Don’t think

A few weeks ago my recreational table tennis season had ended. Germans tend to say “Nach der Saison ist vor der Saison”. It means “After the season is before the season.” Off season is a great opportunity to get some practice in.

After a pause of 30 years, during the end of 2021, I had started to play again. The process comes with a lot of hickups and crossroads. I pretty much sucked after I starting again but am seeing progress. It’s both confusing and fun to notice how awkward certain movements feel. I guess that’s what learning can feel like. Recently I got a 1-1 training session in and realised, during certain sequences of hitting the ball, how much I’m thinking about proper movements on how to perform a shot. It results in movements that are much less fluid. What happens is for many of my shots I’m in the process of altering my technique. Why? Because a lot of my movements, which I learnt by myself when I started playing table tennis as a kid, simply don’t represent proper technique.

Throughout this process I got curious about the mental aspect of the game, too. Which is why I recently started reading the book Bounce: The myth of talent and the power of practice. On page 179 the author, Matthew Syed, writes: “The problem was not a lack of focus, but too much focus. Conscious monitoring had disrupted the smooth workings of the implicit system. The sequencing and timing of the different motor responses were fragmented, just as they would be with a novice. They were, effectively, beginners again.”

This perfectly sums up how I feel whilst trying to practicing the new shot techniques. I think about how to move my legs, my hip, my elbow, my hand and how to hold the racket. And in what exact sequence. When I pause I continue to think. If I executed the technique properly and what I need to adjust. Additionally, I’m listening to input from my coach.

OVERLOAD. Too many thoughts to process which prevent fluid movements. As soon as the training sequence is faster, which means more balls coming my way, I stop (over)thinking and just act intuitively. There is simply not enough time to think.

Lesson learnt. Don’t think. Just do.

Fomo vs. learning

Fomo, the Fear of missing out, is real, so is the desire to learn. Sometimes I overwhelm myself with the vast amount of things I keep adding to my lists: YouTube to watch video list, Goodreads to read book list, Podcast to listen episode list, Website to read page list, conference/trade shows/events to participate in list, boardgames to play list….

There are moments in which I recognise a sense of anxiety around the fact that I won’t make it through all of these, at least not in this life. Then there are moments in which I realise this is just a story I tell myself. There is no real need to get through all of these items. I can rejoice in the fact that there are so many opportunities for learning, for being playful and simply use them as the tools they are.

Thank you for reading. I wish you a playful week.

Create. Your. Own. Universe.

A new paradigm of management

We need a new paradigm of management, one where managers turn into leaders and change agents, managers who influence other people in a positive way. We live in a very interactive and fast paced world and we do not have the leadership and management models that work in an environment which is always changing. Our models work better for machines than for living beings. Nature is a good teacher for this, just observe how ants or termites organise themselves.

Table: Nature vs. Man made organizations

creativityDESIRED BEHAVIOURobedience
learningBIGGEST CHALLENGEexecution

Source: Handout from “Overview of Management“, a module during my business studies which was led by Margaret Wheatley

As problems grow increasingly more complex we as a human race do not seem to understand that we are all in this together. It leads me to wonder about cooperation vs. competition. Do there exist other ways of creating a positive future for ourselves and the generations that will come after us? Management´s role today seems so much broader than most of us are used to, it has a responsibility towards society, to be the engine of positive change.

Managers can only turn into leaders if they develop themselves in regards to the following three areas:

  1. Learning: we need to learn both individually and collectively, we need to learn more about ourselves and we need to improve our understanding of how we are all interconnected, in communities of learning the development is much deeper.
  1. Letting go: today’s manager’s biggest fear is the fear of not having success, of not being able to handle it anymore; managers have a huge responsibility, instead of getting stuck in their everyday work they should learn how to let go and use more of other people’s potential.

  2. Balance & Harmony: so much depends on this aspect, personal and professional life go hand in hand.