Posts Tagged fraternity

Sunday Column (505)

You know, this week saw the beginning of season 2 of my podcast. I really enjoyed recording loads of material over the summer, meeting interesting, successful people and recording their stories. However, I also know that I probably end up having less time doing that moving forward. So this season is similar to season 1 maybe a bit more topical and next year I am planning to potentially shift the podcast a bit into a longer form concept. Let’s see how it goes.

I must say this weekend was fantastic. Life is about creating memories. I managed a 25K run, and it was fun, pleasing somewhat. It was weird, running through fog, cold patches as the sun came up, then warm muggy patches in the woods. I love where I live and whilst discussing Brexit a lot this week, I don’t want to leave. I am sure things will work out. Will I end up running a race after all? Maybe, I still haven’t made a final decision yet.

Then the little one and I enjoyed a fabulous football game in Brighton. It makes for a whole afternoon just to get there and back. And what fun we had. Who would have guessed that I enjoyed football that much, after I had never been to a game until 2 years ago. And now, we got the premier league at our door steps, why wouldn’t we go?

I wrote it before, life is about focus. So when the family disappeared for 10 days and I had some spare time, e.g. a long bank holiday weekend, I decided to crank out lots of content for my podcast and blog (watch this space over the next few weeks). Also, I started clearing out some old stuff. Every now and then I go through old folders, picture albums and decide whether I keep them or not. So this time, a lot more went in the bin than I had anticipated but it is good to discard pictures from 25 years ago, just keeping a few of good friends or special occassions. Clearing your mind, your house and letting go of things is important. As the only thing we can do is live in the now, and be present in the moment. That’s where we create memories, we don’t need pictures of them or post them on social media.

I also wanted to thank you for the positive feedback about my more topical blog posts, including the one around success which includes my podcast. Are we obsessed with success, or am I?

Maybe. And how are we defining it? When joining my fraternity in Germany many years ago, I transitioned into a ‘career driven personal development’ person, developing a sense of ‘always give your best performance to achieve the most possible results’. And of course there are limits for everyone, discussing this recently with a fraternity brother of mine, a mentor for over 20 years, there is always a new boundary to push and a new angle to develop on your personal approach, in order to push yourself further. This could be in a job or outside work, most things are mind games. My running training for instance. You can always improve a bit more. You compete with yourself not others.

I discussed that with an executive coach this week too, trying to find the best approach to get some professional help to push things a bit more. The last couple of years I have invested a lot in self finding, career development and have been battered by redundancies due to industry change. Life is a constant change.
I seem to have this urge to constantly better myself. I know a few people that do not understand that, but I love a great challenge. I strive of the learning I get from new exposure, people and concepts.

So to conclude, as I get deeper into my work and get busier learning new skills and apply my experience, the further I develop and apply focus. Hence my podcast concept will probably change come 2019; as I keep closing chapters, discard of the past in a physical and/or mental sense, I open new doors and opportunities. Exciting times.

As one door opens, another one closes. Or the other way around, as one door closes, another one opens. Similar things, aren’t they. And yet they can be seen differently.
Life is a constant change and I am learning to embrace it, enjoy it and think less about it. But I will be more present in the moment, the now.

Have a good week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (493)

Life is about creating experiences. It is about shared experiences where you bond with your children and others of course. So looking back over the last week, I have done a lot of those, with my children/family but also with friends and colleagues. It has been a great week, and started off with an inset day on Monday. Due to one of my projects being delayed, I spend most of the day at home with the family sorting out some errands and preparing the week ahead, finalising some bits and bobs. It was an admin day as I like to call it, ending in the pub on a Monday after an interesting data related meeting. Life can be wonderful 🙂

But I want to go even further back. After a birthday party on Saturday night, we managed to get up early on Sunday to drive to Kew Gardens. My wife and I haven’t been there for over 10 years, and the kids have never been. We spend the whole day running around, walking and looking at plants, dragons (display), ate ice cream and enjoyed a hot summer’s day. I am honestly not quite believing how much luck we had with the weather over the past few weeks, from BBQ to BBQ’d pizza to building a Zen garden to playing football, to walking around in Kew Gardens for a whole day. We all enjoyed the experience, yet were very tired at the end of the day. The boys coped very well, however fell into bed at night being absolutely exhausted. Those are the best days I find, even I was in bed by 9 pm, sound asleep shortly after.

On another note, I want to find more clarity and focus in terms of prioritisation in life. This sounds philosophical but whilst a few years ago I would have been all about work, I now realise how much time I should spend with the boys and where other focus lies, e.g. writing my book or getting a hobby car or recording my podcast. Instead of focusing on too many things, there needs to be a clear priority and balance between work and non work related things. Even if the podcast, the book and most of my time is somewhat related to the work I do. It is about time to clear cut more of what I do, how I do it and why I do it. This week I recorded a podcast with someone who has a similar attitude to work as I do, working 10 hours a day, and she said ‘it is what I enjoy’ but she also was clear about the balance in life with her family. That’s what it is, I love work and my career, yet it is also about balance.

And then there was a trip back memory lane. I met a fraternity brother from Germany who I had never met before, a new generation. It was very amicable, as you would hope and expect, and I found out that there is another frat brother living in London. So it is time to have a Franconia reunion at some point. I am getting old, remembering another frat brother living in London as long as 12 years ago. Blimey. Those were the days. Life is too short to not make the most of it, and it is as if a circle is closing. And I find it interesting and pleasing to see that after 125 years our fraternity is still going strong and attracts people due to our heritage, our commitment to growth, personal development and being the best one can be. So whoever is a member will have similar values to yourself, and hence it is so refreshing to see some of those being close by. It is, after all, a life long bond, never to be broken.

Timely, Dire Straits ‘Brothers in Arms’ was part of the last episode of the series ‘The Americans’ this week. I love that series, so if you haven’t seen it, get it on Amazon Prime. Watching the last episode during a 10K treadmill run and listening to Dire Straits made me reflect. What could life have been like, in a parallel universe maybe, or how would you engineer it if you could start all over again?

Life is what it is. I never lived it as a spy, and never will. Yes I left my fatherland, and similar to the story of the Americans, I don’t think I would ever return home. I am very happy with what I have and where I live. There can always be more, but there could also be less. We are blessed and I don’t forget about this, appreciate it daily. Someone with a small time input but a huge impact on my life passed away this week. I remember speaking to him in 2006 when he said ‘Volker, you have to start meditating, it will change and improve your life’. I recently found the letter (!) he sent me explaining how it all works, this ‘meditation thing’. It took me another few years until I started meditating and have continuously been meditating for over 3 years. Daily! And he was right. My thoughts are with him, his family the positive impact he had on others, including myself.

Have a good week. Appreciate what you have, and what you have achieved.

Buddha bless.
Volker

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Sunday Column (297)

This week’s highlight was my trip to Germany. Not only did I attend some really great meetings and a fantastic conference for work, but I also stayed over for a night to catch up with my old fraternity friends in Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt. This was for the first time since 2006!

To get there I treated myself to a 1st class rail ticket on the German ICE train. I was very excited and it was fantastic. Matter of fact, as many people asked me when I write my posts, I am writing my column on the train just now, to be published on Sunday as usual. I got WIFI, I worked, I chilled out and got a lot of thinking done. I enjoy rail journeys (no, not the daily Southern Railway commute) but overall, I find it quite relaxing. And compared to driving, this is much more chilled out and you get so much more done. Fantastic really.

Fraternities, mine is Corps Franconia, sometimes have a bad reputation. Yes, we used to drink a lot, and yes we are very good networkers, high achievers and usually a bit more conservative. But we are a band of brothers for life, friends for life, as we all stood at some point for the same ideas and values – and most of us still do so today. We are not in any way discriminating against anyone, have many members with a variety of political views, integrate our women (yet they can’t become members but there are sole women sororities too), accept foreigners as members and we do NOT tolerate any racial discrimination of any kind plus would never accept a member with extreme views (either way). So we Corps are good.

Our network is globally yet based on the time we spend together whilst studying in Germany. Our principles are around personal development, growth, and success in a career. This of course can be defined by each individually. A community, bonded by common experience (academic fencing) which is compulsory. We have all done it, from our 19 year old members to our 90 year old members. It is something special and difficult to grasp for someone on the outside.

Coming back to the 125 year anniversary and seeing old and familiar faces was great. A unity and a great event catching up with ¾ of our120 alumni. There aren’t many clubs where you meet the majority of members over 15 years since you have been an active member. And the bond is stronger than ever.

But never mind, enough about that. As of this weekend we were allowed to take Rosie, our dog, outside. Finally we can tire her out, get her used to noises, smells etc. and get her to learn that there is a world outside the house. Exciting times once again. I am glad the baby stage with a dog only lasts a few months rather than years. I cannot wait to start running with her in the morning and getting her to be my “running buddy”.

Work, I have to say, was fantastic this week also. It shows the 2nd screen market is really taking off. I have written a bit about it over on Linkedin, and I can see very exciting times ahead with the cross screen/channel tracking. Isn’t it great if you enjoy what you are doing? You never work a day in your life again 😉

So I am thankful for what I have. I enjoyed Germany, and nothing like coming out of an agency to meet a good friend from the UK having a meeting just after me with the same agency. That cannot be coincidence. Things happen for a reason and when I was sitting down with some of the guys for dinner on Thursday, we could just feel that the real stuff is just to begin. There is an exciting buzz in the industry.

I leave you with those thoughts, and the idea of more to come, more to look forward to whilst being really grateful for what we have.

Amen.
Volker

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reflection on tradition

Tradition, they say, is not about preserving the ashes. It is all about keeping the flame burning.

candle

I am a member of a German Fraternity, Corps Franconia. We fence and accept any member, no matter which political, religious or ethical background that person is. I loved being an active member and also joined the London meetings. As an alumni I support the younger generation. It works like a pension system – just that it really works. When I was younger I got cheap beers and accommodation and now the younger generation does.

Anyhow, the reason for posting here are thoughts I have as a new daddy. We named our son Colin after my wife’s late brother and Heinrich after my granddad. These names have both history and Heinrich even tradition within our family. It was important for me to give my son a name that is related to both our family histories.

My wife and I want to teach our son where his names are coming from and what they mean to us and hopefully what they might mean to him. You might think of Hellinger and any pressure we might put him under. But we don’t want to put any pressure on him at all. At the end of the day it is his decision what he wants to do with his history and whether he likes to carry on the tradition, maybe naming his children after his granddad or dad 🙂 We just want him to be connected to his roots. A Scottish-German boy, born in England. His god parents are German, Scottish, English-Turkish and Kenian-Indian. We love to give him the influence of the country we live in.

At his birth, without asking, I assume we had about 10 nationalities. African, European, Asian…..and that is what makes London so great. However, coming back to tradition, as said initially, it is not important to have a shrine and keep ashes of loved ones or of your family history in there. It is about passing the values on, family values in particular, keeping dreams and rituals alive in a society where all of those individual ones seem to be melted together.

I just hope that Colin will grow up with an understanding of his history and tradition and that he values the same things his families has done for years. To grow up to be a Clouston-Ballueder and to be the one that carries on with the tradition. There is a lot of hope on these small shoulders, but it is with love, support and no pressure whatsoever. I just wanted to write about, how proud I am of having this wee man and thank my wife!

If Colin reads that in a few years time, he might be laughing at his old man, however – just some personal thoughts 😉

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