Life’s Intersections. Looking East. Looking West. Going North!

speaker | communication craftsperson | cross-cultural connector | author

connect. communicate. co-create – vienna | cape town | goa | new york


This is a new year reflection on endings and (hopefully) significant beginnings containing 7 bits for 2017 like…

  1. Greek god-ly information and 2 reflective questions
  2. 4 lyrical life hacks
  3. how to F.O.R.C.E yourself in 5 easy steps
  4. 3 A’s that will win friends and influence people
  5. a link to the land of OZ – a business book and,
  6. a boring print-out-able freebie for goals
  7. and some interesting words for my non-native readers!

So! We’re 32 (or possibly 33) days into the new year and it looks like some new year plans aren’t going to last past January. I know that thing. But don’t let January be another Jan-u-worry any more. I have created a goal planner to keep your plans and yourself (or was the process of creating it more for me?) on track. For you. Free of course. A real print-out-able freebie! But more of that further down this read.

Please note, that if you’re 100% satisfied with your life just the way it is – there is absolutely no need to carry on reading. But, if you are entertaining even the smallest of thoughts about wanting to change even the littlest thing (or big) carry on reading. This is packed with good stuff. As is the norm. This is what I do. I deliver good stuff!

But, I digress. Let’s take a look at this auspicious month. The month of significant beginnings.

January, gets its name from the ancient Roman god Janus who had two faces, one looking forward, toward the East – yip, you got it – the sunny side, and his other face looking backward – toward the west – gazing into the distant sunset. Janus was the god of gates and doorways, lord over the first hour of every day, the first day of the month and of course, the first month of the year, January.

He was worshipped at the beginning of planting time, harvest time, marriages, births and other significant beginnings in a person’s life. Our Janus has a big responsibility every day.

But seriously. In a deeper sense, old to new transitions, whether they be in our calendars or at the intersections* of our lives – can be exciting, thrilling, powerful and often overwhelming.  They can leave you looking this way and that and back again and even though you know it is safe to proceed you might hang around a bit, stuck, not knowing which way is best. Right or left? East or West?

Challenge #1 * Pausing is necessary * but the juggling act of taking a healthy pause and not pausing for too long is something you have to keep juggling to get perfect at and, just like riding a bicycle, you’ve got to keep pedalling – or you’ll fall off.

You need to do an ecological emotional check – because transitions don’t just happen overnight and achieving your goals takes time. If you’re going to be beating yourself up because things aren’t happening quick enough you’re setting yourself up for failure. Ask yourself
1) Just how badly you want the things you think you want and,
2) just how eager you are to step into your significant beginnings?

Let’s take me as an example. I’ve been in a phase of transition for a year now. Yes. A whole year. I am a woman in transition – transitioning from the old to the significant new, in India.

Aaaah! you think! “Dir gehts gut!” “You’ve got it good!”. Time to relax and enjoy while I let my creative juices flow and immerse myself into a balmy sea of re-invention. OK nearly. But not quite.

The daily discipline of “verb-ing” like finishing a non-fiction book on cross-cultural collaboration and communication, preparing the book proposal, looking up publishers, and diving into the online world of how to generate “opt ins”, creating a following, designing webinars, getting my website looking sexy, recruiting online clients and trying to generate that ever evasive passive 6-7K that all the online experts are talking about – is hard work. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in my own sea of re-invention. And so I ask myself
1) Just how badly do you want the things you think you want Hester and,
2) Just how eager are you to step into your significant beginnings?

I admit. At times I’m very tempted to stay on my back and swim backstroke all the way back to the good old days.

Here’s the thing, and you know this as well as I do that…
Challenge #2:  There is no such thing as the good old days – they are but a trick of the mind – this is science based – and,

Challenge #3: Life moves forward. One way.

Today becomes tomorrow, not yesterday. Our lives do not – simply cannot – go back. The healing of a broken heart is proof. The aging of your body and the greying of your beard is proof.  The growing up of your children and their children, is proof.  Sunset after every sunrise. Spring after every winter.
And so also, every New Year.

So what is it with us looking and hankering after the proverbial West?

We force our thoughts to go back into a void of not-there-anymores.
We force our desires to play in a blurred bewilderment of events long gone.
And we force our disappointment onto things past and done.
And then.
We manage to aggrandize that which was, instead of this that is.
And I remind myself that this, this living in another space other than the now, is the stuff straight-jackets are made for!

No thank you. I don’t think so. I’m going to keep pedalling my push bike, honey!
And, another thing! While learning about all that online stuff and thinking about my short and long term goals as well as how to re-brand and re-market myself I needed to reflect on business issues like thinking about my ideal target market, what makes me different and why people should come to me for life skills and cross-cultural success. In other words a SWOT analysis. It got me thinking. And I arrived at all the best answers. Like, I got to identify who my non-ideal client is. This is important for me and this is most important isn’t it?

How did I do that? I decided to look for a third option – an other alternative and, look North. Follow my magic magnetic true North while keeping the dawn of the East in the corner of my eye. I stumbled onto something big!

How do I know that I am onto something big and even more beautiful than the good old days?
Because a) I now know the liberating value of no longer letting someone else’s idea of nice govern who I am (and stay ahead of the tax man),  b) I am comfortable with not being nice when it is required to help someone else out of any intersection they might be pausing at for too long (and holding up other traffic in the process) and c) I care more about not having BS* in my life more than I do about the adversity I might have to face from people who think I am not being nice enough! In other words? Simply said? I have let go of nice! Nice is, after all, so very West!

It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day and a new life for me! I’m feeling good!

And you can too.

Here’s how. But, you’ve got to F.O.R.C.E yourself!
Golden Rule #1: Start before you are ready!
Golden Rule #2: Ready is too late already. Start now!

When the humdrum of everyday settles in, and you get busy-ed with tasks and to dos – there are some things you are never going to feel like doing. Do them anyway. In fact, some of those things are so unpleasant that you may even feel like you need your own task-force to do them. Do them like you own one!

Next, shift out of your “autopilot” and take your hand off the emergency brake in your head. Switch that thought. Fall in love with the idea of “force-d” action.
Here’s how, in 5 seconds and in 5 easy steps:

  1. F = force yourself
  2. O = out, get out of your head
  3. R = routine – get out of or into the routine of doing it.
  4. C = comfort zone – take on your parent role and parent yourself right out of it! Think about it; they always got you to do stuff you didn’t want to do!
  5. E = energy – eat, drink, sleep but do what you’ve got to do to get going.

Still not enough? Do you need more structure? Do you feel like you need to “template” your life and goals? Never fear, your goal worksheet is here! I’ve created a simple step by step document that you can work with and – oh my word – go back to (periodically) in order to move forward!

Whatever you do, just do it. Make that almighty decision. Want it bad. Do it. Repeat it. Get good at it. Stick to it. Like super-glue! And…

Once you’ve got that, you can add some accountability, apologizing and giving attention. These are super kick-starters to any day, let alone year! They’ll also attract people to you like moths to a flame!

A1: Accountability. The ability to anwer to. Own up ability. The ability to take account for and of your actions is a personal choice to rise above your circumstances, i.o.w’s stop thinking and behaving like a victim. It’s the ability to not get stuck on the yellow brick road and if you don’t believe me read this brilliant business book: The Oz Principle.

A2: Apologizing. We get taught to and then we either forget or choose not to. Why? Is it defensiveness? Pride? Because you don’t want to let the person you should be apologising to, “off the hook”? Are you an non-apologiser? Is your not apologising protecting your fragile sense of self? There’s no need to ask “what have I gotto do” anymore – it’s not always easy, but it is simple. Apologise.

A3: Attention. Remember that? Remember how you felt when you weren’t getting it from a parent, lover or your boss? Think of flowers that don’t get attention. They wilt and wither. And, contrary to the expression that you must “pay” attention, attention is absolutely free and comes with the bonus that it generates interest – financial and personal. Attention determines how well you do at something – you earn and learn with attention. Attention could (even) save your life.

And finally a short story about slowing down and digging in – written by me.

Don’t run, slow down – he said pulling her hand back.
I can’t – the sand is too hot, it’s burning my feet – she moaned while hopping up and down, flicking the stinging sunburnt grains further up her legs.

Her constant clambering and tugging at his arm and hand in an attempt to lift herself off the ground was making his progress along the thick deep sand more difficult so he stooped down, put his load down and let her sit on his knee while he gently whispered a secret into her ear. This little “dadeloog” (“Dattelaug”/”Date-eyes”) he thought, so loves secrets. And so does she like walking barefoot.

Slow down, he instructed gently. Take your time. Every time you put your foot down start digging into the sand with your toes. Right under the hot, hot there is cool, cool. I promise you. When you find that place slowly shift yourself onto that foot and then do the same with the other foot. Dig your toes in, find the cool, stay a while, move over. And then the other foot. And then the other. And before you know it you’ll be perfect at it and we’ll be home.

She, in her childlike way still tried to get him to carry her, but he was already burdened with some of the basics they went to town for. If only he had taken the other truck – now he’s had to leave the cattle feed behind, in the broken down truck. The baboons are going to have a feast. And, he should’ve insisted she take her sandals.

I can’t – she continued to resist. How do you know you can’t – he asked. Have you tried it? Do you know you can’t? At least do it and if you really don’t get it right I’ll help you – he encouraged her with a smile on his face – hoping.
And so, as if knowing that he was going to prove her wrong, again, she unwillingly took that step.

If little else remains of the very tall old man whose face has faded in her memory like the time-bleached sepia shots of a family long gone, her grandfather’s words to slow down, dig in and do the thing before convincing herself that she can’t, still ring loud and clear. Just like the excited echo of the raucous and hungry baboon chatter in the stoney mountains running North and South alongside the farm road.

Still today she finds herself digging in, and taking one step at a time as she scouts for a road that can lead her home, to her North. Especially when things heat up and the going gets tough. Written by Hester Bergh-Appoyer

If you’re at one of life’s intersections and, if what you’ve read resonates with you and you feel or think that you might benefit by working with me, you know where to get me You can do this. Let’s do it!

No buts. Go kick some goal butts and remember to sparkle in your significant beginnings!

PS1: Did you know that your “chick in charge” at Kickbuttville has over 42 000 hours of lecturing, training, coaching, consulting, mediation and recently did a key note on the subject of cross cultural collaboration. “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – A How To Cut Through The Niceties And Get Real Collaboration”. I am a qualified in Neuro-Science and Neuro-Leadership Coach; Systemic Coach; Conflict Mediator; Social and Life Counsellor; Business English Trainer (CELTA/LCCI London Chamber of Commerce ARELS-CERT TEB); and have a Dipl. in Marketing Management and Dipl. in Management and Sales Training.
PS2 * these words and expressions * are inspirations I got from my inner wilderness coach and business mentor Dawn Kotzer

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