The word transition – means to be in a state of upheaval, transformation, conversion or undergoing change – like melting ice.
Active or passive.
Conscious or not.
If I say I am a woman in transition – implying I’m undergoing change is it an upheaval and conscious decision to change?
Is it (always) active?
Am I bound to transition in the process?
What if I don’t make any decisions to change any one thing?
Will transitions pay me surprise visits?
Will I (unnecessarily) revisit certain unchanging situations?
And, what if I don’t want or wish for change?
Deciding not to make decisions and to cling to my comfort cushion is also an act of conscious decision making. Believing otherwise is delusional and reality usually comes with a loud knock followed by a measure of shock.
Transitions regularly come to our door dressed up in finery and forms like birth, age-related hormonal changes, disconcerting dis-eases, divorces, death and/or workplace headcount reductions. Those are the real sneaks and they can make or break you!
Mild transitions can inspire and excite us while turning our disconnected lives into a unified whole. Healthy transitions can keep us moving from idea to idea and help us grow – no matter how painful we think the “growing pains” are.
The more stormy turbulent ones are the surprise-surprise, unpleasant, heart-breaking and crisis-like shifts that catapult us into complex and tricky situations causing more triggers and ripple effects along with mental and physical stuck states.
Have you ever wondered how you can, on demand, tap into your intuition and super-ness?
The answers lie in here…
After 2.5 years of being in India, I finally went for a Shirodhara massage.
‘What’s this?’ some of you may ask. I didn’t know either until very recently, so I thought I would suss it out for myself. I’m in India. I can. I should, shouldn’t I?
In Sanskrit “Shiro” means head or forehead and “dhara” means flow and the technique is the continuous flow of lukewarm liquids onto your forehead. This ancient massage therapy promises to relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), tiredness, insomnia (remember “pineal gland”), jet lag (again that pineal gland) and hypertension. It renews energy, creates calm, clarity of thought, reduces worry and excessive thought – reducing worry lines and keeps you looking young. Dream therapy for a woman!
At first I focussed on the steady flow of oil onto my forehead and then, as if transported in time – I awoke. In the hands of others, my time had flown.
Fast forward a few days, after getting up before sparrows fart with startling clarity and useful ideas for writing (I do this) I discover a free 90minute online course hosted by Judith Glaser about C-IQ – conversational intelligence. You all know I am totally into conversational stuff so I register and log in, bushy tailed and bright eyed with my sleep rhythms totally messed up because of the time difference between India and USA. Sometime into the webinar Judith spoke about the workings of our brains, the primitive brain, the limbic brain and the neo- or prefrontal cortex – which also happens to the area of your “third eye” and, which Judith says is the bridge between what you intend doing and the impact you have on those around you.
And I get thinking that my Shirodhara massage was all about stimulating my “third eye” and here’s me with my index finger hovering over my mouse with a “should I, shouldn’t I?” quiver.
My intuition tells me to follow my “should I” route and I discovered (even though I might be preaching to the converted) some fascinating facts and findings – pure science – to share with you.
I visited Varanasi a few weeks ago. As promised it proved to be 3.5 days filled with fascinating fables, informative insights, metaphors and myths and what really preoccupied me afterwards was the mindset, or philosophy around dying – before and after death. It was a deeply introspective experience that, even without actually thinking about it, forced me to reflect on my own attitude and beliefs about life, and death. My more pragmatic self did some research and found facts relating to the business of burning bodies.
Among other things, I read that this custom and practice has almost depleted India’s own forests and they are now importing the wood from neighboring countries like Nepal. Considering the pyres are burning 24/7 and an average of 50 bodies get burnt a day, that is some business! And a huge, weighty demand for wood!
An environmental activist’s nightmare and, quite frankly, a matter of life, over death! Now!
Fast forward a week or two and I am talking to one of my clients in the EU which is expanding their business borders further East mentioning Nepal as one of their new sources of wood. And I think to myself…
I get the “machinery” of business. I get what is needed to make a business run, well-oiled, efficiently and effectively to maximize profits. I personally thrive on other businesses expanding their business borders because it calls for cultural collaboration which can only be achieved through cultural understanding and clarity in communication – my business. I get that everyone wants their share (fair or not) of the economic and consumer pie and when the local market gets too small or the region has run out of resources and stock, then businesses have to move on up and out – otherwise it is death to the business! I get that.
But, how much of all of this is done in the true wisdom and understanding that some ideas, traditions and customs need to be burnt, for the benefit our children’s futures? And their children?
And, just how much of all of this is as “sustainable” as businesses envisage, intend and promise?
Let’s face it. Business is a violent business. Success can be cut throat. Does it have to be this way? Do we even have choices?
You can only create choices when you consciously disengage from conditioned and conditional thinking!
Just like conditioned communication = unconscious communication, conditioned thinking = unconscious thinking. It is not mindful, nor present thinking. It is a repetitive repetition of re-actions you feel compelled to enact or react to, because you have been conditioned to think that this is the way things are done. Or the “right” way.
Conditioned is unconscious.
How do you know you’re doing this?
Think about what you’re doing and saying and then think about where it comes from and why.
Hear any familiar voices?
Feeling an old pain?
And so, over time, we become bogged down and stuck?
We keep making the same mistakes because we keep doing things unconsciously.
Our minds, conditioned by our experiences and past, filters out everything that isn’t familiar – no matter how painful. We stick to what we know. And the more we do that the more we believe we are right and justified in our “choices” or decisions.
Here’s the real problem – the universe will collude with you and give you all the back up you need to prove yourself right.
How very limiting
Conditionals start with “if” and there are different types of “if”.
If #1 is when we talk of things that are obvious in logic, fact, always true or they serve as a threat or warning. To make your “if” sentences sound all the more serious you replace the “if” with “when”.
If #2 is when you talk about future events that you are sure will happen. This is the “if” you use when you are making projections and forecasts into a future you really have no say over. Madness I tell you. It is all a cover up because your mind has no control over the future unknown and so it sticks and stays with what it knows. It remains afraid. And when you are afraid you don’t have choices.
If #3 is when you refer to future events that are hugely unlikely or a hypothetical dream you wish would come true.
If I had more time in my day I would…
And then you stop yourself because you hear a voice telling you it is whimsical, self-indulgent crazy shit.
If #4 is when we refer to past events that we regret or criticize.
When you are compelled to (still) act according to your conditioned thinking you’ll continue thinking, and speaking, in the 2nd and 3rd conditionals and then, much later, years from now, you’ll start speaking in the 4th!
Do you really want to do that?
You can make the new crazy shit a beautiful new reality by starting now, right here in your conscious present and taking steps in the other direction. One new brave courageous step at a time.
But, you absolutely need to take the other route.
Would you like to get some pointers on how to make making choices and decisions and going after crazy new shit more exciting? More fulfilling?
Contact me. And don’t if around for too long – there is, after all, no time like the present!
PS – None of this has to do with intelligence. There are highly qualified people who are disconnected from themselves and others. Unconscious connections through conditioned and learned behavior.
vienna | cape town | goa | new york
A 10 minute read on how to master your cross-cultural competence, a good book recommendation, a short video and 6 empowering questions that guarantee collaboration!
I was asked, just this week, what I do. I told them. Someone then said: What exactly is that?
In a nutshell? Culture is the way things get done around “here” and the way things get done around there, and over there and also over there. My job is to support people in bringing their various ways of doing things, together. In biz talk? Two words: team alignment.
Culture – is known as folklore, habit, knowledge, lifestyle, way of life and development. It is taken from “cultura”(Latin) which comes from the verb “colo” or “colere” which means to tend, care for, look after and cultivate. It also means to till the soil, farm, grow and plant.
What do I do? I tend, look after and cultivate cross-cultural connections and collaboration through clarity in conversation.
Why? To facilitate a change for the better people need to change their thinking and to change collective thinking demands a change in the conversations they are having which then leads to a “rewiring” of the brain (mindsets) and which ultimately leads to aligning new (and better) behaviors because…
But first we need to understand that modern day cultures can be described as the outcome of many different external influences and circumstances as experienced by those who set up home up in various parts of the world l-o-o-o-n-g before you and I came along.
The lessons in survival that were endured by one clan in the Saharan sun and heat, and another tribe wading their way through steamy mangrove swamps, had to be completely different to those of a group freezing their way through the Siberian cold and dark winter, don’t you agree? And, the frequency of their repeated “lessons” became genetically imprinted values and norms over time. “Solutions” became and continue to become a part of our everyday lives – we adopt, adapt, integrate and embody new sets of skills so often that basic assumptions become an unconscious and unquestioned reality which we, mostly, take for granted.
Repeated behavior, healthy or not, becomes a collective programming and an unquestioned group think. It’s this group think that defines a culture and creates differences. #groupbias #whywestereotype
Why No One Answer Is Ever Right
Two men had an argument so they went to a Sufi judge to settle the dispute. The one made his case and was very persuasive in his reasoning. The judge nodded approval and said: “that’s right!”
The other man jumped up and said, “Wait a minute, you haven’t heard my side of the story!” The judge told him to make his case which he did, also with sound persuasive reasoning. The judge nodded approval and said: “that’s right!”
When the clerk of the court heard this he jumped up and said “Judge! They cannot both be right!” to which the judge replied, “That’s right”.
Just like truth is all around you there is no one answer that is right; what matters is where you put your energy and focus. And remember, the answers you get depend on the questions you ask.
So, what does this have to do with cross-cultural competence?
You tell me!
Wishing you an awesome week of finding alternative truths and new answers!
Monday’s Brain Massage: “Dogs bark at things they don’t understand” Heraclitus.
I picked up two Indian street-puppies at the beginning of the monsoon in June last year. Experiencing life through their eyes has been, albeit a challenge, full of wonder. They remind me almost daily (it’s sadly getting less) to “understand” their barking. Whenever they see someone or something for the first time they bark, are apprehensive in their approach and, until they’ve sniffed it OK, they continue barking at it. Some people and things never get their OK, and that is OK because they gave it a try and a good old sniff. Not their problem anymore.
When we are confronted with things new and “strange” we (mostly) immediately switch into negativity-bias mode. We bark at the unfamiliar. We bark our criticisms at the ideas, things and people and turn our butts to any possibilities and potential.
Where did you learn or who told you to do that?
What if you started “sniffing” a few “what if?” questions instead of bellowing “what is”? We all know that your “what is” and my “what is” isn’t really what is.
And what if, this week, you try some “what-iffing” and if you hear something you, at first, want to spontaneously bark at, try saying “hey, that’s interesting, give me some time to chew on it”. You never know what new aromas and fragrances might drift your way to make your week and day!
Wishing you a fan-fun-tastic week,
Contact me if you need a guiding “bark” at https://salt-pro.com/contact/
It’s never too late to come in with my kick-butt how-to-achieve-everything-you-want-to-achieve-in-2018 tips! So, here’s a Poem, a Parable, some to do’s and tips. Grab a pencil and let’s do this!
My advice? #ratherlatethannever
Make a list of what you think you should or think you’re supposed to be doing.
Now think about what you would rather be doing. Remember energy flows where your attention goes.
Make a list of the things you dream of and the things you want to be doing.
And now think about what you really should be doing.
Somewhere between what you want to be doing and what you really should be doing lies your magic (happiness, fulfilment, sexy-ness). You’ve got to get your butt out of your “what you think you should be doing” zone.
Really. No amount of life hacks, planning, setting goals or other such exercises are going to prove useful if you base them on imperatives like should, must, have to and ought to. You don’t like it when others tell you what to do, so why are you using the same tone of voice on yourself? The only thing that is going to happen is your sub-conscious kicking into resistance mode!
I get that there will always be things which we are absolutely obliged to do but, for example, staying in a job that makes you lose color and drag your feet to work in the morning just because it feeds the family is not one of those things. You think you might be providing the best for your loved ones but what is your compliance, conformity, bad mood, passivity, frustration and complaining really putting on the table?
The sweet things in life?
Really? I don’t think so. Watch this.
Be warned: It’s heartbreaking.
Life hacks and goals don’t work if you haven’t got you own shit sorted first. Time to think about undoing some of the stuff you’ve been attempting. Year after year. Year after every New Year.
Start the great un-do-ing! Do it now – you are never (really) going to feel like it and I get you, overwhelm is scary, but it is also normal, so get going with the undoing.
Drop your idea of “s.m.a.r.t.” goals. (Only) Use the acronym as a guideline – if you must.
Stop producing clean straight timelines.
Quit drawing upward arrows with nowhere to go at the end of the page.
Life is neither a “smart” goal, nor a straight line, nor a single upward arrow.
And, the end of the page is the end of the page.
Life is messy, scrambled, circular, confusing and connected to other humans who make it even more messy and complex. Life also gets interrupted by a host of unplanned, unscheduled, un-asked for events and people – and then – it ends.
And, life, with its crises and failures is much like a desert. The winds of change are forever reshaping the soft landscape and if you were to ever find yourself in the proverbial desert only your inner voice – or compass – will guide you to your next oasis. No straight line or mountain peak will get you out of there, no external “should’s” and no-one else’s tips either – this is your walk. You’ve got to learn to listen to your gut and admit you’re on the wrong course, change direction, and sometimes walk sideways before taking on the next dune. And know that you are going to get sand in your eyes and mouth. #anotheronebitesthedust
Think of your own deserts you have had to cross and think of the things that guided you to where you are now. You are a whole lot braver than you think you are! You’ve done stuff that needed serious guts. Like getting married, or changing jobs, or leaving home and studying far away from friends and family. We can all recount experiences that demanded personal bravery and you can draw on those resources when thinking about what you want to be doing.
For every shift that happens in your understanding of happiness and living a full-er life, power is taken from one area and given to another because two truths (or thoughts) cannot coexist or be valid at the same time. Just like you can either make money doing what you love doing or you can make complaints and excuses. You can’t do both. And the beauty of this is you get to choose. Choose wisely or else you might get to the end of your arrow on the page wishing you had another clean sheet of paper – or an eraser.
And. You going to the drawing board is only good when you know what it is you want, decide to do it and take your first step in that direction. Remember to draw dotted lines, fill the gaps with what you already have, what you need, how you think you can get them, who can help you, by when you would like to get them done, and, how you’re going to keep the momentum going – especially when life interferes. Oh, and remember to do this in pencil and to carry an eraser around with you. You’re going to need both. Often.
Finally my advice: tune in to your inner voice or “compass”. It is showing you the way, and I know this; it isn’t pointing to what you think you should be doing. The needle is pointing to what you want to be doing because that, when the sand-storm is over and the dust-clouds have settled, is what you really should be doing.
When in doubt ask yourself this: Is what I am doing right now, bringing me closer to my goals?
And remember you are braver and way more brilliant than you think!
I wish you a colorful, sweet sounding, healthy, safe 2018 filled with the promise of fulfilled promises and goals and remember: it is never too late to start anything!
, your no-buts kick-butt cross-cultural competence coach!
* one way to inter- and personal mastery *
Titles, entitlement and the sweet success of serving!
Discovering more about ourselves, our values, cultures and how to contribute to a better world through the sweet success of serving others. Written by Hester Bergh-Appoyer. Published in Business Goa Magazine, April 2017
Sweet success. Have you ever asked yourself why success is referred to as sweet? The sweet taste or smell of success? Here’s a thought. Some of us have stronger sensory filters than others, we can see, hear, feel, taste and smell success and there is the linguistic idea that sweet has been used metaphorically to refer to something pleasing since 888 CE. The earliest mention of it being used with success is 1684.
I started my career in an American company well known for its baby products and less known for its enormous global market share in surgical and optical products. But I’m not sure those “formative” years of my professional life, which have been the foundation of all my business interactions, were always to my benefit. Sometimes it served me sweetly, other times not.
So what was it that made such a big impact on my rookie mind?
It was the sweet sound of being called by my name. (Not the tone my mother used to use when she was less than pleased with me – but that is another read!)
On my first day at Johnson & Johnson I was welcomed at reception, shown around and taken to meet lots of people. Important people. I met truck drivers, warehouse packers and managers, kitchen staff, accountants, telesales staff and some of the big shots sitting in plush floored offices (bigger than my newly rented flat) as well as the CEO who was introduced to me by his first name. He already knew mine.
The embodiment of J&J’s company culture and credo is consistently demonstrated by the way they extend value to their patients, clients and employees. Click on “credo” above. Enduring mutual success is a spirit of serving that smiled and smiles through the offices and corridors in the sweet absence of titles and entitlement.
It was with this spirit to serve and eagerness to sample my own sweet success that I later went into the big wide world of international business.
Fast forward to Kuala Lumpur and I have joined an international educational institute as lecturer in charge and head of department for the business and marketing department. Sounds grand doesn’t it?
connect. communicate. co-create – vienna | cape town | goa | new york
You know how sometimes the universe sends you a message as if you are the only person on the planet and the words were written just for you? Well not too long ago these words written by Octavia E Butler landed on my planet…
You don’t start out writing good stuff, you start out writing crap and thinking it is good stuff and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits any writer can have is persistence!
That’s it. That’s the word. Persistence. I took great pride in my very own dog-with-a-bone tenacity in not letting some things go. I gave myself a hearty slap on the back for my knack in knowing how to go on and on like Tennyson’s “Brooke”.
And then I paused to ponder on the difference between persistence and perseverance.
This. Is. What. I. Found.
Like many other things in life – we need masses of sheer stupid persistence to keep something going. And I mean stupid. Persistence is that thing you’ve convinced yourself is a virtue. Persistence is that thing that keeps you mindlessly pursuing a cause (which you may confuse with purpose) with the expectation that the next time, or just one more time – with no end goal in sight – will be the time you get it right. Persistence is what causes you to stay in a bad relationship or in a job you hate. Persistence is exhausting.