Tag: happiness

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 (50)

I promised some thoughts on our PM’s message. I am two ways about it. Given I am not a healthcare professional, it is hard to believe we might not go back to a ‘normal’ lifestyle until 4th of July, America’s independence day. Just saying.

But hey, what needs to be done, needs to be done. Most of us won’t go on holidays this summer, so work will hopefully pick up quickly from August. An article I shared this morning, from the FT, suggest it might be a quick return for the economy. Let’s hope so.

I am hopeful, however, that things will return quickly and enthusiastic about the new normal. It means more working from home, and potentially more opportunities but delivered differently – if that makes any sense. And, of course, I feel for hospitality and pubs, and the general public (which includes me) that cannot be in the pub when the sun is out – what happened to the Great British Summer? Safety, and protecting lives has to take priority. And that’s the right decision, no doubt.

Enough about politics. More rules in our household.

Similar to most parents I spoke to, kids are using the time in between studies, or should I say in between video games, to play video games. There isn’t enough home schooling material and more time is spent on devices. Unless you have a home schooling parent, but in our case my wife is back at work more often, and I am busy. Hence, I had to come up with a new structure of the work/school day to limit video gaming and make sure the overall aim of schooling and learning wouldn’t be cut too short. Let’s see how this goes.
It is very challenging to juggle it all, but we get through that. The oldest might be back to school as early as in 3 weeks time. Fingers crossed.

Below are a few impressions. We keep up our daily walks, enjoy the South Downs National Park, and good company. We are happy, which means a lot, and we are confident, which means a lot too. Life is good, given the circumstances, and we will get through this. Together!

Living in a new world – Days at home (17)

It’s Thursday. From tomorrow I will take a break until Tuesday. A proper Easter break.
This week has had ups and downs.
But overall, I got a lot of things done too.

For me, it is all about keeping sane, going for the daily walk, enjoying the weather and not to worry.
We get through this.

Today I had a very encouraging call with a friend and recorded another podcast with someone from the industry. Things will continue, move and we all get through this. We are all in the same boat. You must believe.

I have plans, and the kids are coping well; it really helps them that my wife is off work this week (although this might change).

Given all circumstances, we are happy and content. If we are allowed to say that.

Happy Easter.

Enjoy your weekend, a break, some down time, and quality time with the family.

Do what matters.

And please stay at home, and stay safe!

Volker

Spring 2019 Blurb – Happy Easter

Hello friends,

I hope you still remember me, and I am allowed to count you as my friends. It has been a while since my last post. No, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. As a matter of fact, I am still writing regularly, I finished the first draft of my book on success, on the back of my podcast, and have drafted a few blog posts. However, I haven’t published any in a while, as you are aware 🙂

Why is that? I find a new peace and reflection in not having such a public life. Of course, I am nowhere close to being famous or feel like I am walking down a red carpet, however whenever I put something in the public domain, I am conscious that people are reading it. This has never been a problem, and still isn’t, but I am currently not keen on sharing too much, unless you ask of course 😉 My focus has shifted from ‘one to many’ towards more ‘one to one’. It allows for deeper relationships I find, so I caught up with a few people over the last few months. And it is good. If we are also friends on Facebook, or you might follow me on one of my Instagram accounts, you might have seen that I am more selective than ever in terms of what I publish.

It’s all about what I said at the beginning of 2019: life is about focus for me, and particularly 2019. I am connecting, to myself, the family, the job, life. I am making decisions and prioritise. A friend of mine uses the expression, that if you want to make an omelette, you need to crack an egg. Changing the form or your state, mind or physique takes time, and it involves giving one thing up and transforming into another. A bit like a butterfly. Do you remember the hungry caterpillar that ate and ate and ate? Whilst weight loss is one of my objectives for this year too, the metamorphosis for the caterpillar to become this beautiful, happy butterfly, is what I was angling at 😉

It took me 5 months since the marathon, half an hour of physio exercises every morning, and lots of patience, to run a 10K again. Never ever give up! I cannot deny that this is something I loved sharing on Strava, and that is something I am proud of. Persistence, continuity, and a lot of hard work. My aim is to recover from my knee injury by summer and run a half marathon, as one of the 12 my wife is running this year for RNIB. She has been busy doing one half marathon a month and I plan to join her for a few if my knees allow.

Focus on what you can change, and there is so much to change and remodel, reframe etc., and one of those focus areas are my knees. Btw, I am drafting this post looking at Bournemouth Beach whilst my wife runs her 4th half, and the kids enjoy some climbing activities. Thinking time is so important, having some ‘me’ time to write and reflect. Another things I got more of this year already. I attended a silent retreat, spend time connecting with myself.

Change work is very important I believe. As a matter of fact, going back as far as 1997, the year I left the navy after my military service, I got involved in NLP and change work, always striving to be a better version of myself. What success meant to me back then, heavily influenced by German society, the navy, school and society – that ‘success’ means something completely different now. If you haven’t heard of Mindvalley, check out Vishan’s content online or read his book. It is one of the few personal development books I happily recommend. The idea of letting go of old BS (Yes, BULL SHIT) rules, and making way for new rules, is so important. What things meant to you 20 or 30 years ago, is not the same they mean for you now or in the future. Change is permanently happening, and you MUST realise that. Embrace it, find your focus, and understand what is happening inside yourself. Be happy, it is that simple.

In terms of success, my podcast has a lot of influence on that change work too, in case you were wondering, and it is still going strong. My focus shifted a bit, away from advertising technology success stories, to people I love speaking to that have a focus on mindfulness and success. Now, to define mindfulness, this is a complete different story, and for another time, but it is about awareness, thoughts and happiness for me, managing change.

Having recently completed an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course and a recap on EQ (Emotional Intelligence), which I researched back at university as part of my MBA degree, I am now more than ever keen on bringing this to more people. My children love to meditate every night with me, and agree that they fall asleep easier and sleep better. Isn’t that wonderful? With mental health awareness week coming up in the UK, I want to draw some attention towards something that is often hidden to most people, and can be helped with more awareness.

This is just a small part of my happiness I wanted to share with you today. Feel free to reach out to me at anytime if I can help you in any way. Advice, happiness thoughts, or just for a chat over coffee or a pint. I love to help and support, connect one on one, and share my journey with you!

Have a wonderful spring and Easter.
Kindness and love from my little corner of the world.
Volker

Sunday Column (516)

Would you believe what I did this week? I spend my evenings, or I shall say my wife and I spend our evenings, filling a basketball hoop stand with 150 kg of sand! Through a 3 cm hole with a funnel and spoon!!!! This was the early Christmas present, not only my youngest was looking forward to, but also myself. It takes me back years, and reminds me how well I played and how much I enjoyed it back in the days. Yet, I never took it forward, or was pushed out of my comfort zone to do it. No regrets, a lot of learning for how to bring up my kids though. Hence, no compromises, and we got a proper basketball hoop 🙂

Christmas is coming around quickly. I have a few business trips coming up, loads of projects to finish and lots of planning to do. I am settled in the job and being busy, drinks are flowing pre Xmas already and it gets more difficult to fit things in. Blimey, how did I miss that season.

With the marathon over, the post marathon blues over, I am trying to get back into a routine. I said I wouldn’t write a diary here, yet I find it difficult not to. My knee is hurting, needs resting and I am overall exhausted. A slight cold, a change of diet, warm weather, new routine, exercise and getting back into things isn’t easy. Next week will be colder again. I will persist and have plans. Patience. No other way but patience, nothing can be rushed on the road to recovery and change. I am rather excited.

I found myself reflecting a lot this week. Not only did I meet some industry friends at a remembrance party for someone in the industry who suddenly passed away, I also met a mentor and tutor who showed me a new way of living. And, with my anticipated 120 years of life, how will my life change in years to come? Then I met someone who changed their life completely, giving up media to follow his passion. What a transformation for happiness.

My honest answer is that I do not know what life looks like 80 years from now. Who does? Look at the mess of Brexit this week. What will that mean in years to come. Will the UK be the best place to live and bring up kids. What are the alternatives? With 80 years left, health is important, sustainable jobs and income, as well as plans as to where to live. You know, when I grew up I didn’t plan life much, thinking I finish uni get a job and get on with it. Now I think, I might have more time left than I ever thought I have – that means focus and doing things that are sustainable and important. Hence I am considering selling off my fish tank. Life is changing. Anyone interested?

Albert Einstein said, life is like riding a bicycle. You have to keep peddling to not fall over – I just started reading his biography. A fascinating story of a fascinating man. Given my 7 year old is doing the time tables out of joy, my oldest seems to be the best in some maths thingy at school….it runs in the family. I am an engineer, my dad was a maths teacher, my mum worked with numbers and on my wife’s side maths was never a problem. They, my boys, are talking about space and how they might change the world, building things in space. We can’t but encourage that and who knows, 150 years from now, they might look back at their life and, reading this post in a history book of the family and wonder.

And so do I. I wonder. I wonder what is there to come, and I am excited. Excited of the prospects to bring up those two mnonkeys to better the world. To follow their passion, to be happy. And if I don’t make it to 120, then I should really look back at my life daily and think, I did the best I could to bring life forward to everyone I could help. That of course includes the kids, and other people’s life I can touch.

I am getting carried away.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

Sunday Column (508)

I want to start with giving thanks this week and share some personal notes. My grandmother turned 98 today and it gives me great satisfaction to see that life is still good for her. On the other spectrum someone I know lost his mother, and in a Facebook post he said ‘you taught me everything I know but how to live without you’. Isn’t that true? Whilst all of that happened, I wrote a card to someone close who was diagnosed with cancer. That’s life for you.

Hence this week might be a good post to read and have some take away from it. A post from me wearing a coaching hat, hoping to help you to develop yourself. I want to talk about focus. A topic I have been looking at for a few months now. Focus is something I am applying to more and more areas of my life. My old manager used to say, “focus, fight and change the conversation”. If you are anything like me, a productivity buff, family person, ambitious, career oriented, and interested in a variety of topics, you can easily lose yourself in it.

As most of you know, I recently started my new job, a new beginning. Sometimes I forget about this blog being public, as for me blogging is my creative outlet, something I enjoy doing. Sharing my thoughts, getting them on ‘paper’. So it was nice to hear that some new colleagues read my blog too!

Without clear focus and priority, I cannot do everything I would like to do. If I’d try to do everything, I’d probably end up doing nothing right plus I’d run out of time. And that’s not the standard I live by. It wouldn’t align with my values. I want to be the best I can be in anything I do.

One of my podcast guests ask the other day, ‘who are you’? Can you answer the question, on how you define who you are? My answer would be that I am someone who loves his career, and achieving. Security is important for me. Something I get a whole lot from is helping others and making a difference. There is more to it but that’s a summary.

The best personal development book I have read for a long time, and I highly recommend it, is ‘The code of the extraordinary mind’. Along other things, a key take away is that happiness MUST be the basis for anything you do. Don’t live in the future, live in the now, be happy now, then build a career on top of it. Because, so he argues, happiness cannot be tied to your goals. You must be happy before you attain them. Have a think about it. For me, it seems that this book concludes a personal development path, what is next?

This is where I think life becomes clear. The next is the now for me. Do things that make you happy. Enjoy the people you hang out with, the job you spend most of your time with, and the family situation you are in. Set yourself goals, one at a time, and attain them out of a happy state. Don’t chase your tail!

If I look at my life, I noticed that I had too many things going on in order to focus properly on the things that are important. This includes my job, my family life, my podcast, my marathon in November and its time commit as well as reading personal development books. Not to mention the book(s) I want to write and other things I want to do like building another Revel model. All that whilst being in the flow at work and life? Surely….FOCUS!

What do you think? What are your areas of focus, and what might have to give to be in the happy state? Get into the flow, the happy state, and start attaining your goals from there. You will soon see how you will become more successful.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. Lots to think about isn’t it? Don’t we just love life? I certainly do!

See you next week,
Volker

Sunday Column (506)

This week I listened to a podcast called. Transcende hosted by Jeff Riddle who I got introduced to a while back. Jeff and I had a good phone chat the other day discussing the way you can structure podcasts and exchanged some notes on learning around podcasts. Anyway, I listened to his episode this week. It was about finding peace with your parents and upbringing. I have gone through that, and won’t go into details here, but in life we make a lot of assumptions on what others think, and what is right or wrong, and how things are perceived. As I mentioned last week, the best advice I got in ages was to ‘not worry and live in the moment’ – have you tried it? It gives you almost a new perspective on life. Most of our thoughts and assumptions are, naturally, based on our perception and digestion of what we learn from our upbringing, with our parents being the biggest influence in life. It makes me think whether I have a good influence on mine….

The reason I share that is because I got a few comments from my post last week, wanting to constantly better myself. I do. Yet, I also enjoy just being somewhere, being in the moment and enjoy what I have. I don’t think one must exclude the other. There are clear tasks I want to achieve today, and there are others I want to achieve tomorrow. I seek to understand those, prioritise and work accordingly. Personally, I believe by putting the puzzle pieces together in the right order, and that includes your history, influences and future aspirations, life becomes the flow it should be. Giving you the confidence you need. I also believe that you need someone to help you with that, a coach, mentor or partner. Whatever it might be, but that must be the aim for high achievers. Would you agree?

There was another time of reflection this week. I was running before work, trying to keep up some interval trainings. It hit me unexpectedly, my thoughts went back to our holidays. It was warm, nothing to worry about, nothing to plan, just go with the flow. A mind and attitude flow that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Maybe it was because it was so much warmer, or it was a lot more different to home, but other holidays never gave me that relaxation and the feeling of being so close to my family. This year was so different, in a very good way. So I looked back at my holidays and for the first time in many years would have loved to stop the time. That’s how much I enjoyed it. Time to book the next one. Giving the kids are getting older, the holidays are more enjoyable too. It makes a difference to them.

It’s those moments you need to keep sacred. Last week I spoke about clearing out the now, the past, but cherishing the moments in your heart that you want to remember, not the ones that drag you down or back to a history long gone. All that whilst living in the now and being there with whoever you want to be with in the moment. It’s another balancing of things.

And then the decision was made. Marathon. That’s all I say. There is a chance and hope that I might get into the London marathon, as my podcast listeners would know. So I started training a bit beyond my usual 10K runs. I started running outside. At time of publishing I should have finished my third half marathon distance and I am on my way to run 18 miles (28K) next weekend. If all goes well, given I am travelling a fair bit over the next few months, I should run a marathon early November. Fingers crossed. The entry fee is paid 🙂

That’s all folks. Let me know if you like the mix of topical and private thoughts and what else you would like to see on the blog. As you can see I have a lot of podcast related, success related posts until end of the year on this blog. I also want to change my podcast concept next year. I also want to be sure to have focus on the things that matter. My job for instance which I really enjoy, a mix of operational and commercial, just right, dealing with lots of interesting and smart people. Is life falling into place? I think so. I am very content, and as my podcast guest this week said, success means contentment, means happiness. Yes, I am happy.

Love and kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

Sunday Column (477)

Here we go again. Another week. Half term and we had the MIL and her partner here, which was great for them to take over some of the child duties. My wife managed to work and I went to do some work on stuff too. No news on the job front yet, still waiting to hear, working on a pipeline – this is a full time sales position where I am the product and the more people know about my job search, the better. So please spread the word and if you know anyone seeking a senior commercial person, let me know!

Whilst I have been out of a job, the real job hunt has only just started, thanks to Christmas it has been a slow start. Not a good time for redundancy but a brilliant time to spend with the family and clear your head and understand what life is all about for you. Not wanting to play down the challenges that come with redundancies, but it has helped me to bring more focus to my life, and also everyone always says something better comes out of it. And I believe this is because you have to start thinking about what you really want. What is it you love? What is it you enjoy doing? What is important to you? A fascinating exercise and a journey full of fun and discovery. Not always easy though, but with the right mindset and support, it can be useful too.

I am about to put out another podcast this week, and the podcast keeps me busy. With two more recordings scheduled for next week, a few in the pipeline, this is a part time job. And it is so much fun, to really find out what success is all about. And how hard success is and why money doesn’t matter. This is going to be a fantastic research piece. This week I speak to Bruce Daisley from Twitter who has been an amazing guest and has a unique view to most people I interviewed so far. I cannot wait to hear your feedback and it was the first podcast I recorded face to face. They are more fun, but more difficult to arrange if you believe it or not.

Last Sunday, and not in time for last week’s column, my wife and I finished the newest Twin Peaks series. I loved it. I even loved it more than the first one and I cannot say I understood either to be honest. It’s almost as if the cult of Twin Peaks is so much stronger than the story itself if that makes sense. I remember watching the first series when I was maybe 14 and it was more something my brother watched. Then I got into it when my wife and I revisited it about a year ago. Now the new series I could watch again. Whatever strangeness there is, and whatever they suggest might be out there, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. You ever wondered, and of course you have, what might be in the twilight zone and what might come our way from external sources, planets etc. The creepiness and yet helplessness is fascinating. Like the fear of spiders that essentially cannot do anything to you but you are afraid of them nevertheless. Do you think they are afraid of you? Maybe they are, we never know. I am sure they aren’t out there to scare us, yet I don’t like them at all.

The weather – always a good topic – I spoke to a friend in the US this week and he says there are 280 days of sunshine where he lives. I am thinking Australia would be better yet a quick Google search reveals that the US and South Africa as well as Egypt and Sudan are the sunniest places. Not sure if sunny means too sunny though. Having had a terrible rainy day on Wednesday, being miserable, then a sunny day on Thursday, when does it stop and it is spring and summer again?? Or could we have it properly miserable for a few weeks, and how much does the weather affect our mood? I think it does and it isn’t helping to change from one day after another, particularly if you are ‘grounded’. Keeping up morale whilst wondering what is next and debating where to put the focus, I demand sunshine and happiness. Latter I get through the excitement of my children who just love having their nana around; the oldest started doing Sodukos and the youngest loves some puzzles. That’s what grannies are for, I remember mine used to show me all those cross words puzzles when I was younger.

But did you notice, back in the days we used to have a magazine from the butcher, one from the bakery and so on. They all had a cross word puzzle, and we could win something. A horoscope was in there and you read those every week. Even the pharmacist did have their own. I don’t think they exist anymore. The reason I am saying that is because I watched an article this week about the overflow of information. We had a lot of information in the days of no internet, now everything moves online and the amount of information to siev through to find the ones relevant to you is getting worse. Maybe soon every butcher, pharmacist etc. have an app for information? The people that are most active online and pushing themselves the most, are actually developing ADHD – attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder – and there is a new term about ‘developed ADHD’ as we are changing our nerual pathways based on the information we try to process at any one time. Overload!!! Scary.

I am watching this with great interest. The fear I have is that it happens to me or has already happened to me. No, it won’t have an impact on my performance, will it? Will it cause more stress or make me more productive even. I believe the latter to a point of inflection where we start getting less productive. So be aware of it and make sure you get enough rest, down time and off-line time. Like when you are very smart and at some point you are going crazy. That’s similar I suppose as you are at the point where the overload just gets too much. I won’t be that, LOL, maybe stark raving mad, but not crazy. Pending on my new position and whether I will have a work phone, which of course is unlikely but my reason to put it off, I might just get a cheap pay as you go phone which allows me to be ‘available’ yet disconnected.

The envy of others, the advertising in social media like Instagram and Facebook that makes us think that what others have needs to be owned by us. And that is true for most channels I suppose. With more exposure, more frequently, we are getting to the point of not being able to escape, process and actually understand what’s happening, and if we aren’t consciously aware of it, we might get sucked into it. Sometimes, despite being in the advertising industry, it feels like we need to press the pause or even the reset button. I tried to explain to my 9 year old what an algorithm is and how it works, data and AI (artificial intelligence) and how it can improve lives. We haven’t even touched on blockchain. I love technology and eventually I find my passion in one that makes our lives better. Watch this space.

Here is to another week.

Have a good one,
Volker

Happiness, Success and Chemicals

This is a post about an article I read recently. This article was suggested to me by one of my podcast guests from Stories Of Success. Happy Valentines Day.

We talked on the podcast (release date tbc) about how success and happiness go together. There are a few chemicals that are actually responsible for happiness:

* Dopamine
* Serotonin
* Oxytocin
* Endorphins

The argument goes that when we are happy, this will result in us being more productive, motivated more and healthier. As a return of those impacts you could argue, that success is higher too. So the happier you are, the more successful you are. Is that conclusive? Maybe not, but that’s to be discussed on the podcast.

The article goes into depth of each neurochemical, but I wanted to summarise the main ones here for you:

* Dopamine motivates us to take action towards a goal. Low levels lead to procrastination and self-doubt. So whenever you achieve a goal, a todo and take it off your list, there is this little kick, the reward for having achieved something. Then on to the next one.

* Serotonin flows when we are feeling significant. One of the six human needs. Significance. The opposite is loneliness and depression. So if you don’t feel important just now, live through past experience. The brain doesn’t know if you visualise or your experience real. Quite a trick isn’t it? And sunlight helps too, 20 minutes a day which might be tricky if you live in the UK just now 😉

* Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust and healthy relationships. That will make you happy – orgasms will release those chemicals. It’s also called the ‘cuddle hormone’ and little (or big) gifts increase the level too.

* Endorphins – most of us would have heard of them. They are released in response to pain and stress to remove anxiety and depression. When you push yourself in the gym, have a ‘runners high’, that’s when your endorphins kick in. Laughter releases those chemicals too. And, the article suggest that the smell of vanilla and lavender (ever wonder why you love that smell) is linked to the production of endorphins too. Also dark chocolate and spicy food triggers those chemicals.

In conclusion, to release your happiness chemicals, just follow the list above: have sex, eat chocolate, tick things of your to-do list and make yourself feel important. Simple this happiness thing, isn’t it?

Sunday Column (469)

Merry Christmas.

Given today is the Holy Night, and Christmas morning tomorrow, I don’t anticipate many people reading my column. That is fair enough. It should be a time of year when you don’t check your social media and relax a bit. You should have down time, and you should not have to worry about what is happening in the world. Christmas for me is all about having a week off, knowing everyone else is off, and you are not missing out on anything.

Merry Christmas to you, peace and happiness.

I want to use this week to look back – personally – on the year. It has been a turbulent one to say the least.

First things first: family. My first priority. We keep on learning how to bring up our children, we make things up as we go along, and I am absolutely enjoying it. From holidays in Centre Parks, travel to Legoland and day trips down the coast, Brighton football games, grandparents visits and trips to Germany, and time for the wife and me in Edinburgh or London. It has been an eventful but good year, and – being hopeful to say that every year from now on – we are getting better at being a family. Not that we weren’t before, but I am a strong believer in a growth mindset, and a collective unconscious. I feel like things are falling into place and we are growing together, and that is so nice to feel and experience. To speak of two things that made my year, I’d say the youngest starting and enjoying Karate classes, and the oldest working hard for 6 months to win a trophy in football. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of my two boys, and without my wife, Jenny, I couldn’t be doing all this. She has been on my side for 10+ years and I love you more every day! I am very grateful, thankful and full of appreciation of what we have.

On the other hand there is my career, which still takes up most of my week. That’s true for work for most of us. In January I joined a plc which I knew might be sold or change its proposition in one form or another. It was somewhat a gamble to join them, yet you never know who might buy a company. Looking back it was the right decision as I got to work with some very talented people, joined a fantastic culture and got a lot of learning from it. Unfortunately, I spent 2-3 days a week in Germany from April to October. That took time away from the family, and juggling two jobs, this put a lot of strain on me, family and the job I was originally employed to do in the UK. But I made it work, working from taxis, airports and making up with the family at the weekends. I loved the experience and sincerely think that I made a difference for the company. I lost out on a lot of things at home and burned a lot of energy.

Then over the summer things got quiet and the company sold. It became apparent, that moving forward, my role might be made redundant. I did what I could to avoid redundancy but likewise appreciate the help and support I got in the process prior to leaving last month. Whilst redundancies are never nice, I have so far enjoyed the time off to re-position myself, to re-evaluate my life and career. I might even go as far as saying that I have grown and gotten more confident. I know what I am doing and got confirmation of that a few times in the past few weeks. New projects will be announced early 2018. Based on the first few months of the year, I shall decide what the long term plans are. Most importantly, I am looking forward to align work closer to my values and my life expectations. Similar to the family, I am growing up too, still, always growing. And the break of a few weeks was needed, I felt burned out a bit. But I got my energy back, and that is the most important part, and of course I made up for some lost time with the family.

In the meantime I want to spend as much time as possible with the most important people in my life. As I do over Christmas. My family. Having had the privilege to spend more time with them over the past few weeks was amazing. From school drop offs and pick ups, them helping me testing some new equipment, watching Star Wars and making a routine and habit work at home. I am training them well I think 😉 They make me realise every day why I am doing what I am doing. They are my inspiration and motivation. Somewhat I enjoyed working and juggling two jobs and a family and going out of my comfort zone whilst upholding a 5 am routine and exercise, and meditation and personal development practise. As I said, I grew over the year, and that is the most important thing for me. It makes me who I am. I am happy. Yet, closer to Christmas I did notice my body getting tired, so time to have a few days off and relax.

A turbulent year. Just as well I am now relaxing and unwinding for a few days. And so should you, to my point earlier, there is nothing to miss out on. Don’t feel guilty and have another glass of wine, the extra piece of cheese or turkey/goose/duck. And if you are a grinch like me and don’t like Christmas, or you might not celebrate it due to religious reasons, enjoy the quiet time. Enjoy not having to read emails, not having to watch the news and spend some time looking deep inside yourself. Embrace yourself. And hug the person next to you, show them appreciation for them being them and being here.

And thoughts for 2018….you are the one that already knows where you want to be, what you should be doing and what is right in life. And you must always trust that the dots connect looking backwards. Hence, move forwards, always, and the right path will open up. You know it will. Trust in the future.

Speak to you in the New Year. All the best for 2018.

Love and Kindness, Peace and Happiness, and of course a Merry Christmas.
Volker