Tag: coaching

Now is the time to reduce stress and increase employee engagement

The clocks have gone back, it’s dark earlier, and the weather is so miserable. On top of these predictable things, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air regarding a possible second lockdown and will it be deal or no deal with the EU? Many of us are worried about the future, and some are getting anxious about what it’ll mean for jobs and careers. Given October is Mental Health Awareness month, now is a good time for these matters to be on the forefront of ALL our minds.

Many people who have been working from home for months experience ‘isolation’, leading to some stress and sense of anxiety. This is a good time to act as a really good employer and to refocus on employee engagement. Afterall when engagement goes down, commitment wanes, innovation drops and inevitably profits stall. Downward spirals are dangerous for business health just as it is for mental health.

In June I posted an article about Mindfulness and Stress reduction, and I have found the article acts as a conversation starter when speaking with business people about mindfulness.

If I hadn’t had a daily practise of mindfulness for over 15 years, I could write these articles with integrity. I feel blessed in that I have learned to overcome anxiety and stress. I have never been gripped by depression, despite being made redundant many times, even though of course these events caused a lot of insecurity, anxiety and stress! For many people, even if they are still employed, what’s happening out there in society and the economy at the moment is probably worse than a normal redundancy (if there is such a thing) because of the heightened sense of uncertainty.

All this means is that now is a good time for employers to show true leadership and refocus on keeping their people engaged, working to take away any unfounded fears they have and helping them to cope with stress more effectively. My life’s motto is ‘if I fall down 7 times, I get up 8’, based on a Japanese proverb. But it isn’t necessarily for everyone as most people need a helping hand to get through difficult times.

I enjoy teaching meditation in companies. It nurtures self-awareness, which is a vital step towards being a more effective employee and a better leader. I help transform organisational cultures by embracing mindfulness in the workplace and looking after each other. I coach leaders to be more emotionally intelligent, and communicate better with their staff.

The Mindful Leader published an article about how stressful work can be. Of course there can be many unexpected and unpleasant things at work as well as what goes on at home and outside work. In these Covid plagued times these two domains are less and less separated. The transition from work to home has become more fluid for some or non-existent for others.

Viktor Frankl, the well-known holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, highlighted that there is a gap between stimulus and how we respond and as a result we have choices and so we can learn to decide how we respond to unpleasant stimuli. The greater our awareness if this, achievable through the practise of mindfulness, the more we can ‘manage’ your way out of stressful situations. This ‘gap’ is what George Mumford, author of The Mindful Athlete, calls being ‘in the zone’ and what others might call the eye of the hurricane or the quiet place in the storm.

I recently finished a 6 months programme with a company where confidence improved with the employees that attended my mindfulness at work course. Stress and anxiety were reduced, and we worked on loads of things that helped the team get through the crisis. Please check out the case study on my website.

As a mindfulness trainer for organisations and coach for individuals I can teach techniques that combat mental health issues. I work with individuals to change mindsets and see the world from a more helpful point of view, enabling them to get unstuck or lead better.

Contact me today for a free consultation on how I can help you to balance your employees’ wellbeing and teach your leaders the right skills to navigate these uncertain times. Or feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Ballueder Thinks (10) – October Update

I am finishing this post as I unwind for the night. A busy day ‘in the office’, lots of zoom calls…but a good day, as most days are at the moment.

When I started writing this post, it was a week after my marathon. My columns here become more of a diary which I publish on an irregular basis. I hope you continue to enjoy them. Please reach out to me and let me know, so I can use your feedback to improve.

That in itself is an important point, if you don’t seek feedback, you never improve. I guess that’s why my coaching clients come to me, they want to be coached from an ‘outside-in’ perspective, someone giving them feedback and suggesting how to better themselves. It’s great to be able to do that, as I really enjoy doing it too. Reach out to me for a free consultation on how I could help you to achieve more in life.

In terms of my running, I recovered from my injury from the marathon and I am slowly going back to training again. For now, I decided I will take it easy for a month, focusing on weight loss, muscle gain and maintaining my fitness level. This means a split half marathon on Mondays, and a further 10K later in the week. That’s plenty to maintain the level for now. I never felt so fit before. Interesting enough, I noticed that I cannot cope with alcohol that well anymore. Even the ‘normal’ amount gives me a slight hungover the next day. Whether that is down to the theory that muscles which are well trained soak up any fluid in order to hydrate, and therefore cause havoc with alcohol, or if it is age, I do not know 🙄 So my beloved wine needs to be a weekend thing for me to continue to perform at my peak during the week. That is a good problem to have IMO.

What keeps me up at night is productivity and performance. You might think that’s a bit geeky but I have two interesting projects which both need high performance from me, for the little hours I have. The balance when working as a consultant. I hopefully add a couple more projects by the time I finished this post, and also add more coaching clients. As a matter of fact I added a voluntary role in the mindfulness space to the portfolio; more info and announcements next time, when things are officially formalised.

I also got approached for full time roles recently and have engaged in a few conversations. However, I am still not sure. But never say never. There is loads going on, and I shared 10 open positions on LinkedIn the other day that randomly appeared in my newsfeed. To be honest, I am very curious how I split my time in the months to come. All I can say is that I truly enjoy what I am doing and the people I am working with.

Things are moving, and are in constant change. Change is good. My podcasts are well received and I enjoy interviewing guests from a variety of topics. Watch the space for some really interesting, mind opening conversations I recorded.

That leads me to another topic. As a family we have been putting our thinking hats on too. From whiteboard sessions around the kitchen table to discussions how we want to live, and what is important to us. As some ideas and plans are shattered, other opportunities are opening up. Again, I am not sure how it all pans out in the months to come, but I am sure we will be fine. As a family we grow stronger, the boys are getting older and things are happening. And that is the most important thing. It showed massively when the youngest had to quarantine due to a Covid case in his school bubble recently. I am sure we see more of that to come, and I am worried about a second lock down tbh. Sometimes I fear the virus will never go away, so we just have to accept it and live with it.

Anyway, given the circumstances,

I am happy.
I am grateful.
And I am immensely positive.

I couldn’t wish for anything else atm. We have always been ambitious and positive thinking. This means we are ready to take on whichever challenge life throws at us, and I am confident we master it. And the boys are growing up with that attitude and learning from us to become more resilient.

This all goes in line with a lot of patience, resilience, and communication with a 9 and 11 year old, who of course see life from a different angle than ourselves. Life is challenging to be explained to some, and making decisions is what we have to do as parents and carers, and we hope we make the right ones. You cannot always please everyone which means, sometimes things just have to be done.

There is of course a negative side effect to what I do: I am working too much. I just love to. Whilst I am contracted by days/hours/projects, I often end up clocking a lot more hours and neglect the family or myself. The other week I realised I hadn’t left the house for 3 days! I made up for it with a session in the pub, and that felt really good! Just the other day I coached someone on work life balance, and how to separate life and work when working from home; from physical distancing to breaking up the day, carving time out for lunch, school runs etc. Don’t forget, we are all in it together, and a small change can go a long way. It’s like the discussion around wearing face masks. They don’t protect yourself, but protect others. And for that reason, unless you are selfish, just wear one. A small price to pay if you ask me.

Whilst we didn’t go out for a few days, we got some life admin done. It’s nice to feel to be on top of things, cuddling up with the boys, spending proper family time together. The fire was on, nice food was cooked and you are creating that home family atmosphere. Isn’t that brilliant? As mentioned above, we are still learning to become the ‘perfect family’ (define that how you want), but open communication and support for each other is key. How do we stop daddy from shouting? How can I trust you more? How can I get you to listen more?

It’s a bit like a board meeting. The application of leadership and management to small independent family organisations 🙂 I can see a book coming soon. As a matter of fact, a discussion last week sparked my interest to write a book called ‘what I learned now and would pass on to my younger self if he was listening’. But it’s true, I remember a friend of mine doing a whiteboard session with his parents a few years ago. It works, and visualisation and communication are key to any team you are working with.

Since I last published a post, there have been a few things happening. I got a new veggie cook book by Jamie Oliver which I love; I ordered the new iPhone (2 years upgrade cycle) and it will arrive soon. It is crazy to think how far technology has come, when I compare that with my first HTC smart phone running on Windows back in 2006. The connectivity or even the camera compared to my first digital camera at university. I am a bit technology geek, and I cannot wait for the machine to arrive. The pictures are soon available in RAW format, not that it means much to me, but this will be a breakthrough for professional photographers. In line with that, we are consuming more, and I got myself convinced to add Netflix to the mix. So between Apple TV, Prime and Netflix, we now have 3 subscription services. I am monitoring this closely, as I don’t really like to pay for many. We also pay a subscription for FreeTV which I happily get rid of. However, that’s just a hidden tax really.

Now, on the weekend of the 17th, I heard the sad news that my old manager and mentor, Andy, passed away. He was fighting cancer since 2016 when he collapsed in the office. I will re-publish a podcast I recorded with him at the end of 2019, in memory and in warning, somewhat, that we cannot escape death. Andy had cancer, an evil one, and we openly talked about it. He made peace with himself, and was ready to go – as ready as one can be. He leaves a lot of friends, a fantastic family and a legacy of a life behind. He influenced my life over the years, and those many others. It sometimes feels as if the good guys go to early. One just doesn’t know how much time is left on the clock. You must make the most of it. Life can be cut short.

On that note, if you knew Andy, please contribute to his chosen charity Garden House Hospice, mentioning his name. I will miss you and our chats.

No matter how many people die, it isn’t getting easier. The closer you are to them, the more memories you shared, the more it affects you. This year I lost two loved ones already. Many people died of Covid of course. It’s not the year to sit and wait. It’s those experiences that make us more determined, to spend more time with our family, to make more things happen, to work harder, yet make every moment count with your loved ones.

Andy and I shared a ton of memories, attending events across Europe, where we spend long days and nights, having lots of fun. We shared good and bad moments, and he will be truly missed. I loved working with him, and loved taking advice from him. Rest in peace.

I think this is a good time to end this column.
Covid, Brexit, life in general – there is so much uncertainty. As I am learning to embrace fear more and more, it doesn’t make it easier. I sometimes think I need a year off, maybe 2021, to reflect and do what I want to do. Lottery win my way please 😉

Give your loved ones a hug tonight. Reflect on what you have, and be grateful. Life can change in a heartbeat, so cherish the precious moments.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world!
Volker

Ballueder Thinks (9) – Marathon Day

Thanks for stopping by.

At time of reading, if you read this when it is published, I am running around Hassocks, my local village. I committed to fundraise for the RNIB and run the London Marathon. Today is the day, and as you might have your first or second coffee, sitting in the warmth and reading the paper and my blog, I am out there clocking the miles.

RNIB

26.2 miles or 42.2 km.
The training has been intense. Falls, scared knees, early weekend mornings, and almost being hit by cars or motor bikes. And it is getting colder, wetter, windier, and it is dark.
I decided to not do an ultra marathon for now, and the main reason is time. Training for anything takes away a lot of weekend family time, even if you start running at 6 am and you are back by 9sih. You feel knackered afterwards. Half marathons seem to be a good distance, with not being too tired and doing them in about 2 hours. I also want to run more with the local people too, maybe I find someone else who is crazy enough to train for something bigger.

Anyway, I have done it, or hopefully have done it, and thank you for your support. I guess you read on my Instagram feed whether I succeeded.

Please acknowledge my efforts by donating to the RNIB via my page. I am thanking you for it.

Did you know 93% of blind and partially sighted people can see something? And that there are over 200 eye conditions?

Let me fill you into other things that are going on in my life:

At the time I started writing this post, I am a bit down. When I say down, I mean ‘too much going on’, ‘overwhelmed’. I spend the morning sorting things out for one company, admin, processes, operations etc. I enjoy that kind of work, and knew I had a longer lunch break. A lovely sunny day, lunch with the wife in our favourite spot, nap on the beach. Then another longer session for another company, doing similar things….until the early evening hours.

Life isn’t too bad you think, and despite a longer lunch break I still clocked 7 hours of work. Early starts, late finish, longer breaks. The beauty of working for yourself, and having clients that don’t care when you work, as long as the results come in. And they do I might say.

I shouldn’t and I am not complaining, I got work, and I got enough atm. That is great, and I also announced a new partnership recently and will do more work in the consulting space in the near future. But, it is a lot of work whilst juggling family, being home all the time, and of course promoting yourself and running a marathon. People often forget the impact all those things have on your life. Hence, I always suggest to the people I work with to take a step back, reflect and take stock. Reevaluate what you are doing, and how and why you are doing it.

I love making my own decisions, not being bound by company politics, but I do miss the office banter, the connection to a company. Yet over time, that all comes regardless. As a freelancer, however, you can decide how you work, and which projects you prioritise. That depends on pay, urgency of course, commit and family. Flexibility I suppose is key, but also being organised and determined. And I am certainly that.

On a Tim Ferris podcast the other day, someone said that he teaches his children to understand that there is nothing on the other side of fear. Having said that, I got myself a T-Shirt saying, everything is on the other side of fear. It’s probably the same saying from a different angle. You cannot go wrong by conquering fear and going for something. You cannot loose, fear should not hold you back, you have everything to play for. I guess that’s what it is. And, on a recent podcast I recorded, the ladies I interviewed suggested that lockdown made us go back to our roots, and we created life, rather than reacted and tried to thrive too much. The episode goes live in a couple of weeks, so make sure you listen in. We cover resilience and stress management, from various angles and opinions. Definitely worth your time.

My mission over the next 6 months is to work more on personal development projects, or move more into strategy consulting. I just had a few opportunities come past me, for both objectives.. People often ask if I don’t know what I want, and I say I do. I am really good in coaching and enjoy strategy, but also working with people in sales, which is a combination of both: strategy and coaching. Anyway, the future will be interesting, no doubt. Combining those two areas as much as I can is the ideal case scenario. Let’s see….

On the coaching side of things, I want to deliver more workshops on resilience, and meditation, mindfulness and stress management. There are so many ways you can utilise your skills and teach people how to become better. And that’s my mission and vision in life, despite my love for digital marketing. And, having said that, 😂 – I do love the data area I am just working in, and the companies I work for. The future is bright, let’s not fear it!

Now, to finish off, let’s talk about my marathon training. I never felt more ready for the big run today. My fall a couple of weeks ago is almost completely healed. I was shocked when it happened, afraid I couldn’t run the marathon, crying. I am ok with crying, out of shock, pain or whatever. Despite, I finished the run I was on, and almost got run over by a car, not being with it, being shocked a bit I suppose. Your mind changes, the body mind connecting is so key, and observing it, and understanding it, then counteracting it, is key. To resilience, stress management, and in my case survival. It’s a dangerous world out there. This is also why I need a break first before I embark on my next adventure.

When I signed up with the RNIB to run the London marathon for them this year, I didn’t know if it was going ahead. I knew it might not but I was determined to run it anyway. Now I run the virtual one, and another one next year or year after. Finally, running the London marathon. I cannot wait. I am in top shape, good form. I enjoy the long distance runs, endurance rather than speed. That’s me. Building up resilience to pain, to niggles, and being in the zone to survive and zoning out. Literally. Who knows why I enjoy that. But I always have done. I used to run 2 hours at University in Aberdeen, slow but for two hours, and I loved it, down the beach. No one measured distances then, or had a smart watch, but I reckon I did a few half marathons then too. In the end it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy yourself.

A few other things happened since I last wrote and I want to mention it, mainly to get help and input on alternative solutions. Evernote got a new update which totally wrecked my confidence in the app and my productivity system. When you cannot trust your trusted system, there is a problem. I am disappointed to see that an app releases such a buggy update and cannot fix things within a couple of weeks. I tried notion but I am not 100% sure that’s the best replacement. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know. One solution could be of course to have notion as one app for projects, and Evernote as an archive. Any ideas are welcome.

Then there was a water leak, just the day before the rain started, and the sun disappeared 🙂 A day without water. Not a big deal you think, yet for me it put things into perspective. I looked up a few stats and a huge amount of people (up to 35% I believe) are without toilet/sanitisation. And we complain if we cannot run the water tap or the dishwasher or washing machine for a day. I could go off on a rant about the privileges we have in the 1st world. Or so called 1st world, seeing what’s going on with Covid and Brexit in this country, you sometimes wonder. Trying to ignore politics has been a difficult task for me.

Watch this video explaining privilege which recently popped up in my newsfeed again:

Just by having a good education, being white and male, you seem to have a head start in life. You seem to be ‘privileged’ not by who you are and what you do, but because of the background you are from. I had a private healthcare appointment too, and this normally goes against my belief. Not that I don’t approve of private healthcare but it puts you in a position to be able to jump the queue. I always had that as a child and only recently went back to private healthcare in the UK. To see a specialist in the NHS for the problem I had would have been 40+ weeks. That’s almost a year. I appreciate Covid isn’t helping, but we cannot go on like this.

I personally believe that this country needs to change. Fundamentally change. Even the world. You cannot have people in power because of their background and education, a birth right. And those of us who are a minority, for whatever reason, are not accepted in society or left out. Just recently I had a longer discussion with an Indian born friend about that, who has lived in the UK, and has been a British citizen for over 20 years. He experienced discrimination. It’s a name, an origin or the colour of your skin. And this is so wrong. I cannot say this often enough, and hope that this will change – globally!

Enough about politics. You get me started on a topic you don’t want me to rant on.

As you finish this post, I am coming closer to the finish line too. Thanks again for your support, for this race, for the RNIB but also for my life, my career, my family.

Whoever you are who is reading this has a connection to me, and if you feel that it is strong enough, reach out and let me know. I love to connect, network, chat, be friends, share a pint, virtually or real.

And please, if you have a fiver to spare, please please donate to the RNIB. Thank you.

Have a wonderful rest weekend and weeks ahead. If you are interested in receiving a short newsletter on a monthly basis, please subscribe to it here. I share updates and great article on leadership and personal development.

Ballueder Thinks (8) – September 2020

Sorry, I haven’t written for a while. To be honest, writing for me is to get things off my chest, process things. With my marathon training I get a lot of thinking done whilst running. 3.5 hours this weekend. So there is less to process in writing, unless your life is super complex. I keep thinking (literally) that running long distance, or do any kind of form of exercise, it is a bit like therapy. It is very much recommended to exercise for a good mental health and work life balance after all.

But I feel lucky, my life isn’t too complex to be honest. I recently took on more work and should have enough work to see me through to the end of the year. Hopefully beyond. From there, I want to grow my practise for coaching and personal development more. I am working on concepts for change management, organisational change management and productivity seminars and workshops around holistic approaches to better yourself and your company. It’s no secret that this is what I am really passionate about, and I see a window of opportunity to make this a main profession through 2021. We shall see.

Whilst this of course sounds complex, personally I find it less complex than my life has been. With the kids being back at school, I get more productive, and manage to get more done in less time. We are returning to a new normal, with a new outlook in and on life. The endless discussion whether we return to an office or not. I mentioned it in my video update this week, I am not working for any company that has an office, but I am open to go to London (or elsewhere) to meet prospects or clients. The flexible approach works in my opinion.

This also means that demand for office space is decimated, demand for sandwich places too, and transport is less busy, which also means less revenue for train companies. All of that will result in changes how we live and travel. How? I am not too sure yet myself, but the first impact has been seen with the travel industry on its knees. I am curious how the future pans out. I am positive, always the optimist, that humans will survive and find a way to succeed. It will also be tough, no question about that.

Newsletter

If you haven’t signed up to my newsletter yet, please do so. I am writing there too, yet less content of my own but sharing content around ‘leadership’ and ‘personal development’. The feedback from my first newsletter has been overwhelmingly positive, and I thank all subscribers for the confidence and support. You can sign up and find the latest issues here.

Having said that, my consulting experience in the digital sector is still very rewarding. I love technology. I just do. I am still getting excited by data in the programmatic and media buying world. And, how this will all change over the next couple of years. I also learned to say ‘no’ to assignments, despite having the time, as the roles weren’t suited for me. As always, I am learning a lot and making huge progress. I like that.

On the note of learning, my interview for my 2nd podcast of season 4, which goes live at the end of September, covers the topic of learning as part of a discussion around ‘body-mind-connection’. It triggered me to look more into the different philosophies of learning and perception of the world, and how we can define things differently depending on our point of view. I also ordered a few books on neuroscience, as I want to study more of the scientific background that leads to high performance achievement in leadership, as I start signing up more leaders to help them get unstuck, and enhancing their emotional intelligence.

With the marathon training it is a bit like coaching someone to build resilience. Whether that is through mindfulness or being able to work on the stimulus-response gap. If you don’t know what that means, you should join one of my seminars or courses on mindfulness and resilience. But what I teach helps you to get unstuck, to see the world from a different view, and to look at things differently. Abandoning the autopilot (that’s about 80% of your doing) and live in the moment, being in the moment. All that for free (the meditation is, not my coaching 😉 ). I will launch more around this programme in the forthcoming weeks, once the marathon is out of the way. Feel free to reach out for a complimentary coaching session in the meantime.

On the topic of marathon. I never felt more fit and more ready to go for the big race. It’s only my second one, but having done a few longer runs, a half marathon in under 2 hours (first time since 2016), and generally I am feeling up for it. It helps me to look at the event in a very positive way. I am ready to take on the challenge, and I trained hard to get here. So please please support me by donating to the RNIB for whom I am doing that.

RNIB

I will run this marathon and then another one next year or year after. Given my current mindset I might just go for an ultra early next year too, but that won’t be decided until after the marathon, as the alternative is around some weight training and shedding some weight instead. We shall see, as always never a dull moment in the Ballueder world, and new goals to be achieved. Whatever I do, the more money I can raise for the RNIB, the better. They are a great charity and helped so many people!

That’s all for this time. I titled the post September as I fear this becomes more of a monthly blog post, in line with a 3-weekly podcast and monthly newsletter. That’s how I remove ‘complexity’. As you would have noticed, I love creating content, sharing things that add value and help you to #bebetter and improve your life. That’s my mission in life, to help others, and to help you live a better life.

We are only here once, aren’t we. Let’s make the most of it, and live life to the fullest, responsibly and holistically, in unison with our values and purpose.

Love and Kindness from my little corner of the world.
Volker

Get a note taking app that works for you. A trusted system! My Productivity Tip 4

You might be saving articles for review, research or later reading; saving important emails or even finding a way of monitoring self-development. Note taking in the modern age has become ever so important. For all different reasons.

Whatever you need to take notes for, make sure you have a trusted system. In my personal development course, I speak a lot about this trusted system. You need to define your own, one that works for you!

Personally, I love Evernote, but there are other systems, and I started testing Google Keep recently. It’s good to always try new things. Quip isn’t bad, so is OneNote. Although I am not the biggest Microsoft fan, but never mind.

Start finding tools that work for you.
Become better at remembering things and storing things for when you need them. Know where to search for them, and build your own library.

And the same is true for task management apps too. My favourite is 2do. It got recommended to me 6 years ago and is engrained into my life!

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube to discover them all, and more!

I hope this week’s tip was useful. Please share if you liked it!

If you like what you see, you can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life. This in return leads you to more success and productivity.

Mindfulness: Reducing Stress in the Workplace

When I introduce myself as a mindfulness trainer, most people assume that I meditate. That’s correct of course, but for some people meditation is still a bit ‘fluffy’ and the ’stuff that the monks in the orange robes’ do. Mindfulness goes beyond that, and the focus on the workplace is key for my programmes.

I set out to meditate almost 15 years ago. I learned from many mentors that through meditation you would be more balanced, more focused and it helps you become successful. That was my reason really. 15 years later, and I have a 20 minute daily meditation routine. I then add some mindfulness exercises throughout the day, to destress during the day and refocus on the task at hand. Sometimes it is a short mindfulness break, sometimes a deeper going breathing exercise, or the three step breathing space I talk about below.

How do you define mindfulness? It’s about being in the moment and being self aware. Similar to Emotional Intelligence (EQ), it is about self-awareness and awareness of others. Being mindful. For mindfulness, the NHS uses the example of consciously feeling the banister when you are walking up or down the stairs. Being able to take yours surroundings in, non judgementally, just being very mindful. It is to observe your commute or taking a different way to work to change your perspective, that is of course if you are commuting to work at the moment.

In 2019 I did a training to become a Mindfulness at Work trainer through a spin off from the Mindfulness Centre at Oxford University. It was important to me that I get a good scientific based training plus a training that focuses on the workplace. It followed two other mindfulness educations earlier in the year.

One of my recent clients in the legal space achieved great results by feeling less stressed and overwhelmed by the end of the course; their happiness and wellbeing improved by 60%. See the case study of Jameson Legal here. On my website you find another case study too!

As a result we ended up doing more ongoing work, where we looked at productivity improvement and how to incorporate a three step breathing space exercise into a daily routine. A quick reset that takes not longer than 30 seconds or up to 3 minutes.

Download the guided meditation here and try it for yourself.

The improvements we are seeing through our 6 week long courses , and of course we can tailor for shorter or longer or bespoke ones, are the following:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Less stress
  • Reduction of healthcare costs
  • Less costs for sickness
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved leadership skills

Particularly the latter can have a hugely positive impact on an organisation. Compassionate leadership for instance and being able to communicate with employees better are just one of many positive impacts.

No matter how small or big you are as a company, we find the right programme for you to reduce stress, improve focus, and make your company a better place to work.

To find out more, contact me – I teach mindfulness, but also do individual and group coaching sessions with focus on productivity improvement and mindfulness of course.

Ballueder Thinks (2) – I believe in you

To believe in someone, you have to believe in yourself. That’s my opinion anyway. Did you know, according to Coach George Ravelin who was interviewed on Tim Ferris’ podcast the other day, not many parents tell their children that they believe in them.

The coach, now 82, also talks about ‘staying alive’ was his goal for most of his life, living in America as a black man. Every time he got stopped by the police, he feared for his life. A sad, yet fascinating podcast. It takes me back to my life in Kansas. A year as an exchange student, being pressurised into (soft) drugs, guns, drinking, sex and witnessing racial discrimination. It might sound horrible now, but at the time, I thought that’s what America was like. This is over 25 years ago, and I had a teacher back then, I might add a black teacher, who told me that he believed in me, and that one day I will become someone great. Whilst I still wonder when this might be, I wonder if I am already there. Who knows what ‘great’ really means?
You were a great mentor, Dr. Stone!

I have witnessed racism against me at the time, and against black people. I have witnessed a lot in my life, that I have forgotten, or pushed aside. But I believe in myself. That’s the main thing. And, I am very keen on making sure my kids believe in themselves, and their lives moving forward. When my son had his birthday recently, I wrote exactly that in his card. Hopefully, he will read it over again. And he starts believing in himself.

Whilst this is all 25 years ago, it sometimes comes back to the top of my mind. Just recently I remembered some scenes from that time, and it feels wrong now. No one would blame me, being 15 at the time, to not stand up for things I felt were wrong then, but felt I couldn’t speak out about back then. This is all a very long time ago, but you sometimes wonder what I have learned from all that. A whole lot I’d say, as I am someone who processes things and likes to reflect on things. And, I am willing to learn, to strive and make things better.

What have you done 25 years ago when you look back? It might sound as if I was a total idiot. Actually, I don’t think I was, given the environment I was in. But comparing it to the environment I came from, maybe I was 😉 It’s all good, wounds heal, yet it also gave me a deep inside into the heartland of America, the Mid-West. I learned a whole lot, made some really good friends too, and to this day would like to visit again. And what we Europeans often forget is the size of America. Kansas, where I was, is only about 20,000 km2 smaller than the UK as a whole. Or, to put it into perspective, Kansas is the size of the UK minus Wales. That’s a big country for one member state of a bigger United States, and it would have its own dynamics.

Enough about that, as with everything in life, we live and learn. I recently decided to launch a business with someone else. This is very exciting. And of course I will reveal more as we go along. We are still pretty much in stealth mode. We spoke the other day and had a good chat. Business for us is about TRUST. Trust for me comes back to belief. I believe in him, and he believes in me. We believe in what we do and how we will trust each other. That’s more powerful than a contract I suppose.

There is something else I wanted to write about. Teaching. Now, my dad and uncle both were teachers. Both in Germany, both successful in moving up the teachers’ ranks, and both have had a good life, brining up a family, owning a house etc. It is pretty much a good middle class family job. When I grew up, and most children do, I wanted to become a teacher. I wanted to do what my dad did. Thinking back, I am glad I didn’t become a teacher. Despite Covid19, and teachers going through a tough time, they also have a secure pension and a secure income. However, the income of a teacher will most likely always be lower than the income of someone in the open economy, however that’s not why you become a teacher. It’s because of passion.

I know that now, but back when I finished high school, it was all about the money for me rather than the passion. I wanted to become a CEO, a manager, and that was it. And, to a certain extend, I still love working with people, grown ups, and manage and coach/consult them. Now, you could argue, I am an adult teacher. Not quite, but kind of fulfilled two areas, e.g. being an expert in what I do, and passing that knowledge on to others. I couldn’t be a teacher, that’s for sure. In the UK, teachers are worse off financially than in Germany too, but that is another topic in itself. And me dealing with more than two children at a time isn’t my idea of fun either.

The point I am leading to, is that in life you should follow your passion. Which, to a certain extend, I did. I did it without the right reasoning. In NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), we differentiate between two motivational directions, e.g. moving towards something and moving away from something. In my case, I moved away from teaching for the reason of earning potential and moved towards consulting for the reason of earning more money and having a ‘career’. Coming to a point in my life where I am launching my own business, working with my own clients, I essentially realise I got the best of both worlds. I am teaching, training and helping people to achieve their goals. I guess I arrived at my destination, didn’t I?

Let’s stick with that thought for a moment. What if, based on what was mentioned above, I am already great and where I should be in life, then the next few years will be key to proving that what I am doing is successful. As you know, based on my podcast, success is defined by your own individual perception of success. So it could be money, or building something, or proving something.

For me, the next few years are about building a business that I can take with me, no matter where in the world I live, and which I can operate remotely too. This way I want to be Covid19 safe, and add value to anyone globally. I want to help people achieve their dreams and tell more people that I believe in them, and that they can achieve their dream. Things will always fall into place, no matter what.

And whilst I fear Covid19’s impact on the economy as much as the upcoming recession (or the recession that’s here already), and Brexit, and whatever else might come, e.g. a 2nd wave of Covid19 or another virus or global warming – for me it comes back to believing that anything is possible. I believe, despite fear and anxiety of the future, that we as humans will survive. We will find a way off this planet before we destroy it, or we find a way of not destroying it; and I find a way of making my business grow during a downturn. And, in the end, I want to look back in years to come and be proud of what I have achieved.

But I don’t want to be alone on the journey. I want to have enough time for my family, help them to believe in themselves. I want my friends, mates, coaching clients and consultant clients to believe in me, and them to believe in themselves. I want to help and give people confidence in what they do, and support them on the way. If I can achieve that, and make the world a better place in my circle of influence, I achieve success.

Now that’s something to live for.

And every time I think about that, there are people that come to my mind, people I met in Kansas, people I met in London and elsewhere on my way, that do not get it. People that tried to f* you over, that couldn’t be trusted, that treated you like sh*, and didn’t care. People I sometimes think about with compassion, sometimes with anger to be honest, how they could treat me, and a lot of other people, in a certain way. I don’t wish them bad or anything. I am not an evil person, just the opposite, I hope they find peace in what they do. And more often than not they were obsessed by either a wrong ideology or greed. Latter, mainly in the business sense.

My whole life I have and will always try to treat people with the utmost respect. Without prejudice. I hope that Covid19 will help people to see the human aspect more. With all the video calls, we look into living rooms, meet business’ contacts children and dogs. We are getting closer to each other, trying to help each other. That can only be a good thing.

I am a strong believer in Karma. That anything bad you do in life is coming back to you eventually. I also believe that anything good you do in life is coming back to you. The circle of energy, proven in my mechanics class back at university, the forces in any system need to be equalised for the system to be stable. Simple math really.

We are who we are. I am who I am, and you are like you are. Konrad Lorenz, who I read as a teenager, wrote a book called ‘I am here, where are you’ and ‘the so called evil’. I am here, who are you? How can I help you to achieve more? How can I help you to be more successful? How can we avoid evil? I enjoy helping and do that via my coaching. I love helping others to grow and do that via consulting. That’s what I do.

Yes, I could do with more business, but I am confident that once Covid19 goes, and we go back to a more normal business life, that things will continue to flourish. Where would humans be without optimism and belief?

It is key now to not give up. I know a lot of people who are looking for a job, or looking for others to help them. Let me know, I am happy to help you. I don’t have all the answers, but I have all the belief to move forward. Today I am positive.

And when I say today, then this means that some days are dark. Like for anyone at the moment, we have more time to think. Someone I know and lives in the USA, was debating whether to return to the UK. In our times, we have to make decisions where we want to live. How our outer circumstances define our living standards. Happiness, which is the topic of a podcast in a couple of weeks, is key. We, as humans, will always seek happiness. We think that by going somewhere else we are happier, and yet we might find out it’s not the case.

As many in these difficult times, we think a lot. One day this, the other day that. Stay or go. Whatever you are thinking about, you will notice that it changes all the time. And the reason is simple, we cannot plan at the moment. We think that by changing things we will be in a better place. That might or might not be the case, and our thoughts are a bit clouded.

The best thing is to sit down, and take stock. Write down what you enjoy/don’t enjoy, and what is important to you. Look into the future, taking into consideration that you cannot determine the future, and that it is likely to change too. Change is constant. Nothing is set in stone. You can only live in the now.

Then evaluate, talk things through with a person you trust, and wait until Covid19 has passed. Make a decision then, with a clear mind, a mind that can start planning a bit more. Don’t rush into anything that you might regret or didn’t think through, having less information and parameters due to the situation we are in. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make decisions.

At the end of the day we always need to move forward, whatever that means in your situation, and however big or small that step might be.

In the end, you have to believe in yourself and make sure you believe in others.

I believe in you!

Living in a new world – Days at home (57)

A day blends into another. Last minute changes to campaigns, learning about WordPress, getting on with a job, finishing a project.

Life doesn’t stop. It never does and always goes on. A bit like a treadmill.
I am just preparing for my 3rd half marathon of the lockdown and managed 15K yesterday.
We managed to get our walk done last night and met a very friendly sheep, or lamb to be precise. Life is good in those moments.

I wonder what happens post pandemic. Articles by McKinsey and the FT, and the article in the Independent I quoted yesterday, give me hope that things return to a new normal quickly, and that we rebound quickly from the crisis. Germany seems to be.

I hope this happens soon, and that maybe we can carry on a bit longer to follow our dreams, to live the life we wanted to be living. Then again one seeks security, new opportunities and a balance of the lot. What I am alluding to is, indeed, the new normal. The drive to succeed, to overcome, to make it happen. And, the willingness to take risks and to start all over again. Exciting and scary at the same time.

I worry about mental health. It is mental health awareness week.
I published content this week on Linkedin which shows the impact of Covid19 on mental health. We are ok, and I hope the boys will be ok. One doesn’t know but I am confident. Yet, we know of people who are more affected. And it is nice to know that I can help, and that I do help, and that mindfulness helps with stress reduction. My stress coaching course I finished today gives me another string to my bow. Stress reduction, anxiety coping and burnout prevention. My generation never talked about it, whilst the Millennial and younger generation does. And it is good that they do.

Speaking to a company the other day, they argued that the reason for them to offer unlimited holidays is that you can take time off when you need it. No one wants you to burn out. I absolutely loved that; no one told me before, when I was close to a burnout a few years ago, that they would actually care about me (from a corporate POV). It’s usually about working hard and playing hard…but it is so re-assuring to see companies changing.

Enough about mental health thoughts for the day.

It’s only Tuesday, but I had some time to share my thoughts.

Stay safe.
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (51)

Wednesday already. This week is passing quickly. That’s good, right?

I watched ‘A Hidden Life’ last night, a 3 hour movie. I don’t normally like long movies, but it was a very good, very intense movie, which I also recommend to anyone given the time you have on your hands 😉 That’s of course if you do.

I managed to sign up for another coaching course which helps me coaching stress and burn out prevention. A topic I am interested in, and you hear a lot on my podcastpodcast recently.

The boys had a good day today actually. They seem to engage well, and the mood is great. Just something (good) in the air, not sure, but things seem to lighten up. Fingers crossed.

I kind of love some good music videos. This one was shared in a popular sales newsletter by Revcelerate (Thanks Phil!) and I thought I re-share it. Times like these, ey?

I am sure I have more pictures again tomorrow. We have been on our daily walks in the country side and things seem more normal. All good I suppose, and things are moving, aren’t they.

Yet, there is a lot to sort out still.

But we will get there. Of course we will.
Never ever give up!

Stay safe!

Living in a new world – Days at home (45)

Yes, it is Friday – sort of!

We are back on Monday 😉

I had a busy week. I am good at keeping myself busy, but besides the launch of my online coaching courseonline coaching course, I have been designing banners, making marketing plans, learning things and having great conversations. However, I did manage a few 5 pm finishes, and enjoyed the sunshine, some walks and socials.

I put one podcastpodcast live this week where we talk anxiety, depression and burnout. I recorded another one with an amazing woman from Germany about stress and burnout. It’s a hot topic, for the wrong reasons unfortunately, but a topic I am a) interested in and b) want more people to talk about.

The boys have been better. The lockdown has an impact on them, and I hope we get more freedom from next week. Fingers crossed.
Kudos to my wife for being just super awesome! She isn’t a bread baking person (that’s down to me), but she is great in engaging and entertaining the boys individually, helping with the home work etc. Super proud (of course!).

We also got a shelf delivered we ordered early February – things just take longer atm. Pictures to follow.

So not much new stuff, just turning over one page at a time, plugging away at things.

Enjoy, as much as you can, a great bank holiday weekend. Speak Monday.

Over and out,
Volker