in medias res
or in a nutshell

The right moment

Sometimes I am amazed how positive events happen in my life that I would never have dreamed of and that were not planned. The seemingly unexpected happens all of a sudden at the right time and opens a new perspective or just brings me joy. Do you know that feeling?

An astrologer might see the reason for it in the favorable position of the planets. A clever mathematician might perhaps write a complicated formula how to calculate the right moment. And someone else would speak of serendipity or divine providence. All this would mean that we ourselves have no influence but are merely passive recipients of the unexpected happening. I find that hard to believe!

When asked what causes something to happen at the right time, different people around me have different views or attitudes, e.g.: seeing change as an opportunity; being able to learn something positive from every challenge; approaching every day with the same discipline; tireless and systematic networking; being equally active physically and mentally; maintaining a “constant connection to the universe” by communicating your wishes; etc. The list goes on.

There seems to be a common thread for all these individual or combined activities: regularity, reiteration, belief in one’s own strengths. If you know your strengths, you can’t help but use them again and again – actively! This is how the right moment (let’s call it accomplishment or fulfillment) is involuntarily brought about!

What are your strengths? Where do you use them in everyday life? What is your source of positive energy? How do you use this energy for your daily discipline?

If you cannot conclusively answer these questions for yourself and have been wondering for a long time when the right moment will finally come, then we should talk about your expectations and your self-perception. I am here to help you remove any stumbling blocks and doubts.

Wishing you thoroughly positive autumn feelings,

Tatjana Gaspar

Dealing with criticism

Don’t you find it amazing how many people refuse to accept criticism? Surely you also know the feeling when, in the face of criticism, our inner defense mechanism is immediately ready to kick in: Any objective approach is instantly out of action and a productive conversation becomes impossible. We often react to criticism as emotionally as to an insult or as violently as to an attack, thereby showing our insecurity. If you want to become more relaxed and open when dealing with criticism, you can try to track down the causes of this insecurity or use methods to outsmart it until you make it disappear.

Let’s assume that there is only constructive criticism. (Destructive criticism usually has nothing to do with the recipient of the message, it only qualifies the sender’s state of mind. Therefore, we can safely forget it.) Constructive criticism is benevolent, appreciative, motivating, goal-oriented and beneficial – basically a gift of life. In this way, our fellow human being shows us the importance we have in his or her eyes.

In a complex world in which each one of us is part of different systems or networks and strives to be successful in them, constructive criticism is an integral part of the game. It is a measuring instrument for our own optimization and a compass that helps us to hold our direction or to correct it. It is not an attack, so we don’t need to defend ourselves. It is not an absolute truth and cannot be refuted, because we cannot determine how someone else sees us and our behavior.

Being able to accept criticism and use it for self-reflection is an art in itself that can be learned. Anyone who allows constructive criticism demonstrates greatness and maturity. Those who criticize in a constructive manner, prove their leadership qualities, self-confidence and empathy.

Here is an exercise: Explain your project or concern to someone you respect and whose opinion you value. Ask them actively for constructive criticism. Be open and imagine that the other person only wishes you well. If you hear “something critical”, don’t respond with justification or rejection. Ask what made this person feel that way. At the end, thank your counterpart for being candid. This experience will surely leave both of you with a positive feeling.

At every level, the constructive criticism of others helps us grow, see our own behavior differently and perhaps optimize our project. Let’s practice criticism with finesse and as respectfully as we would like to be criticized by other people.

As we know, the consistent implementation of constructive communication, especially in families, groups and teams, is often difficult: personalities of different age and experience, from different cultural backgrounds meet in a universe of objectives, obligations, competition, existential worries and adjustments to frequently changing circumstances. It is important to pay attention to fairness, diversity and inclusion, to offer everyone room for development and to avoid discrimination. Not an easy task, rather hard to solve without external help! If there is a need, I will be happy to put together a well-balanced motivational workshop for you and your family or team around the subject of “positive communication and constructive criticism”.

In the meantime, may you receive plenty of appreciation from those around you!

Best wishes, Tatjana Gaspar

Have courage for professional independence or try something unconventional!

You probably know the feeling when there is suddenly no more inspiration in our everyday work, but only emptiness inside. We think we are trapped in a hamster wheel, running on autopilot, while life is seemingly happening elsewhere. No matter how hard we try, our focus, joy and motivation are gone, and we are unable to pick up where we left off. We just reached a turning point, when we realized that we ought to choose a different path. But which one? Perhaps an idea has existed for some time, but external circumstances prevented us from implementing it. How do we boost our motivation, set ourselves a new goal, take courage to make a change and find our way back to joy and passion?

We may think that the time is not right for a professional change. But is that really the case or are we just inventing reasons because to change nothing is more convenient and, therefore, we are willing to accept the idle state of our mind? Postponing a necessary change for too long leads, at worst, to some state of resignation or exhaustion and, at best, to the feeling of having missed an opportunity.

The good news: The right time is precisely now, regardless of how you may experience the external circumstances. The only mistake that you can make is ignoring your inner voice. And one more piece of good news: Leaving your comfort zone is the best thing you will ever have done for yourself! Only then will your inspiration have a chance to return!

Throughout your life, you were able to fill a considerable backpack with experience and skills. If your goal is to regain inspiration and make a change, there are first a few tasks you cannot avoid. Start by formulating each of your individual skills, prioritize them and each time answer two questions: “How have I used this skill so far?” and “For what purpose do I want to use it in the future?” This is the foundation on which you build.

Both the path to professional independence and starting work in a new domain are decisive chapters that have a profound impact on one’s entire life and social environment. Before you jump in, it is helpful to reflect your own perception and new ideas in a conversation with appreciative and experienced persons while staying focused on your goals. Thanks to a powerful coaching approach and supported by my own experiences, I am happy to help you reach the next level and turn towards an inspiring new professional beginning.

Best wishes, Tatjana Gaspar

Empathy – just compassion or a true leadership instrument?

When did you first hear the word empathy? Did you understand right away from the context what it could mean or did you have to inquire? In fact, the word has been around for over 150 years. Lately, it has been used in almost an inflationary way, often with a partial understanding of the precise meaning.

We do not translate or explain easily in one word what it is, but we feel distinctly if someone has it or not. It does not matter whether this person is a boss, employee, parent, child, friend, teacher, coach or e.g. a professional health service provider. Something deep inside us normally recognizes right away whether we are in good hands with them, appreciated and understood or not. If the other person responds to our emotions with understanding, we feel a positive vibe, a spontaneous trust toward them, a possibility of cooperation, a sense of safety.

Empathy consists of compassion, genuine interest and active listening. We fully respond to the person who is sharing their concern with us and acknowledge their experience. We do not draw comparisons, we don’t put our own experience in the center and do not give unsolicited advice. This is exactly where many of us fail.

How and when do you show empathy towards others? In what situation do you expect others to show you empathy? If you hear the word, who do you think of first? Is empathy more of a character trait, an emotion or a behavior? Do you believe that empathy can be learned or trained and is important for relationships and success in life?

I am convinced that empathy is to a great extent a natural predisposition that has a lot to do with how positively we perceive ourselves, how balanced and generally content we are, but also how well we can focus on others. It will rarely show up in people who are constantly preoccupied with themselves. Empathy cannot emerge out of a mere sense of duty or appropriateness, either. It is not like a pair of eyeglasses that you deliberately put on and remove again. Fake empathy is usually recognized quickly.

Nowadays, managers are advised to show empathy because this has a positive effect on the satisfaction of the employees, on customer loyalty and, ultimately, on the overall success of the enterprise. But there is still a long way to go. The underlying opinion among executives that autocratic methods and placing yourself at the center are a sign of strength still seems to be widespread. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

There are many ways to express empathy, depending on the environment and the target group you are confronted with as a leader. As we know, there will be no second chance to make a first impression, therefore, it is wise to prepare carefully. Why not receive some useful tips in a leadership empathy training session tailored to your needs!

In the meantime, may you find your own expression of empathy and stand by it! You will witness how your world will then change.

Best wishes, Tatjana Gaspar

The pursuit of happiness

Do you also feel sometimes an inner restlessness when you think that you should change something about yourself or your life, but you don’t know exactly how and where to start and whether it will be worthwhile in the end? Maybe you feel as though you are spinning in circles or staring into a tunnel. The more you think about it, the less you are able to reach a decision.

This is not unusual because in our self-perception we sometimes only see part of ourselves or our life. But the best solution always includes as many aspects and angles as possible and emerges from the big picture. After all, your life is not just a snapshot, but a journey full of experiences. Your personality is the result of a long development, during which you had to process all that you had experienced.

It often takes some effort to admit a dilemma and to confide in someone when we are stuck. Try to turn the tables: Consider the dilemma not as a problem, but as part of an optimization process.

The central question is: What would make you happy?

Here is a task for you: Draw or write your personal goal on a piece of paper. It must be realistic and achievable. Hang it up where you can see it again and again. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you have just reached your goal. A great feeling, isn’t it? Now write down all your outstanding qualities and skills. Take your time, be honest and benevolent. Read your notes out aloud and, with each word, think of situations in which your characteristics or competencies became visible. Feel the pride inside you!

Now the second part of the task: How are you perceived by those around you? Find 3-5 persons whom you trust and ask them to make a list of your qualities and competencies as part of this optimization process. The list should reflect their personal opinions and be appreciative: What makes you stand out in their eyes? Where could you benefit from more self-confidence? What other role could you successfully embody if you wanted to? You will be amazed at what you read about yourself.

With this exercise, you have multiplied the range of possibilities. Instead of the circles and the tunnel you may now perhaps see puzzle pieces or dominoes that you can combine until you like your picture. You will feel it, when your head, heart and gut are in harmony. Now you are at the start, your search is just beginning! The next step can only be achieved from a position of strength and serenity. If your dilemma appears more complex and your picture does not satisfy you yet, I will be happy to support you with further target-oriented exercises. You can and will get where you want to be!

In the meantime, may you thoroughly enjoy how positively you are perceived by others.

Best wishes, Tatjana Gaspar

I reflect, therefore I am!

We often hear that at the end of an important phase, someone reviews their life. But why only at the end?

I love self-reflection! Do you? Reflection means mirroring, pondering, remembering. To reflect on yourself means in somewhat clinical terms to analyze and question your own thinking, feeling and behavior with the aim of finding out more about yourself and what you could do differently (“better?”). In doing so, we can question ourselves not only as individuals, but also as parts of a system, for example our family or team and look at our own behavior from a distance.

It is easier to reflect on oneself as part of a network of relationships (system), than in a detached and abstract way: What was the situation? Who was involved? How did they behave? How did I behave? Did my behavior lead to a productive outcome for myself and others or not? What could I have done differently and how would my behavior have affected the situation? etc. Self-reflection is particularly helpful when there is tension or when we have a competitive environment because both will occur again and again.

Self-reflection demands of me complete honesty and openness to alternative options. I do not ask what I expect from others, but what I expect from myself. I know that I cannot change others, so I am ready to change my own behavior.

Self-reflection is the beginning of a journey of discovery inside of me with unforeseen dimensions and full of surprises.

We like to convince ourselves that we are doing everything right and with the best of intentions. After all, nobody likes self-criticism! But what exactly does “right” mean? Right for whom? And it is well known that “best intentions” are no guarantee for happiness and success. That’s why self-reflection needs getting used to and regular training. That’s why it only works if we truly want to change something about ourselves. Self-reflection is the beginning of every change process!

To get the support of someone who creates momentum for you is not only advisable, but also enriching. Perhaps you prefer the high-energy motivational speaker who can inspire a hall full of followers. Perhaps you rather appreciate the soft-spoken meditation trainer who invites you to take a seat on your mat and listen to the sound of silence. Or you can engage in a profound and solution-oriented conversation with a coach like me in your preferred environment and find out how you can reach the next stage of your personal goal and improve your life. I already look forward to your story!

With appreciative thoughts and warm Easter greetings,
Tatjana Gaspar

Dealing with conflicts in a constructive way is of systemic relevance

Most people don’t like conflicts. It is not in human nature to be conflict loving. Even so, sometimes we cannot avoid it. A conflict arises when we try to go against someone whose behavior in a particular situation seems to be incompatible with our expectations. We then consciously blame the other side, since we consider our expectations to be justified.

The word «conflict» from the Latin «confligere» means to fight against each other. The conflict can be experienced as such by one or both sides, sometimes even capture a whole group. It always takes place on the emotional level and seldom has anything to do with the matter at hand. In other words: the matter has no clue there even is a conflict and it doesn’t care!

Have you ever analyzed in your environment why and how conflicts arise? How are they carried out? What pattern of behavior did you observe? How did the conflicting parties communicate with each other? You may have found that prejudice, intolerance or ignorance played a role, that the conflict was based on self-interest and power games, that there was a lack of empathy and willingness to compromise, or that the communication was inadequate and the person in the focus was overwhelmed.

While differences of opinion or disputes in everyday life can have a clearing and healing impact on a relationship, real conflicts with hardened opinions are much more profound and disturbing.

Unresolved conflicts take up time and energy and are about as counterproductive as trying to hit the accelerator and the handbrake at the same time. Not only those directly involved and the matter at hand suffer from it, but also your entire system.

Whatever you find disturbing in your workplace or family, express your concern before a conflict arises. This shows that you have courage and self-confidence and will earn you respect. You may even consider from the beginning to bring in a neutral (non-emotional) third party for mediation, someone who has the necessary distance and can de-escalate the communication. I am happy to offer my experience and support before a conflict causes greater distress for you.

Until then, may your days be conflict-free and productive.

Best wishes, Tatjana Gaspar

If it were not for this inner blockage…

Have you ever witnessed someone else accomplish something and have said to yourself: «I would have loved to accomplish that, but I couldn’t do it because something was holding me back.»? Every now and then, each of us experiences situations, in which we secretly regret not having tried. Do you feel that these situations are very different from one another or rather similar? The more often similar situations are repeating themselves and you then regretfully say «I couldn’t do it because something was holding me back», the more likely there is some kind of mental blockage. But you are by no means responsible for it!

Such inner obstacles usually have a specific cause. We sometimes know the cause and sometimes not. It may have its origin in experiences from our childhood, adolescence or perhaps from a later trauma. The examples are endless: Suddenly, we are overwhelmed by this anxiety ahead of an exam that makes us forget the material we have learned. The thought of our appearance before an audience leads us to the edge of impotence. At the crucial moment, the carefully prepared job interview sinks into a blackout. Or we don’t dare to enter into a pool of water, even when it is shallow. Maybe we are paralized by the thought of flying in an airplaine. A feeling of panic and loss of control spreads inside us and turns off any self-confidence. We are no longer receptive to external influences. Anyone who has ever experienced this knows how frightening and deeply stressful it can feel to be blocked.

Why would any human being want to go through life with such a burden instead of trying everything to get it out of the way? Why would someone prefer not to breathe more freely and not to build up his or her (self-)confidence?

There is no easy answer to this. Nevertheless, countless people continue to live and suffer with their mental blockage day by day, feel ashamed because of it, try to hide and suppress it – without success. The longer we wait to tackle the problem, the heavier the burden will weigh on us and pull us down.

But it doesn’t have to come to that: with courage, perseverance and method, we can do something about it and also encourage others to take this step. It is never too late for it.

With very best wishes,
Tatjana Gaspar

Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability!

Have you ever wondered how many times in a day you are confronted with your own vulnerability? How do you react when suddenly nothing is as it was before, when certain situations or people push you to your limits? What do you do when your careful plan doesn’t work, when your perfect dream just bursts?

For many of us it’s hard then to face our emotions and admit them openly. Our fear of losing face and the respect of others ist too great. However, it turns out again and again that the others are not the problem at all, but rather the inner barrier that we then build up. Behind it, we suppress our feelings and our real self, sometimes for a very long time. We convince ourselves that the pressure to succeed and perform in life does not allow showing any weakness.

But in this century and in our modern society, vulnerability is less and less considered a weakness anymore. Vulnerability is what makes us human, what connects us. It does not destroy the respect of our fellow human beings, it creates it. Suppression, on the other hand, is a free ticket to long-term suffering and loneliness.

Those who are not afraid to show their vulnerability, to confide in others, demostrate authenticity and self-confidence – two important components of any lasting relationship, but also of credible leadership. This is true in your own family as well as in your professional life.

Find someone who makes you feel good about yourself and confide in them. There is a good chance that you will receive valuable advice and encouragement. Otherwise, just give me a call.

May the moment be right to affirm and celebrate your vulnerability!

With best wishes for the New Year,
Tatjana Gaspar

The need to let go … and start fresh

It is the year in which everyone is affected by the burden of letting go. We have had to let go of habits, beliefs, plans for the future and our supposed safety. To many of us it seems like a nightmare that we just want to wake up from. But it’s not a nightmare, it’s reality. The difference between nightmare and reality is that we can influence reality. For sure! And we are wide awake!

Why do we shy away from letting go? Maybe we feel pain in the face of separation. Or we fear that we are betraying everything that was important to us up to now. Maybe we feel powerless and paralyzed before the unknown. We rarely manage to see in the act of letting go a beneficial component, namely a chance. This chance is a creative process in which we are active and focussed participants and shapers. Our behavior as a whole is challenged and put to the test.

While we are letting go of something, we are already letting in something else.

We may start something new while the old continues to exist as an experience, a memory or a best practice. No separation. No betrayal. But instead, openness to new approaches and possibilities. Letting go is not the end, it is a beginning.

I am available to support you if you should lose courage in the meantime or if you want to gain the necessary distance when weighing your options. There is no reason to deny yourself a constructive, appreciative coaching session. But you can also give it away as a Christmas gift. I would be happy to send you a voucher.

I wish you a blessend and hopeful festive season and a powerful start into the New Year.

Yours, Tatjana Gaspar