A very good friend of mine once told me that life is all about treasuring, cultivating, nurturing and enjoying the various moments of happiness we get exposed to over the course of our lifetimes. You know how it goes, they are very brief moments, rather fulfilling, sharp, intense, transient and hardly noticeable, unless you pay rather close, good attention to them by always staying alert!, since, before you realise about it, they are just gone. For good! Pretty much like when they came your way.
They keep saying that it is those moments of true happiness that make everything worth while, even going through the most painful of experiences; those ones we are supposedly learning the most from time and time again. The ones that shape us into becoming who we are eventually, the ones that help us provoke those moments of happiness themselves over the course of time, making us realise why they are so much worth while anticipating and waiting for all along and why that wait is always worth it. Even if it takes 92 years. Well, I think I may have just experienced one of those true moments of happiness for which it’s going to become rather tough to wake up from. Not that I would ever want to do that, but I know, at some point, I will have to. We will all have to.
As most folks out there would know by now, this blog post doesn’t have much to do with the usual topics I get to cover over here, but yesterday evening the Spanish national football (= soccer) team did it again! Once again, and it’s something that we are becoming too much used to, and perhaps we shouldn’t!, they won the title from a major competition, that one of the Euro Cup 2012 and entered the books of history, managing to win three major titles over the last 4 years (Euro Cup in 2008, World Cup in 2010 and Euro Cup in 2012, once more!), that no other national team has ever matched anywhere! How can’t you not enjoy such a moment of true happiness and pure bliss, right?!?! It’s exhilarating altogether on its own to no end! A once in a lifetime experience! Literally!!
Yes, I know and I do fully realise that Spain, my home country, is not going through one of its best moments as a nation, with the well known mantra “Made in Spain”, and part of the European Union, due, perhaps, in part, to the rampant unemployment rate, a rather weakened economy by ruthless, unpunished financial speculators (Amongst others), plenty of natural catastrophes that have happened lately and to be governed, politically and economically, throughout the last few years, by corruption, fraud, greed and power struggles. Yes, the usual thing that a bunch of other European, and worldwide, countries are going through at the moment as well, but perhaps with a much more dramatic flavour added to it altogether.
The thing is though that we are still standing. 4 years have gone by and we are still standing. Perhaps that’s one of the last few things that will always be with us, that we can fall down, break a bone or two in the process, but stand up again. And again, and again. It’s what shapes nations over the course of centuries. It’s what makes them, and their people, tougher. You know how it goes, what doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger. And that cannot be more real in today’s financial turmoil and econoclypse. But then again, just like Spain has done with its national football team, there has got to be a time when that has got to stop, when power, greed and money no longer rule, where we can ponder about what things were wrong, how we could address them and try to fix each and everyone of them. More than anything else, because the alternative continues to be just too ugly to face and, also, because deep inside our hearts, we know where the main issues are and how we could tackle them eventually.
I mean, taking further on the analogy from football, I remember the days, the decades, actually, when the national Spanish football team was rather mediocre, not having the right mentality, the right team spirit, the ability and eagerness to improve things, the sacrifice of one self for the others helping them become better at what they normally do, the innate talent willing to be shared across without asking much in return to achieve a common purpose, that little bit of luck you always need to achieve your goals, etc. etc., and eventually, with a touch of bad luck to add further up, we kept getting kicked out of major tournament after major tournament making it all almost far too embarrassing to notice.
Too painful to watch and experience. Even too frustrating to bear. But then again, we stood up. You could probably say that Spaniards, in general, are rather stubborn and resilient on their ways. But back in the day, by the late 80s, there was this brilliant, committed, modest, truly gifted generation of young players who gathered together thanks to the efforts from a superb initiative on working things out right from the base, starting when they were all young, and grow that over the course of time through lots of hard work, effort, energy, sacrifice, talent, education, team spirit, modesty, and a strong sense of achievement never seen before, along with a very well defined style, i.e. the tiqui taka, which has proved to be unbeatable over the last few years, and which confirms, once again, the power of groups & networks in helping achieve a common goal. The goal.
And there you have it, after a couple of decades gone by already, collecting the harvest of all of that hard work, good education and training, and true team spirit has paid off, once again. And it all started with small steps, right when that bunch of very talented players were really young. That’s perhaps the secret of the success for a national soccer team, but may be also for an entire country to start looking for ways of abandoning that catastrophic state of making ends meet barely through the econoclypse just because we have been looking at the wrong end of the equation from day one. It’s through that education, hard work, motivation and inspiration that young modest players have kept turning an entire country upside down over the last 4 years providing us all with that huge rush of delightful happy moments of pride of what one can achieve if it is given the right values on what really matters. The small things. As usual.
Yes, I do realise that this new achievement from our Spanish national football team is going to last probably too little, specially, looking back into today’s financial turmoil and appalling government policies (From past and present), but if there is anything that should help us all remember, and treasure, quite a bit!, is the fact that those moments of happiness we enjoyed last night, and probably today, are now ours. Forever. For good. They just can’t take them away from us. It’s part of our common psyche, as a nation, and if we have been able to raise over and over again over the course of decades from bad results after bad results, yesterday evening’s victory should remind us all, as we treasure and seize the moment, where the key of success really is: go out and seek desperately, work your b*tt off like you have never seen nor done before, provoke that moment of happiness and don’t let anyone take it away from you. Enjoy it!
They have continued to make us feel proud for what they keep achieving time and time again. They have shown us the way of what’s possible, of the potential we all have when we want to strike for those happy moments, so whenever someone reminds you of where you are today, as a nation, kindly educate them on what we know, and have been educated, best over the course of decades: stand up and fight for your happiness, because no-one else will. Now, it’s up to you, me, and everyone else, to up the game and show how well we are all playing this football match called “life”.
So far, those young, talented boys, have shown us the way. They have shown us how the impossible does no longer exist. How if you would want to achieve it, because that’s what you would want to do, there is a great chance that you will, so you better be prepared to act accordingly. That’s what moments of happiness are all about and, again, remember, that no-one can take those away from you. They are all your own to be nurtured and treasured right from the beginning! For as long as you would want to!
My dear national Spanish football team, thanks ever so much for allowing us to experience one of the most unforgettable evenings *ever* that will surely occupy a dear place in each and everyone of our hearts for many years to come. Thank you sincerely for showing an entire nation, and probably the rest of the world, how, with a good dose of talent, hard work, effort, motivation, team spirit, and unselfish collaborative effort, the impossible is our new reality . What we live and strive for. Our motivation to move forward. Our way to show everyone that power and greed are never the way. They never have. That sustainable growth, as a group with a core mission, will probably pay off much better eventually. At least, the teams will be happy, content, with what they have delivered. I bet that’s how you are feeling right now, watching us from the short distance, and that’s exactly how we are sensing it from the other side. Admiration does not even come close to describe how we feel. So thanks much for that!
We will never forget!
I am sure that this may have just happened to everyone out there and on a rather regular basis, too! Specially, if you are a blogger! Just as I was putting together a blog post on the topic of the 40-Hour Work Week (- “The Magic of Sustainable Growth”), which I published a couple of days ago I happened to bump into another really interesting and worth while watching video clip that touched quite a bit on the very same topic that I covered on that article: work life balance, although, like I said in the past, I have grown to be more fond of the concept of Work Life Integration, instead. The video itself comes from the Ignite series (Ignite Philly, this time around) and it’s a rather thought-provoking 5 minute-long inspiring speech by Pam Selle that tries to share with each and everyone of us how whenever we reach the tipping point of stating “Get a life!” we may as well need to do so! As we may be missing far too much of what really matters… because of work.
Like I said above, the video is a short, crisp and rather powerful awakening call for all of those knowledge workers out there who may feel that their job is eating up not only all of their work time, but also most of their personal time, along the way, too! Now, I understand the video has got some strong language, but I think Pam gets the point across very nicely and in a tone that while I understand may not be getting through for some folks, I think it’s all just too down to earth, and rather realistic on helping everyone understand where we are and how we may need to keep on challenging a good number of the presumptions that we have always been taking for granted in a business environment when talking about work time AND personal time.
“Go the F*ck Home: Engineering Work/Life Balance” is a rather provocative watch, for sure, but well worth the time to discover the real consequences of working overtime, of giving up your time, just like that!, for free, of constantly being used (and treated!) as an asset, of showing how there are better, smarter ways of getting the job done, of re-focusing on what you would need to do and do it!, in the time that you have been allotted, so that you, too, could get a life. I loved her comment about naming more than two things that we all get to do outside of work and if you can’t name more than two, you have got a problem. Indeed! Too much work time, too little play, personal time! Priceless!
You see? It looks like the best option for all of us is to have an escape plan, something else to do, other than work, to occupy our time during the course of the day, when we are no longer working, and still have the feeling we are achieving something meaningful. And all of this going all the way to the top, including management!, who should be acting as leading examples, in the first place, helping their employees understand that they, too, have got a life and therefore should leave work, and do something else, before they would come to realise that their knowledge workers may be rather unhappy with their overall jobs, just as much as they themselves. When we all know that happy employees are the ones who produce the better outcomes: happy customers. After all, if Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg can do it, why can’t everyone else, right? What’s our excuse?
And if you need an escape plan, how about having a vacation? That would probably help out everyone out there start up with making that separation between work and personal life, right? And stick around with it altogether as well, upon your return. After all, we all know how beneficial, relaxing, chilling, unwinding and healthy it is to take a good long vacation, of, at least, two weeks disconnecting from everything for optimal results (Yes, even my own boss is confirming that!). Even better, we all know and embrace the many other good benefits from having unlimited vacation days, as I have also blogged about in the recent past sharing the experience of the delightful Maggie Fox from Social Media Group So why not do it? No, don’t worry, contrary to what most people would think, knowledge workers, in general, would not slack off. Why? Because they are hard working professionals, remember?, the ones you hired in the first place, the ones who you have trusted all along to do the right thing, i.e. getting their work done. So they are not going to abuse it. All the other way around! They are going to become even more productive and effective at what they do and work harder, because they are the first interested parties in keeping things that way!
Ohhh, that you cannot take vacation, because you can’t afford it? Even your work project won’t allow it? Well, let’s take it into the next level… How about *not* having any vacation, nor off sick time altogether? Let’s go to the other extreme. Let’s wipe out the entire concept of taking a vacation from the workplace and instead, like my good friend Kevin Jones blogged about just recently, let’s introduce this rather fascinating and refreshing new policy: “Need it, Take it“, which goes pretty much as follows:
“If you need time off, take it. If you are sick, stay home. Just continue to do amazing work“
Yes, I know, if you have been reading this far you are probably thinking I am just crazy. But why not? Why couldn’t we just live without vacation days and, instead, shift gears ourselves and change mindsets thinking that you may not need to have a fixed vacation period eventually, but, maybe what you need is just taking the time off, when you need it, for the time you consider responsibly enough to take off and just go ahead and do it! Knowing that it will happen when you know it will have the least impact on the business. Your business.
Smart companies like Evernote are already doing it and proving that it can be done and I guess at this point in time you may be wondering what you would need to do in order to make it happen for yourself, right? Well, something relatively simple: just ask! You know, like I have always been telling people, if you don’t ask, you already got the “No!” for an answer; if you do ask and get a “No!” for an answer, that’s just totally fine, remember you already had it. But if you get a “Yes!” for an answer you may find yourself you are right on track and you got it! A win-win situation for everyone, because when you get that “Yes!” you would probably be *the* most interested party in keeping things going that way. And I can’t blame you. I would do the very exact same as you would be doing. In fact, I have already been doing it myself for the last 8 years working AND living in Gran Canaria. Remember, for many years I didn’t ask, so I had a “No!” already. But then, one day, I eventually asked, took the risk, a good chance that things could work out, and, I got it! I got the “Yes!” and two weeks later I moved permanently to Gran Canaria where I have been living and working ever since. And still having a blast!
But if you don’t ask, if you don’t provoke that conversation to take place, it will never happen. So you are back to square one. And I am not sure what you would think, but I do believe it’s worth while taking the risk of asking away (your immediate management or whoever else), because in a way you are also helping your management line to understand how they need to shift gears themselves and instead of measuring your performance by the amount of hours and days that you work, they would probably be much better off measuring your overall outcomes, your deliverables, your output, and understand fully how, in a good number of times, you would be providing that extra level of top quality value by taking time off to focus on what you need to focus on: yourself. Re-energise, charge your batteries and come back for more!
After all, it’s a beautiful, wonderful world out there and every extra hour that we spend doing overtime or not having that time off for ourselves to do other things as part of that personal work life integration strategy you should all start working your way through on it, you are losing out. And you are losing big. As big and mind-blowing as this:
Don’t you think it’s worth while asking after all? Don’t you think it’s a good time now to take your life back and instead of talking about work life integration you start living more that life work integration for yourself and for what really matters?
Here we go again, already done with another one of those crazy, rather hectic and buzzing Mondays, and embarking on what promises to be quite an interesting and exciting week, as I am preparing for my next business trip, which, once again, is going to take me to two different cities in two different countries in the next few days. First to Antwerp, Belgium, to attend and present (On Being Social, as a panelist, and on #lawwe as a speaker) at the stunning BLUG event, where the agenda seems to be more impressive than ever; then, over the weekend, heading over to London, UK, where I will be staying till Wednesday, participating and presenting as well at Melcrum‘s fine Digital Communication Summit, as I will be talking about IBM’s journey towards becoming a social business sharing the experiences, lessons learned, hints & tips, and adoption techniques of our now 5 year old Social Software Adoption program called BlueIQ.
Phew! You can imagine it’s going to be a rather intense week (Another one of those!), where perhaps stress will make its presence more than once, and, just now, when thinking about it, I can sense it’s going to show up a few times eventually. Nothing new, really, right? I mean, in today’s current business world who doesn’t that have feeling that some times, and, hopefully, just some times, there are just so many things going on at the same time that even juggling with them to see how many balls remain on the air proves to be quite a challenge on its own.
My good friend Jacob Morgan captured, really nice, on a recent tweet, what the actual impact that stress is causing into the business world and although his tweet was just specific to the US, I can imagine how it would also be applicable in multiple other countries. If not judge for yourself:
did you know that the annual impact of stress in the workplace for the U.S. is over $400 Billion?
— Jacob Morgan (@jacobm) March 16, 2012
Now, I can imagine that there would be plenty of various different things and activities you could do to help tame that stress and bring it back under control, since we all know that negative stress has never been rather helpful to one’s productivity and effectiveness. But yet, since we are all so busy doing multiple things and juggling with multiple projects, and whatever else, there is one key question that keeps popping up: Where do you get the time? You know, we are all so busy, we just don’t have it any more! We cannot even control it or have a little glimpse of what we are doing with it. It’s become the new economy. Along with Attention Management, of course, for that matter.
But what if we would have that opportunity to address, manage and tame that stress to reasonable levels with something so relatively simple as one minute? Yes, you are reading it right. One minute! Nothing more, nothing less! Who can’t afford a single minute going by here and there then to achieve that new goal of living a stress-free work life and get so much more done? I am sure you may be thinking that I am dreaming, once again, or that I have become a bit of a utopian. But what if it were possible? Would you do it? … I bet you would!
So allow me to introduce you to this absolutely delightful video clip of just over 5 minutes that will introduce you to the wonderful world of Meditation. In this case, One Moment Meditation by Martin Boroson. I bumped into this video late last week on my of my Google Plus circles and, of course, I just couldn’t help watching it through to see what it would be all about. And, I eventually, got to practice it!! Whoaahh. Really. And it works!!
There are lots and lots of things that I could say about the video, how incredibly inspiring it is and all, but once again, I am not going to spoil it for you folks and I am, instead, going to encourage you all to watch through the video, right as we speak, even if you are not stressed out, so that, when you are, you know exactly what you can do to avoid it and move on with your work. I tell you, I tried it out while going through it and I can certainly vouch for how effectively it works, to the point where it doesn’t feel like you are doing it, and, yet, you are and getting the best results! Just brilliant! And painless!
Again, you may not need it just now, or you may need it pretty drastically; the good thing is that after you watch it, it is just so easy to carry it on with you that no matter where you may well be, or what you will be doing, or what you will be working on, as soon as you notice that negative stress kicking in, it’s time then for that One Moment Meditation, and get back on track. Seriously, it’s that effective.
What do you think? Does One-Moment Meditation work out for you as well? Feel free to drop a quick comment or two and let us know whether it is working out for you or not, and if you have other tips and techniques to help tame that negative stress share them across as well. I bet we would all love to know about them!