Power: a.k.a. ability, potential, talent and gift
Em-power-ment: a.k.a. permission, green light, go ahead, consent and OK.
It’s not possible to empower someone else – each and every one of us is already empowered.
No one, especially not people “in power” have this power or hold over others.
Real empowerment only happens when people are doing something because they WANT to. Empowerment comes from within and you get to see it when people are doing something to the best of their ability – in any given situation.
Empowerment is unleashed human desire and potential. That is power-full!
And they will only make that decision – give themselves the “green light” – when they feel good, feel safe and when they know what’s in it for them.
Happy people are empowered people.
And only then can knowledge become power!
When was the last time you went out of your way to make someone you work (or play) with, happy?
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
Did you know that the word collaboration comes from the Latin word “concerto” concert and harmony and from “concertare” to bring into agreement or sing together (as in con + cantare = to sing)?
I was raised on music – a well balanced mix from rock to pop and classics. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Moody Blues, Cat Stevens, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky etc. A lot of time and money was spent on my “big C” cultural upbringing. I was indulged in many magical ballet performances by the local Performing Arts Council) and regularly dragged off to the open rehearsal sessions of the Durban Philharmonic Orchestra in the Durban City Hall.
What I really didn’t like was the instrument tuning and warming up that went on before a performance – to me it sounded like a cacophonous wailing. I needed the conductor to bring congruence and harmony to the clamor and commotion.
Our neighbors, were a family of musicians completely immersed in the world of classical music; they played in the orchestra, sang in choirs and taught music. Diana, one of the daughters, encouraged me to listen out for individual instruments, and to pick out the conducting elements (tempo, dynamics, cue-ing and articulation) as she had taught me to listen out for in Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”.
And then, as if by the wave of my very own baton I was skilled in aligning the instruments – discord became harmony! A symphony!
The word comes from the Latin “the Greek word “ “ +
Much of the interpersonal discord I have witnessed can be likened to the uncoordinated and un-conducted sounds of an orchestra warming up – much like the “forming” stage of a new team on a new project. Imagine you are a musician in a group of players where each musician thinks they know best and know what needs to be done (play what they have to play) when and how they want with little regard for the other musicians? Need I say more?
Achieving cross cultural collaboration must feel the same to a team, as an orchestra (and conductor) getting a standing ovation. It can only, happen when everyone; the leader(s) and team members pay finely tuned attention to the group and listen out for the individual “instruments” articulating their particular skills and talents in order to be instrumental in co-composing congruent collaboration.
This is cross-cultural competence; the ability to bring voices into agreement for conversational harmony. You want to play? Would you like to improve your skills? Contact me.
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
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 *
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.
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 sand more difficult so he stooped down, put down his load and let her sit on his knee while he whispered a secret into her ear.
This little “dadeloog” so loves secrets. And 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 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 to do the thing before convincing herself that she can’t, ring loud and clear. Just like the excited echo of the raucous baboon chatter in the rocky mountains running north and south alongside the farm.
Still today she finds herself digging in and slowly taking one step at a time when the going gets tough and things get hot!
One of my “Lewis” stories – the farm in the Kalahari. With love, Hester
When it comes to some tasks and to dos there are some you are never going to feel like doing and you have to force yourself to do them. Do them anyway.
Some may even feel like you need your own task-force. Do them like you own one.
Get out of your autopilot mode and quit pulling up your emergency brake. Do that stuff.
Your problem is not that you don’t have ideas, that you don’t know how to or that you can’t figure out how to. Your problem is that you don’t act on the deeds and it’s high time you fall in love with the idea of marrying your ideas with action. No time better than now.
Here’s how to in 5 seconds and in 5 easy steps:
Whatever you do. Do it. This isn’t about you, it’s about what you do.
Honor the deed and celebrate your integrity.
Let’s do this. All year long.
May the force be with you! Hester
Your no-buts kick-butt sparkplug keynote speaker and coach. If you’re interested contact me!
Lines and ideas taken from my book: “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to communicate for cross-cultural collaboration!”
It’s official. It’s been announced!
I have been invited to do a keynote on why “Being Nice Isn’t Enough” (my new in the “sending-to-publishers-phase” book) when wanting to cultivate real cross-cultural competence, conversation and collaboration at…
wait for it…
the United Nations Women’s Group in Vienna, on the 21st of September 2016!
That’s BIG and (even if I say so myself) awesomely EXCITING!
OK, I must also admit that I am having a whole lot of fun today! Fun Friday!
I have been in the process of uncluttering my website and putting in the key message of all messages. The Being Nice Isn’t Enough! book/keynote/seminar/coaching message.
I have also been having fun with rewording my “about” page and found the words “rebel” and “sparkplug” and I want to “SALT” sparkplug everywhere to describe myself and what I do. A sparkly sparkplug!
More about my current work and writing…
“Being Nice Is Not Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration.” is aimed at the business reader who is working with culturally diverse teams or across borders “Being Nice Is Not Enough!” is going to change the way you communicate and connect with people – simply by mirroring and undoing some of your habits, bias’, patterns and language that no longer serves you! The unconscious internal glitches – that contribute to conflict rather than collaboration – that should get dumped in the ditches. (Thank you to my coach and mentor Kate Emmerson)
“Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration”, an international personal/leadership skills and (non-generic) business communication book is also written for non-academic readers including non-native English speakers involved in international interactions. Without “dumb-ing” it down too much “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration” is written in a narrative and witty tongue-in-cheek style. It is a merging of my real-time “put-my-foot-in-it” trip-ups and intercultural feaux pas’ over the past 25+ years (yes I’m that experienced) of personal and international business experiences with my later studies and research on the fascinating albeit, at times, painfully embarrassing topic. The fact that I (and my son) were born into a post-apartheid culturally and politically changing South Africa also provides me with an experientially packed classroom! A wanderlust and attraction for the unknown fuelled by opportunities to work and live in foreign countries fill the chapters of “Being Nice Isn’t Enough!” This book provides humanly erring insights, reflections and practical answers to some of your cross-cultural questions – by undoing unhelpful habits and replacing them with good old guiding principles. An absolute must read when it hits the shelves!
I host “no-buts-kick-butt” authentically sparkplug keynote talks, seminars, team workshops and personal coaching on “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration.” Get me, get us!