It is still September in Germany as I am writing this and this month’s newsletter is inspired by the 9th letter of the alphabet. And we don’t need to be very creative to come up with a word. Believe it or not, I chose „I“!
Such a tiny word (and its translations – like „ich“, „je“, „jag“) that is so close to our ego… but not only to our ego as you’ll read later. I did google „how often do we use „I“ during the day“ and none of the hits gave me a concrete number :-)! One study mentioned that the overuse of „I“ could be a sign of low self-esteem…
I’m sure you can quickly come up with a few people who use „I“ in almost every sentence they say. When they describe what their team did… they will say: „I have met the deadline and brilliantly hit the sales target!“ or when they speak about their last vacation (that they spent with their partner and children), „I had a wonderful time surfing, eating great food, meeting influencial people…“, and so on. The pattern here seems to describe „successes“ at least in a material form. They refer to execution, performance, buying, owning… whatever flatters the ego. And when we know that these successes would not have been achieved without the contribution of other people (team, family, etc), the whole thing smells like bragging.
When things are less flattering for the ego, for example, when an emotion or a belief or something more personal or uncomfortable is described, some will say: „One feels kind of irritated when they don’t explain the reason behind the pay freeze“. I always wonder: who is „one“? They build a distance between themselves and their feelings – using „I“ in such a case would be too personal, maybe even too hurtful… even if it is exactly what it is! „One“ sounds like it is everyone and nobody at the same time. It generalises the statement and makes it sound like something that is valid for all.
In the example above, it is much clearer to say: „I felt irritated when they didn’t explain the reason behind the pay freeze“. Now you know exactly who felt irritated and the reason why. You know what’s going on in this person’s mind and heart. In this case, using „I“ conveys much more strength and transparency and tells the others that it is „my“ truth (vs. everyone’s truth). And you know very well that each of us sees the world through our own eyes, our own experiences (good and bad)… so think about it… many pairs of eyes, many experiences on this planet… many truths…
It is also interesting to notice that some people use the word „we“ in rather unclear ways too: when they are unsure or feel pressured or don’t want to assume the full responsibility for something they are actually responsible for. They can say: „We are planning for a new IT-system to be introduced…“ while everyone around looks surprised… Precisely at this moment, I encourage you to ask the following question: „I heard you mentioning „we“, who exactly is included here?“. You will surely not win a popularity contest for this question… but you increase your chance of understanding better, assuming that your question is answered without fluffiness.
I have started a new habit a while ago: when I use the word „we“ and realise that it could be confusing for the constellation of people involved (especially in written correspondance), I make sure that I clearly name those I am referring to.
What about you? Did I hit home with a few of my examples? Do those you communicate with have to assume something (that they don’t know!) to understand you? In the next weeks, I invite you to the following:
* Be aware of how (and not „how often“) you use „I“ and „we“ and notice the context, the tone, the (un)easiness, etc. and adjust if necessary
* Reduce the dosage of „one“ (and its translations…), check the P.S. below
* Be very careful with „we“ vs. „they“, which can be very polarising…
Notice that it is not a matter of frequency, it is a matter of accuracy (assuming that your intention is to convey a clear message). Notice also that it is not a matter of eliminating the ego from your communication, it is the matter of a healthy ego in your communication.
And even if it is not a matter of frequency, I’d like to mention something that my father likes to say: „too much is like not enough“. (he’ll love this :-)!)
P.S.: In French, the translation of „one“ would be „on“. When I went to school, I recall very well that when someone used „on“ (when actually „I“ was meant), the teachers would always say: „“On“ exclut la personne qui parle.“ („One“ excludes the person who is talking). So we had to repeat the sentence using the appropriate pronoun… I kind of got allergic to „on“ – or „one“ – from that experience. So when a former boss of mine in Sweden would say to me „one should call this client“, I always treated the sentence as an interesting information… and not as „you need to call this client“… which is what he meant I later learned ;-). He obviously didn’t go to my school!
SPEAKING: RISK COMMUNICATION
I’ll have the opportunity to speak about risk communication at the Risk Management Perspectives Conference of the Society of Actuaries of Ireland on October 25, 2017.
The presentation will address some common communication patterns in order to increase the awareness of the participants who will leave with concrete „take-aways“ that they can use in their day-to-day interactions with colleagues and business partners. It can lead to an improvement of the overall risk communication and an increase in the efficiency of the risk management system.
If you or your organisation would like to know more, just click on reply and let me know!
Have some of you been playing golf since I wrote to you last time? If so… poor you ;-)… (in case you’re new to my newsletter and don’t know what I’m referring to, check last month’s newsletter below).
There are three tiny and simple words that an inspired leader needs in his or her everyday vocabulary and that can make a huge impact for him or her and for those who are around. One of them of course starts with „H“, the letter of the month. For more suspense, I’ll keep it for the end.
Word #1: THANK YOU. Well, you may be thinking „of course, this is what I teach my children all the time!“ Congratulations! Do you also act like you teach? And regardless of the situation, e.g. at work, in meetings, at a parent night, at home, at a party with friends…? In the various work experiences that I’ve had so far, I did observe a lack of THANK YOU. Maybe I haven’t worked in cultures that promote the use of this word in a corporate context.
THANK YOU is a simple sign of respect, recognition and appreciation for what someone did or said. And it is so easy to say, e.g. in all the languages that I know, the word has a maximum of two syllables, like „MERCI, DANKE, TACK, GRAZIE, GRACIAS, KIITOS“, etc. Which brings me to my next challenging question: when you say THANK YOU, do you add a BUT right after…? If this is your style, try to add AND instead of BUT and see what it does. Later you can even skip the AND….
Word #2: SORRY. Like Elton John sang in his song: „SORRY seems to be the hardest word“. In fact, it is not always easy to admit that we were wrong or did not act appropriately. SORRY shows respect for the person that we did wrong to (whether voluntarily or not). It also shows that we gained insight on the situation and that we are ready to do something about it in the future.
In some corporate cultures, this word can be a big taboo and/or interpreted as a sign of weakness (or, of course, something that could have strong negative consequences from a legal point of view). Imagine the CEO of Volkswagen who would say or write to VW car owners (and really meaning it): „I and my colleagues are SORRY for having cheated with our emissions software, we apologize for having abused of your trust and will do everything in our power to correct the situation so that it doesn’t happen again“. Wow, I know I’m a dreamer. Still, what a difference it would make on the perception that we have of this company. And a perception surely influences the share price in the long run…
And word #3: HELP. This is the hardest one for me! Maybe I should write a song about it ;-)… if I recall well, the Beatles already did so. Using the word HELP shows the courage to admit one’s limits in the small like in the big things in life. There is nothing dramatic about it. No one is good at everything and there are enough people ready to HELP with their special talents, skills and knowledge.
As a good excuse, I’ll say that I’m a curious person who loves to learn and try new things. And instead of asking for HELP in topics I have no idea about… I’ll search on my own (still I’ll google it or youtube it). For a while or for a (too) long time before I really ask for HELP. Ego issue? That could be, I’m a human! Or maybe there exists a correlation between not liking golf and finding it difficult to say HELP…
If these three tiny words – THANK YOU, SORRY and HELP – were used more often (and appropriately of course) in our societies, I believe that we would experience an increased sense of respect, trust and integrity, and consequently build stronger relationships in all areas of our lives. Let’s start with you and me instead of waiting for others to do so! Let’s be inspired leaders so that our businesses can thrive :-).
Until my next newsletter, I invite you to observe and reflect on how and when you use these three small words. Is there one of them that you feel uncomfortable with? If so, what could be the reason behind? Do you need to use (one of) them more often? You can first focus on the word THANK YOU, let’s say until next Thursday. Then for the other week you focus on the word SORRY and for the following week on the word HELP.
See what happens. Drop me a note after these three weeks by clicking on reply, I’d love to hear from you.
And as always, make sure you have fun during that time and good luck!
COACH AND CHILL WITH CAROLINE…
… is taking place on Wednesday 20 September at 18:00! Do you sometimes feel awkward or under pressure when you meet people for the first time? Do you want to increase your chances to make a positive impact during that first meeting and thus to obtain what you want in the short, middle and long run?
The topic of the event will focus on how to quickly and easily build positive connections in communication situations, e.g. in meetings, during presentations, job interviews, etc. Check here to find all the details – note that it will be held in German – and welcome!
You will usually find me in the future.
I don’t bite.
Nor can I kiss.
You can reach me but you can’t give me a ring.
You can meet me but I will not greet you.
You can hit me and it won’t hurt.
Sometimes I play hide-and-seek,
Still I make sure that you end up finding me.
Some people think that I am unflexible,
Still you can adjust me.
Others think that once you have set me,
I become even clearer.
(Of course, it is not me, Caroline). But who am I??? (scroll down to find out)
I am a GOAL!!!
Oh là là… maybe not your best friend or maybe it is in fact something you always strive to achieve. Whatever your feeling is when speaking about GOAL, I always like to draw a parallel with the sports world. It appears so easy to define a GOAL: shoot the puck in the net, land the triple-lutz-triple-toe-loop combination, jump above the bar, etc. These things are at least easy to measure. I doubt though that they were always easy to set, not to speak about achieving them. The Olympics may look glamorous but the day-to-day training is less so.
In our less sporty lives, we could say that there are two kinds of goals: those that you set for yourself and those that are set by an external person or organisation. Do you experience different degrees of motivation depending on how much influence you have in setting the goals?
GOALS represent such a wide topic. I could write a book about them. But I don’t have the time and maybe you would not want to read it. That’s why I allow myself to summarize three critical items you need to apply when you set GOALS, whether at work or in your private life:
1) Express your GOAL in an affirmative manner: you want to reach or move towards something. Please avoid the words „don’t“ and „stop“ as our brains do not always understand negations as they are meant. Let’s say that you play golf (more about my own golf career further below). You are close to the green but you have to hit the ball over a pond to reach it. What happens if you tell yourself „not into the pond, not into the pond“? The probability that you hit right into the pond is quite high… because your brain focused on the pond. It tricked you, it didn’t understand the „not“. Now if you tell yourself „hit the green, hit the green“, then the probability that you hit the green is quite high. And to hit the green is exactly what you want. So express what you want in an affirmative way.
2) Make a list of the consequences (both positive and negative) that reaching for your GOAL can have along the way – for you and also for your family, your team, your clients, etc. This way you keep the „big picture“ in mind and can also check if it aligns with your values. Omitting this step could at some point lead to frustration, bitterness or unnecessary stress. Most of the time, the way to your GOAL should be fun but focusing solely on the end result may make you and those around you unhappy. When you are clear about the consequences and you make sure that they are in alignment with your values, you’ll accept the road conditions as they are.
3) Use details to describe your GOAL. This way, you give your brain a chance to get prepared and to look for that exact experience. I know this can be a tough one, especially in the corporate world. Have you ever read a glossy strategy broschure? Quite often, the GOALS that are described there look as if they could apply to any company. They are kept quite general and even fuzzy. The danger here lies in the fact that everyone will choose a different interpretation and they will all run towards different GOALS in the end. As a consequence, the expected success can’t be achieved and productivity and collaboration suffer. So, dare to be clear and detailed in describing what you want to achieve.
Once you have applied the three items above, let me know if and how they have helped you. I wish you all the best with your GOALS!
P.S.: My golf career ended about 10 years ago. I gave it a try. I always did like my dad told me. When he would get prepared for hitting the ball, he would say: „look at me and do like I do“. I did it – at least I think I did. I think I had three great hits overall in my whole career. This is how bad I was. (whether I did not really succeed to do like my dad was doing or it was not at all a good idea to replicate my dad’s golf swing). It would put me in such a bad mood at times. So one day I decided it was over with this suffering. I sold my equipment for little money (just to get rid of it), wished the new owner all the best and have since felt relieved from that heavy weight ;-).
COACH AND CHILL WITH CAROLINE
Mark the date: Wednesday 20 September at 18:00! This time, our topic will focus on how to quickly and easily build positive connections in communication situations, e.g. in meetings, during presentations, job interviews, etc.
The format is the same: workshop/discussion/practice to be followed with some food, drinks and happy conversations. You will find more details about the event and the registration when you check here. I hope to see you there!
WANTED… THE SUN…
If you know where it is currently hiding… please make sure that it finds its way to Hannover where it could stay at least for a few hours. We miss it so much that we start feeling unmotivated and grumpy. THANKS!
For those of you who have been following me for a while now, you know that this month will be about a word that starts with the sixth letter of the alphabet. And for those who are new to my newsletter, I have chosen to direct the topics according to the alphabet… yes, still 20 words to go before we have visited all the letters! (You can have a look at the previous newsletters, check below for 2017 and here for 2016.)
So, yes, „F“… for… FUN! What else!?! (Check here to see where it comes from). Can you tell me why you have FUN at what you do? Is it because:
* You pursue a passion, or
* You have great colleagues, or
* You get a fixed and secured paycheck every month, or
* You get along optimally with your boss, or
* You meet the perfect amount of challenges that allow you to learn and grow, or
* You are promised an extra bonus if you cut cost by 15%, or
* You have a flexible time schedule, or
* You are excellent at mastering the tasks at hand, or
* For some other reasons that only you know?
If I would check everyone’s answers, I am sure that they would be different from each other because we all have different tastes and needs concerning security, risk-taking, belonging, development, etc. Still I am convinced I would notice a few general patterns…
I assume that you will agree with me that when we have FUN at what we are doing, it gives us wings, it motivates us, it gives us the extra strength or energy to finish the report despite the tight deadline and the challenges encountered along the way. We accomplish things in a way and of a quality that we would not do otherwise. Do you follow me? Would your employer follow me? Hmmm… Or does your organisation believe that FUN is just unserious and should be banned from daily work? Or that you should not get paid to if you have FUN…?
Most of us grew up in cultures where work was and is still considered as something that should be hard (and even boring). Because of all the effort and the sweating, you know what you did and you deserve some money as a compensation :-(. These same cultures also (unconsciously) set a limit as to how much fun, how much joy, how much success we should be having. It is as if only a small corridor of emotions is permitted to be felt: not too happy, not too sad, not too successfull, not a loser… This way, we fit with the norms of that culture or society. I do believe that life is exactly about all the ups and downs that we go through, regardless of their magnitude. Next time when you see a group of happy people laughing and having FUN notice how you feel: happy for them and for you too, frustrated that they are happy or totally indifferent? You may learn something about your own limitation to FUN…
Transporting this to the work place, there seems to be a tendency to believe that work and FUN are opposites. I think instead that they should come in the same pack! FUN is the fuel for motivation that then contributes to productive, creative, cooperative and exceptional results. And please make sure that you get paid for the work that you enjoy doing!
Those of you who have kids may have noticed that when you ask them what they did during the day at school or in kindergarten, they usually answer „nothing“. Now, ask them „what was the funniest thing you did today?“ and they won’t stop talking! When you mention FUN, it sparks their memory right away and when you just talk about „doing“… nothing special comes to their mind. Try this: ask your partner after a day at work „what was the funniest thing you did at work today?“… and maybe the first answer will be: „are you serious?“… and start a conversation from there on. Or ask yourself that same question when you drive home tonight and even every night.
So what if you currently feel that you do not experience any FUN at what you are doing? I would like to check with you the questions at the beginning of the e-mail. Maybe your current job needs a revamp? Or you need a change of direction? In case you need some inspiration, have a look at this list describing 55 jobs of the future! You can also carry this list and give it to the next unfriendly waiter or stressed clerk or cholerical colleague… so that they get new options…
P.S.: If you know this newsletter could inspire friends or colleagues, you are welcome to forward it to them. They can then easily subscribe to it here (at the bottom of the page)!
The school holidays have started last week here in Lower Saxony and I want to take the time to wish you a wonderful summer for those living in the Northern hemisphere. Make sure that you have FUN, whether at the beach, in the office or at the grocery store…
For those living in the Southern hemisphere… HAPPY WINTER!
COACH AND CHILL WITH CAROLINE
This first event that took place two weeks ago was real FUN. The participants learned about communication patterns in a way that they had not learned before. On top, they had the chance to practice, practice and practice… you know, this is how you can become a master :-).
I have not fixed a date for the next „Coach and Chill with Caroline“ event yet. What I can reveal today is that I am planning for September. More on that in my next newsletter or on my website!
„E“ like in „EMPOWERMENT“ is the word of the month! Wow, I hope you get a boost of energy with it :-). This word may not be a surprise as it is one of the three values that I live and work with: professionalism, empowerment and fun (see home). And if you know me well, you know that these are the values that I carry with me at all times.
Embedded in the middle of EMPOWERMENT, we find the word „power“. This is one reason why I find this word so strong and so meaningful for an inspired leadership. When I was translating my website in German, in French and in Swedish, I could never find a translation that would carry as much energy and strength as empowerment. So I decided to use it for the other languages too.
For me EMPOWERMENT means „to enable and promote the power within“, that is the power that is in oneself and the power that is in others. This way, we ensure that as a team, as a family, as an organisation, as a country we are strong together. And it is „enabling and promoting the power within“ with the sole purpose of allowing oneself and the others to grow, to take further responsibilities, to develop one’s potential at its fullest. I believe this leads automatically to environments where diversity is very present and fully accepted and where the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts. The idealistic part of me dreams of a world where everyone would be empowered and empower others 24/7…
In reality at work we too often see managers who prefer not to empower others (whether consicously or unconsciously), the main reason being that they are afraid others could have more power. Or some say that they empower their people but the intention behind is rather manipulative… And watch out, because people always „smell“ an intention… If you recognize yourself in this picture… don’t worry, you haven’t learned yet to really empower others (and you probably don’t know how to empower yourself).
Or sometimes, we play the „I-know-what’s-best-for-you“ card even if we don’t say it loud. While our lives are rich of good and not-so-good experiences, how can it be that „you know“ what’s best for another person (of course with the exception of babies and small children)? Instead of „knowing“, we can agree that the best we can do is to observe what others show for talents, to listen to their passions, to let them prove their strengths. This way, we enable and promote their own power and life path. Even if, for your own interest, it is not the path that you would take.
Like I have done a few times already, I invite you again to reflect… and I have some really interesting questions for you for this month:
* How do you like to be empowered?
* How do you empower yourself?
* What does it mean for you to be empowered? How do you feel? What do you achieve? Can you remember a particular empowering situation?
* How do you empower others?
* Note also if how you deal with empowerment depends on the situation, i.e. at work, with your children, at the gym, etc. If it differs, what could be the reason for it?
* In case you feel uncomfortable with these questions, what is your relationship with power or with the word itself?
Working as a coach requires to take a neutral position on issues that a client has. There is no „hidden agenda“, as I have no interest in a particular solution of the problem. I surely have a strong desire that my client finds a solution and the best solution for him/her and those involved. In order to help myself find that neutral position, I use what is called the „COACH state“, where C stands for „centered“, O for „open“, A for „alert“, C for „connect“ and H for „hold“. From that state, it becomes rather easy and almost natural to empower another person.
At this point, I would like to ask you: do you listen to someone with the intent to reply or with the intent to understand? If you listen with the intent to reply… you may find that the biggest challenge for you is the „hold“ part of the „COACH state“, which is in fact the case for many people.
I admit it took me years to really understand and feel what the „hold“ implies. To hold means that in face of a problem or challenge, you can hold that issue without having the desire to immediately find whatever solution in order to get rid of it. Instead, you patiently, curiously and quietly hold it – it doesn’t matter if it hurts, itches, cries… you look at it, you turn it around, you listen, you take a break and a deep breath… in order to find a solution. With „hold“ you accept „what is“ (even if it is not always fun…).
The „COACH state“ can be a very useful resource for you on your way to a more empowered and empowering life. I understand that this is a new concept for most of you so you may want to start with one letter at a time. Concentrate on the first C for „centered“ during this week. Next week, concentrate on O for „open“ and so on… until the „COACH state“ is like a suit or a dress that you just put on every morning after your shower. Notice how it influences your capacity for EMPOWERMENT, whether at work, with your family, in the train or a traffic jam, at the supermarket…
In my opinion, EMPOWERMENT belongs to an inspired leadership that then becomes an empowered and empowering leadership. And in such an environment… the business can only thrive!
COACH AND CHILL WITH CAROLINE
This first event will take place on Thursday June 15 at 18:00 (in Hannover) and will focus on the topic of communication, more specifically on communication patterns. For more information and for registration, click here.
Note that the number of participants is limited to 20 (on the basis of „first arrived, first served“). Friends and colleagues of yours are also welcome. I look forward to seeing you on June 15!
SINGING WORKSHOP & MASTER CLASS
Oups!!! It is the last day of the month! We experienced winter again in Europe during April and I decided to go back to sleep like my friend the bear ;-). I woke up today because it should be sunny and get as warm as 15° (Celcius of course)…
To help you train your curiosity (see below – March 2017 newsletter) and at the same time to increase your knowledge, the word of the month is a French word. It is the first one that came to my mind when I thought of the letter „D“. „D“ like in „débrouillardise“ to pronounce [debʀujaʀdiz]. You probably wonder what it can mean… it can be translated with „resourcefulness“, especially in the sense of improvising for solutions in situations when the resources at hand are rather limited or suboptimal.
We like to use „débrouillardise“ in Québec in a short expression that we call the „système D“ (so you can skip learning how to pronounce the whole word). The „système D“ is something that I invite you to have „on“ at all times, you never really know when you will need it.
Here is one example of how the expression can be used to put you in the context. A colleague says to you: „Oh, I don’t know how to calculate the new set of metrics for this report because I have never done it before“. (As you expect this person to have the adequate knowledge and to deliver the report asap), you just say in a cool and detached manner „système D“. No other word. It is a clear signal: your colleague will go back to his/her desk to find a solution. I agree that it can sound unfair to give such a short answer and your colleague may believe that you are uninterested (which can also be the case…) but we can also agree that you have increased the probability that this person gets the work done. Of course, you should use the expression with care and see what happens. Try it at work, at home, at the gym…
While the expression „système D“ is easy to use to incite people around you to activate their resourcefulness like in the example above, it is vital to have a good „système D“ yourself. It is part of your own „resilience package“ if you want. Sometimes, we are the ones who find ourselves in strange and unexpected moments that we need to master and turn to the positive to make sure that we meet our goals. You may have implemented a great internal risk management system in your life, still there are events that you just cannot foresee. In the small things like in the big things. An extreme situation would be to get stranded on a desert island like Tom Hanks in the movie „Cast Away“. Or it can just be that you drop coffee on your tie or your blouse one minute before the most important meeting of your life! Or that you cannot find the USB stick with the presentation you should hold within the next minutes! What do you do in such cases?
There are also other examples, maybe more subtle, when a robust „système D“ can be of great help when you dig deeper. You know like when you do not start or change or do something because a little whatever is missing, because you believe a certain knowledge is not perfect, because the time is not optimal, because of… another excuse. I just want to tell you (in a cool and detached manner): „système D“. You have the whole internet that can teach you how to do this and that, you have friends, colleagues, acquaintances who can help or refer you. Why don’t you start that thing you want or should be doing despite all these resources? Because you work best under pressure? You have probably noticed that internet, books and friends are all external resources. And as Tony Robbins once said: „It is not about your resources, it is about your resourcefulness“. And resourcefulness is in fact a mindset that also allows you to dig deeper into your inner resources.
So, in order to increase the capacity of your „système D“, I would like to remind you of these three items:
1. It is not about perfection, it is about progression,
2. Add humor, elegance, flexibility or whatever feels good for you, and
I wish you a wonderful Sunday – the sun is in fact shining here!
P.S.: About a year ago, I had a blouse that would close with a zip on the left side. I wore it one morning thinking that it would be the last time I would wear it because it was unpractical and had been worn so many times. Just as I arrived in my office, the zip opened and would not close again! No time to go back home, no emergency sewing kit, no safety pin in sight… so I stapled it! And threw the blouse to the garbage once home, it was not for charity this time!
COACH AND CHILL WITH CAROLINE
SAVE THE DATE: Thursday June 15 at 18:00 (in Hannover). I am pleased to introduce an inspiring event for some coaching in a „chilling“ format (hopefully we also have nice weather that evening). More information to come in the May newsletter.
This first event will be limited to 20 participants. If you already know that you (and maybe some friends/colleagues) want to attend (it is for free), you can reserve your spot by sending me an e-mail with the names of the participants.
SINGING WORKSHOP & MASTER CLASS
My newsletter starts on a sunny note today. Yes, here in Northern Germany, we feel and smell spring in the air and we deserve it :-).
And today is time for the letter „C“, my favorite letter of the alphabet. I don’t know why I have a favorite letter… and why exactly it is „C“… maybe because it is the first letter of my first name or because of its form. What about you, do you have a favorite letter?
There are many words starting with „C“ that came to my mind: creativity, communication, comprehension, connection, compassion, courage, etc. From the many of them, I have chosen CURIOSITY. Together with trust, openness and humour, it is an element that you need to bring a great deal of to a coaching session (check here). I would even say not only to a coaching session but to every meeting you attend, to every encounter you make and to every day that waits for your active participation.
I would like to invite you to welcome CURIOSITY in a conscious way in your life. You know like 4-year-old kids do. They ask „why“. You give them a smart answer. They ask the next „why“ and you give them an extra smart answer. You believe that it is over but the game just goes on… until you do not have any smart answer or you have lost patience!
Later on in life, we seem to lose the ability to ask „why“. Or we just do not dare or care to do so. Maybe because we were traumatised by the smart answers that the adults gave us when we were four years old, or because we do not want to make fools of ourselves, or do not want to rock the boat or do not want to hear the same boring answers over and over.
It looks as if adults tend to take things for granted. On the other hand, kids discover the world every day. They have a strong desire for knowledge and understanding. Have adults just gotten used to this world? Maybe I dramatise a bit… but still I sometimes wonder if we generally get tired to discover the world as we age. Do we get cozy and lazy with the answers that we got? Or can’t our brains cope too well with new information?
I suggest you mark one day each month when you decide to actively embody the CURIOSITY of a four-year-old. That day, you will be a world explorer. You will dare to ask „why“ to others and also to yourself. Listen to the answers you get with the goal of understanding them. Get curious about behaviors people have around you, about your own behaviours (I admit I have not obtained any solid answer yet to my self-reflexion: why do I feel I have to buy a Furla handbag everytime I see a nice one at the duty free shop?). Get curious about facts and numbers that are presented at work, at home or in the media and google some extra that day. Be curious at what happens! I cannot guarantee any concrete results but I am sure that you will learn a great deal. Maybe some of your pre-conceived ideas about a colleague or about a simple fact will completely change, who knows?
In being a world explorer that day, you will expand your horizons and maybe see some things in a more holistic way. I heard of an experiment that took place a few years ago that should help people adopting new habits. Let’s say someone was an introvert, speaking with a low voice, having a rather slouching posture, etc. This subject would get a clear 90-day schedule that for each day would instruct him or her to concentrate on a specific aspect and behave consciously in the opposite way. So for this example, day 1 would be to behave like an extrovert, day 2 to speak loud, day 3 to walk like a winner, etc.
Do you know one of the things that they discovered? That on average, the subjects of the experiment lost 5 kg! And why? Because their brain was more active!!! So you can get very surprised at what happens with your CURIOSITY day!
Make sure that this day is extra fun too. Use your sense of humour in disguising your „why“ questions if you do not want to appear too nosy to others. You may have to repeat your question if the answer you obtained was rather fluffy (or too smart ;-)). Be patient, repeat the answer that you were given and formulate your question again. I’m convinced that you’ll come a long way!
P.S.: Believe it or not: while googling on the etymology of the word CURIOSITY, I learned that CURIOSITY is the name given to a car-sized robotic rover that is on an indefinite mission on Mars! Have a look on Wikipedia :-).
SINGING WORKSHOP & MASTER CLASS
Some of you know that singing is one of my hobbies. My singing teacher Helene Lux Dryselius whom I have known and worked with for nearly 14 years is coming to Hannover on 17-18 June 2017 for a singing workshop and master class. Should you be interested or should you know someone who would be interested to take part to this two-day course, you are welcome to look at and forward this link (in English).
Congratulations, we almost made it! Only one more day in February! I am very happy that this month is the shortest one of all. I have always found thousands of small excuses for not particularly liking this month: too cold, too gray (at least in Northern Germany), still not really winter, not spring yet, no well-defined purpose in the year (I read that the word comes from the Latin term februum which means purification, how interesting !?!?). I assume that in order to spice it up (or to purify it…) the commercial world has chosen the middle of this month for Valentine’s Day! When I went to school, my grades would always experience a cute decline during this month. I recall that when I saw my not-so-positive state of mind translated black on white on that report card, it became a strong motivation to do better for the rest of the school year!
Trust that I still intend to inspire you even if the first paragraph of this newsletter did not appear to start on that note. It just describes a reality, MY reality or maybe more accurately MY chosen truth.
As we are following the alphabet, „B“ is the letter of the month. I have already written about „BE“… (check in former newsletters 2016 and 2017 – on this page – if you want to read them again) but I did choose a longer word for this newsletter. The word that automatically came to my mind was „BRAVO“. (While doing some research, I realised that it also corresponds to the letter B in the ICAO spelling alphabet – you know when people spell words on the phone or radio and say „B like BRAVO“).
With its two strong vowels A and O, this short word of appreciation and encouragement sounds joyous, positive and empowering and is energising both for the person saying it and the person receiving it. It focuses on what was good and we all want more of the good stuff. BRAVO may not be the word that you use when you give a positive feedback, maybe you prefer „well done“ or „good job“ or even „fantastic“ or something else. You can change BRAVO with the word that you usually use for the rest of the text.
As human beings, we all long to receive feedack from the people around us, whether our colleagues, our boss, our partner, even our children. We want to know if we understood the task well, if what we did has value, if we are on the right track and we get even happier when the feedback is positive.
Too often (especially here in Northern Europe), we focus on the things that went wrong. We get or give a negative feedback when things went wrong and we hear or say nothing otherwise… it is assumed it was ok. Along this line of thinking, a great example is the expression „nicht schlecht“ („not bad“) that Germans say when something worked the way it was supposed to… not bad, hey? Not empowering at all for my taste! If using a positive adjective feels too fluffy or somehow uncomfortable for you, just try BRAVO. I am sure that you have said it at least once… at a concert or at a sports event. Practice in front of a miror, you’ll see it won’t hurt ;-).
Even if we long for feedback, we cannot always expect to receive it. We need to be resilient enough to trust our inner compass and to know from there that what we did was good. The feedback that we get from others should ideally be a confirmation of the inner knowledge that we hold. When it is the case, it gives us a real boost to continue the good work. However, if there is a discrepancy between your own inner feedback and the external feedback that you receive, it is then the perfect occasion for an open discussion: maybe the expectations were not clearly set, maybe the deadline was too short, maybe the results were not understood or not presented properly.
If you rarely get feedback from your boss (you can assume that he or she also rarely gets feedback from his or her boss), I suggest that you simply ask for it when for example you are finished with a specific task or project. Ask about what he or she thought was good and what should be improved. With these two elements, you set the tone by making sure you both focus on the good and on the lessons learned and not on „the things that went wrong“. Hopefully you won’t hear a „not bad“!
I invite you here to a small reflection: How often do you say BRAVO to yourself? How often do you say it to others around you, your employees, your colleagues, your partner, your children? Do you observe a correlation between these two numbers? Is it easier to say it at home than at work? If so, what can be the reason for it?
Often we do not even take the time to say BRAVO to ourselves as we rush from one task to the other and only concentrate on what we still have to do instead of looking at what we have achieved. What about taking the time to say it to yourself after each task you finish? What about writing BRAVO in your agenda next to each accomplished task instead of just ticking a box? It will automatically encourage you to keep on with your good work. And you will thrive. And the business will too.
And once you have become an expert at saying „BRAVO“, I challenge you to use its superlative like only the Italians can do it: „BRAVISSIMO“! Isn’t a beautiful language?
„How you too can become an inspired leader so that your business thrives“
I am currently working on a presentation with the title „How you too can become an inspired leader so that your business thrives“. If you, your organisation or even your clients are looking for a speaker for a special event where this topic would match, I invite you to contact me for more information!
Now that I have explained what „Inspired Leadership, Thriving Business“ means, I intend to touch on topics that will inspire, empower and inform you in your daily work and life. And I have decided to follow the alphabet to choose my topics from :-). First month, first letter, the „A“!
It feels like the new year started yesterday, doesn’t it?… and I have to realise that we already have 25 full days behind us! It means more than 80% of the month! How have you been during that time? How are you sticking to your 2017 values?
Yes, „A“ for the word AFFLUENCE is a good choice. And especially for AFFLUENCE of TIME, that is, an abundant supply of time. You must be thinking: „What is that? What is she writing about? I can’t remember I have ever experienced it.“ It is in fact a strange expression as most people are always talking (or rather complaining) about a LACK of time. How come? Is it a fashion, a mindset, a quality, a cool thing, a habit, a disease,…? Yes, time is precious, time is even money we are told. Our lives and the choices we make have become more complex and we also feel the pressure from society to have it all together, at work, at home, in our relationships, etc. To have a full calendar in order to be part of the game seems to have become the rule.
The days still have 24 hours and we should be sleeping for approx. 1/3 of them if we want to be alert, productive and happy. What to do with the other hours and all the tasks that we have to do?
What would you do if you had one more hour available every day? What is the most important thing that you would do with this extra hour? I believe that your answer to this question is the first thing that you need to prioritise! And now that you have found this priority number one, what do you need to remove from your time schedule? Something that does not inspire you at all, that takes so much time because you drag your feet when you do it… What should you do with it? Forget it? Do half of it? Throw it in the garbage? Delegate it? Just dare to test and see what happens.
Below you will find ideas on how you can become better at dealing with your time so that you reach a state of AFFLUENCE of TIME. In order to follow the concept of BEING and DOING of the December newsletter, I have split these suggestions in two categories:
The BE-items that refer to your mindset in order for you to experience time affluence (or to get rid of your belief of lack of time) are:
* Be aware of how often you feel rushed during your day. How does it affect your quality of life? And of those around you?
* Be aware of when you complain either loud or in your head that you have so little time and stop immediately!
* Be aware of when you hear those around you complain that they have so little time and stay out of their drama! You will gain time and energy :-).
* Every hour every day, make a deal with yourself to be the master of your time instead of being its servant and notice the difference.
* Stretch time… when your nice time planning and the suggestions above are not working so well in one particular situation (you are in a rush to a meeting or for a deadline)… slow down, imagine that you have all the time in the world, get into the time line and stretch it. You’ll be surprised.
You may know some of the DO-items as many belong to classical time management systems:
* Make time in your agenda for your breathing breaks :-).
* Make time in your agenda for the thing you want to do in the 25th hour of your day and get rid of the boring thing that you also have identified earlier.
* Turn off the notification feature of your e-mail program. Those sending you an urgent e-mail will realise that they have to give you a call if they want to have an answer.
* Open your mailbox only at fixed times during the day. Set a maximum of times (10 should be the limit!) you want to look in your inbox. This way you make sure that you use your most productive hours to work on projects in a concentrated way and to do the things you like to do and you are good at.
* Say NO to new tasks when your schedule is full. Or negotiate to remove an existing task or to extend a deadline.
All in all I want to invite you to use your creativity for experiencing your own time affluence. I believe the suggestions above are quite concrete… surely more concrete than the expression „time affluence“…Test them, adapt them, replace them, find what fits best for you and, all of a sudden, you will know for sure what time affluence is. And remember: your time belongs to YOU and only YOU!
P.S.: A short story of mine: I had to take a very early flight a few days ago and I did most of my packing the night before. I usually am good at planning the time I need to get ready (this early in the morning) before I leave home. And I am also good at stretching time when it gets tight. But this time, it did not work well. All of a sudden, I had 10 minutes left before the taxi should pick me up and still had to close the (full) suitcase, put on my make-up, water the plants, etc. You see the picture. I was aware of the stress and tried to stretch time… still I did not feel really successful as I left home without make-up and feeling rushed. Once in the taxi, I decided to calm down, to enjoy the trip and to forget about this short stressful period – it was not going to decide how my day would be. And once at the airport, I took the time to finish my beauty program :-). This short story just wants to let you know that stretching time does not always work at its best. When this happens, have a good laugh at it, you’ll do better next time!
THE WOW COURSE
You will be amazed. At your potentials.
Registrations for the WOW course 2017 are still open (until Jan 29 at midnight, last time zone) and I am looking forward to more participants! The WOW course is a unique chance to get to know and use one’s potential at its fullest, to be part of a strong network and to have fun at the same time.
Further information about the course can be found here: www.cg-four.com/en/courses, where a registration form can also be downloaded. If you are interested or know anyone who would be interested to learn more about it, you are welcome to contact me directly at +49-1522-797-3548 or firstname.lastname@example.org.