Archive for June, 2016

Waiting can be good for us…

June 21st, 2016



I am waiting. Waiting for summer to really arrive, in more ways than one. Waiting for (hopefully good) news on many fronts, including Brexit, too.


Having lived about half my life in a country where Memorial Day, is the “beginning of summer”. I have always felt that mid-July is way too late for summer vacation, for my, my husband’s and the kids’ holidays, to begin. Here in Switzerland, June is a school month.


After all, one should be able to experience the solstice today and not worry about school. But no, there are tests to take (and/or correct) and meetings to attend well past that wonderfully wistful date of the midnight sun. Here it’s around 10pm or so when the sun sets and we have these great new Adirondack chairs to sit in and watch it.


So I am waiting for summer holidays to begin, but it looks like a long four weeks for us Jehles.


Except for my middle child, who has finished taking his high school (gymnasium) final exams – a process of something like a month. Now he has two weeks to go as he is waiting for a different kind of beginning: The Swiss Military Recruit Training School. He is looking forward to about five months of no studying but instead learning all sorts of new skills that have little to do with academia.


I am also waiting for the rain to stop. Perhaps you know of the flooding going on in greater Europe. Well, it’s raining here, too.


But I guess what I am really waiting for is for life to calm down and the summer heat to overwhelm us all so we become incredibly lazy, drink iced tea and eat ice cream, but maybe not in that order.


We have our new Adirondack chairs — and my husband is expecting for us to spend evenings in them, drinking cool drinks and listening to the crickets. I love crickets, and there’s one nearby. I hear it when I walk the dog, who also seems to be waiting for summer to arrive.


As a child growing up in the US, I remember endless days of iced tea, books and sitting in the shade. Of fishing and swimming lessons, and then going swimming again in the afternoon, even if we’d had lessons. I am waiting once again for that kind of day where the to-do list is non-existent and all I need to do is remember to eat. And get dressed: A real vacation.


But now I wait, at least another four weeks and then we will see what (the rest of the) summer brings.


I think I heard this somewhere and I believe it: Waiting is actually good for us humans; it gives us something to hope for, to look forward to. A famous man wrote that hope does not disappoint us. I think he was right. Hope and planning causes us almost as much joy as the actual activity, anyway. Hmmm. So waiting can be very positive.


What are you waiting for? What are you hoping for? How are you waiting, perhaps proactively?


Patricia Jehle

Regional Director at the Alpha Group, Switzerland and Coach



To err and learn from it

June 15th, 2016

Do you get smarter from your failures?


Fear of Failure?

I live in a fear-of-failure culture. It is hard for people around me to make, admit and accept failures. But we must make failures, after all, we are human.


I heard a wonderful talk on making (and learning from) mistakes by Dr. Theo Wehner of the ETH in Zürich a week ago and it has made me consider making mistakes again.

Perception is everything

It really depends on how we look at things- our perception of the failure is key- Thomas Edison said this of his some 9,000 mistakes before making a light bulb: “I know several thousand things that won’t work!” thus, he kept learning—and kept trying. Look what happened to him.


To err is human

We all make mistakes of several kinds under two main categories, deliberate and inadvertent:


Deliberate (non-compliance): routine, situational and exceptional

Inadvertent (error): Action (slip or lapse) and Thinking (rule or knowledge-based)


Reflect on the mistakes to learn from them

The question is why we made the mistakes. We must reflect upon them and learn from them. If we stuff our feelings about them or deny those mistakes, we cannot learn from them.


So, what should we do?


  • We need to get curious about those mistakes
  • We need to (perhaps) be coached regarding our mistakes
  • We need to deal with our emotions about the mistakes we make
  • We need to create working and living cultures where mistakes are okay and we can thus learn from them


Maybe starting from the last sentence would be best. I said that I live in a fear-of-failure culture. We have to begin there and remember that that very aspect of making mistakes and feeling something (like remorse) is what makes us human.


Think in Group Think

Perhaps our overly individual culture is part of the problem. Centuries ago we would have thought much more in a communal fashion, so much so that an individual could not have “failed” and a family or community would have failed together. If we took more responsibility for each others’ mistakes, we might learn more readily from mistakes.


Feel the Pain

We need to admit the emotions we feel when we fail and reflect on them, work through them, not ignore them or pretend they are not there. We need to let ourselves feel that pain.


Maybe we need coaching

Perhaps a non-involved party can help you work through the mistake and learn from it. When someone from outside of the problem comes along and helps you see the issue for what it is, it becomes smaller and more easily solved or – when completed – not something you need to repeat. After all, that is one of the big goals: to learn so as not to make the same mistake over and over again. Reflection is very important and a coach can help with that.


No denying, instead- be curious

But most of all, we need to become much more curious

In this case, curiosity will not kill the proverbial cat, but will allow you to get on with life and work. When we start to take a serious look at our mistake, we can learn from them and not fall into the trap of repeating the mistakes again.


Patricia Jehle


for more info:—-then-fail-again




Find the Floor

June 7th, 2016

About 35 years ago I heard a talk that was titled “Find the Floor” and although I can’t remember the specific content of the talk, the main idea remains: One needs a point of reference to be able to do amazing things.


The metaphor

The picture was one of doing standing flips on a gymnastics mat: the floor is the reference point, and should you lose your balance in the middle of the move, you find the floor and put your feet down.


The same goes for when we move out into the unknown: we need to know where we are moving from, our frame of reference. It’s a bit like the “old fashioned” pilot who needed to know where the ground was to be able to stay in the air.


Your foundation is key.

When you know what you have done and what your key competencies are, you can move out into the unknown with more ease and agility because you know where your foundation lies. It is that gravitational anchor that allows you to take risks and move into new directions. But you never forget it, and, should you lose your balance, you go back to the beginning point: the floor.


Some key questions can help you to flesh out this concept:

What is your foundation?

Where does your foundation lie? What are your key competencies? What is your background? These competencies can be soft and/or hard skills; they could be cultural or linguistic. These days, most people see the value in multiple competencies and intelligences.


Where do you want to go? What do you want and/or need?

What do you want to do in the next few months? In the next year? In three years? In five?

What would you like to be doing? Dream. Without that dream you won’t go anywhere.   You will say standing on that floor, unmoving.


What do you need to do to get there?

What kind of training do you need to take? What book(s) do you need to read? What people do you need to talk to and listen to their advice? Who can help you? Do you need to join in something? A support group (something like my Alpha Group, next one is this Thursday)? A club?


What are my first steps?

What am I going to do this week? This month? By the end of the summer? Etc? …


What are my next steps?


How will I know I have made it, reached my goal?

What are my milestones and by when should they be reached?


The questions just go on… and when they are good, they help you find that floor.


Your fellow questioner,

Patricia Jehle