Promoting round corners

A culture’s design says a lot about that culture’s mindset. One example from the Scandinavian design tradition you may not be aware of is the absence of corners in Piet Hein’s super elliptical table. The design without sharply defined corners enables everyone to seamlessly sit next to each other around the table, with a less pointed-out difference of “who’s at the end of the table”. Being neither round nor rectangular changes the dynamics. And while we’re on the subject of seating, have you noticed the difference when talking to people sitting opposite you compared to sitting shoulder by shoulder on a bench or while walking or driving – talking and heading in the same direction? Brene Brown in her book Dare to lead talks about the position at the table when you have conversations: preferring not to sit across from the other person, but instead sitting next to each other. You will notice how it changes the interaction – looking in the same direction, shoulder to shoulder, being united in whatever needs to happen – compared to being on opposite sides facing each other, like a tug-of-war. It may be my Danish blood, because when I’m with clients or prospects, … More Promoting round corners »

Gratitude one day or the other?

I haven’t been online yet today, but I’m sure there will be stacks of Mother’s Day posts and true gratitude for the flowers, the lunches, the dinners, the gifts. That’s all fine. But as those of you know who have followed me for some years, we don’t do Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in our home. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating these days, we have nothing against them like some people detest Halloween as a growing commercial tradition – I think it’s GREAT to create new traditions and savour the old ones. What is it then? Well, we believe the other 364 days count much more. What is a lovely bunch of flowers on this day compared to mutual respect and helping each other out running this thing called a family all year round? What is a breakfast with hundreds of other families out on this day to celebrate the (sacrifices of?) motherhood compared to a smile and a hug on a random Wednesday – seeing in each other’s eyes that it means a lot having each other around? I hope everyone has had a lovely day, been spoiled and had that beautiful feeling of love and gratitude come their … More Gratitude one day or the other? »

This way please

Imagine if life was that easy: always a sign in front of you telling you whether to go left or right. There was an event going on in our local bush this morning, and it made me realise how easy life would be if we had helpers who had put up signs beforehand, showing us how to stay on the right track. The “NO, wrong way” red sign and the GREEN ARROW showing you to turn right here. And pink strips placed with frequency to show you that you’re on the right track – and when you meet obstacles, they help you to know to just keep going. It’s all good. Wouldn’t it be easier if life was like that, too? No need to think. No need to weigh up the options and having to make a decision. Follow the yellow brick road… or the pink strips in this case. Yes, it would be easier. And that may feel good for a bit. But then again, when the path is trotted in front of you, it’s the path of others – and it may not be your path. I’ll accept the uncertainty of not always knowing. Of still putting in … More This way please »

Your name. Your identity.

Annlone or Annlone [said Danishly]. Your name is an important part of recognising yourself. I’ve had some fascinating conversations around names – how you and others say your name – with people I’ve met recently. Thank you to all of these people who showed curiosity and wanted to be able to say it, the Danish way. And hearing your stories made me want to do this blog because I can hear it’s resonating. If you’re based in another country, living away from where you grew up, you probably resonate with this. You were given a name, you heard your parents or the other big people call you that. And if you liked the name you had and those using it, it became a positive part of your identity. An important part of recognising yourself – differentiated from others. Living surrounded by lots of different languages, even international names like Peter, Michael, Sarah and so on will be pronounced differently in German, French, Danish, English. Some take the consequence and change their name when settling into a new culture – Joan becoming Yoan, Pierre becoming Pete. Good on you. I went through 3 versions – because just Ann is not me, … More Your name. Your identity. »

Doing What Others Can’t or Won’t Do

Have you heard the saying: you don’t earn a lot if you do what everybody could or would do. You can earn a lot if you do what NOT a lot of others could or would do. This applies in business and in all other types of work. So, if you would like to be more valuable in your field, how can you stand out doing what others could or would not do? I’m always in awe of people being great at what they do and loving doing it. Whether that’s the ear-nose-throat specialist, the teacher or the arborist. A while ago I was fascinated by watching the tree surgeon cutting back dead branches on the neighbour’s 15-20m high gum tree. This arborist was swinging from branch to branch way up high. Most people get sweaty palms just watching it. It takes skill, and not a lot of others would or could do it.  He was climbing up to the very top, swinging like a monkey from branch to branch, fully trusting the rope securing him, his own knowledge and awareness of which branches to trust and which not, always knowing what to do next. People sometimes get jealous when … More Doing What Others Can’t or Won’t Do »

An Ode to Curly Hair

Nearly 11 years in Australia has made me curious. About the millions of women with lovely, curly hair who every morning spend ages straightening it. Are you one of them? I would love to hear what makes you do it. Why you prefer it like that. Is it for you or for others? I’m aware that the humidity doesn’t go well with curls, you easily end up looking like a haystack after a storm. But is that enough to hide it away every day? I’m on the urge to start a rally to free curly hair. Let it be, let it bounce our lives. But again, I may be the only one having that thought. I know I’m not normal. In so many ways. But what is normal anyway? I have always liked my curly hair. I have only every straightened it twice (and a half… regretted half-way through between sound check and a concert, as not any of my friends were greeting me and it felt really lonely not getting any of the usual smiles when our eyes met from a distance. They simply didn’t recognise me). Well, I like my curls. They take attention away from my big … More An Ode to Curly Hair »

Catching the Spider Webs?

Remember those early morning walks or runs where you unassumedly get a spider web across your face? That’s what can happen when you are the first to walk the path. Last morning in the bush, I had a group of women taking off at the same time as me, but as they were walking, I got to the water at the bottom of the track first. As I was zen-ing at the water, they caught up and with a smile told me that I had missed a spider web, a web I should have cleared. They thought they were safe with me in front of them, probably didn’t look out for them – and this one they caught, head first. It’s a great metaphor: how we catch spider webs for those who follow in our footsteps. That morning my limited height (160 cm on a good day) came in handy – or maybe it was the one where I ducked to let the spider keep its well-earned beautiful work. So, that web they had to take. Where are you trotting new paths? There will be spider webs that get in your face. You can hold up a stick, but some … More Catching the Spider Webs? »

Curiosity as my secret sauce

Yesterday morning I discovered curiosity as my secret sauce. Curiosity as a go-to-state. When I put on my curious glasses I can’t be grumpy, or disappointed or judgmental at the same time. Not at myself, not at others either. Maybe that has always been my secret sauce, my super power? I loved school and learning, was it really because it triggered my curiosity? The kind of subjects I’ve studied that logically should never have been able to excite me – but then a teacher (Karen, Kit: macroeconomics!) or a fellow student or something else got me curious. Sometimes maybe even the fact that it was so far from my current sphere that it had to be explored. When first my curiosity was triggered, there was no stopping me. With our daughter currently travelling London, another example came to mind: becoming au pair in London when I had only ever babysat once (with poor results) and generally had no interest in or experience with small kids. But this amazing mother inspired me, she had a marketing background, had run her own Cafe, cheeky and fun, and I became SO curious about these two little boys, these fascinating human beings, how different … More Curiosity as my secret sauce »

What is your “thank you” language?

Have you read “The 5 love languages”? It’s brilliant. So many of my business clients have (re-)read and appreciated learning these 5 simple languages. Because, we can’t be successful in our businesses and with our teams sustainably, if we’re not happy, if our home life is not improving, too. And the love languages are so much more than about love. It’s about how we help each other feel seen, feel enough, feel valued. Whether it’s in a relationship, between friends or at work. So, here’s the short version: most of us run on empty tanks. Empty love tanks. Not feeling seen, heard, loved. Even if we have lots of good people around us, we don’t feel truly valued. The thing is, our love tanks fill up differently. So, even if we try showing each other that we care and appreciate each other, often it’s like speaking French to a Chinese. The message doesn’t get through. Just get the book or listen on audible. It’s a simple concept – the challenge comes when learning and applying the new language, that of your partner, child or friend. Practising works, like always. For now, let’s just use the example of how you say, … More What is your “thank you” language? »

I’m grumpy!! Let me have it!

Positivity is overrated. If you’ve lost a sports game the politically correct “it’s ok, we did our best” can be super annoying. If you really feel you didn’t play well, that comment is not helpful. It’s NOT OK: I’m grumpy, angry, upset – let me HAVE it! The positive psychology movement through the last decades meant well but made it WRONG to have BAD feelings, and GOOD to have POSITIVE feelings. A deeper understanding of ourselves and others – and personal growth – starts from appreciating ALL emotions. There is no good or bad emotion, they are all signs and reactions to something stirring us inside – and we should listen and take it on board. This goes for sports. For relationships. For teams. Bottling up our “bad” emotions makes it worse – and resentment sets in. Can you please let yourself and others call it what it is – let them have their moment, don’t take it personally. This has been the biggest stretch and learning for me in the last year, I’ve truly come from a “the sun is shining – and if it’s not it’s right there behind the clouds” philosophy. I’m happy and proud about it … More I’m grumpy!! Let me have it! »