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Do your strategies still work, today?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010


I have been reading Seth Godin’s book Linchpin. In this book he asks us to question the current work system and whether we want to be part of an old or a new one.

Although most of us might assume the system we work in is how it has always been and will be, Seth makes a point in questioning those assumptions. He urges us to explore different, and maybe unfamiliar, ways of working. Ways that make you stand out, and are essentially more aligned with who you want to be.

This got me thinking. While he talks about business, I am wondering when you last questioned the approaches and strategies in your personal life?

Are you disappointed about outcomes that seem to repeat themselves? Do you regularly discover ways of doing that might not work anymore? Maybe there are some that belong to your younger self, not the current self.

From the day we are born we learn how to react to all kinds of situations, consciously and unconsciously. We develop coping strategies that help us deal with difficult situations. In the past they helped us a lot, but are they still useful today?

The point is that we often apply those learned responses and coping strategies without thinking twice about it. If you are not happy with certain outcomes, maybe it is time to start exploring whether you might be able to do things differently.

You might also want to read:
What motivates you
Do you know your why?
Ten important questions to ask yourself
Do your beliefs support you or hold you back?

Image: Some rights reserved by hojusaram

Dream, Dare, Do

Thursday, July 29th, 2010


Thinking about the kind of changes you want to make in your life is an important first step to take. Maybe you want to feel better, improve the relationship with your partner or want to have a better job. Where most of us get stuck is how to translate our wish for change into actions. There is often a big gap between knowing what you want to change and actually doing it. At times it can be overwhelming because you don’t know where to start or fear comes in the way.

Ben Tiggelaar, bestselling author, researcher and speaker in the field of leadership, change and human behavior has written about what it takes to go from thinking to doing in “Dream, Dare, Do”.

Here are some useful tips from his article I want to share with you:

1. Your daily behaviour determines the results in your life. The things you do every day are critical.

2. When you translate goals into specific behavior you significantly increase your chance to achieve those goals.

3. You don’t have to become a different person, when you want to change. Just be more like yourself as you are in your best moments.

4. Become aware of your exceptionally good moments and describe in detail what you are doing in those moments.

5. Plan ahead. Come up with actions you can apply in times when you encounter obstacles or setbacks.

Read in more detail how you can make lasting change here.

Imagination and story telling (video)

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Listening to stories widens the imagination; telling them lets us leap over cultural walls, embrace different experiences, feel what others feel. Elif Shafak builds on this simple idea to argue that fiction can overcome identity politics.

Some quotes from the video that caught my attention

“… if you want to destroy something in this life, be it an acne, a blemish or the human soul, all you need to do is to surround it with thick walls. It will dry up inside. Now we all live in some kind of social and cultural circle. We all do. We’re born into a certain family, nation, class. But if we have no connection whatsoever with the worlds beyond the one we take for granted, then we too run the risk of drying up inside. Our imagination might shrink. Our hearts might dwindle. And our humanness might wither if we stay for too long inside our cultural cocoons. Our friends, neighbors, colleagues, family — if all the people in our inner circle resemble us, it means we are surrounded with our mirror image.”

“…writer and commuter, James Baldwin, gave an interview in 1984 in which he was repeatedly asked about his homosexuality. When the interviewer tried to pigeonhole him as a gay writer, Baldwin stopped and said, “But don’t you see? There’s nothing in me that is not in everybody else, and nothing in everybody else that is not in me.”

“…Chekhov said, “The solution to a problem and the correct way of posing the question are two completely separate things…”

Create space for clarity

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010


In the weekend I listened to an interview between Björk and Arvo Pärt. Two of my favourite musicians. Both of them, though in different genres, have developed their own unique style of music. In this short interview Björk describes to Arvo Pärt how she experiences his music: “you give the listener space”. This really fascinated me. An image immediately emerged: I was moving and floating between the sounds in a white room. It also reminded me how much clutter there often is in our life. This clutter or noise prevents us from moving around. Arvo Pärt uses sounds sparingly. He doesn’t want to waste musical notes as a filler or background. If you are interested listen to his piece “Für Alina”.

This interview reinforced the message that there is this space where we have the freedom of choice. Take this excerpt from Victor Frankl’s book “A man’s search for meaning”*

    Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Unfortunately, sometimes we fill up this space with clutter and forget it even exists. The result. We don’t think we have any choice but are at the whim of what is directing us. Think of a time when you were highly stressed. Did you feel you had the power to make decisions within that situation?

How can you re-create this space?

Simplify and emptiness

    “ I felt the need to concentrate on each sound, so that every blade of grass would be as important as a flower” - Arvo Pärt

In his music Arvo Pärt is giving the listeners time and space to give attention to just one sound at a time without being distracted by any background noises. Also photography, art, or story telling, aims to direct our attention to just one spot. Artists create a focal point and therefore create clarity and space for us to move around and to make meaning for ourselves. Each sound or focal point has an empty space in and around it. This space creates the possibilities for growth, for explorations, for improvements and for change.

The more clutter we have in life the more confused and uncertain our life seems. Take the beginning of your day, how did you wake up this morning. Already planning the day while you were brushing your teeth? This is a great way to fill your empty space before the day has even started. Maybe you want to start your day tomorrow by just focusing on what you are doing. When you brush your teeth just observe how you do that, how the brush feels. When it is time to plan what you have to do on that day, just do that.

Here are a few questions that you might want to ask yourself

How much space do you have between the sounds in your life?
What area in your life you feel is too cluttered, or maybe too foggy to see clearly?
How could you start to create some empty spaces?
What are the sounds that you make? Which of them are necessary, which ones are just fillers?

I am curious what you do to get more clarity and transparency for the different areas in your life?

You might also want to read:
How to reduce distractions and stay focused
Do you know where you are going
A fresh sheet of paper

* “A man’s search for meaning”: this is Frankl’s personal essay of his imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps and describes the psychotherapeutic method that he pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps.

10 important questions to ask yourself

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010


  • What direction am I heading?
  • What do I want my life to stand for?
  • What do I value in my relationship with others?
  • What sort of relationships do I want to develop?
  • What is most important to me in relation to work/home/family/friends/myself?
  • What is guiding my decisions?
  • What actions can I take that reflect my values?
  • When was the last time I made a decision based on what I believe in?
  • How do I want to act towards myself?
  • What am I doing right now?

You might also want to read:
What are you doing, right now?
What motivates you
Do you know your why?
Do you know where you are going?

Image: takomabibelot

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