As I stumble to Enlightenment

What other people can do (better)

More than words.
Yes the song.
By Extreme.
One of my childhood “mistakes”.
I really, really liked that album. Probably more for its title “Pornograffitti” than anything else, but hey I was 14 then!

And although those 14 year old dreams went away or became reality, the song “More than words” never went away.
It still shows up on the radio now and then.
And today it showed up in my Spotify feed.
Long story why, but all I could think about is that once in a while I like to hear that song.
Not too often though, so perhaps I should save it to one of the playlists that I sometimes listen to.

Until I realized that I’d rather leave it to chance that this song actually comes into my world, rather than having an active role in it.
Because I know somewhere somebody will play this song when I will hear it.
Hopefully not too often.
And even if it does show up too often, I can always skip it.

The point is that it made me realize that there is a lot that other people can and will do no matter what I do.
It’s not even a question about whether they can do it better than me.
It’s all about a question as to what I want to contribute and what not.

And when it comes to “More than words” I decided I contributed enough when I was 14.

Right-size my life


This is a blog post I’m dreading to write.
Because I’m afraid I will be admitting things I’m not ready to admit.

This post is about right-sizing my life.
Not down-sizing or super-sizing, because those have a judgmental tone to them.
Down-sizing is clearly negative because it feels to me that I need to withhold myself from something.
Super-sizing obviously reminds me of the McDonalds culture that I grow up in of ever more, ever bigger and ever more competitive.

While right-sizing can mean everything.
It can mean more or less.
For one it means simplicity to me.
Simplicity in that I want a music system that is easy to move (remember we’ll be moving house again in less than a year, which makes it the 3rd move in 2+ years. I know, another solution is to not move so often!) but that allows me to play internet radio and my main source of music being Spotify.
And I have found such a system.
The “problem” is that such a system costs several hundred of dollars.
And I say “problem” because I know there are cheaper alternatives out there.
And since I kept a long held limiting belief around spending, somewhere in the back of my mind this created a problem.
Now that I started asking myself the question what is ‘right for me’ this became extremely easy and clear.
I happily ignored all the suggestions my friends had because it wasn’t what I was looking for.
Sure, it may have better quality of sound.
It may have been cheaper.
I happily ignored all the cheaper alternatives, because I know none of the ones I found had the flexibility and features that I knew my prefered solution had.
Sure there were others things I could have done with the money.
I just don’t need other things RIGHT NOW.
And most importantly, I don’t care if in a year from now I may feel that it’s actually not what I need.
I’ll see what I do about that in a year from now.
So I went and got MY perfect system.

The same goes for books.
When we moved to Norway, I gave all my CDs away.
For one because carrying 500 CDs around in a time of MP3s and online music access just seems stupid TO ME.
Because I don’t have an emotional attachement to a plastic box with a shiny cylinder in it.
With books it is starting to move into the same direction.
Now that I am reading more and more books on my iPAD, I find my emotional connection to physicial books dwindle.
However, there are still quite a few books that I have a hard time letting go off.
Which is why I have these piles of books out in my home office for weeks now.
And since I don’t need to make a decision any day soon, I know they’ll stay there until we start boxing up our stuff to move back to Belgium.
“Worst case scenario” I just throw them all in 2 boxes and move them around one more time.

Talking about books, there’s a lot of ebooks these days which talk about living a life of freedom (Chris Guillebeau, Leo Babauta, Karol Gajda and a 1000 others) and what all of them seem to have in common is that they strive for a minimalistic live.
By doing this, they achieve more freedom as there is less financial burden.
Now as much as I am inspired by especially Chris & Leo, somehow I feel that their minimalism is too small for me.
And perhaps their freedom is too big for me right now.
I absolutely think Chris’ quest of visiting every country in the world is bloody awesome, and I extremely admire Leo for raising 6 kids while at the same time be able to write some of the most zen, balanced blog posts of this decade.
But neither of their ideals is my ideal.
So I adhere to their overall ideas, but I tweak them to my more capitalistic ideal.
I know my next car will be a luxury German car, because out of the 7 cars I owned so far, my Audi A4 was by far the best car of all of them.
So when we move back to Belgium we’ll go back to Audi.
Or maybe BMW or Mercedes.
Whatever brand we end up chosen, it will cost money.
Which is fine, I’ll “right-size” our income to make sure we can afford this.
Because I don’t believe anymore that money can’t buy you happiness.
I believe it does.
The difficult part is figuring out the right size of happiness you want first.
And only in a second step, calculate how much money that happiness is going to cost you.
And then enjoy the ride that will get you to that right size of happiness.

Right-sizing my life is also about clarity.
I’m the kind of person who needs quite some me-time.
With work, family, commute and so on, for a very long time that felt like a problem.
And it’s still not ideal because I have a hard time admitting to myself the things that I really want.
For example, meditation.
I know I need to meditate at least 3 or more times per week, even if it is only 3 10 minutes sessions.
And yet, I still let other, less important stuff take up that time.
For one because I am too bloody afraid to admit that my wife is actually ok with me meditating.
Probably because I wasn’t ready to admit that sitting still and just letting go for 10 minutes or even an hour is worthwhile doing.
Now I do.
So now I often just sit and be OK with it, even with other people around.

Anyway, enough of my strugglings trying to figure out the right size of my life today.
Feels like a lot of rambling.
Just for me.
And that’s like breaking all the rules of the blogger gurus out there who all claim you sould write about what your audience wants to hear.
Oh well, I’ve recently learned I need to make my own rules anyway, so fuck the gurus of blogging.
Oh wait, isn’t that what this blog was all about in the first place?
Funny how I keep forgetting that:

This is the place where gurus come to die.
And idols, leaders and specialists.
Because nobody’s perfect.
And I’m done trying to be nobody.

Maybe I’ll share with you all what my size of happiness for January 1st 2014 looks like as I’ve actually got that one figured out.
It’s just that it’s quite detailed.
One thing I can share though is my 20 year financial vision.
And that is to have $16,000,000 cash in my bank account.
Not really a minimalistic goal, hey?
And compared to Donald Trump’s billions, not super-sized either.
Just the right size of 20 year vision for me.
Although it does feel like a random number sometimes to me, it is also the number that comes up when I ask myself the question of how my ideal financial situation in 20 years from now looks like.
And it has come up for the last 5 years, which makes it a lot less random right?

No idea why $16M, no idea how I’m going to get there and absolutely not attached to this future event whatsoever.
But somehow it feels good to have a number.
One less question to worry about.

A tipping point, the moment you start building

For years I have done my job.

For years I have served customers as a sales rep.
I made sure I understood their needs and went to the edge to make sure I offered them the best solution we had available.
I even went as far to tell my colleagues what they needed even if we didn’t have it.
At that time I didn’t really understood why I did it, it felt like the right thing to do.
Then I moved to marketing and did the same on a different scale.
I identified whole segments of customers with similar needs.
I was fortunate enough to work with R&D and Product Managers who did the same.
Which meant they had built products that would fit those needs.
Now I feel it is time for the next step.
Because along the way I learned something else.
I learned that the more you serve customers on an ever broader scale, you are inevitably doing something else.
You reach the limit as to what you as an individual can do.
Not only that, you also learn where your strengths and weaknesses are.
Which leads to an interesting insight that all of a sudden you create a need for stuff for which you need other peoples input and time.
And at first that scared me, because I somehow felt guilty for creating extra work for people who are already extremely busy.
Turns out I was wrong.
Turns out that if the return is there and it is big enough, that investment is worthwhile.
Because everybody wins.
The company wins as it is getting back more than it puts in.
The customers win because they get better products or services which will accelerate whatever job it is they are doing.
And most importantly, we all win.
Think about it, we all know unemployement rates are higher than they have been in decades.
So what does the world need?
Exactly, people who create profitable work for themselves, but more importantly for others too.
It is also interesting to note that this goes for knowledge as well.
At a certain point you’ve reached a certain level of knowledge and wisdom where every addition is only limited incremental.
That’s the point where you realize there is more to win by sharing the knowledge you already posses.
Because everybody is going to transfer that knowledge in their own wisdom.
And that is a fantastic breeding ground for new ideas, innovations and giant leaps forward.
So if you have reached your limits of what you can do, share, get others involved.
At the end everybody wins.
You’ll see that the areas where the wins and profits are, are the ones where you most easily get others to get on board with you.
Have fun!

Perseverance and the power to let go.

Two of the most important skills I´ve learned over the years are at the same time very contradictory.
And the power to let go.

When I was younger I went through life with ease.
School was easy.
Life was fun.
Friends were plenty.

When I went to university I learned the most important skill of all.
To be happy.
By my own choices and actions.
Not driven by society or what other people want from me or for me.

That had me going for a number of years.
Until you get to a point where you kinda have everything you really need.

Like a career.
A house.
A healthy family.
Two cars on the driveway.
And a bunch of hobbies.
Some/most people stop here.

I didn’t.

Because I felt there was a next level.

It’s in the moment when you realise your happiness depends on other people´s happiness.
The moment you want to play your part in the chain of events that we call history.
Not necessarily to become famous or be remembered.
You just want to make a difference.
Leave this place better than how you found it.

So you start looking for goals and accomplishments that are bigger than you.
Goals that require for you to work with others, simply because they are too big for 1 man alone.
Or that take a very long time to accomplish.
And that´s when you realise you need new skills.

Perseverance is definitely one of those skills you can´t go without anymore.

Perseverance to keep going even if you have failed for a long time. Failed more times than you can remember.
Perseverance to achieve a goal that takes a number of years. So far away you can’t even see what the goal actually looks like.
Perseverance to look for yet another possible solution when so many have failed already.
Perseverance to stick to your goal even when it seems you will never reach it.
When you feel like you have no fucking clue how to even do it.
Sometimes you don´t know exactly what the goal is that you are trying to achieve.
When it is just a hunch or a gut feeling of a goal you have.

With perseverance comes the willingness to let go.
Because sticking to one thing means that you have to be able to let go of a large number of other things you could do.
Letting go of things that you are just not good at.
And by doing so allowing others to do it for you.
Funny thing is that those people who are good at stuff you suck at, enjoy doing those things for you.

Letting go.

The older I get the more I understand how opposites always go together.

Willekeurige paden

De distels die opspringen tussen de treinsporen.

Treinsporen, zwart, die er al zo lang liggen dat ze bijna natuurlijk lijken in plaats van door mensen gemaakte verstoringen van de natuur.

En een pad, ergens tussen al die sporen. Kronkelend, schots en scheef aangelegd.

Maar vooral een pad dat willekeurig, zo lijkt het althans, ergens stopt. Halverwege de elf, naast mekaar lopende treinsporen. Alsof wie er ook gebruik van maakt alleen bij de linkse zes sporen moet zijn. En nooit bij de overige vijf zal moeten zijn.

Willekeur, of tenminste de schijn ervan, ik blijf het er moeilijk mee hebben. 

Want willekeur is het niet. Ooit heeft iemand beslist dat dat voetpad tot daar moet komen.

De reden, nu zoveel jaren later, niet meer terug te halen.

Wat blijft is een overpeinzing van een treinreiziger. Op weg voor zijn werk.

Op een veel te vroege zondagochtend.


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