Category Archives: Self-development

Motivation: Where is that magical “on” button?

How do you motivate yourself to move forward in life? When you get up in the morning and start your day, is it just a routine and the feeling of obligation that makes you do certain things? And what about the BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals)? There are always ups and downs on the way to them and it is only strong motivation that can get you through the valley and on to the uphill road. So where is that magical “on” button for motivation that will help you achieve the best potential in your life? Related to that is also the  question how you can find that “on” button to help your kids move forward and  achieve the best potential in their lives?

Continue reading Motivation: Where is that magical “on” button?


The Nature of Baobabs: Don’t let them split you in pieces

If you are following my page on Facebook you might have seen me post a picture of the weeds that completely covered our beautiful lilac bushes at the end of the garden. I spent a whole morning pulling those things out and still I only managed to do just one side. Tedious job, but necessary. In the process I remembered the quote from “The Little Prince” about the nature of baobabs and thought about how often we forget that baobabs unattended happen to grow very fast.

A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces… (Antoine de Saint-Exupery “The Little Prince”)

Whether we are talking about the actual weeds or about metaphorical baobabs such as the negative thoughts or bad habits the advice is the same: take care of them as fast as possible before they ruin your garden, your personality or your life.

Let’s take negative thoughts as an example. Continue reading The Nature of Baobabs: Don’t let them split you in pieces

Friends: Social networks vs. real life

“We be of one blood, ye and I” (“Mawgli”, Rudyard Kipling)

Nowadays, the term “friend” is used rather loosely. We refer to all those hundreds of people with whom we connect via social networks as “friends”. In general, the English word “friend” is fairly frequently used to call somebody who is a mere acquaintance. In this sense, I like the “gradation” that exists in the Russian language: you call somebody a friend (“droug“) if you are really “of the same blood”, if there is a deep connection. Then you have “priyatel“, which is translated into English also as a “friend”, yet in the Russian language this word has a different connotation than “droug“.  You would say “priyatel” about somebody with whom you occasionally spend time, who is a nice guy or gal, but the connection you have is less strong than with “droug”. After that comes “horoshij znakomij” (good acquaintance) and “znakomij” (acquaintance). Thus, following this logic the majority of social network “friends” are actually mere acquaintances (if at all).

But who are friends actually? Are these people whom we know very good? Are these people that share our vision of the world? Do we call somebody a friend if we meet up on a regular basis? Can we be friends if we only met a couple of times in real life? In general, how fast do we call somebody a friend? Continue reading Friends: Social networks vs. real life

“Who helped you?” Success is always a team sport.

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants (Sir Isaac Newton)

There was a thought-provoking article in “The Financial Times” this Monday called “Who helped you get where you are today, and why?“. The author, Margaret Heffernan, talks about her favorite interview question, which, if not answered, acts as an obstacle for moving further with a candidate. This question, which she puts also in the title, is: “Who helped you in your career?”. Surprisingly, a lot of people are unable to answer this question, attributing their success exclusively to their own efforts and brilliance. Even though, without the latter you cannot get far either. She rightly points that: Continue reading “Who helped you?” Success is always a team sport.

Hogwarts 2.0.: Learning magical powers in the comfort of your own living room

If you expect that by having read this article you will learn how to fly on a broom or how to freeze the moment I am afraid I will need to disappoint you. But for flying there are better alternatives and the moments can also be “frozen” in numerous ways. The magic I want to talk about is much more mundane yet also much more powerful. It can make other people’s day brighter, it can light up your own day and it can also miraculously get you what you want. It is the extraordinary power of a smile and a genuine “thank you”.

Saying “thank you” seems so easy but it is amazing how often it is overlooked. The root-cause of a lot of problems is that things are being taken for granted or that people are being taken for granted. Just a little bit of appreciation, recognition, gratitude can make somebody’s day and enhance positive vibes in the air. Coupled with a smile it does wonders!

A little example. You expect to get a good customer service. Sure so. But how often when you actually got one, you bothered to say “thank you”? That’s not needed, because a company is obliged to provide good customer service? Yes, but it’s not a company but its people who actually provide that service to you. Everybody likes recognition, moreover, everybody deserves recognition. I contacted a customer service of one company recently with a problem. They rapidly provided me with solutions and also with all the relevant information so that I could pursue one of the options. Of course, I wrote back to them saying that I am grateful, that this attitude is the reason I like their company and that I wish them all a splendid day. I had to recontact them two days later as that particular spare part I needed was only available for delivery in the Netherlands. What they did – they ordered it for me. Delivered to my door. For free. I am not saying that this happened because I told them that they are amazing. However, this is also not the first time that I experience good things coming my way after I have just been kind to people and have appreciated what they did to me instead of taking them for granted. When you send out positive energy you tend to get it back and not necessarily from the same person.

In personal relationships the power of “thank you” and a smile is even more significant. Yes, of course, you don’t make dinner to receive “thank you” from your husband, nor you do the laundry for that purpose. However, a simple “thank you” is a positive vibe that has a power to remove the tiredness factor from this never-ending chore-cycle. And as I said before, everybody likes recognition and deserves it.

In raising kids such recognition is likewise indispensable. When a kid tried to clean the floor (and messed it up worse than it was before) instead of saying: “leave that alone, you cannot do it anyway!” try: “thank you for helping me!” and a smile. You will be amazed how fast the skill will improve!

So unleash your magical powers and start enhancing positive vibes in the air by saying “thank you” to people and sending them your sincere smiles! When you smile the world smiles back!