Being in Australia for the first time in a couple of years, it has been a lovely time to reflect on where we have come and what we have achieved in 3.5 years. As our years in Europe grow, so does some our nostalgia for Australia and the parts of it we enjoyed in the past. Like any city of course there is also a tremendous amount of change from what we knew previously. This can also make a city feel less like what you knew. We are nearing the end of our holiday in Australia and the whole trip has been a nice moment to reflect. Also as I write this, my 30th blog post for 2018, it is a good time to reflect on where I have been in this last six months and where I see myself and my family going in the next six months, 2 years and even 5 years.
We went to storage today to see what things we wanted to bring back and what we wanted to keep. Somethings have already been brought over thanks to the blessings of family and so we had a short time to discover what trinkets, mementos, family heirlooms and other oddities were waiting for us. Many of the items will stay in Australia until we feel like we are permanently in Europe for the longer haul. One container load of these things would be all it would need to reunite us with our things. Otherwise they remain safe here in Australia.
What can you leave and what do you really need to bring with you on your journey?
This reflection and other moments in my trip have allowed me to see I have grown in the last 3.5 years. Moving to a new city or country in not an easy task especially with a partner and small children. We miss certain things we took for granted in Australia and so are indulging a little in such things. Meat pies, Confectionary like Peppermint Crisps, Mint Patties and Whittakers Peanut slab to name a few, as well as craft beer (which has exploded in Australia), good coffee and familiar locations like Manly and Barangaroo. We have missed many things without really knowing we had.
We have also really missed friends. A friends network cannot be taken for granted. It is one thing to connect on Social media, but really lovely to see people in person. Making the effort takes effort. When you live in the same city it is easy to assume people will be there. In another city or country, we have to make the effort and really have on returning to Australia.
A moment of reflection when you come back to your old city or country can show you these things. Also some of the things you left for. Sydney and Melbourne now feel like busy, noisy and hectic cities. Lots to do, places to be, status to gain. Coffees and networking to have. Of course this exists in Vienna, but is somehow the same but different. It takes a moment of reflection to see this. Vienna might feel overwhelming for its own reasons, but that is where our hearts are for now.
I am glad we have come back and reflect that this trip has been good for all of us to see the people we love, the places we like and the things we want to experience. We now look forward to returning with renewed hearts and spirits ready to make the next few years even more successful for us all.
When you go on holiday, do you relax or do you cram in as much activity as you can in the hope of going 'extreme' for four weeks before returning to a less than extreme job or occupation? Or, can you relax and find time to rejuvenate?
If you are like me, you are lead a busy life full of uncertainly, worry and hussle. Constantly changing and adapting, it is important to take some time out to rest and recuperate. I know I don't do it enough. This month I am on holiday back in Australia, seeing family and finding some time to rest. In fact, this post comes at a time when I have not been doing much but looking after the kids, swimming and sitting around eating too much! It showed me that I can find some time to rest. I don't need to fill my days with too much.
We are staying near Byron Bay in an area we are familiar with, so there is no need to rush. I see now why my parents liked to go to the same caravan park for holidays. There is no need to see anything. Just to find space to relax. No tourist stuff. I am grateful for this insight as now perhaps I can plan future holidays with this in mind. Even find space eventually to take myself to a lodge for a weekend and do nothing but recharge. To stop and take a 'holiday'. Time to contemplate, reflect and see where I am, in this moment of my life. Too often we move from one stage to the next without such reflection. This is why I liked gap years now. I never had one graduating in 1996. They were unheard of, instead you went out to work or went on a schoolies event getting drunk every night for a week. I chose work and went to my families plant farm. No rest for the wicked. My younger cousins are now all routinely taken a gap year to travel, plan and see where their hearts lie.
As I get older, I see the value in this rest. Recently, my father visited me in Austria and asked me 'When do you stop?' At that moment, I was getting the kids to bed so I mumbled an answer and kept going, but this question has stuck in my mind and since I have started to find time. Every so often now, I take night where I don't have to do something, to achieve something and try to move forward. Like a creek or river, there are pockets that are outside the flow, where water finds rest. It can be momentary but they exist. In life too, we need to find time to rest. To appreciate music, art, culture. As I write this post, I am listening to a lovely Spotify Chill Classical playlist and really enjoying the soulful serenity in the music. Music begging me to 'chill'. To stop, rest and be in this moment.
Find some music, a park or a place where you can stop. Holiday there for a short time like a bend in a flowing river and retreat from the world. Take a break and some time reflect, recharge and regenerate. If I can try, so can you.
'People are like trees: give them what the need to grow on a continual basis for long enough, and they will grow from the inside out. And they will bear fruit.'
This quote is from John Maxwell's 5 Levels of Leadership. It got me thinking about how we grow. From the inside out. Often, we develop our mindset, our thoughts and our attitudes about things first, then we go about doing and acting on our thoughts. When we help others to see something, it is often on the inside. We tell them they did a good job or we appreciate their efforts. They then make a shift, have a realisation or come to comprehend and understand something from the inside, from their perspective, taking on your compliment. This happens to us and it happens to others.
Trees are also a wonderful analogy. Who doesn't like trees? They are natural, grow and start from a seed, often come from another tree. Within every seed is a large tree I have heard said. The same is true for people. Within every baby is a great person, a fully realised, actualised and functioning person. Do we really nurture each other though? Do we give each other what we need to grow? Certainly, we all need food, but a heartfelt word, a compliment or just speaking positively too each other is also important. This is the giving that we also need to grow. We need this as the quote says on a continual basis. Think of your favourite school teacher or lecturer. Why are they your favourite? I would guess it is because they encouraged you, believed in you and gave you some encouraging advice when you most needed it. Advice that helped you grow and become stronger, wiser and more nourished. Like a tree, it helped you grow. Eventually, trees bears fruit. You also bear fruit in the form of your talents and special gifts. The things that make you special. Your fruits are unique as they are on your tree.
Nourish others and give compliments freely. If we think of everyone as a tree, then remember trees need water, encouragement, sunlight and room to grow. If we put a tree in a pot then it will only grow as big the pot will allow the root system. Put your tree in the ground, let your roots establish and blossom into the person you are meant to be. Whole, pure, transforming and providing comfort and shade for others and above all beauty.
The quote above is from the book 'Think Like an Artist.... And Lead a More Creative, Productive Life by Will Gompertz. It is an interesting book that is full of wisdom that can be applied to all walks of life from the perspective of an Artist. The book discusses sculptures and painters and how they discovered more about themselves and developed into unique artists through a path that many of us take. When we live in a world of curiosity, ideas, plan B's and alternatives, as well as with an entrepreneurial spirit, continuing to challenge the world around us, we can create something new. I am still coming to terms with the ideas in the book and will indeed take some time to absorb the messages and write my personal review and notes, but the quote above stood out to me.
We must be at least interested in some of the things we do in life in order to find something worthwhile. Notice the sentence doesn't say passion, which is a word often overused. It simply says 'interest'. To be interested and create something interesting. So, what are you interested in that others aren't? Or if they are, why is your perspective unique?
The book points out there is nothing new in the world. Most things that exist and come out as new could be creations and recreations of other older things. What is unique though is that this is our take on the world. This is why art, artists like singers and dancers are all relevant. We want to be reminded of old but excited by the new. Each time we see an Opera we are excited by what that leading artist will bring. This is the enduring value of art, but couldn't the same apply to your take on the use of SAP or the new management strategy of your company? We don't all have to reinvent the wheel and be artists but we do need to bring our mark to something. To do this we need to be interested.
Interest can be sparked by:
With time, interests change and we evolve so don't panic if your interest changes. This is natural. A few years ago I was heavily into cycling. Since moving country my interest was waned. I still cycle but not with the same vigour. That's ok. I have new interests including these posts. I cannot do everything but I can commit and remain interested in my current goals. Then go for a ride!
During the week I was in the car with my wife travelling around Austria and she mentioned to a colleague, 'Comfortable is the enemy of Art' referring to her work in the performing arts. It got me thinking that indeed being comfortable in our lives, is an enemy to our growth and creativity. When was the last time you felt truly uncomfortable? What did you learn from that experience?
Doing new things takes us out of our comfort zone and it is here I believe where we truly grow. Where we come to terms with ourselves. In all stories, the hero goes on a journey and is trialed.
When was your last real trial?
When was your character tested?
Perhaps it was a decision to do a certain thing and not another, to speak up or not let something slide.
To call out a foul against someone, knowing you might endanger yourself.
In our lives we aim for comfort. A nice place to live, steady work, a good pay check and then some homely comforts. At some point though, this might prevent us from growing. We grow used to our routines and then suddenly life is there, comfortable.
So, perhaps try something new. Ballroom dancing classes, drawing, something artistic. Don't let the, 'I wasn't any good, my parents told me..' story get in the way here. Just try it for the sake of it. We don't have to create income, a new direction or find our life's purpose from doing this, but we will grow. We will access some creative part of ourselves that might help in other areas of our life. It will increase our confidence that we can do something.
Watch children, they create all the time, without the need to create a business, be a certain someone or have certain things. They do it because it seems like a good idea at that moment. The more I watch my kids, the more I am reminded of this! PLAY! Creativity is PLAY!
Don't be comfortable. Be creative!
David Corcoran is a Executive Voice Coach. He helps people take responsibility for their communication. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.