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Lost on you

Lost on you

April 19, 2019
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Digital sabbath for twenty-four hours coming to a close, I plonk down on the sofa and bring my MacBook to my knee. Open Facebook. 63 notifications, of which a handful are of real interest.

As I browse my feed for a few minutes I stumble across a posting in What do you need help with today buddy asking about a specific artist. Curious George that I am, I am impressed that the first comment hit’s the hammer on the nail, with the little info given in the ask. I read on, finding a link to the song in question, open YouTube and am thrown onto the most unique stage presence I’ve encountered in a long while.

LPs videos keep on coming, and song after song enthralls me. The voice. The rhythms. The feeling!

Wowed, and grateful. Imagine, what a gift to receive, out of the blue, a new favorite artist, one I am eager to delve into.

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Podcast premiere: Doing Gentle with an Edge

April 8, 2019
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At long last, I got iTunes to accept my RSS feed of Doing Gentle with an Edge.

So. Now it’s here. My pod. My very own podcast. 

I’ve been on a few podcasts, but have never had my own. Until now. So I am so proud that I’ve gotten this far! Because this is me, shipping, to use the Seth Godin-term. Putting it out there for the world to hear. (And yes. It is scary. But this is the second of my brain children I’ve been birthing into the world this month, so hey, I am getting the hang of this. Each time, it gets a bit less scary, but always, always, the feeling of champagne bubbles coursing through my body is there!)

I’ve gotten a lot of help in the process.
A Google+ reader commented on a Doing Gentle blog post sometime in 2016, urging me to record it, because – she said – she just knew it would come across differently when read aloud, the beauty and rhythm of my texts.
Søren Lassen Andreasen has helped me record, edit and produce the episodes – and boy has he been patient with my nit-picking to get everything sounding as good as possible.
Olof Jennfors has written the pod soundtrack.
Anders Roos took the picture of me, that I’m using as the pod artwork at the moment.

I’ve described the show thus:
Learning how to do gentle towards yourself can be, for you, the key to loving living life. At least, that’s what doing gentle did to me, Helena Roth, once I understood that it was actually an option.

Imagine having turned 30+ before ever realizing it’s possible to be gentle with myself. From that moment in time, I’ve re-learned how to be in the world – both inside and outside of myself. Here I will be sharing the tools and tricks I’ve picked up along the way, hoping it will help you transform from a victim of the epidemic of harshness into a proud practitioner of doing gentle.

Will you listen?
(Please. Listen.
Let me know what you think, what you like/dislike.
Share it if you think it’s worth sharing, or I am worth supporting.)


Find Doing Gentle with an Edge in a podplayer near you, or via these links:
iTunes https://apple.co/2uSd94d
Spotify https://spoti.fi/2G2XMuI 
Acast https://play.acast.com/s/doinggentlewithanedge?

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Have you thanked God for this failure already?

April 3, 2019
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Podclub coming up. Making/Creating is the theme.
Seth Godin, Milton Glaser, and then… not a pod at all, but a short clip on YouTube of Arvo Pärt giving a commencement speech. Sitting on the bus early in the morning, I press play, and then…

Have you thanked God for this failure already?

God bumps and tears in my eyes.
Absolutely captivated.

The most sensitive musical instrument is the human soul. The next is the human voice.
One must purify the soul until it begins to sound. 

Ah.
These words.
But more than that… the way he says it…
Riveted, I shiver, from the power, the passion, the heartfelt and intense sincerity.

God knits man in his mother’s womb, slowly and wisely.
Art should be born in a similar way.

The video ends and my bus reaches its final destination.
I gather my things, wrap my coat around me and step – newborn – off the bus. Onto the ground.

Feeling vulnerable.
Naked.

Hello world. Please.
Be gentle. Embrace me. Gently.
That’s what I need. Want.

The criterion must be, everywhere and only, humility.

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A fine balance (book 3 of 12)

March 24, 2019
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A fine balance, written by Rohinton Mistry. This book, that I read the first time in 1997, while doing my degree project in Thailand to get my Masters in Biology. My brother put the book in my hand, and then did not see me for the next twenty-two hours, as I simply could not put the book down. Ever since I’ve stated A fine balance as the best book I’ve ever read, recommending it high and low.

“Flirting with madness was one thing; when madness started flirting back, it was time to call the whole thing off.”

So when I stumbled upon a copy at a flea market a while ago, I bought it, with the intention of rereading it. To ensure I would read it and really reflect upon it, given the importance I’ve put upon this book ever since that first read, I picked it as my book choice in the Gifted book club.

Still the best book I’ve ever read?
Now I’ve re-read it. And discussed it in Gifted.
So… is it still the best book I’ve ever read?
Do I still peg it at the number one position of all the books (3000 or so) that I’ve read?

And what about the fact that not just me, but my brother, my mother, my father as well as my two nieces all rank it as the best book they have ever read as well? We are a family of bookworms, yet we read quite different genres, generally speaking, so to have us all say this about A fine balance seems quite significant.

“Time had turned the magical to mundane.”

It did not grip me the way it did the first time around. I read it “like a normal book”, without any major problems to put it down after having read 10-15 pages or so. So I did not have that all-nighter-reading-experience again.

An intricate weave
It is a good book though. It is gripping. The intricate weave of the lives and destinies of the four major characters is like a tapestry of the middle ages, one of those many meters long tapestries depicting all sorts of stories at the same time. The Bayeux Tapestry comes to mind. A fine balance is that rich – containing enough sub-stories and interesting side characters to make it into ten different novels if Mistry had wanted to. Instead, he condensed it all down into one thick book.

Me, an ignorant Swede
When I read it the first time, I was astonished to understand that Indira Gandhi was not “just good”. As an ignorant young Swede, I had only picked up on the fact that here was a female Prime Minister of a huge country, something that still has yet to happen in Sweden (having a female head of state, that is). So the book opened me up to understand that there was more to it than that, much more.

“You see, you cannot draw lines and compartments, and refuse to budge beyond them. Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.”

And I think those aspects, the much more than I had understood before-aspects of A fine balance, are actually the ones that still, my second read, tugged at me the most. I just do not want to accept the atrocities we humans can inflict on other humans. I. Do. Not. Be it demolishing the hovels of the destitute congregating in slum areas, the way Beggarmaster ensures his beggars have the appropriate combination of heart-tugging handicaps, be it blindness or the loss of limbs, or how Indian state and local officials performed the most horrendous acts of violence upon their citizens during the Emergency. I just do not want to accept that things like this happen. But it does.

Best book ever, still?
The language of the book is beautiful, Mistry paints his story using rich and colorful language like many Indian authors seem to. Resembling the rich and colorful country that is India? But is it still the best book I’ve ever read?

Well. Yes – because that’s how it affected me the first time I read it. And, well, no, because this time around it did not grip me as thoroughly as it did then, and I have other books more recent in mind that have. It is definitely worth reading though, don’t get me wrong! All of us in the Gifted book club agreed on that, even though it – once more – became so apparent that there are many different ways to read a book. Makes for interesting book club conversations, and thank god for that, otherwise, what would be the point right?


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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Certainty is a closing of the mind

March 16, 2019
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Listens to Jonathan Fields on Good Life Project, interviewing Milton Glaser. Interesting and thought-provoking, as these podcasts usually are. However, one thing stood out enormously in this episode:

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I’ve spent so much of my life in certainty. Ridiculously so, and only to a certain degree can I attribute this stance to youth and ignorance. I kept up that attitude for too long, to the detriment of my own well being.

I am experimenting more and more with the latter though – the doubting, the questioning, the exploration of new thought, new ideas, new ways of being and doing. And boy, does it ever make for a much more fun and exciting life! There is so much to discover in life, and that’s the road I want to travel.

But still, there are things I am certain of, I guess. But they become fewer and fewer. And I no longer believe my beliefs are permanent. It feels more like I am where I am today, believing whatever I have come to realize by this point of life, but who knows what tomorrow might bring? I sure don’t.

What are you certain about?


This is a reposting of a blog post originally published on my other blog January 26th, 2014. 

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Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school (book 2 of 12)

February 24, 2019
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Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school.
A book by Alan Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.

“In the end, nobody can give you professional capital. It’s an investment. […] Nobody’s going to be prepared to invest in anyone unless they are willing to invest in themselves. This is by far the best place, and indeed the first place, to begin.” 

I remember a coachwalk I had with a client, who got a massive insight into exactly this: how he had mistakenly believed that it was the sole responsibility of his employer to invest in him, rather than something he also had responsibility for. By (also) investing in himself, he would be increasing his own human and professional capital, serving both himself as well as his current, and future, employers.

“Working with big ballroom audiences, or conducting training workshops outside of school or using one-to-one coaching to enforce compliance with imposed programs, has little deep or long-standing impact on teachers’ daily practice.
What is crucial is what happens between workshops. Who tries things out? Who supports you? Who gives you feedback? Who picks you up when you make a mistake the first time? Who else can you learn from? How can you take responsibility for change together? The key variable that determines success in any innovation, in other words, is the degree of social capital in the culture of your own school Learning is the work, and social capital is the fuel. If social capital is weak, everything else is destined for failure.”

As I have been working with Pernilla Tillander with all pre-school as well as all school-staff in the commune of Skurup in the south of Sweden during 2017-2018, I am totally onboard here. We have done four half-day workshops with all staff (in groups of maximum 70 people), spread out over two semesters, with process leaders following up b e t w e e n the modules – and those follow-up sessions have been absolutely critical for the success of the personal group development we were hired to provide! Because the truth is this: we can provide an opportunity for personal group development through leadership training. But we, me and Pernilla, are not the ones who makes it happen for real, that is up to the participants. We do our bit of the work, of course, but the rest is up to the participants. They have to do the work: “The best place to begin is always with yourself. Your own experiences, frustrations, ideals, and sense of self are the crucial starting points.”

Now, this is a book with a lot of good stuff. It’s well laid out and presented, and ends with clear and concise suggestions for developing roadmaps ahead, on three levels, for teachers; for school and district administrators; and for state, government and union/federation leaders. And I definitely think there’s a lot of value to be had, in making the suggested changes to ensure a growing and continuously evolving professional capital. (And honestly, they do target teaching and education, but there’s plenty of value for any person, organization or workplace interested in culture and development through learning better, more and continuously.)

Hargreaves and Fullan push all the way to the edges of the box I call the school system. But boy would I like to see them push beyond those edges! Now that would be something extraordinary, that’s for sure. Because although they are great at prodding sore spots, identifying areas that must be transformed…. they are still locked within the paradigm of schools, in the way schools are, and have been, since they were first created. They do make a pass at the unit of the lesson but fail to take their own advice, never fully making a pass at the unit of schools.

“The unit of the lesson that Hattie adopts as the standard currency of teaching and schooling is more than a century old. Yet, lessons have never been the only unit of teaching and they will likely become less and less the unit of teaching in the future. […] If we are saying that it is outdated to base teachers’ contracts on class sizes, using the class as the unit of calculation, then we have to acknowledge that among administrators and researchers, the lesson may be and should be becoming equally outdated as the unit of teaching and learning too.”

Don’t you agree with me that it would be very interesting to see them take this critical viewpoint up a notch or two, encompassing the entire system of schooling and education?


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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Automate it!

February 6, 2019
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Automate it, I said, and she frowned. That sounds like robots and stuff, she responded and had me off on a rant about the marvel of automating things, and how it can be robots and stuff, certainly, but also what I make automatic in my life. Like the question Does this serve me? which I’ve asked myself thousands of times since… 2012?

In fact, I’ve asked myself this question so many times, that I no longer have to ask it to answer it. It’s now something I do automatically, whenever (or at least most of the times) I experience a really strong sensation, be it anger, irritation, frustration, fear, sadness, anxiety, worry. Or for that matter extreme elation, joy, curiosity, bubbling eagerness. The script of does this serve me runs automatically, and my response has me make a more conscious decision. It gives me just enough of a pause, or a distance if you will, to be able to observe what I am experiencing and respond to the question.

If the answer is yes I keep on going. If the answer is no sometimes I keep going anyway, taking full responsibility for it, and sometimes (most of the times, I would like to think) I stop, since the pause I’ve given myself gives me a way out somehow.

Insights are amazing. They are one of, if not the best superpowers of human beings. One of the most impactful insights I’ve gotten was that I don’t have to be so hard on myself. Sounds silly almost, but I was actually about… let’s see… 35 years old when I fully got this. So for 35 years, I lived with an extremely harsh inner dialogue. But – and this is important – just because I got the insight, didn’t mean that I automatically stopped being hard on myself. You see, for 35 years, I’d very efficiently built a whole system of neural pathways on how to be hard on myself. And just because I got that insight, those pathways didn’t disintegrate. They didn’t, because neural pathways don’t. (Unless you have a neural degenerative disease of some sort. Luckily, most of us don’t.) So what I had to do, once I got that insight, was learn new ways of interacting with myself.

I was helped along by my willingness to change my inner dialogue (which definitely also affected the way I interacted with everyone else. As above, so below and all that stuff!) and my observatory powers. I started to observe myself being hard on me. At first… it could take me hours (if not days) to spot it, after the fact, that is. After a stint of that, my revelatory observations crept closer and closer to the actual situation, and before I knew it, I was picking up on my soon-to-be-harsh inner dialogue. Before it happened. When that happened, I had a choice. Harsh. Or gentle. And I could pick which route to go down. And once I started picking gentle I started to build new neural pathways, training myself into new patterns of being with me.

Now 10-11 years after that first initial insight of not having to treat myself so harshly, I’ve gotten sooo good at being gentle with me. Not soft. Not weak. Not letting myself off the hook, and never challenging me. No, not even close to that! I challenge myself so much more now that I no longer fear my internal judge! So in a sense, I’ve not just automated does this serve me, but also being gentle with myself.

Both of these are ”automated scripts” that I find truly serve me as well as those around me.

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Learn as you go along

January 30, 2019
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Plan. Do. Check. Act.

Repeat.

Is it as simple as that?

Well. Yes.
I mean, why not? Keeping it simple is an art, and continuous improvement doesn’t have to be much harder than this.

This is called the PDCA-cycle and it is useful for many a person, organization and business. Having been around for approximately 60 years, it’s been tried and tested many a time.

A newer way to phrase it, that I find fairly similar, is in the format of the Design Thinking Process:
Empathize. Define. Ideate. Prototype. Test.

It is possible to make it even simpler though, getting it down to three steps:
Plan. Do. Evaluate.

Repeat.

Try to keep short cycle times, iterating over and over again, learning as you go along. Trying to work things out in advance, without interacting with the people you are trying to engage, you run the risk of creating something nobody is interested in. Plan – do – evaluate, and iterate, over and over again, tweaking and refining as you go along. Combine it with deep practice, and you’ve really got one serious learning curve to look forward to!

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The Ultimate Podcast list

January 28, 2019
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  1. Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn: Truth, Beauty, Banjo – On Being with Krista Tippett 
  2. Gordon Hempton: The Last Quiet Places: Silence and the Presence of Everything – On Being with Krista Tippett
  3. Seth Godin: Learn to see, leave them changed – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  4. Mitch Albom: Building a life and living that matters – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  5. Tyler Wetherall: My dad was a fugitive: A life on the run – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  6. Sarah Bassin and Abdullah Antepli: Holy Envy – On Being with Krista Tippett
  7. The Personality Myth – Invisibilia
  8. Scilla Elworthy: Pioneering the possible – RSA Events
  9. Julia Butterfly Hill: Living with meaning – Peak Prosperity (blogged about here, here and here as well)
  10. Glenn Beck: What you do will be a pivot point – On Being with Krista Tippett
  11. Greatness is not just about skill, it’s about essence – Good Life Project riff with Jonathan Fields
  12. Mohammed Fairouz: The world in counterpoint – On Being with Krista Tippett
  13. Andi Puddicombe: From monk to entrepreneur: How Andy Puddicombe became the modern voice of meditation and mindfulness – Rich Roll podcast
  14. Help me remember – Terrible, Thanks for Asking
  15. Amichai Lau-Lavie: First Aid for Spiritual Seekers – On Being with Krista Tippett
  16. Seth Godin on Books, Business, Choices and Life – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  17. Gretchen Rubin: The Four Tendencies (How to start and stick to anything) – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  18. Linda and Charlie Bloom: When life partners become business partners – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  19. Annette Gordon-Reed and Titus Kaphar: Are we actually citizens here – On Being with Krista Tippett
  20. How to become Batman – Invisibilia

The Ultimate Podcast list according to me.
It is my intention to blog about each and every one of these episodes. By clicking the link of each podcast you will be directed either to my blog post (with links to the episode) or to the podcast itself.
In time I might present the pods differently, but for now, a straight up and down numerical list which does not rank episodes it is. Post initially published 28JAN2019.

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The Talent Code (book 1 of 12)

January 27, 2019
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The Talent Code. Written by Daniel Coyle. Subtitled Greatness isn’t born, it’s grown. The basis of this entire book is this: Skill is a cellular insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows in response to certain signals. This is, in other words, a book about one thing: myelin. The fatty layer that wraps around neurons insulating the neural thread, so the signal can travel more rapidly along it.

It’s also a book about three things, which is how the central nervous system generates more myelin:
Deep practice
Ignition
Master coaching

Deep practice“It’s all about finding the sweet spot. There’s an optimal gap between what you know and what you’re trying to do. When you find that sweet spot, learning takes off.”

Ignition is about finding that thing you love. Stoking the fire, wanting to put more fuel on it, daily. And that requires character: “Usually, we think of character as deep and unchanging, an innate quality that flows outward, showing itself through behavior. KIPP shows that character might be more like a skill – ignited by certain signals, and honed through deep practice.” 

Might be more like a skill? No. No doubt in my mind. Character is as flexible and formative as any other skill. Learning to read and write, to dance and sing, to ride the bike and drive a car. Skills that we can acquire. Learning to be kind and generous, helpful and loving, funny and intense. Or for that matter unkind and harsh, mean and petty, jealous and hateful. All skills we can learn, even though these latter are usually talked about as character traits rather than skills. But we can learn them. It’s not a matter of being born with or without. Practice makes perfect (given that the practice is deep of course!).

Master coaching is being this kind of teacher: to get [the student] inside the deep-practice zone, to maximize the firings that grow the right myelin for the task, and ultimately to move closer toward the day that every coach desires, when the students become their own teachers. 

In the words of Robert Lansdorp, professional tennis coach: “If it’s a choice between me telling them to do it, or them figuring it out, I’ll take the second option every time. You’ve got to make the kid an independent thinker, a problem-solver. I don’t need to see them every day, for chrissake. You can’t keep breast-feeding them all the time. The point is, they’ve got to figure things out for themselves.”

Another way to put it is in the words of Thomas Carruthers: “A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” 

I’ve experienced this several times in my professional life, and it is the most rewarding experience I can think of. When I am no longer needed, my work is done, and I can move on. It’s simply the best ever!

The Talent Code is a fast and easy read, shining the light on learning in the most helpful way. 10 minutes of guitar playing a day, is on my list of intentions for 2019. And yup, I will be tweaking it towards more of a deep practice, that’s for sure!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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