Archive for August, 2015

Reflection Mondays

August 31st, 2015

Mondays are a day for me to reflect on the past week, especially when the weekend was somehow included and made it a package, not a bookend. Today, this is one of my tasks: reflect on last week and place it into perspective.


Part of last week’s story is not totally mine alone. A dear friend and neighbor died after a long hard illness on Thursday morning AND his daughter celebrated her wedding vows on the following Saturday afternoon. Both pieces of life were very emotional and energy consuming enough alone; yet this past week they were bound together. Life and death: past, present, future. But for me, as I am really only an on-looker to this drama, I feel the sadness, the joy, the anger and grief, the amazing freeing love of the family and stand amazed… What a great party on Saturday evening! It was truly a wonderful celebration! I am amazed, and recovering from the immense energy of raw emotion.



That dance of life and death would have already been enough for me to reflect on, but of course, there’s work and there are other activities in my life that made up my week. For example, I was part of a good, but not easy meeting that must continue as a conversation in the near future, to come to some decisions about the future direction of a program. Then there was the annual social/outdoor work event that took place in the wind and rain. That day was quite beneficial for body, mind, networking, and soul (it was fun); there were good conversations and great food, as usual. I saw people who I don’t usually get to see during regular working hours and I met a new co-worker or two. But the walking, wind and rain left me physically drained. I slept well that night, but awoke to very stiff muscles. I have been working on those muscles ever since.


Begin this week with some reflection

What do you do to begin your week? Do you look at your calendar and prepare mentally and physically for the days to come? Do you reflect on the previous week, on what you learned and experienced? Do you try and place all these activities, emotions and relationships into an integrated whole? Today I am doing these very things.


A rather important part of how I do my reflection is to look at my assumptions and decide if they are limiting me and if they are true. I thank Nancy Kline and her books, “Time to Think” and “More Time to Think” for the following ideas for you to consider.


Time to Think

So, here goes: What am I assuming that is stopping me (or the business) from moving forward? Do I think the assumption is true? What is true and liberating instead? If I knew that the true and liberating assumption is correct, how would I go forward?


For example (my own example, Nancy’s formula), I see that my customer/client base is shrinking. I suddenly have no idea as to the way to generate more growth. So, I ask myself, “What am I assuming that is stopping my thinking?” Then I might think, “I am assuming that nobody wants my product/service. After all, it’s new and why would they pay attention to it?” So then you think about this. Is there proof for this assumption? “Is it really true that nobody wants my service/product?” Then I would say, “Well, that’s a supposition, an assumption.” So, then I would ask myself, “If it is not true that nobody wants my product/service, what are my words for what is true and liberating—for a way out of this thinking?” Then I might think, “The market has been proven to be open and ready for the business and what I offer.” So, then I would ask myself, “If the market is open for our business and its products, what could I do about the customer base?” and then “What more could I do?” And so on…


I wish you a reflective, productive, and very liberating week!

Patricia Jehle

Transitions got you down?

August 25th, 2015

“Transitions are almost always signs of growth, but they can bring feelings of loss. To get somewhere new, we may have to leave somewhere else behind.” – Fred Rogers


Transitions=Grief Process

This week and month are ones of transition for me. How about you? Transition is always, as Fred Roger said, a kind of loss. We had guests, for example, and now they are gone. I was quite sad when they left because they are wonderful people and we had great fun together.


Expats experience loss through transition quite often. The most simple kind is the above example: guests, family and friends, come and then go. But there are more: job transitions, moving, saying goodbye to old – or newly made – friends. Lots of times expat friends must suddenly move away. Sometimes we do not realize the goodbye has happened until after people are gone and we have to work backwards through the mourning process.


A matter of life, and death

Unfortunately, life happens to all of us, and that means death, as well. For me, I have been faced with death all summer. A friend suddenly lost his father this summer. My daughter’s colleague lost his mother in an accident last week. A dear friend lost her newborn daughter after less than 48 hours together last week. My dear neighbor is suffering from terminal cancer and we do not expect him to life till next year. and there are more situations I won’t recount here. These situations are heavy transitions; the mourning is much deeper, much longer.


We must work through the stages of grief as shown above in the infographic, based on the Kubler-Ross Model, so that we can really function well in life. This means actually facing the situation, the feelings of anger, disbelief, the deep sadness we might feel, so that we can begin to try and live again. My friends and neighbors have a tough road ahead of them, but I in my own way am also mourning with them. I feel anger at the injustice of a baby dying; I feel sadness for my daughter’s friend at the loss of his mother so early in life. Emotions are good; they are what make us human. We shouldn’t be afraid to cry with our friends who are mourning. In fact it may encourage them, help them feel that we are a “small part” of their grief process. Take your time and feel your feelings when you grieve a loss.


Lessons learned

The lesson for us as expats is that we, too, have to work through our grief. A lot of our anger that we experience may not really about the immediate situation, but might be about the grief of change: moving away from home, losing identity (especially for trailing spouses), having to say goodbye to yet another friend. These are a few good examples of reasons to stop and grieve. Then, of course, there is general transition that everyone experiences from time to time. Even those need to be worked through: change from school to work, or even a job promotion, or a change of work space.


Therefore, when you are surprised by your anger or sadness, stop and reflect. Work through the emotion and discover the reason, so that you might be a more effective, not a reactive, person. But remember that the transitions, as Mr. Rogers said, are also signs of growth, so be reassured.

Back to work: Too much to do?

August 18th, 2015
The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix

I resurfaced last week and found a long list of to dos waiting for me. I used the POSEC and Eisenhower models to help me. Being the practical person that I am, I have kept the “first things first” attitude and worked on the Eisenhower Principal this week. The idea comes from a quote by former US president Eisenhower: “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”


This little tool helps me clarify my priorities and delegate the non-essentials. Here’s how it goes:




You have four variables for each task on your to do list: important or not, and urgent (time-wise) or not. That leaves you with the most important jobs that are important and urgent to do first. In the grid, these activities are in red.



Then you have the activities which you put into your agenda and keep. These are the important activities that are not urgent. In the grid you find them in green. I would add all the activities that keep you a healthy and happy person here, as well as the job to-dos.



Since I own my business consultancy and have nobody to delegate to, the orange box means I have to “outsource”. At the moment, this is only the cleaner, my husband or children. But if you are working in a team, have an apprentice, or an employee, the urgent but not important activities are to be delegated.



Finally there are the things from your list that are just “fluff”. Get rid of those things as they are neither urgent nor important and they waste your time.


Once you have your list of to-dos in order of priority, you go on with the POSEC Model


Done, using the Eisenhower matrix J



Decide what are one-time, yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily activities and by importance and urgency, organize your day, week, etc.



The activities hat must be done that you dislike. And, after the DO list do these

to “get them over with”, as they can drain you of energy, if left undone for too long. Here the proverbial “Just do it!” comes in to play.



Do not spend too much time on the fun things so you have no time left over for the DO list Be careful not to waste your time and make sure you are using your best energy time on the your important things and lowest energy time on the less important (but urgent) things.


Contribute to society by doing one or two things that you are passionate about that are for the “greater good”. This, in turn will keep you energized about life and work.


Finally, remember, after your DO list, to do the “worst things” to get them done and not weighing on you, stay positive and take frequent (but short) breaks to keep your mind fresh and focused, and enjoy the summer weather out there!


Re-surfacing: returning to work after a long holiday

August 11th, 2015


We as a family have just had more than two weeks of holiday. It’s been great, but returning to the job can be difficult if you attack the workload too quickly. Sometimes returning to work can be emotionally or physically difficult, especially if you have really had a mental break from your every-day schedule. It can feel like you are a deep-sea diver coming to the surface again, facing a foreign world from where you have recently been. Here are some things I try to do to make the re-adjustment smooth; maybe you can do them too!


Start on a Wednesday, or even Thursday

Make your first work-week lighter by only working a few days, or perhaps schedule something “fun” first, such as a training day, or a team building day where you have no choice but to ignore your email list.


Alternatively, check the email list immediately when you return (at home – and be brutal with your triage, no replies, just deletes).


Start slowly, with lowered expectations

Do not plan a long first day or two, but slowly get into your list of “to-dos”; don’t expect to get finished with your list, but try to focus on one or two key goals for the first few days. Remember to reacquaint yourself with the team, the space, and the food, too. Perhaps you have a souvenir you want to put on your desk to remind you of the great time you have just had.


Revisit your vacation memories

Speaking of souvenirs, maybe you want to review your photos, or try and make that green curry you learned to make in cooking class. As a family, we always bring back food and the most recent trip was to places that allowed us to have an awesome “German Vesper” with sausages, cheeses, spreads, wonderful bread – and of course, great beer. The meal was away for us to re-live the holiday experience in our own home, and was a way to anchor it in our memories.


Have or make future holiday plans

Not only are we attending a wedding at the end of the month, but we already have plans for a week away together in the fall, not to mention some friends are visiting next week and some family are visiting next month. So, although we will be working, we have very positive activities to look forward to. This helps when work gets tough: we can look ahead to the next mini-break (a weekend away celebrating a marriage of friends) and to the next longer break in October. These plans help make the days pass with positive thoughts.