Last week I was in London with my daughter for a few days and travelled by bus and Tube, “off peak.” I flashed back to the amount of time and years I spent commuting through London, Moscow, Paris as a professional, squished like sardines, packed like cows or simply stuck in traffic for hours. There were no mobiles, Ipads, Ipods, Internet then and most of us commuters read the newspapers, books or magazines while maybe listening to our walkmans or CDs.
Commuting today has changed in many parts of the world, thanks to technology. As we commute, we can make calls, write/read/receive emails, we can research, we can listen to magazines/books, we can know how many steps we have taken to work, what our heart beat is, how many calories we have eaten and so on.
Here is my perspective; commuting is a gift. This gift is part of my “me time.” In Budapest, my commute entails driving our three children to school back and forth 2 times a day, a total of 2 hours a day. For that one hour I am able to speak, sing, laugh, listen to them share their thoughts and my other hour is spent listening to the Economist magazine. I download the magazine onto my Iphone and listen hands free in my car via Bluetooth. By Friday, I am done with the weekly issue, I feel a sense of accomplishment, I know what is going on in the world and usually, I have learned something new. What a great combination!
Identify the gap that you have in your life. What is missing?
Use your commute to fill that gap. If it’s exercise then walk or bike, if it’s connection send emails, if it’s learning there are many online courses, there are great inspirations through TED talks, if its relaxation listen to a meditation app. Find what it is that you want more of in your life and integrate it into your commute and enjoy a bit of “me time.”
Everyone loves a nice gift! What is yours?
Last week was an incredibly busy week and felt like I was speeding everywhere to get things done (I even wonder if that caused my flat tire). I was making some quick decisions and taking some risks as I ticked off the boxes from my list. “Slow down,” I heard a little voice inside me say.
This Easter long weekend, my daily pace slowed down by 80% and I found myself yawning, staring into space, empty thoughts, lounging and simply enjoying being with my family in our house in the countryside. As I opened the curtains one morning, three deers grazed close by and for a few minutes, my world went into slow-motion and it was simply lovely. Actually, I then noticed that many hours during the weekend simply went into slow motion. My curiosity turned to speed and I wondered is it worth the risks, the stress, the exhaustion?
With speed and risk, we get things done, we build, we achieve, we fail and we learn. We feel the adrenaline, excitement, anxiety, confidence and fear and with this, we seem to gain even more speed and want more.
As we speed from one thing to the next, how much are we living “in the moment?” How can slowing down influence our lives, our health, our careers, our relationships and our risks? Most times, we don’t even realise how many opportunities we missed or how many people we have hurt unintentionally because we are speeding. Doing, doing, doing and what about being, being being NOW? Awareness, laughing, smiling, breathing, listening, noticing, sharing, loving, crying, smelling.
Imagine your life just 10% slower, what would that look like? Now imagine your life 50% slower.
After a long weekend, I challenge you to be “now, in the moment” for 20 minutes and watch one of my favorite TED talks by Carl Honore’s “In Praise of Slowness.” A good reminder for us all and goal to aim for.
What keeps you from slowing down and what is that risk to you?
Six months ago, I had an inactive FB account and an outdated LinkedIn account and that was it by way of social networks for me. Since I launched my Life Coaching practice in September, I have dived into the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram mostly driven by “likes” and “followers.”
On Facebook, I picked up birthday messages from 2 years ago and created my Anna Jankovich Coaching Transitions page. Last time I looked at LinkedIn, I was selling venison and wild boar. Twitter was a whole new world for me and Instagram was triggered by my daughters. Social media is an amazing platform for communication and the fact that it is free makes it even more attractive, especially for those who are starting up their own projects or businesses, such as myself.
The first months, I was checking “likes” on my networks the whole time, especially the first hour after posting something and wondering if readers will be interested, will they “like” the article, what are they thinking, are they just clicking, are they engaged? I noticed myself always looking at my phone which lead to distractions, lack of focus, far too much screen time and short attention span. Not a message I wanted my family to get.
As recent as couple of weeks ago, I was rushing around between clients and caught myself sitting on the toilet with my phone! ENOUGH! This is RIDICULOUS! One of my values is authenticity and being myself. I accept that some people may not like me and don’t want to engage with me. I have learned to move on. Being “liked” on social media is nice but at the end of the day, if there are days when there are no “likes” or little engagement, how important is that REALLY? Quality over quantity or quantity over quality? I chose quality and move on, without the phone in my hand.
How important is it for you to be “liked” by others?
Two weeks ago, my husband and I took the opportunity to sign up for an Indian meal cooked by a travelling Indian chef, who was in Budapest for a few days. Hmmm…looked good, something different, we are curious. We both arrived to the venue, from different locations and plunged into a very cool indoor covered courtyard with long tables, dim lights, hanging heaters and 2 long tables. The dinner was seated and we found our places across from each other surrounded by new faces. Within minutes, the first course arrived and we were each having conversations with our neighbours. We talked left of us, right, across and diagonally and everyone was asking questions. There was lots of laughter and exchanges of cards, including some business leads. A stimulating dinner.
Last week, I had another opportunity to return to the same venue with the same set-up but a Literary Dinner with two authors/journalists from Moscow invited to talk about “Where is Russia going?” Being of Russian origin and having lived and worked in Moscow for most of the 90’s, I was really looking forward to hearing their views and I did not want to miss this event at all.
The two authors began by each reading a passage from their recently published books, both on Russia and Putin. A couple of questions were asked and we were told that a moderated discussion would take place after dinner. To my surprise, they both took their seats across from me and I felt honoured to have an opportunity for a more intimate conversation before they returned to the podium.
I chose to speak English, as my neighbours on either side of me did not speak Russian. I began asking the Russians some questions, and little reaction from either. Immediately I was aware that my neighbours turned to their other neighbours. I asked again some questions and little reaction. Odd, I thought to myself. Maybe they are tired but then again, this is their job and this event was arranged through their Publisher. So once more, I engaged in conversation, shared with them that I lived in Moscow, thought I would switch into Russian, mentioned that my cousin, a well known journalist, was shot dead in Moscow in 2004…hardly a blink from them. Not a stimulating dinner.
Curiosity is what made the difference between my two dinners. The Indian dinner was filled with curious minds, questions, exchanging thoughts, laughs and sharing opinions, which lead to a fun, animated dinner. The Russian dinner was monotone, little expressions or emotions, limited questions, little reactions, which led to zero interest from any of my neighbours and discreet dismissals from the table, including myself.
How did I feel? At first disappointed as I had expectations, then frustrated that I was not getting anywhere in the conversation and finally calm, as I knew that my curiosity and I did not miss an opportunity.
Curiosity is a talent, like intuition and listening. Not everyone has that gift, however, through awareness and practice, curiosity can grow, both at home and at work.
How do you value curiosity? What impact does curiosity or lack of curiosity have on you?
Powerful questions are questions that make the other stop and think. Literally. Usually, there is a “hmmm” and silence. These powerful questions are unexpected and thought provoking leading the person to look inside or into the future, discovering a new perspective. This is one of the most powerful tools in Life Coaching, which has integrated naturally in my everyday life. They can be used in your professional life, as well, as in your personal life. How you ask a question is vital to the answer you will receive. Become aware of how you ask questions and notice the impact it has.
1) Closed Questions: usually can be answered by a “yes” or “no”, you will not get very far:
As oppose to questions beginning with “what” or “how”…
2) WHY Questions: immediately, the other person feels on the defensive (even children and teens). They feel they need to explain, justify, protect themselves:
3) Implications: these are questions that imply an answer:
Your inquiring mind can ask:
4) Keep it short: Keep your questions short and to the point:
5) One question at a time: too many questions and the person cannot focus and answer properly.
“ So what did she say? Did she like your proposal? Now what? When do you meet again?”
” How did she react to your proposal?” (Silence). “Will you meeting again as a follow-up?”
Asking is a talent, like curiosity, intuition and listening. Not everyone has that gift, however, through awareness and practice, you can learn to ask powerful questions!
(c) 2017 Anna Jankovich, all rights reserved.