Tag: mindfulness

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 (1) – Covid19 Column

Hello.

The regular reader knows that for over 10 years I have been writing a Sunday Column. I kind of replaced it with my podcast, now with some videos on Linkedin. But that’s just not the same.

Let’s face it, I do love writing. No question about that. In my strength coaching profile, ‘writing’ was a number one skill. I am not sure if that is due to my academic background, or due to my intellect. And I am not saying that in any arrogant fashion, but I love thinking about the world, and making connections of how things work.

Just this weekend, I listened to a model called ‘disruption mapping’. Any input that clarifies thinking, any model that helps you to simplify trends is great. More about the mapping soon on my podcast in season 4.

Anyhow, after a few weeks pause of writing about my life, I am back on it. I am not promising a regular column. But if there are a lot of things going on in my head, I kind of need to get them out. And I like processing things that are on my mind through writing. Yet, whilst I write a daily gratitude journal for myself, I want to share my thoughts with you in form of a column.

What I am thinking at the moment? Black lives matter. I am actually speechless that in 2020 people are still thinking that there would be any superiority of one race over another. Whether that is white over black, or one belief over another. This is just something totally incomprehensible for me. Again, earlier this weekend I wrote an article about mindfulness and how it might not fit with a ‘male stereotypical picture’ – again it is totally wrong to think about those stigmas. But, of course, we grew up with that. It reminded me of the movie ‘Philadelphia’ where the ‘white collar, old grey haired lawyers’ sit in the sauna cracking jokes about gay people. This used to be acceptable, but in my opinion is now out of fashion. At least in circles I socialise. So let’s hope that this will once and for all put this inequality to rest, and no more lives will be lost. I am disgusted.

I am also thinking of Covid19. For me, having the Aufbruchstimmung, or in English the Spirit of Optimism, I think it is over. We should get back to work, even if it is 99% remote, and that we need to move on, make decisions and get back to work. Maybe I think it is too easy to do. But what stops us from doing so? Some industries, hospitality for instance, will have difficulties, but some other industries should easily be able to work remotely and do business in a remote fashion, powered by Zoom. Btw Zoom, their share price jumped 90% on going public, good on them. But yes, let’s move on.

And what about my job. Oh….there is a lot I can tell you about. There is this fear of a recession and then Brexit and all. But again, we must think positive, stay fearless and move onwards. It is about making decisions and moving forward. I am in the process of launching something new, adding a new contract to my portfolio and continue with coaching and mindfulness trainings. So I am keeping busy. I will of course share some more news in the weeks to come. But I am very excited. With every fear and downturn, there is an opportunity! To my knowledge, this is what crisis means in Chinese.

I couldn’t give up. Falling down 7 times, standing up 8 times. Let me into a secret. As soon as the tattoo shops will open, I am on there to get this tattooed. Silly? Mid-Life crisis? Maybe. Whatever you fancy, just go for it.
Earlier this year I had some transformational therapy to rid myself of some limitations and limiting belief. I couldn’t recommend this more. I have tried a few over the years, this one was great. There is nothing like experimenting with different forms of therapies. Yes, I have to say that my best therapy is meditation, which I practise daily. Without meditation, and without the love of certain people, I don’t think I would have achieved what I have achieved. Life takes turns, my industry has been full of redundancies and change, but I have mastered it. Without mental health issues. But, looking back, and as explored in a recent podcast, I think I have been sailing very closely to the wind. I sometimes think that my meditation is like a sail that helped me to stay on this side of the storm. Hence, I am so passionate to teach people about it.

And then the lockdown. We are all struggling. Juggling home schooling, family, jobs, progression in jobs, interviews, zoom calls, and the earlier evenings which leave more time for drinks. I have been keeping fit, with 3 half marathons so far during lockdown. I do my weight exercises and added more to the regime, hoping to rid myself of the Covid-Stone. A term I coined for the additional weight I have put on. It’s just too easy to snack all day long. With the return of school runs, I am getting more walking time in again, which is good of course. And, personally, I think it’s a good thing that school returned.

Fingers crossed we are out of the worse and Covid19 will disappear, just burn off over the summer. That’s what I am hoping for. And will we learn anything?

What have we forgotten over the past few weeks?

Brexit.
Whilst the topic is slowly coming back to us in the press, let’s keep a close eye on it. I am still not a friend, but we have to live with it I suppose. A friend of mine posted something awful about the background and intention of the Tories behind Brexit, which I a) don’t want to repeat and b) hope it isn’t true. If it was, I would think this country is going down big time. Let’s hope this isn’t the case. We handled Covid19 very badly from a political and preparedness point of view, so if we handle Brexit the same, this is going to be really bad!

Dom Cummings.
Is he still the Chief Advisor to our PM? This is so bad. Sorry, I am speechless to think that he gets away with it. Not having a backbone to step down and admitting that he f* up. That’s what I don’t get with leaders. I learned early in my life to owe up to mistakes and apologise and trying to make it right. It’s a fundamental lesson I teach my children. For me this says it all about our government, prime minister and political situation. I am actually becoming a big fan of Kerr Starmer, the Labour and opposition leader. There is hope! There is always hope.

And what about ocean pollution?
Will we think about recycling still when Covid19 is over? And how to clean our oceans? Or is that all forgotten? Will we, post Covid19, go back to normal and just pollute our planet, take unnecessary flights, treat others with disrespect and carry on? I hope not. There is always hope.

Over the weeks and months to come I want to pick up more regular writing again. I would enjoy hearing from you what you think. I’d like to hear what your opinion is, so feel free to reach out to me by whatever means works for you.

I enjoy writing.
I want to share.
I want to get you to think.

Thanks, and please stay safe,
Volke

Living in a new world – Days at home (60 – farewell, goodbye and amen)

Hello,

Thank you for bearing with me. 60 days, or the lengths of 60 days. That’s 9 weeks, yet no content on the weekends. Anyway, we made it.
We are coming out of lockdown, if slowly.

I have been a big MASH fan for many years. This video is probably one of the saddest scenes ever, but kind of also summarises my current mood a bit. Get me out of here, and farewell, goodbye and amen. Don’t make me remember the bad days. Don’t let people smother their children….

Throughout this lockdown, if you were lucky enough to have food, shelter, and a toilet, you were probably privileged. Having a garden, nature to walk in and space, then you were lucky. If you were, be grateful for it and thankful for the friends and mentors that support you. If you haven’t filed for divorce, consider yourself lucky.

I do. I am grateful, despite the situation.

I have been thinking of how to end this blog series.

a) With a thank you for your comments, encouragement and chats, support and input
b) With a toast to those key workers, including my wife, who have done an outstanding job of getting us through this period
c) With a toast to all mothers and fathers, including my wife, who have done an outstanding job of homeschooling and continue to do so

Times have been tough.
Stopping a contract in the worst possible period for employment, and launching an online course that helps you to get through this period, and deciding what to do next is tough. But it could have been tougher.

I am grateful.

Here are some of my thoughts and asks:

  • Keep looking for that position you are after. If you don’t know what you want to do, head over to my course and find out what you want to do. If you cannot afford the £99, please reach out to me, let’s talk. I want to help!
  • Keep deciding and make decisions. Keep believing that what you want to do will lead to a return. Believe!
  • If you can afford to pay for a Mindfulness Course for your employees, please let me know. I honestly believe it adds a ton of value, and I got testimonials to prove that. Make this world a better, less stressful, place. Open your eyes and help your employees to open theirs. NOW is the time to act (Again, if you are a smaller organisation or cannot pay a fee for a mindfulness course, reach out and we can talk).
  • Above all, stay positive if you are in a difficult position. I have been there a lot of times in my life, and if this “Covid thing” hadn’t happened, I knew where I would be today. But it did happen, to all of us, we are all in the same boat, it is ok, we get through this.
  • Believe. Again, and still, and forever.

Apologies for some advertising here, but I am really trying to help. From pro bono coaching, online courses, mindfulness courses and ongoing support, mentoring and help. As much as I received over the years, I am happy to return. That’s how it works. And things will return to the new normal, and we are all going to be ok.

Any comments, any thoughts, please comment on social media or let me know via DM.

Continue to stay safe, be grateful. I am sending you love, kindness and a virtual hug from my little corner of this ever changing yet wonderful world.

Best wishes,
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (59)

Hey, happy world meditation day. Below my message.

I think more businesses should take on a mindfulness at workmindfulness at work scheme and get taught through me. I am delighted to have more clients signing up and the interest slowly but surely coming through. We must look after our mental health and those of our employees.

In other news, our daily walk was split today. Colin and I had a fantastic walk at 7 am, chatting what father and son chat about. It was great. Nice to have 1-on-1 time with the boys, and reassuring them about the whole Covid19 mess. And that’s what it is, it’s a big mess in terms of schooling, work, income, planning, holidays…..yet we will get through it.

With my daily posts coming to an end this week, and my oldest going back to school, I am curious what happens come June. We will all be ok.

I hope you are ok too, and stay safe.

If you ever need to feel the need to reach out, please do so. I am happy to chat, mindfulness or not, coaching or not, just a chat and a friendly word of advice, or just to listen. I am here to help YOU!

Thanks,
Volker

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 (16)

Today I started off with some work for my contract.
It actually has been a busy day so far.

Not only did I attend a few calls, I also delivered week 2 of a mindfulness course for a legal company. It is great to get positive feedback and being able to make a difference. Thank you for the opportunity.

Whilst still in full swing today, catching up on numerous things, I wanted to share the webinar on mindfulness I gave for Hoxby the other day. I am so glad to share the love with anyone who is keen on understanding more about mindfulness.

My wife raised close to £1,000 for cutting off her hair, and I am very proud of a) for her serving the NHS and medical sector and b) for her bravery to cut her hair. I am the opposite and want to use the isolation to grow mine. We shall see. Hopefully it is over soon.

That’s it again for today, it feels like a diary, and I miss my office mates. But the boys are happy, mummy is off this week, so great to spend some time with her.

Living in a new world – Days at home (9)

Today I launched a new client for mindfulness via Zoom. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive already and I am very pleased to help. These are difficult times, and a bit of meditation will help anyone IMO.

Also, a good friend pointed out that I don’t consistently write as Volker but a bit like Colin and Rohan. The original idea of these posts was for the boys to share their experience, but it got a bit mingled up. As another friend of mine pointed out, it’s great to have family time. So today I enjoyed a long walk over lunch with the boys. The country side where we live is just stunning and no Corona in sight. That’s I suppose the biggest problem, you cannot see the damn thing. Hence stay safe and be well, look after your loved ones and limit any socialising. Colin asked me on the walk, why we don’t all get it and go back to school. When I explained about the amount of people that would die because of us not caring, as we are likely to have a mild form, he got it. Seeing that the US might loose more people than they did in the Vietnam War is scary.

Enough said. Stay home. Stay safe.

So below are some impressions from our walk, and when I asked the boys what I should write they said…”Colin got bird poo on him” – there we go, highlight of the day. Good luck it is, they say. So be it. Fingers crossed.

Living in a new world – Days at home (7)

How was your weekend?

Ours was fantastic. I had to go shopping and hadn’t had any problems. Pasta and loo role seem to be still in high demand, but I got everything else. We had a roast dinner (and veggies for me), and got more than we need. Having said that, it was just normal supply, maybe the odd pack of Tuc more; Tuc seem to keep us alive when we are at home and want to nibble on something 😉 But in all seriousness, the queue was short, the shelves were full and due to the amount of people in the shop being restricted, it was a calmer experience. Let’s see how the next few weeks go. It will get worse before it gets better and the next two weeks we got a delivery slot with one of the supermarkets.

TUC

We then went for a long walk and I trialled my video recording for my online coaching course. It is all happening, however the videographer cannot come to our place to film, so it’s up to my business partner (aka my wife) and me. Things will happen in the end.

The week kicked off nicely for me with two new proposals and a new mindfulness client.

With everything we have, and being healthy, and even screen time on my devices being down by 12% from last week, I think we should be very grateful. And if things get worse, I shall still be grateful for what we have.

The boys are keeping well, which is the main thing for me. We went for our daily walk, did all our homework, and things are good.

Hang in there.

New Year Column 2020

It’s 2020 – so what’s now?

Happy New Year, and maybe a happy new decade. If you ask some people, the decade doesn’t start until the year 1, e.g. 2021. If you ask me, let’s go for it and call it the roaring 20ies. I always admired the 1920ies, and when did they begin? 1920 or 1921.

We are in times of change. Having started the delivery of my first mindfulness course, I noticed two key learning points already. One was that I have been involved in meditation and mindfulness since 2006. I have studied, practised and developed my mind. This, in all fairness, probably made me cope better with life, and what life threw at me, over the years. I haven’t suffered a burn out or depression, and I am grateful that I didn’t. But mindfulness has been a key part of my personal journey and I feel privileged to teach it to organisations, individuals and showcase the benefits in our ever hectic world. If you are interested in finding out more, please download my pdf on my website about mindfulness.

The other point I noticed is a quote from Eric Schmid. In 2010, so 10 years ago, he said that we generate the same amount of data in 2 days that we did from the beginning of civilisation to 2003. This has surely increased since, and I am not sure what that is in MB, GB or whatever ‘measure’ you have to give it, but the sheer amount of data and information we have is too much. The mind is not made to cope with that long term.

Steve Jobs

2020, a year where the information overload probably more than doubled, e.g. exponentially increased, since 2010. This is a year where I want to help more people coping with that. Whether that is through my involvement in Moment Pebble, Coaching or Mindfulness. However, I continue to consult with a few companies, and still love the buzz of my old industry.

Particularly, there is one company which goes from strength to strength where I can add so much value. That means opportunities and I am a bit torn where 2020 leads me. At the same time I am exploring new industries, the ones that can cope with the information overload, and are able to use new technologies to make sense of it all. There are two conversations I had this week which were mind boggling. One I don’t want to talk about yet, the other is at the forefront of building a new industry on my doorstep.

And maybe, we can connect the dots looking backwards in a few years time. Wouldn’t that be great?

If I say it is an exciting time to be alive, it sounds very cheesy. But I believe it is. When you start to connect your calling with what you do, you create an energy and momentum that really catapults you forward. And, there are more plans for 2020. Let’s just see.

My 2020 plans – what are yours?

I have been debating what 2020 has in stock for me. Of course we don’t know, and we will never be able to live anywhere else than the here and now. But if I had a wish for 2020, I’d like it to continue the way 2019 ended.

As people know, I left what we call a ‘permanent’ job in order to pursue my passion: working on projects I enjoy and where I am in charge, where I can make a positive difference. I found a few of them. One in the data space working with very talented data enthusiasts on exciting projects. This actually is the most enjoyable job in adtech I ever had.

My mindfulness journey lead me to work with another company called Moment Pebble. Their aim is to revolutionise the way we are being more mindful at work and life, reducing stress and becoming more skilful around mindfulness. This goes in line with my latest course I took. I am super excited to scale that business and bring more of the skills around our pebble to the masses, and I will deliver my first Workplace Mindfulness course from early January.

Lastly, I work on a few other projects, such as D:PULSE, a new conference concept for 2020/21 and supporting other companies on their business development efforts. I am happy to be able to split my time between so many talented businesses and people and work in areas I enjoy. This includes new areas too, being a trusted advisor and board member.

I was born to be a consultant, so if someone now asks me, I am a business consultant and trusted advisor. Within the trusted advisory ‘box’ you find executive coaching, my book on productivity principles which sold over 7,000 copies so far, principles for success, my podcast on success and mindfulness practise. It is all coming together, and it becomes an ever bigger toolbox with one aim: to support and help businesses and people to achieve more. Simple. And the real satisfaction I get, is to see people and business thrive on the back of my input.

In the meantime I am blessed for having a healthy and fun family. Anyone with kids around the age of 10 knows that those little people growing up very fast, forming their own character and challenge you. Every single day. It is fun though, isn’t it? I have been able to spend more time with them, more connected time.

So for me personally, for 2020, I want to learn more about health, and go deeper into that topic. Whilst in 2019, thanks for some external influences and people, I had to learn a lot about mental health; 2020 is about my physical health, maybe shedding a few more pounds. It has been over a year since my last marathon, so maybe….just maybe, but then there is food and drink. I have a healthy relationship with alcohol and that won’t change, but drinking less alcohol and eating less meat, becoming a more sustainable ‘element’ of humankind, that’s a goal worth pursuing. And if I learn how to cook some healthy meals, then this is a bonus. It’s an area I still want to be better in. I just love learning new skills.

That’s it for me. 2019 is almost over. 2 weeks of hibernation, editing podcast, preparing some work, good food and wine over Christmas, celebrations and gifting. And dwelling on what’s happening with this country moving forward. A topic we can cover some other time.

If you need help formulating your 2020 goals, need a shift in your direction or just want to have a sounding board, schedule a call on calendly.

Let’s have a chat and see how we can work together in 2020.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Volker