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Luck be a Lady

Or is it?

Up to which point do you influence, take responsibility for, and decide your own life?

Thank you dimensionsdesign for the free image.

If you wanted to question luck, that dialogue could go something like this: "So, I finally got that promotion yesterday, and I feel so very very lucky!" - "Oh, really? Congratulations! But, wasn't that long overdue? I mean, you did work pretty hard at your job plus you managed that last project really well, everybody noticed your potential."

I think in most cases luck is the point where preparation, opportunity, and timing meet. You prepare yourself and your work-ethic to be eligible and on the radar for promotion. At the same time, your boss has to agree that your efforts are better than anyone else's, the budget has to fit, and there has to be a position for you to move up into. Looks like you cannot have complete control over all the deciding factors of the outcome which would invite attributing the outcome to "luck", but arguably, the things you do control play the biggest part. Now, even more interesting is looking at how you react when things don't go your way.

For instance, if your efforts are ignored and someone else is promoted (married/wins the lottery/loses weight) instead, a) do you feel unlucky, point fingers and blame what- or whomever, and leave the company in the dramatic manner of your choosing, b) consider it a reflection of your bosses preference / general circumstances / that job wasn't meant for you after all-destiny, or c) do you hang in there and wait your turn?

You might have heard about "The Secret" and the "Law of Attraction" (Esther Hicks / Jack Canfield) which at first glance sound like wishing for things makes them come true. If that really worked, why not all go out and buy lottery tickets or have that second helping of cheesecake then? Because it's not that easy: you have to send the positively articulated wish into the universe, affirm your belief that you deserve what you wish to attract, visualize it frequently, and act as if your wish is already a reality (without running into debt or stalking your favorite celebrity [call me, Leo!]).

"I've been doing that for ages yet I still don't fit into my skinny jeans!" I hear you lament. True, because even affirmations, visualizations, and acting as if cannot replace the actual doing. They make you feel better while you are waiting for your goal to materialize, but the necessary preparation still includes elbow-grease, making decisions, and taking physical action. That means going out if you want to meet someone, eating right and exercising if you want to lose weight, and putting in the hours or getting the obligatory  qualifications for that job.

Alright then, what about gambling? Surely it's pure luck which way the dice fall or what high card is dealt next? Maybe. Except cards can be counted, tables can be manipulated, and people are way too complex to be predictable, plus they have their own minds to make decisions with. "The house always wins" isn't just an empty phrase, you know. But alright, let me ask you this: do you really feel comfortable with letting a card/dog/football team decide whether your kids go to college or you retire happily? Make no mistake, there's no judgment here, just a gentle nudge towards using appropriate stakes, I guess. If you don't mind losing what you put in, go right ahead, I'm sure it's fun. Just remember that it is your decision to put yourself in that position and gamble in the first place, so again, my opinion? Luck has nothing to do with it. I'm quite prepared to believe what I've heard in a few places now that the majority of millionaires aren't filmstars or lottery winners, but regular folk who steadily put away small amounts and successfully invested their savings.

To sum up, I guess what I'm advocating here is to always wish and hope for the best, and to do everything in your power to make it easier and more likely for the best to happen. There are things beyond your control, but there's no need to let them ru(i)n your life. You have the powers of reasoning and common sense at your disposal. Use them. And if things don't turn out the way you want, you have an option d): reassess the goal, if you still really want to achieve it but at first don't succeed, ask the right people for feedback, adjust your behavior, and try again.

Til next time!

PS: for those who have been hit hard by the current economic crisis, this video probably won't cheer you up, but its foresight is scary interesting.

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What do you stand for?


What do you stand for?

This is just one of a number of images, or "wordles" I spent creating today. Aren't they fantastic? Thank you so much to Jonathan Feinberg and the people at for providing this excellent tool free of charge.

I don't consider myself a political person and a big part of me shies away from having too rigid opinions. First and foremost because I believe that everything changes constantly (changed circumstances means changed outcome), but also because I like flexibility and keeping my options open. Besides, I'm honest enough to admit that when it comes to politics I simply don't have the background knowledge to make any profound claims. Living in the United States at this particular point in time it's difficult to escape political talk though, and advertisements to register to vote, declare oneself and be counted are everywhere.

This got me to thinking in which ways we're communicating our values and beliefs every day in every aspect of our lives, not just in the political arena, by the decisions that we make. I stand for health and positive thinking by exercising, eating right, and writing down at least five things I'm grateful for every night before bed. This blog stands for empowering people to take responsibility of their own lives and finding the courage to change the behaviors that no longer serve and support them. My coaching approach is non-directive by asking questions that you yourselves find your own answers to, as I stand for thinking independently instead of following the herd like lemmings.

How are you communicating what you stand for? Which choices do you make every day that bring you closer to your goals, living out your values? Registering to vote and then going to the booth and casting your vote in November is only one way to announce to the world what you stand for. Living according to what is right every day ensures that you don't have to depend on politicians to behave the way you want them to, because you, too, are influencing your surroundings and creating this world with your example.

Addendum: Here's an article Seth Godin published on October 2nd about standing for something, and how making those difficult decisions can help your business.

PS: excerpt from the US Expatriate Handbook, Chapter 6:


Americans who reside abroad are usually eligible to vote by absentee ballot in all federal elections and may also be eligible to vote in many state and local US elections. Eligibility depends upon the laws and regulations of your state of residence in the US. To vote absentee, you must meet state voter registration requirements and apply for the ballot as early as possible from the state of your last domicile. Should your state ballot not arrive in sufficient time, you may be eligible to use a federal write-in ballot. You should consult the nearest US embassy or consulate for additional information.

Image by Kodak Views, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



The agony of choice

This week I'd like to elaborate a little on the topic we brushed last week - choices and decision-making.We've all heard the decision-making tips, right? Let's recap for a minute. In simplistic terms, you always (ALWAYS) have at least three options: go forward, go back, or stay the same. There are several ways to choose between these options. According to circumstances, you can: toss a coin, ask a friend/neighbour/relative, listen to your gut or go methodical by writing down the pros and cons and looking at black-on-white scenarios to see which appears to yield the best outcome. Quick decisions are usually gut- or coin-induced, more wide-ranging ones take some time and deliberate thinking. In any case, you always have the choice to say "no" and you can always say, "ask me again in a little while, I need to think about this" (unless you're James Bond saving the world from aliens, or you're wondering whether to run out of a burning building or something). I just wonder, why is it called "agony" to have options? I think it's great! Do I sometimes envy the women of Jane Austen's era who didn't have to do anything but look pretty, be accomplished and wait for a guy to marry them? Sure! Sounds like an easy enough life, doesn't it? Not having to think for oneself, having everything planned out from the day you were born, no influence or chance of change for the life that you're destined to live... No change = no fuss.

But hey, wait a minute: no influence = no life? I don't know if I would have been a person to question things that seem to run so smoothly, but imagine if I were... I would have felt trapped! Cheated! Helpless! Caged! Can I just thank the ladies of the burning bras for not giving up and making possible the freedoms I can enjoy today? You're my heroes! Rock on! Now, if you'd only have found a way to give us the freedom without the obligations...

Until not so long ago "they" tried making things as easy as possible (i.e. the Government decided about your job, your source of news and your religious affiliation) in the former GDR, that's Eastern Germany, if I remember correctly. Don't quote me, I'm no historian, but after the wall came down there were plenty of people who were delighted to embrace new stuff like freedom of speech and being able to travel anywhere they want. At the same time, there were those, too, who fell into a hole not knowing what to do, because they never had to take care of things themselves. I would like to make absolutely clear that there's no judgment here about those people whatsoever; they were simply not used to the responsibility and most likely overwhelmed by the change. I wonder if they did get used to it in the end though, and do they think things have improved, or if they wished the wall and the old regime back up again.

I guess my question is, if you're afraid of making decisions and find having options agonising, would you be prepared to accept the alternative and live in a society where you have limited or no choice?

Here's to having your cake and eat it, too...

Til next time!



Mind over matter

In your strive for a balanced, happy life, have you ever come across the difficulty of negotiating between your head and your heart? Rationally you favour one course of action, but your gut tells you something else? It's frustrating at the best of times, and can turn downright annoying, and not to mention paralysing, at the worst. So how have you handled these situations in the past, is there a rule you can follow? I'd say it depends on the situation. I know this sounds vague and will turn off those of you who like things to be black or white. I know this because I'm one of you. It's philosophically safe to say though that we do not live in a world of absolutes. Everything is relative, even reality. After all, we do all have our very own perceptions of the things happening inside and around us. That can be frustrating too, but it's also a great lesson in tolerance and flexibility. But I digress - back to the situations: Say you're at work and your boss demands some dodgy paper-shredding of you. Your head says uh-huh... but your gut's not convinced. This is assuming you're an honest sort of person while your boss is involved in some criminal activity. In this case, listening to your gut may be the way to go, even though it will be tough in the short run what with refusing a direct order and getting into trouble with your boss, possibly even losing your job. However, in the long run, imagine you doing the shredding, the excrement eventually hitting the fan and you being put behind bars for assistance in the wrongful deed. No amount of "I felt I shouldn't have" will get you out of there, buddy.

Then take the recently split-up couple. Things had been rough for a while, words have been said that can't be taken back, one of you moves out. Of course this abrupt change leaves you unsettled, of course you still have feelings for the other, but you know full well that you won't be able to trust them again. Every time the phone rings you get butterflies, and you want to answer, but your head says no. You're hurt, you're protecting yourself, you need some time. But if it feels so good, how can it be wrong?

There's no rule when to follow either of our decision-making centers. In matters of the heart, the romantically inclined will listen to their heart. Does it always lead to Prince Charming? I doubt it. Yet at the same time, we don't want to think relationships through, because it's so rational, they never do that in the movies, and relationships just can't be rationalised like that. Feelings have to be taken into account. To spin the story a bit further, there are four possible endings as I see them: 1. you stay broken up but you never get over it and subsequently live a life of broken-hearted solitude, 2. you stay broken up, get used to it, and move on, 3. you get back together but realise it's been a mistake and break up for good a short while later, 4. you get back together and have a happy ending. I'm inclined to bet that whatever happens, no matter which result you end up with, you'll say in 99 % of the cases: "I knew it". So why not trust your instinct from the start, no matter where it's coming from?

As for those more rational situations, some say that there are simply things you have to do in order to get ahead in this world, whether you're comfortable with them or not. What good is money though if you can't sleep at night because your conscience keeps you awake? This goes back to the values-article I wrote two weeks ago, if you fancy having a look at it.

The decision, as always, lies with your good self. You have unlimited options how to lead your life, and it is your responsibility to check out the ones that appear most appealing. If head and heart can't come to a consensus, don't fret, just do. Toss a coin if need be. The only thing worse than indecision must be being stuck! Decision-making is nothing to be afraid of - if you get it wrong, you may not be able to go back, but you can change course and take another route at any time.

Til next time!