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Choose to Thrive in 2022

May you choose to make 2022 a great year, using all the energy around you, positively, and bravely shining your light. There will be challenges – let’s overcome them, and learn from them. Let’s be aware, awake and mindful and fully alive!

We all have to choose how we will navigate the year. Otherwise the year will just happen to us, and we just go with the flow, losing out on life and adventure. The challenge is not force, but to flow with the beauty in you and around you. How do we do this? Continue reading Choose to Thrive in 2022

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Relabeling 2021

Maybe we should not merely finish the year and get things over and done with, and go of on a holiday to relax and forget. Perhaps, that is how you feel? But let’s rather use a bit of mindfulness and awareness so that we may finish the year on a higher note. I believe many beautiful flavours the year has brought us may still be discovered, tasted and appreciated – and this appreciation will set you in the best frame of mind to enter 2022 with expectation and energy.

For that to happen, you need to pause to remember, redefine and appreciate the many unnoticed, good things that happened while you were on your traveling through 2021. While on the road we often don’t connect the dots, nor see the real or bigger picture. That’s why they say “hindsight is an exact science”, but it can also give new perspective.

Recently, when asked what was/is the best thing of the year that’s almost behind us, a coachee jokingly said: “that it’s almost over!” And, although joking, in a sense he actually really meant it. He calls it “the most difficult year of my entire life”. The year did not go as he wished and planned. It was the year in which his dad died and they experienced tough challenges in the extended family. He had to do very tiring negotiations on behalf of his employer and interactions were often tainted by political and selfish motives. His life was threatened more than once and at one stage he suffered burnout. On top of that he is going through dramatic life changes, e.g. moving house (because of the threats), a new job description, and a different office.

And yet the picture changed from bleak to bright when we relabelled 2021, and started to discover and name the positives, the support he got, the learning curve, the relationships built, the difference he made, the transitions he successfully navigated, his strenths that became so evident, and the fact that he is really alive and well at the end of this year. Then 2021 became a year of so much goodness that brought him to redefine and reinvent himself into a new role and focus from where he can plan for 2022 and the years to come. And then this man became excited and energised.

We can say he is now busy relabelling 2021 as a year of transitioning and looking forward to 2022 as a year of repositioning. Is this just a play of words? No, I don’t think so. Rather, redefining reality and life.

My friend, may you find the time to look back with appreciation in order to look forward with hope and positive expectation! Have a wonderful Christmas, remembering the real gift that came many years ago – a gift you are invited to unwrap to bring you real life, life worth living.

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Step out of the Rut!

Maybe you are stuck in a rut in one or more areas of your life, not knowing how to get out of it? Or you know how to get out, but as soon as you start making a move too many forces are pulling you back to where you were? But imagine yourself getting out of the rut and a whole new world of possibility, growth, abundance and fulfilment opens up to you…

A friend of mine found herself in toxic relationships – both at work and in a personal relationship. The day after our conversation she ended the personal relationship and set boundaries at work. She is now busy exiting her very high and well-paying position. And she is a new person. She decided to to take the painful steps to “let go” in order to “let come” of something better. Between the two there will be a pause for “three r’s”: rest, restoration and rediscovery. And experience has taught me, with the right attitude and guidance she will open a new chapter of her life.

A manager I coached was in a job environment where he did not fit in fully – he knew it, and unknown to him his senior leaders saw it. The problem was not the type of work – he loves it. It was the company culture that did not work for him. But the salary was okay, his family secure and happy living in the area, and he had good friends in the company. Both parties, the company and the manager, were reluctant to call it a day. I had to work wisely to prepare both sides to make a change. Quite recently a senior manager visited him in his workplace, and gracefully but clearly told him he does not fit in and it is time for him to move on. At first he was shocked and taken aback. And then suddenly he woke up, he looked around, send out his CV. Possibilities started to open up, possibilities he did not see or investigate before.

According to Oxford Languages a rut is “a habit or pattern of behaviour that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change”.  The true fact is that we all get stuck in ruts. Call it a comfort zone, a fear zone, or just “being okay but not fulfilled”. It happens in businesses, families, marriages all the time. Someone once said that between a rut and a grave there is one difference: a grave is just a bit deeper. In other words, if you stay in a rut for too long, something will die – your income, your dream, your passion, your love, your joy.

Life is full of options. For example we can exit relationships or we can reinvent them. We can also reinvent ourselves, set boundaries, study, say “yes” to new adventures, take a new route to work, change our routines, and even change our diet or hairstyle. But the point is, if you are not happy with the way you live, if at all possible, change it!

Abraham Maslow, the motivation guru, once said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Recently, at a Global Leadership Summit, Craig Groeschel said it well: “You can have CONTROL or you can have GROWTH, but you can’t have both”. And then he asked the following questions:

  • What do you need to let go? (Endings)
  • What risk do you need to take? (Courage)
  • What painful (but brave and necessary) decision needs to be made? (Decisiveness)

I often think we stay stuck in ruts because their walls seem too high to step out of. Maybe, it is time for many of us to admit that we are in our ruts, then notice that the walls can be conquered, and that on the other side is new life. This takes courage and sometimes a few sacrifices, but without stepping out of it we are… stuck and die day by day.

May you dare to step out! May you be wise and emotionally intelligent about the way doing it! And, very important: may you then intentionally reach out and embrace the abundance of possibilities waiting to be unlocked!

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The Magic of Dialogue

How great will it be if we can steer our relationships away from competition and stress and towards more trust and collective understanding! I see this happening on a regular basis, but it is a skill that can take many years to acquire. I still get it wrong more regularly than I would like to admit.

As with most other behaviour, it is sad how primitive our interactions can become when we are under pressure. We easily go into survival mode where we fight, flight, flee or hide – coping mechanisms to survive and to avoid pain.

Two senior ExCo members of a great team I coached had strong differences – both in communication styles and in opinions. They are two highly talented and generally well-liked people. The one grew up in a very conservative environment where respecting others was paramount. The regular motto was “if you cannot say something nice, say nothing”. But his colleagues noticed how he engaged in what we can call “passive sabotage”.  The other member grew up in a very expressive family. As a child she learned how to fend for herself, and had to fight for her rights as a female manager. She would often got very verbal about her opinions. Both were frustrated, clearly on different sides of the aggressive-passive continuum. This caused great tensions and unhappiness to the team, and made it difficult to have constructive conversations. Everyone was affected. The ExCo struggled to make decisions and the company started to suffer.

The reality is of course that both parties displayed destructive behaviour.

  • The Nice-Talk strategy causes you to avoid conflict and to accommodate the other person (flight, flee and “hide”). But afterwards you feel unhappy about the outcome and don’t commit.
  • The Tough-Talk strategy takes you to attacking and confrontational behaviour (fight and “bite”). You might win some battles, but will lose the war AND the relationship.

What is the solution? No, not somewhere in the middle! Rather, going towards a higher level – the higher road:

  • Listening Dialogue – that is where we listen and share deeply, really hearing and understanding each other. We share our different perspectives, debate issues, and in the process grow together. And then we work towards collective solutions which are often much better than our own ideas. This requires attitudes of curiosity, vulnerability and humility. It opens up an atmosphere of collaboration and creativity. And the relationships stay healthy, and energy levels are high.

As mentioned in a previous blog letter, often the wisest thing you can do in tense situations is to go slower before you go faster. In other words, take a step back and open up conversation. Ask: is the way we communicate the best we can do?

It took a process for them to learn these things. As all teams, this team is still “a work in progress” but I am positive that this “ship” is healthier now, and the crew more hopeful.

May you have many meaningful and breakthrough conversations, going for the higher road! Afterwards the higher road often seem so obviously the better and easier option.

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What you FOCUS on GROWS

I don’t know what your challenges and possibilities are right now, but I do know you can change your life radically by changing your focus. I have seen this happening over and over – in business, in personal lives, and in teams; in coaching as well as in strategic meetings. The reality is: What you FOCUS on GROWS. Focus is concentrated attention, and it can make all the difference. Continue reading What you FOCUS on GROWS

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