, that doesn’t mean I work less, less efficient or less hours but probably with more focus and concentration on the things that really matter.

Streamlining and focusing go hand in hand. I stopped worrying about some tasks others can do and focus on what I need to get done, deliver on what I need to deliver, and help where I can help. With a growing team, unlike 3 years ago, I don’t have to worry about setting up laptops, sorting servers, laying cables etc. anymore. It is great to see the transformation from 1 person to now 15, and counting. Thanks S for the opportunity (2nd praise in one post 🙂 ).

What else happened really…..I had another massage. After 4 weeks reduced running activities (man flu, shin splints), and my therapist being on holidays, I finally got my back and shoulders sorted again. This felt soooooo good 🙂 I can only recommend the Heeler Centre in Hassocks. Great staff. I got the bike and spend lots of time with the kids this weekend. you might have seen pictures on Facebook of train tracks etc. It was great and needed, as the kids seem to ask more for me during the week. I don’t see the kids during the week, so working from home, bathing them and being around (if not playing) helps a lot for them to see that I am there. I love that flexibility my job gives me.

Then the pope got elected. What shall I say. I am not catholic and don’t really care, but since the pope is such a big figure in the world, it is good to see that the elected pope seems a bit more liberal yet strict on some topics. Maybe a good person to get the church back on track. We shall see. It is like electing a CEO to get a company back on track with the difference that the church probably never goes down or bankrupt if that makes sense? The CEOs (popes) will keep coming, no matter what.

Never mind. 10 days to Easter and some more family time. 10 days to hopefully get some DIY done, sort out some house stuff etc. and then sorting the loft after Christmas when my parents are up. There is always something to do.

Have a great week.

See you soon,
Volker

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Inspirational Thought: Obsctacles

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. ~ Henry Ford

This quote just shows me that with enough focus and will power to achieve your dreams, one will reach one’s goal.

Only if you take your eyes off what you are aiming to achieve you find obstacles.

So go for it!
Volker

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