Posts Tagged village life

Sunday Column (458)

I love starting my blog on a Monday. Whilst it won’t make much of a difference to you, the final post being shared on Sunday, I love sitting on the plane or train on a Monday to reflect on the weekend, on life in general. Latter was the whole purpose when I started the Sunday Column now 458 weeks ago. Almost 10 years. It was about not only copying things and sharing things, but making my blog personal. I believe I have achieved that. It also gives me an outlet for my thoughts. My readership is in the thousands and people from all over the world are visiting my site. This is a nice thing to know that every week, people are waiting to read my weekly column. Thank you for bearing with me.

So reflecting on the weekend, I didn’t do much to be honest. We all have a cold and seem to be tired. My best friend from Germany was supposed to visit but was ill himself too. So we ended up with a very relaxing weekend. Some good food and excellent wine, cheese and the fire being on. We also got some game controllers for the AppleTV and the boys thinks we got an Xbox now. Not being an avid gamer myself, the boys and us enjoy the odd game we can play. Life is good and I sorted a few things out over the weekend that needed attention, as well as our holidays to Singapore next year. My cousin lives there and we are keen to visit. Even Economy few months ahead is expensive, but I guess that’s summer holidays and 4 people flying. When booking flights, besides an awful experience on the Singapore Airlines website, we opted for them over Norwegian Airlines. Latter are cheaper and flying from Gatwick, yet with Monarch just going out of business, I think relying on a big airline might just be the way forward. I would have loved to book British Airways, yet the price premium couldn’t be justified at all.

Adventures, experience. That is what life is all about. Gaining a competitive advantage through experience in work and life. Teaching your offspring for them to have a head start in life. This isn’t always easy. I love my manager for that at work, who despite me being prepared for meetings and being on top of things, always finds something else. I soak up his input and wonder if I will be such a good manager when I have another 10 years experience. I hope I will. I am confident I will, but this is for others to decide. My next trip for work takes me to Belgrade, Serbia. Somewhere I have never been, so I am looking forward to it. A new experience, an adventure. This is going to be fun. Not like the weekly commute I have done to Germany throughout the year. No adventure there, just experience 😉

But experience is key. In a workplace which is changing. There are no, or fewer, 30 year long careers. In new industries like online and digital marketing where I am part of, the average tenure is probably around 2 years. Probably even less. And as a friend of mine told me a couple of years ago, if you have done your job you are done, no matter if it is 1 year, 2 years or 5 years – or 6 months. This goes in line with a lot of industry posts I am reading about more and more people becoming consultants. Don’t get me wrong, just recently I have met people that have been with their employer for 11 years and this will exists, but the ones that drive change will be in and out of companies on a short tenure, or found companies themselves. Those progressive and success driven entrepreneurs are the new power managers of tomorrow’s world. I am working on an article around that as we speak.

That brings me to more change. As the leaves turn and I spend some time at home – ill children and then school events – I am looking out of the window and contemplate. Is that it? Is the life we have now, the village set up, is that me for the next 30 years. A yearly harvest festival, Light up Hassocks for Christmas, the local tennis club. Will we not want to change anymore? Is that what they call contentment or happiness?

Spending a day in the local community, showing face at school events and at tennis, I loved being around the boys, being part of their experience. They are my first priority and I do not spend enough time with them during the week. And I absolutely love the way we are living. I love our house, neighbours, driveway, and I am content in the place I am. But coming back to experience, adventure and life changing, when do you know when and how to change? Is it the external Brexit challenge? Is it the shooting in Las Vegas that once again makes a move to the US unappealing? What is it? How do you know? When do you know you found the place you should be staying forever?

Maybe I am impatient and expecting too much. Things come to your at the right time. Things happen for a reason. Change is good. I could quote another 100 sayings like that. But it is true. You MUST trust in the universe that things work out. You think any other ‘animal’ but humans ever think about the future and their mortgage? Ever wondered if the cat on the fence thinks about climate change? We are complicating our lives by thinking and ultimately worrying too much. No, the cat doesn’t. Kids don’t. And dare we teach kids to worry, they should enjoy life and do what they want. Follow their heart. Because the heart knows what is right or wrong.

More autumn thoughts next week, as we are getting further into my most favourite season.

Have an amazing week. Stay well,
Volker

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Sunday Column (442)

I love flying out on a Tuesday. The planes are emptier, the airport is busy with tourists, yet things seem to go smoother than Mondays. Soon I have to fly both ways from Heathrow again, Easyjet stops flying out early from Gatwick. However, as I am going less often, this will be manageable. I didn’t miss not flying last week, and the boys truly enjoyed having me around. On Friday I had a half day, which was to look after the boys. We had an amazing weekend: bowling, pizza, going on the bikes and just having loads of fun.

The weekend was topped by my oldest son’s birthday on Monday. I managed to work from home. So not only could I complete another run but also be there for the 7 am, with him being awake from 5, unwrapping his presents. A new pod or Walkman was the main present, another cosy blanket, and a fidget cube. His actually birthday party was this weekend with a trip to Laserworld. Whilst I cannot believe that he is 8 already, I sometimes wonder how time flies.

Also, we went to the youngest school fair. I remember going to that fair a year before we moved to Hassocks. It is a village get together, a catch up amongst dads, mums and kids of course. A great way to spend a sunny summers day. Great to see you all.

When I was 8, I am sure, I cycled around town on the roads. Maybe I didn’t. My oldest isn’t, and I am still protective of him going up the hill and cycling down in our quiet cul de sac. Maybe our generation is too overprotective. Maybe we fear the worst. Last weekend, we took the bars on the side of his bed off. He still wiggles a lot but claims he slept in beds at friends without bars and didn’t fall out. What if he did? He won’t die falling out of bed. But we fear for their safety and security.

No, I am not knocking fear. Just the opposite, fear is healthy. The reason I write about it, is that Tim Ferris in his latest TED talk is speaking about conquering fear. One of his guests stated that if you make easy decisions you have a hard life but if you make hard decisions, you have an easy life. We must make decisions and approach and conquer fear. One must ask the question what the worst possible outcome would be, and if that’s happening, what would you do instead? How could you escape the worst possible situation if what you fear actually happens?

A coping mechanism. And that’s what in my opinions systems are all about. In my book I write about best practises to work on your own systems and define your own habits, routines: systems. Due to lack of time I havnen’t really started to formalise a more condensed approach, e.g. a seminar or one pager or video. This is still all to come and my next project on the horizon. Life doesn’t have to be difficult. Even with doing two jobs, I don’t feel that I am overworked. Sometimes there is too much to do, but on most days I manage fine. Delegation, systems, decisions and focus are key. However, when I worked from home the other day, I was sitting in the living room around 7.30 pm and thought I should carry on. I don’t normally have that much time, but I did miss the 3 hours commute that day, on which I normally finalise a few projects. Systems absolutely help to get on top of things, stay on top of tasks and manage team members well. Yet, more often than not, I am still the one doing more than others, just because I very much enjoying it. Life couldn’t be better at the moment I find, and it seems as if I am settling in just fine.

Just as I think life might be a routine itself, and it never is, there are new challenges ahead, and new decisions to face. Being surrounded by great teams and support staff, I think we can turn up the heat one more bit. I want more out of life, enjoy it more by achieving and experiencing more. Life becomes almost like a drug where achievements sporns me on. Where I feel like I would like to achieve more. This isn’t even about money, ownership and possessions but about owning experience and learning, knowledge and a better system to cope with more. This is particularly true in times like these where we don’t know what the Brexit strategy is or how our government will look like in six months time. Uncertainty is part of our life, in politics and elsewhere, yet Systems stabilise those and make it bearable and conquerable.

One decision I can speak about soon. I want to discuss it with some friends and noodle on it. It is a sporting challenge, but as one says, if you are thinking of already doing something, haven’t you made your decision already? This goes in line with some news I heard this week and some connections I made this week also. Positives and Negatives. Life is yin and yang. And we should honour what we have, and enjoy whilst we can. The terrible fire in London this week reminded us yet again that we never know what’s around the corner.

I guess I talked enough about systems and fear today. In other news I had a quite enjoyable trip to Germany this week. Short and sweet or Kurz und Knackig (short and cross/crisp (?)) as the Germans would say. It is funny how some things cannot really be translated. I came across a quote last week ‘ein Affe auf dem Schleifstein’ which just doesn’t translate. A description of a monkey bending over a far too small tool/table. The look you get if you put your 8 year old on a bike of a 3 year old. Never mind.

Have an amazing week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (370)

I start this blogpost in the air. My second flight of the year. I am in a Fokker, a KLM Cityhopper, from Dusseldorf to Amsterdam. I just spend two great days meeting clients in Germany and now I am heading to another meeting in Amsterdam, flying back on Friday night.

I miss the family. At time of travel I spoke to the wife twice but hadn’t managed to speak to the kids. Busy. When I landed I managed FaceTime at Amsterdam airport. It isn’t easy but they don’t know any different. Also I am not gone for too long. Not that often. We trying really hard to balance life and work. Life really is what we balance. And in the end I managed an earlier flight home, surprising them to be home for dinner.

It is fun and seeing it in any other way doesn’t make sense. Whilst one hotel wasn’t up to the ‘Ballueder standards‘, the ride there was. I managed to catch a Tesla. It was futuristic. It was amazing to sit in that car. That feeling was like being in the future already. Wow. That reminds me that we are still looking at cars. The Skoda Superb was thrown in the mix and surprisingly the Mazda CX-5, a mini SUV, which could kind of be a nice family car. Test drives to follow in a few weeks time. Interesting development, as I didn’t think there were that many cars out there that could host us, as the price level we are looking at.

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As always I am working late nights when on the road, exercising early mornings despite my cold. I love pushing boundaries. Over 100K run this month! I am confident that in 2016 things are soaring to the next level. This is true for various aspects of my life. We should finish the house renovation, have a first package holiday with the family, career, fitness, engagement with kids, personal confidence and strengths in multiple ways. Life is awesome.

I want to give more. I want to make more happen. And I will. 2016 is a pivotal point I think. Ask me again in a few months time. Or 2 years from now looking back. Connecting the dots. Contributing to that is village life and us getting more engaged in the local community. My wife is a member of one of the running clubs and we went to their annual party. That was fun, and fascinating to see how popular running and exercising got. Great!

I am grateful. I am appreciative. What you don’t appreciate, depreciates. Tony Robbins. Stop to smell the roses, live the moment, work hard, play hard. You can probably tell I am on fire. But that is it. I am so knackered at the weekends, but I am on fire. Not sure that makes sense but I am pushing boundaries and then rest up for the coming week. Yet, weekends are great. Playing chess with the eldest, cuddles and reading with the little one. We are having lots of fun!

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Last but not least there are two more decisions this week. Firstly, after a non successful 4 weeks but 2 weeks long dry January, there will be more periods of less alcohol. However, I want to worry less about my alcohol consumption and don’t believe, given the statistics, that I have to. Hence I stop counting my alcohol intake. Whilst I always said that if you monitor things, that you can improve on them, I don’t have to improve on it. I had some really interesting chats about it, and I am done with counting alcohol, I don’t need to anymore I believe. It makes me more paranoid than it is helping me to count everything. Similar is true for food calorie intake. I did that for a few monthlong periods but haven’t done it for a while as I am quite aware of what I am eating. So I will stop counting and simplifying life a bit more.

And the second decision is to change my supermarket. I move away from Tesco as we complained about their ongoing quality issues. However, when the delivery truck was 2 hours late we complained properly. Yet when discussing the issues with a customer representative, she only saw the delay of the van as the issue and, despite us mentioning it in emails and in conversations, she was oblivious to everything else we complained about over the last few months. They didn’t see the bigger picture of us changing. Result: I let go. I cannot hold on to Tesco and went back to Ocado. For now anyway 🙂

My best thing this week? Coming home of course. Cuddles from the kids. Being super productive late night and up early in the gym. When I am achieving. When I am disconnecting. Fire and ice. I love those extremes as much as I hate them. And yet I am not complaining.

A lot of thoughts this week were around my chosen life and industry. What do we do and why. And I am happy. I am in a sweet spot I like to believe within our small world.

Then I stop and smell the roses. Say thanks. Meditate on what life is all about and hug my sons.

Have a great week.
Love and Kindness.
Volker

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Sunday Column (174)

This week went well. We made a lot of progress and decisions on the house. Slowly but surely we are settling in. Of course there are decisions we have to postpone or do one step at a time, but overall it is going well. A house, particularly looking at a 30+ year plan, is a big project no doubt. We loving it though.

Ikea delivered this weekend and we sort of sorted the spare bedroom. Now my parents have at least a place to stay next weekend. Of course we planned already where they can focus their efforts to help us sorting this project. We just hope the weather is good enough to get some heavy lifting done in the garden and take a few trips to the local council tip.

But the house is not all that is happening. As of Monday I officially look after our UK business again, and I was busy this week sorting as much as I can to have a smooth transition. Again, a lot to sort out, integrate and move forward. I really look forward to it.

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I also finished Joan Baez’s autobiography this week. I guess she is a real hippy who influenced a few generation. She probably would put me in the bracket of “children of the eighties” despite the fact I am a bit older than that. A moving book but with a lot of insights into a person’s life that influenced not only generations. She stands for folk music. Non violence and humanity/humanitarian help. Bless her.

Then I went running four out of five mornings. Slowly but surely I believe I am getting fit. As mentioned in my post yesterday about cancer I read an article that made me think, a newsletter pointing out the risk of dying:

The following numbers are approximations for deaths by various causes in the U.S. in the first decade of the 21st Century. Don’t get caught up in exact numbers, but consider the magnitudes. This is 10 years worth of data.

Total U.S. Deaths in First Decade of 21st Century

5 – Shark
500 – Airline Crash
500 – Lightning
500 – Children Abducted and Killed By Stranger
3,000 – Terrorism
210,000 – Homicide
250,000 – Accidental Falls
350,000 – Automobile Accidents
480,000 – Other Accidents
560,000 – Flu or Pneumonia
770,000 – Diabetes
800,000 – Alzheimer’s
1,400,000 – Any Kind of Accidents (included separately above)
1,430,000 – Lung Disease
1,470,000 – Stroke
6,230,000 – Cancer
6,685,000 – Heart Disease

So shark attack, airplanes, stranger danger, and terrorism are all in the same category as being struck by lightning – so remote as to be almost non-existent. They aren’t even on the chart with everything else.

Now assuming those figures are correct there is a big discrepancy in what you worry about and what you should worry about. You don’t worry about your child dying of Alzheimer’s but about accidents. You worry more about flying than cancer or heart diseases. And you probably take more action towards not flying, not driving than not eating fried food, saturated fats or the odd cigar or your daily glass of wine.

20120629-181658.jpgYou see what I am getting at. Cancer, heart disease and lung disease are the number one killers. That is what we should be worried about. We should start to exercise, drink less alcohol, eat more good and healthy food. Whilst I don’t want to show off, I have been able to reduce my alcohol intake, enjoying alcohol free beer instead. I started running and doing back exercises most mornings which admittedly leaves me tired but feeling so much better. I guess a habit I will get used to over time, and it can only get better.

On that note I manage to read a good chunk on the commute in the morning and then manage a power nap too. So I arrive at work fully rested and ready to go. Really works well. And so far I always got a seat. Although I still haven’t found the right carriage where I definitely get a seat. Still finding my feet, still getting used to things. Still enjoying it.

There are not many more news. The kids never got chicken pocks, my wife enjoys taking them places and I love the weekends when I can spend time with them. During the week it is rare to see them more than 10 minutes in the morning.

Life is good. We are happy. Nothing else matters, does it? Maybe…

Have a fantastic week!
Volker

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Village Life: Fox in the local pet shop

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