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7. Perfectionizm

 

The saboteurs were not done yet! They felt they were losing the battle around this book being edited or not. They just hate losing! When they lose, change of some form is happening which will make them feel as if they’re sleeping on an ant hill. No, that’s not nice…!

So they had to think of something else and tried several options. Like “who do you think you are that anyone would be inspired by your words”? Sorry guys, after I got over myself when I started leading courses, that one doesn’t land anymore.

 

Next attempt: “These thoughts are rather personal, do you really want the whole world to see all that”? Hi hi, the whole world you say? If my book would be that successful, I’d be rich in one go! Great! And besides that, I’m far too eccentric to be bothered by that. Then they played their ultimate card: “Alex, English is not your mother tongue. You will make silly mistakes and printed words should be at least correctly written”.

You freaking bastards! Playing the card of perfectionism totally sucks!! I’m using such strong words because I know there is truth in what they say. Mistakes will be made! Not even the best spelling check software will be able to avoid that. Maybe eventually the spelling will be correct, but some things will not always be worded in the best possible way. Hmm, maybe not an editor, but at least a corrector then?

 

It’s very liberating to embrace not to be perfect. And at the same time I know that in my work I have rather high standards for myself. Of course it’s OK to strive for a really good result, and I know I can overdo that.

It’s the paralysing impact of perfectionism my saboteurs were after.

Perfectionism is a guaranteed path to self-imprisonment. It is the thief of freedom. It’s hijacking satisfaction. It’s the sniper that kills ideas, the tsunami that ruins creativity.

 

As a facilitator of international courses, I so often tell my students it’s not a language course, as long as we come from a mutual desire to communicate, we’ll be fine! When we do our best, it’ll be good enough. And our best, that’s all we can do.

When we aim for more than our best, we make life impossible. No, that’s not an invitation to go for second best. Then we underperform and won’t respect our talents.

In the battle against perfectionism, I hold on to a quote on a poster we have in our house; “Strive for excellence, not for perfectionism”. Of course, give it your best shot, aim high! Embrace your full potential and at the same time relax into it. Don’t torture yourself expecting the impossible which means you’re constantly disqualifying yourself. Always saying “what I did wasn’t perfect, not good enough” will soon evolve into “I’m not good enough”. And that is an absolute lie!

After giving it all you’ve got, embrace the result as your best and release it into the world. Declare it ready. After giving it your utmost and declaring it ‘good enough’ implies declaring yourself good enough.

And with that you free yourself from perfectionizm.

 

 

Journaling questions for this chapter:

 

How am I allowing my perfectonizm to steal away my freedom?

 

What is the illusion I’m making up how this is serving me?

 

What choices must I make to break free from my Saboteurs?

 

 

© 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:

 

6. The Unedited Version

 

Thank you for reading this far! It could be that you got inspired by what you’ve been reading and you’re hoping for more thought provoking stuff. Simply keep reading with this mindset, I’m sure you will indeed find more of that.

It could be quite the opposite, where you find yourself less inspired or even bored. Simply keep reading with that mindset and I’m sure, I guarantee you, you’ll find more of that stuff!

When you’re in the mood for a little experiment, you could try reading with the opposite mind-set. Fair chance that you will start seeing things from the other perspective. Since, at the end of the day, perspective is a powerful choice, don’t be surprised when you actually start experiencing different emotions around what you read, even exactly in the way you chose to look at it.

 

Some spiritual teachers describe the fact we’re able to choose how we see and experience whatever happens in life, as the gift of ultimate freedom. Of course, this I don’t want to take away from you…

I believe that in essence I am not even able to do so, nor could anyone else. You might be influenced by someone else, at the end of the day it still is your choice.

This is actually the whole point of this book; to make you aware of certain topics, that you start reflecting on it and that you consciously choose how to see things. Whatever I write, how I write it, it doesn’t really matter that much. My main longing for you is that you find your own inspiring way to see things. So when you’re not inspired by what you read, start exploring how you would like to be inspired around that topic. If you’re not inspired by how things are being worded, please challenge your thoughts how you would have worded it.

 

Also when you are inspired by what you read, explore more deeply what’s been evoked in you that makes you feel inspired. That way you’ll deepen your learning and make it more consciously yours. Do not simply accept or even embrace it at first sight! No! Take what you read and after reflecting on it, make these words your own authentic words, thoughts and feelings.

That’s why this book has the subtitle ‘The Unedited Version’. These are my authentic words, my current perspective. It was a conscious choice to not ask an editor to ‘polish’ my words. It would simply take away from the authenticity of it. A gift of having this book edited, would be that it would evoke more thinking in me and new insights. Then I could rewrite my words to update them. Before publishing, the editor would look at it again and since the editor, in the meantime also processed the words and own thoughts and feelings around it, would also have new insights again. See what could happen? We would be able to keep rewriting and editing, create a never ending loop and never get to the point of publishing.

This would be the ultimate victory for my saboteurs – my inner critics who don’t want me to step into new things – who’d love to say it could always be better. In itself that’s correct. Their victory would be that you would never be reading this book, that your thoughts would never be evoked by it. Hence, no change, the ultimate goal of saboteurs.

So here you are, reading the unedited version, a victory over my saboteurs!

 

And now, please create your own unedited authentic version of the words you’re reading.

 

 

Journaling questions for this chapter:

 

Where am I allowing others or circumstances to write the story of my life?

 

How does the unedited version of my life story look like?

 

For that matter, what do I want to embrace and what to let go of?

 

 

© 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:

 

5. Fragile

 

The evening I wrote the previous page, the friend of one of my students died. Far too young. Life was taken away from her, her time was complete. What a painful reminder.

 

A bit over a year ago I collapsed just like that and was taken to hospital by ambulance. Whilst enjoying breakfast at the local market, all of a sudden it felt as if all the energy fled from my body. My blood pressure all of a sudden was extremely high. When I was carried into the ambulance, I consciously looked at the sun and consciously felt its warmth on my skin. Maybe that was the last time I would see the sun from this side of heaven….

Yet I was lucky, it all proved to be a false alarm.

 

The night after writing the previous page, I woke up in the middle of the night. I felt horrible and again, all energy fled from my body. I went to sleep feeling great and happy, and only hours later, an extreme fear filled me. What is my body doing to me…..? Will it give up on me…? Is my time now complete…?

Again, false alarm. Again, a wake-up call. Yes, probably the rather intense last weeks impacted me, maybe even the writing yesterday caused some unconscious stress.

 

That’s not the point. Stings’ words in his song ‘Fragile’ are so spot on! We might think we’re untouchable. We might be blessed with a good health, a strong body and a strong mind. And we are so fragile…. Nobody is too strong, too healthy or too important to not be told that, all of a sudden, your time is complete. That you will become one of the stars and life in this form will no longer know a new tomorrow.

 

Because on and on the rain will fall. Like tears from a star, the rain will say how fragile we are.

(from Fragile by Sting)

 

When a tear from a star falls on you, you’re called to join the stars and we’ll never know when we catch that tear. This calls for a certain humbleness. I am, you are, we are not better than anyone else and none of us is untouchable. We’re all equally fragile.

When taking this as a given, when we are aware of our vulnerability, it doesn’t call for living so careful that we avoid any risk. NO! We need to live!! When Snoopy’s friend Charlie Brown said to him “One day we will die Snoopy….”, in response Snoopy said: “Yes, but every other day we will live…”.

This is a simple wisdom, yet very powerful and it calls us forth to live our life. Fully. Now. Free. On purpose. Actively. Yet aware of how fragile we are and that one day we’ll be called home to the stars. Embracing how fragile we are, at the same time encouraged to appreciate life more fully. Live it.

 

 

Journaling questions for this chapter:

 

What does a fully lived life look for me?

 

What am I allowing to get in the way of that?

 

If I would not be given a ‘tomorrow’, what would I do today?

 

 

© 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:

 

4. Time

 

The moment you were reading the title is just a few seconds ago, yet already gone. And that moment will never be back. Nor will be this moment. The clock might stop but the time always moves on.

Though there seems to be an endless amount of time, after every second that is now history, there will be a new one, right? On the scale of eternity, correct. On the scale of our life, hmm, there are many seconds but they are measured. Nor do we know how many seconds we’ll get. In that sense, time is maybe the most precious thing we’ve been given. Yes, we get if for free, we receive it as a gift when we’re born. Rich or poor, we all receive that gift. Time does not discriminate yet often we don’t find it fair, after all, some of us have been given only very little time. Some of us have lost children and are painfully aware of the unfairness of time. I lost my father when he was only 53 and he still had lots and lots of plans for his life. And, he didn’t get the seconds to live these plans….

 

When I’m writing these words, I am 53. The same age as when my father died. For sure it got me thinking when I turned 53. Some fear based questions like, will I outlive my father or will this also be my year…? Other questions helped me more. When observing my father’s life, what lessons are there for me? Which choices did he make that he probably would have made differently if he would have known the number of his years. One of the lessons I took is about money. It feels my father’s motto was to save his money wisely. I agree and I want to add ‘spend it wisely’. A certain amount of money in the bank account is wise, not spending it to enjoy life a missed opportunity.

 

Another lesson is to enjoy life NOW! Yes, now! This is the only moment in time you are living. You can enjoy memories from the past, you can’t go back in time to create an experience though. You can look forward to things, you can’t fully experience what’s still about to happen as if you are actually experiencing it now. Don’t postpone harvesting the fruits life has to offer now, to another time. The fruit might be gone or that time might not come. Enjoy the gift of the present.

Another thing I became aware of is how I want to use my time, for instance whilst working. With time being one of the most precious gifts of life, let’s use it well. Use it purposeful, use it to create the footprint you want to leave behind. When not, maybe that’s the definition of wasting time?

 

Time, a limited resource.

Again, the clock might stop, time never will.

 

Journaling questions for this chapter:

 

How conscious and purposeful do I use my time?

 

What do I not want to regret at the end of my time?

 

What is the footprint I want to create whilst traveling through life?

 

 

© 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:

 

3. Weakness or Courage?

 

As the father of a recovering addict, I had the privilege to witness some NAmeetings. NA stands for Narcotic Anonymous, a gathering of people who’re seeking each other’s support whilst fighting a disease called addiction. Addiction, often perceived as a sign of weakness.

 

Each time I join such a meeting, I’m in awe. In awe with the courage. In awe with the simplicity. In awe with the power. In awe with the community. In awe with the fellowship.

Imagine, there is a part in your life that you’re not happy with. Yes, pause for a moment and think about where you’re doing something too much or too little. You’re painfully aware it’s not serving you yet it seems to control you. The worst thing you can imagine happening is this being taken away from you and that the world around you would know about your secrets. Would know about what you have done to fulfil this longing. Something that is so private, you don’t even dare to be honest about it to your loved ones. Not to anyone, not even yourself. You live a lie. A lie leading to destruction. And, often for years, you’ve been denying this lie and you became a master in covering it up.

 

And here you are. In a group of people and all they want to hear is the naked truth. However ugly it is, that’s just as it is. Your story will land in a bed of understanding, respect and love. In a space where the distinction is made between ‘sin and sinner’. We hate the addiction, we love the addict. Because the addict is simply a human being, like you and me, longing for love and acceptance. Judgment is the last thing we’re looking for.

And one of the ways these vulnerable yet so powerful men and women are supporting each other is by witnessing each other’s stories. There is a unique kind of trust, allowing all to share whatever is on their heart. Whether it is a success or a struggle.

Successes are being celebrated, struggles are being acknowledged. Not the struggle itself, no, the human being who’s courageous enough to simply share his or her struggle.

In one hour you hear many people sharing their stories. Each time starting with sharing their first name, let’s say John, followed by “I’m an addict”. That’s being embraced by a collective ‘hi John’. John is being seen, John is being heard. John gets a safe and courageous space to share what’s on his heart. And ‘all’ they do is witness John’s story. Nobody is trying to fix John nor comfort him. John is allowed to be, in his glory or in his struggle. Because John matters. Because noone puts himself or herself above John. Because they’re fellows. In many cases addicts go on a daily basis to these meetings. To share. To be in this safe and courageous space. Let’s assume you’re not an addict in any shape or form. But since you’re human, you have your shortcomings. And as spiritual teachers preach, a shortcoming is like any other shortcoming and that makes us all equal. How would it be to daily openly confess your shortcomings and struggles and put all your cards on the table. To embrace your imperfection and no longer keep up appearances?

 

Is that weakness or is that courage?

 

(For those who seek support, visit www.aa.org or www.na.org)

 

 

Journaling questions for this chapter:

 

What is a behavioural pattern where I must make a courageous choice to break the spell?

 

What is the price I am paying by not doing so?

 

What will become possible if I choose to break the spell?

 

 

© 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:

 

2. Awareness Builder

 

So, the book has been born. It’s there. The question is why another book? What’s the purpose of this book, of transforming some thoughts into words.

To me this book is a way, just one of them, to express the purpose I see for myself in life.

Some coaches, yes, I’m one of them, like to talk about life purpose. Many spiritual teachers also talk about the reason for our existence. So it’s probably worthwhile to give it some thought…

When exploring this with my clients, I talk about footprint, impact and legacy. Here is some good news, you don’t need to die to leave a legacy!

So let’s be light hearted about it and take a closer look.

 

Impact; there is no such thing as having no impact. Even before we were born we had impact. During our lives, everything we do, or not do, speaking or silent, when we are present or absent, it all has an impact. If we promote this to a fact, we’d rather be conscious about the impact we have.

 

Footprint. In a way in line with impact. Yet it’s different. Where impact is more about how we are, footprint is the mark we leave behind.

 

Experienced trail hunters can not only tell by the footprint they find what kind of animal passed by, they can also tell a lot about when it was and how the animal was. Was it relaxed, in a hurry or even wounded. They can read a complete story in the footprint they see. Well, our footprints tell our story. And it is up to us what the story is that we write….

 

Legacy is what you leave behind for others to start creating from. Your output is their input.

 

My longing for you is that at the end of the journey, you’ve written not only the complete story, but also the story you really like it to be.

A story that you love to read to younger generations. A story that would fill your heart with joy when you read it.

 

With this book I want to leave you with more questions than answers. My longing is that my reflections get you wondering what that specific theme means to you. That you start looking for your answers. That you become more aware.

Awareness comes with a certain responsibility though. It forces you to choose. Will you choose to act in line with how you want your story to be, or not?

It’s simple, act in line with it and you’ll be very pleased with the book of life you’re writing. And the opposite is also true I’m afraid.

This is where I find my purpose, the footprint I want to leave behind. I see myself as an ‘awareness builder who creates an army of positive change’. I hope this book inspires you to make some positive changes through powerful choices.

 

So here again some reading suggestions:

Read – Reflect – Become Aware – Choose – Act – Be Accountable.

Choose consciously so you make your life happen instead of life is just happening to you.

 

 

Journaling questions for this chapter:

 

Where in my life am I longing for some change?

 

What is the obstacle between my choices and my actions?

 

How can holding myself accountable serve me?

 

 

© 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:

 

 

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: