My favorite bloggers write as if they are talking to me. I feel I know them. Great writing is a skill bloggers have shaped for years before anyone reads their posts. In our communication in companies we often write less perfect.
We have not learnt in university how to write an email that another person will understand. In my school, there was no course on business communication but we learnt a lot of crap about marketing.
We do not write English at a level where engage a native speaker. Most native speakers will find errors in our emails and probably find your style rude (German) or long-winded (French).
We perform anyway. We pride ourselves with the average number of emails we digest every day. Despite more communication there is less understanding.
Do we see a major change or has the shift happened and we feel the consequences? What is the change in the global society that influences us, creates ambiguity and sleepless nights?
The funny haired propaganda talkers of this world fuel the illusion (or delusion?), that if we all sat together with the people who look like us, talk like us and think like us, everything that is “wrong” with the world (economic challenges, unemployment, hate, scarcity of resources, war) would go away.
You and I know that that we can only change the world if we model the behavior we wish to see in others. Only action creates change. (Thank you Mr. Gandhi)
Ask yourself: Can you reduce your emails and act instead?
Consider yourself privileged
Clare Joy and I held a workshop on Saturday for the CapacityZurich Refugee and Migrant Business Mentoring Program called “Building relationships and Enhancing Business Communications”. We held the workshop in English and German and most of our participants were native speakers of a third mother tongue. It required rethinking for me. We worked with a volunteer translator Viola Zoller (who did an amazing job) and Clare and I learnt to pause. We all spoke slower than normal and I noticed that even though we did a good job it was hard to keep everyone engaged.
The workshop made me understand once again how privileged I am, that I had the chance to live in English-speaking countries and learn the language at a level where I can now work in English. It also made me aware how we often exclude people based on a lack of language proficiency, how we do not take them seriously if their grammar is flawed or their pronunciation hard to understand.
I encourage you to watch your own behavior around others who are not in the culturally dominant group. I promise that I will try even harder to listen to anybody and to speak slow and use simple language.
I thought I would write an article about a personal transition that took place this year. It was one of the biggest transitions that took place in my life and I have been wanting to share the experience ever since it happened. It came at the nudging of a friend of mine. He explained to me that what was going on with my spiritual life would reflect in the rest of my life and that if my spiritual life was in order the rest of my life would fall into order as well. He asked me if I had a special place where I practiced spiritual modalities.
I explained that I had no such place but that I had a room I could convert into a place for that purpose. I realize I was fortunate to have an extra room sitting around, but he explained to me it could be as simple as just a specific chair where all I did was partake in my spiritual exercises, whatever the beliefs may be. The important aspect was that it be a place only for those special times. I set out to make my room, my “special place”. I also affectionately call it my “mom cave”. It’s a place where mom goes off to do her spiritual activities, one of which is writing, since I believe my writing is a spiritual gift. Whatever the gift, whatever the practice, I have discovered having that “one place” to do it is very important.
I started by putting up a life sized decal of a tree up on the wall. To me it signified a bible verse about being planted like a tree by streams of living water. I wanted to have living streams flowing from the inside of me to the outside of me. I then crocheted a quilt and put it on a chair in the room. It made it look real comfy and inviting in the room. Then came the desk, the office chair, the printer, computer, stereo, special clock with my dad’s ashes in them, filing system, special lighting, my zero gravity chair for meditation, my favorite picture (a gift drawn for me) and lastly I signed up for a writing course. I was on my way to my new spiritual haven.
This has been the best outer transition I have made in my life for years as it has caused an inner transformation in my life the likes of which cannot be measured. I have a purpose in my life now that I didn’t have a few months ago. I have also met very many wonderful, encouraging, supportive people who are also in this same craft. I feel part of a community now where I never had before. My favorite genre is poetry and I have met many poets. That is a real treat for me. The exposure to other forms of poetry have been an eye opening experience for me as well.
All in all, I would say I have my friend to thank for making the suggestion to me that I find a “special place” for the spiritual aspect of my life. I must also remember, as with all transformations that come to our lives, that we have to be able to take advice and do the hard things that come our way. Transition and transformation are sometimes interchangeable words but not interchangeable concepts. Transition has to do with the process we go through as we are transforming our lives.
What transition are you consider making at this time in your life? What kind of a transformation will it bring in your life? Are you the type that maps it all out in front of you step by step? Or are you like me, do you just take one step at a time and see where those steps lead you?
I am a poet and writer first of all. My favorite subject has to do with spirituality, but I am not talking about religion. In my opinion, religion ruins a lot of people’s lives. I am talking about spirituality defined as a walk with God that far surpasses anything you could find “in church” for it is a very personal endeavor. I believe spirituality, in its truest sense, happens every day in every aspect of life. I have, in my life, attended almost every denomination of church that there is out there. Even some that were “out there” (if you catch my drift). Those experiences in themselves helped me learn to discern the spirits and see if they were from God. Unfortunately, sometimes the real churches looked too much like them. There is only one right way and that is Jesus Christ. HE is the way, the truth and the light. No one gets to the Father but through HIM. I have a degree in Theology as well as diplomas in Business and Office Management. I recently published the book “How To Get Near God’s Heart” in its entirety on kindle. Just click on the link and it will take you right to it. It is priced low enough for any budget at just $4.99.
Sitting in front of a white paper to write a blog post can be a daunting experience. It happened to me several times this year. I wanted to write but did not have a topic or did not find my way in. Blogging used to be diary style so there were no rules initially. With the digitalization of our lives, the style of blogging changed. Today whatever you want to say you need to say it in a tweet or a video.
I wanted to be a writer as a child
Some members of my family laughed about this. My German teacher R. M., the best teacher in our school also encouraged my creative process. My dad supported and encouraged me to continue to write poetry and short stories. Two of my short stories were published in children’s compilations. I never won a price but hey, my name was out there in print. Dad and I went on a holiday to Italy and both sat on the beach writing or reading for a week. It was heaven.
The same year my father and sister died in a car accident. With them, I buried most of my hopes at becoming a writer. For a long time after this traumatic experience, I was in “survival mode”. I never thought I would write again. At the time, I only read how hard it was to become a journalist or start a career that involved writing.
Like many people with many talents, I studied International Business Studies at the University of Paderborn (Germany). In 1992 this was innovative. The course contained a major in English and French (or Spanish) language and cultural studies. We were only the elitist second year (with around 70 students) and you needed to have a high GPA to get in. While I had no clue where exactly Paderborn was when I enrolled, I learned that I was lucky that I studied at a university with a well-known IT research department and a well-known professor in international human resources. (Sometimes dots do connect Mr. Jobs).
Call it fate, but at the age of 23, I was the guinea pig and went to study with an inspirational professor at the University of Tasmania (Australia). Thank you to Dr. Peter Dowling and Dr. Sarah Knowles. Through Peter, I was able to write a thesis which inspired the idea to build my company Global People Transitions GmbH. I drove back from Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) in a blue 1972 VW-Beetle after having conducted interviews with civil engineers. These civil engineers had been sent abroad without proper training and without the right framework (financial, social security, tax, immigration…there were all sorts of issues). I did not feel ready to start out on my own, so I went into the corporate HR world.
Within my career in corporate HR, I started to write again. First, it was a training manual one of my colleagues introduced me too. I wrote blog posts. I wrote down stories of international assignees and their intercultural experiences. I wrote for HR magazines for free. One New Year’s day I explored and developed a mini-poetry blog on Blogger. Then I practiced writing by writing a short story. Through a friend I met at The Powerhouse Zurich I was introduced to a whole new world, started to join writer’s workshop Zurich and did an online course with Ash Ambirge on copywriting.
Still I was not able to say “I am a writer…” without blushing or without playing it down.
After reading a book by Jeff Goins called “You are a writer: So start acting like one” I learned that I need to actually write every day. I wish I would. At least, I managed to self-publish two books already. These days I am working on “The Global Career Workbook”. I love the work again. I want to improve and feel ready to take in more.
I have a tendency to overwhelm myself with trying to achieve too many projects at once. So in the middle of working on my newest book I ran out of money last year. I had to ask providers to stop working for me until I had more funds…and then I shelved (or “drawered”) the draft. My editor moved into another role and I did not feel the pressure to finish. I got a rather negative feedback, wrote a post about it and got busy with other work. Between January and July 2015 I hardly wrote. I procrastinated, found excuses, got afraid and I guess that is when I started to glare at white paper. I often closed my typewriter. (I don’t work with a typewriter, but I call my MacBook air “Schreibmaschine”).
As a writer, you can easily get distracted and I knew that I made a mistake when my coach Dr. Eva Kinast called me out on it. She said, “I think the writer in you is neglected.” I knew she was right because in my vision of what I wanted to do at 65 it was a writer. I want to write and publish novels, I want to read books like the maniac reader I was as a child. I want to critique books and write for magazines. I would love to write screenplays and I want to use my creative brain in the best manner possible.
But often we do not do what we want…but everything else.
When I listen to other writers I understand that I am not that crazy. That they also have self-doubt, writer’s anxieties and block. I feel encouraged when I hear how long it took them to succeed. And all the time I tell myself: “But you are not an English native speaker. You will never be as good as they are.” (It’s true.)
When I wrote this I realized that I had English as a major in university. Even though I am not a native speaker I write at a fairly high level. There are editors out there who can correct errors. The world is full of collaborators. Why am I still staring at a blank page?
It’s the worry monster again. The fear of failure. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of being called out.
And while I am typing this I know that I have never been as ready as today to tell you.
I am a writer!
There is a fantastic personality test on this blog. Find out if you are meant to be a writer too and if yes, let me know if you need any resources.
Are you one of those settled professionals who suddenly had to get out of the last job? Did you love to write as a high school senior but figured a career in journalism would take too many years of crafting the art?
Maybe this is the time in your life when you want to get back into the habit.
Why would you want to get out of your current job and start a writing career?
1) you could not handle frustrating meetings any longer,
2) there was a constant clash of your values with their values,
3) parenthood completely overwhelmed you,
4) or your partner got a wonderful –it-was-always-my-dream-to-move-to Switzerland-Singapore-Santa Barbara-kind of job offer and you are in a new country without a professional network.
Four signs you feel the urge to develop your creative side
1) You neglected writing in order to earn a living but you always journal in your holidays.
2) You did not know you were more creative than others until a psychologist told you in a development center.
3) You are bored and need to do more than painting your nails, cooking and washing clothes.
4) You are going through a transition and that triggers the urge to WRITE, PAINT, SING, PLAY THE PIANO…
Your writing could become a new source of income for you. You will probably not land a bestseller over night but even publishing a book has become rather easy in the age of kindle desktop publishing and smashwords. It is important that you have the skill of language composition and you know basic grammar. I don’t think you need a diploma in writing though (unless you want to become a literary fiction writer).
Three ways to become a writer in Switzerland
#1 Guest Blog
You could guest blog for “Hello Switzerland” for starters or submit your articles to www.ezinearticles.com. They also have good writing tips there.
I have not written a single word this week. It’s not because I have writer’s block or something like that. It is because I have been too busy with other work. I notice that once you break a routine (be it sports or writing) it is hard to get back in. I notice that since I started to write 500 words daily in January this really made me progress on two book projects and I chucked out a lot of blog posts or handouts for my clients suddenly. I learnt to type without looking at the keyboard (like a secretary whooohooo).
Now I am confronted with a creative digestion problem. I assume this happens to the best writers. You feel you have said everything there is to say about all your topics and you won’t come up with new ideas anymore.
As a global career and executive coach I repeat content in about 15 sessions per week. Obviously it is similar content but in different times and with different pace.
When I work with clients on their global careers I notice that every client is different. What resonates with one might bore the other. The way I present an input on a flipchart or paper can be different but the more I practice, the better I get at explaining the topic in a language my client understands. I find the right visuals and I use language that connects her or him with the topic. Even if it might be a dry topic such as “how to write a cover letter in a way that recruiters actually want to meet you…”.
Maybe this is the same process a writer has to go through. You might feel like you are repeating your message over and over again but the way you speak to your readers can be different. The way you speak to your reader on Twitter might be short and crisp and a bit naughty. When you write for a professional magazine you will write a bit more academic or from a more factual perspective.
I get really frustrated with editors who believe they have invented writing style because as far as I can tell the Internet has no rules. Grammar ok, but dialect and street language are used, English is written in a shortened way, abbreviations such as OMG have made it to the real language.
Forget the rules!
Write in a way that works for you. Your readers will love you anyway.