Transformations underway

What has the young year of 2021 brought so far? Lockdown is still with us, carried over from December so it has been another month with a relatively small range of motion outside the house.

Healthy body, healthy mind

I have taken up daily walks and I am proud to say that I am not only sticking to that new routine of incorporating a daily walk of 20-90 minutes into my day, but I have now come at a point where I enjoy it and I crave it. I really notice how much I miss my walk when it happens later in the day. Isn’t it incredible how such a small intervention can have such profound effects? No wonder that daily walks are often considered a pivotal part of anti-depression treatment and psychotherapy. I like exploring the walks that start right from our doorstep; still haven’t done them all in all combinations possible and there is so much to discover, even on familiar paths if you walk at a different time of day. The other day when I was walking early in the morning during sunrise, I saw deer grazing right in front of me and a heron taking flight no more than 3 metres away. I must have disturbed him during his morning fishing session in the small channel that runs through the fields here. Sometimes Klaus and I also drive to a nice spot nearby or to a beach. There are so many glorious beaches round here.

Of course, I also participated in Adriene’s annual 30 day yoga journey which she offers every January. This year the motto was “breath” and it has been lovely! #ywabreath. If you missed it but would like to try, you can still do it in your own time whever you like.
Thanks to walking and daily yoga I am now also beginning to fit into most of my jeans again and won’t have to buy new ones – yay!

One other thing I have been really grateful for is to have my own sauna in the garden. It’s just wonderful when the weather is cold and damp to enjoy a hot relaxing “air bath” followed by a cool-down ouside (last night even a rub-down with fresh snow) or just under the shower. So invigorating! I wouldn’t want to live without a sauna anymore unless I have to.

Celebrating the small pleasures

I am still baking my own bread, a new loaf every week – and the learning curve continues. I get organic flour from a local mill that’s fresh and high quality. One other nice routine around food that I would like to share is this: We have blackbord foil on the surface of one of our large cupboards in the kitchen. Onto this, I write each day with chalk what we’re going to have for dinner. I try to make it look a bit like in a restaurant. This lifts our anticipation, it makes the ordinary feel special. Sometimes I get a raised eyebrow from Klaus because he finds a combination odd as it reads on the board, but most days we’re both happy with what I put on the table.

This is how work should feel like

On the work side of things there is a lot going on: I was involved in a sprint with one of my clients which meant a full week of very focussed work on one topic in a diverse team. I found it difficult at first to settle in because dedicating my undivided attention to one topic for so long is something I am no longer used to, but very soon I got into the rythm of the familiar rituals again; so much so that I was a bit sad when the week ended. We designed an interview guide, conducted a total of 22 interviews with stakeholders all across the organisation, distilled the insights and now the crew is equipped with many promising ideas as starting points of the coming sprints on how to improve the efficacy of the organisation. One of my highlights during the week: One person on the team who did not have any prior experience with agile ways of working, was completely blown away by how it felt to work in that team compared to what he was used to where he came from. He said something along the lines of: “You’re so kind to each other and nobody ducks away when there’s work, all are keen to help. There’s no fingerpointing or pushing others down – I didn’t know that work can feel as good as that.” I beamed with joy at that feedback. Yes!!! These are exactly the kind of transformation that I work towards, this is exactly the kind of change I want to enable in the world, this is how work should feel like – for everyone and every day. I am touched by the thought and proud of the fact that with my work, I help bring more of these transformations about.

Explorations into new channels of engagement

And then of course, there is my favourite HR startup hppyppl where there is a lot of healthy hustle and bustle right now. We re-vamped the strategy, adjusting the target market based on the latest insights, we are getting new clients on board, we faciliated workshops and also adjusted our marketing and social media tactics. Channel-wise, we made the decision to experiment with going full throttle on Clubhouse with a daily hppyppl tlk at 13:30 CET, so for the late lunchtimers.

There are also other hppyppl-driven formats like a Fuck-Up night or a session in which companies can pitch their open positions and themselves as employers to potential candidates. Clubhouse has been an interesting experience so far. We have anywhere between 20 and several hundred people joining the sessions. I doubt if that would be possible at such short notice and so easily on other channels. The setup is like a fishbowl format but only audio; there are a couple of people “on stage” and anyone can raise their hand to join the discussion if the speakers permit. A little bit like a live-podcast that you can hop into. I know that the platform is being discussed quite controverially and I see the downsides, but I have the impression that the opportunities and benefits outweigh the negatives. What I like about Clubhouse is that it’s audio-only, so you can really focus on what is said. Anyone can host conversation rooms. There is a bit of a pecking order around the number of followers as you would expect, so people are more likely to join rooms hosted by people with lots of followers, but I very often see sessions in which newbies get equal airtime to experienced speakers and we also try to practice that in the formats that we host.

I must admit that I would probaly not have checked out Clubhouse, if it would’nt have been for Jelena who is a total a social media enthusiast (bit bonkers, but in the most lovely way) and always up to speed with the latest and greatest developments on that front. Anyway, we will take stock of the experiment after a while and then decide where to take it from there.

Are appearances becoming less important?

I posted a survey on LinkdIn the other day about whether appearances in general are becoming less important. A bit over halft the people say they sahre this impression. During the first lockdown, we learned to work in comfy clothes. With filters in Zoom and a good ringlight I have noticed that I don’t need to put on make-up anymore. On Clubhouse it’s audio-only. So might it be that there is a subtle transformation underway? Might we be becoming less superficial?

With our ACB project, we’ re also transforming at the moment and taking time to adjust what we’re doing and how. This is also an experiment and I am glad that we have the freedom to play around with this project and the curiosity to learn as we go along, also about ourselves and each other.

I have been a guest on two podcasts this month and another invitation is coming up very soon. Sharing my story and thinking out loud with colleagues about ongoing transitions and how the world could be is something I enjoy a lot. I will share the links here with you as they become available.

What would make winter even better?

One thing that I do miss up here is snow – it pains me a little bit to see images from friends who take walks in wintery forests or swish gracefully downhill on their skis (in Switzerland). Snow is very rare where we are. Last night, we had the first real snow, so you can imagine what a joy these 20-30 millimetres bring. We will cherish it as long as it lasts (probably two days :-)). Maybe next winter we can take the ferry over to Finland or Sweden, rent a little cabin somewhere and cruise around on our cross-country skis. That would be awesome. Something to look forward to.

Hope you’re well, wherever this finds you and that you also get to enjoy some of winter’s gifts.

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