#impact assassination

Remember the times when you saw the potential in some projects you participated, or initiatives you saw being started. You imagined their potential impact and were so motivated that it made you feel good. Temporarily. All this, was before you came to realise that all the potential got drowned away by not allocating enough time and resources. By not paying enough attention. By not thinking it through, or worse, simply not going the extra mile.

Making an impact, going beyond the typical efforts, the ones to keep a status quo, is something we’re not used to do. As if we’ve been trained, thanks to a brilliant education system, to just work within our comfort zone. To not be creative. To not think outside boxes. At work for instance, often – or at least from time to time there are good ideas and projects that you know would move things forward. Given the right approach, leadership and effort. And some creative thinking. Very often however the result is mediocre.

But we can always find good aspects of the process – typically that we have learned a lot and became a bit wiser. And here, history repeats itself.. Result-wise it is more of a blur. Rather than moving forward it feels like you are constantly trapped in a circle. A vicious one. If you don’t make an extra effort, don’t go the extra mile, you’ll be stuck there forever.

IMG_5855

In the private sphere and at home there are projects too. And they are often derived from brilliant ideas on how to improve the practical infrastructure and logistics of our daily life. Building that shed in the garden. Re-arranging things, furniture. Changing some deeply rooted habits. Hanging those picture frames. Or, a bit of self-realisation like writing an unpretentious weekly blog post. Not to mention that lifelong project of writing a book..

The problem is – as it often is at work too – to keep a focus, and not get distracted by a whole range of things. The ones that get in our way and the ones we allow to get in our way. Optimism is good. Naivete is not really helpful. Allowing yourself to be naive makes you pay in the currency of disappointment and stress along the way.

So how to avoid the hiccups – while still setting some hairy but still reachable goals and managing to achieve them? How to leave your comfort zone? How do go the extra mile?

No easy answers. No silver bullets lined up. Other than getting your colleagues, boss, husband, kids – parents – friends – or whoever onboard – aligning your goals with the rest of the list of things that have to be done, every day and every week. Or simply getting them to encourage you come rain or come shine in your creative endeavours. All of this, irrespective of whether they, your dreams, projects, ideas are realistic or not.

 
Sometimes you just have to go against the tide. Or you change the direction of the stream. In any case, you have to follow your gut feeling every now and then. And work your ass off while doing so..

Advertisements

#material slaves

Imagine one day you are moving house like we did a few weeks back. You might be in for an unpleasant surprise. We moved back to a place that we had lived before – the exact same house. We had not bought many new things while living abroad. At least this was our impression. We had managed to sell the too big bed and the bicycle buggy before heading back home.In addition we had got rid of a lot of other clutter. Nonetheless -in the last few weeks after having moved back, has basically been about jumping cardboard boxes containing things we have not (yet) found room for.

We have too many things. We own too many things. Because we acquire too many things. It is that simple – and that depressing. We like to have nice things surrounding us, things that normally should serve a purpose – be useful in some way, or maybe only look nice and fill an aesthetic role. Acquiring things is far more easy than getting rid of them. If you can afford it. For different reasons one gets attached to things – even if they are just dead objects. It is still a bit puzzling why it seems so common to have this materialistic hang-up – we are getting so much stuff and we constantly keep filling up our houses. We buy new things because we can’t retrieve them any longer at home. Have you tried finding a pair of boots in toddler size among ice hockey helmets, ski-pants, tools and lots, lots of other paraphernalia?

 

We buy new things because there are new models, or maybe we just happen to pass by a good offer on our way home from work. Also – IKEA is so accessible, they come up with so many practical solutions. All the time. And they come with very affordable prices. Living in an affluent, Western country provides endless opportunities to buy and buy. And then buy some more..

Throwing and dumping things doesn’t really leave us feeling good. At least it shouldn’t. The only positive part is when the room, house or garage looks tidy. But generally disposing of stuff just confirms the materialistic you.

Is there a way to avoid going to your local waste facility when you cannot keep the things you have? The kids grow and one day they don’t need the buggy, the travel bed or the huge space-consuming toys that the grand-parents proudly gave them some years back. A good solution is to give the obsolete but still usable items away to someone who needs it. Or sell it and make some money. Or just exchange them with something we are in need of.

So in the past couple of weeks we have tried to give away and to sell things. Without much noticeable success. The women’s shelter close by had reached the limit of capacity for receiving things, the asylum seeker’s facility was about to be shut down. The things we put up for sale online only resulted in people getting back to us suggesting to pay ridiculous small amounts (equivalent to giving them away).

The frustration caused by this spurred me to write this post yesterday – but by the time I had sat down and started writing the phone rang and a nice Danish guy was on his way to buy the jogger stroller. For our suggested price. This lit my hope that in a while the rest of our surplus stuff will be in new homes with happy new users. And we learned our lesson well; nothing gets over our doorstep without careful thought and providing a response to the question: do we really need this? Why do we need this?

#of wasps and careless stings

We always learn something new. Every single day. Sometimes we are aware of it, but mostly we don’t even realise the amount of things we learn. We are convinced that the days pass by without us having learnt anything at all. But there are no such days. We just do not pay enough attention. And we should. But if we fail to do so, there are others to make us notice. Wasps for example.

Two weeks ago, while spending a long weekend in Switzerland I got stung by wasps twice in one day. The last time I was stung dates back to the late 80’s or so.. Back then I was a teenager. The odd thing however was not that it was the first sting after more than 20 years. The stings did not hurt at all. None of the two. They did itch a bit but not more than that. And yes, they were full-sized wasps. When I mentioned this, someone told me that the wasps were trying to tell me something. And if they really wanted to sting me it would have hurt. A lot. And that was supposedly not their intention. Apparently. They just wanted to convey a message. But which?

 

 

My wasp-expert friend happened to own a book called ‘animal messengers: oracles of the soul’. The book reveals the meaning behind each encounter we have with animals and insects. Here I was, with a book in my hand I would never have even considered looking at, trying to figure out what the wasp was trying to tell me.

We walk through life without consciously taking in the world around us. We don’t listen actively, we don’t perceive actively. We never pause, or rewind. We are rushing through our self-induced stress-loaded life. From deadline to deadline.

Even if it is challenging to take our eyes off the ball it might be worthwhile doing so. Allowing our mind to digest input from a range of sources – even from the more unorthodox ones with wings –  could make our day more interesting.

So I was careless and neglected myself. That it was time that I put me, myself and I in the first place. That in a nutshell what was the wasps were trying to tell me.

Point taken. I will take care of myself. I will become more mindful. I will live in the now. After all, this is all we have (for sure).