About FOMO-free summer breaks, wholeness and vulnerability

It’s summer here in northern Germany as I am writing these lines. My vegetable garden is getting greener and lusher by the day, in part even with the things we actually want to grow and then also some other things that I struggle to keep at bay. The weather is mild. We had a week of holiday in June which we spent on two small and very different islands in the North Sea – Helgoland and Nordstrand.

One of the aspects we really enjoyed about our destinations was that there was not a lot to do.

Helgoland is perfect for nature watching – particularly birds. In early summer there are thousands of seabirds nesting in the cliffs and I found it wonderful to watch the comings and goings in the bird colonies. You get to observe the animals from up closer than I had expected; they don’t seem to be bothered in the least by the people watching them.

There is a small sandy beach, there are lots of nice little restaurants and you can take a boat trip, too. Apart from that, there is little you can do and this was lovely. So, if you have four days on Helgoland, there is no risk of missing out on anything. With some 3-4 things you can do on this tiny crumb of sandstone in the middle of the sea, it’s just a matter of in which order you do them and if the weather is favourable. Limiting options can feel very relaxing and liberating. It frees up headspace that you can use to cherish and fully take in the here and now.

We had four unusually warm and sunny days on Helgoland and then took the ferry back to the mainland from where we went up north a bit to Nordstrand, a small island that is connected to the mainland via a dam. Nordstrand is very green, has a lot more sheep than citizens and is ideal for cycling. You can go all around the island in one day by bike but we split it up into two days.

Experience-based learning around the development levels

I just returned from the second module of my new training program around team coaching and facilitation in Berlin. It was an intense two and a half days, a tour de force through different cultures and development levels as described in Reinventing Organizations / Spiral Dynamics. We got to experience first-hand their distinctive qualities, limitations and importantly also came to terms with what they trigger in ourselves. The module was titled «wholeness and new work» and we looked at different perspectives of what it means to be whole. This was a great reminder for me that wholeness implies integrating all aspects, even the ones we don’t like about ourselves or others so much.

The class who refused to be done with learning

In Berlin, I also met with colleagues from the previous education program I took part in at Les Enfants Terribles. Our class is committed to keeping in touch and continuing to learn with and from each other although the official program has long since been completed. There is just so much to discover in our line of work that we don’t want the journey to end just yet. We have been invited to co-create an article for LET’s online magazine about our experience and what drives us.

Flourishing work engagements on team and individual level

On the job side of things all is well. I am pleased to have a good mix of team coaching activities at my biggest client, two individual coaching journeys and also some training sessions and I am enjoying the variety of the different teams, topics and personalities.

The business at hppyppl also has been growing nicely in the past two months and we’re getting positive feedback from the companies we work with. Our team of seven has only met once so far and yet it feels like a close-knit bunch of people. The team spirit is remarkable, and I am proud to be part of this.

If I drop my armour, I become stronger

Speaking about feeling chuffed, I had the pleasure recently to be a guest in a wonderful podcast which I can highly recommend. The format is called «dropping your armour» and it is themed around authentic leadership. I think this is such a fascinating topic. It seems to me that in the business world, many people are so used to wearing their armour as a means of protection that it has become difficult for them to distinguish between where the armour ends and where they themselves begin. Has it ever occurred to you that many of the particularly «tough cookies» or «eager beaver» types of colleagues you come across could be just the protective outer appearance of what is in fact a very vulnerable person that’s hidden underneath?

At the end of the day, we all want the same – to be seen, heard and to belong

We just have quite different and sometimes weird ways of trying to satisfy these needs. We avoid to openly say what we really need for fear of being ridiculed. Instead, we behave strangely. In my case for example, I just want to be helpful and make a meaningful contribution and that sometimes led me to being pushy, driving or coming across as a confrontational know-it-all. I could probably have won over a lot more people for my ideas if I had been clear about my needs and showed my vulnerable self earlier. I am a firm believer that dropping your armour makes you stronger, not weaker – at least this has been the true for me.

I’d like to invite you to reflect: What kind of armour are you wearing? How might you show more of what you really truly are about and become more whole in the process?

I hope you are enjoying the pleasures of summer to the brim (without FOMO 😉) and am sending you warm greetings.


  1. Excellent read & share as always – thanks Sonja! I am also interested in « dropping the armour » – indeed a very a propos topic how one can reconcile leadership and vulnerability which is something I am exploring personally too in my new location. Wishing you a lovely European summer, no FOMO and lots of beautiful flowers /yummy veggies in your garden !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. YEAH: drop your armours and try a look inside a corner of your inner self where your soul speaks the loudest. I love your empowerments, Sonja.
    And I enjoyed our Berlin-Eveneing very very much … cu soon. LGBEA

    Liked by 1 person

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