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Category : Awareness

By Kathrin Köster

The Power of Different Perspectives – All Shades of Brown

Last week, I was in the South African parliament. I listened to President Zuma and what he had to say regarding corruption. Regardless of the question, the answer was always the same: It’s all Apartheid’s fault. Given the fact that this discriminatory system has been abolished in 1994, I felt slightly surprised that he got away with this simplistic rhetoric.

To me this is old black and white thinking in the literal sense. It’s so deeply engrained in all of our societies, regardless of the continent. And it also comes along in the modern dress of the internet and social media. Do you like or dislike this statement, comment, picture or video? Thumbs up or down?

But do we always have to judge?

The point with binary judgments is: We stay in certain patterns, in preconceived notions we have been brought up with. And it’s the either – or – thinking that limits ourselves to two options only. What about the ‘rest’? And what about all the other shades of brown that are between black and white? When we open up to what others see and say, we can gain a lot.

Photo: Paul Emmet, Nyasha Karumazondo, Kathrin Köster

Three different people on the same journey through South Africa:

Overwhelmed by the beauty of nature, I am so grateful to experience what this planet has to offer.  Janine can’t believe to see what is possible in Africa and feels thrilled to go ahead with her transformational work in her own country up North. And Harry sees how communities of colored people emancipated themselves, turning options into opportunities.

All three perspectives are valuable and offer a different aspect: Nurturing, motivational, societal.

If we stop the habit of judging, we discover the wealth of perceptions and ideas. This brings color to our lives – and creativity to our organizations.

By Kathrin Köster

JOY – A WOW-Factor!

Two days ago, I talked to Claire who shared the following story with me:

“I was so happy. I exceeded the budget figures. Together with my team, I was better than the forecast in a very difficult market. I went into Annett’s office – who is my boss – to share the breaking news, and guess what her reaction was? Annett briefly interrupted her conversation with Michael, a colleague, barely looked up and mumbled: ‘Oh, ok!’ Then, she continued to talk with Michael. I wanted to say more to highlight how unexpected this positive result was, but I swallowed my words and returned to my desk. I felt like I had hit a wall…”

Joy turned into disappointment within a blink of an eye. Why?

Annett was distracted and not in the mood of listening to Claire. She could not take in the good news. She was not switched on with all senses. Otherwise, she would have picked up the positive feeling Claire brought into the room. Annett missed the opportunity to receive and even reinforce Claire’s positive energy and sharing her joy.

Instead, her absent-mindedness or ‘absent-heartness’ transformed joy into something negative.

JOY is FREE ENERGY. Sharing joy boosts the motivation of all team members. It’s a real WOW-factor for great team work. It requires openness from both sides – the ‘sender’ and the ‘receiver’.

So, what about a new habit for tomorrow?

Share joy – and ENJOY tuning into the joy of your team members!

It’s easy, just needs awareness and mutual encouragement. Check it out.

By Kathrin Köster

Turning Human Resources into Human Sources

I am currently in Bucharest where I held a talk at a conference attended by roughly 100 experienced HR specialists from international and local businesses.

My point in a nutshell:
Let’s turn Human Resources to Human Sources, on an individual and functional level. Let’s stop to have robots or Full Time Equivalent (FTE) and see the entire human being with all its facets and power: Intellectual Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, and all together we have a lot of Social Intelligence.
If we take out the ‘Re’ from Human Resources and develop the understanding of Human Sources, we gain sustainability. With the power of positive emotions on an individual and group level, people will boost the business – and increase profits merely as a side effect.
It’s time for a paradigm shift.
I was curious to take the pulse in Bucharest – what are the companies up to? What’s going on at Human Resources?

At the beginning, my heart started to sink when a speaker stated: “Every organization is about profit.” Ok, I heard that talk before.
But only minutes later, other speakers made my day.
Here a couple of examples taken from the various speeches:

 “There is no process without emotions.”

“People got their passion from the 70year old mentor who fired them up. ….He was also the best dancer in the company.”

“It was a deep approach, but light, playful, with fun.”

“We are proud of taking care.”

“Always ask yourself: What would I do for a friend?”

“(Doing this project….) is a life experience, not an HR experience.” 

“Make HR more human-centric.”

“Try to understand my need.”

“This was the most important project in Romania, because I could see the satisfaction and joy.”

The last statement was also true for me. Not only could I see the satisfaction in the faces of the participants but I myself was fulfilled with joy as I realized: Finally, there is a clear trend towards acknowledging the human being with its full potential – a trend to turn Human Resources into Human Sources.

By Kathrin Köster

Post-vacation Post: Dive with me into energy!

Are you back from vacation? I have just spent some weeks in North-East Malaysia to write a new book on self-discovery and would like to share my ‘energy pool’ with you. Do you join me to take a swim with your thoughts? To refresh yourself when you are sitting in your office and need a power break to recharge your batteries?

I immersed myself into the exuberant nature, with its intensity and abundance. It is like diving into a pool of energy – the power of the tropics.

The sheer power of nature in the tropics works like a reset, a reset to feel the essence of life, which to me is: Motion.

The chirring of the rain forest, the ear-battering thunderclaps, the purifying downpours, the rich and humid air – I am enwrapped by nature. I feel the rhythm of the planet. Nothing stands still. Everything around me is in motion – ceaselessly, infinitely. It’s like taking a bath in life. The motion of nature comes into my body. It’s frequencies I can sense, vibrations of excitement – vitality.

The Dance of Life

I am beyond time.

The wind caresses my skin.

And I feel free.

I am enwrapped by tropical abundance.

I plunge into the intensity of the colors, the sounds, the scents.

Everything around me is in motion:

The sea, the sand, the colorful streamers at the beach,

the waving leaves of the palm trees,

my hands flying over the keyboard.

I am inhaling life: Outside is inside, inside is outside.

The essence of life gives me vital power.

I am ready to move on.

I am full of vitality.

What about your life? Are you dancing the dance of life? Where is your energy pool? And what in your life is anti-motion – where are you stuck and standing still? What are you going to do about it?

By Kathrin Köster

How to escape the what-if trap

Do you know situations like this? One of your biggest customers has cancelled a meeting in your calendar without any comment. As this move comes totally unexpected and you don’t have any explanation for it, your mind starts rattling. What has happened? What if you had annoyed him somehow without noticing? Should you call with a pretence and find out? But what if he does not want to talk to you and you make things worse? What if he had switched sources without telling you? What if, what if….You are stuck in a loop of ‘what-ifs’ that keep you busy and distract you from the task you wanted to focus on. You are stuck in thoughts you don’t want to think. You are stuck in ‘mental waste’ you don’t want to produce.

How to get rid of these thoughts? How to change this mental habit? As with any change, we have to go for it in a determined and sincere way. We have to take ourselves seriously. It all starts with a “YES, I want to change my mental habits.” In this case: “I reduce the what-ifs.”

As thoughts are evasive and we are not used to track them, we need to introduce a kind of marker to make our thoughts visible to our inner eye. We need to get aware of them in order to be able to stop them. Hence, we identify so-called ‘heads up – words’

that help us to get aware of the thought pattern we want to reduce. In this case it is easy: It is sentences starting with ‘what-if’ and the following thought loops. It does not make a difference whether we think silently or whether we speak out. The technique with the markers or the heads-up words works in the same way.

At the end of each day, we take 5-10 minutes to write down the what-if-scenarios we were producing during the day. We use either a paper or an electronic journal for monitoring our thought patterns. After taking notes of the what-ifs, we reflect on the context that triggered them in order to find out more about ourselves and about our particular worries or concerns. This leads us to the root-causes of the thought loop.

After 2-3 days, we gain a picture of our thought patterns related to the what-ifs. This is when we enter the next phase intervening into the thought process itself. As soon as the marker comes to our mind, we react with ‘stop’, immediately putting an end to this thought. The ‘stop’-command is combined with a deep conscious breath to interrupt all ongoing processes and reset the mental system. Fully focus on taking the breath. During this mental reboot, you only think of breathing.

To summarize, there are 6 steps to change the what-if mental habit. We call it the ‘marker-technique’:

  1. Decide clearly for yourself that you want to change. This is the commitment to yourself
  2. Identify the marker for monitoring the relevant thought pattern. In our case: “What if…”
  3. Identify the what-if-loops as soon as the thought pattern emerges and become aware of it
  4. Take 5-10 minutes in the evening to track all what-if-thoughts using a journal (electronic or paper)
  5. Get to know the context that triggered the what-if-loops to explore the root cause of the loop. Add your insights to your notes
  6. Say “stop” to the ‘what-if’ as soon as you detect it and take a deep conscious breath


With the marker-technique we eliminate thought patterns that are fruitless and have the power to take energy from us and reduce our efficiency. Stopping negative mental habits can be viewed as an inner detoxification process. Without the mental waste functioning like a blockage, other thoughts come with greater ease and clarity. Some of you will notice that new thoughts emerge you would not have had before. You may get more creative and/or just more focused and resilient.

And what if it doesn’t work? What if it is not as easy as described above? You see, these patterns are pretty deep J. Needless to say that we have to practice this marker-technique for a while until we get rid of our patterns. Persistence and self-discipline are required.

And yes, there is more we can do. To make the mental waste reduction more effective and sustainable, we have to look at emotional aspects as well. The root-cause analysis for the what-ifs can help us to find out more about our worries and concerns underlying the ‘what-ifs’. But first things first: Let’s tackle the ‘mental waste’ and create space for something new J

In one of the next posts I will talk about emotional patterns….

1 2 3
The Power of Different Perspectives – All Shades of Brown
JOY – A WOW-Factor!
Turning Human Resources into Human Sources
Post-vacation Post: Dive with me into energy!
How to escape the what-if trap