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The Purpose of Meaning

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Looking at how events unfold in the past year, I say this is so true. And it’s not only me – it’s the entire world. I suddenly feel part of a “greater future waiting to emerge“. We young people are  focused – not focused – we are driven to make a difference. We are looking for activity that makes us feel human beings.

Isn’t it ironic? We’re all careerists working in multinationals, spending our days in cubicals and fantasizing about making a difference. We read about leadership and inspiration. We thrive on motivational talks. We look into “what makes people tick”. And from our cubical corner, we hope that our little corporate job makes a difference somewhere out there.

We’re looking for the greater purpose, and yet, somehow, we end up doing small work.
Are we?

What if you take this small work and multiply the effect?
What if your email turns into a project? What if that project gives an idea to someone? What if that idea ends up changing lives?

I believe that’s why so many young people – and let’s not forget Gen Y are the future leadership of major companies – are into Corporate Social Responsibility projects. That’s why so many people are going into the personal development field. That’s why coaching is exploding.

Because we want to make a difference. Because the purpose of life is to find a meaning. And most of us are looking for this meaning in our everyday job.

I’m recently more and more focused on mine…and boy, I do feel the difference when I wake up in the morning.

What’s YOUR passion? What is the one activity that gives your life meaning?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Integrated Learning

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About one year ago, I had a major life crisis.

I have – to quote – a jewel job, that most people would kill for, in a great compay. I have a partner, a few good friends and money to spare. This would put me in the 7% fortunate people on this planet. But there’s more to life than this.

The perspective of doing this and being here for the rest of my life was terrifying me.

I won’t bore you with my searches at that time. What’s enough to say is that I came up with a concept and an idea that would help me – and you, if you’ve gone through a quarterlife crisis. If not, prepare, it might hit you soon.

So we live our lives, most of us, from 9 till 5. We have a pretty good career, and we’re ambitious. Therefore, we work harder. We put our entire focus on growing, developing, contributing. We have – if we’re lucky enough! – a family to care for. Someone to love. We spend what’s left of our energy there.

Notice what’s the idea that appears most often there?

Yes – it’s spending. Giving. Contributing. Mostly with your mind. After all, we white collar workers are, according to Peter Drucker, knowledge workers.

But what about learning, receiving, reenergizing?

Where do you get that from?

And do you do it consciously?

So that’s where I thought – what if we could have a place where you could unwind. Not by resting and getting into the “vegetable” state, watching TV all day long. By doing some actual work. With your hands, not your mind.
The first thing that came to my mind was working the earth. To me, this is immensely relieving. If you have a house in the countryside, or visited your grandparents recently, you know what I mean. It puts your mind in a completely different perspective.
Cooking is another thing that detaches you.
Painting.
Dancing.

All activities that remove your mind from the urban clutter and get you closer to the “authentic” living.

This is what I call “Integrated Learning“. Being able to de-focus from the daily abstract work – and here I include everything abstract. Yes, even that Time Management course that promises to help you re-organize everything in your life.

And if you want to experience a first bit of the “Integrated Learning” idea, do something with your hands. No, not on the keyboard. Any activity that involves some kind of discovery will be fine. Go hiking. Gather leaves from the park. Use your senses. Look at the sky.
Aren’t these all things that you didn’t do for a while?
No wonder we’re feeling lost in our little cubical. We forgot how to be in touch with the real world.

How do you unwind? How do you get back in touch with your physical self?


Written by effectivenesscoach

November 8, 2009 at 7:58 am

Too many things, too little time

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In his book (reading now) “Getting things done”, David Allen says that if we were to list down all the things – literally ALL the things – we should do, we would get to about 300 hours worth of time spent.

Our time belongs to everybody else. And in every day’s battle, we push for a little autonomy.

Therefore, here’s some food for thought:

Life’s too short to try to do everything. Think about what matters.
Do ONLY the things you want.
Do only the things you choose to do.

Do you know what these things are?

Do you know WHAT you want?

It’s not the “everyone’s coming to get me” feeling that creates frustration. It’s not the “I have too many things on my plate” that bothers you.

No, what creates frustration is the fact that you’re not clear on WHY you’re doing them.
Knowing the long term purpose of what you’re doing now, crystallizes a future. This future is your choice, and only yours.
The fact that YOU have made this choice, creates fulfillment.

Ultimately, I think that’s what we’re looking for:
– having a purpose
– knowing that we’re consciously moving towards that purpose, and not dragged away by the world around us.

You may not be exactly doing the job of your life right now, but put it in perspective – what about doing this job creates fulfillment to you? Maybe it’s the prospect of being promoted, to manage others. Maybe it’s about earning more money to build a nice house to grow your kids in. Maybe it’s about learning more about the field you’re in, before opening your own business. All of these are fine. But what’s your end purpose?
Where are you headed to?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm

On the fears and skeletons in the closet

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After watching a pretty good movie, which promises to be a light drama but ends with a pretty artificial American happy end, I’ve given some thought.

In this movie, there’s a guy who, in order to get over his wife’s death, writes a self-motivation book. Which becomes an overnight success, and he finds himself giving speeches and coaching others to get over their grievance.  But in the whole process, he hasn’t gotten over the loss himself. And, maybe, just maybe, that’s what makes him so authentic.

Cause I’m thinking – I’m so much like this guy. Honestly – I wanted to get into coaching because I had felt the need for a guide myself. I am at a loss myself. I wonder what to do with my life. I am posing questions to myself every day.
And I think this is what makes me believable in my coaching. I am learning about my own path. I don’t pretend to be a wise person – I am just as much on the quest like you are. But because I am so aware of it, I can help you as well.

In the end, the things that we fear the most are the ones that help us move forward. That’s how I got into Sales. I may not have been the best sales person in the world, but I’ve learned so much out of it, and it definitely helped me to come out of my shell. I had “personal organization” as a weakness area in my first year performance evaluation. Now it’s one of my top strengths. I am aware I have so much to learn still. But that’s why I am pulling myself forward.

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 1, 2009 at 11:47 am

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Time Management tips from an ebook

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I delivered a “Time Management” training last week, and when preparing, I stumbled across this great book on Time Management for creative people from Mark Mc Guinness.

No matter if you’re working in Advertising or Marketing, you sure need your time to think. And if, like me, you’re working in an environment where 20 minutes of uninterrupted work is a rare bliss, you’re going to need the tips in this book.

Some ideas I found useful:

1. Ringfence your creative time. My best time is in the morning. I get lots done. So, I book 2 chunks of time: Early morning 6:00 to 7:30 when I do research, read and write, and from 9:30 to 11:00 at work, when I work on my long term projects. The key word here is discipline. Also, creating rituals around your creative time ( I use my special blend of coffee, cocoa and amaretto syrup – yum 🙂 this gets me in the right mood for work)

2. You need to install a buffer between other’s demands and your response. The most interesting concept here is “Do it tomorrow” by Mark Forster (there’s also a book by the same title). It says that anything that comes into your “IN” tray should be packed, bundled, and solved tomorrow. Benefits? Tons. Realistic-ness? So-so. But I would give the idea a try, especially since I get annoyed at the ton of emails, tasks, projects, reports that come with an “ASAP” tag, and when finally solved, they’re not needed anymore.

3. The buckets concept – get one or max 4 buckets in which to gather everything – and he means everything that comes to your to do list. Then go through all your buckets at least once per week and sort through them, choosing priorities and putting them on your agenda.

Resources – the “Do It Tomorrow” book by Mark Forster, the “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, tons of blogs, links and tips at the end of the book. Thanks Mark!

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 25, 2009 at 8:13 am

Personal Branding Part 2 – Channels

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I wrote here about the importance of having a personal brand nowadays, and the 3 steps to building your personal brand.

This post is about the online channels, or the “how to reach my target group”, once you have a clear message to convey.

1. Your Google results. What’s the first 3 things that Google returns once you do a search on your own name? My results are my Linked In profile and articles I’ve written. I think that’s pretty good, but could be better. You can post your public Linked In profile on the web (www.linkedin.com/in/yourname) or create a personal branded page with Lookup Page.

2. Linked In and posting on Linked In discussion boards. Who makes up your network? Make sure you’re connected with the people who share your interests, by clicking the “find users with this keyword” option that appears in the Interests section on your profile.  Also, look up groups which discuss about your niche of business. Get involved in discussions and contribute. Don’t try to sell directly via discussion boards – posting your resume there will not get you attention. Find something that will attract interest, and share. That will get you known (and liked) far easier.

3. Facebook. What do your status changes and application updates say about you? What kind of photos do you upload? Keep in mind, Facebook is not just a utility website for young people. You can actually post ads there, or create posts and links that direct users to your blog or website.

4. Twitter. What you twit about is who you are. I recently got on Twitter and found it immensely useful. I saw what some people were posting, and became very interested in them, visiting their websites, blogs, and re-tweeting their posts. I got to read 200% more useful information in the self development field, thanks to the links posted by the people I follow. I just started with a few connections, and surfing their blogs, got to other links, who pointed to other people, who wrote other articles, whom I started to follow. And so on.

But the above is only about the “listening” side of Twitter. What should you post? Do you want to be perceived as a trend setter? Then you need to stay online quite often, and post whatever is new in your field, or, better, come up with your own innovations. Do you want to be perceived as a networker and facilitator? Then you should follow all the interesting posts and re-tweet them. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to “unfollow” people who don’t fit your interest. Filter your information, and before you post anything, ask yourself: “Would this tweet add value to my followers?” Or even better: “Is this information so good, that some would pay money to get it?”

5. Blog. I guess this says it all. Don’t mix semi-professional or work related blogs, with sharing what you did last night in the pub. But then again, if your target audience would dig that, consider it.  In what kind of catalogs or networks does your blog enter? To whom do you link? A pretty good blog network I discovered is blogcatalog.com. Once you include your blog in this catalog, it will look somewhat like this. Of course, there are endless possibilities to promote your blog so that it goes up in the search list.

There’s also Technorati, the blog directory. Personally, I found it rather hard to digest, but I’m still going to give it some shots.

How often you write is another issue. You should write at least once a week. Experts say at least once per day, but I consider this to be a bit overdone. Once every 2-3 days is enough. Write about useful things, the sort of things who would interest your audience. Don’t be afraid to write. You don’t have to revisit each post 10 times before you publish. I’ve had the surprise that some of my posts which I considered mediocre were most visited and commented upon. Just write. You will see, the more you write, the more ideas will come to you.

6. Forum posts. What kind of forums do you use? Make sure your opinion is based on arguments. See above my mention on Linked In discussion boards.

7. Articles. I’ve heard about people who were in business or NGO field, and I had little idea on what their full time job was – I just knew I read their articles each month, and they were damn good writers. This made them known, more than promoting their business would have. And when one of them posted a note on starting an open training, I thought “Whoa! I know this guy! He’s really good. I would buy his service.”

You can use your blog posts to elaborate them into articles. To what websites? Look for those websites that fit with your style and mindset. Approach them and offer to write. Once you get better at writing, people will start approaching you more.   On what topics? Choose your topics wisely. Don’t jump into anything you’re not accustomed with. And always base your information on reliable sources. Just like a full time journalist.

8. Presentations and webinars. I only got as far as this with presentations (see my previous post on Prezi) but I know there are other tools as well to building online presentations and sharing slides (Slide Share is just one other example). You can embed it in your blog, share it via Linked In or Facebook.

All in all, these are just a few channels that can help you promote yourself online. The basic idea behind it all has to be CONSISTENCY.

Make sure that your message is crisp, clear, and that your audience can see this through your tweets, posts, articles, or even photos.

As for myself, I can only hope this made a difference to your personal development. And if you’re wondering how to get started, I can help – just click here and drop me an email to schedule a first coaching discussion.

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 17, 2009 at 6:47 am

Life Management

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I know, I know, it’s a big word. Life. Can anyone actually manage one’s entire life?

As I’m preparing for next week’s Time Management training,  I got to a few personal findings, which I’m gonna share. They’re not rocket science, and they’re not 100% mine. But useful, for sure!

1. Time Management is so long gone. Like a friend of mine said “Coaching is the new black” I go “Life Management is the new black”! And it includes Daily (Time) Management. DailyLife Management

What’s Life Management? Where do you want to go with your life? Call it your Bucket List (100 things to do before you die) or call it a Mission Statement (Steve Pavlina here says you can actually create one in 20 minutes!). It’s knowing who you are and what your meaning is.

It’s also the most difficult quest of your life.

Daily (Time) management is just the little bits and pieces that connect the dots to the highway that’s Life. However, if the bits and pieces don’t stick together and go in the same direction, your highway might just feel like a bumpy, winding road.

Highway Bumpy road

2. In order to have good Life – and Time! – Management, you need 2 things:

1. Focus.  Know where you want to go. Know what you need to do in order to get there. And then, focus on these things.

2. Discipline. It’s no use to have a brilliant mission statement posted all over the walls, if you ain’t practicing what you preach. A trainer I once met in “7 Habits” training said “Be careful. Outside that door is a roaring river. Once you step out, it will flood you.”  You need exceptional clarity of mind and – yes! – discipline to stay focused.

This does not mean you should foolishly resist to interruptions, or post a big “Do Not Disturb” sign on your desk. (OK, sometimes you can, but not all the time).

An inspiring idea is to use the tasks, phonecalls, interruptions, emails that come to you and treat them like an Aikido master (thanks Cata!)

Think of a few ways you can use them. Not reject or resist them. Use them.

Back soon with more thoughts on daily effectiveness 🙂

Written by effectivenesscoach

October 14, 2009 at 11:30 am