sobota, 28 lipca 2012

A friend of mine asked me to translate this article for him for his university classes. I did it and I benefited from this myself. It's really empowering and I think that it may be useful for you too. The author is Craig Nathanson, who quit his job in a big corporation in order to help people discover what their passions are.

How do you discover and live your passion?

This is a question we all want to answer, especially in mid-life where everything is suddenly up for questioning. Especially after age 40, when you get this nagging feeling that what you do isn’t really fulfilling and meaningful anymore. Especially when your support structure continues to be more concerned with the mundane aspects of life than with happiness and fulfillment.

How do you discover your passion in your work? Another tough question. For me, it was in the middle of teaching a workshop years ago while I was still working in corporate America. I got this sudden awareness that my life had to change. It was in the middle of ANOTHER Powerpoint presentation. I felt dizzy, light-headed. My boss thought perhaps I was getting sick and we should reschedule. I remember thinking to myself; I was sick all right, sick of this job and what I must do now is reschedule my life!

Start by writing down what gets you the most excited about life. Is it riding your bike on Sunday mornings, spending time alone with your books, or doing the budget back at the office on Thursday afternoons? The answer is different for each of us. Think deeply and write down what excites you most. Start to imagine what your life would be like if you spent the majority of your day actually doing what you love; what a concept! Most people are unable to do this because they immediately jump to the conclusion that they couldn’t support themselves and their families doing what they love. Sadly, they wait until they retire. Then something happens and they die. Then it IS too late.

The next best step is to meet and hang around people who love what you love. Discussing it with these like-minded people will give you ideas. If you love books, start attending book fairs and libraries; meet with publishers, authors and editors and visit book stores. Meet and observe others who spend their days with books. If you love to work with numbers, start to meet and hang around with similar people. Subscribe to financial publications, talk to accountants, controllers, people who work with money and spreadsheets all day. Learn what they do, how they do it and why they do it. You will get new ideas!

Build a life roadmap. Determine what is most important to you in your life. Figure out what you need to do each and every day to align your actions with what is most important. Establish key goals 3-5 years from now that align with what is most important to you. Make sure they align with your passions, too.

What is vocational passion? Imagine it’s Sunday night and you can’t get to sleep. You toss and turn all night pondering your work. You wake up and glance at the clock and notice it’s still only 2:00 am and then 4:00 am and finally 5:00 am. You can’t stand it anymore. You jump out of bed thinking about all the work you must accomplish on Monday. The difference is that, when your work is also your vocational passion, you’ll love every minute of it.

Just recently I gave a talk to a large group about how to discover and follow your passion. As I was waiting off-stage and being introduced, I noticed my usual pre-talk feelings overwhelm me. I felt dizzy, a little light-headed, and my body felt a rush of breath. Although I am in great shape for my age (almost 50) I worried that I was having a stroke and would die shortly into my talk. Then I thought to myself, “I hope it doesn’t happen until the end of my talk or at least the funny parts”. Then my thoughts were interrupted as I heard, “And here is Craig Nathanson, The Vocational Coach”. Within seconds, thoughts of an impending heart attack or stroke left me and as I saw my audience I suddenly, once again, felt my purpose in the world.

This inner experience happens EVERY time I speak and just before meeting with my clients, and I have come to realize that this is the rush of vocational passion. Then I am sure once again that somehow, someway, I have figured out a way to continue living an authentic life doing what I love.

Do you toss and turn on Sunday night, excited about Monday morning? Do you jump out of bed on Monday morning and race to work? Is Monday your best day of the week and Friday the worst because you have to wait until the following Monday to resume your life’s work? Believe it or not, this really IS possible!

How do you live your vocational passion? Sounds simple and yet this is the most challenging thing you will ever do; take action. Despite all the people who tell you you’re crazy; you’ll starve; you’re selfish; you’ll become homeless; you do it anyway. You start to take action with the INTENTION of figuring out a way to make this work.

After leaving a senior management position in corporate America over four years ago, it was always an interesting experience telling people what I did. To the usual party question, “So what do you do?” I would simply say, “I work with people over forty to help them discover and do what they love!” The look in their eyes always said something between, “You fool!” and “I am jealous!”

My first talk was supposed to be in front of a big crowd as part of a job fair at Harry’s Hoff Brau in San Jose California. As I entered the room about five minutes before my talk, I wondered if I was in the wrong room — it was empty. Around 6 pm when my talk was about to start, a sweet elderly woman in her late 80’s wandered in and asked if the show was about to begin. She was recently widowed after 50 years of marriage and she was still carrying around a lot of sadness. She thought this free show might cheer her up.

I sat down next to her and just listened to her talk about her life. Although I didn’t give my planned speech, when she hugged me and told me I had cheered her up, I thought to myself that it had been a perfect first show!

What matters most is that you START! Following your vocational passion, especially after forty, is a lonely experience at first. Soon, however, you will become so involved in doing what you love that you will start to wonder why it took you so long to get started. One day recently I went to pick up my seven year-old from school. As I waited for him, a woman drove up and asked, ‘’Are you the guy in the paper recently who helps people discover and do what they love?” With a little embarrassment, I said, “Well yes I am.”
She said, “I noticed you the other day before the article came up and I thought to myself, ‘There is a man with bounce in his step.'" I picked up my son and as we drove away, I thought to myself, “That’s what happens when you live an authentic life—you get that bounce in your step!”

Can you get the bounce back in your step? I think you can. First imagine what you want and what you are passionate about. Write it down. Talk about it with others. Take one small action and ignore the opinions of others while you are starting out. Measure your progress. Your bounce will surely come back and others will notice. And with each step you take, I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines.

Craig Nathanson is the author of P Is For Perfect: Your Perfect Vocational Day and a coaching expert who works with people over forty. Craig’s systematic approach, the trademark "Ten P" model, helps people break free and move toward the work they love. Visit Craig’s online community at where you can sign up for a class, private coaching or group coaching. Or you can read other stories of mid-life change and renewal.

poniedziałek, 23 lipca 2012

Things I actually did: Go to Cuba

Bad news: No pics. My camera died just before I landed in Havana. Which actually made my trip even more retro. A week without a digital camera, Internet and a cellphone, can you imagine? My dream was to see a communist Cuba before Fidel dies. Cuba without McDo's and Coke. Without iStores, Zaras, H&Ms and Wallmarts.

All my stay in Cuba was sort of a lucky coincidence. When I was coming back to Poland from Mexico, I managed to  find a super cheap (300 €, 400$!) and super complicated (Mexico City - Panama - Havana - Moscow - Warsaw. Long live Aeroflot!) flight with a 4 days stopover in Havana. Cuba is amazing. It's everything you imagine about it multiplied by 100. I managed to find an accomodation in an empty-ish former St. Clara convent. An old lady, who turned out to be a receptionists greeted me with perfect Polish. It turned out later that she came for some time to Poland for a student exchange, when both our countries were still trying to manage to survive having the best of the political systems...

This is what I noted down in my travel diary:
"(...) Shops here are pure poverty and just a sorry sight, one can choose between only two types of toothpaste - the green and the blue, there are portraits of Che at every wall and in a warehouse a female voice from the loudspeakers asks companera Hernandez to come to the backroom. Even buying stupid ice-cream appears to be a problem. You have to go to a huge ice-cream shop, Coppelia, and stay in a queue. No one knows what is in the beginning of this queue, but I remember my mom's memories from the time of communism in Poland, and I know that if there is a queue, there is surely something desirable to buy on the other side of it. I join it. When I manage to move to the beginning, I meet a gentleman, who tells people where to go: upper or ground floor, depending on tables available. I have to go upstairs. A grumpy waiter seats me with a three-persons family, and the fact that I'm not with them has no meaning. Coppelia has a wide variety of desserts: two, three, four or five chocolate scopes. Well, I choose two, I eat, (I pay) and I run away.

There is also a heat. A heat that you can't escape from, because there is almost no AC here. There is a moderately acceptable temperature only in a bar in Obispo street and few warehouses, which I enter in order to research on differences between two types of shoe polish, when the heat gets unbearable. Restaurants look great, however the food they serve is terrible. It doesn't matter if it's a dingy bar in Obispo street or a beautiful newly-renovated house in Plaza Vieja, in every single one of them you'll find  different combinations of a cardboard-like bread, plastic cheese and some other ingredients.

The atmosphere however, is mind-blowing. In every square, in every cafe and from every radio - salsa, mambo and rumba. Chevrolets and buicks from fifties and stunningly beautiful people. People, who in Europe would drag people's attention instantly. Dark, fit boys with perfectly shaped chests and long-legged doe-eyed beauties. And the feeling that time stopped here. Almost no one owns a cellphone here, no one has an access to Internet. Life goes on in the streets and an old-fashioned pianist, just like Sam from Casablanca plays elegant songs in a cafe of hotel Europa."

I would totally love to come back one day.

poniedziałek, 16 lipca 2012

Eleven: Go to Istanbul

Istanbul is one of those cities, which I don't know much about, but they name is like a promise of something special. (Yes, I have a special cathegory for cities like Bombay, Tarragona and Timbouctou). I remember history lessons about Byzantium and Constantinople. I remember reading about Anna Komnene a byzantine princess and scholar, about all those splendid golden cities, habits, architecture, ceremonies, art... There is something fascinating about Istanbul, when I think about it, I have this image of an oriental old city, being mixture of culture and languages, cosmopolitan in an ancient meaning of this word. Recently my Spanish teacher told me, that there is a community of Jews living there, whos ancestors escaped from persecution in medieval Spain and those people still speak Spanish!

Now, however I have two more reasons to go to Istanbul. First of them is Özmen and second is Muto. I met those guys trough CouchSurfing, and they are such a nice, genuine and fun people, that I really really really have to visit Turkey as soon as it's possible. Well, they brought me lokum, which moves a bit away the prospect of acomplishing task one, but is definetely a delicious guilty pleasure.

sobota, 7 lipca 2012

Tanabata and things I actually did

Do you know what day is today? It's Tanabata, a Japanese festival of "pleading for skills" and I think (I'm not sure however), "pleading in general" :-) People in Japan celebrate it by writing their wishes on small stripes of paper. Isn't it awesome? I wish we had such festival in our culture, I think that it could help people keep on track to make their dreams and plans come true. This could actually be a good habit. Tanabata means "evening of the seventh", and is celebrated only once a year, but imagine how useful would it be, to have a day in a month, let's say an evening of the seventh to sum up everything you did last month to achieve what you want to achieve. Not bad at all, huh?

I think it's a good day to start sharing things which I had done before I came across the idea of this project, dreams that already came true.

I had my moment of bollylove. I love India, I went there twice, and I could go there any minute. I've never felt like something bad can happen to me there, I love the crowd, cows, smells, monkeys, pushy salesmen, all the guys who want marry me instantly, all those beautiful women, kitsch, drama and tikka masala. And Bollywood of course. One of my big dreams was to be an extra in a Bollywood movie. In the end of my second trip in 2010, my friends and I went to Mumbai (which is a mind-blowing city by the way). We were travelling in a group of six, and it happened that I was going to depart few days later than my friends. I was spending those days strolling down the streets of Kala Ghoda, playing cricket in Oval Maidan, window-shopping in The Bombay Store, looking for Shah Rukh Khan's villa and hanging out at Leopold Bar. One day, I was standing in a queue of a Coffee Day cafe, and a stranger approached and asked if I want to be an extra in a (dramatic pause) Farah Khan's movie. Oh boy, I wanted. Even though this guy could potentially cut off my kidney and leave me in some narrow street instead. 

I was supposed to come to Colaba Causeway on the next day at 4.30 am. Sleepy crowd of backpackers awaiting a bus made me sure, that no one is interesed in my kidneys. They took us to a fancy shopping mall, which was playing a role of an airport, and gave us clothes. Stereotypical clothes of white Europeans, which made us look like hookers and pimps. I'd never guess, that a stereotypical European woman wears super high heels, embarassingly short skirt and a heavy make up while taking a long-haul flight. Indian movie industry dispelled my doubts. I got a (very) small black dress, an orang-y make-up and terribly uncomfortable shoes in a size 39 (I wear 36). We were walking back and forth in front of the mall, some blonde Swedish chicks were chosen to be the main character's psycho-fans and loop their arms around his neck. God, I swear, it was the only moment when I wished I was blonde.We were working for few hours, got something like 200 rupees (no contract of course, I could potentially sue them for using my image without permission :-), and a chance to see Farah and Ashkay Kumar. And a chance of taking a picture with him, which I didn't use because I was too shy. 

But I took a picture of Farah, Ashkay and two Americans playing French (?) policemen in a shopping mall in India, which was playing an airport:

So... if you ever happen to watch Tees Maar Khan, focus on the airport scene, that little hooker with black dress and superhigh heels is me!

It's not the only dream I made come true, so... to be continued!