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Olympic stories

The beauty of the olympic games are the stories behind the performances on the pitch, in the water or on the field and track. The smiles and positive attitude of GB swimmer Hannah Miley have really impressed me. She keeps her focus on her potential in healthy balance to consistent results of hard work in training. More than once she has mentioned her thankfulness for the privilege of doing what she loves doing ... swimming. 


And then Michael Phelps: His determination and performance on such a high level over a period of 12 years. He's won 19 olympic medals! 


The negative highlight has been the Swiss soccer team. Their arrogance, disrespect towards the olympic idea and respect towards other is ashaming and shocking. 


But the many stories of overcoming handicaps, fears, pain and economic challenges to be part of the olympic games is continues to be inspiring!


Two sides of Bern

On a summer day like yesterday thousands of Bernese and visitors come out of their houses and go down to the river Aare to walk up stream and enjoy the chilling but beautiful swim down to the house of parliment. 


It's such a striking difference to the Bern I experience many months of the year when temperatures are down. People stay in their houses and mingle only over meals in restaurants and work. When the sun come out and temperatures rise the Swiss open up like flowers waiting to blossom.


I love these summer swims down the Aare. There are not many capitols in the world where one can enjoy good quality water and enjoy a refreshing swim in public water.




How Pain can guide us home

I just read an excellent article on pain which puts words to how I try and integrate and live with chronic pain. 


I would add some thoughts as this article doens't capture the full picture but it's worth reading.




Letting go...

It's summer time. Both kids are away on vacation with friends while the parents stay at home working. It's a new phase to be at home alone. The days seem longer without the school programm dictating the pace, no long shopping tours to make sure we have enough food for growing teens. 
And I miss our great kids who make our lives so rich. But it's a good opportunity to continue the lesson of learning to let go. It's so important to me the kids develop their lives. They add meaning to my life and are hugely important - but they shall not be the center or THE meaning of my life. Otherwise I make myself dependent and put pressure on them to also define their lives around me. 
And what really make me happy is definitively to see our kids taking steps and developing their opinions, seeing the world, biking through Switzerland and enjoying the beauty of nature. 


Coaching and Consulting - 25°

I've started to promote my coaching and intercultural consultancy more. You're welcome to check out my website:


I offer coaching on a broad range of topics from self-development, dealing with transition and conflict, leadership development to intercultural competence. 

A new offer is to support people going through suffering and pain. Through my own life I have (had) to learn various techniques of pain management on a physical and emotional level and am pleased to share this with others and offer support. 


up! international

This week has been a whirlwind of ups and downs. I've had endless calls with various ministries and offices in Bern regarding rules and regulations for a start-up for benefits, permits etc. 

I've done hours of reseach for our new NPO up! international which some colleauges and I are starting up. We produced the texts for the website and are preparing our first activities and programmes. It's an exciting phase. 

From our homepage:

"Violence, in all its forms, kills and affects billions of people each year.  Although violence is most often directed against women and girls, because of their gender, it also affects young boys and men.  The cost to women and men, their families, children and the communities is a significant obstacle to reducing poverty, achieving gender equality and developing our societies.

At up! international we care for all persons affected by violence because of their gender, including men and boys! Let’s break the silence and end the taboo."

 We care. We speak out. 


The website will be up and running soon 





Leading yourself through transition

Status quo and transition, blockage and upheaval, normal everyday life and new habits and patterns of life. It is a privilege to have choices. Shall I keep a job or change it? Shall I work in city A or B? Shall I do a training or not? Shall I work full- or part-time? Such and many more questions are on the mind of a few very privileged persons amongst us. 

But we can also make other choices regarding our lives and sometimes these lead to massive change. I find it misleading to make transition a synonym for "good change" or "courage to embrace the new". I have some concrete examples where people embarked on a journey of transition only to realize that their motivation to leave the known and normal was not as wonderful as they wanted themselves and others to believe. 


And yet there are times to change patterns and to let go of the normal. When one tries something again and again and the result is not satisfactory then trying again or trying harder isn't the key to successful change. 


The period betwen A and B is especially disconcerting. It is made even more challenging when B could be C or E or ? It's the unknown which sometimes robs me of that hour of sleep between 1 and 2am. It's not having any certainty that after letting go one will be rewarded or whether the price is worth it. 


Yet deep down I know that trusting in a compassionate and provided future is worth every drop of sweat and fear. I decide to trust in experience, hard work, competence and that things will develop in the right direction if I make wise, considerate and balanced moves out of healthy motivation. 


It takes the daily courage and comittment to lead myself through the many small steps of change. Balancing needs, fears, interests and being considerate and orienting myself on my values. 




Ads on TV

Have you noticed how different TV ads are various countries? In the UK one sees alot of ads with humor and wit. In Asia alot of ads seem over-sweet and silly to my western taste. But the absolute low-point of advertisment in my view is Switzerland. 

Many ads put women in a very bad light by either degrading them to low IQ sex objects or to rather simple-minded persons. 


Where are the cool, the funny, the intelligent PR persons in Switzerland? I am sure you can do better!



Coming back to Switzerland after a while in Asia is revealing:

You know you're back on Swiss ground when:

- You can't see the air you breath and it doesn't smell of fish oil 

- The trains drive on time and the announcement over speaker system after a 1,5h journey is "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are arriving in Bern. We apologize for the delay of 1 min."

- You can bargain with a taxi driver (he just might throw you out of the car as he goes into shock...) 

- Swissness is when it's accepted that the rich abide to a different and much laxer law 

- Swissness is when banks can mess up as much as they want and the state will bail them out

- Swissness is when human rights are more and more violated and decision makers forget that the Red Cross and many important humanitiarian organisations were founded in this country

- You know you are back in Switzerland when you try and small talk with a person you don't know yet and the response is similar to when you commit a crime 

- Swissness is when somebody shares about her long communte to work of 35 min 



An inspiring and amazing speech

I just took 12 full minutes to listen to a speech I found on google+. I don't often have the patience to watch 12min films posted on youtube and shared. But this one was worth my time. 
The main message: You (and I) are not special. We are one of many. We are the same as many other human beings. We need to make something out of our life through effort and achievement, through dreams and love. 
Check it out!

Contemplating distraction

I have been travelling the past days. I was first in Chiang Mai where I once again enjoyed this fascinating and beautiful city and all the big and small delights. It was the last time of many (I lost count but I think I've been to Chiang Mai more than 20 times) to visit my sister and her great family before they move back to Switzerland. Yes, I will now need to start looking for another excuse!


Then I went to Bangkok and Phnom Penh to meet up with a friend and to check out some work options and continue writing on my book. I have met many inspiring, interesting people on this trip. It has been a privilege to get a glimpse into the lives of so many.

Regular periods of contemplation have helped make this a rich trip. Although I faced a few challenges both in terms of health and security, I find solace and peace in emptiness and nothingness. Richard Rohr said: Contemplation is not the avoidance of the problem, but a daily merging with the problem, and finding its full resolution. It is a way “to look over [our] shoulder” for God (the brilliant insight of the anonymous author of the 14th Century book, The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 32). 

I have learnt so some extent that the persistence of the distraction can actually steady your gaze, deepen your decision. I try and look at problems in the eye, give challenges the space they deserve but not more and also not less. 




Coaching services

I have completed my training in Ashridge "Coaching for organisational Consultants" (CfOC) and will now go for the accreditation. 


I am therefore looking for clients to coach as to gather experience and put the insights and things I learnt into practice. 


Here's my bio note on coaching should you or anybody you know be interested. I coach both face2face and remote via skype or other web-based tool. 


Finances shouldn't be an issue as my prices are social. This means they are based on my coachees income and financial possibilities. 


Coaching and Consulting managers, professionals and private persons to reach their goals, cope with transitions and to become better at what they do.


I’m passionate about development, ongoing learning and reflection and making the most of the talents and gifts entrusted to us.


Sustainable change – on a personal and organizational level - often comes in small steps. Changes of habits, performance, perspectives and character usually don’t just happen. They are birthed, nurtured and developed. A reflective, personal coaching process can enhance and support us in an extremely helpful way as we tread new grounds and explore new patterns of behavior.


I have been coaching leaders and managers from the corporate and world of development for several years (and have experienced the power of coaching myself on several occasions).


My coaching services include the following topics for both executives and professionals:


- Coaching on Leadership Development

- Coaching in and through transition

- Coaching for better performance

- Coaching teams and individuals for better collaboration and work-life balance

- Coaching for self-development and growth

- Coaching individuals dealing with pain (acute or chronic) 

I coach individuals and groups both face to face and virtually over skype or phone.

The basis of effective coaching is a trusting relationship between coach and coachee. I therefore pay attention to a solid mutual understanding of the coaching goal and methods used. All conversations are held strictly confidential.


Leonard Cohen said: There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

Coaching will allow you to explore the cracks and get new perspectives!


Contact me for more information. Thanks!




Intercultural Dimensions

I often teach and quote from Hofstede's teachings on intercultural dimensions and studies he did in the early 1970's. I found a very good summary of the dimensions of cultural differences on slideshare. 



Second order change

I'm reading an excellent book by Watzlawick / Weakland / Fish "Change". 

The give an excellent example of second order change. Let me quote:


"During one of the many nine-teenth-century riots in Paris the commander of an army detachment received orders to clear a city square by biring at the cannaille (rabble). He commanded his soldiers to take up firing positions, their rifles levelled at the crowd,  as a ghastly silence descended he drew his sword and shouted at the top of his lungs "Mesdames, m'sieurs, I have orders to fire at the canaille. But as I see a great number of honest, respectable citizens before me, I request that they leave so that I can safely shoot the canaille."

The square was emplty in a few minutes. 

What a great example of thinking creatively and not doing "more of the same" when faced with a problem. 



I went to two temples this morning to meditate and enjoy the silence together with the monks doing their morning prayers. 
It was a wonderful way to start the day. 
Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.  ~Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now
Or as Lao Tzu said
“Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.” 
Being quite and contemplating is a wonderful way for me to find peace, re-connect with creator and creation and to to start a new day centered. 


Know thyself

19th century New England poet Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) wrote: 

Explore thyself
Therein thyself 
shall find 
The “Undiscovered Continent” No Settler had the Mind


One of the greatest challenges of life is to know ourselves. Once we stop searching we give up a seat on the train to fulfillment and maturity. 

I have spoken to many elder persons in the last months and am astonished how many of them stopped believing in self-development. Many solely focus on pleasure, some on sharing their wisdom and life's learnings with all who want to listen (and sometimes also with those who don't want to listen). Others focus on changing others or saving the planet. 


If I had power to suggest changes in our education system I would introduce self-development classes, meditation, breathing techniques and lessons of silence to help kids learn to reflect and make concious choices. 


A high priority in my life is to keep exploring myself. Trying to understand my sunny and shadow sides; trying to explore how to change the gray into a radiant orange...



Bike tour

Laurence and I enjoyed a beautiful bike ride yesterday to the Sense, Schwarzwasser and back to Bern. What a privilege to live in a country where we don't see the air we breath as it is so clean. We can drive on safe roads, we enjoy breathtaking nature and it's so safe you can just wander or drive off in any direction without worrying about security! 






Am I a good follower? 

Alot is written and said about being a good leader. But all attentive leaders are aware of the importance of having qualified followers. 

What are some of the criteria of a good follower?

I am at my best when I pay attention to listen carefully. When I listen to understand, listen to grow, listen to add value through reflection and feedback, listen to question and develop deeper comprehension. I realise how important it is to develop my analytic, informative, empathic, understanding and informing listening skills.

Anther important skill is that of reflection. Reflecting on formal and informal influence and communication and checking for it's consistency and the bigger picture.  

When I am a good follower I am in strong communication with other followers. Building relationships that go beyond the comfort zone and are mutually benefiting and liberating. 

As a good follower I give authentic and direct feedback to my leaders when appropriate and helpful. This area is most likely one of the most challenging as it takes a great measure of discernment to find out what "appropriate and helpful" menas. 


What are your thougths on this? 



All of you who serious study leadership: Please read the book by Barabara Kellerman "Followership". 

Harvard Business Press ISBN 978-1-4221-0368-5


It highlights the power of followers, different types and shows how people relate to their leaders. The book is rich with historic examples, real-life situations and eye-openers.

I think it's crucial to focus on the importance of the relationship between leaders and followers more than we have in the past. 

Good leaders depend on good followers! 


Hiding in spirituality 

We don’t teach meditation to the young monks. They are not ready for it until they stop slamming doors. 

Thich Nhat Hanh to Thomas Merton in 1966


I really like this quote I read on a daily mediation sent by Richard Rohr. The danger is real to let our false ego find hiding in spiritual practice, identity or context. 


It's an important self-development (and community-development) task to learn to unmask narcism, self-love which is ego-fed and to keep on gently reminding ourselves that our true identity doesn't lie in our position, isn't based on our clothing, amount of attention we get, our salary, how much people love us etc. 


It makes me sad to experience how Christians going to churches and holding leadership experience promote and contribute to a culture of violence at home, accept corruption in organsiations and sustain systems which breed and nourish cheating, financial mismanagement and fraud. 

All the more we need to talk about the many who are role-models in justice, generosity and transparency. Those who serve without shouting it from the roof-tops and love without demanding to be in the spotlight. 

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