Tag: usa

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 (4)

This day was easier, for daddy anyway. Mummy was at home and took over most of the homeschooling, so daddy could get on with some work. That worked well actually.

With Rohan working off the iPad, we trying to circumvent some compatibility issues but think we are getting there. The exercise was fitted in today and we are getting more into a routine. Mummy and the boys went for a long walk. Daddy did some essential shopping.

It seems a bit like ‘normality’ sets in. The new normal, yet some tears of exhaustion and being fed up. We venture through. I am excited to have set up a video call for Rohan’s class tomorrow, that will be fun!

Rohan is working on a map from the USA, identifying states like Kansas. It takes me back 35+ years when I lived there as an exchange student. Time flies. Their motto: Ad astra per aspera – to the stars through difficulties. What a nice motto, valid more today than ever.

KS flag

Stay safe.

Sunday Column (457)

Monday Monday. Oh yes, nothing like a 2 hour drive in the taxi on a Monday morning to Heathrow. Longest ever; normally it takes 1.5 hours max. So a bit of adrenaline this week to get to my flight, which ended up boarding late, and everything was fine. Being rushed I ended up grabbing the wrong breakfast and feel just so much better about the week ahead 😉 BBQ Pork for breakfast. Yeah 🙁 Calm, breathe. Life is good, and fingers crossed, I have yet to miss a flight. 25 trips this year so far. That’s on average every other week, and more to come. Wow, the most I have travelled in years. And I keep saying it is getting less, but I haven’t got any more news on that at the moment. I believe it isn’t actually the travel as such but doing an additional job that takes focus away from what I wanted to do in the first place. However, I know there are changes on the horizon, and hopefully they will be good for me. One must believe that moving forward things will turn out the way they should. Believe in the future and that the dots will connect looking backwards. And they always will.

Weekends. Trying to spend more bonding time with the boys we went on a long walk down Littlehampton beach last weekend. It was nice and we all just love being close to and at the sea. The noise of waves coming on shore and then the water disappearing into the pebbles. It is great and calming, it makes you feel far away from home, on holidays. Balancing life.
We also upgraded to the latest iPhone 8 this weekend. A bit of a hiccup, we had to go twice as only passports or UK driving licenses are accepted for having a credit agreement – no German driving licenses or ID cards. But we got there in the end, and it was probably the first time I used my UK passport for something official. The new phone is great, but not much of an advancement in comparison to the 7, and just a slight improvement from the 6s I had before. The main differentiation is water resistance, wireless charging and an improved home button. Having a hardware contract with Apple now, means we are eligible for an upgrade from 12 months and have a 12 months pay monthly deal with Vodafone. This gives us the opportunity to get a new iPhone every year, something I always aimed for. But nowadays the innovation year on year is getting smaller, hence the need to upgrade yearly is less. Anyway, let’s speak about that in a year’s time, as technology and face recognition will move on.

In terms of data, it was easy to restore the iPhone. Everything gets backed up in the cloud but my gratitude journal didn’t. Since February I have been writing a daily gratitude journal which seems to have vanished. This is a bit of a shame. It is a great practise to reflect once a day on all the positive things in life. I wondered if I ever look back at it…guess for now I won’t 😔 I will no longer trust an app, but instead will write the journal on Evernote. Maybe it is my fault for not backing it up properly and then restore it, but then again if it isn’t an obvious process in the app. Never mind. The NHS app I used for 5 years with my BMI/weight data has also vanished, but luckily I had a back up in Evernote. I just love Evernote! So for anyone who hasn’t seen my posts about it, please do use Evernote to track everything. I write my blog on it as it syncs cross device and I can edit it on the go, then copy and paste it later. I collect my Thursday Flash links in it and take all my meeting notes on it. Evernote for everything!

Germany. If short, I stayed two nights in Germany, Hamburg, this week. I went for a walk after work as I still can’t exercise, go to the sauna or gym. I overworked my back after the initial minor surgery, so I now need to wait until it heals properly. It takes longer of course. I reflected on my relationship with Germany, thought about whether I could live there again. I like Hamburg, enjoy the organised life and the city is just georgous. However, I also feel like that about Munich. In Germany, the cities are nice and green, not too big, and one can find a good life life balance within the city or close proximity. It is just right. But it doesn’t feel right. Just because things are ticking all the boxes doesn’t mean they are right for you. Logic doesn’t always prevail. Does that make sense? If your mind isn’t in it, it doesn’t make sense.

I suppose you can achieve the same in the UK but maybe not in London, maybe in smaller cities, or only at a price that is reserved for the few. Yet, I am very happy with my life in London, being able to have the best of both worlds, balancing both village life and city career. Germany yet somehow doesn’t appeal to me anymore. The latest elections aside, and the negative movement towards right wing politics, Germany is just another country – and where I grew up in. After moving to the US 25 years ago, I learned what life could be like in a wide open space and I enjoyed something bigger than what I had at the time. Germany, and to a certain extend Europe, is a place that can get too small. And if not physically, I feel like I couldn’t permanently live in Germany, as it would be too small for me. Not sure if that makes sense. Sometimes village life gets like that too, and without the escapes to London, it might not be for me either. Freedom – that’s what I associate with the open space I experienced. Like the pubs in New York that just have space. Or you find a 20 lane bowling alley in the middle of town with 15 pool tables. The space you have, the freedom you feel. And, as Europe moves towards Brexit, maybe Europe is just not the place to be in a few years time. We shall see.

Those are my thoughts this week. Of course there are more but I don’t want to bore you. Interesting chats about politics with a taxi driver in Germany. Booking of my next trip to Belgrade, Serbia, which will be new experience.
There were days I took the kids to school and felt very privileged to spend more time with them. They are my purpose and priority.

Another busy week and a week of no travel ahead. That will be nice and I have lots to do with the team this week in London.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

Sunday Column (121)

This week had many facettes to it. One cleary was Glastonbury. A festival in the UK. The UK doesn’t really strike me as the best country to have a festival due to the weather. However, despite the muddy start, then the sunny weekend, it seems that the community that goes to Glastonbury grows each year. It is THE festival in the UK. With the BBC covering some acts on TV.

I actually watched part of the U2 gig and was quite impressed. I am personally not a person that likes open air concerts or festivals for that matter. Not my cup of tea. I prefer a hotel over a tent, a classical music hall over a field. But we are all different.

A few years ago I have been very interested in Woodstok, the big music festival in 1969. And, living in the US at the time, I was torn between the attraction of “being a hippie” or “being a soldier in the Vietnam War“. What is better?

This is not a question which can be answered with either or. Something I only found out years later. It is not about one ideology or another. Life is about your own personality and what you make of it. And some of it can be serving your country and be proud of the servicemen that do. And I am. And I am still fascinated that if in the US a soldier is sitting in restaurant, someone else would pick up the bill to show their appreciation. I don’t think that happens anywhere in Europe.

And some of the ideology can come from the hippies, like having children, sharing the love, being open minded and grow your own vegetables. Easy Rider was a great movie that inspired me back in the days. Those “wanna be hippies” that are tough at the same time. They ride a bike and have fun but are not accepted by the general public. Hey, why would they have to be accepted? But society is more black and white than myself I guess, or most people I know for that matter.

I am not sure what I want to say here, but maybe looking at my kids each day I am thinking that I want them to be one thing or another. Basketball or Rugby players. Or maybe scientists or doctors. But do I really?

No, I want my boys to be our kids. I want them to have an open mind, enjoying festivals or classical music. Hotel rooms or tents. I want them to be themselves, free from any stigmas or ideologies put upon them. Important is that you bring them up to be nice to others, look after themselves and others, be honest, helpful, and good kids. The rest they will do themselves – with some guidance though I guess.

I sometimes cannot wait to sit down in my old leather chair when I am 65 and retired to see what has become out of my boys. What their personalities look like, what they enjoy, who or if they married and whether they have kids themselves.

But more often these days I like to enjoy the moments with them. Because I don’t know where I am or if I am when I was 65. I think that is the main thing, being there for them NOW. Helping and guiding them now, no matter what. No matter what comes. That is important. Despite compromises you have to make of course, you want to be where they are, experiencing with them.

Have a great week,
Volker

Sunday Column (81)

81 weeks ago I started my Sunday Column. Ideas, thoughts and general blurb from Volker Ballueder about all sort of things. It developed a bit into a “only column” as I got too busy keeping up to write a daily or bi-weekly post.

Anyway, yesterday was 9/11. Now, as for many people, it is like it was yesterday that I heard about it. Sitting in a friends old Peugeot, he gave me a lift back from my pre-university maths course in Aberdeen, both of us entering the 3rd year, when the music in the radio stopped with the breaking news. I had been in the UK for less than a month. It was raining, cold and grey. And 9-11 had just happened.

If you followed some of the news over the last few weeks, then you wonder. You wonder why a pastor in Florida wants to burn the Koran. Why would he? If he is a man of faith, as his title suggests, then he should be able to forgive. He should be able to foresee the consequences his action might have. Was it all a media stunt?

If I say forgive, then I don’t mean “to not care” but in the Buddhist believe, in my interpretation, you close a chapter, accept the fact and try to make the world a better place. And I believe that is what most Americans have done. If I say “embracing Islam” I don’t necessarily mean that in a literal way, but I believe that more Americans know today what Islam is about compare to 9 years ago. And, if you followed the discussion about the Moshe they want to build close to Ground Zero, then you could clearly argue that this is to honour not only the Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Mormons that died in 9-11 but also the Islamic people that died.

I am not religious, I am a Buddhist. I am not political. At least not more than anyone else. Everyone has a right to have their own believes, values and passions. For some they are wrong in most people’s eyes, e.g. terrorists. Of course. But just because some fundamentalist claim that they did it in the name of their god, doesn’t mean that everyone believing in this god is a terrorist. Come on, a child understands that. A nation as great as America which overcame the discrimination of black people, understanding that they are not 2nd class citizens (sorry Mitch, I am sure you read that), should surely understand to not blame someone because of the colour of the skin, or religious belief, or origin……

Now, enough about 9-11. I am not American, but I feel very strong for them, as I lived in this country. Having lived there, I understand their belief and them being proud of their country. An amazing country, and they should be proud. I never forget buying that T-Shirt in D.C. off a Vietnam Veteran. It had an American flag on it and read “It is an American thing, we should all understand” – relating to the Vietnam war.

In my life in the UK there hasn’t been many developments. I worked a lot last week, and was very exhausted on Friday. I hardly saw the boy which is a shame. My MIL is still here and her boyfriend will come next week. So it will be busy with family and work. My wife is feeling better and the specialist says she is going to be ok for a while, so that my MIL will be leaving the end of next week. She is a great help and we enjoy her being around. However, I also looking forward to having our own life back too.

Now, I enjoyed the weekend, spending lots of time with Colin, not working at all. That was great. My wife and MIL went out on Saturday night so I had a whole Saturday night to work on some stuff I wanted to do for ages.

See you next week.
Volker

Facing the Giants…

I finally watched the whole movie of facing the giants as described in my earlier post. It is a very motivational movie. However, I was surprised that is based around god and the love of god to make it a success.

With having lived in the US for a year a few years ago, I know how important Christianity is in the US and that it helps people to motivate. However, it does not matter which faith you are as long as you believe in something, and someone – yourself.

I am not a great believer in contemporary church but find my spiritual guidance through Buddhism. Latter helps me to stay focus, help others and be motivated in personal life as well as in corporate life.

What wonders me sometimes is that there seems to be this “YES WE CAN” attitude in the USA, the American Dream that just this week was supported by the first ethnic minority president to be in the world. A country that has this approach will always be more confident and be more successful.

In Germany where I grew up and I believe it is similar in most European countries, this attitude is not on the schedule for high school kids. It is more about “this is an American thing” and that is that.

Why are we not taking the positive attitude, the “can do approach” from our big brother and use it to make us more successful, more motivated and more focused in life and work. Without thinking that this is only done “elsewhere”.

I believe we need to incorporate the basic and underlying approach of this attitude in our daily lifes to motivate ourselves and to get where we want to be. No surprise that things like GTD, NLP, Turning Passion into profits are all coming from one country.

In my opinion most of those ideas are based around the basic attitude of reaching out for the stars and making things happen. And to have this vision of reaching things, not to show fear and stay focus. That is not rocket science, is it?