Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Big (baby) steps

There are times in life when you need to take big steps, make big changes...

However big they may seem, and to whatever direction they may take you, just remember that in the context of life, and the big picture, they're just baby steps. They may be big, but they're baby steps nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sounds of...

The sound of regret:
I should have taken the other road. I shouldn't have risked it!

That turns into the sound of anger:
He's to blame for this! If only he was different, none of this would have happened!

That turns into the sound of self-pity:
Why is this happening to me? I don't deserve this...

And eventually into the sound of sadness:

It would not be wise to make decisions while listening to that kind of "music". Just accept that it is part of the process and let it wash over you. Leave the decision making to when other sounds are playing.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A wish

A wish that I have wished for myself (and still do), and now I wish it onto you:
May you have the courage to follow your heart, and the strength to never look back.

That's all it takes, really...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The fatherhood "skill"

The fatherhood "skill" isn't something you are born with. Fatherhood isn't something you "just know" how to do. It's an acquired skill, picked up along the way by watching your own dad father you. Ultimately you refine and "personalize" it as you become a father yourself, passing it on, in turn, to your own children. But at the very foundation — and this may sound like a cliché — you are, in certain ways, your father all over again. And it is this "cliché" that I have been fighting.

For a long time, I used to question my fatherhood skills, doubting their quality. I used to see my own dad — a demanding father who would later cast me out of his life because of my choice to leave the business — in myself. I would see him in my actions, in my loss of patience, in my speaking down to my kids... Zero tolerance reincarnate.
Working for him in the business, didn't help much either. The "family business above all else" motto would be taken home every night and the kids would get second place...

When I left I began cleansing my skill, fighting the almost instinctive actions with a lot of thought and patience. Leaving freed me in that aspect, allowing me to search and become the father I wanted to be.

I love my kids to death. We have great times together. Being their father is a true gift. And since — and this is completely objective — they are the most amazing kids on earth, it makes the gift all that better.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The paralyzing fear of failure

We all fear risk and taking chances. We all fear choices and change, especially if they have long-term implications. But most of all—and really, the underlying fear—we fear failure. Paralyzing failure.

Failure is seared into our brains. The mind takes measures to make sure we never forget that we've failed. That we remember forever—well, at least for a long time—that we made a mistake, taken the wrong turn. And that memory is vividly conjured at need: Thinking of making a change? Take that! Planning on risking something? Take this! Pow, pow, pow — the memories pop into your head...

But those memories are used by us in the wrong way. We tend to use them as rationalized answers to why we shouldn't try an action again. Even worse, we mistakingly attribute those memories to our abilities, and by doing so we deem ourselves as failures and our self-esteem takes a dive.

Instead, we should be using the memories as lessons on how not to repeat the mistakes we made the first time round. Think about it like a math quiz: failing to reach the correct result doesn't mean you don't know math. It just means that there was a problem with the way you calculated the equation.

Learn your lesson and try again when you're ready. Don't give up math all together.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A ball of yarn

We tend to look at our problems like a big, tangled ball of yarn. A ball of jumbled up difficulties and complications and challenges. And the more of them we have, the bigger and more entangled the ball of yarn gets.

The thought of untangling the ball is agony. Trying to, only seems to create more complicated knots. We get this sinking feeling in our stomach and the pace of our thoughts quickens. We loose focus. In this state, every new problem we are faced with only serves to double the size of the ball, further adding to its complexity (and our stress levels).

But problems aren't actually like that. They aren't one big ball of yarn, even though our minds tend to classify them that way (for the sake of keeping things in order upstairs). Problems are actually unique and distinct: 1 problem = 1 ball of yarn. If you view them like this, you will be able to break them down, and deal with each separately. Sure, you will be faced with a lot more balls of yarn, but most will require a gentle pull to become undone.

There, one problem solved!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Faced with a tough situation—such as leaving the family business—we instinctively prefer the easy way out, we prefer to avoid shaking the boat. We'd rather sit things out and hope for the best.

But here's the thing with hope: Hope without action, without effort will get you nowhere. Without doing something about it, hope is nothing but a lottery ticket — your chances of winning are a gazillion to one.

Regardless of what you choose, don't just hope for the best, work for it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cleaning the fish bowl

Have you ever had the oh-so-exciting pleasure of cleaning a fish bowl?
Looking at the bowl, you wouldn't think that it needs any cleaning: the fish is swimming around, the plastic plant is still green, and the algae is only lightly covering the pebbles at the bottom of the bowl. No cleaning needed — we're good!
But then the water level and the fish's dehydrated look catch your eye, and you think to yourself that it's time for a little water top-up. So, you gently pick up the bowl, hoping not to scare the fish, when you notice, as the bowl turns into a snow poop globe, that the look on the fish's face has gone from panic to helpless despair...

Poor fish.

That's the thing, there's always some type of "snow" lying at the bottom of the bowl. You can ignore it as much as you like but it won't go away. The slightest shake and it gets uncovered.

True to many things in life—projects at work, relationships, perspectives—this is also true to the family business. The snow is there. It's revealed itself in countless family arguments and squabbles. And then gently sank back down... But it's still there.

It's time to clean the fish bowl.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The rainmaker

Confronted with a hopeless situation, will you shrug your shoulders and move on? Or will you try and make a change, be a rainmaker?

I keep thinking about those scenes in animated movies where the hero stares over a barren landscape: dried up trees, withered flowers, no grass only dirt, hopelessness all around... But then she kneels and gently taps the ground with the tip of her finger. Suddenly, green ripples shoot-off from that spot on the ground, flowers pop up and blossom, trees flourish and the land is covered with grass as far as the eye can see. Hope is returned.

So, confronted with a hopeless situation, what would you do?

I think your better bet is tapping the ground/waving your wand/jumping up and down — whatever makes your magic happen. Even if you end up growing one flower it'll make the effort worth it.