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1. Discipline

 

The book you’re reading now, didn’t write itself.

 

At some point in time, I got the idea to write 52 short reflections of 500 words each. I’m not the kind of guy that can sit very long, not to read, nor to write. Yet I love it to capture my thoughts, feelings and experiences into words, so this felt like a nice compromise. So here you go, 52 times 500 words, the book is born.

 

I would build a statue for the person who invents an app that could capture all my ideas and thoughts in words. I’ve got like a billion ideas every day and I can make up a whole story just from one thing I see, one word, one insight. Life would be so much easier with such an app! But hey, here I find myself capturing the thoughts that I’m having right now on my cell phone. Just to avoid losing them.

I am on a hike with my dog Bibi through the vineyards and forests surrounding our house. Whilst enjoying the wind and the sun on my skin, the smells of fresh green after a mild shower in the night. The sounds of the birds, of my footsteps. I realise I even enjoyed the sound of my wife snoring during the night (the poor thing has a huge cold!).

 

Then I caught myself! It’s happening again! “You’re in one of these funny moods where you get inspired by kind of everything. Yet by the time you get home, other things grab your attention and they get priority over sitting behind your desk and write down these words. Yes mister, if you want to make this book happen, to promote it from just one of your ideas to something tangible, you need to discipline yourself and start writing.”

Déjà vu!!! Discipline; during one of my previous funny reflective moods, I’ve been chewing on that word. What does it actually mean? And why is this one of the few words with three times the letter “I” in it? And it was only when I started to write the word differently that my eyes opened…..dIscIplIne.

That letter “I” points at me. Discipline is something you cannot delegate. It is 100% up to you! I mean, ME. So often the best ideas are wasted and goals not met due to a lack of discipline. What a waste of opportunity.

 

It took me a long time to finally understand that punishment, not even selfpunishment, won’t stimulate us to reach our goals. Motivation can’t come from a negative or external source. It needs to come from within, from within ourselves. True motivation will be born when we connect what’s really important to us with the footprint we want to create in life. With our core and purpose. That’s where ‘have to’ changes into ‘want to’. That’s when we’re starting to make promises to ourselves and find the energy to keep going. When we promote that promise into a commitment to self, it is as if we sign this with a signature of our heart. Every heartbeat will bring us closer to our goal.

 

Discipline, written as dIscIplIne, is sticking to the commitment to self.

 

 

Journaling questions for this chapter:

 

What does commitment to myself mean for me?

 

Where do I try to delegate my discipline?

 

What choices do I want to make around discipline?

 

 

© 2024. Alex Verlek, Coaching Works International.

 

PS. To order the Awareness Builder 101 e-book or audio book, click here.

And to listen to the audio version of this chapter, click below:

 

 

There was a history teacher, an older woman who had been teaching kids for decades. One day she witnessed a conflict between students, two 13-year-old boys, and asked the two to come and see her after class. She asked what was going on and listened to their stories. One had beaten up the other because a few days before, that boy had said something very mean about his family. To defend himself, the other boy shared he did this because the first one had done exactly the same thing a week before.

 

This went on and on; the two boys could list a spiral of events where they, and their brothers, were involved in fights and blaming each other. In an ultimate attempt to justify his behaviour, one claimed his father told him the father of the other boy already did the same thing and that he was totally OK with his son getting back at the other boy. The only things that they had in common were that they both hated history class and that they wanted to join the army as soon as they were old enough.

 

After simply listening to the stories of these boys, the teacher asked if she could share her observation. The boys were surprised, because they expected to get some form of punishment, and agreed.

 

‘Boys, I agree with you, I hate history class as well. I have been teaching the same thing for decades. I am repeating the same story, over and over. A big part of history is about the wars people fought and at the end the result is always the same. There is lots of destruction, suffering, bloodshed, grief, and pain. Not only amongst the soldiers but also, and oftentimes even more, amongst the innocent ones. If it wasn’t so painful to see all that suffering, it would be boring because history keeps repeating itself. And you two, you are heading towards the same thing.’

 

She looked the boys in the eyes and spoke very directly:

 

‘Boys, you two are fighting the wrong fight. You think the other is your enemy. Your brothers and fathers have been doing the same thing and your sons are going to do it again. If you indeed hate history classes so much, I encourage you to start writing a different story. You are fighting the wrong fight, because you don’t understand who the enemy is. You think it is the other boy, yet it is something in you. You are your own biggest enemy because you treasure the hate in your heart. You are cowards because you don’t dare to look at the evil in your own heart and by hating the other, you keep feeding that monster. True victory will only come when you have the courage to fight the hate inside yourself, your unwillingness to forgive. You think that by not forgiving the other and fighting him, you will be able to win the battle. Well, you might win one battle, but never the war. As I said, because you are fighting the wrong war and with the wrong weapons.

 

‘If you want history to stop repeating itself, you need to create a different kind of army. One that fights with different weapons. You need to be courageous enough to break the ongoing spiral of violence, and to do this, you have to beat the monster inside yourself. Stop feeding it with your hate and desire for revenge. This monster is always hungry and wants more and more. It will keep growing and creating more pain inside your heart. You need to stop feeding the monster of hate. If there’s one creature in the world that must starve, let it be that evil monster. This is the only way you will find peace. Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is the ability to love the other as much as you love yourself.

 

‘For that, you need to put down the weapons you know so well and keep improving. Learn how to listen to each other. Learn to listen with the desire to connect from heart to heart. Ask questions, bring out the best in the other. Stop telling your children the wrongdoings of your neighbour and start telling them how wonderful they are. Teach them a new way of thinking and how to live together. Your fathers taught you evil; I challenge you to turn evil around, to spell it backwards so that it will
read as ‘live’.

 

‘Dare to look into the mirror of your own evil and you will live. In peace.’

 

© 2023. Alex Verlek, Coaching Works International.

 

PS. If you want to read my prayer Apologies to God, dedicated to the horrific situation in Israel/Palestina, click here.

And to listen to the audio version of this story, click below:

 

 

God, we owe you an apology.

 

We call upon your name to justify killing each other.

Your lesson was to love each other.

 

We call upon your name to justify raping women and murdering babies.

Your lesson was to love each other.

 

We call upon your name to justify taking each other’s land and homes.

Your lesson was to love each other.

 

We may call you God, Allah or Yahweh.

Yet you are One.

We may call ourselves Christian, Jew, Muslim or gentile.

Yet we are one.

 

One, teach us to be one again.

Sisters and brothers, neighbours.

One, teach us to live in peace again.

As sisters and brothers, neighbours.

 

To feed the hungry.

To give shelter to the homeless.

To take care of the sick.

To help the poor.

To teach the children how to play together, to love and live in peace.

 

One, forgive us for not following your lessons of love and humanity; one more time.

 

To ban evil and to restore peace.

 

By Alex Verlek ©

 

PS. You can listen to my prayer here:

 

 

The other day I was interviewed by my colleague and dear friend Anastasia Mizitova. 

 

She also made the fourth translation of my book happen, for which I am very grateful!

 

As you know a dream I have for the book is to get it translated into 10 different languages. Which is happening!

 

It is already available in English, German, Chinese and Russian and by this end of the month in Dutch.

 

Curious to hear our conversation around the book and Golden Rules for Coaching? Just click Play 😉

 

 

P.S. Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts. 

P.P. S. Curious about book? Click here for info & reviews: https://alexverlek.nl/golden-rules-for-coaching/

Today I share my interview for Beyond One Lens project with you.

 

Beyond One Lens’ mission is to introduce people to the power of the coaching conversation and help them to discover how powerful and resourceful they are.

 

Hosted by Zarrina Alieva.  Co-produced by Zarrina Alieva and Jacky Parkhouse.

 

Links to the interview:

 

Spotify

Apple 

 

An awesome sketch of my interview  below:

 

BYOL Alex Verlek

 

Order your copy of my book  (ebook / Paperback) here

Today I’ve decided to read you one of the chapters from my new book “Golden Rules for Coaching”. The chapter that I want to read for you is the last chapter in the book with the title”Coaching is Diversity & Inclusion”.

 

Interested?

 

Watch below:

 

 

And if you are ready to join a Summer Book Club Party with me & inspiring colleagues from all over the world, please join a series of 5 inspiring ZOOM summerclasses where we will together explore the lessons of my new book “Golden Rules for Coaching ”.

 

The main goal is to deepen your coaching skills whilst having great Summer Book club parties with inspiring colleagues from all over the world.

 

– 5 classes x 90 min each.

 

– All are different contentwise.

 

– 7,5 CCEU’s.

 

– Join from anywhere.

 

Book your spot here.

 

– > REGISTRATION CLOSES -02.07.22 < –

A weekend in Paris. The city of light and love. A city that everybody in the world knows and is like a magnet to millions.

 

Life is being celebrated wherever you look. Art, food, champagne, colours, lights, play, parcs, music, unique buildings. A city so diverse, where they stand for ‘Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité’. We want to be free. We are equal. We’re all brothers and sisters.

 

Lovers kiss on a bridge crossing the Seine. In the parcs. Under the Eiffel tower. Ah well, everywhere!

 

Paris is history and culture. A lifetime would be too short to explore it all.

 

Whilst walking around the Notre-Dame, impressed by the restauration works going on after an inferno destroyed huge parts of this world famous cathedral, my eyes were caught by what looked like a small parc, next to the river.

 

In this parc, a monument was ‘hidden’.

 

A monument to remember the hundreds of thousands who were deported during the second world war. Deported on trains for a journey hell,  the concentration camps. Since one race needed to be ‘purified’, another had to be destroyed…

 

I know the pictures of Auswitz, Buchenwald, Triblinka and many others, where over 2.7 million people were killed. Murdered, mainly in gas chambers, by extreme hard labour, famine, illness or cold. Or from a broken heart.

 

I’ve seen these pictures before, also whilst visiting the memorial places like Yad Vashem. I always feel this deep in my bones and my heart cries. So much suffering, so much pain. Unbelievable what people can do to each other. It’s beyond words. Though not easy, we need to keep looking at these pictures, since we should never forget.

 

Since we lack words, these memorial places all have images or pieces of art, statues to express our feelings.

 

Yet they always also hold a message. The message, in essence, is always to remember what happened, in order to remind us this should never happen again!

 

In this memorial place next to the Notre-Dame, there was a long tunnel. On the walls of the tunnel small tokens to honour and remember the ones who lost there lives.

 

The end of the tunnel was mostly dark, yet also had a clear light.

 

 

Whilst taking this all in, with tears in my eyes, I know that we have to be that light. We need to be the hope, we need to be the end of the tunnel.

 

Yes, the end of the tunnel! When will we learn that when we truly are the light at the end of the tunnel, there won’t be tunnels of suffering anymore!

 

I’m so done with us still creating these kind of tunnels! Another war in Europe where again one nation tries to ‘purify’ another, using deadly force as an excuse to force its will on other people! We can already predict the countless memorials that need to be build to remember, to mourn. At the same time multiple wars are going on elsewhere in the world, and they hardly make the news anymore. Mass shootings, killing innocent people in schools or religious buildings. Where some still justify the flash light coming out of the gun barrel that just sent a bullet to kill a child, instead of being a light of hope…

 

We need to be a light of hope at the end of the tunnel of pointless suffering.

 

We need to be the light of love.

 

We need to be the light that’s going to make the difference.

 

We need to be the light we want to see in the world.

 

We. You. Me. Light.

 

© Alex Verlek, May 2022

We all have fears. It’s part of being human. Since I’m human, I have my fears too.


Fear is so different from only being worried about something. I can worry about the weather for instance. Will the weather support the plans I have for today. Will I be in time or not? Oftentimes it is enough to look at the sense and the nonsense in the worry and you can put it in perspective. And since I can’t change the weather, why worry about it? Just take it as it comes and adjust your plans accordingly.

 

Fear is something different. My fears sometimes paralyses me and hijacks my thoughts. My heartbeat goes up, I start sweating. When fear gets to me in the night, it’s even worse and gets bigger and even more scary. There has been moments where I even started hyper ventilating, so overwhelming was the fear. Fear sometimes feels like a huge and scary monster, one that you can’t beat nor escape from.

 

For a long time, I thought my biggest fear was related to my sons addictions. The biggest one was the unbearable thought the police would come to the door to tell me he was gone. That fear made me do many things to try and avoid that, to make him stop his drugs and the alcohol, yet of course, that didn’t make any difference.


As hard as it was, I had to learn to let go of that fear since I could not influence it. I had to acknowledge I was powerless in this situation and that I had to stop giving it so much of my energy, of my power. This way I could learn to be with it, instead of fear it.

When I think about what my biggest fear is at this point in life, it clearly is falling back into burn-out.


I was in a burn-out for a very long time and it clearly was the toughest time in my life. Tougher than divorcing my first wife, tougher than loosing my dad when I was only 21.


I was just married for 6 weeks to Daphne and bang, there it happened. I pushed it and pushed it for years as a single parent, owning my own company and my body refused to continue like this. Though the circumstances changed a lot, the body now claimed its rest and recovery. A long a dark time started where my life was actually at risk. I also felt horrible for Daphne because she didn’t sign up for that. Yet she didn’t give up. It took several years to recover and claim my life back. I’m super grateful for my life so losing all that again, is clearly my biggest fear!

 

I thought I was unbeatable, and I’m not. I thought there was no limit, yet there is. I thought I could get away with it, and I didn’t.
My biggest fear, in a way, is now a big friend. I still frequently push it, yet I’ve learned to also listen better to my body and take breaks. As a daily act of self-care, I take early morning hikes with my dog. I spent time in nature to recharge. I’ve learned to spend money on myself to enjoy life, to live adventures and to create memories.

 

I’m sharing this to encourage you to think about what your biggest fear is and what relationship you want to have with it. Is it going to rule your life or will you listen to the message it has for you and partner-up with it.


It’s your call.

 

© 2022, Alex Verlek

 

P.S. By the way, a specially designed ‘A Whole Person Model’ is one of the coaching tools I will be presenting during my in-person full-day masterclass for coaches held in Zeist, The Netherlands on the 21st of May 2022. If you are interested in joining, please do not wait too long.  Accredited with 7 CCEU’s by ICF.

For all the details & online booking click here

On one of my trips I spent time in the beautiful nature of Croatia. Nature is breathtaking, the food is great and the people are so friendly, you’ve got to visit the place!


One morning I was hiking through one of the endless forests, together with a young guy who was my guide. At some point we bumped into a huge fence and, since going back wasn’t an option, the way forward was up; climb that fence!


The fence was almost three meters high yet not that hard to climb. My guide went first and I passed on our gear before I started to climb with my guide waiting on the other side. He must have been in his late twenties and super fit. I noticed that funny look on his face whilst I climbed down on the other side and then he asked me ‘the’ question: “How old are you”?


This wasn’t to just find out my age yet more like, what, how can an old man like you, climb such a high fence so easily? To not make him feel funny about himself, I simply answered the question yet internally I laughed.

 

We continued our hike and whilst enjoying the beautiful forest, where we spotted lots of wildlife, his question made me reflect. It took me back to a conversation about life and death with a friend, just the day before. The conclusion was to ‘eat the pie before you die’.


About 20 years ago, when I was still young (LOL), a doctor told me I had fibromyalgia. Hm, that wasn’t the kind of news I was hoping for as the end result of a series of tests in the year before. I knew people with this diagnosis and some of them even ended up in a wheelchair.


I asked the doctor what I could do to improve it? The answer was short: “Nothing”.


The next question was if I could do something to make it worse: “Nothing”.


I thanked the doctor for this info and told that this would be the last time we’d see each other because from that time I would be busy. “With what”?, the doctor asked. “Squeezing everything out of life and live full steam ahead as long as I can” was my reply.

 

Since that moment I made experiencing adventures and travelling a big thing in my life. Doing this in ‘Alex style’ means that this comes with taking risks and injuring myself frequently. A broken bone here and there, a cut, a bruise, nothing major. Just collateral damage.


Whilst embracing this ‘full steam ahead-approach, and frequently healing from those injuries, both my body and my spirit became stronger. I’m 20 years older in the meantime, and the adventures I’ve lived in the meantime, put a huge smile on my face and makes my heart sing. Luckily I have a loving partner who either joins or gives me the space to live those adventures. She also frequently provides the first aid needed when I had another ‘Alexident’ and injured myself again.


I celebrate each scar as another victory over fibromyalgia, as proof I’m for sure not wasting my life and my health sitting on the sofa behind a TV-screen.


Living full steam ahead was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Putting my time and money in experiencing adventures, instead of buying things I actually could do without, makes me feel alive and happy.


Yes, my hair turned almost completely white in the 20 years since I last saw that doctor. So in the eyes of younger folks, I look like an old guy. This old guy loves to surprise them with not behaving in line with my age yet in line with how I want to feel: Alive and kicking!

 

Age. They often say it’s just a number. I say it’s not about the number nor about the age you can calculate by deducting your date of birth from today’s date. I’m more thinking of the roots of the word ‘courage’ with holds the word ‘heart’ in it.


With what do you keep your heart beating with excitement? That’s my answer to the question ‘What’s your age’.


What’s yours?


© Alex Verlek, February 2022