Switch off? I couldn’t possibly!

I’m a little tired of articles about how to be an entrepreneur. Most of them are useful but a ‘5 Keys to X’ overdose leaves a nasty hangover. Sometimes you just need to stick your thumbs up at instinct and let it choose for you. Life’s short.

The mere idea that an entrepreneur can ‘never switch off’ puzzles me. Perhaps because I have fallen victim to this mindset over and over again. And I have seen the consequences of absolutely prioritizing work at the expense of everything else.

I’ve told myself, “Once I can afford to hire people I can delegate” – as if that were a solution! Once you have people working for you the responsibility increases. Not that this is a bad thing but… will I lie to myself all my life? “When I have a robot I’ll program it to do all my work-related things”…?

I might not even live long enough for the next “When X, I’ll Y”. Let’s face it; it’s the truth. If we don’t sort our priorities out today, we might never have them where we’d like them to be on our deathbeds.

Having just spent 10 days with my family and friends, I’ve seen what you really cannot switch off from, and it’s not business. Children.

At least when they are babies, their life entirely depends on you. Maybe that’s true for some businesses, but none of my clients will die if I reply to their email a few days later… Days that I will not get back if I lose them in front of a computer instead of playing with my nieces and nephews.

Now I’m back I feel refreshed. I will work hard, look after my clients, create and commit to visions for autumn, get feedback, and undertake a massive organization operation to be more effective.

Yet, I will also spend time with my friends, go to the beach, play and create music, write, go out… at least I hope to not let the work-obsessed (‘entrepreneurial’) side of me win. Come on instinct, let’s go!

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Freedom

I had a flashback today. I was running by the sea, when I saw two small children run ahead from their parents with the most exhilarated look on their faces. It made me reflect on the following:

When we are little we dream about freedom. We dream about running ahead by ourselves in the street or to the sea’s edge; feeling the wind on our faces without having to hold on to Mum or Dad’s hand. We are not afraid of any consequences and we want to discover everything by ourselves.

Later, when this dream becomes reality, we turn it into a nightmare. We complain about everything, blaming other people, “my past” or “what I’m like”.

Running in the street or by the sea becomes a way to burn calories, while our accelerated minds don’t allow us to enjoy the hidden pleasure of finally being ‘free’…

Sunset-at-Sea

Which interpretation works best?

As a historian, I have always been fascinated by different interpretations of the past. In my ‘wild’ postmodern phase I came to argue that facts did not exist.

Of course, every fact is subject to an interpretation. How the “fact” is assimilated or communicated, is subjective. All history and life itself then become a story. The question is, which story do we want to tell?

Last Thursday I went to an incredible workshop, “El Color de Cristal” (The Colour of Crystal) by Alberto Ortega. In a series of entertaining dynamics we saw how one event can be interpreted in an entirely different way, depending on who is experiencing it.

The inevitable question was asked. If everything is subject to interpretation, how do I know what “the truth” is?

Whatever works for you. If a positive interpretation of you, your life, and those around you brings you health, happiness and joy (to name a few possibilities), would it be worth reviewing your concept of “truth?”

This is not to suggest ignoring things that don’t work in you, in your life…or in your business. Sometimes the best way to discover what you want is by recognizing everything that you don’t –being brutally honest with yourself.

If you can do this without beating yourself up; with a conviction that this moment is as good as any to be the person you want to be – or to do what you want to do… you are suddenly free to choose.

In the same way that history, apart from fulfilling people’s curiosity, is a magnificent tool.  A tool to see who we, human beings, want to be as a species… from this moment on…

No Man’s Land

A week without my passport. I was waiting for the renewed one to come through the post. I couldn’t fly back to Spain until it arrived. I had a strange sense of being suspended between two countries and two lives.

Here in the UK I don’t have a flat or a car. I spend time with family, I have business meetings, and I meet friends. I admire the gorgeous countryside in this mostly mild autumn, and I spend double the money I would in Spain.

This doesn’t feel like home any more and yet, I have more vivid memories than ever over here. Every multi-colored autumn tree and bright green field jolts something within me. Every crunchy leaf I step on transports me back to a time when I had little legs and learnt about the world.

Blog_Autumn-Image (1)

My aim is to see all this through fresh eyes, and create a new place for myself here. Not a place based on memories that haunt me – good and bad – but a place that is part of my now and my future. When I return to Spain, I would like to do the same. Life is based on change, and clinging on to sentimental creations can be dangerous.

It’s time to actually live in and accept the moment – wherever that may be –  and be the person I want to be…. A hundred times more cheerful than the person in my passport photo!  😛

If not now, when?

Not the last Incubus album, with which I was disappointed…Every day I encourage people to follow their passion and do what they most love. Yet hypocritically, I’d stopped writing in this blog. My excuse was that I’m starting a business, Work English, so I’d soon be busy concocting blog entries about that.

I don’t know why I was so adamant in separating the two. In a brainstorming session with my friend Juan, Founder of Quantum Universidad, we jumped on the concept of being very honest and public to the world about our adventures. Juan’s going the whole way, and if you speak Spanish, I really encourage you to read his blog. He’s setting up a University Online with original and highly useful MOOC courses: http://vejeta.com/un-nuevo-comienzo/.

In this line of thought, I’d like to briefly share some of my current thoughts and discoveries.

Well, it’s obvious from the situation in Spain that people are crying out for jobs. This means two things. Firstly and understandably, many people feel desperate. This clouds their judgment and the bottom line is this: Employers do not want to hire desperate people. If they do, it’s to exploit them in some low-paid and unpleasant job, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Living abroad is already hard and expensive enough as it is.

Secondly, a lot of professional talent in Spain is hidden. It is hidden in fear to lose a job that does not motivate them in Spain (because jobs are gold dust), in lack of experience in selection processes abroad, and more often than not, in lack of practice of their spoken English…

This is a real barrier that people think will be removed “once they get there”. However, employers tend to prefer East European candidates to Spaniards because of their language level. It is those few Spanish people who take the time and effort to practice their English and interview techniques; who develop their personal brand, and write a really decent CV BEFORE they go or before they apply for a job, that make it. The rest remain hidden.

On that note, I’ll go back to working. I believe in brief insights, even if they’re only useful to me. See you soon.

3 ways to make 2013 better than 2012

What I’m about to write is nothing new. It is all based on information I’ve read, been taught and experienced about emotional intelligence. I’m in the process of  helping Spanish people to look for jobs in the UK. Often what many lack is a decisiveness, a belief in themselves and the “get up and go” attitude that employees crave.  A company is an organization of people. The way those people see themselves, relate to each other, and to the company’s vision, is vital.  So, here are three tips I would give everyone to make this year better, unrelated to the economic climate:

1)   Think in positive. Focus on what you DO want and not what you don’t want. When we spend our time endlessly complaining about what we don’t like and don’t want, it’s usually what we get.  For example, instead of thinking “I hope I’m not unemployed for too long”, think “I REALLY want to get that job. I’ll get it, and if I don’t I’ll get a similar one soon”.

2)   Be creative. There is not one but infinite ways to get to where you want to be. Don’t get obsessed by the how and focus on the what. Take risks and have fun trying out different things. Focus on your eventual success rather than being weighed down by fear of failure. For example, if I want to become a clown, I could go to clown school, teach myself and practice at home, become an online clown, or just go out on the street dressed up as a clown and see what happens…The important thing is that I’d enjoy the process!

3)   Be decisive. Figure out what it is you really want and go for it. Do whatever you have to do to find out what that is, but don’t lose another second. It could be in any or in ALL areas of your life. Again, don’t worry abou the how, just focus on the what. Once you are moving towards those things you will feel an incredible motivation and inner strength that overcomes your lower moments. “But I don’t know what I want!!!” Start writing, go away somewhere, read, take an emotional intelligence course, close your eyes, breath, look deep within you… We all have dreams.

These tips are more powerful than they seem; have a go at applying them. You may be extremely surprised at what you find.