Posts Tagged habits

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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Success – Positive Giving

After interviewing a good friend and successful entrepreneur on my podcast Stories of Success, he sent me an article and a link to the positive encourager website, which I read with great interest.

Success, so far looking at only a few definitions from my podcast’s guests, has to do with encouraging people positively during our time on this planet. I phrase this a certain way on purpose, this is for the greater good of human kind, and NOT about short term financial gains. It’s about the great unconscious (Carl Jung) and the bigger picture.

It is about finding people’s strengths, develop practical strategies and achieve their picture of success. THEIR success, is what THEY want to achieve. To be loved, live in peace, achieve a career, or whatever it might be. The same, according to Mike Pegg, who is the man behind the positive encourager, can be applied to teams and organisations. So in that context, we are looking at superb work, forming good habits (see my book), to provide a good service, achieve goals, and finish those activities successfully?

As I go through Mike’s website, and I encourage you to do the same if you are interested, I find lots of material on positivity. It is a person’s choice to be positive, to create and take responsibility. As human beings we are in charge of our destination by making decisions, making choices between options.

Looking back at my experience, I have been looking to stay positive more than once in my career and life. When I started meditating, and letting go of situations I couldn’t influence, I learned to deal with situations differently. I was even told I come across of not caring, which isn’t true, but I am a lot more chilled out. Being able to prioritise your feelings and your reactions towards a situation is important in my mind. If you cannot change a situation, monitor it until you are able to make a positive difference.

The LOA (Law Of Attraction), which hasn’t yet been mentioned by any of my podcast guests, is about energy. The way I personally describe it is that you put a lot of positive energy and thoughts into something, and you get the same positive energy back; same of course with negative energy. So by wishing your competitor all the best and hoping the best for her, will in return win you a similar contract even if it isn’t this one. Patience is key to understand those principles and practising them continuously. You wouldn’t notice a difference with one thought only, so persistence is key too.

Following the positive path will lead to gratitude. Essentially this is what I described above. Also, from this path you gain more confidence as the world seems to conspire to help you. You will have more success on the back of being more positive. When writing this article I am looking at a few presentations from Mike Pegg which are published on his website.

Meditation not only allows me to choose when but also how to react to a situation. This is particularly important when you are in board meetings, heated discussions and deal with emotionally involved people. That’s when having a mind like water (David Allen’s expression of being able to have enough computing power in your brain), paired with experience and the ability to retain your thoughts, comes in handy. Self Awareness and Emotional Intelligence. Meditation taught me to let go, stop thinking and to not contribute to a discussion and wait until things sort themselves out naturally. It works, try it out!

On the topic of energy and heated discussions. How often do you find people that drain your energy? They talk about themselves, are selfish and don’t share the same positive attitude. Those people are challenging and don’t bring you forward. Try to help them bring themselves forward and if that doesn’t work, let them go. They shouldn’t be part of your life, should they? Make room, time and space for people that give you positive energy and provide you with fun, and enrich your life.

Following discussions and looking back at my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) training many years ago, I was remember of the long term goal. Imagine you are on your death bed, looking back at your life, what would you have wanted to have achieve?

If you believe in Steve Jobs’ last workds or not, someone published them on Facebook as the following recently:

I have come to the pinnacle of success in business.
In the eyes of others, my life has been the symbol of success.
However, apart from work, I have little joy. Finally, my wealth is simply a fact to which I am accustomed.
At this time, lying on the hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realize that all the accolades and riches of which I was once so proud, have become insignificant with my imminent death.
In the dark, when I look at green lights, of the equipment for artificial respiration and feel the buzz of their mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of my approaching death looming over me.
Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth.
It should be something more important:
For example, stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood.
No, stop pursuing wealth, it can only make a person into a twisted being, just like me.
God has made us one way, we can feel the love in the heart of each of us, and not illusions built by fame or money, like I made in my life, I cannot take them with me.
I can only take with me the memories that were strengthened by love.
This is the true wealth that will follow you; will accompany you, he will give strength and light to go ahead.
Love can travel thousands of miles and so life has no limits. Move to where you want to go. Strive to reach the goals you want to achieve. Everything is in your heart and in your hands.
What is the world’s most expensive bed? The hospital bed.
You, if you have money, you can hire someone to drive your car, but you cannot hire someone to take your illness that is killing you.
Material things lost can be found. But one thing you can never find when you lose: life.
Whatever stage of life where we are right now, at the end we will have to face the day when the curtain falls.
Please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends…
Treat everyone well and stay friendly with your neighbours.

Wow, wow, wow, which I thought were his last three words, but it tells you something. Even if it is a story that is partially true, the message is simple. Life isn’t about money but about having a positive impact. About sharing the love and enjoy every moment. It is about learning and love, success and fun at the same time. I encourage everyone to go through the exercise and decide what your life goals are. I am sometimes wondering if I have set mine, yet they are dynamic as we go along. The reason is simple, as I get older and wiser (I hope so anyway), I end up having a different focus and changing priorities. The sports car in my 40ies might be less important in my 60ies or 80ies, yet my health is much more important now than when I smoked like a chimney back at university.

People seem to forget that life is a journey and is changing. So is success as you start defining it differently as you grow older. Your life changes with life stages including marriage, kids, building a house, career progression and parents dying. The circle of life is ever present and influences your thoughts and objectives, definitions of life.

Coming back to Mike’s approach on positivity for a moment, he writes about vocation. What is your vocation and can you match your purpose in life with a job that matches it? What can make you really happy? What activity gives you this inner satisfaction? And if you cannot get it at work, where can you get it?

I am embarking on a journey where I started to examine my strengths. A mentor of mine, not the same that pointed me to Mike’s theory, coincidentally suggested to me a test to examine where my strengths lies and which ones I need to develop. Which are my weaknesses? I have done the test and loved the results. As we move along on the journey of life, I would love to offer this as a service to companies and individuals to understand their personal profile better, to understand which areas need to develop for them to achieve their individual success.

Once identified the strengths, find yourself some mentors. Jim Rohn said you are as good as the 5 people you spend the most time with. Who are your 5? Which 5 people do you spend the most time with and which 5 people do you ask for advice. Find yourself some smarter, more experienced people who are willing to help you on your journey. Importantly, do the same for younger, less experience people. Give back what you receive, and close that energy loop!

I hope you took something out of this article, and please share it on other sites. This is an important milestone for me to bring a few thoughts together early from my podcast but also from discussions around my job search. I am not sure if this gets me closer to the meaning of life, but it shows the energy flow and the practises that work to put life in perspective, figuring out where you want to go and how you want to approach life. Isn’t it exciting to fail and adjust, to try and succeed, to make decisions and go along with things. Identify your strengths (contact me for details) and make yourself better, every single day.

Volker Ballueder

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Sunday Column (448)

Finally, reaching some milestones this week. Firstly, I am writing this post on my iPad Pro. Yes, after the contemplation of upgrading or not, I decided I’d go for it. The keyboard is fantastic and better than the one (the good one) was for my iPad mini. Size wise, it is almost a bit too big, or too close to a laptop. However, the screen size is good for reading and, with my continuous bad eyesight, I enjoy it. It is less strenuous on my eyes. Now, essentially it is a laptop replacement, and with the new iOS coming out later this year, it will even be more productive. For emails, for anything else, it is already what I always wanted.

What about the Apple pencil? Now this is a good question and as I would say: too early to tell. I love the opportunity to have one, but recently I haven’t done too much brain storming on the road. Yet, ultimately, the pencil and the screen sensitivity, is a white board in a pocket. So what are the next steps? Moving to paperless completely, and removing my notebook at work and moving everything to Evernote and notes. Why not? After all those years, it still doesn’t seem acceptable to use an electronic device where you could just do your emails instead of taking notes. I am certain this is going to change moving forward. Also, having drawn a few sketches this week, it really works so much better than any pen I had before, e.g. the Evernote stylus which I sold on ebay.

The next milestone? My last trip to Germany for probably 4 weeks. Yes, it feels like my job in Germany is done. We turned it around and kick-started a few important meetings this week. Now it is all about the regular follow up, building relationships and establishing needs. That must be done by the guys in market, from the market. No more need for me; at least for now. I am here to mentor, to support and help, but it feels like the main job is done. That is nice and deeply satisfactory. A job well done, and I am a bit proud of the achievements over the last few months. I will still go back to Germany for a few visits and the dmexco exhibition in September, but that will hopefully be it. Then, I would not be surprised to do another international role soon which requires me to travel, but hopefully less often and to a more variety of destinations (I technically already have an international role). Time will tell, it is all change.

So what is next on the time line for me. With the sales of the company being announced, the next 3 months will be business as usual. I am working on a very interesting project and hope that this will continue once the companies come together. That is about all I can say at the moment. However, the quieter summer months should allow me to work on a seminar of my book. I also want to look into podcasts and webinars potentially. We shall see, but my ambitions are to refine my #BeBetter book material into more bite size chunks for people to utilise in their daily lives. This probably takes me to the end of the year at least. From there I am keen on working on my next book. I have a few ideas that are kicking about and I like to put it to paper.

I also started looking into my training schedule. Clearly, and you might remember my writing on weight loss, exercise alone won’t make you loose weight. So whilst maintaining my fitness level and increasing my distance to a half marathon distance by mid September, I also want to do two other things; firstly my diet needs to have a revamp as I am falling into the habit of eating badly, particularly (and no excuse here) when travelling. Secondly, I want to focus more on strength training and support the wife in her efforts to do so too. As a result I’d like to reduce my weight by about 3-5 kg, more measured around circumference and body strength as well as fat content. Over the last few months I have been a bit relaxed with what I eat and need to revisit my daily eating routine. As anything, it will be looking at new habits. Less travel should allow me to do so.

On the note of health, my toe which I ‘damaged’ running, got infected. That, the man flu, the travel and the weather being so awful for summer, got me quite into a ‘down slump’ this week. Not that I am not motivated to get things done, never ever am I not, but it feels like things are dragging on a bit. Trains seem to be back to normal but wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the hot weather we had for a bit longer? After all it is the end of July. My parents came to visit over the weekend, stocking up my wine ‘cellar’ and I managed to chill out and relax a bit over the weekend. That was nice and needed.

Overall it was a very nice week, slow but good and I do feel like I accomplished something. That is great.

Have a great one yourself,
Volker

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Sunday Column (446)

A week without travel you might think makes my life easier. It does. It makes it more pleasant. More time with the kids, I saw them most mornings and most evenings. That made a huge difference. However, there is always something that isn’t right. First of all the new keyboard for my iPad which I don’t really enjoy yet and it makes it awkward to type and get anything done. As a matter of fact: I sent it back. The other annoying bit are the trains. A strike and overtime ban result in fewer trains, delayed trains and more annoying travel. So to a certain extend I hope to be back on the road. Yet, there is a huge advantage of being in the office every day: I have time to catch up with people and get real work done. I definitely enjoy that bit.

Last week I ran a promotion for my productivity book. It is about life systems and finding your own systems and habits, to allow for the perfect life. If life can ever be perfect? Probably not. However, if you build a system that allows you to be able to deal with things in a close to perfect manner, you end up being more efficient, more productive, and be better in life. That in my opinion is enough of a reason to consider buying my book 🙂

I am writing this post before I actually do my weekend run. I joined the Spitfire 24 hour relay race. That means I am in a team of 5 running 10K relay over a period of 24 hours. I anticipate to run 30-40K and be totally knackered on Sunday. So I update on the outcome and whether I would do it again next week. I signed up for it last year but couldn’t make it at the end. It is my wall and I shall see what my next wall might be. Maybe some kind of solo race like a marathon or off road challenge, we shall see.

Remember I write this prior to the race. Going out of my comfort zone is one thing. I am almost more worried about the camping logistics than the physical strain. On the the other hand it is going to be tough but the things I always enjoyed is endurance sports. Going beyond your status quo, pushing yourself. I remember vividly to go on a bike ride after little sleep with a massive hangover as a student. And it was a tough ride. And making it through that or running 2.5 hours along the beach in Aberdeen, that is what I truly enjoy. I let you know if that’s still the case next week.

Similar to dry January, I decided to stop drinking this week prior to the race. Not sure it would make a difference, but it is interesting to see how tired I got. The body converts the sugar in booze into energy and gives you a boost. Not having this results in more tiredness. Similar to giving up coffee resulting in you getting headaches. Whilst I wouldn’t consider myself a heavy drinker, I do enjoy a drink on a regular basis. So my body is used to the additional sugar and energy. I will do some more research into it, as I am keen on trying the new wine Laithwaites delivered last week 🙂 And wine, according to Ceasar anyway, is good for you. The French drink a whole lot of it and never seem to be bothered by it. As always, in moderation things are good for you, but for every habit you have – let it be exercise, coffee, alcohol or sweets, chocolate – taking a detox and break from it every now and then is useful and resets the system a bit. I am keen on exploring more, and if I was younger, and I said that before, I would compete with Tim Ferris on experimenting with my body and it’s system a bit more.

Now it is back to some travel over the next two weeks. The nice thing is that with summer being here, I actually have a manageable workload. I said the other day, I wasn’t busy. My staff laughed and I realised I have been busy, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming at the moment, not crazy rushed off my feet. Normal I’d say. And that is nice. That in my world means not busy LOL. In case my boss reads that, I am still busy enough! 🙂

That’s all for this week.
Have a good on,
Volker

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Sunday Column (401)

andre agassi

I am reading Andre Agassi’s biography. It is a good read and in one of the chapters this week he said that when he finally ranked number one, he didn’t care. If I say he didn’t care, what he meant is that he had to tell himself to be happy. Inside it didn’t bother him too much to have achieved such a a fundamental milestone.

From my perspective I understand that. I like to win. Be on the top. Be the one people look up to. Of course, most people would enjoy that. Now I don’t do that for my benefit. My motivation is for others. I am motivated by helping others to succeed and others to progress. Whilst this usually follows with the succession and progress for myself, this isn’t the main reason I am doing it. So if Andre got a nice ranking, and people wanted him to achieve that, then this is for others, not for oneself. His motivation to win is different. I get that. And people get motivated in different ways.

My first week back to work. My first week after the long summer. Summer has been great this year, compared to the last few years, and I truly enjoyed some downtime too. And we had some amazing family time this year. This week it was good to be back. It was busy, good busy, and yet it takes time to find my feet and get things going. I am trying hard, I am enjoying it.

star wars

Last weekend we started watching Star Wars. Most people don’t believe I never watched it before, and watching a movie that is now 40 years old was amazing. I genuinely enjoyed it and we will continue the sequel over the next few weeks. Also I started watching ‘The Americans’, a TV show about Russian spies that have been part of the US society for many years. It is a fascinating watch and takes place in a time I grew up in, with the Cold War and everything. It is great to see how much has changed for the better over the years. Yet with Brexit looming, they say that they expect 140 years worth of applications for residence permits in the UK in the next 12 months. Wow. I will be one of them, as I intent to stay and therefore will go through the process of naturalisation. On the other hand I have been speaking to a lot of British nationals that are keen on getting a EU passport to have the chance to leave. Europe, the world, is changing. Let’s wait how the US elections will turn out later this year. Part of me is scared.

We also went rock pooling last weekend. I have never done that before so it was a lot of fun. We found shrimps and fish, caught some not others. We had ice cream and the kids went for a swim in the sea. Contentment. Happiness. What else could you ask for in life. It is the end of summer but I have the feeling the kids really enjoyed it and got a lot of positive experiences and memories out of it. This weekend feels like autumn already. The hanging baskets are coming down. Memories, that’s the main thing. For them it was another summer, new things to explore, doing more of the things they enjoy. I tried to wean them with new food, like cheesy garlicky bread or charcuterie, even Frikadellen. But never mind, they eventually will explore more.

frikadellen

So with summer over, a new beginning at work, it seems like a new beginning overall. I am relatively content. I enjoy my life at the moment. This might change, with the wife going back to work, my work to pick up more towards Christmas, and other changes and hurdles to come our way. I treated myself to new noise cancellation headphones. I can’t even hear myself typing anymore, can connect them to the phone and the laptop at the same time and they are wireless. With Apple’s anticipated new phone not having a headphone jack anymore, things change. And I wanted to go wireless for a while.

I finally decided on a design for my illustrations in my book, using Fiverr. I used the platform before for a logo, but not sure I made the right choice this time. The discussions going back and forth. I guess I see when it has been delivered as a final version. So I am progressing on a few fronts, however the first designer has cancelled their order, full refund 🙁 Shame. I persevere.

Lastly, I listened to a podcast this week quoting ‘Discipline is freedom’. Allegedly an old war poster from the states, this quote, again, makes a lot of sense to me. Any (useful and good) habit you have, will free up your time to think, work, do things you enjoy. Essentially by being disciplined and sticking to routines and habits, you are having less time at which you are pottering around organising yourself. As David Allen says, ‘I am lazy, hence I organise myself in order to spend less time looking for things’. I am the same. I like my routines, my habits and workflows to free up time, thinking space and allow for growth to happen. And yes, I am still growing. Whilst hopefully not vertically or horizontally, my mind should continue to grow and expand. Let me make sure to challenge it daily.

That’s all for this week, have a fantastic one.
Volker

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Sunday Column (246)

Another week. If you are like me, sleep a few hours and you are busy and engaged on your waking hours, weeks just fly past. I had a good week. Somewhat. Lots of frustration yet an overall positive week. Good chats about values, skills and what it is that makes me tick. My coaching is coming along nicely, and I make progress on a lot of ends. I worry about my kids, my wife and whether I can keep up with everything I want to achieve. I guess it is a normal worry, not a “mad worry”. Yet, there needs some more bits coming into play soon. Anyway….

I started to formalise my dream, as in my life milestone I want to achieve. I started thinking differently about certain topics compared to a couple of years ago. I start thinking deeper, thinking purpose, commitment and what stays when you are gone. I write a lot, just added another column in an industry publication to my commitments, and I enjoy sharing things. It helps me think.

dreams

On Wednesday, at our Rotary meeting, I got introduced to a charity helping people with mental problems: Portugal Prints. if you haven’t yet bought your Christmas Cards, please feel free to do so via them. They are amazing. A self help group, financed partly by Westminster Council and partly through their design sales, they help about 35 people to cope with their mental illness.

These are the moments I feel humble. I wish I could hand over a cheque and support them in their daily business with a day or two of myself. Of course they are not the only charity where I see myself being able to help. Yet, there are a few that touch me deeply. Working with disabled children, helping kids in the developed world, negotiating peace deals. I want to give something back and have an inner urge to give, help and make a difference. I started with some baby steps but hopefully I will be able to help more one day. This is part of my dream.

Life. Death. I finished reading the biography of Ayrton Senna. I wonder what made him such an idol? What makes anyone a hero? I guess one part is always the dying part, and dying in mysterious circumstances. Yet Ayrton was healthy, fit, concentrated, had a gift of handling a car and was a likeable, down to earth guy. He followed his passion and tried hard to be the best in what made him tick.

We should all aspire to that. We might not become Formula One racing car drivers but maybe better individuals: at work, at home, in society. I met a friend this week who has been hit hard by life over the last year I’d say. Yet he soldiers on, be in the moment and is soldiering on. He is not giving up. I am grateful for knowing so many brave, enthusiastic people. The ones that look forward, set an example, live of a minimum and just get on with what they do. Never give up. I can be a bit more forceful, more demanding. But that’s me. We are all different.

Being-second-is-to-be-the-first-of-the-ones-who-lose.

I am not sure where this leads us. Some random, charitable, praising thoughts? No common theme again. But maybe someone likes my thoughts. Maybe they are a bit random. It doesn’t help that I read HERO, another book by Rhonda Byrne, the author of The Secret.

On Friday I chaired the last AdMonsters conference for now. This will free up some time to do other pet projects. I recently started coaching a student from Aberdeen University. This is great, I enjoy that. I want to get more involved in Rotary, also looking into another membership. Some people wonder where I take the time and energy from, but it is me expressing myself, creating variety, growth and love around me. That paired with my family is probably the happiest I can ever get.

But let’s stop philosophising. There are still a lot of day to day tasks to be done and lots of stuff to achieve before the dream might become a reality. For now, today, I need to focus on finally shaking off this cold, build up an immune system and get going again on the treadmill.

Onwards and upwards.

Have a good one,
Volker

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Successful change guaranteed?

Maybe success cannot be guaranteed but below’s deck, number 2 in my recent series, is helping you to achieve sustainable change.

Let me know your thoughts.

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