Monday, June 28, 2010

Why Not Smile?!

Is it natural to have a smile on your face? Some would say it isn't. It is probably more natural not to smile, given that most of the time we're probably in "neutral" and in a reflective or thoughtful mode, neither speaking nor expressing or showing feelings. Others would argue that life with its stress and daily put-downs actually makes it more natural to be grumpy and bad-tempered.

When was what's "natural" and/or "following the course of least resistance" best for us? I argue that up until this day (and I suspect forever and ever) I'll never find anything that came easy to be a source of lasting happiness. So it is with a smile. It may not be natural, but it sure feels so much better in the long run.

A Smile Works Both Ways

Of course, there needs to be something real behind a smile, otherwise it's an empty shell without meaning.

(A true smile cannot be faked!)

A smile is in reality the reflection of what's truly inside, but in my experience, sometimes it needs to be the other way around, too. Sometimes there's frustration and anger inside, but a smile will help overcome it. Here's a little poem in support of the idea:

If you can smile when things go wrong,
And say it doesn't matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woe,
And trouble makes you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face,
When all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, bud,
There's something wrong with you.
For one thing I've arrived at:
There are no ands and buts,
A guy that's grinning all the time
must be completely nuts.

(Boyd K. Packer)

Many years ago in college I had a teacher that taught me the value of a smile and how it's done. Yes, you heard me right, "a smile and how it's done". His point was simple; it's not the mouth that smiles, it's your entire face and body. If you have to force a smile, then at least make sure to also lift your eyebrows. It helps.

Boy! was he right. Do you want to know why I remember his little piece of advice? He was the happiest most inspiring teacher I ever had. His life and example simply made his words ring true to me.

An Unselfish Act of Kindness
All around us we find people that struggle with something. Some view a smile as a desparate attempt to keep the world at a distance. To me, a smile is the exact opposite. Smiling is a way to reach out to others. It's anything but a selfish act. It's welcoming others. It's surplus living. It's saying: I'm currently not carrying a load to burden you with, so I'm ready to share yours. A smile is a state of mind that's prepared to change into empathy. It's forgetting yourself.

A smile is encouraging others to look for the positive, a way to pass on positive energy. A sincere smile communicates a love for people and acceptance. Just like a frown can punish far beyond evil words, a smile can be worth more than a thousand (uplifting) words.

Main Reasons For a Smile
I've grown to appreciate a smile by becoming more aware of what its source may be:

Principle # 1: Moving In The Right Direction
Someone once encouraged me: By the time you're forty years old, make sure you're doing what you love doing (i.e. workwise). Even though it's good advice, would it not be better to always be doing what you sense inside is moving you in the right direction?

Indefinitely, I find that people who are headed towards a worthwhile goal, not taking detours or living in contradiction with their conscience, are indeed happier. They smile not because they have to, but because it's natural to do so.

I've also found that it's hard to be in the wrong place (moving in the wrong direction) when I'm helping someone. Offering unselfish service can be addictive, because it - more than anything else - will put a smile on your face, whether you want to or not.

Principle # 2: Keep smiling
No one feels like smiling all the time. And many times it would simply be wrong to be smiling. However, so many more times than we might think, it would be appropriate to bounce back with a smile rather than giving in to negativity and "murmuring". A year ago I shared the lyrics of a song entitled "Keep Trying" that expressed the same.

To me it just makes so much sense to smile more. Don't you think so, too?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

American Big Band Jazz to Skien 3rd of July

Next Saturday Grenland is in for an amazing first-time-ever experience with American Big Band Jazz. Skien is hosting the BYU Synthesis from Provo, Utah at 12:00 - 14:00 in the public market square stage.

I'm a BIG fan of jazz funk - always was. You may be familiar with my all time favorite "Garden Party" by the Icelandic group Mezzoforte. Big Band Jazz is a serious adventure, too, when you get the chance to experience it live and firsthand. So yes, please count me in!

The BYU Synthesis ensemble consisting of 18 state-of-the-art musicians under the direction of Dr. Ray Smith is recognized worldwide as one of the top "big bands" in America. Since it was organized in 1973, BYU Synthesis has performed all over the world, for instance at the prestigious Montreux Switzerland International Jazz Festival, in Japan and China, in Russia and others to name a few.

This year BYU Synthesis will be performing at the Kongsberg Jazz Festival and as part of their program have accepted the invitation to play in Grenland. It simply is a happening that little Skien has never before experienced. Together with Jazz fans all across Grenland I expect you'll be there as well ;-)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Solution to Paperwork and Electronic Messages

Is paperwork, email or electronic messages a stress factor in your life? It doesn't have to be. Here's how...

I've heard and seen so many comments and so much "good advice" when it comes to papers and paperwork. And even though I'm no expert, I've found one basic principle to be of the greatest benefit....

This principle applies not only to a potentially cluttered desk and disorganized papers, but also to any kind of message, be it email, SMS or even orally conveyed commitments:

Keep everything in one place and never deal with it more than once.

If, however, you need to revisit a piece of paper, an email or any other kind of information, make it come back to you. Always, always either eliminate messages or arrange for them to return without your time and effort. Believe me, if you consistently stick to this principle it will reduce stress and help you be a man of your word.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Emotions Precede Meaningful Commitments

Strong positive feelings and emotions are the best leverage we have to both make and keep commitments. Emotional highs (or lows) can offer clarity and perspective. Such feelings and energy can motivate us to change. Without energy there can be no deep and meaningful commitments.

This morning I was trying to help one of our sons to stay focused and stick to our agreed morning routines. He's been doing very well. Not today, though. We let him do "his thing" (which wasn't at all what we had agreed to) and when time came for a mutual accountability report we had a thorough discussion about how it went.

I let him know how disappointed I was, and I guess maybe I was too emphatic about it. It was not difficult to see the pain in his eyes. I was deeply affected by this, possibly more so than him. Since we were late for school I offered to give him a lift. As I watched him running to his classroom I could not help but shed a tear. My heart was aching for him, in light of what he had gone through. I saw clearer than ever, what a great and special person he is. I so much wanted to keep communicating his greatness in my daily dealings with him.

There and then I committed myself to be even more gentle, to be a better friend by spending more one-on-one time with him and more than anything else make sure he knows that I care.

Leverage From Positive Feelings
I try to make commitments when I have strong positive feelings. In my opinion it's the best time to do so. Not only because at such times we want to change, but also because these moments are glimpses of "what really matters" and of "things as they really are".

On that same note, I try to never make decisions when I have negative thoughts or feelings. I believe the old saying "never let your fears (or anger) make your decisions" still holds true.

My son is on my list of "Great People".

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dutch Football Strikers

I'm absolutely not a football freak (i.e. soccer), but I do occasionally watch a game when it has some kind of significance, and especially when one of my few favorite players are in it...

OK, so I'm Dutch and biased. If you're asking me, Dutch soccer strikers often seem to stand out in the crowd, don't they?! ;-)

The player I'll be following with great interest in the World Cup 2010 is definitely Robin van Persie. I see in him a lot of the same traits that Ruud van Nistelrooy, Marco van Basten and Johan Cruyff had.

Watch this clip of Robin van Persie and see if you don't recognize what I observe and like about him; surprising ability to stay on his feet (read: balance), regularly doing "the unexpected", an extreme drive and focus on the goal, a consistent display of skills, always fast, flexible and dangerous, a master of "one touch" and maybe most of all just being in the right place relative to team players.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why Does Sending SMS Still Cost Money?

I always focus on the positive and I carefully spend my time and strength on constructive business development. Challenging "Paying for SMS" may be considered a negative issue, but it's not. It simply should be a hot topic for telecom and a wonderful opportunity. It's time to move to "the next level" and let go of an outdated paradigm: SMS should be free of charge!

I know, I know, there are plenty of smart solutions that allow us to send SMS for free - today. But that's besides the point. My point is simple; there is in principle no difference between an SMS and an email. Thus "pricing" should be the same for both. Either we start paying for emails or the telecom business (i.e. in general) should quit charging its customers for sending SMS.

Free SMS should not be a unique selling point, but rather be a self evident offering!

I know, I know, it'll come sometime in the future. But again, that's besides the point. My point is simple; if there in principle is no difference between an SMS and an email, then it's time to start treating them the same - NOW. SMS has become and has been for a long time a cash cow product.

I know, I know, this blog post will neither matter much nor make a big difference. Again, that's besides the point. My point remains simple; there is no difference between an SMS and an email. With this I wanted to clearly state that the market place knows that telecom is in fact abusing its position. The market has grown accustomed to paying for SMS, but is now moving out of this paradigm. Whoever makes the switch to pricing SMS and email on equal grounds I will congratulate. However, I will not do so until that player also has taken the lead by influencing all other players in doing the same.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Submit Receipts Online

How much time to you spend producing those travel expense claims or documents? Did you ever miss a receipt? Ever lost track of where you were, how much mileage... or any of that knitty gritty travel stuff that just clutters your working day?

Of all online solutions, one that really makes my life easier is online submission of receipts. There are several solutions.

Here are three of them for you to consider:

So here's what I do; let's say I'm in the store getting some food on my way to a meeting abroad. The lady hands me the receipt. Next thing, instead of putting it in my pocket, I pull out my cell phone and take a picture of it. A few seconds later the picture is seamlessly uploaded to my Expensify account without pressing a single button. Before I move on I'm careful to lose my excess paper in a waste container.

Once back in the office, I log on and click my way through the expenses - all automatic - and then submit the expense report. Manual mistakes eliminated. Time saved. No more stress.

One thing's for certain. We no longer need to a) carry with us those receipts and b) spend time handling travel expenses. Do it while you're on the go. It's cloud computing at its best!