A week’s travel doesn’t make life much easier, but it is a good chance to catch up on reading. The news has gotten somewhat depressing of late: the Americans are beating war drums again and the British are in an angry mood debating it. There isn’t much tech news; and now even the travel recommendations seem sparse.
So, ‘time to turn to the Management / Leadership section for some long-form self-help.
“The biggest problem in the business world is ‘too much’ — too many distractions and interruptions, too many things done for the sake of form, and altogether too much busy-ness,” notes the Economist. Remarkably, they cite vergaderziekte, a Dutch phrase for “meeting-sickness” as another consequence of our over-rushed lives. I sympathize: One of my biggest issues with corporate was how others could grab control of my days through Calendar. Skype can be almost as intrusive (berichteziekte?).
The essayist’s solution is “leaning back”, doing less, thinking more. He suggests more time looking out the window, or making a “stop doing list” as the answer? Certainly leaving voids in the day and enforcing a ‘tea break’ for reflection is important: either 15-30 minutes centered-relaxation or free-association according to another author.
Or maybe a few eye’s-closed minutes with Dutch singer Anouk drifting through her ballads and practicing my luisteren skills.
“Creative people’s most important resource is their time—particularly big chunks of uninterrupted time—and their biggest enemies are those who try to nibble away at it.”
Flybe’s in-flight business magazine offers seven keys to “Edge Leadership”, mostly pabulum, but I liked#2: The ability to have difficult conversations. I struggle with angry, unreasonable, and vindictive people and situations that overwhelm my usual rational fairness. I’m reading psychologist Mark Goulston, who offers a lot of practical tips.
Mastering Difficult People is a delight: How to keep an emotional distance from life’s takers, bullies and whiners who think the cheating world owes them something. He offers a variety of disengage / respond techniques that help avoid the strong emotions that difficult people try to evoke in others.
How to Listen When Someone is Venting is similarly specific. Asking three key questions, What are you (most frustrated / most angry / most worried) about? are good advice for self-reflection as well as for getting through to others under stress.
On the lighter side, I really enjoyed Sarah Lyall’s repatriation story Ta-Ta London. Hello Awesome. She reflects both on the enduring characteristics of peoples and changes in their circumstances on both sides of the Atlantic. There may come a time when I must repatriate, and I hope that I do it with as much insight and grace.
I visited my immigration lawyers today to assure that it didn’t happen as a simple consequence of turning 60. No worries, and they think they can convert my 1-year visa to a 5-year.
It would be ironic if I pass 65, the age limit for requiring language proficiency before I can actually pass the language exam.