The choices we make. The choices that make us.

An athlete. A pianist. A hard-worker. A jerk. A runner.

We are what we decide to be. Repeatedly. The choices we make, make us.

Everyday, not only (and in my case especially not) on the New Year, we have the full power over who we are. By making choices.

How does one become a runner? By choosing to run. Not once. It’s not that one decision that the boy or girl makes in young age that makes him/her an athlete. It’s the choice that he/she makes today, made yesterday, will make tomorrow – to run, to not eat junk food, to not drink alcohol, to train.

I was thinking to write about the fact, that I am getting closer to the crossroad in my career. My job assignment here in Egypt is coming to an end and I will be choosing the next option. However, I live the whole life on a crossroad. You too. Every single moment we are making decisions, we are standing in the middle of a crossroad. And it’s not the external factors that occur once a year or once a lifetime that are the most important. It’s the everyday choices we make.

Let me tell you a story of a me – a smoker:

I had my first cigarette when I was I guess 16, first year on high-school. I chose to have first one. And then second. And then for next 4 years I chose almost every day to light a cigarette. Then in June 2005 I chose not to. And for next 2 years I chose every day to not have one. And then I chose to light one. And then another. And for next 5 year I chose daily to light a cigarette. Last week I had a cigarette before leaving the office. It was the last one in the pack. When I got out of the daily bus from work I went around a cigarette shop and I chose not to buy new pack. And since then I chose not to buy. Some of those decisions were easy, some harder. But I chose already at least 120 times in past week not to have a cigarette. It was not the one decision to stop smoking. It is a decision of not lighting a cigarette right now, and moment after, and moment after. All those decisions make me a non-smoker.

People often say, that the first step is the most important. Personally I think all the steps are the same important. Because every step is the first. And might be the last. Because every moment gives us the choice. And the choices we make every moment make us who we are.

Why I have to refuse kisses so many times in Egypt

I’m no playboy. I’ve never been one. But since I’m in Egypt I have to say no to kiss so many times.

Some 4-5 months ago me and Stanley went to the pastries shop nearby our house to sweeten-up our dinner with some delicious Egyptian cakes. They really are amazing in this! So when we got to the counter to pick up our package the guy asked me: „Kiss?“ I was like „Whaaaat?!!!“ I guess my expression must have been very similar to yours when you  read the heading of this article.

So I said: „Sorry?“

And the guy calmly replies: „Kiss?“ and points to the plastic bag.

That’s when I found out that KISS means BAG in Arabic. That time I said yes to the guy offering me kiss.

Reversing back a bit, when I was still living in Slovakia. From time to time I used to go shopping in Hypernova. And usually without a separate shopping bag. I got really annoyed every time at the counter, cause you have to buy the bag in Hypernova, you don’t get it for free like in Tesco.

Here in Egypt, you get free plastic bag(s) with any goods purchase. Be it a weekly groceries shopping in bigger chain or just one shower gel in a corner pharmacy. And they even pack your stuff in it and hand it over to you. Everyone takes it as it is. You buy a packaged bread IN plastic coating that you can easily carry in your hand, but you still let the guy to pack it in another white plastic bag. And give him 1-3 EGP as a bakshish.

So after my discovery in the pastries shop I now end almost every purchase with a casual „No kiss.“ I just see no use of it and it’s a small step I can take to limit my personal effect on the environment.

What about you? Do you also refuse the kisses in your shops?

Featured photo OMG Plastic Bag! by Adav 

Embracing novelty

Of all the passions of mankind, the love of novelty most rules the mind. In search of this, from realm to realm we roam. Our fleets come loaded with every folly home. (Shelby Foote on BrainyQuote).

I found this quote recently and I find it very true. However, it was not what inspired me to write about novelty. Actually, couple of days ago I must have experienced something new, because I posted this on my facebook:

Novelty facebook status(btw. quoting own facebook status that even didn’t receive any likes is a bit lame, isn’t it? ;))

Novelty brings inspiration. From new experiences new ideas sprout. Based on new ideas new actions are taken. New actions form new life.

I like my usual places. My usual ways. The usual days. They give my life feeling of certainty.

Though I know, that it is new coffee shop, new route home, new ways of living the days that bring the inspiration for new actions.

Trying something new is exciting. It brings the feeling of uncertainty and expectation.

Zo všetkých vášni ľudstva láska k novinkám vedie. Počas tohto zisťovania sme sa túlali z ríše do ríše.  Naše lode sa vracajú domov naplnené pochabosťami. (Shelby Foote na BrainyQuote).

Tento citát som nedávno našiel a zistil, že je to veľká pravda.  Avšak, to nebolo to, čo ma inšpirovalo k písaniu o novosti. Pravdupovediac, pred pár dňami som musel objaviť niečo nové, pretože som na facebook uverejnil:

Novelty facebook status

—>predklad :  novosť je korením vášho života … skúste niečo nové každý deň!
(mimochodom citovať vlastný facebook status, ktorý nedostal ani jeden like je divné, nemyslíte?;))

Novosť prináša inšpiráciu. Z nových skúseností rastú nové myšlienky. Na základe nových myšlienok podnikáme nové kroky. Nové kroky vytvárajú nový život.

Mám rád moje obvyklé miesta. Moje obvyklé spôsoby. Obvyklé dni. Dávajú mi pocit istoty v živote.

Hoci viem, že nová kaviareň, nová cesta domov, nový spôsob prežívania dní prináša inšpiráciu k novým krokom.

Vyskúšať niečo nové je vzrušujúce. Dodáva to pocit neistoty a očakávania. Pokračovať v čítaní: Embracing novelty

Never nothing going on

Moments to live. That’s all we have. How come we let them run through without noticing?

I guess many of you have seen the movie „Peaceful warrior„. If you haven’t, do so 🙂 It’s a story of a promising gymnast obsessed with competition and unable to find peace. He meets a mysterious guy who works at a gas station who teaches him how to find balance and peace.

One of the scenes that defines the movie for me, is when Dan (the gymnast) walks with „Socrates“ (the gas-station guy) in a university campus park and says „There’s nothing going on…“ See the clip:

Big moments in life are easy to spot, easy to be overwhelmed with. But more and more I realize that actually everything matters. Every moment. I’m practicing to spot and savor every moment to the fullest. What am I talking about? About everything:

  • That morning stretch in bed, when you don’t really want to get out, but you extend your hands and legs and feel the body waking up?
  • That feeling of joy, when you are taking shower and just for a moment enjoy the water falling on your head and streaming in small drops down your face and neck?
  • What about when you take the fresh new towel and rub your face in it. Smell it. Feel the fabric on your face.
  • The walk  to your bus stop and the fine breeze in your hair and the freshness on your face.
  • That when you wait on the bus stop and see mother walking her kid to the school bus and saying goodbye?
  • When after a hard day of work you finally come home and sit with full load into the armchair and all the weight of the world falls down of your shoulders?

That „everything“ I have in mind.

It’s not easy to be present in the moment. But it’s priceless.

I don’t like the „fatal scenarios“ too much, but somehow it makes people see the world differently. So imagine, that this is the last moments to live for you. Open your „eyes“ and see this „everything“ that you might have blindly ignored and savor it. Learn to do it regularly. Practice. Learn to see the beauty of life in every moment.

Learn to savor the moments to live. Is there really nothing going on?

Abandoning „good enough“

Many times I get stuck in the rush of working. Most of this times I do job that is good enough. But „good enough“ is just not good enough!

Approximately a year ago I agreed to prepare the development block for AIESEC Slovakia together with Ivana and Dey Dos. It was kind of first bigger opportunity to prepare some educational content with a lot of creative freedom and with people who get great things done (just check Ivana’s blog or Dey’s page).  I did not actually have too much to do. Just an introduction section for about 2 hours. I blew it. Well not totally. It was „good enough“. It served the purpose. But it definitely wasn’t awesome. I contributed. But not my best.

I told myself – „NEVER AGAIN!“ I took that opportunity to contribute and help people, but I didn’t deliver the best. Never again will I do something, that I care for, „good enough“.

Veľakrát som sa zasekol v pracovnom zhone. Väčšinou v tomto období vykonávam prácu celkom dobre. Ale „celkom dobre“ jednoducho nestačí!

Približne pred rokom som sa dohodol, že spolu s Ivanou a Dey Dos pripravím rozvojový blok pre AIESEC Slovensko. Bola to prvá veľká príležitosť pripraviť vzdelávací obsah s množstvom kreatívnej slobody a s ľuďmi, ktorí robia úžasné veci (pozrite si Ivanin blog alebo Deyovú stránku). V skutočnosti som nemal veľa na práci, iba úvodnú časť v trvaní cca. 2 hodiny. Pokašľal som to. Teda nie úplne. Bolo to „celkom dobré“. Slúžilo to účelu. Ale určite to nebolo úžasné. Prispel som, ale neurobil som to najlepšie, čo viem.

Povedal som si – „NIKDY VIAC!“ Vzal som túto príležitosť, aby som prispel a pomohol ľuďom, ale nespravil som všetko, čo je v mojich silách. Nikdy viac neurobím niečo, čo ma zaujíma, iba „celkom dobre“.
Pokračovať v čítaní: Abandoning „good enough“

Be the doer, not the worker

There are lot of differences between a regular employee and a high-performer. There are a lot of things that make people successful in what they do. One in particular is the attitude. I believe most of you have already had the chance to experience both sides of the stick.

What I consider a strong differentiator is whether one is „WORKING“ or „GETTING THINGS DONE“.

A lot of people are employed and they are working.

Working means showing up. Working means following rules. Working means leaving when it’s over. Working means checking time. Working means fear. Working means not-trusting. Working means retaining the status quo.

Fraction of employees is getting things done.

Je veľa rozdielov medzi bežným a vysokovýkonným zamestnancom. Je veľa vecí, ktoré napomáhajú ľuďom stať sa úspešnými v tom, čo robia. Jednou z nich je postoj. Verím, že väčšina z vás už mala možnosť okúsiť obe strany mince.

Za silný rozdiel považujem, či niekto „PRACUJE“ alebo „ODVÁDZA URČITÚ PRÁCU“.

Množstvo ľudí je zamestnaných a pracuje.

Pracovať znamená ukázať sa. Pracovať znamená nasledovať pravidlá. Pracovať znamená odísť, keď je koniec. Pracovať znamená sledovať čas. Pracovať znamená mať strach. Pracovať znamená neveriť. Pracovať znamená zachovávať status quo.

Úloha zamesntancov je odviesť určitú prácu.
Pokračovať v čítaní: Be the doer, not the worker

A reply to Jarda’s question

My friend Jarda Dokoupil posted an intriguing status question few days ago on facebook. „What is your wildest dream for the world?“

Jarda's question

As I did not want to reply it right away with something quick but I wanted to give it more thought, I said I’ll get back to him later.

My comment on the question

This is my answer.

Môj kamarát, Jarda Dokoupil, vyvesil nedávno na facebooku zaujímavú otázku: „Čo najdivokejšie si pre svet predstavujete?“

Jarda's question

Nechcel som reagovať ihneď, nejakou rýchlou odpoveďou, a tak som si vzal viac času na premyslenie. Napísal som, že sa k nemu vrátim neskôr.

My comment on the question

To je moja odpoveď. Pokračovať v čítaní: A reply to Jarda’s question

Call for all: Decline is the goal!

I’ve been taught, that growth is good. But so it seems this isn’t true in everything. At least not with the most important number in the world.

350 is the most important number on the planet!

Specifically, it is 350ppm – parts per million. 350 molecules of carbon dioxide (CO2) per million of  all molecules in the atmosphere. Simply it’s CO2 in the atmosphere

Imagine you have a Coke bottle with 1.000.000 of liquid parts. 900.650 are Coke. 350 is CO2 bubbles.

This  is the top safe level of CO2 in atmosphere for our planet. Unfortunately, to reach this number, we don’t have to grow anymore. We’re at 390! And this is over 2 years old info. And we grow 2ppm per year. Do the math. (btw 275 is where we were for all human history until about 200 years ago).

Myslel som si, že nárast je dobrý, no vyzerá to tak, že nie v každom prípade. Prinajmenšom nie, ak ide o najpodstatnejšie číslo na svete.

350 je najdôležitejšie číslo na planéte!

Konkrétne je 350ppm – častíc na milión. 350 molekúl oxidu uhličitého (CO2) na milión všetkých molekúl v atmosfére. Jednoducho CO2 je v atmosfére.

Predstavte si fľašu Coly, ktorá sa skladá z 1.000.000 časti tekutín. 900.650 z toho je Cola. 350 sú bubliny CO2.

Toto je najvyššia bezpečná úroveň CO2 pre našu atmosféru. Nanešťastie, na dosiahnutie tohto čísla nemusíme viac narastať. My sme na 390! A toto je informácia stará 2 roky. Rastieme ročne o 2ppm. Spočítajte to. (mimochodom 275 je číslo, na ktorom sme boli počas celej ľudskej histórie až do obdobia asi pred 200 rokmi).

Pokračovať v čítaní: Call for all: Decline is the goal!

Don’t have life. Rather live!

Life is neither hard, nor easy. Life is neither fair, nor unfair.

It’s funny, how we personalized life. We’ve made it a thing or a person for ourselves. Sometimes we get into thinking it’s outside of us, outside of our scope.

Let me just give a bit of though into some of the quotes on life.

Life is simple. Not easy.

Well, it’s none of those. It’s about HOW WE LIVE, not about HOW LIFE IS. Some people think living is difficult and it’s a never-ending struggle. Some decide that living should be filled with happiness and joy. For the first ones it’s easier to just think that „life is difficult“.

Život nie je ani ťažký, ani ľahký. Život nie je ani fér, ani nefér.

Je vtipné, ako osobne berieme život. Urobili sme z neho „vec“ alebo „osobnosť“ samú o sebe. Niekedy rozmýšľame, že je to mimo nás, mimo našu pôsobnosť.

Dovoľte mi trošku sa zamyslieť nad niektorými životnými citátmi.

Život je jednoduchý. Nie ľahký.

No…ani jedno z toho. Je to o tom AKO ŽIJEME, nie AKÝ JE ŽIVOT. Niektorí ľudia pokladajú život za zložitý a nekonečný boj. Niektorí sa rozhodnú, že by mal byť plný šťastia a radosti. Pre tých prvých je ľahšie myslieť si: „život je ťažký“.

Keď vám život ponúkne citróny, spravte citronádu.

Je tu niekto, kto ich dá vám! Vo väčšine prípadoch ste to vy sami, kto šiel dole ulicou a kúpil si ich vlastnými mincami = činmi.

Skutočne milujem citáty o živote. Zistil som, že sú inšpiratívne. Napriek tomu by sme sa mali vyvarovať odsúvania kontroly nad naším životom a nepoukazovať naňho ako na samostatnú bytosť. Prežívame naše činy a naše reakcie. Máme plnú kontrolu nad tým, čo robíme a ako reagujeme na to, čo robia iní.

A čo vy? Odsúvate váš život mimo vlastnej kontroly? Alebo vaše akcie a reakcie vykonávate s vedomím, že vytvárajú váš život?

Pokračovať v čítaní: Don’t have life. Rather live!

Testimony from a strange place

Some of you, who visited my blog lately, might have been wondering what happened. It’s a lot of silence on Moments to Live in last 4 weeks.

After June, when I was lucky to run into „Trust30“ initiative and thanks to that I had written a post almost every day, I faced the reality of actually not knowing what I had started this blog for. Well I knew I wanted to make the difference, inspire and influence people, but that’s a bit too vague, isn’t it? And it’s hard to inspire and lead if you have no home-base, no harbor to ship from.

I looked at the pile of ideas, topics and actions that I had imitated, copy-pasted or just taken from the trendy blogosphere and put here. Even many of the reactions in the #trust30 section seemed unauthentic and mindless for me. I thought: „Well, it’s okay. But it’s not me. It’s not personal. What is MINE in in?“

So I just got into the strange place. Where nothing felt right, but nothing caused acute pain. I started questioning myself, my past and current action, my deepest core. And it is good that I did. It uncovered not the prettiest picture of me, which I kept covered with few quick-fix solutions and self-fooling techniques in the past.

I found a mistake in the program I was running. And I had to turn off few features, before it causes more damage.

Some of you might now book 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. Some people think reading it is just a „trendy hype“, some take it extremely seriously. I took it as a book: a source of information, which can become knowledge, if I want to apply it.

Couple of times over the course of few last years I started reading it. Never finished. Now I finally have gone through it, taken time to think, search deeper inside and learn from it. Actually I still do keep thinking, summarizing notes and questions coming up.

I’ve always perceived myself, and many people perceived me, as a person of principle, of trust, of integrity. However, I just realize now, how little trustworthy I have been for myself in past few years. There are so little promises that I made to myself and kept, that I wonder I still have that much of self-confidence. I’ve kept better score with promises to others. Though, more and more I find myself putting even those behind, neglecting, „forgetting“, covering them with „business“ and „more urgent“ things…

And it feels wrong. Sadly, I saw it’s wrong and I keep doing it. It’s not unconscious mistake, it has been a conscious choice of wrong alternatives.

Just for the reference – Since my elementary school I have been overweight. Not extremely, but enough for me to be annoyed with that. And for past, well, almost 15 years, I have repeatedly promised myself to do something about it. I started a number of „workout“ schedules. With none of them I lasted more than 3 months.

In the book there’s one section that deals with „scripting“ of personality. It mentions 4 scripting paradigms, from which people justify their behavior. Three are external: genetics, family and environment. And then there are the internal principles. I think I’ve let myself to be so influenced by the environment that I almost turned off my own internal navigation system. Not that there’d been bad environment. It might have been bad or good. The point is that I left myself very little space for conscious and value-based decisions.

But even more touching section of the book, that deals with habit called „begin with the end in mind“. I thought I knew somewhat about leadership. I have been dealing with the topic for over 5 years. But in my own life, I neglected the major leadership/management difference, which „beginning with the end in mind“ is about – you have to take every action and decision with your principles in mind.

This is mainly why I kept out of writing lately. I have to spend more time in my own discovery. I have to clean my own mess before I try to be the public advisor. Private victories have to precede the public victories.

I hope you will have the patience to bear with me for few more weeks, because I believe this is one of the most fundamental actions that I need to take in the current course of my life. I have to anchor myself, because the world around me swirls faster and faster. And if I want to make the difference (which is one thing I am sure of), I have to find and use my changeless core.