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! »

One foot on the brake?

Are you having one foot on the accelerator and the other one on the brake? We have this Gran Tourismo game that was great entertainment for our visitors and ourselves this Christmas. The thing is, you can easily have one foot on the accelerator and at the same time be braking with the other. It reminded me of how a lot of us live our lives. Moving forward, going for it BUT at the same time we have the other foot on the brake: what if…., I can’t…. All the fears going at the same time as we’re trying to let ourselves get progress. There is a brilliant quote about success being our goals minus our fears, and that’s exactly it: with a foot on the brake at the same time as the other one trying to accelerate, we won’t get very far. So, have a go at living your life NOT as if it was a Gran Tourismo pedal, but as if it’s a manual car, where you put your foot on the accelerator and ENJOY the ride. And then, now and then, move your foot to the brake. Stop for a bit, take account of the direction, check … More One foot on the brake? »

Process is not a dirty word

Buying Christmas presents today, I was reminded of the power of processes. Agreed steps of action and set expectations. So many of us get nauseous around words like processes, systems, routines or standards. We believe that our personal freedom and expression craves impulsiveness and “winging it”. The power is in the combination. So, if you’re feeling the resistance in you right now, if the above words are dirty words to you, please lean in and look forward to the ride. Bringing things into a system HELPS us focus our time and energy on the creativity and expression – because we’re not constantly busy cleaning up the mess, running around confused or fighting fires because no-one knew who should have done what and when. What many of us is holding onto as “creative freedom”, is really creating a waste of our time. Reinventing the wheel for basic things that do not need reinventing. Wasting our time figuring out the best way, for something that’s been done many, many times by others. Keep the basics predictable and reliable. Introduce routines, discipline and standards for the backbone of the experience you offer. Whether you’re a one-man-band or a big organisation. Back to my … More Process is not a dirty word »

Dare to lead – or barely leading?

Leadership is for the brave-hearted. Who hasn’t felt the deflating sense of defeat, as you get the employee survey results back – or some specific disheartening feedback from an exit interview from a team member? Despite all the great efforts and support you give. Again and again. Brene Brown says it clearly in her latest book, Dare to Lead, and if you haven’t read it, do it! Courage is a skill that you can learn. And it doesn’t appear by hiding, it grows through appointment: being the leader, putting ourselves out there, standing our ground, empowering the troops, letting go of the ego and continuing to lead with our vision, our strategy, our being. For most of us, it’s not a hat you take on and off. Most often, we find the same people putting their hand up, stepping up, having the difficult conversations across all areas of life: in their business, in their community, with neighbours, with their kids, their partner and their friends. As we get to the end of the year, some of the leaders out there are feeling the pain. The energy nearly not lasting the last weeks. Barely not coping with needing to have another … More Dare to lead – or barely leading? »