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? »

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 »

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 »

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! »

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 »

Me… butthurt?!? The 4 steps to owning your own stuff.

What’s the worst version of yourself? The moments you’re not proud of, the ones not shared on social media. Is it when you’re bitter, angry, sad, lonely or maybe like me, butthurt? We tend to have a version of ourselves that we present to others. And then we have the other side. The parts of ourselves that we have shame or embarrassment around, because they are not as attractive for others, based on our conclusions from life so far. The trick to emotional intimacy is, like for all other things, practice. Why would we want to practice it? To accept that all emotions are good signals for us – they don’t need to be sorted into a list of good and bad emotions. And they don’t need to be shared with others as we practice. Learning the piano, we do have a go ourselves and the piano for a bit, before we take it to the concert hall, right? As we get more aware of all of our emotions and allow them to show, they don’t scare us anymore – whether coming from ourselves or others. Let’s get clear: getting intimate with our emotions is not about wallowing in them, … More Me… butthurt?!? The 4 steps to owning your own stuff. »

Can Good Hearts create results?

I’ve never commented on politics – I have my views, but have seldom seen constructive outcomes from different sides discussing. But I’m so curious about this, and would love to hear your views: Obama was cherished by the global community at large, but seen by many Americans to not have created the results for their country that they wanted. I know there are always many reasons, but let’s not talk about the small stuff. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people. So, let’s not talk about (or judge?) people, but share a conversation around the idea: Do you create as many tangible results with a good heart and empowering ways? Or are our countries and economies and minds still wired to reacting with better results to a more single-minded, directing way? Because there you have Trump, and even if personally I am not aligned at all with his ways, I am always curious to understand both sides. And I do hear how he is creating results for his country. So please don’t comment on him as a person, instead, ponder about which part of his ways are … More Can Good Hearts create results? »