Archives for the Month of February, 2012

The Emperor’s New Clothes Online

What's your "goto" stance?

Meaningful interactions in stressful situations

See the Emperor in all his glory! Which role do you play? We all interact with different types of characters in our daily lives which may lead to stressful situations. Together, we can learn how to communicate more effectively with others, especially at times of stress, by transforming our behaviour from incongruence to congruence.

Learn how to begin transforming your behaviour from one of incongruence to congruence by thinking about interactions in terms of Self, Other and Context.

Regain and maintain your sense of balance

Begin your happily-ever-after today

Jenni and I recently played this game with a bunch of friends at Play4Agile. Participants were surprised at how well the coping stances matched real-life behaviours when we’re put under stress. By applying the concept of Congruence in our everyday lives, we can all become more effective and efficient while reducing stress!

If you like this..

… You’ll love these. More Agile Fairytales at

If on a winter’s night a traveller

How well do you travel?

Travel Game

When I travel, I play a game. I imagine I am an ambassador, an appointed representative of Europe, the place where I live. I wasn’t always an ambassador of Europe, of course. I began life as a simple traveller, trying to get from A to B.

Growing up, I quickly went from being a traveller to an adventurer. If only flight class upgrades were so easy! I like to think I remain an adventurer to this day, sometimes performing feats of derring-do like Indiana Jones. At other times, I am an ambassador, establishing first contact and building relationships between us and different species across the galaxy like Jean-Luc Picard.

On Being an Ambassador

So what does being an ambassador mean to me? My idea of an ambassador is my dear friend John. By the time I met John, he had already retired after a lifelong service to the British Government and her Majesty the Queen.

John was a tall man, always well-presented. He was soft spoken, polite and amicable. Most memorable of all, he was humble and fun. He always knew exactly how to put people at ease, from small children to thorny politicians.

John was the kind of man who went riding with Lawrence of Arabia in the desert. He was certainly good at his job. And he was good because he cared for the work he did and the importance of acting for the greater good.

An ambassador understands their responsibility to others and behaves accordingly, both with those they spend time with as well as those they will never meet. Most important of all, they understand their responsibility to themselves.

An ambassador remembers to look up to the sky and into the horizon often to keep things in perspective. Do this enough, and you’ll start recognising the different flags of sky.

Future Encounters

If life is a journey, and I believe it is, then where does an ambassador of Europe go next? I’m working towards becoming a citizen of the world some day. And after that? Ambassador of Earth of course! By the time that happens, I hope to have acquired the necessary knowledge, skills, experience and humility to explain why humans are a valuable asset to our wider ecosystem that is the universe. I also hope to be fluent in the universal language of friendship, mutual respect and understanding.

Meanwhile, I send you greetings “Na-Nu Na-Nu!” (pronounced “nahnoo nahnoo“) from a peaceful hilltop village called Johannesburg just outside of Frankfurt, host to this year’s Play4Agile!

Love the One You’re With

Sweet Valentine of Success

For me, the philosophy of work has come full circle. When I was a child, I was encouraged to dream and “do what you love”. When I became a teenager, those words slowly but surely morphed into “love what you do”. When I reached adulthood, the wise and elderly around me changed their tune once more. “A job’s just a job,” they said. “Do what you can to make a good living, don’t get into trouble and you’ll have a job for life”.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

I wrestled for years with those three very different choruses. I desperately tried to reconcile my daily toil on the anthill with realising my dreams. Slowly but surely, those dreams ebbed away, hardened and broken by the relentless beat of the daily commute.

Then one day, I overheard a friend say, “Of course you can do what you love. Doing otherwise would be madness!”

As I considered this friend wise, his words forced me to do a triple take on everything I’d come to believe in. What if, just WHAT IF, some of the things I’ve come to believe in are not true?

Rediscover your dreams

For most of us, the advice of “do what you love” is impractical for a number of reasons. The most fundamental being that to do what we love, we need to first figure out what it is we love doing. That takes time and requires discovery through a series of experiments and experiences.

For many of us, our dreams have become buried so deeply in the sand on the beach of life, that the only way to figure out what we love doing is by identifying what we don’t like doing. It’s through a series of trial and error and process of elimination that we begin to pinpoint what it is that we truly love doing.

Career advisors’ advice

Career advisors’ advice can be distilled into three criteria when it comes to a happy working life:

  1. Do something you’re good at AND
  2. Do something you enjoy AND
  3. Do something that makes you a good living.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you get this far in search of your dream job. Most likely, you’ll still be confused as it turns out that what you like doing isn’t just one thing, but a combination of things that make up the unique job tailored to suit you. For instance, a travel writer, a singing chef or a knitting teacher.

Find your true purpose

In order to figure out what we enjoy doing, we need to try many things. By bringing what we love into our work, we begin to close the gap between the gruelling toil of daily work and our passion. And it’s through this series of experiments that we define meaning with our work.

For those of you who choose to read this blog, the reward of meaningful work is probably worth much more than its weight in gold. Why? Because meaningful work helps us discover our purpose.

Bring back the love

The first baby step then is to love the job you’re in, love the work you do. If this seems impossible, ask yourself, “What would someone who loved my job do?” Then begin to move in that direction, one baby step at a time. And if it feels like you’re Bambi skating on ice, that’s because you’re outside your comfort zone. The good news is your dreams are back in sight albeit in the distance. For now.

Re-define “success”

As you do this, you may discover that you fall in love with your job anew. After all, there must have been a very good reason for you to have taken the job in the first place, all that time ago. Alain de Botton helps us answer: What does “success” mean to you now? Begin by bringing back the magic. Happy Valentine’s!

Death Among Us

Roaring in the face of Death

When the North Wind blows, with him isn’t Mary Poppins. Instead, it’s the Cold Chill that rattles our bones and chatters our teeth. The kind of cold that turns people into human dumplings, wrapped in sweaters, scarves and mittens.

What better way then to warm the cockles of one’s heart than going to a winter festival. I am of course referring to last weekend’s Death Festival held at the ever creative and vibrant Southbank Centre along the River Thames in London.

Believe me, it was no ordinary festival.

A Festival for the Living

“What a strange idea!” I hear you gasp and I would agree. After all, Death is one of the biggest taboos in this country, according to the Death experts. In my case, Curiosity got the better of Fear. When I eventually subdued my 3Ms of “morbid, moody and morose” and instead envision “magnify, materialise and make-believe”, I managed to keep an open mind for long enough to 1) buy a ticket and 2) go to a few gigs.

Upon arrival, I’m greeted by an exhibition called “Boxed”, a display of beautifully crafted coffins that would make the Dead proud. That’s not all. There’s a whole host of activities such as “Coffin Morning” (a pun on coffee morning), “Death Cafe-Salon” where we are invited to eat a piece of cake while discussing all things Death-related, “Desert Island Discs” where people share the music they would like played on that special day. And O! so much more.

Festival Director, Jude Kelly, and associate artist, Lemn Sissay, describe the festival as, “the only event that truly links anyone and everyone who will ever visit Southbank Centre”. A classic example of “never have truer words been spoken”.

Whose life is it anyway?

As I sit through talks and discuss Death with strangers, the icicles in my head placed there by the Cold Chill begin to melt.

Death Bites

(What follows are quotes I collected from the day.)

Be Prepared – A good funeral doesn’t give a damn what people think about it. If you want a good funeral, you have to plan backwards, beginning with where you want to be when you’re gone.

Finding Solace in the Secular – What does Contemporary Death mean and how do we want to take control of the decisions of a secular funeral?

Enduring Death – Longevity of life makes death harder to think about; what used to take days now takes weeks or months. You will experience loss, fear, grief, anxiety or exasperation. Take turns supporting one another.

Fear Less – Grief is a personal experience. Funerals amplify your preferred natural state. A good life leads to a good death. Perhaps if we didn’t think that we would go to different places, one better than the other, we would be less afraid?

Circle of Life – Funerals are for the living. You have to experience Death to experience Life. To talk of death is to be most alive. Life, Love and Death is a cycle of rejuvenation.

Time for Celebration – Death leads to new discoveries. It’s possible to turn a funeral into a celebratory event. Such events are a catalyst for life. Create a celebration, one that creates a space for all feelings.

Beyond Goodbye

One of the most moving talks I heard was about the funeral organised by Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris. They have become known as the people who made a video of their son’s funeral in order to come to terms with his sudden death and celebrate his life. Jane talked about many things, including how she got to know Josh better during and after the funeral through hearing the stories told by his friends. All this because the family chose to share their son’s death with his friends.

Hanging on for Dear Life

As I leave the festival, I recall a curious fact I learned not so long ago. Death is the favourite topic among Buddhists. And the warmth I feel in my heart is exactly as Jimmy and Jane described in their experiences of coming to terms with their son’s death. Instead of “Goodbye”, we might try “See you later, alligator” or even “In a while, crocodile” and, in saying so, come to know our loved ones better forevermore.