Tag: pandemic

Ballueder Thinks (8) – September 2020

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

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

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

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

Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

RNIB

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

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

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

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

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

Living in a new world – Days at home (49)

49 days. 7×7 = 49. Week 7.

Let’s start with some impressions from the weekend. Glorious sunshine on Friday and Saturday, saw us getting some fun times in 😉 I started the long weekend with a long overdue catch up via Zoom with my uni friends. A few beers got the weekend off in style. I enjoyed the bank holiday weekend being on a Friday. We – socially distancing – spent the day on the street, chatting with neighbours, and celebrating VE Day. What a laugh.

Above’s pictures include the new shelf/desk for the living room. Not planned to get this for home working, we ordered it prior to the pandemic and the delivery date got pushed back. The original plan was to have the main computer sitting in the living room to a) have more control of the boys, and b) free up space in the spare bedroom AKA my office. Given the home working situation, and home schooling situation, we probably keep the current set up until the boys return to school. Once they do, it will mean we get more space in the spare bedroom abandoning a desk, but also using the bigger desk top on my desk….in other words, I upgrade my office. I cannot wait 🙂

Anyway, the announcements from our prime minister about easing the lock-down are still settling in. Maybe I write about that tomorrow.

Stay safe, be well.

Living in a new world – Days at home (29)

Tuesday – what already?

Yes it is. A great day to have conversations with friends and family. And doing some work too 😉
Actually, as a matter of fact, I extended a work commitment and started another. Things are looking great! Different to how I envisaged 2020, but I am not the only one.

Looks like the pandemic is easing in Europe. Fingers crossed. We are all in it together!

For now I am busy enough, which is great. And I keep adding calls to my diary, conversations leading to ideas. Who knows where are in the next 3 or 6 months.

Also, my podcast is making progress. A new episode this Thursday, and from the looks of it, all content for season 3 is scheduled to be recorded. Progress on all fronts I’d say.

Bit of an update on my side, sorry. However, the kids are well. No new or noteworthy pictures. Maybe I take some later, it is BBQ weather – given I went vegetarian, I am exploring the variety of sausages, cheeses, burgers and non meat ribs 😉 It’s a fun journey and I enjoy it a lot so far.

Stay safe!