Compass

Fresh Perspectives You Can Use.

New WordPress Home for COMPASS

I have relocated COMPASS in September 2007 to a new home : www.berendlange.com

Please go to the new KOMPASS Blog for Posts from September 2007.

I am sorry for any inconvenience : Berend

Saturday, 29 September 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 2. KOMPASS Deutsch | 1 Comment

Make Your Own Decisions

eBook 'The REAL Facts of Life'I thought I had seen it all.

But now we just stood there, mesmerised : right in front of St. Jakob church on the medieval paving in the old town of Villach, a young man – alone, totally absorbed – played his guitar and at the same time juggled an array of electronic devices with his feet, making some really beautiful instrumental music. Multiple instruments, mind you!

The contrast to his venerable surroundings couldn’t be bigger. He turned out to be an Australian in Austria and personally handcrafted his unusual four-string guitar from an old, precious piece of piano. He composes his music as he plays along and sells it on CDs.

An unconventional fellow, like many others we saw at Villach’s annual StreetArt Festival last week : very friendly, utterly passionate about what they do, and very non-conformist. I like people like that.

For adults it takes courage, though, to be different and stick out from the crowd – I wonder why sometimes.

After all, it’s a fact that we are all different – nobody is exactly like anyone else, not even ‘identical’ twins. And that’s a good thing : just imagine how boring life would be if we were all the same.

If it is natural to be different, why are most of us afraid to show and express our uniqueness?

Because from the moment we are born, there is enormous pressure on us to ‘fit in’, to behave in a way that’s ‘acceptable’ to the people around us.

And there is a good reason for that, too : the urge ‘to belong’, to be part of a group is also natural for human beings. In the early days of mankind, nobody could survive on his own – the different skills of the members of the tribe, combined to achieve a common objective, defined the success of the community, and still do.

So there is no conflict here : everyone makes a unique, valuable contribution and lives happily ever after …

If only it were that easy : if we want to fit in, why does it take pressure to be accepted in a group, and where does it come from?

Most of the influence to conform is well-meaning and comes from family and friends at first, meant to help you do well in life. They taught you the facts of life, what worked and what didn’t, and helped you avoid many painful experiences.

Later, peers and superiors largely with their own agenda join in the chorus and steer you in a direction that suits them best, rather than having your interest at heart.

That’s where the pressure sets in : different interests are trying to dominate … it’s all a power-game!

Wherever we turn, there is a swarm of institutions and lobbyists these days telling us that the world is a dangerous place – selling us a safe berth in their harbour and convincing us that we can’t live the dreams we are having.

Many of our cultural influences are strong, others are subtle – we need to be fully aware that part of their mission is always to keep us in the herd.

Staying alert is not easy because our natural filters against the information overload in the media cannot cope anymore – we can’t switch off altogether to escape this game, so we develop an attention deficit to protect ourselves as best we can.

Initially, we have set up our social, commercial and political structures in a way that used to enable a small group of naturally courageous, resourceful and talented leaders to guide a majority of followers.

But with the power of leadership comes responsibility and I get the impression that personal accountability often gets lost these days, somewhere along the way to the global village.

Leaders don’t seem to think of their followers as individual persons anymore – for them they are groups, markets and voters … herds. It’s a lot easier to direct and manipulate a few uniform, labelled masses than to convince six billion people individually to buy the flavour of the month or go to war.

And the prestige of leadership depends on followers – if there are no followers, where does that leave the leaders?

Every self-professed expert hands out his glossy brochures these days and makes us believe that he alone has the power to make our dreams come true, whilst the decision to follow is always made by ourselves.

In whose hands is the real power then?

Value, just like beauty, is in the eye of the individual beholder. There is nothing wrong with being selfish, in fact it is a lesson we all have to learn : to listen to ourselves and to our own innermost desires in the face of so many other options offered to us.

I am not suggesting that there is a conspiracy to prevent us from making our own decisions, but our generation has been conditioned in such a massive way that we no longer recognise the influence of a belief-system that denies the importance of personal feelings.

Ready-made ladders are put up for us everywhere and we are hypnotised to climb the rungs en masse – only to find out at the top that the ladder is leaning against a wall we never wanted to be on.

Don’t get me wrong : I am not condemning this system, just observing. We have all agreed to follow the rules of this game, we chose our place in the cage – and now it’s difficult to see the exit, although it is wide open.

But some do and get unplugged, like the young musician at Villach’s StreetArt Festival – I just love it!

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Wednesday, 1 August 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Zwei Sprachen, ein Gedanke

Kompass 

Ich habe gerade eine neue Seite für Übersetzungen auf meinen Website gestellt, da ich jetzt immer mehr Anfragen dafür erhalte.

Deutsche UebersetzungenEnglische Uebersetzungen

Guck doch mal rein!

Hier in Villach haben wir an diesem Wochenende ein ‘New Orleans’ Festival und wir machen natürlich mit!

Rechtzeitig dafür hier ein englischer Trinkspruch in zwei Sprachen :

Das Leben ist wundervoll,
man muss es nur durch die richtige Brille sehen.

Life ist wonderful,
you just need to see it through the right glasses.

Have a nice one yourself :

Berend

Friday, 15 June 2007 Posted by | 2. KOMPASS Deutsch, 3. Humour | Leave a comment

Are you feeling out of sync?

If you feel out of balance, here is something I guarantee will help you.

I was totally out of sync today, so I surfed around on some inspirational websites and ended up on the ‘Gifts’-page of ‘The Secret’.

If you have been on my ‘Recommendations’-page you know that their DVD is one of my favourites, but I never knew that they had plenty of other good stuff.

Anyway, if you want to feel better in exactly two and a half minutes flat, just click here on ‘The Secret to You’ (or on the image below) and you’ll go straight to a short movie : it is a beautiful visualization with awesome images and great music, really inspiring – just click, sit back and relax :

'The Secret to You' - Movie

You’ll love it, even if you’re fine right now. You can download it to your desktop as well, like I did, to watch it every day or whenever you feel like it.

And don’t forget to share the good things in life : alert your friends to this, they’ll appreciate it.

Hope you like the new COMPASS header, by the way.

Have fun : Berend

Wednesday, 6 June 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies | Leave a comment

Wissen – Ist das wahr?

Kompass 

Ist das wahr?

  • Viren verursachen Krankeiten
  • Kalorien beeinflussen unser Körpergewicht
  • Inflation ist unvermeidlich
  • Gefängnisse vermindern Kriminalität
  • Waffen bringen uns Sicherheit

Die meisten glauben das, und was wir glauben, das ist wahr für uns. So stellen wir uns die Welt heute vor.

Wir glauben auch, daß die Welt wirklich so ist, wie wir sie uns vorstellen. Unsere Vorstellung von der Welt prägt unser tägliches Verhalten und bestimmt damit die Realität, in der wir leben.

Vor ein paar hundert Jahren glaubte man, daß die Erde flach sei und man herunterfallen würde, wenn man nur weit genug segelt. Ist die Welt wirklich so, wie wir sie uns heute vorstellen?

Glaube ist ja eigentlich Illusion und ändert sich mit den Jahren – was wir heute glauben ist nicht unbedingt ‘wahrer’ als das, was man früher glaubte.

“Was wir zu wissen glauben
hält uns häufig davon ab,
zu lernen.”
Claude Bernard (1813 – 1878)

Glaube birgt also auch Gefahren.

Denk mal drüber nach : Berend

Tuesday, 5 June 2007 Posted by | 2. KOMPASS Deutsch | 4 Comments

Erfolg – Was wünschst Du dir denn nun wirklich?

Wenn es ein Zitat gibt, das mir mehr als alle anderen hilft, auf Erfolgskurs zu bleiben, dann ist es dieses von
Paul J. Meyer :

“Alles was Du …

  • dir klar vorstellen,
  • leidenschaftlich wünschen,
  • aufrichtig glauben,
  • und wonach Du begeistert handeln kannst …

… muss unweigerlich geschehen.”

In wenigen Worten hat er hier ein universelles Gesetz formuliert, das uralt ist, lange verschüttet war, jetzt aber wieder häufig diskutiert und in vielen Variationen beschrieben wird : das Gesetz der Anziehung.

Es ist ja auch unglaublich, daß es nur vier Voraussetzungen gibt, die nötig sind, um alles zu erreichen, was man will. Unweigerlich. Alle vier gleichzeitig, natürlich.

Das klingt zu einfach. Trotzdem ist es so : nicht leicht, aber einfach.

Schade, daß wir so oft nicht alle vier zusammen auf die Reihe kriegen, oder? Wenn es ums Wünschen geht sind wir alle groß dabei, aber dann die anderen drei?

Was wünschst Du dir denn nun wirklich?

Darüber solltest Du mal nachdenken : Berend

Tuesday, 29 May 2007 Posted by | 2. KOMPASS Deutsch | Leave a comment

What’s the difference between Heaven and Hell?

The voice of your company - marketing by eNewsletter

Here is a little fun to brighten your Monday again :

What’s the difference between Heaven and Hell?

IN HEAVEN :

  • The police are British
  • The chefs are French
  • The mechanics are German
  • The lovers are Italian
  • and it’s all organized by the Swiss!

IN HELL :

  • The chefs are British
  • The mechanics are French
  • The police are German
  • The lovers are Swiss
  • and it’s all organized by the Italians!

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Monday, 28 May 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 3. Humour | 3 Comments

Perspektive – Nach welcher Pfeife soll man tanzen?

Mein eBuch 'Moving Horizons' ist auf Englisch - meine Perspektiven von der Straße des Wachstums“Die Tanzenden wurden für total verrückt gehalten – von denen, die die Musik nicht hören konnten.” Dieses Zitat von Angela Monet gefällt mir.

Das gleiche sagt Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) :

“Warum sollten wir uns so verzweifelt beeilen, erfolgreich zu sein, und in so dringenden Geschäften?

Wenn jemand nicht Schritt hält, dann hört er vielleicht eine andere Trommel. Lasst ihn doch im Takt mit der Musik bleiben, die er selbst hört – egal wie gemessen und fern sie sein mag.”

Es gibt nie nur eine einzige Perspektive von den Dingen, die wir sehen. Alleine wissen wir einfach nicht genug, um die gesamte Wahrheit zu erkennen.

Ich habe mir deshalb abgewöhnt, die Dinge, die um mich herum passieren, dauernd als ‘gut’ oder ‘schlecht’ einzustufen. Meine eigene Sichtweise ist ja nur eine von vielen, und ich würde mit dieser Scheuklappe soviel Neues und Interessantes verpassen.

‘Leben und leben lassen’ ist für mich schon lange eine gute Devise, auch im Geschäft – vielleicht sollten wir Andere einfach öfter mal nur gelten lassen, während wir nach unserer eigenen Pfeife tanzen.

Willkommen beim ersten KOMPASS auf Deutsch heute. Die zunehmende Beliebtheit meines englischen COMPASS eNewsletters hat dazu geführt, daß ich immer mehr Anfragen erhielt, ob ich nicht auch etwas auf Deutsch schreiben könnte.

Besonders meine 5-teilige HORIZONS JOURNAL Serie hat viele Kommentare und eine Menge Anteilnahme an unserem Werdegang ausgelöst – sie beschreibt unseren Entschluß, nach fast 23 Jahren in Südafrika wieder nach Europa zu ziehen, und unsere Fortschritte auf dem Weg von Kapstadt nach Österreich. Irgendwann bald werde ich diese Serie wohl abschließen können.

Während mein englischer COMPASS betimmte Themen mehr in ausführlichen Artikeln betrachtet, wird der deutsche KOMPASS eher kurze Splitter enthalten – Überlegungen, die ich für relevant halte, um als Mensch und im Beruf zu wachsen.

Darum geht es mir : zu zeigen und daran zu erinnern, daß Wachstum immer passiert – ob wir uns dessen bewußt sind oder nicht, ob es uns gefällt oder nicht. Und daß zielgerichtetes Wachsen auf allen Gebieten zu erstaunlichen Ergebnissen führen kann – führen muss.

Neue Perspektiven unseres Daseins sind der Anfang und das Ende dieses Vogangs : Wachstum ist Menschsein für uns, Menschsein ist Wachstum.

Viel Spaß dabei und Frohe Pfingsten wünscht : Berend

Wednesday, 23 May 2007 Posted by | 2. KOMPASS Deutsch | Leave a comment

Mark Shuttleworth : Cultural Choices We Make in Democracy Right Now

Copywriting to promote your businessI stumbled across Mark Shuttleworth’s Blog on Sunday and his latest entry there impressed me SO much that I’d like to call your attention to it today.

I have often said that everyone gets the government he deserves, and Mark Shuttleworth confirms this when he speaks from my heart about making, and constantly remaking, cultural and political choices.

In Defense of Independent Governance comments on the value of three key principles across continents and decades :

  • That human nature is unchanging across the world and across time
  • That the presumption of innocence until the proof of guilt is a vital choice in the maintenance of a free society
  • That freedom of speech is essential for a healthy society

Close to the end he concludes : “These principles are not written in the laws of physics – we create them in society, and we must defend them. They cannot be taken for granted, even in countries like the USA, which have them written into their constitutional DNA.

Since they are a choice that society makes, and since society is reborn in each generation, they are a choice that society must make, and remake, constantly. Sometimes, we fail.”

If you can, I’d like to urge you to read the whole article – it’ll only take you five minutes, but here is another excerpt (my emphasis underlined and bold) :

It is a tragic thing to impose ones own cultural, religious or political views on people who see things differently. That tragedy has played out far too many times – from Apartheid, to the Holocaust, to the invasion of Iraq in recent history, to the acts of the Conquistadors centuries ago.

It shows up when a new government renames the streets and cities of the old government, which renamed them from the previous government. We lose our own identity when we lose the voice of history, even if it is a history of which we are ashamed.

It also shows up in the homogenization of global culture, with McDonalds and Disney turning the rich culture of the world into large swathes of barren desert. I am very sensitive to the beauty of the cultures that I’ve been privileged to experience in depth – South Africa, Russia, England, America. And I find it sad when one culture arrogantly suppresses another. I believe in letting people make their own choices. The future belongs to those who embrace global thinking without losing their identity and their culture.

At its largest, grandest level, “making choices” is what democracy is all about. However, sometimes the illusion of democracy is used to give legitimacy to choices that were not, at all, democratic.

In Zimbabwe, for example, we have a government that is in power “democratically” because of the systematic culture of fear that was created every time people expressed an interest in making a different choice. I cannot therefore pay much respect to the idea that the government of Zimbabwe is a true reflection of the cultural choices of Zimbabweans.

In such cases, we are obliged to question the decisions made by governments who claim to hold power by democratic mandate, when in fact they hold it by brute force.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Tuesday, 22 May 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Official Language in Europe to Change : “Euro-English”

The voice of your company - marketing by eNewsletterThis is hilarious and will make your Monday – one of my loyal readers in Sydney sent this over the other day; read it out loud and you’ll laugh your head off :

Official Language in Europe to Change :
From German to English = “Euro-English”

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would become known as “Euro-English”.

In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent “e” in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and after ziz fifz yer, ve v! il hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

Ontil next tim, al ze best from : Berend

Sunday, 20 May 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 3. Humour | Leave a comment

Have a little Laugh : Fun Vocabulary for the Office

Copywriting to promote your business - publicity in print and on the InternetHere’s a little laugh for you on a Monday morning : if you are working in an office and are not familiar with the following vocabulary, you are seriously out of touch.

I found it on business coach Philip Humbert’s eNewsletter TIPS a while ago, have fun :

BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

MOUSE POTATO: The online, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.

ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard

CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.

PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.

SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What Yuppies get into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace.

IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them.

ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

404: Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error Message “404 Not Found,” meaning that the requested site could not be located.

GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.

OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake. (Like after hitting send on an email by mistake).

WOOFS: Well-Off Older Folks.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Monday, 14 May 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 3. Humour | Leave a comment

How a Perfect Day In Cape Town Can Go The Other Way

eBook 'Moving Horizons' - my own perspective from the road of personal growthThree years ago today, Friday the 23rd of April 2004 was a brilliantly beautiful autumn day in Cape Town – warm, sunny and calm. The perfection of the universe was showing off in a spectacular fashion, and for most people it must have been difficult to see the other, darker side of the coin inherent in every aspect of the world we experience.

For me it wasn’t, because my father passed away on that day, just before his 83rd birthday.

This was utterly unexpected because my father was visibly enjoying his life – he always liked to be active around the house and garden and had the strength to do a million little things every day.

That’s what he was doing on Wednesday morning, but that night we had to get him to a hospital in a hurry and the fact that he died not even 48 hours later was difficult to understand.

To cope with a loss is not easy and for most of us, grieving is how we react to a tragic event – we feel helpless and sink into emptiness and despair, questioning the apparent futility of it all to regain our sanity.

We think that grief and sorrow are inseparable and believe this process is necessary to overcome the pain and to eventually accept what has happened.

But what if we knew, without a doubt, that there are no accidents in our intelligent universe?

That we have to experience loss in order to learn a valuable lesson, that we have something to gain from catastrophe and death.

I am lucky in that I never had to encounter any devastating blows in my life, so I am not an authority on the subject. But what if we chose not to suffer over a loss which we will ultimately recognize as beneficial anyway? This is not how we are supposed to react, of course, in our European cultural environment.

But I believe that in the western world, what we mostly lament is our own loss, and not so much the fate of the deceased. In other societies, death is an occasion for celebration – I have seen this myself in Bali.

They know, even in times of mourning, that the universe’s timing of people’s arrival and departure on this planet should not be questioned – everything is in perfect order, even painful experiences.

Is the loss of a loved one different from losing worldly possessions? Yes, definitely. Once gone, family members cannot be replaced, ever. But they live on in our memories, whilst the loss of a house, money or a job should be forgotten as soon as possible and stimulate us to move on to even better things.

The basic underlying challenge here is change, and whether we think we can cope with it. I know that my father is where he is supposed to be right now, and I accept his schedule – I’ll just have to learn to live without him.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Monday, 23 April 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | 16 Comments

How Can They Tell You’re Different?

BLUE CRANE develops eNewsletters with businesses that have something to say!“Are you enjoying your holidays here?” The waitress at the Park Cafe in Villach is very friendly as she serves the fabulously rich cake and strong coffee, with a glass of water by the way, which is typical for Austria.

People often address us as visitors, even when we’re not – or maybe they are right and we are tourists everywhere, except the place we grow up in. We lived in Cape Town for nine years until recently, and settle here in Austria’s Carinthia now – but we are German.

How can they tell you’re different?

‘When in Rome, do like the Romans do.’ I found that to be good advice in the past whenever I travelled to places I hadn’t been to before. Trying to blend in at airport customs in Jakarta is what you did when you arrived in Indonesia via Singapore from South Africa on a second, clean passport during the Apartheid years.

But does it work? Did the locals think I was born in Venezuela when I was in Caracas? I am sure I didn’t pass for a local in Cape Town’s Kayelitsha township, but a few kilometers away in Simon’s Town nobody gave me a second glance walking down our Waterfront.

Fact is that we’re all different, of course – six and a half billion unique human beings on this planet, our fingerprints prove it; and it’s not important how far apart we are geographically – what matters is how close we are culturally. There’s a difference, although there is a proportional relation.

If I start yodelling in the middle of Hamburg, passers-by will stop and stare. In a small village in North Korea I would get arrested and put in an asylum for that, but anywhere in Austria, folks would smile and join in. Well, the way I yodel some of them might think I am dying and call an ambulance, but that’s not the point.

The point is that others can tell very quickly that you’re different first by the way you look, and then by the way you speak. Or write?

That’s what I am trying to find out from you today : can you tell that I am German from the way I am writing this article? I publish COMPASS for subscribers on four continents (Asia doesn’t seem to be interested much) and I consciously try to choose a neutral style here.

Working in Public Relations, on other occasions I would use a different approach for a particular purpose. When I lived in London in 1979/80 I sometimes played a little game with myself at parties : how long could I hide the fact that I am German by putting on as much of a British drawl as I could muster?

After a while, the best score I achieved was just under one hour if I remember correctly – and it was either because of, or in spite of all that really good French red wine they offered there.

Now here in Austria, I spoke to a gathering of Germans and Austrians last week and all of them, without exception, were amazed that I hadn’t lost my northern German accent after 22 years in South Africa.

That’s how the waitress in the Park Cafe could tell we weren’t Austrian, so we had to be tourists : not everyone wears Lederhosen here so we didn’t look different, but I am not one to keep my mouth shut for long.

We spoke differently. Do I write differently? Please drop me a brief comment and tell me what gives me away – or doesn’t.

Next time I’ll ponder on whether it helps or hinders to be different – if there is pressure towards conformity, where does it come from? And why?

Until then, all the best from : Berend

Thursday, 29 March 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Horizons Journal – Up And Away

On top of Goldeck mountainMajestic – that’s the word that comes to mind. We stand on top of Goldeck mountain 2140 m above sea-level in Austria, looking down on the Drau Valley, the small town of Spittal and Lake Millstatt; the Alps pile up beyond.

People ski all around us, they smile in anticipation of the downhill ride. With this perspective, you cannot help to be in awe of all the grandeur nature displays so generously here. Right now, we feel like little ants on this planet.

It must have taken millions of years for the river to carve this valley on its way east, and it was only three months ago that we have arrived back in Europe after 22 years in South Africa, eager to build a new life here. The blink of an eye.

If I think about it, most of our own ride up to this place was actually downhill so far, everything is falling into place in wonderful synchronicity. We must be doing something right – we apply and observe the Law of Attraction consciously at first hand.

If you’re interested to learn more about how the Law of Attraction and Intention Manifestation works, here is Steve Pavlina’s fascinating Interview with James Ray that I found last week – excellent reading!

This is the final stretch of phase two of our mission to re-settle in Europe : wrapping up in Cape Town was virtually complete when we flew out on 20 Nov, the culmination of establishing our new stomping ground in Austria is very close now.

Everything goes according to plan : the furniture we took with us from South Africa will be delivered to our new flat in Villach tomorrow and the brandnew kitchen we ordered five weeks ago gets installed on Tuesday.

Other stuff we want to live with will then arrive in bits and pieces over the next three weeks – it’s been quite intense to put our vision together and we’re more than a bit tired, but happy about the learning curve and grateful for all the friendly and helpful people we met on the way so far.

After this we’ll enter phase three, the last one, which is to establish a new social and work environment : I work as a Management Consultant with small and medium sized enterprises in Marketing and Administration.

Recently I have received a lot of flattering comments about my eNewsletters and several enquiries whether I can help others to publish their own – they know that regular newsletters are a very effective marketing tool.

I thought about it – and found that of course I can, in many different ways. So I put pen to paper and wrote a separate page on my website about it to offer the service officially from now on.

I’ll elaborate further on that over the next few weeks, but please have an early look and see whether there is something for you, or for someone you know. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, we can put our heads together over the phone and on the Internet to make your plans become reality.

If history is anything to go by, phase three of our new life will be as successful as the first two, and just as exhilarating as the top of Goldeck mountain in winter.

More soon from : Berend

Thursday, 22 February 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 7. Horizons Journal | Leave a comment

Horizons Journal – Settling In Austria

SnowSnow! Finally, it started coming down in buckets here on Monday afternoon and never stopped until two days later. We haven’t seen any in 22 years of living in South Africa and for us it’s magic, even though it caused havoc for motorists. Ski resorts up in the mountains are relieved, too : winter has come very late this year.

As planned, we arrived in Austria just before New Years Eve in pursuit of our new home : having spent a month in Germany and Christmas with family and friends, we drove south to Bavaria and then through the Alps to Carinthia in Austria in the most miserable conditions imaginable.

If you are used to the N1 in the Karoo and traffic in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, driving rain and near-freezing temperatures are treacherous on the road. Little did we know that a full-blown blizzard was waiting for us three weeks later, when we had to drive the 30 km from Spittal to Villach and back. We made it, but that’s another story.

We are in Spittal an der Drau at the moment, our base to look for a new home in Carinthia – a quaint little town as picturesque as you can imagine Austria, with medieval facades and cobble-stoned squares inviting you to wander and wonder about cultures and people.

Carinthia is the southernmost area in German-speaking Europe you will find. It is on the southern side of the Alps and there, amongst beautiful lakes like Lake Millstatt and Lake Wörth, only a few minutes by car from the Italian border, is Villach – that’s where we’ll be living.

We’ve found a very nice, brandnew flat to rent from where we can walk to Villach’s historical inner city in 15 minutes along the Drau river – you can find a lot more about Villach on Wikipedia in German or Villach on Wikipedia in English. With almost 60.000 inhabitants it is not too big, offers everything we need and distances are very manageable.

It wasn’t easy to choose where exactly we want to live, but we had a list of criteria and they match Villach. One of them was infrastructure, climate another one : when hurricane winds caused widespread damage and flooding in Europe north of the Alps last week, we never saw any of it, except on TV.

We are now tackling part two of our mission to live in Europe again : organise a new household to move in to by 1 March. It takes a surprising amount of running around to find out what, where and how – we thought we would know, but a lot of things have changed in 22 years, and Austria is not quite the same as Germany, after all.

A popular saying here states that ‘Austria is the better Germany’, and in many respects it seems to be true, at least for us : life is well structured, but less frenetic than in Germany. People are generally cheerful, we see a lot of smiling faces – many shops off the mainstream close for a very civilized lunch-break from 12:30 to 14:30 which reminds us of the ‘Siesta’ in Mediterranean countries.

After two months on he road, living out of suitcases gets a bit tiring and we are looking forward to having a familiar habitat again. On the other hand, there is so much new waiting to be discovered by us…

In the meantime, best to enjoy one day at a time – the snowball-fight was fun today!

More soon from : Berend

Thursday, 25 January 2007 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 7. Horizons Journal | Leave a comment

Horizons Journal – Remembering Our Roots

Adventskranz“Half a meter of Bratwurst for 3 Euro!” The signboard at the foodstall on this German Christmas market refuses to be ignored. The delicious smells of food, Glühwein and sweets mix with seasonal music : sausages are a part of German culture – and I love them, too.

After 22 years in South Africa, we’ve been back home in Europe for almost a month now – for good, not just visiting. Christmas markets are everywhere, and we’ve seen quite a few already. If there was one thing we could never get used to, it was Christmas in summer in the southern hemisphere. It’s just not the same.

Everyone keeps telling us that it’s mild for this time of the year, but they are all lying : it’s cold! And dark – if the sun shows up at all, it is very low on the horizon. Days are short, but that’s when the Glühwein kicks in.

OK, there’s no snow yet; that makes it easier to practice driving on the other side of the road again. Traffic is crowded, roads are narrow and the highways have no speed limit. Germans are busy, they don’t waste time – until they look for parking space.

We had forgotten how pleasant it is to live in a really efficient society : things work here. Plenty of rules and regulations, but bureaucracy is nowhere near as bad as we remember it – we had compulsory registration, new ID docs and drivers licences out of the way in no time. If you stick to the rules they work for, not against you.

For us, keeping an open mind is important at the moment – we have new eyes and still see Germany from an outside perspective, consciously approach situations and people in a friendly and unbiased way.

And the Law of Attraction never fails to produce the desired results : we found the car we wanted at the first dealer we approached, for example; other things we need fall into our laps without effort.

Not without cost, mind you : Europe is expensive if you compare it to living in South Africa, but you get what you pay for – the choices of products and services are absolutely overwhelming! Everything is available in many different varieties, so it takes time to sort the wheat from the chaff and find what you want at a discount.

Everybody is chasing that ‘Schnäppchen’ – finding the lowest price is a national pastime, especially at this time of the year. Most towns have turned their main shopping districts into pedestrian zones and the crowds shuffle all over the place, interrupted only by foodstalls, beautifully decorated Christmas trees and travelling musicians.

It is Christmas in Germany, we recognize the spirit – and it feels good. We remember our roots – reconnecting with friends and family is a joyful experience, we treasure the kinship that has survived the separation of life on different continents for such a long time.

People, not things define what you call ‘home’ but the culture we grow up in provides the common background that remains a special bond for life. As much as we love the people and the country, we have known for a long time that we would never be South African.

Is it the language? Our mother tongue is an important part of our culture, but I write and even dream in English these days – hearing the latest German idioms is a lot of fun but takes some adjusting on our part.

We’ll find out soon enough : before this year ends we’ll be in Austria where they speak a very different dialect to our northern German accent. We have our eyes on settling there for the next chapter in our lives and hope that we can ring in the new year with a lot of snow.

Until then, may I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2007 – may it bring all you expect and dream of for your life :

Berend

Saturday, 16 December 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 7. Horizons Journal | Leave a comment

Horizons Journal – Going Back to the Future

eBook 'Moving Horizons'Finally, the Sahara. We’ve been roughed up a bit over the steaming jungles of the equator, but now the towering clouds have disappeared and 10 kilometers below us, a giant sandbox slowly passes by.

I can’t help but think how enormously big this continent of Africa is. We had taken off at the southern tip of it in Cape Town early in the morning for a non-stop flight that would take us to Germany almost 12 hours later.

All our friends think that it takes a lot of courage to uproot our lives of almost 23 years in South Africa and return to Europe. Maybe that’s true, but we are so absolutely sure that this is what we want to do : go back to our own culture.

We’re excited, looking forward to the future, not scared – just creating the environment we want for ourselves. Leaving our comfort zone, yes. We are happy to have that freedom, it’s no big deal really, we’ve done it before; but real courage is something else, and we found a lot of it in Africa.

I’ll never forget our first Christmas office party in Johannesburg, back in 1984 : just the five of us with spouses, but one of us was black – Peter, our driver. We struggled to find a restaurant that would serve black people in those Apartheid years and it took a lot of persistence to succeed; not a nice memory.

We considered leaving the country only once, in 1987 when sanctions had isolated South Africa really badly and we had no hope that the situation would improve. But the job in Australia didn’t work out and we made some other changes instead.

That’s all different now, of course. The dramatic years of transition to democracy were interesting, to say the least – in hindsight I realize how easily things could have ended tragically. A lot of friends had bought one-way tickets just in case when the first democratic elections were held in 1994, on my birthday : 27 April.

Today, we are on a one-way ticket. Still desert sand down there, the picture-book-dunes-variety we always see on the Discovery Channel now. Then, abruptly, the incredibly blue Mediterranean at the coast of Algeria in the late afternoon sun. Some white clouds, Europe is almost in sight.

We look at each other and smile : this is an exciting adventure for me and my wife and we can’t wait to land in about two hours. The Cote d’Azure in the south of France now, then the snow-capped mountains of the Alps. This is familiar; we have been homesick – more than we realize, judging by all the joy we feel.

We’re so lucky : we stayed with good friends in Cape Town until they took us to the airport, and good friends will pick us up in Germany – everyone we know offered unconditional hospitality and helped with all they’ve got when we sold our house and dismantled most of our infrastructure in South Africa; this means a lot to us, and we are very grateful. Thanks to all of you!

Big Hallos at the airport when we arrive – genuine friendship cannot hide. But it’s cold when we haul our luggage to the cars, and dark : a reminder that we’ve travelled from summer straight into winter. No problem, a good Schnaps will warm us up again later.

That’s all I wanted when I was younger : live in a world where it was warm and sunny, experience different cultures on an incredibly interesting planet. South Africa was good for us, this vibrant rainbow nation has so much to offer; we’ll be back to visit, stay in touch a lot, but we’ll live in Europe now.

I’ll be back with more soon : Berend

Thursday, 30 November 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 7. Horizons Journal | Leave a comment

Horizons Journal – Taking Charge of Our Lives : Leaving South Africa

eBook 'Moving Horizons'We are moving. No kidding. After almost 23 years of being expatriates in South Africa, particularly enjoying the last 10 here at the beautiful Cape of Good Hope, my wife and I are relocating to Europe. We are homesick – if you have ever been away from home for any extended period of time, I am sure you know what that feels like.

True to our belief that we can create any type of life we want, we are taking charge and doing it. We’ll miss a lot of people and things in this country, but when one door closes, another opens and we know that there are even better things waiting for us.

How often have we looked out over False Bay from our house in Simon’s Town in the morning ? With a cup of tea in our hands, we marvel at the sunrise over the Hottentot Holland Mountains 40 kilometers across the sea to the east almost every day.

I never started counting. It wasn’t important because we were enjoying the moment, and we knew there would be many mornings like this.

Sometimes in season, there are whales or dolphins to watch, but most of the time it is just the magnificent sunrise at the southern tip of Africa. And some birds chirping in our Fynbos garden, unless the guinea-fowl kick up a racket.

Apart from that – peace and quiet. The comfortable stillness that only nature provides. The content impression that this is how everything is meant to be.

These lines are from the introduction to my eBook ‘Moving Horizons’ and they still ring very true. But we have now dissolved our household, given most of our furniture to friends who need them more than we do, sold the cars, parted with our two cats yesterday – and are ready to move.

On Monday everything will be packed and we’re taking a flight the following Monday. We’ll be back regularly, for holidays and I have work here, but we are moving our base back to Europe – modern technology enables me to work from anywhere in the world, as long as I have a telephone and an Internet connection.

BLUE CRANE and COMPASS will carry on as usual, of course – but for the next few weeks I expect to spend less time with the laptop so I might not be able to write as many articles as usual.

What I WILL do, though is keep an online HORIZONS JOURNAL with shorter messages here at the COMPASS blog to trail my next leap in personal growth in Europe – if you want to be kept informed, please subscribe to the COMPASS RSS feed here or get it delivered by eMail.

I found an excellent article on taking charge of your life this week, by the way : ‘What It Means to Wake Up and Take Charge of Your Life’ by Matt Inglot. Really very interesting, here is a short clip :

‘I was exposed there to a strange freedom that was offered nowhere else. I read some extremely positive literature from people that seemed … happy. This was a world that my programming books had never exposed me to. Never before had I seriously read about ideas like goals, personal development, financial planning, and the idea that becoming truly successfully was something other than luck or born talent.’

What else is new? Steve Pavlina’s forum on personal growth is up and running! It is very exciting and growing rapidly, with anything you can imagine being discussed – I am contributing actively (e.g. please see the thread for South Africa) and if there is one thing you don’t want to miss, it is this forum. Do yourself a favour and register there, it works well and is hugely informative.

OK, here I go – you’ll hear from me soon if you put your eMail address in the box, don’t forget – best do it now.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Thursday, 9 November 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 7. Horizons Journal | 2 Comments

This Transition – Is It a Revolution?

eBook 'The REAL Facts of Life'Have you ever been feeling out of place occasionally? Sure you have, me too – I had a pretty good idea why, but now I can put a finger on it.

Let me point the way to two very powerful contributions from Steve and Erin Pavlina again today which will help you clarify some mysterious sentiments you may have had about what’s happening in your life. Then I’ll close with a bit of humour.

Steve writes about “The Consciousness Revolution” and feels that something is happening to a lot of people behind the scenes.

“One day you’re tooling along, working your normal job, living your normal life, and everything seems OK. But something happens that triggers a sudden expansion of your awareness, and for that brief moment of perfect clarity, you know what it’s like to be fully awake. You’re struck by the terrifying realization that your life has gotten way off course, and that you’re really meant to be doing something entirely different.”

This is what happened to me some time ago and from the comments to Steve’s blog post I can tell that it is far more common than I thought. I urge you to read the whole article – you won’t regret it, a real mind-opener.

Just a few days earlier, Steve published his podcast #17 “Placing Your Order With the Universe” in which his wife Erin offers a parable that helped her understand the Law of Attraction and the intention-manifestation model of reality. It’s very well done, listen in!

At just over nine minutes, it’s short and you’ll enjoy it if you’ve been looking for a simpler way to understand the Law of Attraction. Erin compares getting what you want from life with ordering a meal at a fast-food outlet, and what happens when you do it the wrong way.

Finally, before we get too serious here, I picked up some quotes looking at the lighter side of life from John and Patrice Robson’s eNewsletter ‘The Inner Journey’ – you can subscribe directly at Higher Awareness :

  • “Inside every older person is a younger person, wondering what the hell happened.”
    (Cora Harvey Armstrong)
  • “The hardest years in life are those between 10 and 70.”
    (Helen Hayes at 73)
  • “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”
    (Bette Davis)
  • “Thirty-five is when you finally get your head together and your body starts falling apart.”
    (Caryn Leschen)
  • “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
    (Frank A. Clark)
  • “I’m looking forward to looking back on all this.”
    (Sandra Knell)

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Thursday, 2 November 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | 1 Comment

Allow Setbacks to Encourage You

eBook 'Moving Horizons'Many times, we look at high achievers and assume they had a string of lucky breaks, or made it without much effort. Usually, the opposite is true, and the so-called superstar had an incredibly rough time before he or she attained any lasting success.

It may motivate you more toward your own goals to know that some of the most famous and well-known people in modern times had to overcome as difficult obstacles as anyone before they finally reached the top It takes persistence and total commitment to your goals, but it’s possible!

You may not know the background of a certain laundry worker who earned sixty dollars a week at his job but had the burning desire to be a writer. His wife worked nights, and he spent nights and weekends typing manuscripts to send to publishers and agents. Each one was rejected with a form letter that gave him no assurance that his manuscripts had even been read. I’ve received a few of those special valentines myself through the years, and I can tell you first hand that they’re not the greatest self-esteem builders.

But finally, a warm, more personal rejection letter came in the mail to the laundry worker, stating that although his work was not good enough at this point to warrant publishing, he had promise as a writer and he should keep trying.

He forwarded two more manuscripts to the same friendly-yet-rejecting publisher over the next eighteen months, and as before, he struck out with both of them too. Finances got so tight for the young couple that they had to disconnect their telephone to pay for medicine for their baby.

Feeling totally discouraged, he threw his latest manuscript into the garbage. His wife, totally committed to his life goals and believing in his talent, took the manuscript out of the trash and sent it back to Doubleday, the publisher who had sent the friendly rejections. The book, titled ‘Carrie’, sold over five million copies, and as a movie, became one of the top-grossing films in 1976. The laundry worker, of course, was Stephen King.

The main message – believe in your ability to turn obstacles into opportunities. Too often people try to storm their obstacles as if they’re forts that need to be taken. It’s better to step back and ask yourself: “Did I cause this obstacle by my own actions or lack of them? Did someone else cause this obstacle? Is this obstacle one that grew out of the natural progression of circumstances?”

This last question may seem complex, but it holds a secret to the way you can set and reach your goals and achieve your destiny!

Reproduced with permission from the Denis Waitley Ezine. To subscribe to Denis Waitley’s Ezine, go to www.deniswaitley.com or send an email with Join in the subject to subscribe@deniswaitley.com Copyright 2006 Denis Waitley International. All rights reserved worldwide.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

P.S. : I’d love to hear what you think of COMPASS! Do you find it helpful? Do you enjoy reading it? Please send me your comments, questions, and ideas for future issues – your feedback matters to me, just hit Comments below!

P.P.S. : Do you want to find out why you can live in paradise and fulfill any of your dreams if you want to? On my homepage you can read all about the principles on how to create the life you want, in English or in German.

Thursday, 26 October 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

You have a Choice, but no Guarantee : The Family Man

The Family ManConcluding my mini-series of articles about inspirational movies today, “The Family Man” is one of these must-see-at-all-cost. You’ll enjoy it too, I guarantee it.

It is all about a single and very successful Manhattan businessman who thinks he has everything, with a lifestyle that the world envies – until his girlfriend Kate (Tea Leoni) of 13 years ago contacts him and he is confronted with his choice not to marry her at the time.

By some twist of events, Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) wakes up one morning to lead an alternate life of being Kate’s husband for a few weeks, happily married with two kids, selling tyres in the suburbs.

Why would that happen, you might ask? Because over his obsession with business, he has completely neglected his personal life – and that’s catching up with him now. You can’t be out of balance for long, nature will always restore it – a Universal Law that can not be broken.

As human beings, sooner or later we have to experience life from all angles consciously open to us – but we have our priorities, and therefore choices to make. For me this film is very relevant and believable.

What would have happened, for example, if I had not decided in 1984 to live and work in South Africa?

At the time, my biggest dream was to no longer live in Germany where I was born and raised – the two years in London I had done previously weren’t enough to satisfy my curiosity about people who live, learn and grow in cultures different from my own.

As difficult as our decisions seem to be at times, we should be grateful every day that we have the freedom to choose and that we do have the right – and obligation – to become what we can be and want to be. This, by definition, always includes our choice against everything we do NOT want to be.

Fortunately, the constitution of our country ‘guarantees’ that we may pursue any dream we have, as long as we take the responsibility for our actions – not everyone can enjoy this freedom and comfort.

Be that as it may, if you want ‘guarantees’ buy a toaster. In my opinion it is more important to be aware that whatever we do to others will eventually be done to us, one way or another. That’s something that I will personally guarantee, for what it’s worth.

If we all recognised that truth, I believe there would be a lot less suffering in the world, and more prosperity. But we decide to the best of our knowledge, so I must assume that right now most of us just don’t know better.

One dilemma we often face in our choices is that we have to temporarily sacrifice something when we opt for one route over the other. We can never really take a wrong turn though : at the end of the day, one way is as good as the other – may be it’s a bit longer or more difficult than the alternative, but it is always exactly what we need to experience at the time.

Obviously, we sometimes need to give up familiar and comfortable positions to obtain a more comprehensive picture of our place in the universe – and in “Family Man”, Jack Campbell at first has a rude awakening to a life without his Ferrari and penthouse.

But once he discovers that the treasure of a happy life with family and friends is worth so much more than any material comfort, he doesn’t want to go back to his previous existence.

Can we reverse our decisions? No, but with our new perspective we can adjust our course for the future. Be aware of your choices before you hit dead-end.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 20 October 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies | 1 Comment

More Power Than You’ll Ever Need : Bruce Almighty

'Bruce Almighty'I have never liked Jim Carrey as an actor much, most of the movies he stars in tend to be a bit silly in my view – but “Bruce Almighty” is different, I enjoyed it.

The script is very clever : Bruce Nolan is desperate and complains to God that he is not doing a good job because everything is going wrong in what he perceives to be his mediocre life in small town Buffalo/New York.

So God now gives him all his super-powers for a while to prove that Bruce can do better himself.

Morgan Freeman as God – in an immaculate white suit – now calmly goes on vacation, while Bruce goes overboard to get everything he ever wanted on earth. His main ambition as a TV reporter is to become the news anchor on his network, although one of his colleagues is first in line for that.

You can imagine all the havoc Bruce creates in people’s lives now, not only in town with his new Ferrari, but also in far away places when he ropes in the moon for his girlfriend Grace (Jennifer Aniston) who desperately wants to marry him.

The film is very entertaining, and many of us would probably overlook the message it has for us. One of them is that even divine strength ends where human free will sets in : Bruce arranges the most outlandish situations for himself to look good professionally, but alienates everyone else in the process – he still doesn’t know that selfish behaviour without any consideration for others will eventually come back and haunt you.

Treat others like you want to be treated yourself. Why? Because the world you experience is a mirror-image of who you are inside, your attitudes and behaviour. This is one of the Universal Laws of Human Nature that can not be broken or ignored.

Nevertheless, Bruce now becomes famous as a newsman who is always first on the scene of dramatic action – but he cannot cope with literally millions of prayers addressed to God every day.

He finally surrenders to divine will and voluntarily hands back the guidance for his life to a higher authority.

At that point it dawns on him that he never really needed the extra powers granted to him : like you and me, he had all the qualities and talents required to make his life successful to begin with, but wasn’t aware of it.

All it took was some respect for, not power over his fellow man. ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ – Lord Acton wrote that in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 and he has never been proven wrong yet.

The receiving process starts with giving. When Bruce eventually settles back into his old job with humility and begins to share his appreciation in the local community, he wins more influence than he ever had before and is transformed into a happy human being.

His genuine concern for the wellbeing of others makes him a better reporter, and no doubt he now earns his future by first mastering what he is confronted with here and now.

There is no such thing as a mediocre life, we all have something important to contribute wherever we are – just know it, do it and be yourself.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 13 October 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies | Leave a comment

A Beautiful Mind : Genius and Madness Are Close Neighbours

A Beautiful MindHave you seen “A Beautiful Mind” with Russell Crowe ? The film is based on a true story about a brilliant mathematician coming to grips with schizophrenia, and it won four Academy Awards in 2001.

I’ve seen it a second time last week and was again captivated not only by Crowe’s performance, but especially by the fascinating illustration of how powerful the human mind is.

While Professor Nash teaches at a famous American university, he is approached by secret service agents to decipher a code which the enemies of democracy use for their subversive activities, threatening national security. For years he works with the agents, exploring millions of connections and possibilities to uncover the mystery – until his wife finds out about his hidden life and supports him on the way out of the mess.

It turns out that all the persons involved in the undercover plot are totally fictitious, they only existed in the Professor’s mind – so real for him, that he had developed a complete second identity around his scenario. His weird behaviour under these circumstances was obviously labeled “madness” by his “normal” peers – and yet he won a Nobel Prize for his academic work a few years later.

Genius and madness are close neighbours, they say – assuming for a minute that you and I don’t fall into either of these categories, what is the lesson for “normal” people here ? As far as I’m concerned, I show more consideration for the unusual conduct of people these days.

Who am I to judge others for things I don’t understand ? I know that I have some blind spots, and may be that odd fellow I saw in the mall yesterday is a genius working out the quadrature of the circle. What’s more, I am reminded that I, too live in my own world, like you do in yours.

A lot of things occupy my mind every day which directly influence my actions because I am absolutely convinced that they are perfectly sensible.

Most of the time you wouldn’t find strange what I do, I suppose, but I am sure that some people wonder who the fool is that spends an hour on a perfect Sunday afternoon writing articles like this.

What’s on your mind ? Do you want to be president of your bowling club ? Climb Mount Kilimanjaro ? That’s OK, but I personally couldn’t be bothered.

The point is that we are who we think we are, literally. I am not a professor, and I don’t want to win the Nobel Prize – but I want to write and that’s OK, too. Who knows, may be they’ll give me the Pulitzer Prize one of these days – call me crazy.

Friday, 6 October 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies | Leave a comment

Paycheck : Do You Want to Know the Future?

PaycheckWould you like to know what the future has in stall for you ? In fact, the whole world is obsessed with the idea of knowing what will happen tomorrow, next week or in ten years time. The movie “Paycheck” starring Ben Affleck is a riveting thriller about the past and the future – and a huge paycheck he never gets.

Analysts make a fortune predicting the ups and downs of the stock exchange. We watch the weather report to see whether we can go to the beach on Sunday and try to pick 6 out of 49 numbers to win our first or second million – but none of these systems work with a great degree of accuracy.

In ‘Paycheck’, Ben Affleck is a clever computer engineer who develops rip-off computer products for high-tech corporations, but must always have his short-term memory erased after each assignment so that his employers can claim the copyright. In his job for the “Allcom” company, it takes him three years to build a machine that can look into the future – and is promptly swindled out of his paycheck.

But he knew what was coming and after his memory is erased, Uma Thurman as his biologist girlfriend helps him to retrace what happened in order to prevent a global catastrophe. That’s the plot, but why am I writing this ?

What struck me was a little sentence in the dialogue :

“Once you know the future, you don’t have a future anymore”.

I had never thought of that before, but it’s true. What is it that we call the future ? In my view, it is the sum total of all the interactions we still have to experience to fulfill the aspirations which we think will make us a more successful person.

In other words, the future – by definition – includes an element of uncertainty, and if you take that away, you don’t have a future. All you would have is a path on which you go through the motions, but what for ? And where to ? Life as we know it on this planet would be meaningless if we knew the destination of every road we travel, the outcome of every action we take.

We tend to forget that in reality time doesn’t exist. It is just a concept – a very useful and necessary one – that human beings have to live by in their limited consciousness to manage a number of experiences and learn from them. We cannot see both sides of the same coin at once, only one after the other. Even a mirror doesn’t help, believe me.

That’s precisely why we are so intrigued by the future – we want to know it all, right now : What’s going to happen ? Will we succeed or fail in whatever we are doing ? This curiosity is driving us forward.

We all know some people who couldn’t be bothered, of course : ‘Who cares what happens tomorrow, as long as I have a good time today’. We sometimes admire them because on the surface, they don’t seem to have any doubts in their ‘happy-go-lucky’ lives. If you are not driving your challenges, however, you will be driven and confronted with them – life will not stand still for you.

And those who constantly fear that some disaster is around the corner ? Looks like they magically attract every manner of misfortune and not make any progress at all – and yet they too will eventually learn from their continual setbacks.

There is plenty of evidence that some gifted people can in fact look into the future, though – what is it that they see then ? If there is no past and no future, all that really exists is the present moment, and each of these moments literally has limitless possibilities, more than we realize. What we get an occasional glimpse of is potential, a likelihood of events, but nothing cast in concrete.

The big chance we owe to ourselves is to shape that potential into something worthwhile and exciting and learn from it, with everything we’ve got. Since we all bring something unique to the party, imagine the endless variety !

Paycheck or no paycheck : life today is the real thriller, and I have my very own. So do you.

Thursday, 28 September 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies | Leave a comment

Won’t you please help me out quickly ?

I have just put up a new page on my BLUE CRANE website : “Inspirational Movies”, under Recommendations. You can see it here.

They are all movies that reminded me of an important truth, or made me think. I am looking for other good films in this category which I may have overlooked, or never noticed.

I really enjoy watching a good movie, so won’t you please just tell me what YOUR #1 favourite movie is ?

Just a quick reply eMail – I’d be grateful !

Thanks in advance from : Berend @ BLUE CRANE – Fly with us.

Monday, 25 September 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies | Leave a comment

Pay It Forward – You Can Change South Africa One Favour at a Time

Click here to see a trailer of the movie 'Pay It Forward'About 20 years ago, Catherine Ryan Hyde was driving alone at night in a rough area of downtown Los Angeles in her old tattered car. It was the best she could afford, she drove it all the time and relied on the car for every cent of cash she earned.

When she braked at an off-ramp, the engine suddenly died. All the lights went out and the car started to fill with smoke. She jumped out to see two men running towards her, one of them holding a blanket – pushing past her, he yanked open the bonnet : the engine was on fire.

The car could have exploded at any moment, but this total stranger smothered the blaze and saved her car, her livelihood and possibly her life. When the emergency was over she looked up to thank him – but he was gone.

Over the following months she decided that if she couldn’t do anything to repay the man, she would look for others who needed help as much as she did the night her engine burned.

When Catherine did find these opportunities they weren’t very dramatic at first, but meant a lot to strangers in trouble who often asked how they could repay her.

“Don’t pay it back to me,” she said.
“Pay it forward to someone else.”

This incident was a turning point in her life. She wanted to hold on to the idea of sending people into the world owing a favour to a stranger and when she wrote her second novel ‘Pay It Forward’ in 2000 she often had fantasies of people emulating the book :

“There are infinite possiblities for the ways in which this could be done. How many times do we step around a homeless person on the street? Oh dear, we think, that person certainly has a problem. But we let it remain their problem. We would not normally think to stop and make it our own.”
“It’s a new way of thinking; to begin to see beyond our own problems into other people’s lives and figure out if there is some way we can help them.”

She didn’t write the novel expecting a to create a social movement, but that’s exactly what happened : the ‘Pay It Forward Foundation’ was established in September 2000, followed by the Warner Brothers movie the same year and the ‘Pay It Forward Movement – Changing the World One Favour at a Time’ has a very active representation in eight countries since 2002.

I have seen the movie three times now and at first I felt let down by the ending. Now I understand it, but I really want you to go and see the film so here’s the story without giving too much away :

Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) is a 12 years old boy who gets an assignment from his new, disfigured Social Studies teacher Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) : think of something that will change the world and put it into action.

Trevor’s idea is deceptively simple – do a good deed for three people and in return, ask each of them to ‘pay it forward’ to three more. “So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven … then it sort of spreads out.”

His attempts to put the concept into action at first don’t seem to work out : a drug-addict he befriends cannot mend his ways, but later talks a woman out of jumping off a bridge. A reporter gets wind of his idea and becomes a benefactor as he retraces Trevor’s efforts after his car is destroyed in an accident and he is given a very expensive Jaguar by a rich stranger.

Meanwhile, Trevor is worried about his alcoholic mother Arlene (Helen Hunt), not only because his brutal father (Jon Bon Jovi) might return at any time; he also tries to bring his mother and his new teacher together – they are both emotionally scarred by the past, but eventually their relationship heals some very deep wounds.

In the end though, Trevor pays a high price for helping a classmate fight off some school-bullies.

Just another sentimental Hollywood production?

Not at all : this is one of the few films that has a tangible impact on societies worldwide and highlights an important message : that one person can make a difference, even in this materialistic and often cynical world. It inspires to help without expectation of reward or remuneration – and it works, not only in the movie!

After you’ve seen the film, you stop and think about the meaning of life – and some people take action : The Pay It Forward Movement is the real-life reaction to Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel and their website shows many inspiring stories and media reports from all over the world, not only the USA, Canada and the UK.

The material is also used in many schools and colleges and with all this in mind I have now launched a WeBlog for Pay It Forward South Africa – Changing South Africa One Favour at a Time.

In this country, we have a history of violence and a high crime rate, but for every offense there are 99 acts of kindness – it is my hope that all this benevolence will now be as liberally reported on this website as brutality is in the traditional media.

And why wait to pay it forward until someone helps you out of a predicament? If you think back, I am sure you’ll remember many incidents where other people made life easier for you.

Just look where you can assist and start doing favours to others – pay it forward! It doesn’t have to be anything big or dramatic; you’ll be surprised how much goodwill is coming your way although you don’t expect to be rewarded.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 22 September 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies | Leave a comment

Five Years After 9/11 – Life in a World of Illusions

When was the last time you couldn’t believe your eyes? For me that was Tuesday 11 September 2001, five years ago today, when I saw airplanes crashing into the World Trade Centre in New York on TV, collapsing the twin towers within two hours.

This simply cannot be happening, I thought. Is this a movie? It was just too outrageous to be real – and yet, as the tragedy unfolded before our very eyes live on TV, I had to accept it as true – seeing is believing, isn’t it?

As incredible as the 9/11 events were at the time, they are part of our reality today and we see the world with different eyes – life as we know it has changed, not only in the USA.

Although I haven’t been visiting New York myself since then, it never occurred to me that 9/11 might be a gigantic, cruel show. Of course is wasn’t. However, we can believably show anything on screen these days with special effects technology.

After all, in 1997 a movie called ‘Wag the Dog’ with Dustin Hoffman and Robert de Niro won two Oscars : a clever Hollywood producer and an American politician fabricate a war in Albania for TV, only to divert the public’s attention from a sex-scandal which threatens the re-election of the country’s president. Is it ironic that this whole scenario is very believable these days?

Parallel LinesFilm producers and politicians know that perception, not reality, is paramount to influence people. We tend to believe what we see with our own eyes, and yet our eyes betray us all the time : the long lines in the picture on the left for example are parallel, but the clever positioning of the short lines creates the illusion that they are not.

2 WomenThe second, rather famous image on the right here illustrates that what you see depends on you, not the picture – do you see the young woman or the old woman? Change your focus and you can see them both – there are always at least two sides to every story.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – what we believe is true for us. There is no objective reality because we all see the world through different glasses. We can choose the pink or the dark variety at any time, even view life through the bottom of a wine-bottle if we find that appealing.

We forget that we can choose though, only to take the same habitual viewpoints all the time, no matter what we observe – and miss a great opportunity to consciously create our own reality, to live in a world as we want it.

Life is a subjective experience, a projection : you tailor-make it to your own individual specifications. Life is an illusion, like a movie or a play on stage, although it appears to be real at the time of viewing because you immerse in it to feel the excitement, drama and joy of the action.

Why would you want to see a horror movie then?

Because you also love the terror and suspense – it is exhilarating and makes you feel alive. In a cinema, you are conscious of the fact that you are watching an illusion, that you have a temporary experience and will leave the theatre to return to ‘real’ life afterwards.

But life as a whole is the same way. Once we realise that we constantly create our pain as well as our happiness because we want or need to experience it, we’ll take responsibility for everything that happens to us and accept the power to change it.

If we did it, we can undo it.

There is nothing in your life that you have not created or attracted. You are the producer, director, scriptwriter and main character in this play. As long as you believe that there is someone else out there setting the stage, you dis-empower yourself to do anything about the performance.

But still, all sensations portrayed in the show are temporary and we can choose to either label them as painful or enjoyable – nothing is painful, unless you think it is. Let’s not forget that there are people who are jubilant about what happened on 9/11 in New York.

Five years down the line, have we learnt anything? Let’s just say that what I see today only confirms my resolve to stay out of politics and create my own world.

And some people still need their eyes tested, I think.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Sunday, 10 September 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

How To Get What You Want – The Law of Attraction

Essay The REAL Facts of LifeGeorge Bernhard Shaw once said : “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Did you know that? We create all the time, in fact – but most of it is unconscious : we literally don’t know what we are doing.

The irony is that most of us think we do know how to create what we want : we set goals, work hard towards them and sometimes achieve them. Not always, but sometimes. We think we can get what we want if we are lucky, born with certain talents or have a lot of money.

What we believe is that our circumstances dictate our actions and feelings, whilst in reality we create our circumstances with our thoughts. Your environment is a mirror image of yourself, says the Universal Law of Correspondences – I also wrote a chapter about it in my essay “The REAL Facts of Life”.

This principle of correspondences is also called the Law of Attraction these days, and there is a lot of discussion about it on the Internet at the moment.

The Law of Attraction is probably the single most important principle for every human being to understand in this day and age. The Law of Attraction simply says that you attract into your life whatever you think about. Your dominant thoughts will find a way to manifest – in Steve Pavlina’s words.

I have introduced Steve Pavlina to you in June this year and the best I can do to bring the Law of Attraction closer to you is direct you to some of his articles on his Blog – they have substance and are brilliantly written.

The first one you should read is The Law of Attraction which answers some tough questions around how this principle works, and when.

Very closely related to this topic is his article Creative Observation if you want to know why the manifestation of intentions sometimes does not seem to work at first.

Excellent background information on manifesting can be found in How Intentions Manifest.

And then there is his article Cause-Effect versus Intention-Manifestation – essential reading because you need to know what the first crucial step is for creating what you want that most people forget, and because you have to recognise how you sabotage yourself once you are working your way towards the achievement of your goals.

There is of course much more to learn about the way life works, but the Law of Attraction is the core without which all the rest doesn’t make much sense.

When you have read Steve Pavlina’s articles above, and some more you’ll find in the process, go to a good bookstore over the weekend and get “Ask and It Is Given” – ‘Learning To Manifest Your Desires’ by Esther Hicks, the book on which the film ‘The Secret’ is based – Steve reviews the film here.

Yes, all this is quite an eyefull of reading, but I assume that subscribers to COMPASS are serious about improving themselves and their lives. I am absolutely convinced that once you understand the material offered in this single eMail alone and start practicing the principles suggested, you can fundamentally turn your life around, if that is your intention.

Have a nice weekend! All the best from : Berend

Friday, 1 September 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | 6 Comments

How to Feel Like a Computer Expert

eBook Moving HorizonsAre you on good terms with your computer?

If not, you won’t feel so bad after reading about these silly mistakes some people made. Philip Humbert circulated them in his latest TIPS eNewsletter on Sunday :

Customer: My keyboard is not working anymore.
Tech support: Are you sure it’s plugged into the computer?
Customer: No. I can’t get behind the computer.
Tech support: Pick up your keyboard and walk 10 paces back.
Customer: OK
Tech support: Did the keyboard come with you?
Customer: Yes
Tech support: That means the keyboard is not plugged in. Is there another keyboard?
Customer: Yes, there’s another one here. Ah…that one does work…

Tech support: What kind of computer do you have?
Female customer: A white one…

Tech support: Good day. How may I help you?
Male customer: Hello… I can’t print.
Tech support: Would you click on “Start” for me and…
Customer: Listen pal; don’t start getting technical on me! I’m not Bill Gates.

Customer: Hi, good afternoon, this is Martha, I can’t print. Every time I try, it says ‘Can’t find printer’. I’ve even lifted the printer and placed it in front of the monitor, but the computer still says he can’t find it…

Customer: I have problems printing in red…
Tech support: Do you have a color printer?
Customer: Aaaah………………..thank you.

Tech support: What’s on your monitor now, ma’am?
Customer: A teddy bear my boyfriend bought for me at the 7-11.

Customer: I can’t get on the Internet.
Tech support: Are you sure you used the right password?
Customer: Yes, I’m sure. I saw my colleague do it.
Tech support: Can you tell me what the password was?
Customer: Five stars.

A woman customer called the Canon help desk about a problem with her printer.
Tech support: Are you running it under windows?
Customer: “No, my desk is next to the door, but that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his printer is working fine.”

Have a good laugh, until next time : Berend

Tuesday, 29 August 2006 Posted by | 3. Humour | Leave a comment

Take Responsibility for Anything You Do

eBook Moving HorizonsHave you heard of the Stella Awards? Apparently, once a year Colorado journalist Randy Cassingham ranks the 10 most frivolous lawsuits in the USA by “virtue” of their ridiculous claims and outrageous judgements.

It all started with 79 year old Stella Liebeck in 1992 who sued McDonald’s in New Mexico because she spilled hot coffee in her parked car, burned her legs in the process – and won US$ 640.000 compensation!

According to one of many websites spreading the word about other people’s clumsiness and insolence, here is another one of these bizarre top ranking incidents :

In Nov 2000 Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, on the highway with a brandnew mobile home, allegedly put the cruise control on 70 miles an hour and went back to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. Much to his surprise, the vehicle swerved off the road and overturned a few times.

He sued the manufacturer for not warning him in the operating manual that the car has to be steered when it is moving – and was awarded US$ 1.750.000 plus a new mobile home by a jury!

Coffee doesn’t agree with me either, but that’s not the point. When I arrived to live in South Africa, it was the law that required black people to sit in separate buses, didn’t allow them to use the most popular beaches and forced them to live with limited opportunities.

A few years before I was born, German law allowed millions of people to be herded into death camps.

Earlier last century, the law in many countries prevented most women on earth to vote, and had made slavery socially acceptable. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and Socrates was murdered because the law said it was OK to get rid of intellectual dissidents that way.

Responsible people know that they must live their lives by ethics rather than rules.

I suggest that we consult the integrity of our own mind before we look to find some obscure law, rule or tradition to justify virtually any kind of immoral behaviour.

Rules are no reason to live in a certain way, wether they have been set up by the UN or your social club. Personal responsibility cannot be thrown overboard in any area of your life, whether it involves decisions on fighting a war or how you dress, what you eat, who you vote for and how you raise your children.

When you think about it, you’ll find that most evils perpetrated on humanity have been brought about under the protective custody of laws at the time. We only need to look across the border at Zimbabwe right now.

I am not asking you to deliberately break any laws, but I am surprised sometimes how easily our ethics are compromised by shiny badges and famous names, large companies and half-dead institutions.

Without making a big splash about it, we can vote with our feet and walk away from dubious practices. We can proceed in a way as individuals who know how to take personal responsibility for our actions.

Blaming others for your own misfortunes or circumstances creates a society of cowards hiding behind a grid of laws which invites everyone to seek out the loopholes – and the dubious fame of a high ranking in the Stella Awards !

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 25 August 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Marianne Williamson – The Gift of Change

Marianne WilliamsonDo you recognise this quotation? “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves : Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

This quote is often ascribed to Nelson Mandela from his Inauguration Speeches as State President of South Africa on 9 May 1994 in Cape Town and 10 May 1994 in Pretoria – but that is not true : it is from Marianne Williamson’s book “A Return to Love – Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles”.

“A Course in Miracles” is a massive workbook and manual published by the Foundation for Inner Peace and the only book on personal development I never finished reading : for me it is totally overwhelming. But Marianne Williamson has been a student and lecturer of this self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy since 1978 and her books are strongly influenced by these principles.

I have just finished reading her book “The Gift of Change” and it is truly inspiring and thought provoking : she explores the powerful role of change in our lives, which most of us fear and avoid. But every change, although it may be difficult or even painful, gives us an ideal opportunity for personal transformation.

She says that the only real failure in life is the failure to grow from what we go through. Of course we want to avoid the pain, but by doing so we inevitably cause more of it. We live in times that are more difficult than a lot of people seem willing to admit, and cope with intense amounts of chaos and fear.

The speed of change today is faster than the human psyche seems able to handle, she observes : the most important thing to remember during these times is to fix our eyes anew on the things that don’t change – they become our compass, binding us emotionally to a steady and firm course.

We are being challenged by world events, the tides of history, to develop a more mature consciousness – who we become as individuals is intimately and causally connected to how the world will change over the next few years, of course.

Things we thought were stable and secure seem less so, things we thought were distant possibilities have become strangely close, she continues. Birth, death, divorce, relocation, aging, career change – many people feel right now like they’re jumping out of their skin.

For many of us, it’s gone way past uncomfortable into a haunting sense that we might be living a lie. Who doesn’t feel displaced at times? And how do we make the world more aligned with who we are, instead of always having to struggle to align ourselves with the world?

These are sentiments that I share, and there is much more. “The Gift of Change – Spiritual Guidelines for a Radically New Life” is an honest and powerful book that I highly recommend you read if the above samples ring true.

Marianne Williamson spells out what most of us can’t quite put a finger on or don’t admit to ourselves – it literally has the gift to change our view of the world.

Please also go to her website to find out more about her work : there is a lot of interactive material on offer you might like to participate in.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 18 August 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Discover Some Really Good Books

On Friday I’ll introduce you to a fascinating book I have just finished reading last night.

In the meantime I realise how important good books are (or should be) in anyone’s life, so I have just uploaded a new page to my website – plenty of really good books about personal development that I highly recommend because they help me grow : www.bluecrane.info/books.html

You’ll see the book-covers for each title there, with direct links to Amazon.com for further details or to buy. The books are sorted by author and you can go to each of them with one click; there are 12 authors at the moment, I’ll keep the page up to date as I go along.

Yes, I’ve read all these books – more than once; this is not just casual reading-fodder but profound knowledge and advice that I can not digest on the first sitting. If you have any particular favourite book that’s not on the page, by the way – please let me know : I’d be happy to read it and put it on if it qualifies.

The book I’ll talk about on Friday is already on the new page …

Wednesday, 16 August 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Do You Honour Your Rhythm?

eBook The REAL Facts of LifeFinally – on Sunday morning the sun was shining again at the Cape of Good Hope, after heavy winter rains all week. It was still nippy with a bit of a breeze, but we were dying to get out, to smell the sea and maybe see some whales – on Saturday we had spotted the first Southern Right of the season from our deck in Simon’s Town, blowing its typical V-shaped spray some distance away.

Walking down to Fisherman’s Beach, we noticed that many flowers enjoyed the rains and were in full bloom. The surf was pounding against the rocks on which some penguins waddled about – others were still taking their morning bath, splashing in the little coves surrounding Boulders Beach.

For most of the week we had been confined indoors by the weather, but now we were thoroughly enjoying nature again, following its rhythm – and honouring our own. Early August is wet here, so what? Many people don’t like this time of the year, but our dams are filling up for summer and hopefully we won’t have water restrictions again for Christmas.

Being German, we love the South African sunshine – but why do we also miss the dark and cold weeks in Europe sometimes, when we celebrate the Advent of Christmas and families gather at home around an open fire with a hot drink, the goodwill of humanity shining through the armour of self-interest for a change?

We follow so many of these comfortably familiar rituals during our days, weeks and years without really noticing and honouring them. They mark the rhythm of life as we know it, of course; there is a time for sunshine, and a time for rain. These days, however, we tend to want it all, and now – why can’t we have it all at once?

There is a simple reason : we cannot see one-ness, we always need a sequence of events to understand the whole story. We live in a world of duality and see everything in steps of two, one after the other, which creates a rhythm – and the illusion of time. The ultimate truth is that everything happens at on©e, in the Now – but we see a past and a future. You can read more about these concepts in “The REAL Facts of Life”.

We need time – not only as a concept – to go through the stages of growth and development, the rhythms of day and night, good and bad, life and death, rain and sunshine. Together these opposites don’t exclude each other, they are just different aspects of the same thing and depend on each other.

Like two sides of the same coin : take one of them away and you no longer have a coin. If you deny the peak or the trough you don’t get a wave. On their own, the parts don’t exist. We always have to deal with both aspects to see anything in its entirety and get a whole picture.

Stop breathing out and you won’t be able to breathe in again – life will stop. Breathing is the existential rhythm most of us don’t even notice, let alone honour. When we are young we also want the knowledge that comes with age; when we are older we long for the vitality of youth.

Being a desk-jockey, all too often I get caught up in my work and forget about play, jeopardizing my balance in life – passion also has its dangers.

Leaving our favourite walk along the shore of Simon’s Town for home, we noticed a pair of Egyptian Geese with eight little chicks strut by, the gander proudly flapping his wings as if to say : “See, I am honouring the cycle.”

Nature is so wise – I need to get out more often.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 11 August 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Mark Twain on Fear

I just found this quote on the Internet. It’s by Mark Twain (1835-1910) on imagined fear :

“I have been through some terrible things in my life,
some of which have actually happened.”

Think about it.

If you’d like to receive a daily Famous Inspirational Quote for two weeks from me, you can trigger it here

Wednesday, 9 August 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

10 Signs That You Are Getting Older

The REAL Facts of LifeIt’s Monday morning and ‘Emotion Day’ according to the ‘Quality of Time’ system I wrote about on Friday.

So how do you feel this morning? Not like this, I hope – but if you recognize any of these 10 signs in yourself, you are getting older :

1. At the breakfast table you hear snap, crackle, pop and you’re not eating cereal.

2. Everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt – doesn’t work.

3. It takes two attempts to get up from the couch.

4. Your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio.

5. You sit in a rocking chair and can’t get it going.

6. You give up all your bad habits and still don’t feel good.

7. You have more patience, but you just don’t care anymore.

8. Your idea of weight lifting is standing up.

9. It takes longer to rest than it did to get tired.

10. Getting “lucky” means you found your car in the parking lot.

Any score?

Monday, 7 August 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 3. Humour | Leave a comment

Discover the Best Activities on Each Day of the Week

eBook The REAL Facts of LifeWould you like to know what activities work out best for you on certain days of the week?

Surely you have noticed that on some days of the week, certain endeavours seem to work out better than on other days. You probably never told anyone about your suspicions, but this is not weird at all – in fact this phenomenon has been known for thousands of years.

I call it “The Quality of Time” and most of us have largely forgotten about it – we know the other aspect, the “Quantity of Time” much better, mainly because we think that we never have enough of it. It would go too far to explain the whole background here, but I wrote a chapter about it in my eBook “The REAL Facts of Life”.

What I am telling you is that each day of the week definitely has a certain unique quality to it, and is even named for this quality, although we don’t always see the correlation in modern-day English. The Greeks and ancient Romans assigned the same characteristics to the planets of our solar system.

How does this knowledge benefit us in the 21st century? Simply, some days are more conducive to certain activities than others – find out below why you should schedule important meetings for Wednesdays if you can, be careful at parties on Thursdays and why things often don’t go your way on Saturdays.

I have consciously applied this “Quality of the Day” – system for a long time. The days of the week are marked accordingly on my calendar in the computer and I plan conducive activities whenever I can.

Monday : Emotion
Monday is easily recognizable as Moon-day. As the ruler of the tides, the moon represents our emotions which have long been portrayed in terms of the sea. Do still waters run deep? Are you making waves? Mood-swings, instinct, how we feel about things and the way our feelings affect others are all highlighted on Mondays. They also help us see intuitively what we wish for in life. We are up and down, naughty or nice, laugh or cry – moods change as swiftly as the moon circles our planet.

Tuesday : Action
Mars (French ‘Mardi’) was the Roman god of war, and the Red Planet can be fiery and violent, daring and fearless. This energy wants the powerful and confident expression of the individual. Passion, determination, ambition, competition, achievement, courage, honour, stamina, accidents – Tuesdays forcefully command you to stand up, be noticed and get things done in an either constructive or destructive way.

Wednesday : Communication
Wednesday is ‘Mercredi’ in French. Mercury was the Roman god of trade, commerce and profit – and the winged messenger from the gods. Whether the news was good or bad, he needed a quick wit, think logically on the run and weigh possibilities after hearing opinions and reasons. Rationalize and communicate, perceive, speak up, negotiate and get answers – our intellect, awareness and logic is needed here. Move from one thing to the next in short trips – Wednesdays prompt us to express ourselves often and well. Visiting neighbours, the workday commute and a weekend getaway are all in Mercury’s realm, as well as writing, books, eMail and learning.

Thursday : Growth
In German mythology, Thor was the red-haired and bearded god of thunder, much like Jupiter in Roman times. His lightning bolts remind us of his supreme power, but besides being judge and jury he was mostly a kind and benevolent helper to keep mankind on the right path. Thursdays lord over ideology and philosophy and compel us to assess our ethical and moral values. Everything about Jupiter is larger than life. Grand ideas, luck and great fortune are associated with Thursdays who want us to grow and flourish. Optimism, success, accomplishments and prosperity symbolize this magnanimous energy – but we easily tend to overdo things on Thursdays : work too long, party too much, even spend too much time on going the extra mile.

Friday : Pleasure
Venus, or Freya, is the symbol of beauty, love, romance, harmony and pleasure for us. Socializing and relating to others in friendship, marriage and business partnership is important today. Fridays invite us to indulge our senses in aesthetic circumstances like the arts and seek the beauty of our world, teaching us to appreciate others and the things we possess. We take an interest in luxuries, good food and drink, a beautiful home and generally in spreading happiness through refinement, culture, charm and grace. A good day to be attractive and attract others by rewarding them, and yourself.

Saturday : Discipline
Saturn was the god of time, and he didn’t make things easy. The big teacher demands discipline and responsibility in learning life’s lessons and wants us to work hard at managing them. Limitations, delays and restrictions play a big role on Saturdays – is there enough time to do everything we want to do? The majesty of older age also brings with it a sense of tradition, conventionality and wisdom – it challenges habits that have stood the test of time. Structure, experience and authority are important concerns on Saturdays, and perseverance is applauded.

Sunday : Your-Self
The sun is the centre of our world, its energy is forceful and gives us light and life. Everything revolves around it and therefore it represents the Self, as well as our personality, ego, spirit and everything that makes us unique as individuals. Our true identity and our face to the world both speak of creativity, the will to manifest our ideas and the strength to successfully meet our challenges in life. Our sense of health and well-being is closest to us on Sundays, so do what you really feel like doing.

Try it out, you’ll be surprised how well it works!

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 4 August 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Who said this? Do you know?

Thanks to so many of you for taking part in yesterday’s quiz !

The correct answer was “c.) Marcel Proust”. It was he who said :

“The real voyage of discovery
consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”

The correct answer could be found on my page “Other Great Websites” in case you didn’t know the answer. I introduce some great people there who help me grow with their books, websites, weblogs and eNewsletters.

And the winners are … the first 3 respondents with the correct answer : Marc, Hanna and Linda – congratulations, you have all been sent a copy of my eBook “The REAL Facts of Life”. Enjoy it !

If you are generally interested in quotations, you can always activate my eMail series of 13 Famous Inspirational Quotes, of course – a small dose of inspiration every day for two weeks. Go here to do that.

Until next time, best regards from : Berend @ BLUE CRANE – Fly with us.

By the way : if the quiz has been forwarded to you by eMail and you want to receive the next one directly, subscribe to COMPASS here

Thursday, 3 August 2006 Posted by | 4. Quizzes & Tests | Leave a comment

Who said this? Do you know?

Sponsor BLUE CRANE - You can advertise with your logo here

Who said this? Do you know?

Here is the next little quiz about famous quotes, but you must do it today to win a prize :

“The real voyage of discovery
consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”

Click on what you think the correct answer is and send :

a.) Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

b.) Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

c.) Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922)

d.) Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

e.) Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)

This time, the first 3 respondents with the correct answer will receive a copy of my eBook “The REAL Facts of Life” worth €9,95 as a prize! You can read all about the eBook here.

Hint : you can find the correct answer on one of my website pages – to go to the website follow this link. And read the quotation again – it will help you see the world from a new perspective today.

This quiz remains open all day today and the winners will be announced by first name tomorrow morning.

Please take part in the quiz – it’s fun and inspirational, and you can win a prize.

Good luck from : Berend

Wednesday, 2 August 2006 Posted by | 4. Quizzes & Tests | Leave a comment

Sonia Choquette : You Have a Precious Talent

Sonia ChoquetteIf you need help, it is always within reach, just ask for it. This was driven home to us again on Sunday afternoon when we attended a fascinating and exciting workshop here in Cape Town – Sonia Choquette’s “Wake Up Your Spirit and Connect to Your Guides”. It gave us four hours of exceptional insight.

I must confess that I had never heard of psychic Sonia Choquette before she appeared on a local TV show here the previous Thursday. She lives in Chicago and is a world-renowned author, storyteller, vibrational healer, and six-sensory spiritual teacher in international demand for her guidance, wisdom, and capacity to heal the soul.

She’s the author of eight best-selling books, including ‘Diary of a Psychic’ and ‘Trust Your Vibes’. I her mission statement she says : “As a practicing psychic and spiritual teacher for over 32 years, I’ve spent most of my life helping people on a psychic level to realize that we’re all spiritual beings endowed with six, not five senses, and, even more important, that we need that sixth sense, our psychic sense, to fulfill our life’s purpose and be peaceful and happy.”

She calls that 6th sense the “throwaway sense” because everybody has this precious talent, but not many people know that or pay much attention to it. We are not aware on a daily basis that we are all psychic.

Unlike most of us, Sonia grew up in a family where the ability to connect to our unseen help was normal – where acting on the vibes of the moment is the sensible thing to do, where not listening to your feelings in all situations is just plain stupid. She never lost the connection to her full human capacities.

She has therefore been able to finetune her sixth sense to a degree which is absolutely stunning for me : on the TV show, people just phoned in with their birth dates and immediately Sonia knew their main issues, obstacles, history and life purpose – and had good advice on how to achieve improvement and make progress for these people.

In her workshop on Sunday, she impressively demonstrated her gifts as a teacher : a lady was called up on stage whose life dream is to be singer, but her considerable fears of inadequacy held her back to pursue her passion. After not even five minutes of confronting her issues with Sonia, she agreed to sing a tune – her voice was absolutely beautiful! None of us in the audience had expected that she could do it so well.

I know that these five minutes have changed the life of that lady, and another one’s whose ambition is to dance professionally – again, enthusiastic applause to some artistic steps that convinced all of us right away that there was great talent on display here which was not expressed previously just because of her insecurities.

It is tragic that so many of us are climbing the slopes of life thinking that it is a hostile mountain. It is such a pity that we are carrying so much baggage in our rucksack on the way up that it weighs us down, sometimes almost to the point of immobility. So many are discouraged or even defeated by the perceived steep angle of ascent, whilst they only need to lose the ballast of false beliefs on their backs to experience a joyful downhill cruise.

The workshop was so ‘en-lightening’ for me because I realized that no-one had to be on stage for Sonia to give us the benefit of her talent, wisdom and abilities – we could all recognise ourselves in what she said and demonstrated with others there. We knew that we just had to get in tune with our own vibes to receive the help she facilitated for those up front.

But we have to trust the process first to use it. To develop that trust we need to hear about, take notice of and experience the reality of our intuition as often as we can – we all have psychic abilities.

How often did you answer the phone, just knowing that your mother-in-law was on the line before you picked up? When last did you pay attention to a hunch and went to work on a different road, just to find out later that there had been a major accident on your usual route?

Where does this help come from? I think we don’t need to consult a clairvoyant to tell us what the future will bring, although this guidance most definitely helps to confirm our course in life whenever we are about to make a major adjustment – or when we are so stuck that we need to be jolted out of our position.

Other than that, just get in tune with yourself, pay attention to your feelings, and you’ll know what to do and where to go.

Look, I don’t want to make this too long – just go to Sonia Choquette’s website and have a look around, there is so much to discover that I can’t mention it all here – don’t leave out her section on Psychic University Online Courses, just listen to one of her audio clips in the sample lesson offered – it will open your eyes, and your mind.

Unless … OK, as a fellow storyteller I can’t resist this – do you want to know how Sonia met one of her spirit guides? She told us on Sunday : during a very difficult period in her life, she had virtually crashed with exhaustion and, having been hospitalized, was told by her doctor to take a good holiday-break in Hawaii now.

One day walking on a beach there, something urged her to turn around and go to the village. Window-shopping in front of a tourist shop, she stepped in and looked at the wares on display when an absolutely gorgeous black man in an immaculate white suit came in from behind a curtain and started talking to her : “Have a look at this poster, it fits your situation perfectly.” He pulled out a rolled up poster from the rack and showed her the beautiful picture of an angel crashed on a beach.

Surprised, Sonia agreed and after they had chatted for a while, discussing and looking at other items in the shop, she turned around to ask him a question when she noticed that he was gone.

“Excuse me, where is your colleague?” The shop attendant, a young lady, had a surprised look on her face. “Colleague? I am alone here.”“The man in the white suit I spoke with just now. He came in from behind that curtain and was with me here in the shop for at least 10 minutes, you must have seen him.”

She hadn’t, and the man could not be found anywhere.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 28 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 5. BLUE CRANE Partners | Leave a comment

Who said this? Do you know?

Sponsor BLUE CRANE - you can advertise hereWho said this? Do you know?

Do this little quiz today to win a prize :

“It is not because things are difficult
that we do not dare,
but it is because we do not dare
that things are difficult.”

Click on what you think the correct answer is and send :

a.) Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

b.) Lao Tzu (6th century BC)

c.) Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

d.) Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD)

e.) Galileo (1564 – 1642)

The first 3 respondents with the correct answer will receive a copy of my eBook MOVING HORIZONS worth €5,95 as a prize! You can read all about the eBook here.

Hint : you can find the correct answer on one of my main website pages – to go to the website follow this link. And read the quotation again – it will definitely help you make decisions more easily today.

This quiz remains open all day today and the winners will be announced by first name tomorrow morning.

Please take part in the quiz – it’s fun and inspirational, and you can win a prize.

Good luck from : Berend

Wednesday, 26 July 2006 Posted by | 4. Quizzes & Tests | Leave a comment

Are you doing life, or is life doing you?

Higher AwarenessWhen we are not aware of who we are, we move through life on auto-pilot. We live by habit, reacting unconsciously to people and events around us. We generally let others tell us what to do.

When we discover how to be aware and conscious, we take charge. We live with purpose and meaning. We open to the gifts in every moment. We uncover our innate inner wisdom – the imagination, creativity and intuition that already lie inside us!

I have taken these two paragraphs straight from John and Patrice Robson’s HigherAwareness website because they reflect my sentiments exactly. To some of you it may sound like trivial wisdom because we have heard it so often – but it really is one of the most fundamental truths.

To drive that message home and really make it sink into human minds has been the goal of every philosopher for thousands of years. And to take charge of our lives is one of the most prominent advice given even in our modern, materialistically orientated times.

So read those lines again and spend a few minutes thinking about your life and who you really are. Then go to the HigherAwareness website and subscribe to their Inner Journey eNewsletter – that’s what I’ve been doing a year ago and the inspirational messages have often saved my day.

But there is much more to discover about John and Patrice’s work : they live in Edmonton/Canada, have vast experience in self improvement and are deeply committed to help people change.

The first thing I did after reading their home page is take the KNOW YOURSELF QUIZ : it is amazing what you can find out about yourself by just answering a few well directed questions!

This will lead you organically to one or more of their 18 workbooks and programs best suited for your situation with plenty of tools, references and email support : you are never left alone with your questions. These courses can be ordered and taken online, and best of all : they are yours forever and you can take them over and over again.

Since personal growth is a life-long journey, it makes sense that every time you go through a development program, the results will be different as you address your challenges and make progress.

I have not taken any of the Higher Awareness Collection programs yet but I will very soon and let you know. In the meantime please check it out for yourself and see whether this can help you get ahead – I think there is something for everybody.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 21 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Comfort

Screen Meditation AFRICAN HORIZONSWhen coasting in our comfort zones, we don’t grow. Maintaining a comfort zone can, paradoxically, lead to discomfort in the long run, says Dr Eric Allenbaugh, a widely published American leadership consultant.

If by being comfortable we avoid or overlook important life issues, internal tension accumulates automatically – I can personally attest to that. Eventually, as both internal and external pressures for change persist, the ‘comfort zone’ ceases to exist and serve us.

It takes effort to change. Start the process by reading a new book or Google the Internet. Subscribe to newsletters, try journaling or take a course. Find a mentor, talk to someone. Seek support.

Something to think about.

Thursday, 20 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | 1 Comment

Character

Moving HorizonsCharacter has been described as how a person acts when he or she thinks nobody else is looking.

Want to know if someone will make a good spouse, business partner or employee? Find out how they treat people whose opinion they couldn’t care less about.

Watch when the carpet cleaner arrives. Listen to what they say to the petrol attendant. Go through a crowded supermarket checkout, or sit in rush hour traffic with them.

What you see is called character. How they react to others is how they will react to you over time.

Wednesday, 19 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | 1 Comment

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandela

Nelson MandelaGood morning Mr. Mandela,

Today is your 88th birthday – as always on the 18th of July, I would like to wish you all the best for your health and wellbeing in the future. I am sure you are going to spend your well publicized day of honour with lots of friends, family, children and admirers again, as usual.

This year for the first time I want to congratulate you in writing, however – as a German expatriate who has lived in South Africa for the last 22 years, I feel it is time to show my appreciation in a more permanent way in return for all you have done for this lovely country, and my thoughts may well reflect the sentiments of many fellow citizens.

We often see on TV, or read in the papers about the well-deserved honours you receive all over the world for what you have achieved in your lifetime, and our hearts go out to you in admiration for a man of such integrity, benevolence and stamina.

These notions are shared in all sectors of society, everywhere. It shows a universal gratitude for your abilities as a statesman and exemplary qualities of a human being – if it hadn’t been for your leadership, this country and indeed this continent would be a far less prosperous place to live in. Many crucial challenges for the transition to democracy in this country have been overcome, numerous others remain.

I imagine that it must be very difficult for a man of your caliber, wisdom and consciousness to watch the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of poverty, crime and AIDS threatening the fabric of Africa’s culture – and know that a solution could well be reached.

Fighting against the symptoms of these excesses, as we do, will only give them more power and make them worse – we need to work on the root of these disruptive indicators which are all based in fear, social and individual separation, and the greed for power. Violence as a means to assert control will only temporarily reduce feelings of insecurity and anger.

As long as we think of ourselves as poor and victims of history, we will continue to experience violent and corrupt struggles for dominance. As long as we don’t focus on service and contribution instead of segregate and competitive ethnic cultures we will not feel more secure in our country, community and family.

Irresponsible, even reckless behaviour cannot be condoned, of course – but ignorance needs to be forgiven because the perpetrators simply don’t know better. There is nothing that has to be changed, except our perception – to recognize that our reality is a mirror-image of our self. This is the hardest of all things to do, hence the universal challenge to ‘Know Thyself’.

You know this and have acted all you life accordingly with enormous courage and strength, which is what makes you stand head and shoulders above other world leaders. If more of them had your understanding, the world would be a much better place today. We will eventually get there, but it is going to take time and effort. In the meantime, you shine as a beacon to others.

So today is one more occasion to celebrate who you are, and I salute you. I wish you, and us, many happy returns of the glorious day you were born.

Yours sincerely in gratitude and appreciation,

Berend Lange

Tuesday, 18 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Respect

eBook The REAL Facts of Life

While on maternity leave, a woman from our office brought in her new bundle of joy. She also had her seven-year-old son with her.

Everyone gathered around the baby, and the little boy asked :

“Mommy, can I have some money to buy a cool drink?”

“What do you say?” she asked.

Respectfully, the boy replied : “You’re thin and beautiful.”

The woman reached in her purse and gave her son the money.

Monday, 17 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 3. Humour | Leave a comment

Jump for Joy

Sponsor BLUE CRANE - you can advertise hereThe other day I was sitting at one of our gorgeous beaches with a friend when we saw a school of dolphins in the bay. Not far away, they were swimming close to the surface, leaping forward half way out of the water and heading towards an unknown destination in their peculiar determined way, like they often do.

One thing was different this time, though : the leading dolphin and a few others behind him in the group were jumping far out of the water, straight up, doing summersaults backwards and forwards in all sorts of twisted ways. It was absolutely spectacular!

Other people had noticed their unusual behaviour as well and stopped whatever they were doing to watch.

I always thought that dolphins collectively chase a shoal of fish when they swim in a group close to the surface, but they were clearly jumping for pure joy here! What’s more, this exuberant display of fun and happiness was contagious, since more and more dolphins started to breach and all the spectators had a big smile on their faces, too.

Dolphins are well known for their playful behaviour, and this reminded me that joy is an essential part of our life as human beings.

Most of us have buried it under layers of boredom, frustration and responsibility, though – when have you last felt the urge to jump for joy? I enjoy life most when I allow myself to be free of all that, to hold on to nothing and to have no restrictions.

I am free when I look at the sea from my office window, when I forget my own self-importance and the pressure to perform, when I am no longer offended by the actions of others, nor in need of their approval.

My best creative work is done when I can be myself, often by myself, not distracted from the source of human inspiration and uninterrupted by daily chores or phonecalls. Freedom and joy are inseparable – they are a state of mind, I think, most easily found in children uninhibited by the burdens of our competitive lifestyle, lost in play with no intent to do harm.

If we agree that feelings of hatred, violence and envy make joy impossible, we have found a way to uncover it – yet our culture does not always facilitate this notion.

“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”, Eykis says in Wayne Dyer’s book “Gifts from Eykis” : allow yourself to be free of doubt, gloom, bitterness and fear as often as you can, every day. This freedom will allow joy to breach the surface and give you new ideas to do more productive work, be a better husband, mother or writer and help you pass it on to anyone who is ready to accept it.

Happiness must be the default state of being for anything that lives – the only thing that can prevent joy from ruling our lives is the human mind interfering with it.

That means that we don’t have to create joy for ourselves, we just have to allow it to happen – isn’t it ironic that we find that difficult to do? After all, I have never met anyone who doesn’t want to enjoy himself, and yet so few do – even here in the careless Cape of Good Hope.

Where else do we see more of the glorious guidance of nature around us? Make up your mind to do something wonderfully joyous at least once a day, whatever tickles your fancy : play with your cat, eat a cookie, tell a joke – or do summersaults like the dolphins.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 14 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter | Leave a comment

Robert Ringer – A Voice of Sanity in an Insane World

The Tortoise - Robert Ringer's alter egoI think it is time to introduce you to Robert Ringer – who describes his opinions as “A Voice of Sanity in an Insane World”. I have been reading his eNewsletters for about a year now and in my view he is right on both counts : the world we have created is insane in many repects, and voices of sanity are needed – the more the better.

Robert Ringer is a highly acclaimed American speaker and author of #1 best-selling motivational books – one of them is entitled “To Be or Not to Be Intimidated”. “His astute observations of how the world works have helped millions of salespeople, entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate executives, and individuals in all walks of life to achieve their personal and professional goals.”

You know me : that’s exactly the kind of stuff I like – controversial at times, but an honest and straight forward opinion of a man who is not afraid to step on some toes occasionally. Very well informed, on the ball and intelligent writing that really makes a difference.

Listen to this, on one of his Core Beliefs on Western Civilization and very relevant for our South African society today :

“Millions of Americans have bought into the big lie that diversity is what makes our country great. But the truth of the matter is that diversity is not a strength; it’s a weakness. This is so self-evident that I am tempted to posit it as an axiom.

History makes it clear that diversity is not a helpful ingredient for keeping a civilization intact. Diversity has always proven to be a divider of people. It’s important to point out here that diversity has nothing whatsoever to do with skin color, but everything to do with culture.”

I can hear some of you moaning in anguish because this is not politically correct, but do yourself a favour and read the whole essay – I promise you food for thought in COMPASS, don’t I? This is it.

He continues a bit later, and again not only South Africa should take careful note :

“Plain and simple, no civilization can continue to exist, let alone flourish, without a moral foundation that is not only clearly understood, but accepted and practiced by a large majority of its citizens. To employ a parody, the barbarians are not at the gates; they are inside the gates.”

Whether you want to keep or transform a culture, in both cases this is powerful information!

But don’t worry, there’s humour as well – see his page called Deportation Crimes for example, where he lists 18 common “Crimes Against Humanity”. Here are three :

1. Playing a car radio loud enough for anyone outside the car to hear it.

4. Fast-food employees handling money, then touching food.

16. Driving a 4×4 with tires that look they belong on a 747 aircraft.

I think we can relate to that; seriously, if you want to read something refreshingly different to adjust your perspective on a regular basis, go to his Article Archive and subscribe to his eNewsletter on any of his pages.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 7 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 5. BLUE CRANE Partners | 1 Comment

The Bathtub Test

eBook MOVING HORIZONSMost of us take life far too seriously. So here is a good joke I picked up at hooverdog.com to brighten our day :

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

“Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.”

“Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.

“No,” said the Director, “a normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?”

Tuesday, 4 July 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 3. Humour | Leave a comment

Hercules – What is the Measure of a True Hero?

Disney's Hercules‘Long ago, in the faraway land of ancient Greece, there was a golden age of powerful gods and extraordinary heroes. And the greatest and strongest of all these heroes was the mighty Hercules. But what is the measure of a true hero? Ah, that is what our story is… ‘

Fables are fashionable, no doubt about it. On film, the world in the 21st century is saved by super-heroes a few times a day because they have either futuristic technology or astonishing powers.

For me, however, Disney’s ‘Hercules’ is the best movie in this genre ever made : it is their only film based on Greek mythology – these timeless tales about a world of complex interrelations between gods and humans explored the mysteries of life on earth, conveying important lessons to struggling mortals.

The conduct of the royal society on Mount Olympus in those days seems to have been as fallible as today’s jet set and in the absence of TV, the stories about their lives and adventures, weaknesses and misdemeanours in ancient Greece apparently were the talk of the town.

As an animated movie first released in 1997, the ancient characters in Walt Disney’s ‘Hercules’ speak a very modern language – Charlton Heston (Narrator), Rip Torn (Zeus, leader of the gods), James Woods (Hades, ruler of the underworld) and Danny DeVito (Phil the Satyr) amongst others have given their voices to a fast-paced, wildly funny and very entertaining film for kids and adults alike.

What is often overlooked though is that the story of Hercules is also a brilliant parable about the human cycle of life on earth – for me, that is he most interesting aspect of the movie. It all starts at the party on Mount Olympus, where right of admission is reserved for Gods, to celebrate the birth of Hercules, son of Zeus and Hera. The host welcomes a new guest :

“Hades, you finally made it. How are things in the underworld?”
“Well, they’re just fine. You know, a little dark, a little gloomy. And, as always, hey, full of dead people. What are you gonna do?”

The evil Hades plans to overthrow Zeus as chief of the gods in what he calls a ‘hostile takeover bid’, however, and shortly after the party sends his helpers Pain and Panic to abduct Hercules down to Earth because the Fates predict that he might thwart the coup in 18 years time.

Although pain and fear are still the most effective allies of dark forces today, good help was difficult to find even in those days, and Pain and Panic don’t quite manage to infuse the magic potion into Hercules that would make him forget his divine origin.

As a result, Hercules retains super-human strength for his spell on earth – but that doesn’t make him very popular : as an impetuous teenager, he breaks whatever he touches and he isn’t allowed anywhere near the local pottery store. ‘Jerkules’ is his nickname at that time and he yearns to be normal, like everyone else.

He just wants to fit in somehow and know where he belongs, setting the scene for the archetypal hero’s quest – this is beautifully highlighted in his captivating song ‘Go the Distance’ : ‘I will find my way, I can go the distance; I’ll be there some day if I can be strong; I know every mile will be worth my while.’

So when he leaves the home of his foster parents to find his place in the world, his first stop is at the temple of Zeus, a quiet place for reflection, to ask for guidance. There he learns that he has a famous father – and Zeus tells him that he has to prove himself a true hero on earth to restore his status as a god.

How do you become a true hero?
You learn from an expert.

On Zeus’ advice, and with the help of Pegasus the flying horse, Hercules seeks out Philictetus, the trainer of heroes. Phil is disillusioned because previous clients like Perseus and Achilles couldn’t go the full distance, but he takes Hercules on and shows him all the tricks of the hero-trade. Both make mistakes and get hurt a few times in the process, of course – you teach what you need to learn, and the lines between teacher and student get blurred after a while.

Along the way Hercules also has to rescue Megara, a damsel in distress, and they fall in love – he doesn’t know that she has sold her soul to Hades, however, and is committed to help him rearrange the cosmos to take over Mount Olympus. Despite their efforts to get Hercules out of the way before he spoils the loot, he becomes a famous superstar ‘From Zero to Hero’ in the big city with his own merchandised brand on consumer goods, all the royalties that go with it, and the high life that everyone envies.

But being rich and famous, strong and powerful is not being a true hero, Zeus tells him at another visit to the temple – before Hercules can rejoin the gods he must still do something that he has to discover for himself, something that he can only find by looking inside.

Hades in the meantime is furious and very frustrated with his lack of progress until he finds the only weakness Hercules has – his love for Meg. Hercules eventually agrees to give up his enormous strength for 24 hours to win back Meg’s freedom from the clutches of Hades – who immediately launches his attack on the world by unleashing the Titans.

But Meg, Pegasus and Phil are not giving up on Hercules’ shattered dreams and help him in his darkest hour. Together with the gods on Mount Olympus, they defeat Hades and his Titans and liberate planet Earth from the underworld’s tyranny and oppression – but not without casualties : Meg is dying!

In a desperate attempt to change the course of events, Hercules rushes to see Hades and strikes a deal with him : ‘Take me in Meg’s place’. He dives after Meg into the River of Death, selflessly offering his life in return for hers, but the Fates cannot cut his thread so that they both emerge alive – the underworld has no power over gods!

Meg and the mighty Hercules are whisked off to Mount Olympus – now he can return home to be reunited with his family. The overjoyed Zeus explains : ‘A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength – but by the strength of his heart!’

This is the moment Hercules has always dreamed of, but he realizes that a life without love, even an immortal life, would be empty – and chooses to stay on earth with Meg and his friends : ‘I finally know where I belong.’

I just love it!

What if we all remembered that we are powerful beyond measure and have a connection to our divine origin with unlimited support?

What if we knew that we are always exactly where we belong, wherever we are and whatever we do?

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 30 June 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 6. Inspirational Movies | 1 Comment

Philip Humbert – Tips on Sunday Mornings

Philip HumbertIs there a favourite routine that you look forward to on Sunday mornings? I have two : watching the sun rise with a cup of tea in my hand here at the tip of Africa, and reading Philip Humbert’s eNewsletter TIPS a bit later.

Philip lives in Oregon/USA and is a a speaker, author and personal success coach. That means he helps people to achieve their goals, build their businesses, live their dreams and have fun – and he really enjoys doing that. I can tell, because in all these years I have never read a single word from him that is not inspirational.

Today I realise that he has been a role model for me and the similarities in our lifestyles are astonishing, down to his cat keeping him company when he works at home. He says that he has never “worked” in his life, though, because he’s got a job that he loves – I know exactly what he means, having raced in the corporate world until recently.

Nevertheless, he has been very successful in extending his reach earlier this year by teaming up with Jim Rohn, Bob Proctor, Michael Angier, Vic Johnson and others for a series of one-day seminars called “Claim Your Power Now!” all over the USA.

Philip Humbert knows that every individual deserves and has the power to live a great life. Nobody stands in your way, except yourself ! That’s why, every year in May, he also organises his own three-day “World Class Life” conference in Wisconsin.

It is designed to help each participant break through his own barriers, see new possibilities and develop elegant and effective strategies to create the life they truly want. Isn’t this anyone’s top priority? It certainly is mine, and to attend his conference next year is very high up on my list of personal goals.

In the meantime, though, I can only recommend that you go to his website and also subscribe to his weekly eNewsletter TIPS. Just look at his TIPS-archive : going back to July 2002, you’ll find plenty of his really helpful articles on any imaginable subject for personal growth and success.

From there it is easy to explore his pages for tapes and eBooks, a bookstore, and especially his own “Top 10” – lists : great stuff for an organised approach to overcome almost any obstacle hampering your progress in life and business.

A bit of introspection and food for thought helps any day, not just on Sundays. I wouldn’t be surprised if Philip Humbert’s contributions to personal and professional self development also became your favourites very soon.

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 23 June 2006 Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter, 5. BLUE CRANE Partners | Leave a comment