Change & Transformation
To manage change, you need to follow a process.
For a transformation, you need the right attitude.
Change doesn't require a new attitude, transformation does.
Change is about information, skills, knowledge.
Transformation is about attitude.
People can change all the time.
Transformation is more rare. But when it happens, it moves.
Change fixes the past. Transformation creates the future.
Practicing Balance & Being Balanced
I've decided to stop trying to find balance. I don't think it's possible nor realistic. As soon as you find 'it' and are momentarily balanced, something happens and you feel out of balance.
Instead, I've decided to simply practice balancing. Sometimes, I need training wheels to keep my balance. Other times, I feel balanced riding without.
Being balanced is not a one-time event. Balancing is an everyday practice. And sometimes you still need your training wheels.
Asking the question WHY in my coaching sessions doesn't happen so often.
You may be asking yourself, 'But why?'
The question WHY seeks rationalization and can cause us to create and put into words a list of rational reasons for our decisions or actions. These reasons may or may not be true and may or may not actually be helpful. They only answer the question WHY.
When we ask WHY, we embed ourselves deeper and deeper into our already exsiting beliefs and opinions. It often leads us to feel and be defensive. When we are defensive, we are not open to new ideas and possibilities and able to learn. Coaching - without the why - provides the structure through questioning to stretch your existing beliefs and opitions and offer new perspectives and options.
Someone says: I can’t.
A possible response: Why not?
WHY focuses us on the past and moves us backwards towards reasons and memories.
Instead of asking WHY, try asking:
What stops you? -- Switches the focus on the barrier itself and what is stopping you.
What would happen if you could? – Begins the process of imagining solving the problem. This can be a very powerful question. As a consequence of the way our brains process the language of the question, we don’t even really think about what is happening. In order to answer the question, we have to imagine that we have solved the problem.
Through our own answer, we give ourselves options and resources we didn’t know existed and the empowerment to take action. In addition, we can find hidden thoughts (fears, stress, etc.) about what we think if we actually did it. Often times it is here where we can see the once hidden barriers to making changes.
Quick Tips for Replacing WHY
I’ve included a handful of other questions to answer the ‘I can’t’ in your life.
For me, ‘I can’t’ isn’t a reason why I can or cannot do something. It's just an action verb.
Asking other kinds of questions can lead us to figure out what we can do, what we really want do and how we can do it.
The Big One
Which cultural differences have had the biggest impact on your cultural adjustment?
The time of soccer
While I was walking back home this morning from our little neighborhood bakery, one of the reasons I like living here, I noticed that it is that time again. The German Flag Time.
German flags are out hanging. Out of windows. Attached to cars and rear-view mirrors. On t-shirts. On kids' faces. It isn't too much. It's just right, in my opinion. I like seeing the red, gold and black. And perhaps, just as it was in 2006, a lighter feeling and mood will come with the colors as the German National Soccer team continues with the FIFA World Cup.
As I see these flags, I can't help but smile. I like to see this German pride, even if through superficial though meaningful things like a flag. Even if some would say it is 'only' because of soccer, it still makes me smile.
German national and regional pride is something I continue to try to understand here. When do you see it? How do you see it? Who is allowed to show it? Who is not? What is German pride today?
I know part of my interest in national pride is because of where I grew up and the strong superficial 'stuff' as well as deep values around pride that surrounded me during my childhood. I think about the US American flag at Perkins. Is there a bigger flag anywhere? It is one of those things I thought was huge when I was a little kid and still think it's huge today as a big kid.
It's nice to 'see' this German pride, even if it's only for a while this summer.
So you think you are a 'non-working accompanying spouse'? Gave up a job, a career for this move?
What matters when you're 'new'
Time and time again, we find our clients have similar concerns and questions. Upon moving to a new country and starting anew, people want-need to:
Caterpillar Spirit News: June 2014
Growing & Sweating
'The only time you actually grow is when you are out of your comfort zone.'
These aren't my words, but I've been told this is true.
I went to my second Bikram Yoga class yesterday. 'Second' meaning my first one was 10 years ago. I guess the first time was so hot (literally) that I needed a decade to cool off.
To say the least, I was hot, sweating and clearly out of my comfort zone. The people around me amazed me with how they moved with grace as I felt my thighs and knees shaking as I was trying to find my balance.
I'll be back tomorrow for another stretch outside of my comfort zone. They say the second class is the 'fun class'. We'll see.
And you? How are you stretching outside of your comfort zone today?
From the Archives.
Sometimes is takes a few more words and a few more sentences than you originally thought. Please be patient. This post is quite long. We hope you enjoy it!
As I just completed reading two books this past weekend, Kitchen Table Wisdom and The Omnivore's Dilemma, it should not come as a surprise that I found myself thinking and now writing about two things, our own kitchen table, specifically the number of memories and moments this table has been a part of since it became ours in 2003, and food. There is nothing really special about the table itself. It has four legs, four chairs and a bench. But yet there is something so special about it, all at the same time.
This is very much the table where it all began. This is the table where I began to get to know a certain German expatriate who had recently moved to the United States. We had our unofficial first date dinner at this table set in his scarcely decorated new apartment. We sat at the table and he asked what I would like for dinner, as he handed me two take out menus, Chinese or pizza? We set the table and enjoyed our first meal together at this table.
This is the table where I slowly started to transition out of my job in Minneapolis during the spring of 2006. Where I started working from home, at this kitchen table with my laptop, and where I crafted my bright idea (or so I thought at the time) to continue in the same job, despite moving to Germany. This is the table where I received and responded to their unacceptance of said bright idea and where I found myself sitting at the table, soon to be unemployed, about to get married, and moving to Germany.
This is the table where my future mother-in-law offered me her first name and the 'Du' informal way of addressing her in German during a dinner shortly before we got married. I was not expecting this and missed the offering until it was repeated.
This is the table we used to celebrate our marriage ceremony with traditional black forest cake and coffee on a very hot July summer day.
This is the table we have sat at and celebrated the beginning of the New Year with my parents, trying fondue for the first time. This is the table where we've had long chats, happy and sad, with our parents, friends, siblings, godparents, nieces and nephews.
This is the table where we had to convince my nephew to try the fancy macaroni and cheese Onkel Roland made or for those of you who know this area of Germany, Käsespätzle. As long as there was the chance to put ketchup on it, everything was ok!
I've used this table as a make-shift meeting table and held coaching sessions, English lessons and a handful of business meetings with coffee and cake at this table.
Every September and April, we have come to celebrate, often times just the two of us, our birthdays. Simple breakfasts with waffles, strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Though the location of the table has changed over the years, the celebration stays the same.
To be clear, I actually inherited this kitchen table. Roland purchased it when he first moved to the US. I didn't have a kitchen table at that point in my life. I was living in a studio apartment and I was happy to just have room for a bed. Like so many things in our life, we've shared and blended our material possessions as well as our languages, values and cultural traditions.
This is the table where we ate fresh Maine lobster. Roland was having it for the first time and I was able to share the part of my life and family connected to Maine with him.
This is the table where we've celebrated Christmas with our now mixed traditional meal of pigs in a blanket, rabbit, red cabbage, and twice baked potatoes.
We've celebrated a handful of Thanksgivings at this table, presenting the prized turkey and sharing this important holiday for me with friends and neighbors but not my extended family. It's the table where I realized I needed to tell our German guests that the formed jello - marshmallow - cream - fruit - salad was part of the main meal and not the dessert.
This is the table where we celebrated the Superbowl in 2005 as well as the World Cup in 2010 with friends who live near and far.
This is the table that was all of a sudden gone and packed away in a container on its way to Germany. I remember standing in our empty dining room remembering where the table once was, just a few hours prior.
I sometimes find myself complaining that the table is too small or the wood is too dark. Sometimes I wish for a bigger table so that we could fit more people at one table instead of putting three different tables together. But when I really think about it, I think this table is big enough. It is big enough to hold all of the memories so far and all of those which will come.
What memories that kitchen table will hold in the future, I do not know. Perhaps a high chair or two, or a booster seat. Perhaps as we get older, the chairs will need to have a softer cushion so we can sit on them.
This table sees the changes of seasons every year. From fall to winter and spring to summer. I change the table cloth, decorations, napkins and placemats. It is as if, even though the seasons come and go and the decorations change, the table stays the same.
It's a metaphor for me, I suppose. Time keeps moving, life keeps changing, yet some things always stay the same. In a world which is changing at a pace I can sometimes barely keep up with, this is a comforting thought for me.
Even if it is 'just' a table.
But perhaps it is so much more. Through the changes and moves, a new beginning, tearful conversations and moments of celebration, it has been a place for me to come to, to sit at and to connect with others. I wonder what could happen if we all spent a bit more time at our own kitchen tables.
Some expatriates decide to leave their material possessions behind in their home country for a variety of reasons. Be it financial, the length of time in the host country, or a fear of damaging special pieces. I understand this. However, upon arriving in a strange new place, where you are trying to create a new home in a new house, having a kitchen table can give you comfort. Something familiar in an unfamiliar place. This is why I think you must take the kitchen table with you.
The next time we move, when and where I do not know, I am unsure if we will be able to take all of our material possessions with us. If we will have the financial ability to pay for a large container. But I do know that our kitchen table with be with us. I don't know where that will be, where our kitchen table will end up next, what country, what house, or apartment.
I do know, though, that the memories will remain, regardless of where we end up next.
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