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:
An awesome sketch of my interview below:
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”.
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.
– > 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.
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’.
© Alex Verlek, February 2022
The year 2022 is already a month old, can you believe it?
2021 is history and it feels many don’t mind at all. The pandemic still kept the world in its tight grip. Huge numbers of people suffered greatly because of this, many even paid the ultimate price.
Many younger people experienced the first real setback in their life, and struggled with this to the point of burn out. Travelling was still a challenge and countless business owners lost all they’ve worked for. Parents had to homeschool, often combined with a full time job. Especially for single parents, this was really tough!
The elderly still experienced super annoying limitations, frequently leading to not being able to see their loved ones. We all know the list of Covid-related struggles is a lot longer.
On top of all this, many countries suffered from war, earth quakes, famine, volcano’s erupting, hurricanes and much more. Locally even more catastrophes can be listed.
The world, with its 7.8 billion people, struggled. 7.8 billion individuals. This includes you and me. Fair chance I don’t know much about how 2021 was for you, nor the other way around.
The number 7.8 billion doesn’t tell me that much, it feels so anonymous. It gets so much more personal and real when we look at the individual and their story. When we look them in their eyes when they share how 2021 was for them. When we hold them in our arms when they shed their tears. Or when we see the twinkles in their eyes when they share stories of joy and gratitude.
Some of the stories are highly influenced by the challenging circumstances yet it’s really special to see how individuals respond differently to similar circumstances. I got inspired by the statement from someone who had a really tough year, yet claimed that she would no longer be held back by circumstances. No matter the circumstances, she would find her way.
No matter the circumstances, she would write the story that would make her proud of herself, that would fulfill her. Wow… so much power and courage in such a statement, in such a claim.
It made me think. What am I willing to claim, in spite of what is going in the world, in my life?
One thing that came out that reflection, was to take my new book “Golden Rules for Coaching” on a big trip over the world. Look for the support that’s needed for such an idea, get creative, find the possibilities and make it happen! Against all odds, give it a go.
Maybe some things won’t happen, or turn out differently but at least I want to feel proud at the end of the year that I gave it a try, that I did my best. The stories I’ll collect, the people I’ll meet, the adventures I’ll experience; they for sure will fulfill me!
You see the question coming: What is the story you choose to write, in spite of, or even maybe due to the circumstances you find yourself in.
Let’s keep inspiring ourselves and each other by the stories you choose to write.
You matter, your story matters! It’s yours to claim it. It’s yours to write it.
January 2022, ©Alex Verlek
This weekend I had the privilege to lead another CTI Co-Active Coaching course. A joyful experience with my great colleague Conchita Rodríguez Franco. This time in the both beautiful and historical city of Berlin, Germany.
I’d never been there and used my evenings for long walks to visit historical sights. I deeply respect Berlin keeps reminding us of the lessons history holds for us, whilst at the same time being a wonderful vibrant city.
The many monuments tell stories of the impact of war. How countless lives got lost because we picked up our arms. To fight, destroy and kill. One life after the other, or many in one go.
The monuments do not represent the very last wars we’ve seen. It still seems the lessons aren’t clear and loud enough and we keep trying the same thing, each time expecting different results. Einstein nicely summed that up: This is insane!
This is exactly why I do what I do.
We need to learn to fight with different weapons! We need to create a totally different army. We need to grow in awareness on what really matters, both for the individual as well as for the collective. We need to create an army of positive change. Where the weapons are radically different!
We, for instance, need to start ‘fighting’ with curiosity instead of judgment. With respect and love instead of hate. With a desire to learn from differences. With a longing to grow the other as much as ourself. To multiply by sharing.
It may sound as if I know it all so well.
Well, I strive to live in line with the above. I teach it. Yet frequently I fail since I’m human after all. Maybe this is why destiny took me to Berlin this weekend. To remind me of the lessons I constantly need to learn. The choices I need to make over and over. To be on purpose. To act on purpose.
My invitation is to reflect on what choices you individually need to make to collectively create that army of positive change.
So that soldiers can go home and be with their loved ones about which the detail on the Siegessäule reminded me.
Real victory is when we can all go home in peace to be with our loved ones and never have to pick up our arms again.
©Alex Verlek 2021 Berlin, Germany
Or was it death, that was trying to teach me something…?
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I was travelling back from a few days off.
I often use this time in the car to talk with people and that morning I called my mom to see how she was doing. Or just to hear her voice. With a serious distance between us, I don’t get to see her that often and the pandemic only made that even harder.
During the pandemic I heard a lot from folks living abroad and how they suffered being apart from their family. How hard it was to miss celebrations, let’s forget final goodbye’s.
When I reflected on that, I must admit, I often thought “what is the big deal”? You can call them, videocall even to stay in touch and it’s part of the expat life after all.
As mentioned, I called my mom yet she had (great)grandchildren visiting so we agreed it was better she would enjoy that first and that I’ll call back later that afternoon.
Driving through Italy towards France, I continued my journey and somewhere during the afternoon I received a Whatsapp that ‘something’ happened to my mother. Not long after I got a call which told me that ‘something’ was a huge heart attack and that it was unclear what to expect…
BANG!!! A punch in the stomach. A cold shiver in my heart. A million thoughts crossed my racing mind.
In between somewhere and nowhere I felt the deepest loneliness and very, very far away from what used to be home.
I imagined my mother in the ER where doctors tried to safe her life.
Flashbacks to the day my father passed away, now 35 years ago.
I always thought we’ve said all the words which needed to be spoken. I started wondering if that was true. Complete or not? Was I ready to let her go with a heart at peace…?
Bitter tears I cried. I mourned my mother before she was gone. I felt alone, so alone.
All of a sudden I felt one with all those expats who cried similar tears. All of a sudden I started to see, to feel, that the last time you said goodbye in person never is enough for a final goodbye…
Another lesson in humbleness I had to learn. Another lesson in compassion I had to experience…
A couple of days later I was able to visit my mother in hospital. How precious!
After that visit I wrote these words:
Never longed to see you more
Never held you closer
Never hugged you this intense
Your kisses and whispering meant the world to me
Your eyes lit up when they saw me
You cried when you said my name
I cried when I held your hand
Love filled my heart
My beloved mother
You knocked on heaven’s doors
Almost reunited with my dad
Eternity wasn’t ready for you yet
Thus sent you back
For precious moments to live
To read you your favourite psalm
To be closer than ever before
Whilst we’re trusting the divine
What today’s goodbye really means
© Alex Verlek (July 2021)
More and more parts of the world are enjoying the pandemic being on its return.
And with that claiming life back again.
The question I would love to ask: What is the life we want to create from here?
This pandemic situation wasn’t just bad.
It also taught us many many lessons on how we can live life in a different way. How we can live life in spite of some limitations.
I would love for us to reflect for a moment on how we can use all these lessons learned during the days of pandemic, in the time that is now ahead of us.
This is why today I shot a new 2 min video where I want to share my reflections with you.
Watch it below.
P.S. When you’ve had a chance to watch it, here is my invitation to you: Will you take a moment to reflect on what are the lessons that I want to keep from the pandemic? And include them in the life after the pandemic? And who are the people around me that I still want to give a little bit more time, love and attention? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Enter your name and email below to receive instant access to Alex's valuable recources, tips and articles.