The teachings of a hedgehog

6 02 2008

Whenever I start something new, the first thing I do is read. These last weeks, working on a concept for a business, I read a lot of management bestsellers, including Good to Great by Jim Collins. In this book I found a proven model for creating a business, called the Hedgehog Concept. It is inspired by the tale of the hedgehog and the fox, in which the fox attempts daily to catch the hedgehog, and the hedgehog continuously out smartens him doing what he does best in the world, rolling up to an invincible ball of spikes. The Hedgehog Concept consists of three circles that interlink in the middle. Each circle represents an essential ingredient to your success. What you are passionate about. What you could potentially do best in the world. And your economic denominator. Where these key ingredients meet lies your unique greatness.

So there I was trying to fit my ideas into this model, and it simply did not work. It was clear this malfunction had nothing to do with the model and everything with my preconceived ideas about what I wanted to do for a living. Yet, I was not willing to let them go. So, I asked my husband, ‘What would you say I’m passionate about?’ It was a difficult question, as I love so many things. A day later, he reported back, ‘Creation, design’. That same day, I had been chewing on a similar question, ’What makes me really happy?’ Colors, flowers, creating, were my answers. Ok, you might say, great! One down, two to go. Well, actually it was two down, one to go, as I automatically knew what I could potentially be best in the world at. But I was feeling everything but great. I felt downright horrible. There was so much resistance inside of me. How could painting flowers make the world a better place, how would it help people in need?  How does it give meaning? And on a more mundane level, how would I ever make a living? I would be playing around, not working. I could not wrap my mind around these apparent dualities. Yet, this yearning to create is not new, it has been there forever, always pushed aside by more egodriven desires, like having a ‘real’ career, the need to fit in and to have a meaningful life.  

Late this afternoon, quietude returned to my life as I saw the Light. I believe there is a purpose to every life, finding it gives meaning not only to the evolution of a single soul but to the evolution of our species. You can find clues throughout your life, in your talents and preferences, in the people you meet and the situations you encounter. I can all to easily imagine that it’s easy to be blind sided by all that seems important. What if I’ve been actually blind sided by my upbringing, my education and this society’s idea of success. What if I’m supposed to be a creator in this lifetime, would that alone not give my life the meaning I’m looking for? A few months ago, I was captured by a line I heard James Ray say which has been something of mantra since, ‘Anytime you damn any part of creation, you dam the flow of good in God to you.’ I am blessed with an abundance of creative talents which I have ignored for most of my life. Now may just be the perfect time to learn from a hedgehog how to live my heart’s desire and find personal greatness.

Little feet

2 12 2007

little feet

Only one day old, these little feet were ready to go. Designed to walk you through life, they’ll take you to your destiny if you let them. 

Are you heading in the right direction?

19 11 2007

On the road, when you follow the direction signs you get to wherever you’re heading for. I have discovered only recently the same principle applies to everything in life. Nowadays, instead of saying where I don’t want to go, getting me nowhere, I simply state where I do want to go and automatically find the direction signs pointing to my destination. 

Imagine the brain as a radar. When I state “I don’t want to eat chocolat chip cookies anymore.”, this leaves my brain with too many options. The brain needs a focus, so it takes the only information it has got, and starts scanning my environment for chocolat chip cookies, causing me to see them everywhere and think of all the places where I can buy them, making it very likely I will eventually eat the cookies I didn’t want in the first place. Having eaten those cookies, I Read the rest of this entry »

Where will it lead?

8 11 2007

What I choose to do or how I choose to react directly influences what happens next. Different reactions trigger different chains of events. Choosing A will yield different outcomes than choosing B. An eye for an eye, a smile for a smile. Whatever I choose to do, there are always consequences. What I put out in the world, will come back to me, positive and negative alike.  It may take time and I may be repaid differently than I envisioned, but I have faith that one day all my hard work will pay off.
You may wonder where this comes from? Writing a weblog is fun, but, and I don’t want to sound melodramatic, the proof is in the reading. The man in my life and I started a weblog at about the same time. His blog is already generating 30 to 50 times as many views a day as mine. It makes perfect sense. His blog is about Excel. It has a well-defined target group, addresses a specific need and offers asked-for solutions. My blog, on the other hand,  has none of the above ingredients and is very personal in addition. Have I chosen a chain of events that will mainly lead to my own personal growth and few readers or do I have to be patient, trust my gut there is a need for personal growth and introspection, and have faith the right people will come my way. I ‘m trying to figure out what lesson is in here for me.
In the meantime, if you know people who are interested in living their best life, spread the word about this site… If on the other hand, they are in desperate need of Excel tips and tricks, then Zo Werkt Excel is the best place to go.

A question

7 11 2007

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

Robert Frost

Will the real me please stand up?

29 10 2007

Do I let people see the real me? (Is this a trick question?) A part of me wants to scream ‘Of course you see the real me!’. As hard as I try to live life without masks, deep inside some part of me always pretends her way through life, pretends to be smarter, wiser, more disciplined than I actually am. That’s not the real me though. I’m the one messing up all the time. I’m the one struggling. I’m the one who can’t seem to find the time to meditate, who doesn’t always eat right or find the time to exercise.  The real me is ok with that, doesn’t mind showing my imperfections to the world. I’m human, I’m born to make mistakes. That doesn’t mean I let these mistakes define me. I always wants to do better, to learn from my mistakes. The real me knows I can be all I want to be, but sometimes it helps to fake it ‘til I make it.

Ask, and it will be given

26 10 2007

Who am I meant to be? This question I have asked myself for years. I was sincere in my quest, but had not yet evolved to the point where I could recognize the answer. Now for the first time in my life, I believe I can. It was there all along, but I was not ready to find it. I did not know my own potential, nor did I have the security to take on the challenge ahead of me. Now I do.
Now is my time. I have no clue how to bring my dream to life, but I know I will. I don’t know what it will take, but I know I am willing to make this happen. I don’t know what life has in store for me, but I know it will be revealed to me as long as I keep asking the right questions.

Seek, and you will find

25 10 2007

Have you ever experienced all the pieces falling into place? To me, it’s what I live for. Feeling my perception shift. Knowing I’m about to take a quantum leap. Knowing the world will be different when I get to the next level. There is a sense of anticipation. I do not know what to expect, but I know my life will change in ways I cannot  begin to imagine. I’ve learned it will be a change for the better.
It always starts with feelings of restlessness, like I’m out of sync with me. Things are changing and I cannot yet pinpoint how. I start noticing things I never noticed before, sensing connections I do not yet understand and finally it all comes together.
This is my lifelong quest: hunting for answers I do not yet understand to obtain a goal I cannot yet imagine. It’s about finding my holy grail. I have to prove myself worthy of finding it. I have to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually before it will be revealed to me. More than anything I believe that when I seek, I will find.

Be inspi(red)

16 10 2007

Today, I turned 35. I feel a deep gratitude for each breath I take. I feel blessed beyond measure for reaching this age. I’m still here, still healthy. So many people cannot repeat these words after me. They have either been infected with HIV or have died of AIDS already. Entire generations wiped out. Babies and young children dying of AIDS alone, because they have no parents to take care of them. Hospitals filled with people who do not get the proper treatment, because there is no money. While we live our lives comfortably, pretending everything is OK, people are dying on our watch. Take a moment to realize your blessings and be inspi(red) to act. Embrace the world and give life!

on becoming an optimist

9 10 2007

We all have beliefs about life. Our perception is constantly scanning our environment gathering evidence to prove our beliefs are right. This is how pessimists and optimists can view a similar experience oppositely. Their outlook on life is completely different. A pessimist believes there is a negative side to everything. An optimist believes good things can come from bad experiences. A pessimist could too, if (s)he’s willing to find a positive side to everything.

My life, my choice

8 10 2007

I used to be a notorious people pleaser. I believed pleasing people was a quality.  Until, one day, I recognized that I had made some of my poorest choices simply to please others. It was my weakness. People pleasing was my addiction. It was not about the rush, it was about soothing the fear people would love me less. I craved their approval so much, I would do anything to get it. It had left me feeling numb. I did not feel alive. Then and there, I decided I would make a conscious effort to be honest about what I wanted in life. I understood it would not be easy, certainly not in the beginning. It meant confronting my fear and confronting people with my own choices. This was difficult, because I did not want to hurt their feelings. I slowly learned that as much as I am responsible for my own happiness, so are they for theirs. This is my life. In the end, only I am held accountable.

I’ll be all I can be

4 10 2007

A man who lost both his legs in an near-death accident, climbed the Kilimanjaro. A woman who was overweight for her entire life, lost over 300 pounds. A boy who was born without legs, ran the marathon. These people can break our limited perceptions of what is possible. Their accomplishments awed me, but I didn’t understand, and therefore dismissed these  stories to the realm of the amazing. It never occurred to me they were showing me I could do great things too.
All my life I’ve limited myself by thinking ‘I can’t do that’ or  ‘I would never be able to do that.’ Yesterday, I shifted gears. I changed my obsolete mantras for a brand new one: I can do this, I just have to figure out how.’ However impossible it might seem at the moment, I’ll be all I can be. I don’t know how I’ll get there, but I will. I believe that when I’ll keep the end in mind, keep believing in myself and just keep going, I, too, will accomplish great things.  

A Psalm of Life

3 10 2007

 Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, – act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solenm main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My past is my past

24 09 2007

What part of your past would you like to fast-forward or even skip altogether when telling your life story?  In stead of curling up in shame, trying to avoid the pain or maybe denying it happened at all, you could try to find some positive meaning to it. What have you learned from it? What has that brought you? And what can you learn from it now?
I believe every situation holds an opportunity for spiritual growth. I have come to deeply appreciate difficult periods in my life for they have taught me the most amazing life lessons.  For instance, I have learned that I always bounce back, that I can turn bad things into positive experiences, that my life is worth living simply because I am here. My past is my past. It has made me who I am today. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What makes sense to me

20 09 2007

I know christians as well as atheists who stick to their principles with ardour. They have taken a stand and will not budge. Not when there’s evidence pointing in the other direction, not when an inner voice whispers there might be an other side to their truth. It is their way or the highway.
I was one of them. I was afraid to see the evidence and to hear that inner voice, because I feared my life would collapse if the foundation was taken away.  It did, but under the remnants I discovered another foundation. I discovered me.
The real me doesn’t know for sure if there is a higher power, what it is like or if it affects my life. What I know is that I feel it’s presence in everything. Maybe, my mind is playing tricks on me. I don’t care. It may not be logical, but it makes sense to me to believe I am a spiritual being having a human experience, to believe I am part of something bigger, to believe the journey continues after this life. I may not believe everything that is written in the scriptures, but it makes sense to me that a higher power cannot be captured by human vocabulary. You may think I’m fooling myself. You may think I’m no true believer. Maybe.
I ask you to consider that your beliefs are … well… beliefs, that whatever you believe, you have chosen to believe. So, until this great Mystery is solved,  I choose to believe what makes sense to me. I listen to my heart and follow that inner voice …

If I had only one day left

17 09 2007

Trying to live each day as if it were your last, seems awfully tiring to me. Frustrating too. I mean, if I had only one day left, I certainly wouldn’t bother cleaning my house or paying the bills. Yet in order to live a balanced life, be happy, it is also necessary to those things you don’t like.
Although, I refuse to see this day as my last day, I live my life as if death were around the corner. This means I’m aware of my mortality, but it also leaves room for the future. It gives me focus. I try to enjoy every moment to the fullest and be grateful for everything I experience, so I will have lived a full life. I try to keep the end in mind and make choices that reflect my values, so I will have done what matters to me. I try to do my best and learn from my mistakes, so I will have no regrets.
And if this were my last day…? I would organise a goodbye party to celebrate my life, to tell everyone in person how they enriched my life and how thankful I am for their presence in my life. While writing, I realise I don’t do that enough. I make the decision that from today on, I will tell the people in my life how appreciative I am of them on a regular basis, so that when I die suddenly everyone will know for sure I have loved them. 

What will it take for you to be happy?

11 09 2007

At this moment in her life, this was perfect for her, said a woman living in an apartment of 23 m2 (about 250 ft2) in the West-Village, NYC. Maybe one day she would love a penthouse with a roof terrace, but for the moment she wouldn’t want it any other way.  It raises a question: How much do you need to be happy? Do you really need that extra pair of shoes, that bigger house? How long before you would want more? Really, what would it take?  Imelda Marco’s shoes? Buckingham Palace?

This year, I’ve come to understand that if you’re not happy with where you are and what you have in this moment, all the shoes in the world or the largest house on earth will not make you happy. I repeat: will not make you happy! You will always be in search for more. Life will never be good enough.  Ask yourself: would you rather be happy now or in a year? Well, what are your waiting for? Choose to be happy right now. Love who you are. Be grateful for what your have. And enjoy what you do. Everything else will come naturally…

I Recognize That I Give Life Meaning

8 09 2007

It’s up to me to give life meaning – I don’t expect others to give it meaning for me. I create my own reality.

Deepak Chopra – Success Cards

Success must ensue

30 08 2007

‘Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run – in the long run, I say! – success will follow you precisely because you forgot to think about it.’

Viktor E. Frankl

Preface to the 1984 edition of Man’s search for meaning

Your intention creates your reality

29 08 2007

Yesterday, while watching a conversation between Oprah and Gary Zukav, I finally grasped the true power of intention. I’ll try to recapture the essence of what they said.

Spirituality is about  fixing yourself.  Part of your spiritual growth is to understand that all your experiences are self-created. You have to accept that you are responsible for those parts of your life that are not working. You create your experiences by your intentions. How can your intentions create your experiences? An intention is the underlying motivation, conscious or unconscious, of every choice you make. Why do you want what you want? It is the first act of creation. Intentions can be based in fear or in love. This determines the outcome of what you create. Fear creates painful experiences (the ultimate fear is not being good enough), while love creates constructively. In order to grow, you have to heal those parts of your life that don’t work by becoming aware of  the intentions that created those painful experiences. Being aware of your emotions allows you to identify the parts of your personality that need to be fixed. You need to focus on the emotions you are experiencing when your buttons are pushed and work through them.

You need to be aware that every choice, however small and seemingly unimportant, has an underlying intention/motivation which determines the consequences. Your intention creates your reality. To create constructively, your intentions must be based in love. Therefore, you need to clairify your intentions before you make a choice. For you to create constructively, your intentions need to be based in love.  To live a life of meaning and purpose, you need to know the intention for your life, so you can align your choices accordingly. Ask yourself why you are on this earth, what is your dream for your life and what is your gift you want to give to the world?