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Dec 29, 2008

Tons of Things to Be Grateful For

I'm working from Starbucks today, internet here is far faster than at home. Today it's a national holiday here in Malaysia and nobody is in the office. I had my holidays during Christmas when large part of malais was working - 60% of the population is Muslim and only 10% Christian, so Christmas here is visible mainly in shopping malls.

Starbucks has somehow a special atmosphere which makes it really easy to focus, even though I'm surrounded by so many people.

Sitting here today, composing a newsletter, checking new applications to MindValley and filling my notebook with new ideas that pop up I'm filled with gratitude.

I've discovered that expressing your gratitude is one of the most powerful shortcuts to happiness, so I let myself just be filled with it.

I'm immensely grateful for the:

  • huge diversity around me - different nationalities, races and people at all ages, who look so relaxed and happy. I love the diversity in this country.
  • for finally living a "normal" life with Maru and having a better routine for him - I can take time to learn together with him and I feel our relationsship moving to a new level
  • for most exciting challenges waiting for me in 2009 - I can't wait to start working with the new education project Gifted. I'm thrilled by the idea that I can be part of building a new pre-school education program and start something great in the area that I see as my life mission. Never hoped to get so directly connected with the education area through MindValley, but right things just keep happening.
  • for Maru who learned how to swim and dive - helping your child to swim without pressuring him in any direction was such a profound lessons about how kids learn. I learned so much about natural flow of learning and building on the natural curiosity of the learner
  • for having most fun and smart colleagues whom I can really rely on and who walk the extra mile even when things are not always 100% perfect. I love the teamwork in MindValley and I feel so motivated to do more than is expected from me
  • for my "bosses" who are real rolemodels for me, I'm fully grateful to have a chance to learn from the best people in business and be challenged by expectations that make me stretch a lot
  • for having great friends in Estonia and other places in the world - I feel so much connected with them even though I've moved away so far. Had a chat yesterday with one amazing person and a close friend who's first son was born at Christmas Eve. I'm so happy to share these moments
  • for being in the flow when I work with the things that truly excite me and talking with people with whom I have click-match
  • for a new exciting web-project I'm building with one of the click-match people from Estonia - love being in the same flow with him
..and honestly there's so much more.

Life is good not because it's objectively good - if I would think about it I could probably put together a whole list out of the things I DON'T LIKE in my life - but because I choose to focus on things that make me happy. And the more I do that, the happier I become and the more success I attract to my life.

It's so simple.

PS: I'm using more and more gratitudelog.com to express my daily gratitude - really simple, but powerful tool. Find me there and let's get connected

Dec 22, 2008

Several Good Reasons to Be Grateful for Being Attacked on the Street

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.
-- James Thurber

My life in slow motion, let's wind it back.

It's 1 AM in the night of Kuala Lumpur. A girl and a guy are walking on the street, absorbed in a conversation to catch a taxi to a birthday party. Yes, it's me and Andries, a wonderful person who has become a good friend of mine, visiting me in KL. We're walking and talking - and suddenly surrounded by around 8 guys on motorbikes.

This is when the slow motion gets switched on.

They're aggressive and in a rush to take everything we have. We don't have much - a mobile, an iPod, a few hundred ringgits, keys to my house, a lipstick (wonder what they did with that?:). Being part of this scene seems a bit unreal - Andries on the ground, taser flashing in the night (and you hope they don't hurt your friend), me pushed around, someone shouting: "Shut up!" (did I say anything? Slow motion...).

And then it's over.

You hear the cars driving on the main street again, see the houses nearby and life gets back in the rhytm as you know it. A hug from a friend connects that moment with gratitude and connection.

So today it's a lucky girl writing here. Seeing the dark side of life certainly makes you value more the bright side. The best thing to take with us are the lessons, so here you have mine from a negative situation out of your control:

1. Forgive. There's always two (or more) sides of the story, don't get stuck with yours. Seeing the other person might sometimes take a bit, but in the end of the day forgiving is the only way to love and healing. I guess these kids had their reasons for ending up with this life style, I just don't know the story and was a very random episode in theirs.

2. Forget. No negative energy from other people should bitter us nor make fearful. It just doesn't make sense to double the harm by becoming a more negative person yourself. In the end - it's nothing personal and it's not your problem either. If you can't do anything about it - stop worrying about it and move on.

3. Prepare. Don't lose the lesson. Make sure the next difficulty that crosses your way meets a better prepared you. I start from asking how to avoid the same situation in the future - using taxi to move around after dark seems like a nice idea.

4. Love your people. I think this is the most important lesson. It's a thought from mother Teresa that Andries shared with me when we sorted the things out in a conversation. Loving the world starts from loving the people close to you. If you don't love your family first, then how can you love your employees, community, society, the world? Mother Teresa called it the Hierarchy of Love - love flows from close, healthy relationsships and heals the world. So I don't intend to change the life of all the bittered, unhappy youngsters attacking people on streets - but make sure I have enough love for My People first.

I'm fully grateful for getting to know different sides of life and growing in the process. We should never judge, but learn to understand. We should never build negative energy in ourselves. And we definitely should have as much fun as we can - life's such a wonderful thing, every day's a gift.

Dec 18, 2008

11 Songs You Want to Listen



You probably already know how important it is to surround yourself with positive people. "Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are."

So true. Going even further - show me what you're surrounding yourself with and it becomes quite obvious what you're becoming.

2 years ago I spent 10 days in a meditation camp in Germany, spiraling into my inner world, cut off from all communication with the world and other people. While wondering around in the depth of my mind, I started to notice there's a lot of crap that I've collected throughout my life.

Everything that you see, hear, think, smell, touch and even sense leaves a trace. All the songs you've ever listened in your life are there, all the movies, conversations, sights - everything is stored. You think you've forgot, but your subconscious mind keeps feeding you with information you thought doesn't even exist.

This discovery made me realize that it's absolutely vital to carefully choose your experiences and feed yourself with high quality information.

One of the first places to start could be your own playlist. You might have not even noticed, but many pop-songs are inserting into your mind most pessimistic and pathetic messages, full of self-pity.

There are so many songs about broken hearts, waiting for someone to come and save the day, passive lingering, misguiding concepts of love, self hatred, lost hopes, loneliness. Why to listen these negative messages? Yeah, there are bound to be some setbacks in life, so what? We're capable for so much more and getting stuck in a moment (as U2 sings) should not be stressed - move on, you can.

So the idea of the day - every time you encounter a pessimistic song in your playlist, delete it. Seriously - you don't need it. Why, to feel even worse? Aah, that sweet self pity again - move on, you can.

Want to share with you a playlist with some of my favorite boost-up songs. Surely there are lot more, would be grateful if you'd share in comments, always looking for inspiration. Thanks a lot:)

My Good Mood Playlist

3. Right Said Fred - Stand Up (this song helped me to get ready before Local Committee President elections in AIESEC Tartu, still works in certain moments it's my you-can-do-anything mantra)
5. Coldplay - Everythings Not Lost (this song helped me through some tough times in life - "When I counted up my demons, Saw there was one for every day, With the good ones on my shoulders, I drove the other ones away")
10. Mike Oldfield - To Be Free
11. Aplhaville - Dangerous Places (original song is not in YouTube, but the song has amazing lyrics - "But you got ambition, you got the face, come on, let's go to a dangerous place, come on - let's go, come on - let's go, come on...")

Are We Running Out Of Time With Education Reforms?


E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N.

Sometimes I hate that word. I want to skip it, erase it, make it disappear.

What I actually want to do is to replace the content of that word, to bring back it's real meaning, which would be
L-E-A-R-N-I-N-G.

It's not that I don't like education, but it's that I don't like the system. The School House - as it is today - almost makes me want to do something physical, squeeze a lemon until not a single drop of juice comes out.

That's how I feel when I hear new stories about most creative creatures entering the school house - and coming out as scared and average individuals with not much of a contact with their real self. And even in less drastic cases - it's just painful to see the process of re-building ourselves after coming out of the system.

Makes me wonder - what if I had just skipped the
E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N and went straight to the L-E-A-R-N-I-N-G when I was 7?

Now here's a few tough questions to chew.

Can we actually reform the current education system? What if it's just wrong from its very core and the logic what current schools are based on is not working?

Truth is that majority of schools - as they are today - don't teach children to learn. Majority of schools - as they are today - don't prepare kids for the actual life. Majority of schools as they are today make kids dependent and lose their natural talents.

Reforms - not good enough, not quick enough

Now what I've noticed is that many people know that. Yes, there are problems, yes, the system should be more child centered, yes, we must take a more personal approach.

Good, but not good enough.

Yes, there are education reforms prepared and delivered in almost every country. But what they mean by all this reforming is just changing a few elements in the existing system - in good case adding more life skills classes, integrating development talks into the curriculum, educating teachers to offer better support for their individual students, worse cases just updating biology curriculum and debating if religion should be taught in school or not.

Not bad, but notice one thing? Most of these reforms concern everything external to the child, child STILL has absolutely no control over his own life. These help attempts can actually make children more dependent, so it's just a new way of still doing a wrong thing.

Until the whole logic of approaching to schools and education will be different - and it will - then these attempts don't make much of a sense (ok, I admit - not even trying would be even a greater loss for children learning in schools today, but still it's not the solution).

But you know what's almost unbearably painful - we are too slow. We need to speed up - because we're not only talking about tremendous amount of lost human potential, we're talking about the whole world's future.

Everything starts with the education system. Are the future generations prepared to live in the complicated world we're creating every day? Are they ready to make responsible decisions? Are they mature and self aware enough to connect with each other?

Alternative scenarios?

Around half a year ago I discovered myself playing around with a thought that has become my subconscious lighthouse ever since.

What if schools would not exist at all, how would children learn then?

Some of my friends found that a bit too radical to even consider.

I don't think so. Looking alternatives in education system doesn't have to start from looking at the current situation. Let's look at the need. And even if we end up still having schools - I bet they would be drastically different from the ones we would have created with a question: what should we change in the current system?

Because really - can you reform the current education system or is the system outdated and should be replaced? If it's outdated, then what's the new system? What's the role of a school house in this system? What's the role of internet and other new communication tools? What skills should kids learn and how should they do that? What's the role of a teacher?

We need to create some answers. And by we I mean we, not them.

PS: This one was written on the inspiration wave after reading a brilliant book "Kindergarten Is Too Late" by Masaru Ibuka

Dec 14, 2008

Bravery - Screw It, Let's Do It!*

* added later: which is also the name of Richard Branson's new book. Yep, that's how my subconscious mind reminds me about my reading list:)

Where to get the courage to do things you've never done before, but truly desire to? How to know that you're ready?

This is something that I'M NOT asking myself before starting with new things.

Here's why - asking yourself wrong questions can actually drain you out of energy, so you never even get going. The definition of bravery can be very misleading, found one from internet - bravery is fearlessness, feeling no fear (wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). This assigns doing extraordinary things to heroes and historical figures, because all the rest of us are bound to be afraid every now and then.

Well, I'm more into the Everyday Heroes, here's what I mean by that. When I look around I see lot of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They have no super-abilities that would excuse others for not following their example.

So please ignore the former definition, this is what defines courage for me: acting despite of fear.

Yesterday ran into one of these Everyday Heroes, will tell his story to illustrate how it works.

Jose, a former leader of AIESEC Spain was on an internship in a Malaysian company. However after a while he felt that he's not really moving anywhere with his job - his ideas were rejected, salary delayed etc. All these bothering details built up a real frustration.

Now imagine this - you're in a foreign country, financially dependent of your monthly payroll, with no previous business experiences - what would you do? Safer way would be to try to meditate yourself out of the frustration every evening and continue coping with the same company.

This is not what Jose did.

I met him yesterday at a pool party here and had a WOW-experience. He had just returned from a trip to one of the paradise islands here to plan the business with 2 of his Spanish friends-business partners. He had quit his job that, well - kinda sucked and is now a selfemployed Spanish entrepreneur in Malaysia. He and his mates discovered a demand for palm oil in Spanish market - and as some of the highest quality palm oil is produced in Malaysia a new business venture was born.

Imagine this - Jose is now meeting with palm oil producers in Malaysia to select the most reliable local producers, Spanish companies are already filing in pre-contracts - even though the new palm-oil company isn't officially registered yet. Exciting stuff - and soon the first shipment of palm oil will sail across the globe.

Easy and brilliant, with no big investment to get it going.

A good friend of mine and a huge inspiration, Kristiina started her own business recently (www.incase.ee). What she told me was : "People are never ready to start their business. So you just have to start."

That's what I call bravery - doing what you desire without having 100% guarantee of the end-result. How could you ever have it, anyway?

This one is for all the everyday heroes acting despite of fear! Be it in business, relationships or anywhere else where we decide to fill our deepest desires - and enjoy the benefits.

PS: My goal is to get rid of the grammar mistakes in my English. I'd appreciate tons if you would correct in comments some of my major f-ups.

Dec 12, 2008

OMG - I'm Living With A Chauvinist!!



Recently I've been just blown away by some of the statements from my 5-year-old companion. I've always been conscious about the values that children pick up from their parents while they grow up together, but what if he comes out with things you never thought you taught him?

In the end of the day children are separate individuals with their own world and belief system - and sometimes all we can do is just smile (or burst out laughing in some occasions) and wave...

PS: Mentioning chauvinist in the headline is - a joke! Just in case...

Story 1:

Showed the other day to Maru an advertisement in a magazine, where you could see around ten different people sitting and doing various business stuff.

"Maru, which one of these people you would choose as your kindergarten teacher?", I asked.

"Well, if there's no-one prettier then - this one would do," he replied, pointing to one of the prettiest girls on this page.

What????

Story 2:

We were preparing ourselves for the official alumni dinner here at AIESEC conference. I was getting dressed, putting on my make up.

"Mummy, I don't like it when people call you a woman."

"Why so?", I asked.

"I like MISS much more - people should call you Miss, it's beautiful!"

Hey, what's going on here??

Story 3:

Went to his new kindergarten and the manager showed us around. She told me that the girls are gonna love Maru and will take good care of him. On our way back home I told Maru:

"You know, the manager just told me that the girls are gonna take such a good care of you!"

"What??" he burst out with this unbelievable tone in his voice. "The girls are gonna take care of me?? I'm a guy, I'm gonna take care of the girls!" (and continued later in the evening the story about him, the strong man, getting married in the future and protecting his woman from all the dangers).

------

I'd love to know - where is he picking up all of this? Any opinions? Raising a child is a true adventure - the map is there, but the actual landscape - well, that's a whole different story...

Dec 10, 2008

Getting Back Probably the Most Vital Skill of All

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."
-- Henry Ford, Industrialist

Do you ever think how you learn?

So - how do you learn? What's your answer?

Wonder what would it be.

That was one of the questions I was asked in my interview to Mindvalley.

Got me thinking, because the question was bizarre. You don't really think about it, you just assume that you learn. You know - when you're reading a book, talking to people, participating a training. You learn, right?

So thinking about HOW is not too much of a question.

Is it not really?

I'm working now in one of the most striving companies in the world. Innovation here is huge, expectations massive, field just full of amazing opportunities. It's a very new playground, I feel a little bit as a child again, who is just about to discover what the world is like.

Except - according to my age I'm an adult. And adults know how to learn, right? So you kind of assume there is no problem in picking up the knowledge and master in your skill, because you KNOW how it works.

WRONG! Dead wrong!

I think that one of the most crucial skills that people lose while growing up is their natural, unforced, speedy way to learn. The very same assumption - I'm already learning - very often slows down the learning process so that you become a snail-like learner.

Adults tend to see many things as a bit overwhelming, impossible - or they just don't see their learning edge at all. Blind. They don't even try. They give up before they even get a taste of the real knowledge.

I find my ability to learn one of the most crucial things to foster. I need to be CONSCIOUS about HOW I LEARN. Seriously - I need to maintain my curiosity, need to remind that learning happens step by step - and before I master anything I need to go through the painful process of failures and trying again.

I have to, no other chance! If - just IF I want to make sure I truly achieve my goals....versus getting stuck in the point where I had developed by the time I turned 20.

You can't give up of your learning just because it's hard -- nor can you assume it happens by itself. You must have a ROCK-SOLID belief that you too can master any skill you desire. And an internal flame that keeps you excited about the vision that YOU'RE ALREADY DOING IT.

Whatever that would be. For me becoming fluent in English, mastering my communication skills, learning how mind works, learning to meditate, maintaining high energy levels every day etc etc.

These goals are absolutely NOTHING if I'm not conscious of how I learn.

So back to the basics, back to the very first steps in the world - full of curiosity, free of the fear of failure, free of the need to succeed, master of sucking in the knowledge as a sponge.

Step by step, step by step, better and better.

Dec 8, 2008

Negative thought? Get rid of it, quickly!!


After my divorce a few years ago I stayed living in the same apartment where we'd been living for the last years. Unconsciously I felt that these walls had gathered some negative energy - a couple of bitter thoughts, low energy moments and everything else that comes along when people drift apart.

Additionally I had an old drunk living downstairs, who was regularly causing some problems by turning off the water, screaming at night and generally failing in many areas in his life. The house was old and wet with probably not the healthiest air to breathe.

So kind of this run-away-fast environment you wouldn't want to live in.

What I started to do quite automatically was "inserting" positive energy into my surroundings. I told myself that this place has to be full of love, me and Maru have to feel it the very moment we enter the room. It has to be a safe haven, the most positive place on earth despite all the obstacles.

This mindset brought along many positive small changes - we actually built a habit to keep everything clean - something Maru is still doing automatically and not refusing to clean after him. We bought some nice accessories that made the place look nicer etc.

But most of all - I believe the THOUGHT itself made the place what it became, this positive environment where you just FEEL GOOD. Afterward my ex moved to the same place and made it even nicer, so now it's just an absolutely great place to live in.

This experience lead me to think more about what we can do with our thoughts. Seems that only the way we look at our surroundings is transforming what it is. The same story in Malaysia - I don't put too many expectations on my apartment and the country, I work with my mind to create the wonderful experience I want to have (btw - keeping the house clean is still one of the basics of keeping your thoughts clear, seriously).

So it's just amazing how you are actually creating the world you are living in. My vision is that whoever would come to live in this place after us would have the sweetest dreams ever and would feel certain internal peace we've left here.

These kind of little crazy ideas have probably influenced me more than long list of self-analysis.

And when I think about - almost everyone is actually acting as if material things are carrying energy, though they probably don't think about it. Example - it's so common that people make some changes after they move on from a relationship - cut hair, give back the presents, change address etc etc. As their subconscious mind feels that these materials objects are still carrying the negative energy in them which they want to get rid of.

It's just so freaking important to think positive thoughts!

PS: Promise to tell more about my work here in Mindvalley soon. But so far - above my wildest expectations and a bit more...life's a true adventure:)

Nov 25, 2008

I became a number!

This is a very random posting, but all who are aware what AIESEC is, understand the meaning of this note that came to my mailbox a few days ago:

Dear User, 
The Status of the EP CODE : EP-In-EE-MC-2008-1218 has been changed to Realized. 
Thanks, AIESEC International

Amazing feeling, really! After educating all the members about the importance of exchange and how we need to live the full AIESEC experience to develop all the characteristics of a true change agent - I'm finally walking my talk! It feels good - especially if you end up in a company like Mindvalley (and have the first days been mindblowing or what? My learning is just skyrocketing!) and in a country like Malaysia:)

So guys who are working for AIESEC Estonia - next Annual Conference I hope you present more these kind of NUMBERS. Every "number" will be so thankful in the end of the day!

Nov 24, 2008

Adventures continue in Malaysia


Woke up this morning and what do I see - a new room! With a few pieces of furniture, blank white wall, air conditioner above my head, blue carpet and bags on the floor and Maru sleeping next to me. Yeah, baby, that's how the new adventure looks like in the morning! New adventure for the super-communicative kid Maru and her determined-to-live-an-interesting-life Marjam means changing continents, pursuing a new career and moving to Malaysia.

Me and Maru are now living in Kuala Lumpur for at least next 1,5 years. People have asked me if it's not scary to start your life again so far away from home with that young child. Well, I guess it's a bit more demanding from time to time, as I have to manage also the stress of another person - but scary? When you start thinking about how HARD IT IS and HOW HUGE CHALLENGE you are facing - then maybe, but in reality I can manage all the different situations I get in.

So no, it's not scary. Life goes moment by moment - and by managing the moment, I can manage my life. Yes, sometimes I fail in the moment - and then I deal with it in the next moment. That's how it also works with Maru - when I want to go out, I try to find a babysitter. If I don't, I don't go out and I do something else. When I need to go to work, I find a kindergarten. If I want to see the city, we go together. If I get tired, I go to sleep earlier. If I need support - I talk with someone. If he needs support - I talk to him or hug him. Fear is a construction of mind, it's not real.



Here a few first impressions of our new home.

  • Although Malaysia is far, unknown and sounds exotic - it's actually a totally normal country with cool people, great shops, wonderfully diverse food, big malls etc. It's a country as any other with it's own special touch.
  • Still - it's normal to have little lizards wondering around above your bed (always funny:)
  • Taxis are almost unreasonably cheap - we pay on average 1 euro to move around
  • Weather is not gonna kill you when you come from a cold country - it's GREAT (and if it's too hot - get inside and turn on the air conditioner!) Plus - oh, I love the pool!

And to explain why there's some time already passed since my last posting, I have two excellent reasons:

  •           I fell in love and chose to avoid internet over doing interesting, creative stuff with one quite an amazing person (he'll be famous one day:)). Thanks, Peep, the synergy was historical! PS: No gossip is necessary, I'm in Malaysia and he is in Estonia, so from now whatever happens is just the very right thing to have happened - as usually:)
  •          I was writing my final thesis and graduated from the university just before my departure
New updates coming soon! I'm a happy first-time owner of a digital camera - no laughing, it's truly my first personal one - so more pictures on the way!

Oct 30, 2008

Child knows

It's Marus 5th birthday today.

We woke up this morning and I asked him: "So what have you learned in these 5 years that you would teach to a person who asks you: how to be happy?"

"You have to love others, then you get happy," he said.

Beautiful, loved it! Glad to have smart people around from whom I can learn!

Fool by choice

We are so over flooded with information that nothing out of it seems to have any importance. We are too knowledgeable that we miss out our own ignorance. We become so fragmented between options that there’s no difference between black and white, right and wrong – everything is gray and lukewarm. The abundance of information seems to make us ignorants – knowledge literally makes fools out of us.

 

And in the ignorance nothing is real. Nothing has real meaning. Everything repeats itself and nothing out of it really touches us.

 

In this state of mind we don’t really live. We burden ourselves and people around us with expectations how things should be – how we "know" they should be – because there are a lot of directives out there. We’ve read them! We already know! Now it’s all about practice! – we think. It’s like the life before us is already defined and now it’s all about living it up.

 

Not living up to the expectations - what a constant disappointment in yourself and others!

 

Admit it – you’re a fool when it comes to life! How can you possibly know? Think about it! How can you take the pride of telling you know what is life, what is love, what is right and what is wrong?

 

You know what you know – and that’s it! But there’s so much more – so you can easily consider yourself as a fool and make no injustice!

 

You can’t choose your lessons, but you can easily choose not to learn. Don’t judge what life wants to become. If you encounter something new and judge it based on your old experience – did you get the lesson?

 

New knowledge cannot enter when you’re already full. Empty your mind!! Empty your expectations! Let it in!

 

The minute words become empty for you - you’re full. The minute other people become ordinary for you – you’re full! The minute you talk more than you listen – you’re full! The minute your mind - instead of your heart - starts dictating your emotions - you're full!

 

Empty yourself. Learning can’t come to a place that’s already full.

I'm a fool by choice.

Oct 22, 2008

Potentially perfect

Photo by Monika Pullerits
Who is the person I meet?

Is it what he IS at this moment (or rather seems to be) or what he COULD BE? Which one do I focus on?

Knowing that I've come a long way, knowing that I'm not the same I was yesterday, that I learn all the time and that if I want I am getting better and better every day - yet never becoming quite perfect - I choose to focus on the COULD BE in other people as well.

If I'm not perfect at this moment I don't expect the other to be. But others become so much more perfect - smarter, prettier, richer, more caring, sexier etc etc - if I only see their potential. And the potential is as big as they want it to be - I believe in other people dreams and try to believe a bit more than they do, so I can help them grow.

What if other people are actually potentially perfect? So exciting to start noticing and recognising the little hints in others that show what they are actually becoming. World changes just from the way we look at it.

Oct 16, 2008

Another reason to become self employed



Traditional way of thinking tells me to be at work by 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning. The meeting should end on time. The agenda should be followed through exactly as it was sent out.


But what if my creativity sparks 10 min before I leave the house? Should I not let the rush of ideas to continue and take a form of an usable result? Should I cancel it just because I should be already at the office?


And what if the group has a whole different agenda in the back side of their brain than the one that was sent out before, shouldn’t they be allowed to work on questions they truly desire instead of wasting each others time just because “it was stated so before”?


I’m back wondering over the chronos and kairos – two approaches from old Greek to consider time. First one is the chronological sphere of time and the second is founded on belief that there is a right time for everything to happen, whereas right time has nothing to do with the clock. Both are needed in different situations, however seems that most of the business world has forgotten all about kairos. Clock is ticking and the world is designed in a way that we need to follow.


But - my creativity doesn’t tick according to the clock, it has it’s own rhythm. The events in my life are not followed by any special sequence, though there are some popular models they want us to believe, such as - high school, university, decent job, family, grandchildren, death. Everything is already upside down for me – and knowing that life takes unpredictable forms and moves the way it pleases - I believe it couldn’t be better. So the predefined concept works only if we live life as on a train - from one stop to the other, too afraid to step out of chronos. Our own special sequence steps in only if we believe there's also some kairos going on - and we trust the process enough to let it come.


So this morning when my creativity just sparked over my final theses I need to cut the flow and go to the office. Another good reason to strive for becoming self-employed. I really dream about creating a company where people have the freedom to develop themselves, have enough flexibility to work on what they truly desire and maintain high productivity instead of dropping in results. And I can choose when I work, on what I work and where I'm striving in my life.


This morning tea goes for kairos!

Oct 14, 2008

It’s not that big deal…

I mean – don’t think so much. Do it. It’s not that big deal when you think it is.


Planning is great, you need to know what you want – but I have a feeling we know much more when we actually follow through. We already know – and yet we don’t do it. So that the next time we are planning - we write down almost exactly the same things as in previous list...


What if this week we follow the list through? Make it realistic and write down the things you should do, want to do and should have done – and do it. Quickly, not to achieve perfection, but to do what we know we should do.


Getting things done is not that big deal. If you think less and act more.


That’s the way to build some great self esteem, baby!


Check out one of my favorite inspirations on the time management topic - http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/do-it-now.htm

Oct 10, 2008

If you don’t like it – change it!

I love people who don’t complain.


Imagine you have accepted a new job in the company you’ve been working for years. It’s promotion for a management position, but mainly because there’s no-one else in the company who’d be able to do the job. However because of bad top management and lack of co-workers the job that starts stressing you out. You keep going for a few months – and ensure excellent quality – but the workload keeps growing and you get even more stressed. You tell about the problems you’re facing to your direct boss who talks to the owner – yet nothing changes another few months. You start having problems getting sleep and you haven’t had a free day in ages. What would you do?


I know some people who just keep talking about the problems in their lives – what they don’t like and what makes them miserable. They can even take some initiative – like talking to the boss – but that’s where they’re responsibility over their lives more or less ends. Let’s call them drifting-along-people (and the black and white approach in this one is to make the point clear).


The other type – the one I like – doesn’t complain. I guess they can also endure more pain before it’s defined as pain by them, but above that they do something themselves to change the situations that drag them down. Let’s call them I-can-people.


So back to this situation that inspired me today. The example above is from real life – and the guy who is going through this decided to call a meeting, where everyone in the company was invited as the situation is concerning more or less everyone’s daily work. Around 20 people came and he decided to discuss the situation openly. Let me quote: “I can’t go to sleep anymore without drinking. I have to get drunk every evening to be able to come to work in the morning. I don’t want to become an alcoholic. Why am I doing this? No reason is big enough. I call for changes or I’m back to the work I was doing before.” <-- which would mean a small disaster for the company


It takes some guts to first admit to yourself you might be developing a huge problem for yourself if you don’t change anything – the next level is to be able to tell the group of people about it. Simply, with straightforwardness impossible to argue and by knowing you might lose your management position as a result.


Wow, love it! We always have a choice.


Oct 9, 2008

Part of it

Moods from writing my thesis about HIV-AIDS in Estonian media
Society is one system – if some parts of it are not functioning, then also the others are influenced. That’s the system thinking vs seeying society as a machine where every part is individually functioning and also individually fixed (Senge).

Reading the newspapers about how HIV-AIDS was perceived in Estonia in 2001 I get a picture of a dangerous lack of systems thinking. HIV-AIDS has been seen as an isolated problem that requires fixing. But how sustainable can this solution be when you have mixed the consequences with roots?

So I’m asking myself today - if I’m part of a living system, how can my functioning make it healthier? Starting from a family where I’m living right now and my relationships with people who are close up to the bigger society.

We’re all part of something and we influence how well it works. We all have a role in improving the systems where we’re in, because without little particules there wouldn’t be any system. Our behaviorus and attitudes make our environment what it is.

Isn’t there a wonderful mission to start your day with?

Photo: Raul Gutierrez
http://www.mexicanpictures.com/headingeast/images/passedbyonthebus.jpg

Oct 6, 2008

"Love is a doing word"



Don’t expect anything.

Just live. Love. Do what feels right for you. Never mind the critics, don’t be bended and confused about your path. Just keep doing the right thing. With integrity and strive to grow every day.

Keep going, keep going.

Love. Give. Be grateful. Accept.

Eyes wide open, knowing it all comes back double and more.

So give what you gotta give – and trust the rest.

----

Perfect love casts out fear. Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, but I do not cling.

- Anthony de Mello -

Oct 3, 2008

What do you like about Estonia?

Photo from Tiina Seppel
A new national branding campaign for Estonia was launched today. A little green country looking for it’s identity – or based on what I just saw – a random unknown country trying to soap in more tourists to spend their money here.

Not again! Poor Estonian people, we haven’t got over the last dull branding campaign which cost us 13 million crowns and now another bunch! Clips that were running in TV were so fragmented and message-empty that the hostess of the TV-show literally destroyed the poor spokespeople. The campaign was ordered this time by the national tourism agency and delivered by MTV in hope to be more attractive for young European people.


The main message of the campaign appeared to be “Estonia, nobody knows where is that”. And after seeing this dead-born-baby (I wouldn’t be surprised if this campaign gets destroyed by the media

soon) – I started to wonder... what’s wrong that we fail 2 times in a row and can’t really say why this amazing little country would be The place to come?


It seems to me we've been approaching this question from a wrong angle - commercialism over identity. I think really the main question is not about HOW to present it, but rather WHAT it is we're presenting.

Estonian nature photos by young photographer Mariann Kosemets

Maybe it’s our national modesty holding us back – what is here so special what wouldn’t be also in Finland, Latvia, UK, Germany? We’re just one of the many.


The truth is we’re exactly as special as we believe we are. There is a special reputation of Saaremaa people in Estonia. It's commonly believed that people from the island of Saaremaa have a special sense of humor, they are more hospitable, women are strong and men can drink more than any other man on earth without getting drunk (or whatever – again my Saaremaa sense of humor starts improvising:))? Well, having living here now after 5 years almost a month, I can say they (we:) are quite ordinary people – some more humorous than the others, some women stronger than the others as anywhere else. But once Saaremaa people get out of the island, the sense of belonging to a community comes out and you just start acting out as a person from Saaremaa - and are treated in a special way as a result.


And so the special image of Saaremaa people stands.


I feel that Estonia as a country is in search of this national identity. We just don’t know what makes us special, so we don’t know through what to bond as a nation. I had the similar feeling at Öölaulupidu (Night Song Festival) – we’re singing here together, but for what? There was no connecting message that would have given it a meaning.


So what are the other countries doing? One of a successful national branding campaigns example is Colombia, which managed to turn around the image of a drug trafficking country to a country of friendly people and lot of discoveries. The message – Colombia is passion! Honestly – I think it’s as much as what they MEAN with the message as much as what it really IS. So it works because they know what they mean. Watch the video – you will fall in love and want to visit! Colombian people responded with some kind of national awakening – these videos were spreading through Facebook, Gmail chats and other internet based communities.




The other example comes from Asia which made its slogan – “Malaysia – truly Asia” world famous and now seems to be one of the distinctive countries from the region.


I don’t know if my conclusions are right, but it seems to me that both of these campaigns were driven by a real need and were therefor much more successful than a purely business needs based campaign (eg we need more tourists). Colombians had a common enemy to fight against – the drug cartels who had destroyed the image of their beautiful country. In need to show the beautiful side of Colombia they actually managed much more than a branding campaign – more tourists and increasing positive image of the country actually decreases the real problem as people make real efforts to solve the internal problems. In Malaysian case I just

assume the “common enemy” was the image of the country as “one of the many” in South-East Asia – and they made this disadvantage their advantage.


One could argue that Estonia's case is different as we don’t have this brilliant climate and natural diversity to demonstrate. Small and grey we are, most of the year it’s dark and cold, rest of the time it’s rainy and misty, sun is a rarity and people are not ..... (put here any random positive word).


Well, it’s the self fulfilling prophecy as with anything else. You become what you believe you are, true for a person and for the whole country.


Funny enough but many of my international friends living in Estonia are far better sales agents for us than we are. What’s happening? I mean – they come back to live here, they tell stories of Estonian hospitality, calmness (the main key word, btw, I have picked up – Estonians calmness is perceived in a very positive way), natural beauty, good economy...and what do WE say? Estonians know what we say, haha:) We either laugh a bittersweet laughter over our weaknesses or – try to pimp us up in quite an insincere way: “Oh, we have Skype! And beautiful women!”


Baah! I’m talking about sincerity, true pride of our identity – and I’m not in any way talking about nationalism! I’m talking about recognizing and honoring ourselves, not because of being better or worse, but just understanding – that’s what we are! Just seeing the best of it – and being able to talk about it.


So this new MTV sales campaign is not clicking with the Estonian side of my identity. I don’t feel connected to it in any way, it’s the same as any random, a bit hysteric media message I get every day. “Please, next clip, quickly, I’m tired of the fragmented information! Give me a message YOU BELIEVE in!”


So – once again, no clear message, just a nervous attempt to “show the full diversity of the country” while actually hiding the fact becoming already tedious – we just don’t know, dear people, what makes us so special!


Do we need another national awakening to have some backbone as a nation to be proud of ourselves, to simply recognize us without any sign of bragging nor hiding the empty look in our eyes?


Experts say that it’s a tricky business to build a national brand – you don’t make it on tabula rasa and it’s never limited only through your campaign. So some countries create their positive images spontaneously – India being now perceived as a high-tech, highly educated peoples country (vs it’s previous image as a spiritual and poor country), Croatia for sports and tourism etc (source - http://www.brandchannel.com/features_effect.asp?pf_id=206).


So that’s the question I ask myself now – is it really the MTV to blame for a failed campaign or is it rather a question to ask from ourselves? Do we know what defines us as Estonians? Are we really proud of ourselves? Or does it come down to the self criticism again, the deep-blooded slave thinking: “Oh, never mind me...”


As part of the new generation of Estonians I’d love to see a positive awakening in our society. We don’t need an external enemy to be united, what if we do it through building positive beliefs about ourselves? What about starting to compliment ourselves? Saying out loud positive things we like in our country, people and achievements!

And if we do that – the campaign authors can just build on what is already there. Do we really hope that MTV can give us identity? Do we want them to tell us what makes it worth to come to Estonia?


Don’t think so!


So if you managed to read it through here – I would so much appreciate to know your opinion on – what do you like about Estonia and Estonians? As little or much you know – please do share in the little poll you find on the sidebar. Unfortunately I couldn't add there opened options, but feel free to leave your own opinion in the comments. Thank you so much for contributing to a better self-image of Estonians!:)


PS: The new Estonia brand campaign webpage can be found here, check out yourself - http://www.ispacetallinn.com/ (you can see the videos that irritated me from the upper side of the webpage)


Oct 2, 2008

The thought of the day

"If you don't get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don't want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can't hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality."

~ Dan Millman, 21st century philosopher from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior

How true is that?

Change: it's one of the few things we can always count on.

Why not embrace it?

Brian Johnson at ThinkArete.com

I love this webpage - daily inspiration in my mailbox. I always try to take this one minute of full concentration to grasp the message. How come when we seek out we get exactly the answers we are looking for? For seeking out for answers and moving on with them!

Sep 25, 2008

Just do it, baby!

“Hi, I'm Marjam Vaher calling from the newspaper Meie Maa. Could I ask a few questions from you?”

“Oh, the newspaper! Well, I’m actually quite busy now, could you call me back in 3 hours when I have time. Or even better – come to my office tomorrow noon.”

“Aha, you’re busy. I only wanted to ask what you think about the matter X and the matter Y. So – what do you think?”

(haha, easiest way to bypass obstacles is to act if they never existed:)


And surprise-surprise – the person usually replies, even though he thought he’s busy. He actually has this 3 minutes what it takes to finish the task in hand.


What it tells me is that people make things too big in their head and therefor try to postpone – to take more time for doing them. Giving an interview – it’s a huge thing when you start thinking about it! God, all these readers will read your thoughts, it has to be PERFECT!


The same goes with everything else – making our tasks seem too important tires us mentally. Better to do it now with what you got, again – this perfect mood, perfect moment, perfect preparation will never come, world moves on and maybe doesn’t need your offering anymore.


Just do it, it's usually easier than you thought and not doing it also delays everything else.

Sep 23, 2008

Kõik, mis juhtub, on hea


With the moonlight to guide you
Feel the joy of being alive
The day that you stop running
Is the day that you arrive

Elu.

Kurjam, murjam, lurjam, vahel on tunne, et sellest rääkimine on üks tühipaljas ajaraisk või hoopis suurustamine. Elu on elamiseks, mitte arutamiseks. Kirjutamine tähendab arvuti taga oldud aega, selle asemel võiksin praegu kottis dressi selga tõmmata ja kusagile hämarasse lossiparki kondama minna, et niisama tuult nuusutada ja tajuda oma päris tõeliste meeltega, mis maik sel saareõhul man on. Kanda endas ehedat elu, mitte ekraanil tähti ritta seades mõtiskleda, mida ma sellest kõigest arvan.

Aga teinekord tuleb tunne, et tahad välja öelda – või lausa karjuda, midagi teha, et väljendada kogu seda hinge kogunenud suursugust tunnet, üleni elusat rõõmu lihtsalt olemise üle. See peaks ju igale inimhingele tuttav tunne olema...kuhu me selle küll igapäevaselt topime, et ta nende kiirelt päevitust kaotavate eestimaiste ilmete alla pahatihti sootuks ära kaob?

Tean küll – kui elu peksa annab, on kerge oma usk ja lootus pikale puhkusele saata, manada näole kergelt põlastav, justkui elukogenud naeratus ja öelda “teadjaid” asju. Lasta endal märkamatult läbi imbuda kibestumusest, ammutada kogemustest vaid lootusetust ja panna süda sootuks kinni. Sest elu on selline, paneb asjad paika, noortel suu kinni, keerab energiakraanid mõõdukale režiimile ja üllatused – oi, neid ei ole enam ammu leidnud!

Ma tegelikult ei taha hinnanguid anda. No kuidas ma saaksingi? Olla 25 ja rääkida elust on vast kergem, kui sedasama energiat ka 85-lt endas kanda. Aga ausalt – ma olen neid 85-seid näinud! Vähe küll, aga nad on olemas. Mitte ainult elus, vaid üleni elusad, huvitavad, imelikud, uudishimulikud nagu väiksed jänesed. Tunned ennast nendega samas paadis olevana, uus küsimus juba ümber nurga paistmas ja avastamisrõõm silmanurgas helkimas.

Kellel tegelikult on õigeid vastuseid? No mitte ainumalgi kellelgi! Jaaa, mõistan, minus räägib sotsiaalteadlane, mu tuttav insener vajaks vast põhjalikumat diskussiooni, et mu mõttega tegelikult nõustuda, aga elu ei ole siiski ju täppisteadus.

Vahel on parem reegleid mitte teada ja kindlasti ei tasu end ümbritseda valede lugudega. Lood, mis räägivad energiatühjadest asjadest võtavad olemiselt justkui lootust ära. Lood, mille eelduseks on mure ja õnnetus, sätivad ka kõik positiivsed asjad ajutisse valgusse. Kui lamp kustub, jääb alles vaid eeldus, milleks on siis surm, vananemisega kaasnev jäikus, purunenud suhted – või mis iganes muud müüdid, mida kibestunud hinged ja tõekuulutajad tahavad uskuda.

Loome oma kogemused ise. Ise valime, mida endas kanname ja mis eeldusi valime oma kogemuste tõlgendamiseks. Mis need eeldused siis on, mida me elu vaadates ja hinnates kasutame?

Üks keemiaprofessor ütles mulle, et ka metsa läinud katse on alati edukas, sest kui kõigi katsete tulemusi ette teaksid, ei oleks ju mingeid avastusi. Kui läheb metsa, jääb küsimus – miks nii? Ja sealt tulevad teaduslikud ja muud läbimurded.

Oi, jeeprem, kui ma oma 85ndat sünnipäeva pean, siis tahan näha palju rõõmsaid nägusid enda ümber ja rõõmsalt kilgata selle üle, et JÄLLE juhtus midagi naljakat! Ja muidugi palju muid asju enne seda:)

Peaks ikka need kottis dressid selga tõmbama ja parki loivama, homme ju juba uued tuuled.

Sep 19, 2008

Work spiced with passion

Carmen Mikiver and Indrek Taalmaa in "Tunnete tektoonika"

I'm working as a journalist before going away from Estonia, now between news department and culture pages. I love the job!

The most exciting thing about being a journalist is meeting new people and learning their stories.

Actors. Artists. Entrepreneurs. Whoever the story brings.

Also officials, but as they usually tell you what they have to tell you it's not SO exciting, still always educating, learning to distinct people working with their heart from procedure people – and communicating with both.

Training my listening skills to catch important facts and go deeper, learning how to speak with different people so that they would feel comfortable, letting go of internal anxiety over meeting new people so that they could relax around me, being nonjudgmental so that they could trust me.

Doing all of this helps me to grow. I have an enormous amount of respect for the people who are straightforward, simple and passionate for what they do. I pay back with mutual respect. If I meet mediocrity in words and opinions I try to go deeper – if doesn't work I lose my interest as well.

Yesterday I was seeing a great play from Endla theater from Pärnu. Extremely emotional, I was blown away by the feelings the actors were just beaming into the audience, so real. Later sitting in the cafeteria with one of the lead actors and seeing him from a very different angle. Learning how actors see the world, how they go into their role and how they come out of it.

Day before this met with an artist who is making Christian art and is the first one in Saaremaa trying out digital painting. Had a nice discovery over the struggle in art world between traditional techniques vs digital opportunities.

Today made a short news story about some quite dry and official topic, but that required me to go and visit an art gallery. The lady who has been running it for 10 years opened so much more for me than the simple facts about some governmental program. Her passion, the workshop smelling for clay and watercolors, interior with silk scarfs, paintings and glass jewelry – world is such a wonderful place when spiced with real passion, even a taste of it makes your day.

Gotta love what you do, there's always an angle you can choose that matches with who you are and what you really want to get out of your life. Every job can help us to get closer to our personal vision or creating this vision. Just by following our bliss.