Essentials of Happiness

May 12, 2011

The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
– Allan K. Chalmers –

Pretty obvious, right? How come so few people actually do it then? Right! Most people have something to do, but do they love what they are doing? Are you doing what you love to do? If you don’t know the answer, chances are that you don’t. If you do, are you sure? You see, most people think they love what they are doing, but are actually pretending it or are rather feeling stuck in their everyday life. And they fail to admit it. But that’s not you, right?

So, tell me what do you hope for? World Peace, a clean environment, winning the lottery and traveling the world to spend all you money? Mmm, I see. Most people keep on dreaming and take no action towards their dreams and hopes. So, what action are you taking? Are you willing to share? Let’s hear it!

And of course, you are wondering what the deal is for me, right?
Well, I love what I do : create, connect & contribute. Starting our newest program : Generous Networkers (in Dutch) really fits in nicely.  On top of that I also love to give presentations, workshops and trainings on networking, LinkedIn and of course Genius Shortcuts!

I love Tonia, my wife and soulmate. And of course, my family and friends too!

I hope for improving this world and creating more happiness. And I take consistently action to make this happening. I know, I’ll do it my way…somebody else’s famous quote 🙂

Triple Truth

February 24, 2011

“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

– Buddha –

I love this quote. It instantly became one of my favorite ones! It is so true too. As I already explained in Be Generous, a generous heart is what most people are lacking. A lot of us are coming from a place of scarcity instead of abundance. By being generous we not only are happy to give, we actually help others as well. On top of that, they might pass it on too! If you help a family by financing a child’s education, you are helping the whole family. Why? When that child graduates and gets a better paid job, it can take care of the family too. This is a way out of their poverty.

Kind speech is a talent that most of us should develop. When you talk to others, find kind things to say about them. How often do we give a compliment? Hardly ever, right? See what happens if you start handing out compliments (that are meant of course)!

A life of service and compassion is also one of my personal raisons d’être. Helping others, being of service, listening to their needs and giving a hand where possible are all forms of this. Sometimes it does not take much to take a step that means the world to others. So, what’s keeping you from doing it yourself? I invite you to start today. What can you do to contribute? Even if it’s a small thing, you are still making a difference!

Thank you for stepping up!

Be Generous

January 1, 2011

“Generosity during life is a very different thing from generosity in the hour of death; one proceeds from genuine liberality and benevolence, the other from pride or fear.”

– Horace Mann –

What is generosity? Wikipedia has it right : “Generosity is the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need.” This is completely in line with what we teach at Networking Coach with the first fundamental principle of Networking : the Networking Attitude also known as “Give and Receive“. To me it is in essence a sincere desire to make others’ lives easier or more pleasant.

Why would you want to be generous? “There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life — happiness, freedom, and peace of mind — are always attained by giving them to someone else.”

– Peyton Conway March –

It is a fact that generous people are happier in life. They feel that their life is more meaningful and they appreciate it more. Being a generous person will help you feel better about yourself and the world around you.

Now, what does it take to Be Generous? In fact, very little. Here are 5 steps on how to become more generous :

  1. Start with being generous to yourself. By doing that you are able to be open to and respond to the needs of others. Because most of us, do not actually start with themselves, here is my personal tip : start this week, undertake one pleasurable activity for yourself and one equally pleasurable activity that will benefit another person.
  2. Continue to give, even if it is small stuff. Remember : It’s all about the small stuff! Give things away that cost you little or nothing. Have you recently walked around? Did you notice how few people actually smile? What is the effect of giving a smile to someone? Right! Here is something else I do : when drinking something in a bar and I am about to leave, I also pay for another table of people I don’t know. Of course, I don’t tell them and just leave. You see, it’s not about me giving it, it’s about them receiving it. How much does it cost? On average about 10 euro (13 $). That’s all it takes to make people happy! 🙂
  3. Grow into “being” generous. As you are consciously generous to others, it will get easier and easier. Soon the time will come when you are automatically generous. A pleasant side effect is that others will be more generous to you. You will experience that “what goes around, comes around.” A simple approach is to reflect on what you have in your current life. What do you really need? What did you spend money on that you do not need (anymore)? Start giving it away to others who really need it. Or sell it and give the money to charity. Have you heard about “Random Acts of Kindness“?
  4. Give it forward. Being generous is also contagious, so if you show generosity towards one person then that person might show generosity towards somebody else. If you have not seen it yet : Pay it forward. Watch it and think how you can help generosity forward.
  5. Change the world. One step at a time. One person can change the world! Are you that person? A great example is Bärli von Toggenburg. With his Colour the World Foundation he made a big impression on me. With his 9300 km solo-bicycle expedition from New Delhi (India) to Switzerland he raised 180,000 euro (240K $) for leprosy-sufferers in India and Cambodia. You surely remember the Star Thrower (Read this short version). Bärli made a big difference for those leprosy-sufferers! Are you willing to step up too?

Yes, I am committed to step up and be more generous! In 2011 another big step forward in being generous will be achieved! A very promising program will be launched : The Generous Networker. Stay tuned and participate too! Now that you know what my next steps are, what are yours? How generous will you be? What will you do to be generous in 2011? Are you a person that will change the world? Let me know if you need any help, ok?

It’s fab to fail!

December 23, 2010

It’s fabulous to fail! Yes, that’s right: It’s fab to fail!

Why? The more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed!

For most people, failure is considered a (very) negative thing. As with fear, many people get paralyzed by failure. By avoiding failure, we end up limiting our success. Just to be clear: We need to focus on trying to succeed, not trying to fail!

You see, instead of handling failure poorly, we should handle it in a better way: it’s a learning opportunity! Be happy with yourself for trying…Why did you fail? What lessons can you learn from it? What can you do to make sure you avoid failure again?

For me, failure is bad, if indeed we don’t learn from it. If we don’t change anything and fail again (and again) the next time.

I sometimes look at failure as a test. “I thought I had a great strategy, but apparently it wasn’t the case.” I will get up (again), learn and tap into my creativity to unlock new approaches and better strategies. To overcome failure, something must change, so you start to analyze, examine and scrutinize. You adapt and grow!

Another common reaction to failure is this one: “If I don’t succeed perfectly the first time I try, I have failed.” Nobody will try out something new and do it perfectly the first time! Remember how long it took to learn how to ride a bike or drive a car? Right! As an ex-perfectionist, I also advise you to avoid perfection! One way of doing that is to let go of the outcome. Easier said than done, I agree. Still, there is a way: Create a better set of rules for yourself. “As long as I learn from what I am doing wrong, I am succeeding” or If I give it my best shot, regardless of the outcome, I succeed!”

If you keep in mind what happens in the movies, you will also agree that sometimes heroes are not as successful as they appear. Every hero is successful at the first try. NOT! They often fail (more than once!). What they do differently is they keep pushing forward. They learn from their mistakes and adapt. They sometimes fail spectacularly, but yet they push further and they ultimately get what they want. It can happen to you too! Only if you are willing to learn from your mistakes! So, it’s fab to fail, because you will discover new insights and you are about to have a breakthrough. You are in the process of growing and another step closer to what you want!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

– Thomas Edison –

My final question is: Look back at your last failure. What did you learn from it? Thanks for sharing!

Time is Limited

November 18, 2010

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

– Steve Jobs –

Too many people are living someone else’s life. Over and over again I meet people in my coaching practice who are stuck. They are stuck because it became impossible to keep up with the rat-race. Burnout or worse! Most of them come to the conclusion that they are actually fulfilling someone else’s dreams. What happened? They took over dreams and wishes of someone else and made them there own. They thought they needed a bigger car, a nicer house, a boat, etc. Now they need to face the fact that they don’t like their job. They lost their family (or nearly) because they are never there for them. They have a significant amount loaned and probably no idea how to keep paying for them, besides working even more.

Why did this happen? I am surprised at the number of people who have no clue about what they want with their life. They have no clear goals or dreams. So, they copy the ones from others, thinking it will be ok. Only to wake up a number of years later in an unsustainable situation. Is this you?

Time to wake up! So, I invite you think about your life. Are your living the life of your dreams? Are you having fun every day? What needs to be done to achieve that? Right, make up your mind first! Start with a list today. Give your own dreams a chance and write them down. Share them with your family and friends. Share them with your network. You might be surprised who could help you achieve them…

Feel your soul

August 23, 2010

I’m old enough to see behind me
But young enough to feel my soul

-Lenny Kravitz-

Wise words indeed, from Lenny’s song “Can’t Get You off of my Mind”. What I particularly would like to ask is, how do you feel your soul? When do you know you are feeling your soul?

Interesting, right? Let me know if you have found the answer…

We sometimes do things that really fulfill us or are so in line with who we are. Does this mean we are feeling our soul?

I told you the Banana Man Kevin‘s story already. When he watched the BBC documentary, was his soul touched? Was that the reason he would spend all his savings on feeding starving children. The drive to do that was much higher than himself. He told me he could not think of anything else. It was impossible to do something else…Does this mean he was feeling his soul?

What about that indescribable feeling you get when you meet your soulmate? By the way, what is a soulmate? Wikipedia tells us: “A soulmate or soul mate is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep and natural affinity, love, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, and/orcompatibility. A related concept is that of the twin flame or twin soul – which is thought to be the ultimate soulmate, the one and only other half of one’s soul, for which all souls are driven to find and join.”

So, are we now talking about our own soul or that of our soulmate too? Are we 1 soul? Can we touch it? How?

I am doing research on this. If you have any answers, I invite you to share them. We might get a feeling for it 🙂

Not Afraid

August 13, 2010

I‘m not afraid to take a stand
Everybody come take my hand
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just let you know that, you’re not alone
Holla if you feel that you’ve been down the same road

– Eminem, Not Afraid –

We all have our fears. Some more than others. What are you afraid of? Me, I used to be afraid to stand up and talk before an audience. Not any more. Not even before unknown audiences or in other countries. Not even if something goes wrong, like a computer crash, no internet, heat, cold, no  mic…A couple of months ago I even took over a session of a friend, who got sick on stage. I stood up, walked up and continued his session. I had no clue what he had prepared, so I had to improvise and managed it very well. Without fear or nerves.

What happened? Like many keynote speakers I learned to get rid of my fear. How did I do this? Instead of running away from my fears, which is what most people do, I decided to face my fears! Every opportunity I got, I stood up, first hesitating, of course, then with more and more confidence.

Why? I tricked myself…Of course, I started with telling (practical) jokes to friends (small audiences), asking questions during seminars or trainings I attended as a participant. It takes courage to stand up and ask your question. And it better be a good question, right? So, I started with small exercises, then moved on to introduce speakers on stage. And at one point in time I was asked to give a session to a professional audience. I was an undercover student (clients didn’t know I was still a student) and there I suddenly had to give someone else’s presentation. Nervous at first, I surprisingly felt rather comfortable, because I knew the topic very well (As an expert, it doesn’t matter which questions they ask…bring it on!). And then I used a trick: I told myself I was playing a game. How well can you pretend to be a good speaker? Would anyone notice that I am just a student? So, I played this game and WON! No one ever knew! So, if you are uncertain, see if this trick could also work for you…You got game? 🙂

By the way, if you are prepared well, you also know who will be in your audience. Did you adapt your speech to them? Are you using examples they understand? How well will you interact with them or fulfill their expectations? Interesting to know these answers before you get on stage! Did you ask?

Also, learning from peers helps tremendously too. As Eminem sings…you are not alone. Every speaker, trainer or coach went through it as well ( or still is!), so by exchanging experiences you can help each other. Focus on the positive things first. What is he/she doing right? Might be hard at first, but even the worst keynotes still have value to learn from. Can you discover what it is? Share your thoughts. If you receive feedback from others, first take it in, before your defense goes up. Don’t take yourself so seriously! Listen to what others are saying. Reflect on it. Are they right? Why (not)? Then decide if you change . Just postpone your judgement and act later…

One final thing. Be kind to yourself! Remember: Everyone has to learn. Every time you faced your fears and overcome them, reward yourself. It can be as simple as taking in the applause the audience gives you. It can be enjoying the compliments some people give you. It can be you, giving yourself a high five or big smile. You just won the game : You – Fear : 1 – 0!  🙂

So, wrapping up, here are a couple of tips if you are afraid of public speaking:

  1. know your subject (you are the expert because you are on stage, not them)
  2. know your audience (who is there? what do they expect?)
  3. be prepared and show up early
  4. take any opportunity to speak, even if it is by asking questions from the audience first
  5. ask feedback, from the audience, but also from peers
  6. go to other keynote speakers and learn from them
  7. Trust yourself and reward yourself everytime by enjoying the applause. You earned it!

Letting Go

April 20, 2010

What can you let go?

We all have our own routines, and habits we take for granted. Some even call it rituals. Some of these might be draining our energy and distracting us from the truly important things in life. Would eliminating them free up time, energy and money?Really? Of course it would! The question is which ones do you consider to let go? Is it your daily Starbuck’s coffee on the way to the office or your afternoon snack? Is it your quest for the perfect car, the latest blockbuster DVD or that extra pair of designer shoes? Is it that after work drink with colleagues or your habit of eating out every day? Can it be your mobile phone upgrade to the next gadget or hype? What about those take-out meals or overrated posh vacations?

Indeed, we can certainly live with less, but what are we prepared to let go? Are all these things really what we were longing for? Let’s be honest here. Some things were bought because we felt the social pressure from our peers, friends, neighbours, etc. So, are you living their lives or your own? Let’s imagine you could choose again. What would you leave out? Probably a lot that you own right now. That’s exactly what we are looking for!

Oh, by the way, I bought a book recently (“Give It Up!” by Mary Carlomagno) about giving up a certain habit for 1 moth. She eliminates unnecessary facets of life, in order to determine what she could live without. You need examples? Think about alcohol, chocolate, television, dining out, elevators or cell phones. Isn’t that a great challenge? I dare you…

Let me finish with a great Buddhist saying (yes, I read it daily, because it hangs on our wall, thanks for asking!) that gives me a lot to think about:

“In the end what matters most is:
How well did you live
How well did you love
How well did you learn to let go”

So, just out of personal curiosity, what are you prepared to let go? And how well did you learn to let it go?

We Change

January 6, 2010

“Things do not change, we change.”

– Henry David Thoreau –

What if I would invite you to a “Walden”-vacation, where you recreate Thoreau’s world famous 19th century retreat? You’d have to survive without your mobile, computer, internet, tv, car, Twitter and to make it worse also without electricity or indoor plumbing (sic!). Of course, you’d be carrying your own luggage, preferably a backpack. The planned excursions include starting a camp fire, sleeping in a tent, enjoying the beautiful scenery around you, getting closer to nature, creating friendships for life, contemplating on your life, setting up an action plan and doing nothing. Also enjoying the silence is an all-time favorite! 🙂

Would you sign up? Thoreau did. And he enjoyed it. When I walked my camino to Spain, I enjoyed it too! I came a lot closer to nature those days.

Anyway, all this to tell you that Thoreau longed to simplify his life, free himself from distraction and find more meaning in life. He believed that by changing his environment, he would change something inside of him. A couple of weeks ago I changed my environment also. And it worked! More flow, more results and I started 2010 as a happy camper 🙂

As you know, we sold our house and we’ll change our environment again. I am looking forward to it!

So, are you ready to simplify your life? What are your next steps to change your environment?

GTD with fun

September 2, 2009

“Getting Things Done with Fun”

– Bert Verdonck –

This is definitely another perfect quote for me. GTDWF, Getting Things Done with Fun! What I really mean is that a lot of people are so focused on GTD alone that their life becomes a mechanical process. They might have a “mind like water”, but are they happy? Do they have fun? Some successful GTD-addicts don’t know what to do with their free time? How’s that possible? Why did they start applying GTD in the first place?

So, as a Creator,  I know that I always want to improve things. I am great at starting new things and new projects. And I admit, I am sometimes less of a finsiher. But, I am always looking to have fun! And the fun takes me to some extra steps, sometimes the necessary ones to finish a certain project. Here is my advice : Have fun, always!

It’s up to you to do something with it (or not). And if you’d be looking for ways to improve your life, how would you approach GTD with more fun? What action do you take?

Anyway, have fun in the process, always 🙂