Last Sunday I lit the first candle on the advent wreath, like every year. Advent time belongs to my
favourite time of the year. I love the cosiness with friends and families gathered together, I love the
sparkling lights in the Christmas markets, I love the sweet smell of mulled wine and lebkuchen in the
But wait, instead of festive atmosphere, I smell fear, uncertainty and disinfectant the air. Christmas
is only 4 weeks away, the most colourful and splendid time of the year is shadowed by Corona
When I feel sad and helpless, I very often think of my Grandpa. I grew up by my grandparents in
Shanghai during the culture revolution. My Grandpa used to have his own business before the
communist took over the government. During Mao´s culture revolution, he became, victim of the
movement called “purging remnant of capitalist”. All his property was confiscated. The revolutionary
groups quartered the complete ground floor of my grandparent´s house. Whenever I was sad and
frightened with the rude behaviour of these strangers in our house, my grandpa would pull me aside
and told me gently, “everything will be fine again my child, all you need is patience”. Mao´s culture
revolution lasted 10 years, in the end, my whole family survived the nightmare. Six years ago, my
grandpa died at the age of 101. His patience, his calmness especially in difficult times helped him to
succeed numerous tough situations. For me he is the true winner in life.
Are you a patient person? If not, I´m afraid you have a learn process ahead of you and I hope, it
won´t be that painful as the one that I had.
It was a wonderful day in August when I was on my way back home with MTB. I was only about 6 km
away from my home, when a car from driving school appeared in front of me, stop and go, stop and
go. Following this car was a test of my patience. After another kilometre, I finally ran out of patience.
To be able to overtake the car, the only possibility was to jump onto the pavement. It shouldn´t be
an issue for a skilled MTBiker like me. And I jumped so high! The landing of my front wheel was soft
and smooth, but my back wheel disagreed to follow. Suddenly I lost my balance and even worse, I
was not so quick to free my feet out of the clipless pedal. Bang! I hit hard with my left side against
the cement ground. A bloody elbow, a rib fracture and a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder, all that
happened within seconds, as a result of an impatient moment.
There are many uncomfortable situations in life that you can not change. Like being stuck in a traffic
jam or standing in a long queue in super market, or driving behind a car of driving school. 2020 is a
special year that demands a lot of patience from us. It´s not only the covid-19 virus that threatens
us, but the significant side effects that turned our normal life upside down. We are forced to give up
a lot of lovely things that we used to do, keep distance to our dearest ones. It´s hard for me not able
to visit my dad the whole year. But the good news is, the vaccine is coming soon and we can already
When you were a teenager, what bothered you the most? I bet, the grown-ups! They were always nagging us: Have you clean your room? have you done you homework? What do you want to be when you grow up? For this last one, I always had a chicky answer: I want to be happy! Little did I know that it will take me twenty long years to figure out what ‚happy‘ means. Sure, being happy at work, having enough money in a bank accout or staying healthy is very important! But for me that essential connection to people I really like is what makes me truly happy. There is a theory that we are the average of the five people we choose to associate with the most. We need to choose wisely, those five people influence us more than we know. To be happy in life, the five key people we need to find and stick to, are a friend, a peer, a mentor, a coach, what everybody needs – a cheerleader. Since I’ve heard about this theory, I started scrutinizing closely my relationships to identify my own circle of five.
I knew immediately who my cheerleaderwas – definitelly my husband Zoran. He cheeres me and holds me up throught the hardsest phases of my life, or of my day. This may lie in his cultural identity: the Croats know how to celebrate life, enjoy the wine and laugh and sing the songs, until the neigbours start shaking their heads in disbelieve. Over the years, as I am listening to his singing, and cheering, I’m thinking why not to enjoy life fearlessly, it is too short anyway.
We all need a friend. Don’t you think? Someone who accepts us for what we are. Warts and all. I’m so lucky I have Anja. She laughs with me when I laugh, cries when I cry. I know she is happy when I succeed, and as sad as I am when things are not working our for me. I hope you have such a friend too.
And we all need a peer. If you like me work for a big corporation, you know: the crowdier, the lonlier. We need a peer with whome we can share, be honest, have fun and who can help us keep the head in the game. The day Barbora joined my team, I felt fortunate. We’ve come up together, there is nothing like a team spirit and there is no challenge we cannot face.
My 3rd speech at Toastmasters was titled: ‚To see Paris and Die‘. In my country we say: you are not supposed to depart this life, until you visit Paris, allegedly the most beautiful city in the world. I almost did die, but while in Paris: freezing to death in a cheap hostel. After I gave the speech in the club, my mentor Martin handed me a bottle of champane, baguetee and soft cheese – the things I did not come accross while in Paris. Martin‘s refined taste for french cousine, and english language, always inspire me to work hard on my speeches. A good mentor will point you in the right direction. And you know what? Everytime I listent to him and went in that direction, I got out a happier person.
Sometimes when we coach people, and we see no result, we give up on them. My school sports coach –Tolik the Torture, used to yell at me: run, Darya, run, as I was dragging myself lazilly behind the rest of the class. Suddenly, so my years later, his words caught up with me. I am a runner these days. A true coach will kick you out of a comfort zone, and into a good shape, sooner or rather later.
For me the true happiness doesn’t come from wealth, success or even working hard. It comes from relationships I have with the peole I like. Do you have your cirle of five? Maybe they are your family, friends, Instagram followers, or simply people you can be vulnerable with, listen and share what is close to our heart. These relationships are the essence of our life and the happiness we all need.
Happiness is what we are all after!
All the things we do for a drop of happiness!
Looking for the work that we love, hiking the mountains of Bavaria, eating chocolates, marrying the man we love, coming to the Prostmasters meeting to hear Craigs’s muah, WUNDEBA
These might all make us happy, but what creates the happiness that lasts?
The answer, my friends, is being of service, helping others.
How can we help others?
We give what we have. We give money. We give knowledge. We give a ffff
If we are fisherman. We give our fellow man fish for help.
That would feed them for a day.
What would be a better help?
Teach them how to fish.
The person is a vegetarian! They don’t eat fish! (Unrelated info: The vegetarians that eat fish call themselves pescaterian)
But they weren’t even hungry.
They came to us to ask where is the closest bathroom! We didn’t even listen. We didn’t even ask. We didn’t even see. They asked us Can you help and we gave them the fish!
Is this absurd?
Well my friends this is happening all the time!
We are giving our fish to people who don’t need it, who don’t want it.
We give our ideas and suggestions without checking in if that is needed, without checking if will actually serve the person we want to help.
What is an alternative?
What is a better way to be of help?
It is coaching my friends.
Do you know what coaching is? It is not Tony Robbinsing! being on stage making talks, it is not shouting what to do from the sidelines!
Coaching is – according to the definition of International Coach Federation – partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.
Coach is a partner and her job is to co-create the process so that the person getting coaching will be inspired and will maximise their potential.
International Coach Federation defines the behaviours that a coach displays to be the best partner which they call as Core Coaching Competencies. There are 8 of those but 2 will already bring you forward if you start implementing in your life.
Number 6 Listens Actively
When you listen you can listen with the intention of understanding what they want to communicate and also check back by if what you understand is true. Listen not only words, but also the body language and the emotions to have a deeper understanding.
Number 7 The coach Evokes Awareness
The people that come to you for help are capable to find their own solutions that will work for their own preferences that only they know if they can think thoroughly and differently.
I don’t know about you but my mind can speak a ton. And I find myself bringing the old ways of thinking (and a lot of complaining). You can help me think through by asking me questions, supporting me to continue to think more and in different ways. “What is on your mind?”, “What is the real challenge here for you?”, “What do you want?”, “What have you already thought of?” . “What else can you do?” What else? What else? What else?
You can help a person gain awareness of not only new solutions but their own resourcefulness.
And only – only if they ask your help – you can ask them how they want you to help.
Next time when you want to help someone hold your fish – your suggestions until it is actively asked of you. First, listen actively and ask questions to help them think deeply.
With that, you will be helping others to find solutions that work for them, which will make them happy, which will in turn make you happy.
Hold your fish and start coaching