“Vulnerability is not weakness.
And that myth is profoundly dangerous.”
– Brene Brown

How to write about vulnerability? Should I write what others figured out, to make it research-based? Because it should be about the topic, not so much about me?

How often do we have these inner conversations? Not only on this specific topic. Making things neutral, fact-based, rational, and left-brained. Doing so, means to remove authenticity and creativity. It means to remove ourselves from the equation; it means to hide what could make our message unique.

Vulnerability defined as a weakness suppresses people’s true potential

Being vulnerable is being weak – that was my parents’ conviction. I was raised to behave like a young adult. Whenever something hurt me as a child, and I cried for a while, my parents’ main concern was that I stopped crying. The underlying reason was almost never of any interest. Back to “normal” was the motto. I learned to hide my emotions, my sadness, and my tears. I learned to hide my vulnerable and soft part. I learned to hide myself. It seemed to work for many years. Of course, nobody had a chance to come really close to me. And I didn’t build any meaningful relationships. How should I? In the long run, it didn’t work at all. Of course not. My behavior to hide a huge part of myself had to collapse. It happened in iterations over a decade. Until my heart opened up. Until I learned to accept my vulnerability as one of my core foundations, as the prerequisite for finding my journey, my purpose, and my creativity.

For many years, I worked like crazy, in different sales and consulting roles, traveling week by week. Over time, as I got more and more disconnected from almost everything, I questioned the value of the projects I was hired and paid for. The more I looked behind the scenes, the more useless the outcomes seemed to be. Selling and leading performance programs as a consultant was something I could do pretty well, but it was not something I enjoyed doing. I simply did my job; I functioned in this role. My vulnerable part had no place in this world. I was not happy. And I got sick. Deep inside me, the desire to discover the roots of my soul and my heart, the desired to become true to myself was increasing and increasing.

Discovering my vulnerability

Then I found myself in a spiritual leadership workshop in Hungary, back in 2004. I blindly followed the recommendation of a friend to attend this workshop. This workshop changed my life. Completely. I had to face my emotional past that had no space so far. And I was also challenged to overcome various fears. Hiding vulnerability and hiding fears are closely connected. Imagine you are blindfolded, and you work with a person you don’t know yet. This partner guides you through a labyrinth. It only works when you trust this person completely. Saying that it wasn’t easy would be an understatement. It was a huge emotional challenge. I wasn’t used to trusting another person this way. Even worse, I wasn’t aware of that. Even more challenging for me was this: people stand in two rows facing each other, and their arms and hands are connected to each other, building a strong cushion. You stand on a small wall (the height is not the problem!), with your back to the group, and you let yourself fall backward, to be held by the team. Hiding my vulnerability didn’t allow me to stand on the wall saying “Hey guys, I’m afraid to jump. Would you please hold me?” No way. I didn’t say a word. Somehow, trembling with fear, I jumped backward, and the feeling of being held by this amazing group released the last twenty years of hiding my vulnerability. Finally, I allowed my tears to flow. What a trigger!

For me, this was a key milestone. It was the beginning of a new life, the beginning of a journey I enjoy fast forward to today. I stopped hiding my vulnerability, my tears, my sadness, my inner self and my fears. It was the beginning to regain trust in me, to become true to myself. It was the beginning to find my journey and my life purpose years later. It was the beginning to discover my creative potential. All that happened and is happening in iterations fast forward to today. This is a journey that’s never finished. Also, it doesn’t mean that there weren’t any additional and heavy challenges in my life since then. There were a lot of challenges, even more than before. More, because I didn’t hide them from hitting me. However, I’m grateful for every single challenge and crisis that came my way. Each of those challenges told me something I had to learn; about life, about others, but first and foremost about myself. In addition, I learned, what I had to let go to grow.

Vulnerability means to open up and to speak your truth, even if your voice is shaking.

It means to articulate yourself, your truth, especially if you find yourself in situations with people that matter to you. Vulnerability means to be authentic; it means to be honest. Your vulnerability will touch people if their hearts are open and they have a connection to you. Ultimately, vulnerability never means to say “I’m sorry” for what you are and for who you are.

If somebody’s behavior hurts you, you always have a choice. You can hide your emotions, or you can articulate how you feel in a way that’s not attacking the other person. In many cases, other people are not aware what their behavior means to you. And that’s the same the other way around. If a person truly matters to you, help them to understand your perspective. If they truly care about you, they will be grateful for your openness. A great foundation to grow a relationship. If they don’t care about your situation and don’t value that you have spoken up, you will learn an important lesson how not to waste your gift, your vulnerability.
Just be who you are and what you are. And that needs no excuses.

Vulnerability is the prerequisite for creativity and innovation

I had no sense of my creative potential for many years, see also here. I learned as a child that creativity was not important, and I was also told that I wasn’t a creative person at all. So, I unconsciously hid something I wasn’t even aware of. Years later, I developed a sense of creativity when I started to tailor my dresses, when I started to develop new recipes based on learning and understanding cooking principles rather than repeating other people’s recipes. Later on, I learned to create new ideas in different areas of my life – and most important to trust my ideas and to use them. Writing became one of my favorite parts of being more creative in all aspects of my life. Luckily, I could integrate my creativity and my love for writing with my current profession.

Being true to yourself, discovering your vulnerability and living a vulnerable life means to live a creative life. Vulnerability if the foundation for creativity. Only if you have found the connection to your inner self, only if you are connected to the roots of your soul, only then you can create authentic ideas, you can create art. Your art. Only then, your creativity will be unique.

Vulnerability is the foundation for sharing, connecting and engaging.

Imagine you share your ideas with a group of people. You are very vulnerable at this point. Everybody else can have an opinion telling you why it won’t work and why it doesn’t make any sense. We all know those situations in all aspects of our lives. Think about the very few occasions when people welcomed your ideas and tried to develop them together to a new level.

And now rethink why one of the biggest problems in today’s organizations is a lack of creativity and innovation. Yes, one of the root causes is that we learned to hide our inner self, our vulnerability, our creativity. Brené Brown has conducted groundbreaking research on this topic. You will find a few must read and must watch links at the end of this blog post.

Sharing, connecting and engaging for me as a writer begins with the “Publish” button and to share the art I have made. For a painter, it means to present their art to the public, for a photographer or filmmaker it’s presenting their photographs, stories and films to the public.

I couldn’t write a better statement than this one from Seth Godin. It’s so spot on:

“Vulnerable is the only way we can feel when we truly share the art we’ve made.
When we share it, when we connect, we have shifted all the power
and made ourselves naked
in front of the person we’ve given the gift of our art to.
We have no excuses, no manual to point to,
no standard operating procedure to protect us.
And that is part of our gift.
–Seth Godin

Real strength is to rediscover your vulnerability and to make it your gift to the world.

  • We are all born with love, not with hatred.
  • We are all born vulnerable.
  • We are all born with playfulness and creativity.
  • We are all born as connecting, sharing and collaborative living beings.

Let’s bring all these elements together and let’s live a vulnerable, strong and creative life.

 

Recommended reads and talks, related blog posts:

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability TED Talk

Brené Brown website

Brené Brown: How vulnerability can make our lives better

Seth Godin: V is for Vulnerable

Unleash your creative potential

Knowledge, love or truth – what’s your current focus?


Knowledge, love and truth – powerful and important areas in everybody’s life that ideally complement each other. But what does it mean to you? Now, at this point in your life? Which area is currently in the center of your life, and why?

Giving some thought to these three elements and their current relevance in your life is a worthwhile and powerful exercise. This process has its roots in a core shamanic principle – pushing the individual to find their own journey. I was blessed to spend some time on this question a few weeks ago, attending a shamanic course. It’s an ideal exercise when you review or when you create your vision. Gaining clarity on the “knowledge – love – truth” question allows you to sharpen your vision and to adjust its manifestation.

Knowledge

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There are two areas of knowledge, explicit and implicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is something you can read and acquire, in theory. You can read about swimming, how to make the right movements in a certain sequence. That’s explicit knowledge. But it doesn’t make you a swimmer. If you want to learn how to swim, you have to be in the water. It’s the same with cooking, selling, painting or writing. You can read and learn a lot in theory, but you need training and practice in the real world. This “how to” knowledge is implicit knowledge.

For me, it was important to reflect how I acquired knowledge so far. Looking at the last couple of years, I made a few great leaps forward in acquiring knowledge in both areas – explicit and implicit knowledge. Often in iterations and from a different perspective to get to the next level. In my profession, I experienced a lot of new things while driving a new topic to a certain level of maturity and strategic impact – sales enablement. It was a combination and ongoing iteration between acquiring explicit and implicit knowledge. Often I tried new things and learned later how that really worked. In other situations, I acquired the explicit knowledge before applying it. The same happened along my spiritual journey. Working on both knowledge areas, often in iterations allows you to achieve your next level.

Knowledge – is it the leading element right now for me? It was for many years. Now, it’s a supporting element.

Love

Remember, love is born with you; it is your intrinsic quality.
All that is needed is to give it a way – to make a passage for it,
to let it flow, to allow it to happen.
– Osho

 Love, still a mystery to many people, often considered as an emotion that’s closely related to affection, attraction, attachment, relationship and ownership. I learned completely different things over the last couple of years. I found myself in situations that disrupted everything I thought I would know about love. I had to question everything; my thinking, my emotions, my actions and reactions, my values, principles, and beliefs. The whole nine yards. My journey challenged me in a way that I had to leave old belief systems behind to establish my newly discovered values and principles. To be correct; these old belief systems were never mine. I simply adopted them while growing up without questioning.

You may want to check out A Couple of Thoughts about Love. The summary is this one: Let’s understand that love is an intrinsic quality of your heart. It has much more to do with you than with any other person. Discover that love is a state of being. It’s within all of us. We are born with love in our hearts, not with hatred. And let’s never forget that love requires freedom. Love without freedom is not love. It’s a prison, for yourself and others.

Love – is it the leading element right now for me? Love was my key driving force for the last couple of years. It was a cycle I had to go through to learn what I had to learn. Now, my love is a beautiful foundation for my vision and my journey.

Truth

“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time.
If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind.
Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Truth, what is it? Speaking your truth – what would you say? Truth is the quality or state of being true, says Oxford-Dictionaries.
What’s the purpose of your life, what’s your calling? Often, your life purpose doesn’t show up in a gentle way. The opposite is the case, and the purpose comes to you in a crisis to guide you in a new direction, to push you to find your journey. In my case, I discovered my life purpose at the end of the most challenging year I ever had. It was the year after the death of my brother. In addition to that, life had thrown me into challenging situations that forced me to question almost everything in several areas of my life at the same time. My emotional state was feeling disconnected and disrupted. Then, my purpose showed up, in a ceremony I attended last-minute because my inner voice told me to do exactly that. Gatekeeper, connecting the dots between assumed different worlds, between the spiritual world and the business world, is the purpose of my life. Suddenly, it was crystal-clear, and it made total sense. Embracing my purpose was the next step. Since then, I changed a lot in my life, and I strongly focused my energy on my purpose. Consequently, I stopped wasting my energy and my time on issues, topics, and people that don’t support my journey and that don’t serve my life purpose. Changes touched almost all areas of my life, such as my profession, my spiritual journey and how to better connect the both; my values, principles, and beliefs. My purpose was one of the reasons why I published the SandHearts eBook Life Principles last year. It was, and it is a manifestation of my principles, the foundation of my journey and my truth.

Truth, that’s currently my driving force in my life, gently surrounded and supported by knowledge and love.

What’s your current focus, your driving force?


Many people create New Year resolutions. But most of these resolutions don’t even last until the end of January. Why is that so? Is it only a game, a not well-reflected habit? In my experience, the short half-life of New year resolutions happens when the ideas are only based on an ”I should do this and stop doing that…” manner. A short half-life also happens if these ideas are only goals that don’t reflect what and who you are and where you want to go.
Furthermore, resolutions that are not processed and manifested in a holistic way that includes body, mind and soul have a huge potential to fail.

Using precious time wisely

I know this problem. That’s why I changed my Year End and New Year’s Eve approach a few years ago. Attending a dinner party and talking about meaningless stuff, playing with New Year commitments, knowing that it’s primarily a game to kill time – that became a pure waste of time for me. I want to use my time in a more valuable way. When one year ends, and a new one is fast approaching; that’s a very precious time. This time should be used for yourself to connect deeply with who and what you are, where you are right now and where you want to go. It’s also a time to make peace with what has happened and to start a new adventure, a new year. That’s why I changed my Hogmanay habits, the first time in 2011.

Enjoying the beauty and magic of Shamanism

For me, there is no better place than being at Lendrick Lodge in Scotland, enjoying a few days full of shamanism to connect with the spirits (nature, universe – you name it) within a circle of like-minded people to recap the past, to work in a body, mind and soul based way to create a New Year vision and resolution, my road map for 2015. Digging into the unknown beauty and healing power of Shamanism – this year it was about fire and water – is a priceless gift, especially if the course is led by one of the best, most passionate and experienced Shaman teachers of our time, Stephen Mulhearn.

Manifesting a heart-based New Year resolution 

The process of creating a New Year resolution is just the beginning. It’s where most people stop. But to stick to it, your resolution has to be manifested, ideally at a place where you feel a special energy, where you feel deeply connected to yourself, to Mother Earth and Father Sky. It has to become a heart-based commitment to yourself, with body, mind and soul on the same page. Lendrick Lodge is such a place, “my” favorite place, with lots of spiritual energy, wild and rough nature, and with a circle of ancient standing stones. So far, this circle didn’t have a center stone. That’s something our Shamanic Hogmanay group changed this year, when we placed the “stone of utterance” exactly in the middle of the circle. The ritual of placing this stone of utterance in the center of the circle, led by Stephen Mulhearn, was deep and pure, beautiful and touching. Within moments, the energy in the circle changed, became even more intense and uplifting. The perfect place for every single one of our group, to manifest our resolution to the world, to the spirits.

Here is mine – declared December 31, 2014 at Lendrick Lodge, Scotland, standing on the stone of utterance. It’s based on my overall vision here.

I’m a gatekeeper. I’m bridging between the spiritual world and the so called “normal” world and business world that are out of balance.

My goal is to inspire people to drive change in their lives towards compassion, consciousness, collaboration, inner peace and happiness to change the current state of the world. 

Change begins always with ourselves. Therefore, I commit myself to lead by example in three different ways:

  • Evolving Sand Hearts – Play, Create, Lead and Transform:
    I will evolve this blog, my personal blog, to a platform for spiritual leadership. I will build on the foundation that has been established over the last years. I will continue to write about my journey on transformation and self-leadership, covering various aspects of my lessons learned and experiences.
  • Driving change in B2B sales from push to pull:
    In my professional role as analyst and researcher, I dedicate my energy, experience and expertise to provide research and practical frameworks how to evolve the way of professional selling. It’s about the transformation from pushing products to creating sustainable value for customers, to enable them to solve their problems and master their challenges. Understanding and practicing connectedness, compassion and collaboration will be a key to success. That’s my contribution to the overall economic transformation from push to pull concepts towards responsible and ethical business models.
  • Spreading the word on connectedness, compassion and non-violence:
    I will spread the word based on my experience to help people to make the transition to a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle. I will do that by sharing facts and figures on the tremendous suffering of farmed animals (watch Earthlings), the huge environmental impact animal-based agriculture has on planet Earth (watch Cowspiracy) and the negative impact on people’s health when consuming animal-based products (watch Forks over Knives).
    Additionally, as I’m a passionate and creative cook, I will share ideas, recipes, and inspirations on vegan cooking.   

 

How are you going to make an impact for your life, your work, and for the world?
What’s on top of your agenda? How are you going to make a difference this year?

I’m looking forward to learning more about your plans – let’s collaborate!

Related posts:

 


A very busy, challenging and amazing 2014 comes to an end. And 2015 is almost ready to take over.

Looking at all the 20 blog posts I have written and published this year makes me smile, and it makes me happy. Isn’t that a noticeable body of work? Many of these blog posts reflect topics I’m dealing with in different areas of my life. Sometimes, writing is a part of healing stressful or uncomfortable situations I had to go through to learn what I had to learn. Writing helps me to gain more clarity on the topics I’m dealing with and getting new ideas as I’m writing. And sometimes it’s just the pure joy of writing. What all blog posts have in common is to share what I have learned along my journey.

If my posts entertain you – perfect!
If my posts make you think – excellent!
If my posts inspire you to change something in your life – outstanding!

Sand Hearts is my personal blog with no commercial ambitions. I’m free to write about those topics I truly care about for those of you who care about these topics as well. That’s not mainstream. Of course not. I don’t provide five steps to happiness and another ten to success. No way. Life cannot be lived by checklists. Life has to be lived, enjoyed and loved. Wisdom comes with the challenges we have to master to learn what we have to learn. Wisdom comes with our experiences along our journeys, and how well we reflect those experiences for ourselves. Wisdom comes from a lot of work with ourselves, in solitude to better understand who we are, what our purpose is on this planet at this point in time and where we have to go.

My perspective is the perspective of a gatekeeper, to bridge between assumed different worlds, to connect the spiritual world, the world of ancient wisdom with the business world. That we cannot continue with “business as usual” is something everybody should have recognized by now. Using more resources from Earth than we need, producing unnecessary waste just because it’s comfortable, living a lifestyle that doesn’t allow millions of other people to participate won’t work anymore. Greed, power, violence as dominating forces are not a recipe for the future. Reasons for that? Many. One is the low level of consciousness we see all over the place. Greed and power are still dominating forces not only in politics, powered by violence against living beings. In business, luckily, we see a growing number of good examples!
Change always starts with ourselves. And this is my approach. We have to educate people regarding ethical principles, values, moral baselines and on developing a higher level of consciousness. Educating people’s hearts (not only their minds) is not a luxury; it is a necessity to survive.

That’s why I’m writing here, as a gatekeeper. That’s why Sand Hearts exists. Because it’s the right thing to do. To make a difference.

These are the topics I have covered with my posts in 2014:

  • Shamanism: Inspired by the Shamanic course I attended over New Year’s Eve in Scotland to welcome 2014, I processed what I learned during these fantastic, intense days in three blog posts. I hope; I could transfer a little bit of the magic, the completeness, the happiness and the deep connectedness to nature, I could experience there.
    Posts are: PLAYFULNESS IS IN EVERY ELEMENT,  THOUGHTS, SHAPES, SOUNDS, WORDS AND POWER and “TREES ARE SANCTUARIES.”
  • Life Principles: Whatever I experienced, whatever challenged me (there was a lot along the way…); that’s all included in these seven blog posts on responsibility, play, choice, energy, creativity, love and consciousness. Working on these posts, the idea of an e-book was born and didn’t stop penetrating my thoughts. The idea as born because all these principles tell a story, my story, and this story evolved along the journey. So, I started to create my very first eBook, with my limited technical design and layout capabilities… I carefully selected photographs for each principle and I added a few additional thoughts to connect the different chapters to each other.  In case you didn’t get your copy, click SEVEN LIFE PRINCIPLES OR A JOURNEY TO CONSCIOUSNESS – DOWNLOAD YOUR EBOOK see all the links to the related posts and download your eBook. It’s free, my way to pay it forward to the community.
  • Self—Leadership: A topic that builds on the life principles. There is one early post on self-leadership called SAY THANK YOU TO YOURSELF, and two additional posts I have written later this year: THE ART OF LETTING THINGS GO and UNDERSTANDING CONNECTEDNESS – LEAD YOURSELF AND LEAD BY EXAMPLE. The most personal post on self-leadership is my own journey on understanding connectedness, making non-violence a core principle and then the decision to go vegan. Yes, the diet is only a consequence based on a much deeper thought process: A JOURNEY OF SELF-LEADERSHIP
  • Gratitude: I wasn’t prepared to write about gratitude, until I was called out to post three things I’m grateful for every day on Facebook. As you know me, this is not the way how I play games. I have taken the challenge my way: THOUGHTS ON GRATITUDE – PART 1. Yes, correct: Part 2 has to be written.
  • Courage: This is an attitude that’s now present in all aspects of my life. But it wasn’t the case when I grew up. I was shy, and far away from being brave. Later on in my adult life, I learned that there is nothing I can lose, but a lot I can learn and win. I changed and started to do what I thought was the right thing to do. Often, it was following my heart (even if I was told not to do so – I’m glad that I did!) and following my passion, my purpose in this life. Courage is to follow your passion. Courage is to follow the unknown. Courage is to be open for the unknown and to learn along the way, wherever it takes you. Read more about courage and what I learned: COURAGE – THE WAY OF THE HEART, COURAGE – A REAL STORY, ROSES HAVE THORNS and MORE ON COURAGE – JUMPING INTO THE DEEP END.

Let me express my gratitude for following Sand Hearts, for reading and sharing my posts. A special thank you to those of you who challenged my thoughts, who asked questions and who commented to add their perspectives. I’m grateful that you did, I always learned new things. That’s how we can all learn from each other; that’s how we can all grow.

  • May you walk in beauty
  • May you walk in gratitude
  • May you walk in balance
  • May you walk with lots of creative energies and a clear focus to manifest your visions.

Welcome 2015!


Living in the 21st century means to have only one certainty – and that is uncertainty. Uncertainty and a high level of unpredictability are key characteristics of complex environments. Another attribute is connectedness; that everything is connected to everything.
That means whatever we change in such a complex environment; it will always have an impact somewhere else in the system, immediately or at another point in time.
More on complex environments, click here.

To lead yourself and to lead by example requires a deep understanding of our complex world. Within complex environments, the term “connectedness” and what it really means is an essential key prerequisite to taking action, to lead yourself and to lead others towards a better future state.

Connectedness – all living beings are connected to each other

I have written about connectedness in the past. You may want to check out this post: “A few playful thoughts on connectedness and trees.” Connectedness is defined in many ways by scientists and spiritual teachers. The results are pretty much the same. Look at this scientific foundation by astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator Neill de Grasse Tyson:

“We are all connected to each other, biologically, to the Earth chemically, and to the rest of the universe, atomically….That makes me smile…It’s not that we are better than the universe…We are part of the universe; we are in the universe, and the universe is in us.”
Neill de Grasse Tyson 

The next level is to understand that connectedness does not only address human beings.
Connectedness covers all living beings.

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
–Albert Einstein 

For me, it’s always fascinating to discover that the scientific and the spiritual world are more closely connected than one would expect. Both disciplines look at the same issue from different perspectives, and they come to similar conclusions.

“Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.”
- Hildegard of Bingen

Connecting these dots between science and spirituality and deriving practical approaches for people to work with – that’s a gatekeeper’s purpose in this world. 

Understanding connectedness to drive change

Understanding connectedness in the context of our complex and dynamic world is fundamental to drive change and transformation for the better. Consequently, that requires understanding that we cannot transform anything to a better future state with isolated actions that are focused on our own advantages only. We have to think through what our decisions and actions mean to other living beings in all areas of our lives. Furthermore, we have to understand what our decisions and actions mean for mother Earth. Do we really only take what we need or do we take whatever we can get without even thinking about our decision’s impact? Review daily issues like using plastic bottles or plastic bags; think about the unnecessary waste in all areas of our lives, think about what you eat and what that means for other living beings involved – and what it means for mother Earth. As the universe is in all of us, so is mother Earth. If necessary, you may have to adjust your actions and decisions. I shared a personal example in one of my previous posts: A Journey of Self-Leadership.

Reflecting your decisions and actions and their impact on other living beings and the environment is an exercise nobody can do for you. It is an exercise you should do with yourself in order to grow and to leverage your own potential. This process is the beginning to lead yourself in a more conscious way – to lead by example.

Connectedness and sharing – two sides of the same coin

If connectedness is one part of the coin, sharing is the other one. Often, the best approach to achieve a goal is not a maximum for one part, but it’s an optimum for all involved parties. It’s often described as win-win situations, which is not always perceived the right way. Achieving “mutually beneficial” solutions expresses better what an optimum means compared to a maximum. Think about a sales situation – a customer will only buy if what he/she buys will create some value for him/her. And the deal has to make sense for the seller. It has to make sense for both; more sense than the financial impact only. Often, that means to share – visions, ideas, resources, teams, budgets, shipping expenses, profits etc. A name on a higher level has already been created – the “shareconomy”. In business terms, sharing means stakeholder value, no longer shareholder value only. It means to build responsible business models that are based on a thoughtful approach how to work with nature – not against nature.

I’m focusing so much on the initial meaning of connectedness here because nowadays the term “connectedness” seems to be reduced to a technical term only. To focus on the technical dimension only – without having developed connectedness in your mind and heart first – will never allow people to use “being connected” technology wisely to make a difference. Only understanding the technical dimension of connectedness creates a situation in which people are led by technology and not empowered by technology.

Given our complex environment and the huge challenges we are facing in this century, developing connectedness in people’s hearts and minds is not a luxury; it’s a necessity to survive. Mind- and heart-based connectedness will equip people to lead themselves and others to a better future state – powered by technology, but not led by technology. And that enables the most authentic way to lead – to lead by example.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.”
— Albert Einstein


Letting things go sounds easy. But it is not an easy thing to do. Letting things go does not mean to push things away. It does not mean to switch on the “forget” button. You can do that, of course. But then, you will miss the opportunity to learn and to grow!

The art of letting things go is a powerful and liberating process that drives your personal growth. Letting things go is essential to lead yourself through all adventures live has to offer. To leverage this embedded growth potential, you may need different strategies in different situations to be able to let things go. However you approach your specific challenges; this is the main lesson, I learned:

You have to look at yourself. Deeply. Again and again. From different perspectives. That includes not to use your pointer finger to blame others. Even if the entire process is disrupting your current values and belief systems and is not offering another safe harbor, you should stay open-minded to learn what has to be learned.

The power of rituals – and why they are not enough

Common rituals include writing things you want to let go on a sheet of paper and to burn it in the fire. Those rituals can be powerful because they are tangible and manifest the decision to let something go. But often, those rituals are just an initiation of a deeper and longer process. Sometimes, those mind–driven actions and manifestations are too fast. Our hearts and souls may need more time and additional steps to “let things go”.

Observe yourself from different perspectives to learn

In my experience, observing yourself is a prerequisite to let things go. It means to step out of the situation that was perceived as painful for you and to observe yourself in that situation – but from the outside. If you remain in the epicenter of an earthquake, you won’t be able to see the overall impact and damage, and you won’t be able to look at the situation from different perspectives. To do so, you have to leave the epicenter. And that’s the same with “letting things go”. Step back. Go in silence. Being alone with yourself can be beautiful. Learn to enjoy yourself. We all need time with ourselves to look inwards, to listen, to reflect and to balance our hearts, minds, bodies and souls.

Put yourself next to the situation that was perceived as painful for you. Observe yourself and find the triggers that made you feel this way. Understand why and how you reacted as you did. Maybe somebody “pushed” your buttons? That might have happened. But it’s not a reason to blame others. Be aware that these buttons must have been implemented beforehand – by you. Furthermore, you probably made those buttons accessible for others. Only this way, somebody else could push your buttons; sometimes in an unconscious way. And this principle is true for all involved persons in a certain situation.
I’m a very sensitive person. For many years, I thought that my vulnerability would be my biggest weakness. Where others seem to have more filters and walls (from my perspective!), I rarely have those buffers available for me. There was a time when I tried to build walls around me, to become less vulnerable. But this is not my way. That’s not me. I cannot live like that. I learned to be grateful for who I am and to embrace my vulnerability as my specific gift, my unique growth potential, my early warning sensor.

What’s good and what’s bad in that very moment? It depends…

Perceiving something as “good” or “bad” is based on our situational judgment. Be always aware that this is the case. Then, try to make space for not knowing. Assuming that we don’t know, we have to keep moving and to keep a bit of space for things to happen. Being on this journey requires also to stop judging situations and people. It also means to realize that whatever occurs is neither the beginning nor the end. What is perceived as an end, can later be the beginning of a new chapter in your life. If so, both events were necessary to achieve your current plateau. If I never had experienced lots of frustration on corporate craziness in my previous role, I had not changed this situation. Now I find myself in another role that allows me much more space for creativity, more freedom, and more value creation. My frustration was perceived as very painful at this time. But from today’s perspective, it had to happen this way to get me out of this situation, to bring me in another role that allows me much better to use my talents and passions. What’s good, what’s bad – it depends… It’s a question of different perspectives at different points in time.

Take your time to look at different of those situations and try to discover the overarching patterns and the core challenges in your life. It’s more than a worthwhile journey. It’s a beautiful journey of personal growth – like a beautiful tree. Work on yourself to get to this level of clarity. Instead of falling into the same habits over and over again, wouldn’t it be more valuable to understand and to notice why and how we react in different situations, how we color our reality?
Be curious about yourself and go on a discovery journey.

Letting things go doesn’t lead you to another harbor. It is not a journey to get another level of security. Not at all. You have to learn to swim even in cold and deep water if you want to learn, to grow and to lead yourself. It is always about stepping into unknown territory, continually moving forward.

Enjoy yourself!
Enjoy your journey!


“Courage is risking the known for the unknown,
the familiar for the unfamiliar,

the comfortable for the
uncomfortable arduous pilgrimage
to some unknown destination.

One never knows whether
one will be able to make it or not.

It is a gambling,
but only gamblers know what life is.”

– Osho

 

Oct 15, 6am, San Francisco: I’m already up, no need for my alarm clock to ring. It’s the third day at Dreamforce 2014, the world’s largest technology and sales conference. I already experienced two days with highly interesting sessions, meetings and conversations. Learning, rethinking and challenging new ideas and concepts and making my conclusions – typical conference days.

I checked my emails, just to find a surprise email from my boss. The headline “I’m ok, but in the hospital – call me when you read this” said it all. He was supposed to lead a crowd sourcing session on sales operations today, building on his previous presentation yesterday. At 9am. Three hours from now. As analysts, we have our areas of expertise. Although we discuss and challenge all the topics we cover, we are both focused on our specific fields of expertise. I knew the topic and the data points he was supposed to talk about this morning on a high level, but I haven’t seen his slide deck and his storyline before. Furthermore, I wasn’t involved in the discussion he had with a partner who brought us into this session. Do we cancel the session or do I stand in for him? We quickly discussed the structure of the session, the introduction and the three sections with questions to be discussed at the tables. Structure on the one hand and lots of improvisation on the other hand.

Within a few moments, I heard me saying “I do it. I will run your session.” Was that a conscious decision, considering potential risks? No. Not at all. I didn’t even think about potential risks. An inner voice just told me “go for it.” Jumping into the deep end, with great opportunities to succeed but also with high risks to fail.

Inhale. Exhale. Keep moving.

Quick shower, a few minutes of meditation for myself. Then, another call to discuss the main messages in each section to provide as much consistency as possible to the previous session. I enjoyed one of my favorite active greens food bar and lots of water to get my energy up and to flow. Then, I walked to the Hilton, the hotel for today’s session. I had to get familiar with the structure of the room, the technology, the way how the tables were set up, how I could connect with the attendees. All these little things were important to me to feel comfortable. Integrating my energy into this situation was another success factor for me. A short but very positive conversation with our partners made me even more confident in mastering this very special situation.

The Challenge

9 am; almost two hundred people came to this session, with lots of expectations. I was announced, and the show began. I started with a brief recap of this morning “This is what happens if you check your emails at 6am in the morning. You find yourself on stage three hours later with a presentation you have never seen before.” The ice was broken; people laughed, I could make a connection. Good energy level. I just continued to be myself and to lead this session. And it went pretty well. People listened attentively; they loved the content, and they loved the sections with data points and to discuss the questions on current and future state. They loved sharing their experiences and thoughts with the group. The only thing which was hard for me was to bring people back from a discussion mode to a sharing mode. It wasn’t hard because they didn’t want to share. No, it was hard because they had apparently so much more to discuss and not enough time to do so. Vibrant discussions, great sharing. What a session!

Eighty minutes later. Happy attendees, lots of great feedback, and a happy me, myself and I. One person said to me “for me, this one has been the best session at Dreamforce”. Wow, I didn’t know what to say, but “thank you so much”. She made my day!

Inhale. Exhale Keep moving.

On the way back to my hotel, I stopped at my favorite Italian coffee shop, ordered my cappuccino with almond milk and a green smoothie. Enjoying my late breakfast, I had some time to reflect what has happened today. Suddenly, the stress that didn’t have a chance to dominate me earlier today was now very present. But in a positive way, I just said, “hello” to my stress and “thank you that you didn’t confuse me earlier today” to get this emotion out of my body.

Then, I said thank you to myself. Click here to learn more on “Say thank you to yourself.” For the next moment, I was overwhelmed by emotions of gratitude to trust my inner voice and to take on a risky challenge, and to follow my inner self rather than to be perfectly prepared. A perfect lesson in self-confidence and trusting my capabilities.

It was not the first time that I had to stand in for somebody else, and that I jumped into the deep end – in my professional and my private life. But in this situation, there was not even time to evaluate options. You just go. And that’s different from decisions regarding your role, your business or your relationships. Those decisions take time, and different options are evaluated.

My lessons learned:

  • Fear doesn’t exist in the present moment. The present moment is about decisions, actions and leadership.
  • Listen to your inner voice
  • Trust in your creative confidence – yes, that’s what you need to master those challenges
  • Just be your beautiful self

And … don’t forget:
Inhale. Exhale. Keep moving.


Today, let’s focus on the often most difficult leadership and transformation issue – to drive change in our own lives, to lead ourselves in a new direction. I decided to share a personal story, rather than to write from a theoretical perspective, on a sensitive topic that’s very close to my heart. May this blog post inspire you to challenge your thinking. The focus is on the individual journey of self-leadership, not on facts and figures. At the end of the article, you will find a few selected links if you are interested to learn more on the specific topic of veganism.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
–Mahatma Ghandi

Going vegan – Change happens slowly and then suddenly

July 15, 2012: I will always remember this day, when I made the decision to go vegan. More on that day and what happened in a minute. For which reasons, you may ask. People answer this question very often. My first answer is this one: “Ethics, environment and health – in this sequence.” Depending on the situation some people have already heard enough and others want to know more. If so, I share my thoughts. Here we go:

I grew up consuming meat and dairy, I had a vegetarian phase in my twenties, but I consumed way too much dairy, I didn’t feel well and I changed back. Then, I became a vegetarian again which was then the foundation to go vegan. Over the last ten years, working on myself, learning and educating myself, I came more and more to the conclusion that we are all living beings sharing one planet. I also learned from a spiritual and a science perspective that we are all connected to each other. So, there is no single species that is more important than another one – which is the opposite of speciesism. That’s what I learned. That’s what I feel when I’m in balance with all elements. That’s what I feel in meditation. Now, what does that mean for animals? For me, it simply means that we have no right, no need and no reason to exploit, to abuse and to kill animals. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to love animals, we simply have to respect them as living beings. We don’t need their meat, their skin, their bones and their breast milk to survive. A palate pleasure – that’s no longer a justifiable reason for me. Speciesism is one of the reasons why the animal agriculture industry operates as it operates. People’s willful ignorance or their inability to make a connection to other living beings is what allows this industry to continue their bloody practices.

Often, change happens slowly and then suddenly. The trigger for me was The Real Matrix – 101 Reasons to Go Vegan, which I watched on July 15, 2012. This sixty-eight minutes documentary changed my life from vegetarian to vegan. I didn’t change to veganism because I learned lots of new facts. No, I changed, because this presentation connected so many dots for me on a deeper level, on a conscious level. The Real Matrix outlines the absurdity of the stories about our “food” we have been told over decades and generations, mostly justified with tradition. And that is just an excuse for not challenging the status quo, for continuing to believe the story and the ongoing practice. And these stories about food are different in different cultures. Or why do we pet a dog, while other cultures slaughter dogs and eat them? If it is wrong to slaughter dogs in China, then it is wrong to kill pigs and cows and chicken elsewhere in the world. There is no difference between a cow, a pig, a dog or a cat or any other animal. They are all sentient living beings. They want to avoid pain, and they want to live – their life. Just like us. Putting them in categories of “pets” and “food” is our judgment, it’s the consequence of the stories we have been told. Our diet is based on the cultural story we have been told. Now as this is discovered, it can be changed.

Furthermore, this documentary is very special for another reason. It sheds light on the bloody dairy industry. For many people who are not aware of the details, dairy seems to be “ok” because the animals wouldn’t be killed. This idea is an illusion. It is simply not true. Apart from the fact that these poor animals are exploited from their very first day, they all end up in the same slaughterhouse. Male calves are an unwanted “byproduct” of the industry; they become veal meat and female calves have to become dairy cows. So, the dairy industry is the meat industry. Horrible for cows and their calves – they are often separated immediately after birth or a few days later. If you have ever heard a cow crying because her newborn was taken away from her, you will think differently about dairy.  The core question for me is: Why should nature have structured humans in a way that they would need the breast milk of another species?

So, this documentary made me crying for the rest of this Sunday. I opened my fridge, identified all remaining dairy products (some goat and sheep cheese) and trashed it. Eggs were already off the menu for a while. I had to get rid of these things. Immediately.

Going Vegan – The Gifts

Since then, lots of things changed. I educated myself on vegan cuisine. I removed my old cookbooks from the bookshelf and replaced them with many new vegan cookbooks.  I tried many new recipes, and I’m still constantly learning new things, which is an amazing experience. Smoothies, most of the time green smoothies are now the favorite breakfast. The high-speed blender and a juicer are the most important tools in the kitchen. I also started to make my nut milks on my own; nut-based cheese in many variations is also on my menu as well as homemade banana-based ice creams. It’s that simple with a great blender at hand. It’s a gift to enjoy the abundance, the wellbeing and the fitness of a vegan diet. I’m feeling deeply grateful for every meal, I prepare – whether that’s a smoothie for breakfast or a quick salad with a nut-based dip or a vegan pasta dish or a moussaka. For me, buying organic food at the farmer’s market, preparing and eating these delicious things is like a peaceful prayer of non-violence and love to Earth. She provides us with so many amazing colorful different fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. It’s pure abundance surrounding us. We just need to recognize it.

And I feel much better, I’m healthier and I was never in a better shape than I currently am. Getting rid of the remaining dairy elements in the body is like a detox program. The body finds a new balance with a much quicker metabolism.

Then, going vegan goes beyond the diet. I started to sell my remaining leather jackets, bags and shoes. I had no idea how many fashionable vegan shoes are available. What a joy!

Going vegan changed my life – literally. I could lead myself in another direction that’s much closer to my heart; it’s much more me, myself and I. I could achieve a new level of inner peace, balance and happiness. And I have even more energy than before – ok, that may sound like a threat for those of you who know me…

I feel every moment that I don’t have any longer the animals’ suffering and the violence they had to experience in my body. It’s a feeling of deep happiness, gratitude and connectedness. The way how deeply I feel this connectedness now, this feeling of being Earth – instead of living on Earth – changed so much for me, also to achieve another level of love. This concept of a conscious and compassionate life has now another, much deeper level for me. It became very solid and grounded because it is manifested on a daily basis.

And… my love is growing, my love is changing to a state of being.
Another beautiful journey, I’m deeply grateful for.

———————————————————————————————————————-
Links for those of you who are interested to learn more:

Animal Sanctuaries: Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary, The Gentle Barn, Hof Butenland,


I wanted to begin this post with “I’m grateful that I was not nominated for the ice bucket challenge.” But that’s no longer true; the ice bucket challenge hit me when the hype was almost over. No worries, you won’t find any “wet-t-shirt-ice-bucket-challenge-videos” with me, because I didn’t accept the challenge. I’m grateful that I said no, describing why not in a gentle way.

Then, I was nominated for the gratitude challenge. “Oh no”… was my first reaction. Then, I thought about the various approaches I have already made to write about gratitude. Several drafts, but not a single one was ever good enough for me to click the publish button, to ship my art. As Seth Godin says “without commitment, you will fail, because art unshipped isn’t art.”
That’s the simple truth.

I’m grateful that I accepted the gratitude nomination – on my way. This first blog post is my approach to tackling gratitude as a topic. I captured for one week all my gratitude moments. Then, I tried to cluster them, and I realized that there are so many things I’m grateful for in my life that this blog post can only be the beginning. Approaching gratitude as a topic, and exploring what gratitude means for me was and is a lovely, deep and eye-opening journey. I learned that there are prerequisites to feel gratitude in a conscious way: So far, I identified self-awareness, a positive mindset, a tendency to reflect deeply and to share experiences, the ability to look from different perspectives at situations, the ability to let go, to trust your heart and – the ability to love.

Today, let’s begin with two areas I’m grateful for in my life. More will follow within the next weeks.

Yoga practice

I’m grateful for my daily yoga practice. This practice is one of the biggest changes I made in my life this year. Yoga was always something I focused on when I had time. Reality was that I had no time, apart from my annual yoga retreat week. I had no time, because I didn’t make yoga a priority in my life. That changed when – at the last day of this year’s yoga retreat – my yoga teacher gave me his new yoga DVD course, ten modules, one hour each. Perfect, that was the trigger I needed. No excuses any longer. Now, I get up earlier, make time for my yoga practice. The practice gives me so much more than an hour it takes.  It’s such a beautiful gift; it helps me to align the body, mind and soul, every day. It helps me to focus on my breath, to get prepared for the challenges the day may bring. Since I’m doing this for four months now, my inner peace is growing, my body-mind-soul alignment is much better, I feel myself more in my center. The practice is always a journey to my center, by working with my body and my breath. Yoga helps me to calm down my mind, but also to refocus and to sharpen my mind. Side effects? Meditation is much easier for me. And I’m more productive as I was before I practiced yoga like this. And the love in my heart is growing, as a state of being. My body is even more flexible than before, which is just a mirror of my mind. I’m grateful that I was gifted with such a beautiful body that allows me to practice yoga like this. Namasté.

Changes, challenges and growth

I’m grateful to accept challenges, to drive change and transformation in my life – in order to grow. Challenges, problems, small and big disasters in all areas of my life are apparently situations I have to go through to grow. They are meant to teach me something, to get to the next level on my personal journey of growth. Finally, I’m grateful for the experiences I could make and for the lessons I could learn over the last couple of years – getting a deeper understanding of different situations and how to perceive those situations, getting a deeper understanding about others and – most important about myself. Processing some of the bigger challenges, I had to change my approach to deal with these situations. First of all I look inwards, what does this situation do with me, and why is that so? What are the patterns to be understood and to be considered next time? What do I need to do now for my mental health without hurting somebody else, even I was hurt in the first place. Approaching tough situations this way, and focusing on my spiritual practice changed a lot for me. It helped me not to create additional negative energy when situations were already difficult. I also learned to step back and to learn that situations are never as we see them. There is always another perspective, another dimension, something unknown included. Another reason to look inwards and to focus on re-establishing my inner peace. Whatever happens next, then I’m free to decide on my actions and reactions.

I’m grateful for the experiences I could make, and for the opportunities to learn and to grow. Growing is not an easy journey, but stagnation is always worse. The journey of accepting challenges, of driving transformation, of growing is worth the journey.

  • Take the way of courage
  • Take the way of truth
  • Take the way of non-violence
  • Take the way of love

 

“I wanted to feel, smell, hear and see, but not see with my eyes and my mind only. I wanted to see with CANTE ISTA – the eye of the heart.”

–Lame Deer, LAKOTA


I love roses. My favorite flower shop is just around the corner. The shop’s owner knows me and my passion for roses pretty well. I buy roses every week. She always has a special offer for me. Not because I asked for it. It’s because I’m apparently a special “rose” customer. My flower shop lady explained it to me: Most customers expect roses to be perfect. That includes also to expect that roses shouldn’t have thorns. Unbelievable for me. She said that I was one of the very rare customers who loves roses just the way they are. They are beautiful, but every single one is a unique being, and they look differently. That also includes that roses come with thorns. That’s how roses are. And roses as all living beings are not perfect.

What is it people project to roses? Their ambition to be perfect all the time or is it their ambition to remain forever young?

Roses and thorns – there are two side of the coin

A rose and her thorns represent how life works. Every situation you may find yourself in has at least two sides to look at it and at least two sides how to respond to the situation. For me, it’s always interesting to observe how two persons perceive the same situation differently. What’s beautiful and comfortable for one person, can be perceived as stressful for another person. Individual context matters. Always.

How we respond to different situations, the same principle can be applied. The simple alternatives that are always available are to accept the situation or to walk away. Either way, the beauty of the rose and her thorns can represent the one way or the other. Whatever you decide to do, security versus risks, stagnation versus change, remaining in a job versus initiating a big change, these perceived two sides of the coin can change along the journey that follows your decision. What seemed to be a secure decision (e.g. staying in a big corporation because of the safe job) can turn out to be a risky approach. Imagine what disruption in many industries made with large corporations that did not adapt quickly enough. Staying in a relationship that doesn’t fulfill your inner needs, but seems to be comfortable, can turn out to become a great risks, when damages in your heart and soul turn into serious diseases.

This principle of the two sides of the same coin, is the same in our professional and our private lives. There is often one alternative that seems to be an easy one, a beautiful one, and there is most of the time another one that has more risks and bigger challenges or that may take longer. On the one hand, the rose represents beauty, love and joy and inner peace. On the other hand, the thorns represent the challenges that have to be mastered along the journey, the obstacles we have to overcome along the way.
Growth doesn’t happen without thorns.
As soon as growth happened, enjoy the beauty.
That’s a lifelong iterative process.

Thorns can hurt – or life is risky

Nothing that’s worthwhile to achieve is easy. Nothing that’s worthwhile to achieve comes without risks, challenges and obstacles to overcome. Whatever your journey looks like, some things will work pretty well, and other things will go wrong. You may be hurt in certain situations, and you may have to adjust your behavior or to change your approach. The thorns are those experiences that we need most to grow personally. The rose then represents achievements, joy, happiness, inner peace, and a growing amount of wisdom. Also here, that’s the same for our professional and our private life. Thorns also represent the unknown. Do they really hurt. If so, how much? How will it feel when I touch them? Map that to any unknown situation you are facing. No known patterns, no known formula will work because the context is different, maybe complex, unpredictable, or volatile. Don’t miss the unknown. The unknown is risky, yes. But the unknown provides the biggest potential to learn and to grow. In my experience, you will always get the energy you need to master your challenges.
The unknown is also the foundation for creativity – how to connect the dots this time? In a completely different and new way, I guess…

“Courage will come to you.
Just start with a simple formula:
Never miss the unknown.”

–Osho