My February insights

Summary

What started as a new hope – using the Chinese New Year as a milestone – ended up in disappointment and disgust with the way the politicians deal with the world, as well as with pride, love and respect for the betters of the human race: the people involved in actually supporting, in a timely & decisive manner, the Ukrainians hit by the Russian monstruosity.

It was a month of focus on positivity and resilience, of living the present with optimism, according with our values, taking the paths less chosen in order to accomplish our dreams.

It was a month centered on stepping out of fairy tales and living the reality as is, unfair as it may be, by using our intuition, intelligence and by prioritizing what’s important for us.

It was a month dedicated to being more and more selective about our choices of people, energy expenditure and actions – as they all result into who we become.

May the last month of winter prepare us for the renewal of spring!

Feb. 1st – the Chinese New Year: The Water Tiger is here:

Tiger’s here ๐Ÿ™‚
First spring year of this new cycle in the Chinese system – may it re-focus us on actively seeking and going for what we desire!

Feb. 2nd

Some countries have this habit (of reading aloud), and some don’t – apart from bed time stories, of course ๐Ÿ™‚
Just like drawing and other DIY activities, but with multiple additional side-benefits, reading aloud is a form of meditation. It forces you to slow down, to be in the present, and to single-task.
How about trying it out, as a wellbeing practice that will also help you on the IQ, enunciation, impact communication and other such areas? ๐Ÿ™‚

Feb. 3rd

Each of us have our own mind-map around words – and we act according with those definitions.
For years I have been fighting with definitions of optimism that border lined either magical thinking (“things will work out”) or risk-blindness (“let’s just see how it goes”).

But I like this one ๐Ÿ™‚
It talks about acceptance of failure as a part of life. It talks about learning. And it accepts a certain level of design & planning, as cha-cha is not chaotic, right?

Feb. 4th

They say that you cannot fail until you stop…
I guess we all need a bit of self-trust to keep going when we feel boxed, with no fresh ideas, or at the limit of our skillset…
I remember a study made on SEAL, who examined their physical reserve for effort from the point where they fell on the ground feeling completely drained…apparently they still had 1/4 of their energy reserve to go.
Well, the mind does not even have that limitation (given enough sugar ๐Ÿ™‚

Feb. 5th

In a world driven by quarterly results pressure, no wonder so many people fail into the trap of keeping their eyes on results, only to fall into the second one in looking for quick fixes.
That’s not how life works though – the fun & rewarding part is in what you actually DO, while results are mere consequences of your actions.
What are your weekend plans? ๐Ÿ™‚

Feb. 6th

Be it Lazy Sunday or Action Sunday, true recovery means that you feel good in your body and your mind enjoys life.
Here’s a very nice wellbeing tip – especially if you’re already thinking about Monday…when your mind or body feel the bump of stress, just place some wings on its shape and tell it to fly away – try it out!

Feb. 7th

Clean Computer Day, yeeey!

This is not about a nice brush on the keyboard and a spritz on the screen & top (although your computer might enjoy a spa-day too); its about critically examining your habits and maybe introducing something in your routine to allow systematic decluttering and for keeping things organized.

The desktop, downloads, recycle bin and bookmark spaces will not clean themselves, they need a human care-taker ๐Ÿ™‚

So today I choose
– the “1-touch” system: never touching a virtual item without having it in filed in the right space with the right denomination
– the weekly “30′ clean-up” time: taking folder by folder to delete obsolete content and archive what must be kept
– the monthly “30′ care” time: updating the organizing system, integrating / eliminating apps and providing my main working tool it’s well-deserved spa-day.

What smarter choices can you make today?

Feb. 8th

Internet safety day deserves a bit of attention, given what’s been going on in the online world we all share.

Picture thousands of hooded guys, backed up by tens of suited guys, looking for a break in online stealing of just about everything they can get their hands on, with unlimited time & resources on their hands…guys who understand that hacking is not about what machines can do, but about how humans will err when the right psychological buttons are pushed.

Now think how you can do better at protecting your company, your family and your future – because statistically
– there is 1 cyberattack every 39″
– almost 1/2 of attacks target small companies
– 95% of attacks succeed because of human error – i.e. things we do although our IT guardians tell us not to.

Jan. 9th

A long time ago, one of my maids (who was in her fifties, while I was in my thirties) told me, as she was cleaning up my place while I was working in a corner of the house, focused on my computer: “You are so young and have such a good, easy job, and I’m working so hard at my age…”
So I asked her what she was doing in her twenties…
“Oh, good old times! I was partying and meeting with friends, and going to the seaside and enjoyed being at the beach…”
“Well, I said, I was learning…I did that for 9 years after finishing high school…could not afford that much partying and beach leisure at the time – but I can now.”

What I’m trying to say is that we all have a time to sow and a time to harvest. A time to struggle and a time to enjoy the results. There is no end-to-end easy way.

In business, do you want the hard times in the selection process or when you have to manage people? Can’t be sunbathing on the beach all the time…

Feb. 10th

Chimps, fish, humans and dogs are constantly preoccupied with fairness. This has to do with collaborative species preferring to “get less” in order to maintain the pack’s social relationships functional.

No wonder, then, that perceived inequities lead to intense mental troubles…yet trying to control life in order to match our species preferred survival strategy (aka tribal social relationships) is a futile exercise.

So how do you do that? Keep the species advantage brought in by the fairness principle, while helping people avoid the mental suffering when unfairness strikes? Maybe we need to teach kids this is a game we want to play…and when unfairness seems to ruin the game, we should just reposition pieces on the life’s table and restart?
(those who believe in karma have the upper hand here ๐Ÿ˜‰

Feb. 11th

The most rewarding relationship in life is the bond between people who agree to witness each other’s lives and support each other through all its challenges. Friends.

Today some parts of the world celebrate “Make A New Friend Day”.
I see it as a reminder that we are meant to enjoy life together with people we choose, and that our genuine wellbeing comes from these relationships which enrich & ease up our lives.
Maybe today you’ll spot one?

Feb. 12th

What are you looking for? What do you want to achieve?
How well you keep the answers to these questions in your focus determines how much energy you spend on irrelevant things / people / conflicts / topics – the ones who do not move you forward towards where you want to be, towards what you want to have…
Small post-it by your computer?
Nice poster on the wall?
Customized screen-saver?
Make it visible and stay smart ๐Ÿ˜‰

Feb 13th

The smarter & more educated you are, the more you’re inclined to intellectualize the world. You are taught & trained to stop listening to the biggest resource you have: your autonomic nervous system, powered by the collective unconscious the human race has equipped you with.
We call it intuition.
And it can be trained – this is part of standard training for coaches, and here’s how to do it: when you want to make a decision about something,
1. Cool down, take a deep breath and ask yourself “what should I do?”
2. Take the first answer that pops up in your conscience and ask yourself “how do I feel about this?”…search your body for an answer, not your mind :)…if the answer is wrong, you’ll feel an unease in your body, a knot in your stomach, a pressure on your forehead or a million other ways your body is silently indicating it’s not a good idea…Or, you’ll experience silence – the sign things could work out best for you.
3. Use your mind to experiment with the solution your “gut” is telling to go for and to make it work.

Time after time, measure how well you’re reading your body for answers. Learn to read it ever better.
And you’ll have a friend that never leaves your side, always wants what’s best for you, and is significantly smarter than your brain ๐Ÿ™‚

Feb. 14th

The fundamental element of wellbeing is the ability to effectively set boundaries and to have them respected.
Your lunch break.
Your “me” time at home.
Your workload.

Counterintuitively, the fundamental element of professional success is the same – not only because it protects you against toxic work cultures, but because it is a building block of your best chance to act on what’s important for your role and your KPIs, instead of spreading yourself thin for lots of irrelevant elements.

Setting boundaries is the easy part. Ruthlessly observing them in order to train your stakeholders to use them properly is the hard part. So here are two very different, yet equally approaches to it – which one works for you?
1. “No.” is a sentence – use it without explanations or apologies, which open the door for negotiations. “That is not something I want to do”, or “Not a good time for me” are crystal clear signals that a boundary is there…
2. Re-iterate the boundary in an empathic way, giving options. “I don’t do that type of think, as you know, yet I might be able to help you with…”, or “My shift ends 17.00 hrs as you know, but I’ll prioritize this for tomorrow”.

Here’s a very nice additional resource to know if you’re having an issue with boundaries :https://lnkd.in/exzHEiqk

Feb. 15th

One very interesting question when making a decision is “What will I become if I say yes to this?”.

Because of the BE ->DO-> HAVE sequence, what you are defines what you’ll be able to do, which impacts what you’ll have in this life.
Your context decides what you are, as it allows you to do a limited number of things…

So maybe we can learn to decide on the enabler BE first?

Feb. 16th

I often hear clients talking about accountability issues in their team, wondering why this is happening and sometimes honestly wanting to fix things.

The fundamental dysfunction in a team is lack of trust.
We all know that…and we know it’s the leader’s job to not only walk its talk and instill trust in itself, but be the guardian of trust-building behaviors in the team.

As it turns out, this is easily said than done.
Teams don’t just happen, and you can’t order people to team up. You lead them to team up, by creating a psychologically safe place where trust can flourish.

How about we focused on that? Science says accountability and results will follow…

Feb. 17th

One of the hardest things to learn in this life is to allow differences to manifest.
Different values.
Different ways of doing things.
Different views on things.

Our minds strive so hard to make up whatever we believe in, that it takes a loooooong time to mature into “being & letting be” ๐Ÿ™‚
Root cause: this unstoppable unconscious desire to make sense of the world while simultaneously working to be accepted in a community.
That’s how we get to absorb contextual things or reject them, but find it so hard to live in their midst, untouched by them.

The mark of diversity acceptance is not trying to change anyone.
Including yourself, at the pressure of your environment.

Feb. 18th

I used to be negatively impacted – emotionally – when people lied to me.

Then I discovered what science said about lying – that it’s the glue of human society, allowing the tribe to stay together…and I came to terms to the general idea. Still looking for honesty in meaningful relationships, and still choosing to offer limited engagement to chronic liars, though – just a personal value system preference.

But the quote below offers an unexpected angle to the whole story – what if lying is not a general trait of humans, but a signal of something else in the tribal organization?
If such an assumption were true, we should expect to be lied to in certain social set-ups, and we need to account for it (and definitely not get offended when it predictably occurs)…any thoughts?

Feb. 19th

Ah, the weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

Who do you spend it with?
How do you spend your energy?

Is your weekend a recharging moment so that “you can give your best” during the workweek? Planning to have a life when you retire?
Or are these two (very short) days to be lived at their fullest, with the same focus you’re using in your professional life?

Time to work for a living instead of live for working.
Better yet, time for work & leisure to get the same weight when it comes to the mental energy invested in them.

Feb. 20th

What I do now is real. Typing words on my computer, I feel the pressure shifting between fingers on the keyboard, I hear the guitar melody in the background, sipping my morning coffee, tucked in a warm, fluffy jumper…

The past is dead.
The future – inexistent.

Let’s enjoy our time, and make the most of it. Because memories & plans are not real, we only get this gift of now.

Feb. 21st

The ratio of “actively engaged” / “actively disengaged” staff is reported in the US for 2021 to have stabilized to some 2.4 : 1. Worldwide, the weight of engaged employees is 15% of the workforce.

The engaged and disengaged team members will create the highs & lows of your business. The non-engaged ones, though, will determine whether your business will continue to exist. Because these days, with so many people “just doing their job” and with jobs so poorly defined most of the times, the minority of engaged staff will burnout without a sustainable business impact.

People get engaged if the business caters their motivation. Time to make sure you are aware of your direct reports’ motivators and to make sure their job & context matches it.

Feb. 22nd

Baby steps…I’m a huge fan of micro-actions that add up until a tipping point where they majestically manifest an achievement.
That’s why managing results is such a huge mistake…it’s activities that we need to manage, because if they are well designed and executed, results will inexorably follow.
Don’t worry about results. Worry about what & how you’re doing your baby steps. Take a break every now & then and check your milestones. Then carry on, and remember to have fun!

Feb. 23rd

The need for control is something we all have. That feeling of being in the driver’s seat…everything going on exactly how you want it, pure pleasure…

Very different from the need for safety, by the way, which basically aims as taking precautions not to fail, the need for control aims at doing things “your way” – and you’re ok of even failing, and learning from mistakes, as long as things are done precisely how you want them done.

No wonder leaders with a powerful need for control are typically failing spectacularly in business at some point in time (right after at least one burnout episode). Nobody knows it all, right? So you either move slowly (within the limits of things you believe you control), or you trust that everyone & everything will get aligned, and move like the wind!

Feb. 24th

Let there be fear – for it teaches us to be careful and find ways to stay safe.
Let it not be the driver of our lives – as it’ll kill the spark of life.
Let us feel the fear, pass right through it, and stay on the path to our dreams ๐Ÿ™‚
Will you take action today?

Feb. 25th

Hello, Friday ๐Ÿ™‚ Let us run a bit of a differential diagnostic between stress and burnout:
Feeling anxiety, / mood swings / guilt? How about fatigue? Maybe a bit demotivated or possibly at lost of hope? Maybe you need to check on some stuff you might have forgotten during this week? That is NOT burnout – it’s “just” stress…which means you should take some actions to unwind over the weekend ๐Ÿ˜‰
This is burnout: depression / impatience / irritability, with a feeling of chronic exhaustion and lack of physical energy and a bored/cynical attitude towards work; you might already be experiencing psychosomatic symptoms. This weekend will not fix it, unless you actually get (self)-coached to answer this question: What’s the unfair treatment you’re feeling bitter indignation about?

Feb. 26th

If you happen to be in a team that does not have fun on a daily routine list, you might find yourself in the need to recover during the weekend ๐Ÿ™‚
Maybe life is not treating you especially gently these days either, so you might have to put a bit of effort into creating the context to laugh, so chop-chop, get to it!
Happy Weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

Feb. 27th

Think of the compromises you must do with members of your family or in your managerial or expert role.
You must first act on the “contractual agreement” (not necessarily on paper) and stick to the things all parties concurred on being “the way things are being done” there.

It always comes a day when your so-called values, things you consider important for you in life – sometimes things you consider even to be part of who you are & what you stand for – will be under attack from all shapes & shades of requests. You’ll have a choice, to live by them or not – and either admit they are just nice words you tell yourself to maintain some sort of self-esteem, or genuinely transform and let them fade away.

Case-in-point: The second saddest think with the Russian war on Ukrainians (right after the torment, suffering & death inflicted upon the Ukrainians) is that the western world has proven just how hollow their stated values. With the exceptions of Canada, France, Poland and some other countries who acted on helping, in due time, the Ukrainian resistance, the western world has been tested and failed. Stand out comedians like the US and Germany are the spearhead of the hollow speech approach, but they are not the only ones who have proven, beyond doubt, what they are made of.

The emperor is naked.

Feb. 28th

The biggest problem we have in withstanding the pains of growth (or self-inflicting them, as adults do) is that we do not emotionally related to the future I. Current pain is always bigger than a conceptual one.

Here’s a helpful trick: taking a moment to picture yourself in 1,3, 10 years if you don’t take the step forward…if you fall back into the perceived safety…if things stay “as is”; watch the future image of yourself, what you’re doing, how you’re talking, whom you’re living & working with…connect to your future inner feelings by asking yourself “how do I feel about this picture”?

This will even, if only a bit, the chances of your future self in the battle with the scared, suffering, sad present self that wants to run to safety.

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My January insights

One of the most powerful tools in the agile methodology is the retrospective – looking critically at what’s happened in order to figure out how to adjust and to consolidate learnings.

I’ve decided to run monthly retrospectives, taking a look at my focus, lessons learned, honoring who I was and figuring out who I’ve become…

Jan 1st – the first day of the new year:

Visualized spreading the wish to all sentient beings in the Universe – it felt really good ๐Ÿ™‚

Jan. 1st

Check your luggage and throw away whatever you don’t love and need.
Brush-up your tools – your skillset – and resolve for upgrades whenever needed.
Verify motivation.
Now take your brilliant moves for a good year!

Jan.2nd – first Sunday of the new year:

Getting ready for the first working day of 2022?
Maybe you could look at the whole work story differently…and start fresh this year?

Jan 3rd – first Monday of the new year:

In a tiny corner of the world called US, they celebrate Sleep today…go figure…
Searching for the magic in it on my way to work.

Jan.4th

Mentorship is as natural as humanity – but there is more than one way of doing this.
Have you had the chance to get a really good one by your side?
Will you share one thing s/he/it have taught you?
One of my most valued mentors wasย Violeta Ciurel, Ph.D., who taught me, a very, very long time ago, about the power of breaks & focus. I’m pretty sure she does not remember, but I am forever indebted to her for her role modelling, teaching, challenges and subtle lessons that serve me to this day.

Jan.5th

I love Albus Dumbledore, don’t you?
(for the non-kids out there, this is the great mentor & leader in Harry Potter ๐Ÿ™‚
Life’s not always joyful, but nothing stops us from keeping happiness at hand.

Jan.6th

“Dry January” – a challenge lots of people are taking, in UK and other parts of the world is about a lot of things…and a “reality test” for a lot of people.
Wine is great, beer is amazing, all cocktails & scotches & such are great inventions…as long as you get them into you for the right reason ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jan. 7th – first Friday of the year:

I love this equation of performance:
motivation + competence + tools = performance
It’s a simple explanation for the basic fact that an individual can do an amazing job in a company, then a lousy one in another (or vice-versa): context matters.
When we blame people without a sanity check of the processes supporting their motivation & competence, we add injustice to the poor context we’re exposing them to; no wonder so many individuals are choosing disengagement, non-engagement or plain resignations, given how the new work reality left a great number of companies well behind in terms of adequate work processes…

Jan.8th – first Saturday of the year:

Yeeey, first weekend of the year!
Maybe it’s now when your planned transformation starts?
Or perhaps you’re already beating yourself for whatever shortcomings you might have spotted during this first week of the new year?
Action is needed, albeit a compassionate one.

Jan.9th

1. Things you don’t love or need
2. Social network contacts whom you don’t really know or are irrelevant for your strategy
3. Habits you could do without
4. “Friends” who don’t really act as such
5. Files & Folders that became obsolete
6. Goals that are not burning your sleep
7. Meetings, conversations, tasks that are not immediately conducive to the achievement of your KPIs
What’s on your checklist?

Jan. 10th

When I was 8, I had a pretty similar desk, size-wise…asked my father for a bigger one, to make room for books, notebooks & such. He fell for it and I got a 2 sqm “presidential” one with 3 drawers an a nice cupboard, I loved it!
One year later my father introduced a clean desk policy (you can only imagine the mess if you have 10 year old kids passionate about books, learning by handwriting etc) – and I discovered the principle outlined below.
By the 3rd grade I was back to a 1 sqm drawer-less desk.
My father was a very wise mand indeed, and a great mentor, allowing me to learn “in action”…
How are you simplifying your life, creating space to live it?

Jan. 11th

Some businesses still delude themselves thinking that adding more recruiters or “injecting more tech” (don’t you just love that buzz? sounds pretty invasive to me…) into their talent acquisition processes, it’ll save the day for their (wo)manpower shortage.
I maintain that it’s not about this…or, rather, that you can work around shortage of manpower or tech, but if do not navigate around the fundamentals of what you’re offering people (your EVP) it all becomes irrelevant.
How do you make sure you cover your basis?

Jan. 12th

Remember the days when power-point introduced cute little gadgets of transitions, sounds and such? How everyone hurried to use them, thus contributing to what became known as “death by power-point”?
Well. any tool is as useful as you make it, and simply because tech allows us to do certain things does not necessarily mean it’s always a good idea to do so…
Personally, I believe “the one click application” apps, allowing candidates to apply tens of times per day by, well, one click (!) are contributing to a reality whereby everyone applies for any job, just “because”.
What tech temptations do you believe we should resist in HR?

Jan. 13th

I hear a lot of leaders lovingly referring to their direct reports as “kids”.
Nothing wrong with that, as long as they are not seen as helpless babies, but rather as +7 yo who actually need to learn to stand on their feet, make their mistakes, make their own decisions and learn by doing…

Jan. 14th

Investment in learning is mandatory – the world changes so fast and people generally want to learn more. Not investing in this equals mid-term suicide for any business.
Investing in learning without fixing company processes & managerial/leadership capabilities is a waste, as you’ll not be able to capitalize on the upskills.
There is a myth that people leave companies primarily because of poor direct management. The factual truth is that they leave companies where they don’t feel comfortable – i.e. they leave “good companies” (with the right culture, processes, tools) because of poor direct managers indeed, but they also leave good managers that are not backed-up by the right culture, processes & tools.
Treating people right is a holistic job of the entire organisation. That’s why silos won’t work.

Jan. 15th

Sitting, waiting & victimizing will take you nowhere…neither is blindly following the same path.
There is resilience – an enabler of staying on a path to a vision – and there is stupor…

Jan. 16th

Jan 17th

It all starts with the readiness to learn – is the person ready to put up with the effort to change? All learning leads to change…and this takes energy.
It then goes to methods used – are you showing things? Telling things? Power-pointing things?
You might want to consider creating contexts for them to learn, and patiently accompanying them on their path…

Jan. 18th

Celebrating Winnie the Pooh day?
You ought to :), even if for a day’s light, tender wisdom dose.

Jan. 19th

Robots, apps, forms, AI…so easy to get caught in playing with “toys for boys”(and girls) and to forget it’s all about people and cost of service, not about tech per se.
Unless tech comes free and does exactly what candidates, employees, clients expect them to do.
Is there a free lunch?

Jan. 20th

Are you learning?
Are you changing?
Take a break from time to time and celebrate your upgrades ๐Ÿ™‚
Oh, and make it intentional and internally driven – or else you’ll forever be dependent on other people’s opinions…

Jan. 21st

Genuinely wondering if you agree with this.
Also wondering what you’re prepared to do to walk the talk …

Jan. 22nd

Today some people around the world celebrate Hug Day.
Yeah, virtual hug day…not the same thing…
But since we all have a cat or a spouse or a kid nearby, I must confess there are two things that blew my mind hug-wise:
– the mindset triggered by the words below…
– and the 8″ hug concept: that you must hold there for 8″ and the reason for it – it may take that much to get a deep breath / sigh, signaling that the hug worked its magic…
Happy Hugging!

Jan. 23rd

This has been for years my absolute most favorite quote of all times, as it speaks of connection with reality (as opposed to living in one’s mind) and it offers a practical path towards it, one that everybody can walk.
Maybe the biggest benefit Covid years have brought is one of teaching everyone to ground themselves, by stepping out of the shallows of constant chatter and wasted time / pretend lives. Some learned the lesson and came out taller.

Jan. 24th

Beware of folks without a sense of humor – for they may be losing site of reality while trying to control it ๐Ÿ™‚

Jan. 25th

I am playing “opposites day” today ๐Ÿ™‚
Sort of a mind gym, but also a way out of normal, otherwise sometimes dead ways…
Are you curious what’s on the other side of the moon?

Jan. 26th

Celebrating Spouse Day is not a LI topic – but wellbeing is, so here’s my piece of wisdom (being married for almost 30 years to the same guy, go figure): we all need a safe place; that is defined by unconditional love – and after our parents, the only chances we’ve got are our life-long partners and special friends.
I love this quote, as it clearly gives a simple diagnostic of whether the relationship is the right one ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jan.27th

Some time ago I discovered a question that is really helpful for thriving in any environment: “What kind of person is doing well here & now?”. The answer shows you what you need to do. Then you chose if you want to do it or not.
Simple.
Not easy – but at least us humans are not stuck in a given shape and are free to choose who are ๐Ÿ™‚

Jan.28th

Stress, Depression, heavy-duty PTSD and paranoia are the most common reasons why people are depleted of their sense of humor.
Are you laughing at life? Or are you taking work so seriously that it kills your creativity, growth and happiness?

Jan. 29th

The day we understand the world is not meant to adapt to us but the other way around, we are ready to be good at living.
Then, being smart makes all the difference…

Jann.30th

The more we live in the realm of positive emotions, the healthier we are. The stronger. The more fit to deal with the remaining life’s balance of learning moments.
How do you purposefully build beauty & positive emotions into your life?
Do you use colors?
Words?
Rich silence moments?

Jan.31st

“Be Heart Smart” is the US sloganย for the month dedicated to a healthy heart.
Hard to be smart about invisible things that work on their own ๐Ÿ™‚ – at least not everyday…however there are three things we can do:
– eat less than we need
– exercise more than we feel like
– stay aware of our stress levels and master managing them

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Why you should not believe them when they say “we are our memories” and what to believe instead

The “we are our memories” commercial line is very nice, albeit it does pose a problem: it’s reducing you to a piece that can get lost. Then what? And then who, as relationships are between “someones”…

If you bare with me for three paragraphs that might feel uncomfortable – no, it’s not the typical facebook / insta happy-happy, joy-joy type of reading, but there is a punch line that might end up taking you to a happy place…take this as a disclaimer, will you?

  1. Dementia (Alzheimer’s is but one of the causes) roams the world, especially the countries where these words might be read – as they have plenty of internet access. Read the numbers – they are stunning. Here’s one that will blow your mind: “Someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds.” Aging is on the rise too, so it’s a pretty safe bet you will not manage to navigate life without having at least one person in your network suffering from this, sooner or later. KEEP READING! IT GETS BETTER…DON’T SKIP THE NEXT PARAGHRAPH THOUGH!
  2. We typically have relationships because we are someone who want to be with someone else – we get something out of them. Even when there’s love, lots of time reciprocity is expected. Afterall, the thing we most fear is not to be accepted, right? How does that work when your friend, spouse, parent loses (to a certain degree) the immediate memory? Who is that person? Who is that person to us? Why are we together? Well, if “we are our memories” and the relationship is built on various reasons that have a lot to do with memory, socially-driven behaviors or expectations of reciprocity, inherent hard times are going to get considerably tougher. HOWEVER:
  3. I have stumbled upon the most amazing key to this life scenario. Source is interesting per se, but I’m quoting the story here for your convenience:

It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80โ€™s, arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.
He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him.
I saw him looking at his watch, and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctorโ€™s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.
I inquired as to her health; he told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimerโ€™s disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.
He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.
I was surprised, and asked him, โ€˜And you still go every morning, even though she doesnโ€™t know who you areโ€™? He smiled as he patted my hand and said, โ€˜She doesnโ€™t know me, but I still know who she isโ€™.

In the words of the late John Lennon, “Love is the answer, and you know that for sure”.

Love & Presence, to be precise.

If we choose to be in the now, dementia is irrelevant, memory is not necessary. It rains, we talk about the drops of water. If we are together out of love, to “just” be there with another, we are in the neurodiversity realm.

If two years of Covid have done any good to humanity, they have turned everyone’s attention towards DEI and neurodiversity is probably the least explored and most important lesson we need to learn. Just read the numbers in the link presented in paragraph 1.

From one perspective, that of life throwing lessons at us until we learn the concepts, Love & Presence are the lessons to be learned from the neurodiverse friends, spouses or parents – the persons they become when memory might not be part of them, while a whole lot of other things remain.

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What mentoring is all about and how to get it (my two cents, anyway)

Time.

What mentors really offer is time. Presence. The greatest gift in life. A non-judgmental one too – no agenda, no goals…

How that time is being used is a matter of what the mentee is looking for and depends on how vested in supporting the potential the mentor is. So the mentoring relationship, process, outcome, they all boil down to how much emotional weight both parties want to invest.

If you want information, you can google it.

If you want training, there are a lot of trainers & programs out there.

If you want coaching support to adjust your behavioural strategies, develop a skill or cope with a challenge, pricier yet abundant help is out there.

The only thing money cannot buy and is enormously scarce is time with a mentor, so do try not to use it for such trifle matters.

In my opinion, that time must be used for the single most valuable thing any human being needs: transformation. Mentors (and yes, some specialized coaches) are meant to take you through passages towards what you could be. This is human-to-human transmission of wisdom, the way masters in all great spiritual traditions and schools of mankind have always done.

So this whole mentorship story is, in my opinion, about finding that person who is willing to offer you time (= life) and fill it with the stories, jokes, challenges, debates and other such things designed to push you into discovery and outside of your comfort zone. You will accept it because the trust is there. And that’s all there is to talk about mentorship.

Can it be engineered into a corporate program? Measured? ROI-ed?

We can intellectualize everything in this world, but this systematic approach to a 1:1 every-time-unique relationship will ultimately be all about another small human wonder: that of corporations making the gift of time (and yes, sometimes space and other such administrative things) to their people. My two cents? There is no ROI to it…so I would really list this as a CSR initiative, if anyone insists on labelling a budget line for it.

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Want a better life? Re-learn how to sleep…

Wellbeing starts with the simplest things – and right up there in top three is sleep, which clears away waste products in your body and restores brain functioning. Typical hygiene factor – you only pay attention to it when it’s not working fine – yet you can totally repurpose it into an epicurean phenomenon or a subject for daily gratitude.

There are tons of advice, do’s & don’ts concerning sleeping, but ultimately it all boils down to two things:

  • the ability to fall asleep in the first place
  • the ability to sleep some more if you wake up during the night

Rooted in biology, there are some basic stuff you cannot do without – here’s the absolute list of controllable elements you ought to pay attention to:

Ultimately, if you find yourself lying in bed, uncapable to fall into the blissful sleep, you need to take the right actions. Here they are:

  1. Timing matters; it’s entirely in your control to go to sleep at the same time each day and to do the math of how many hours of sleep you need, and this is the single biggest gift you can make to yourself.
  2. Light is critical; you may not like (and certainly don’t need) a complete dark environment, so a sleeping mask it not necessarily “it”, but restricting your sleep space to a steady, dim, away-from-your-eyes light is essential. One tiny interesting element – checking the time, including by keeping an illuminated clock in the bedroom, is a really bad idea not only because of the light’s impact, but because
  3. Temperature: a cooler environment – some 1-2 degrees below the normal daily temperature, and ideally around 20 Celsius induces sleep and helps it’s quality because it eases up the work the body has to do in order to regulate its temperature during the night.
  4. Digestion counts: you don’t want a full stomach, triggering acid reflux (inherently triggered when gravity is no longer helping) and bowl movements that will wake you up; you also don’t want to keep waking up 3 am due to low sugar blood resulting from not having anything in your stomach either, so make sure you snack 250 – 300 calories before going to bed.
  5. Mental stimulants – coffee (half life is 5 hours!) / digital devices / sports done too late in the day / exaggerating with power naps will help your productivity but will ruin your wellbeing in the long run.

Three routines that need to become a second nature when you get into bet and until the set waking up time:

  • relax your body: the progressive relaxation technique is a simple, quick technique to build sleep into your body
  • clear your mind for a short while: give yourself some 15-20 minutes of quiet wakefulness instead of anxiously battling mental agitation; if this does not work, get out of bed (which must remain a place of relaxation in your body memory, not a place of frustration!) and move to another spot in your available space, engaging in reading or listening to music until you feel like dozing off again…
  • play the sleep cycles: it’s pretty normal to wake up every 90-120 minutes, when a new sleep cycle starts…which basically means that the first reaction you should have when you wake up should be to relax into a new cycle; no action is the best action, and this includes not wondering what time it is!

Easier said than done, right?

I love baby-steps…how about you just picked one improvement and acted on it right now?

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