Words, emotions, perceptions

All these words we use and get so emotional about them. People get offended because they add their emotions, their perspective to the words said by others, but the speaker can have a completely different perception of the word.

We are judgemental and believe that our understanding is the only one and that everyone thinks like this. But this is not true. We all have different experiences, perceptions, and beliefs.

I heard so many times, after making a statement, someone asking: Is it good or bad; Is it right or wrong. There is right and wrong, good and bad in everything. IT depends on what we focus, what is our objective, our preference. The Yin and Yang sign shows it beautifully.


In 1975 I moved from Poland to London.  It was the time when political correctness was ramping the scenes.  Calling someone “black” was an offence. At that time many Polish people got to the court accused of racism and could not understand why. Why is calling someone black racist? It was not in Poland. In fact, referring to someone as black would if any bring sympathetic emotions.

I remember my first day at school in London. I was sitting alone in the common room looking for someone to connect, someone sympathetic and I saw this black guy on the other side of the room, he looked friendly. As I stood up to approach him, he started to move away so I shouted:

“Hey you black”. 

There was a sudden silence in the room, all eyes on me and someone said:

“I cannot believe you are so racist.”  I could not understand where did that come from and asked “why are you calling me racist?

“Because what you called him”

I was surprised and remembering what I just said I repeated:

“I called him back”

“I cannot believe she said it again” came from the room.

I still did not get it, what is their problem? And I said:

“It does not prove I am racist; it proves I am not blind”

There was an uproar. My mind was franticly trying to understand what is the connection between calling someone black and being a racist, finely I got it, they think that there is something wrong, bad in being black so I said:

“Calling someone black is racist, only in a racist society”

Everyone left the room except for Jim – the guy I was calling. Seems he was the only person in the room not offended by what I said and I was taking about him.

In Poland calling someone black was favourable, black hair, darker skin was uncommon and hence considered more attractive.

Competition or cooperation

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What is better? 

When in business we are thought to perceive other businesses as our competitors. Our models, theories all stress the importance of competition. In a business plan it is one of the most important section. But does it always have to be like that? 

Would the world look better with more focus on cooperation?

Competitors are a bit like an enemies, we view them as someone who will take from us: our clients, our profit. We want to outsmart them. They are the others. But is this true? Afterall we are serving the same purpose; we want to provide services to people. Why do we need to fight, why do we need to see each other are enemies? Wouldn’t it be better if we can work together, support each other, learn from each other? 

Abundance is another word used so often; have an abundance mindset, but wouldn’t abundance mindset tell us that there is enough for everyone? So why, talk about competitors? There is enough of service to provide for all of us.

What if we work together and see what can happens, at least at the start. Let’s not look at each other as enemies.

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I remember my first consulting job long time ago privatising Polish Shoe industry.

At that time, Spanish shoes just started to be known internationally and I had the privilege to meet the man who created this growth of shoe industry in Spain. 

His thinking was one of abundance, he asked other shoe manufactures in Spain: why do we compete with each other; the world is a big space, we can cooperate and extend our market. We can learn and teach each other, share our innovations, produce better products more efficiently, make Spanish shoes valued and desired by people all over the world. It is through this cooperation that Spanish footwear industry grew, become more profitable and know around the world. 

Such cooperation works based on the law of reciprocity; players that do not contribute are weeded out, just like in team sport you would not keep unperforming players on your team.

Coming to think about it, this is a very old idea – guilds associations of craftsmen and merchants in medieval times. We still admire them after all this time and throw away the new ones.

What I learned living on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

I was just 2 years old; few days after my birthday. This is my oldest memory. Its impact was so strong that I still see it, feel it.

I was travelling with my Mum and Dad from Amsterdam to Canada on the first jumbo jet. Mum told me that it is huge and I was so excited to see it. 

We flew from Warszawa to Amsterdam airport late at night. It was dark, rainy and windy, but I did not want to sleep; I wanted to se the jumbo jet and would not settle (you know how insistent a 2 year old can be). I must have been like that because a stewardess came to ask what is the problem. When she heard I want to see the jumbo jet, she took me to a window a bit further away behind the security ropes so I can have a good look and pointed it to me.  It was 1960 and the planes were parked far away from the airport building  (you had to take a bus to get to them).  

I strained my eyes to see through the darkness, heavy rain.  I finally did notice it (or maybe it was a lighting that shined some light into the darkness), but it was so tiny. I stated crying.  How could they lie to me: mum dad, friends, the stewardess, they told me it was big but it is tiny.  I got scared we might not even fit into it and if so we will have to lay on our backs the whole way, oh why did they lie to me, how can I trust anyone.

The next thing I remember was getting out of the bus to board the plane. To my surprise it grew, but I was told that it was that big all the time. It just looked small from the distance.  From this time I knew I cannot believe in what I see. 

This was how my travels over the Iron curtain in the midst of cold war began.  

So I stated to make sense of the world looking at both sides at the same time.  And what did I get?  Well what I heard in Canada about Poland was not true; and what I heard in Poland about Canada was also not true. Conclusion people do not know what they are talking about. There are always at least two sides of the story. 

On a funny side it was in Canada where I first saw a telephone and asked what it was; the answer I got was: “It is a device through which two people talk and at least two others are listening.”

I used to love hiding under the table when my parent had parties and listen to what the adults are talking about  

Hearing different even opposite view about the same thing I had to make sense of it how do I build a worldview in such situation? I looked at the wooden block on the floor they had letter on one side and animals on the other. The guests in my home where talking about one side but the radio and TV were talking about another side; there are always other sides.  

This stayed with me for life.  I never accept I know something, if I do not hear the opposite view.  And then I will still be looking for yet a different side. I have no problems accepting that there is a bit of truth in all perspectives.  

So from my perspective, there is no absolute truth or absolute lie, no absolute right or wrong.  In all the statements I herd, I could find both (or is it just me trained to look for it to keep my sanity)

Grateful for All that is

I remember going for lunch in Sydney. Near Martin Place there is this small lane between old buildings with birdcages spanning across the street. You can hear the birds chirping there and many tourists stop here to listen to the birds that used to be live here. 

I had lunch there at a Chinese restaurant (they server beautiful food there). I felt relaxed, fulfilled, peaceful and while enjoying the whole experience I entered into a state of gratitude for: the food, the sound, the sun, the beauty of this place, 

And I thought who contributed; made sacrifice for me to a be able to enjoy this moment.

The birds did – they are not here any more what I hear is just a recording. There must have been plants here they are gone, animals, aboriginal people they all lived here but had to leave so I can enjoy my time here now.

Someone had to clear this place, most likely the convicts, design it, build, fund and mange the creation of this city. They all had to be fed, get medical attention, trained and educated, transported to work, someone had to grow the food and prepare the meals and I am sure many more people were involved too.  They all had to be born (mothers, midwives) and taken care of (carers doctors teachers). They all contributed for the creation of this place that brings me so much pleasure now.

And now the place is clean (cleaners), chef made my meal, waiter brought it, who created the recipe and what about the chicken that gave up its life and the veggies that I consume: they all made sacrifice so I can enjoy this meal.

For me it is an obvious truth that we are all connected and we all live in an interrelationship/interdependency.  How come so many people do not see it; for me it is obvious.  The air we breathe is the same, we are connected through it; the water we drink. (I read that it is with probability of 1 that every one of us drunk at least one drop of water that passed through a dinosaur’s urinary track) The food we eat (all the life in the soil that is required for us to eat good food). When you look at something I enjoy, I think of what, who, contributed so I can enjoy it.

Why I was so grateful my parents were not like God

My parents were not that religious and did not see a need to teach me what bible says. My grandma did.  

I remember when she told me the story about Adam and Eve.  This is how it went: 

Adam and Eve lived in Eden, a beautiful place where they had everything they wanted. It was provided by God, who told them they can enjoy this place and live in eternal happiness under one condition; they could not eat an apple from the special tree.  But they did not listen, did not comply and ate one apple. God got very angry with them and threw them out of Eden.   

I was horrified and thought I was so lucky my parents were not like God.  Just yesterday, I ate a cookie that my parent told me I should not eat before dinner , but I did.  If they were like God they would throw me out of the house and were would I go? What would I do? I was just 7 years old.

Another time I heard about Abraham and how God asked him to kill his child. That was really scary to me: what if my parents where like God and decided that killing children is a good idea?

Next time I heard that God was so loving that he decided to torture his own son to death to show his great love. Again I was so grateful that my parents were not like God. What if they decided to show their love by torturing their own child? 

My Granddad’s Funeral

I remember when my grandfather died. It was 31 December 1970. I was 10-11 at that time.

I remember the whole family gather in his home all uncles, aunties, cousins; some of whom I never met before. We had strong family ties. Everybody was crying, but I could not understand why. Grandpa wanted to die; he prepared everything for his death. At the beginning of the year he stated that he is going to die this year. He asked the close family to come together for Easter, as this will be the last Easter with him. He distributed all his wealth between his children and grandchildren. I remember I got 1,000 zloty and bought myself a hand bag and an alarm clock.

During summer as every year I spent about two weeks on the farm with my dad. My granddad asked my dad to help him build his grave. My dad did not want to do it he said “he will not build a grave for his living father”, but after my granddad started to do it by himself, my dad did help him (he was the only son). Granddad was feeling good all this time and asked every one to come for Christmas.

It was a joyful Christmas everyone was feeling great . We accepted that granddad is talking about his death. After all we heard it for nearly a year and we did not take it seriously, he was feeling great, no symptoms of any illness or weakness.

After Christmas we went back to Warszawa. On the 30rd of December we got a call that granddad is in hospital and we went to Plock and stayed at my auntie’s place. Granddad passed away at 4 am on 31st. I remember it well. During the night I woke up and saw my cousin and she told me that granddad passed away on 4 am. I am a heavy sleeper and just turn around and fell back to sleep.

In the morning and when I went down to the kitchen, everyone was crying and my cousin told me that grandpa passed away. I said “I know. You woke me up to tell me that he died at 4 am.” Every one was shocked; they did not know what time he died. We learned later that it was at 4 am. How did I know? I don’t know.

Granddad’s body was then displayed at home, people were crying; but I could not understand why. He did want to die, this was his wish, why should I cry because my grandfather’s wishes were fulfilled. I thought it was selfish, why deny him his wish.

I went for a walk around the farm. I remembered doing this walk with him . He was telling me about the farm and land or we just walk. It is at that moment that I felt sad, realising that we will not be having these walk together ever again and a tear came to my eyes, but overall I was peaceful and felt love ,his love.

I could never understand why people who believe in God and heaven are so scared of death? Shouldn’t they actually look forward to death; meeting their creator, spending time in heaven for eternity.

My question is Why Why Why

I look at the world in amasment and ask WHY.

I do not understand why people behave like that. Are there other people who feel like me? Walking down the streets, feeling like an alien. This World makes no sense to me. I constantly ask: why? why? why? what is going in this crazy place. It is like the move “The gods must be crazy”.

I go down the city streets during business hours and see people all dressed in black or dark suits; no colour it looks like a huge funeral; where did the fun and happiness go?

It was shocking to me to find out that as hunters gatherers we only had to work 2-3 hours a days. Where is the benefit of this civilisation?

Everyone runs around being busy. Busy? What are you doing and most importantly why, why? It is like the whole world is taken by this disease of having to be busy. And what are you doing that is so important? Is there something to be proud of; over the past few hundred years we just kept on destroying the world around us.

is this the disease of having to be important, getting something. what is it?

I can see this world running into a disaster I do not know what to do. Should I let it happen? I should I try to stop it; by how to stop it?

questions we ask

I hear people asking questions and think you are asking the wrong person.

I saw a big sign on a Jewish school “Why do Arabs Hate us?”  If you want to know the answer to a question Why does someone hate me?; ask yourself the same question :Why do you hate them? We perceive the world in our image you think others hate you well make an internal inquiry maybe it is you that hates others.

How can you be certain about other people ‘s Why? Isn’t it more important to know your own Why?

Another question

I went to a “wealth presentation” where the presenter asked this question “Can you count on your kids to provide for you at retirement”?

Again this is not your question; your question is “Would you provide for your parents retirement?” This is what you have control of. Only after you answer this question you can start contemplating the other.

The first one is not your question; it is not you that needs to answer; it is your kids.  I have a big suspicion that their answer will be very similar to yours.  If you are absolutely sure that you will take care of your parents; why would you doubt that your kids will do the same for you.

If you are not prepared to take care of your parents; why should your kids take care of you?  What values did you teach them?  Taking care of parents is obviously not one of them.

Power of Respect and Expectations

Here are two stories that  I would like to share the stories.  Stories that shaped who I am and influenced my way of looking at this strange world.

I remember my first job.  I was a teacher in a very rough area and had difficulties in crowd control. The kids would misbehave  walk around the classroom be noisy. I  spoke about my problems in the staff room and the other teachers  said that  some kids especially in this area are basically uncontrollable.  They mentioned  Robert (a 14 year old ) from class 8 B who they said was the worst, very disrespectful,  rude, who would disrupt the whole class.   I was surprised because for me this was the best behaved class and I could not remember anyone being disruptive.  The consensus was that most probably he was not in the class when I was teaching there.  Next time I went to class 8B I was observing the class very carefully.  Again they were well behaved.  I noticed that I had a helper.  There was this boy at the back who would bring to order anyone that would try to misbehave.  That was Robert.  I was shocked.  I shared it in the staff room.  The teachers came to just one explanation: he fell in love with me.  I did not buy it.  Not because I though it was impossible (I was in my early 20ties and looked like a teenager) but because one can see whether some is in love with you or not.

Next time after the lesson I asked Robert to stay behind because I want to ask him just one question.  I told him that in the staff room all the teachers complain about his behaviour, however on my lessons he is basically perfect.  There is absolutely nothing I can say against him. WHY?

He looked at me with his cold eyes and said: Because you are the only person in my life that said please and thank you to me. As he finished he left and I stayed there speechless.  How little is needed to change someone’s attitude; just few kind words. Yet we do it so rarely.   I made my decision I will treat everyone with respect and kindness to bring out the good in them.

I also remembered the first day in that class.  I walked into the class room and Robert was standing on a desk near the window.  It was hot and stuffy in the room.  I said to him You look like a helpful guy, as you are standing up could you please open the window it is a bit stuffy here.  He hesitated for a while and opened the window.  I said thank you very mush. You are very kind.  And that was it.

It just reminded me another story.  My friend lived in another “bad” rough neighbourhood.  The local youth gang would rule the street after dark and other people were scared to go out. She was always trying to get home early but one night she did not make it.  It was late and dark as she got of the bus.  How was she going to walk home safely. She looked around leaving the bus and on the other side of the street was the gang with their leader, well known in the neighbourhood.  She said she does not know why she did what she did, it was instinctive. She walk straight  up to the leader and said. Excuse me sir, but this is such a rough area  and I am scared to go home.  Would you be kind enough to walk me there.  I do not live very far. He looked at her a bit strangely  and said OK.  As they walk the whole gang followed them. They exchanged just few words on the way.  In front of her house she thanked him and the other for their trouble.  As they turned to walk away the leader said. Do not fear anything in this area.  If anyone troubles you just say that you know “….” And he gave her his code name.