Tag: opportunity

Ballueder Thinks (7) – Summer innit?

It’s hot at time of writing. 27.5 degrees in the car, as I wait for my son to finish his karate lesson. The first ‘real one’, face to face, since March, and parents are no longer allowed to watch. Life has changed. Next time I take the bigger car with the air conditioning. We adopt to the new rules of course, as we all do.

Today, at time of writing, we were supposed to go to Ashford, then Folkestone tomorrow, drive to Germany and celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. The government put Belgium on the list of countries to not stay in and if you come from there, you have to quarantine for 14 days. Surely driving through it would be an exception. But it isn’t. Several calls to the government hotlines got us the same answer and it was: if you touch Belgian soil, even in a car, not stopping, you have to quarantine. Loose your income for 2 weeks. Can’t train for the marathon. WTF. This got changed at the time we rebooked…but hey, you have to make decisions when you do.

So with a heavy heart we postponed our trip to Germany, fearing that France would end up on the list soon too. And it did when we were supposed to be out there, alongside the Netherlands. Why risk it? I haven’t seen my parents for 8 months, yet they can’t postpone their anniversary. The original plan was to go on a cruise, which ultimately got cancelled. And our flights got reimbursed. So that’s good at least.

Cut a long story short, we went to Scotland instead. Staying in the Greater Manchester area over night, driving on the M6 through a lockdown area. No quarantine necessary, despite my arguments on the phone with the government, this isn’t the same use case. There are no restrictions to do be on ‘Manchester soil’. Nevermind. I would argue otherwise, but who am I to criticise the government?

Actually I do. I think they properly f* it up. The UK as it was 19 years ago when I was attracted living here, is no more. The handling of the Corona crisis and the amount of dead people speak for itself. The recession and Q2 GDP contraction figures higher than any other country. I am hugely disappointed with the state of affairs and handling of the situation. Nothing screams ‘Brexit will be a mess’ more than looking at the clowns on the top. Never have I felt more passionate about politics in any country. And looking at A-Level results, both in Scotland and England, I can only say WTF again. Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be a political or blog post ranting, but I guess sometimes it just needs to be said. But what’s the alternative?

Maybe it was naive to think we could leave the country in a pandemic in order to travel. Or it is naive to think we are out of the worst, and that there won’t be a second wave. I don’t know. Looking back at the first half of the year, I have been lucky to have work, as a contractor, and actually uncovering opportunities, regardless of the situation. Things might not be as planned, but who had planned 2020 and actually got what they planned for? Hence, I am actually very grateful for what we have, the health we are in, and the prospects we have. It confirms my decision to go freelance. To be my own boss, and make it happen, without relying on others. This is a huge blessing to be honest, even if it is hard. But why would I want to rely on others to have a job at this stage? I am not saying I am not tempted to join a company full time, but that needs to be the right opportunity. Anyway, not pitching 😉

As anyone at the moment, I just like to have a good life and want this virus to go away. Yet we need to think what life would be like if the virus won’t go away anytime soon, or ever? How will our lives, jobs and situation change? Location won’t be an issue once of a sudden. Barbados, New York, Toronto, London, Singapore – as long as you can work in the time zone of the company you work for, you can live anywhere. It also means that education for your kids and living standards, e.g. activities, are key for location preferences moving forward.

There is something else I read in the Financial Times: a lot of people used the lockdown to clear out rooms, cupboards etc. However, a lot of people also cleared out emotional backlogs. I agree. As a matter of fact we cleared a lot of stuff from the loft and garage at the end of last year, and emotionally I have been on a journey to change and clear things out for about a year. I made huge progress, and recently went through some more hypnotherapy sessions. Contact me if you want to find out more, but I find it super useful to clear out any blockages, and explore what is holding me back. My confidence and self awareness took another step up, and I highly recommend anyone doing it. It’s like clearing out your garage, your mental one.

The main reason me bringing this up is as I have been speaking to more and more people experiencing anxiety. The lockdown and loss of human contact, will result in a huge crisis from a mental health perspective. I am super proud of the companies that have worked with me throughout the lockdown to teach their employees mindfulness in the workplace ; one group in particular has done very well by allowing for a weekly session discussing mindfulness, and any mental health issues. The group coaching sessions are ongoing and helping massively to put the lockdown into perspective, whether that is from a mental health or personal perspective. If you or your company employees are effected, and they likely are, you should consider having similar sessions. I am not saying this to advertise my services, but highlight the importance of doing it. Whether with me or any other mindfulness coach or practitioner. The hungover of mental health after the pandemic will be huge; combat it today! Be proactive, you will thank me later.

Our holidays ended up being fantastic. We had splendid weather in Scotland, and hardly any rain. It was warm, and allowed for me to continue my marathon training. I will update everyone properly once it is all confirmed, but the London Marathon 2020 will be a virtual one, and all donations roll over to the next physical one, which I plan to run in October 2021 or April 2022. I prefer the former, so let’s see what we get. I shall update my Justgiving page as soon as things will be confirmed. Bear with me, not a logistical walk in the park for the London Marathon organisers.

I love being in Scotland. It’s a rough terrain, friendly people, good greasy food and lovely ale. Walking, running, or just enjoying the countryside is fab. We rented a wee flat in Inverness and visited the MIL up North frequently, whilst doing our own family things, like looking at amazing forests, Loch Ness of course, or just shopping in town. Visiting a white sandy beach.
Scotland is a lovely country, and if we knew we could work remotely forever, I would go and buy a wee house in the middle of nowhere. However, we don’t know, and there are question marks around some infrastructure here, but that’s for another time. The idea sounds lovely though.

As you can imagine, running your own business, you still work all week. However, I have been lucky as I wasn’t that much in demand, and people respected me being slow to respond. I actually didn’t do much work at all, and we enjoyed a lot of quality family time, a change of scenery, and just doing nothing. Yes. I managed to just sit there, and do nothing. Not like me, but it is so important to reflect, drain your brain and just sit and think. I enjoyed the time off, the company and making memories with the family.

When you read this we are just back. Time to kick-start my 2nd year as a contractor/freelancer and kicking some ar*. I am ready to make a difference, take on more project work, run a marathon and conquer the “world”. Get rid of the virus, spend more time with the family and balance work and life. A holiday puts so many things into perspective, so does Covid, and there will be more decisions coming our way. That’s certain and that it’s certain that I lost all confidence in trust in this government.

For now, enjoy some time off, disconnect and make memories with your children and loved ones. Time you never get back.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.
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

Sunday Column (464)

Another week, another flight. Yes, you read correctly. As time of writing I sit on a cramped Easyjet flight back from Amsterdam. People smelling of stale cannabis and I wish I had booked a mid week flight rather than the ‘Monday after a long weekend from Amsterdam’ flight back. But I was only over for one day, one interview which turned into meeting people from the whole company. Worth the trip and experience. And when I say that, this isn’t necessarily that I got the job, as a matter of fact the positive noise in the meeting turned into a silence. It turned into something I knew would happened because I trust my gut. I trust myself and I know what I am doing. But when did you last turn down the chance for a final stage interview with a company for a big international role, a big salary because your gut told you not to? Anyway, consider it done.

However, nevertheless, the trip was very successful as it helped me in my decision making. As my former boss would say: Focus, Fight and Change the Conversation. That’s exactly what I am doing. More to come as things emerge over the next 6-8 weeks.

It finally got colder and the condensation is back in the house. We had to turn the pressure (speed) on our air distributor thingy up again. It also meant cosy nights with the fire on and it meant cold mornings in the gym. I am down in the garage 5 days a week now. 5×45 minutes of exercise. Slowly but surely I have the feeling that my body transforms, stabilises, I am getting somewhere, not gaining weight and not loosing more. That’s a good sign for me, at my age anyway 😉

Whenever you meet people in the industry, you always discover something new, or something you knew and look at it from a different perspective. I enjoy that challenge. I enjoy going out of my comfort zone and learn. Further I learned a lot about how people perceive me on LinkedIn. How one topic is seen as industry changing by some, yet hardly noticed by others. What I have been missing in some conversations this week is simple: the growth mindset. I am reading that book by Carl Dweck. The fixed mindset is about people believing their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits. The growth mindset is about people who believe their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. A love of learning. Like me, reading self development books and listening to podcasts all day long. You never stop learning.

Again, there will be more on that topic over the next few weeks. I am working on a concept to take this to the wider market, coaching and developing people. And people who want to be coached, want to learn. They want to develop. This week I spoke to mentors and coaches. I am getting the input I am looking for, the advice I was hoping for, but I only have 24 hours in the day. So I need to slow down, reflect, focus.

Life is about focus and about doing what you want to do and not what other people expect you to do. Life isn’t the way our parents perceived it and told us to perceive it. No fault of theirs, but that’s how it was. And what do I want to portrait to my kids. I vividly remember sitting with my mother in the living room and I said to her that when I come back from the exchange year in the US (I was 15 at the time), I might just become a car mechanic. She said that I should do at least A levels, and university or a good apprenticeship. A good foundation. She wasn’t wrong, and from what she knew then, this was the right thing to say. Now I wonder what would have happened if I did do a car mechanic apprenticeship. Maybe I would own a few garages now, making more money than I ever made.

However, there is something else: opportunity costs. Money is only one part of the greater life equation. How much money does one have to earn to compromise happiness? Which figure can you put on it? Can you really? Tell me. Direct message me and tell me how much your happiness is worth to you. And then put that money on the table and let me help you find it. Deal?

So how does a life look like for me 2 years from now? Ideally I work with a variety of companies in one capacity or another. Board memberships, non executive roles, advisory boards, hands on consulting and strategy, positioning, connecting and selling….a variety of things to make sure that companies are represented the way they should be. Additionally I would work with companies on corporate and cultural development. Coaching their employees to perform better. 1-2-1 sessions, analysing profiles etc. I would very much enjoy that plus management coaching. I have been coaching friends for a long time and mentored many, however there is so much more I can bring to someone’s life by helping them discover and connect with their inner purpose, connecting to their systems, and discovering happiness.

The right things come to your life for a reason, and at the right time. Be patient. Trust your gut and trust yourself.

To exciting times. More as my positioning is strengthening.

Love and happiness from my corner of the world,
Volker

Sunday Column (376)

Hello to this week’s column which seems to really gain on popularity given the latest stats.

My Monday swimming is going well. It was fairly empty this week, as it seems that New Year resolutions are wearing off, so people stopped going first thing on a Monday. This is nice as us regulars, a lot of retired people and myself, get a more room in the pool. I aim to go bi-weekly and alternate with my cross trainer. Despite travelling I keep up exercising and on average manage 5 days a week.

The main challenge around it is that I eat a lot of crappy food to keep up the energy, which is fine as I am burning a lot, but if I stopped exercising tomorrow, I might gain a lot of weight again. A #firstworldproblem I suppose but still, my aim for Q2 is to get leaner and ‘meaner’. We shall see.

I did my run on Tuesday before heading to the airport, as I had to go to a meeting in New York. I have not been to NY since 1993 when I moved to Kansas for a year as a foreign exchange student. So this was somewhat of a treat. Very exhausting travel, yet very rewarding to be back in such a wonderful city. NY is special, no doubt!

Being on a long haul flight makes me think. Not that I am on a long haul flight often, but when I am, I like to wind down. The thoughts are about being disconnected. About missing out and not being able to do emails or call loved ones. On short haul flights it is a couple of hours, like a meeting. But long haul is a working day. And flying back in time, New York is 5 hours behind us, makes the day even longer.

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I guess life is what you are used to. And what you are getting and wanting to be get used to. And that is somewhat something we all know yet don’t apply on a daily basis. Makes sense?

Whether this is to have kids, take on three cats, change the layout of your house, changing jobs or dealing with any kind of change. Whatever gets us out of our comfort zone will make us learn. It will make us grow. It will help us pushing and extending boundaries.

But if we are not going to get used to things, we are just dealing with them. Then we learn behaviour for the next time. Same reaction. Same worries. Only by getting used to things we remove those worries. Sales works similar, where the first meeting to present a new product is pushing boundaries. Ten meetings down the road you will be used to it. It will be easier.

Guess by the time the kids leave the house and we prepare for retirement we have seen and learned it all. And we pass on to our kids what we have learned. Some learning they will take on and accept and apply. Some advise they will ignore. Just like we have done. Just like our parents have done. Some things never change I suppose. Sending them on a world trip, which I have never done, might expand their comfort zone and gets them to look beyond every day life. Will they do it?

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Coming back to my trip. I watched the story of Lance Armstrong on the way over. It is amazing, in a bad way, what he got away with in life. Like a bad sales person selling who is overselling on capabilities. I am glad it backfired. He destroyed hope in people. It was very unethical.

I also managed to go through a few podcasts that I had downloaded for while. If I listen to most management and productivity gurus and experts, I realise a few things. One is that I need to stop reading more personal development books. It is getting repetitive. I believe I have all the tools to make life happen. Yet, I have to stop more often, smell the roses and examine where I am, what I do and which 20% of my efforts result in 80% of my positive results. Time to tweak life perspective a bit and re-assemble, then move forward more focused and stronger.

2016 seems to be the year I am on the runway…I am getting onto that plane, ready to take off. Which airline will I be on? Which class will I be in? How long will it take until we reach flight height? Where am I going? Who am I taking with me? Who is the pilot? A nice analogy for life. I know who my co-pilot is and she was truly missed this week!

Before I get too sentimental…that said…when I was sitting in the bar at the airport waiting for my flight home I was reflective. Very tired. It was 2 am UK time, only half seven in NY. I had run 10K in Central Park, trying to catch some fast runners. Then I met a social media celebrity and some good friends. I soaked in some sights and some atmosphere. I love New York. Got a T-shirt too.

Life is good. Work was very productive. It was a good week. America is great. Space, friendly people and an energy one doesn’t find in Europe. Shame. If I was younger I might consider moving here. Or would I? It is great working in the space I am in, exciting times ahead. We are getting ready for lift off.

Yet travelling makes you tired and coming home is the nicest bit. I missed the kids. I missed the wife. At the weekend I tried to get back to my normal schedule.

Whilst I sit at the bar and bite into an amazing burger with fries accompanied by a glass of Californian CabSav, I realise how awesome life is and what opportunities lie ahead. Full throttle ahead. The opportunity is now.

I hope you have a great week.

Volker