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What do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

What do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

Some two years ago I came across this profound poem of Dale Wimbrow that contains a life lesson for young and old.

The Guy in the Glass, by Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,

And the world makes you King for a day,

Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,

Who judgement upon you must pass.

The feller whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,

For he's with you clear up to the end,

And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test

If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,

And think you're a wonderful guy,

But the man in the glass says you're only a bum

If you can't look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,

And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be heartaches and tears

If you've cheated the guy in the glass.


So why is this an ideal moment?

Well, for the readers who read regularly, they may have noticed that I got into a bit of bitcoin and blockchain investing lately. It is a very, very exciting endeavor with huge potential. It is history being written with me right in the middle. Have you ever caught yourself thinking, while watching clips, movies or documentaries, or reading texts or books about historical moments… “God damn, I’d wish I’d witnessed that!!”. Muhammad Ali’s rise and prime for example. Or Abraham Lincoln ending slavery. World War II!! Well, maybe not WWII, but you get the point I guess. I, at least, catch myself thinking that a lot!

I believe Blockchain is such a point in history. So I am very, VERY enthusiastic about it. And when I am enthusiastic about something, I want to share it with as much as people as possible. I (just like Michel) am all for change and progress, how can I not share that with others? I can confidently say that I am wired like that. The only extra, and with that, the extra problem with cryptocurrency (Bitcoin and all the other alternative coins, or altcoins) is that there is money involved. And I’ve noticed, that when there is money involved people get kind of wary.

Multiple people have asked me if I work for bitcoin, some jokingly, other more seriously. So I started wondering, why are they saying that?? Am I doing something wrong? Maybe I shouldn’t do this…

The Guy in the Glass

And at some point I remembered this poem, The Guy in the Glass. As long as we are able to look ourselves in the eyes when we wake up in the morning and go back to bed at night, we should not worry too much about the judgments of others. (This is not true for psychopaths, by the way)

Like I said, I am hardwired to help other people. It’s why I have been a teacher, it’s why I chose psychology, it’s why I am writing this blog, and it is why I am sharing stuff I am enthusiastic about over-enthusiastically! I did this too when meditation just came up for example. Only there is no latent potential, tangible benefit for me when sharing that, so the only comment I got at the moment was: “I can see you ending up at a mountain all alone with some goats” (only to hear from the same guy a year later that he is considering taking a course). I would love a place in the mountains though!

We’re all judges

To conclude, people will always make judgments. Talking about being hardwired, people are hardwired to judge (except monks). Me too, way more than I would like to. I catch myself judging the shit out of everything when I’m walking the streets (although it’s less when I meditate regularly, YOU SHOULD TRY IT, IT’S AWESOME…).

But if you think about it, judgments often times say more about the (casual) judge then about the judgee.

So with all the things you do, however crazy or outrageous or pretentious they might look to others, if you’re able to look yourself in the eyes in the glass, without remorse..?

Keep Calm and Carry On

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Face your Fear – It is no longer relevant

Face your Fear – It is no longer relevant

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”

–Judy Blume

On this website Danny and I talk a lot about achieving goals, results, goals, and going from where you are to where you want to be. Even more about overcoming struggles and obstacles, psychological imperfections and self-awareness. We try to share our experience on our journey, and hopefully you get something out of it.

What I notice in reactions to the blogs, talking to people, my own experience, and reading books about the topics, is that the one thing that is stopping people from doing something and thus achieving results, being successful, growing into a better you, or being happy, is FEAR. In this article I take a look at fear and why it is no longer relevant.

I read a book once by Steve Peters, the Chimp Paradox. In this book a theory is proposed of our brain having two parts, a rational part and an emotional part. The rational part is usually the one you think you use, but the emotional part has a much larger influence on you and your decisions than you might realize. The main thing I take out of it, is that the emotional or Chimp brain is in survival mode. And that it is not helping us in most modern day situations.

This survival brain has one job, to keep you safe and make sure you are reproducing your species. This of course very relevant in the hunter-gatherer days of the human species in which we spent more than 100.000 years (!). Don’t underestimate our hardwired survival brain. But nowadays this survival brain is mostly overreacting. Like thinking you are going to die, when you get a paper cut. Chill the fuck out. We are spoilt. We can get food ready-made at every corner, we drink water from the tap. We sleep in weatherproof housing. Because of technology and organization we are at the top of the food chain and have nothing to fear, but ourselves.

And that’s the whole point. We still fear stuff. Stuff we think are as real as a sabre tooth tiger jumping out of the trees, but are actually self-constructed thoughts. And that’s so unnecessary and sad with regards to achieving your own greatness or making the world a better place.

Let’s go into some tips I learned about facing fear and preparing yourself for it.


When you are confronted with fear, don’t overreact. Get your shit together, breathe and stay calm. Take a Buddhist approach, and be in this moment. What exactly is happening at this specific moment. And what is a construct of your future projection of what might happen? Take a few deep breaths. If you have the time, step out of the moment and go outside, or do something else.

Every time when I experience a stressful moment on the job, I regain myself by focusing on the now. Literally taking some deep breaths helps a lot. Getting myself outdoors, or taking a walk. Simple things that clear the mind. It works.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

–Dale Carnegie

Remember your goal

When faced with a fear ask yourself, what do you really, really want? Why do it? What would your future-self think in this moment? What does your heart tell you?

Remembering your goals is a very powerful way to stay on track. When I have something on my mind, I remind myself constantly why I do it. If I will quit I know that my future me will regret it. And I don’t want to let myself down.

Grow up

A question that I got from the book The Chimp Paradox you can ask yourself is: “What would your grown up version do?” We all have some idea of what an uber wise, and calm grown-up would do in the face of fear. But doing it is another thing. Explicitly remind yourself, what would a wise grown-up do? This usually is enough to stop whining about the troubles ahead, to go ahead and be strong is face of resistance. Or to stop torturing yourself over the past, and focus on constructive ways to advance in the moment.

Get to know your fear 

Maybe you’ve encountered the fear a couple of times before. You might have an idea where it is coming from. Learn about your fear. What’s at the core? Why are you feeling the emotions connected with fear? The more you know about the root of your fear, the more you can do about it.

When I started a new company, I had some fears about if people would like it or not. This is at all not irrational if you are selling things to the same people. But when I realized the fear had more to do with the fear of public failing, I knew that I had to do it. Living with the fear of failing publicly is NOT what I want for myself. I am stronger than that. So I moved on.

The worst thing

What’s the worst thing that can happen? We don’t need to worry about food and water, large predators or life and death. At least in most civilized parts of the world. So what can happen if you face your fear?

Are you afraid to have no money? Guess what, most rich people are self-made, and had little money to start with. You can always start all over again, it’s not the end. Are you afraid of what others might think? Don’t worry about that. Globalization and access to the digital network will guarantee a place for everyone. No matter how crazy your niche, you will find folks that are like you.

So now you can remember yourself when facing fears to help you forward. Of course you can train yourself to be better and faster in overcoming fears. These are things I know help in preparing for fear.

Go extreme

Purposefully expand your limit. Do stuff that scares you! If you are afraid of heights, go high. If you are afraid of public speaking, speak. If you are afraid of being alone, travel abroad by yourself. The more things you do, the stronger you will be. And the less susceptible to fear.

Talk about it

Acknowledging that you have a certain block is the first step. Talk to people about how they got where you want to be. They probably had their fears as well. How did they cope? What can you learn from it?


Train your rational brain. Read books. Learn about how the world works, how your brain works, and about the subjects relative to your dreams and goals. Get the truth out. Use data and probabilities. Many people are afraid of dying from a terrorist attack, but get into their car without thinking. The actual probability to get killed in a car accident is much higher than a terrorist attack. The same thing with your own fears. Afraid of what your friends might think? Have you talked to them about it? And if they still don’t approve, is it so hard to find new friends? No.

Write it down

Confront yourself with your fears, your goals and dreams. Write empowering words, and read them to yourself. You can use them every day to prime yourself into a state of behavior. You might say to yourself that you are already successful in business, or you are already a very fit and professional athlete. If you say it to yourself, you will act like it. If you act like it, you will become it.


“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”

–Marilyn Monroe


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Doing Shit When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Shit

Doing Shit When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Shit

consistency – the quality of always behaving or performing in a similar way, or of always happening in a similar way

Consistency, ladies and gentlemen. It’s the twin-sister of durability, of discipline, of persistence, of grit. Their mother Conscientiousness and father Steadfastness did an awesome job. I’ll use them interchangeably here. Why am I writing about this? The reason is two-fold.

The first reason is that I had this subject written down in my subject list for this magnificent blog for a while now. I am convinced that consistency is a much better predictor of achieving what you want in life than intelligence is. Intelligence without a certain amount of action is, of course, useless. There always has to be some form of action to produce something. And of course, I’m not telling anything new here. I think we all know that guy who invented, among some other things, the quote: “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration”.

Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration ~ T. Edison

A great example is a girl I had in my class when I went to university (for the first time). She had two diploma’s already! She climbed up the education ladder to get to university. And with all due respect to her, but she wasn’t the smartest of the bunch. But the point of this article is that exactly that doesn’t matter! She worked her ass off and to be honest, she kicked mine!

Consistency in action
He looks quite consistent…

The second, and most important, reason is the fact that I’m without inspiration the whole week already (although I have a huge subject list ready for use). And without inspiration, motivation lacks too. Without motivation, it is hard to be prolific. To be prolific, you have to be consistent. The circle is complete.

It sucks to be without inspiration! But it happens. And if you want to reach a certain goal, especially if they’re a bit bigger, you’ll have to deal with it. I think the magic trick is to search for a drop of consistency in your body somewhere in the very moment of shortage of inspiration and motivation, and just start, see where it goes. Or maybe the other way around, maybe you’re able to find a drop of inspiration to get on that consistency track again. Josh Waitzkin (author of The Art of Learning) once stated that “growth comes at the point of resistance“. This is such a point.

If you don’t feel like running, go run. If you don’t feel like practicing your violin, go practice. If you don’t feel like completing your assignment, go complete it. If you don’t feel like writing, go and write. Growth comes at the point of resistance.

Timeless wisdom

SO!! Now comes the part where I share my timeless wisdom with the world, so that it can be a better place and flourish forever and eventually there will be world peace. So listen closely. I think there are two sorts of categories to keep your consistency. Let’s call them ‘fast carbs’ and ‘slow carbs’. Fast carbs are a quick fix, slow carbs are in there for the long run, just like with real carbs (what a coincidence). Here’s a short, non-exhaustive list

  • Fast carbs
    • Quotes. Quotes might be cheesy, or cliche. But oftentimes they come from very smart and/or cunning people who have some serious thinking power or a treasure full of experience. It’s the smallest summary of knowledge you can get.
    • (Parts of) Speeches. See previous, only a bit less byte-sized.
    • Excercise. Do 50 jumping jacks, or 20 push ups, or sit-ups. Whatever makes you happy! You’d be surprised how much difference 2 minutes can make.
    • Music. This worked when I didn’t want to go out ten years ago and people wanted to persuade me. Maybe you can use it for something that’s actually useful… (Sports for example?)
    • Just do the first 5 minutes.
CARBS! Source: The Rock/Twitter
Source: The Rock/Twitter
  • Slow carbs
    • A goal. If you have a goal that really, REALLY, resonates with you. A goal you really believe in. One you want to achieve no matter what. (This one might not come as a surprise).
    • Accountability. The good old “stick behind the door”, as we say in our precious Holland. The responsibility you have towards others serves as a propeller as well. Thanks Michel! And thank you too, thousands of potential readers!
    • Pat on your back. Celebrate your wins. Reflect in the morning on the things you’re happy you did the day before. (CAVEAT: a hint of consistency is needed to be able to apply this, could evolve into a virtuous circle though)

I’m off for a run… Don’t feel like it at all though! Cheers!


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When Someone Says ‘No You Can’t’

When Someone Says ‘No You Can’t’

I had a conversation with Danny yesterday, and as usual we had lots of things to discuss. In the last blog Danny talked about his path, and how he goes about it. One thing that crossed my mind was the reason why I eventually started to work as an entrepreneur, and why I jumped on the path I knew was right for me. I think it is something that maybe more of you can relate to, and could use as well.

Somewhere around 2011 or so, I finished my studies at the University. I learned a lot, but was definitively still a rookie. I knew that perfectly well. I was always interested in entrepreneurship, and knew I would end up on that path one way or another. I wanted to have my own business, but had no idea in what. I had no particular skills (as far as I thought could be monetized), and zero experience in the business world. So I did what any rookie does, find a job.

After some searching I went to a job market and got a job at an employment agency. I had to place technical guys on projects in technical companies. Not particularly my thing, but I saw it as a great way to learn sales skills. And sales skills are quintessential skills for entrepreneurship. So I got into it. And did the work.

But after 2 months I started to have doubts. It was my first ‘real’ job and I didn’t know if I would see myself do this for any longer. I was under a lot of pressure, but I learned and worked to the best of my abilities. But there was an inner resentment to the work, the place, the whole thing. I still don’t exactly know what it was. But I was unsure about continuing the job.

The company I worked with had set up individual coaching for every employee. So when I had my first meeting with my assigned coach I addressed my feeling. I didn’t feel in place, but I thought I needed this. For I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was asked what I wanted to be. And where I’d see myself in a couple of years. I told the coach I wanted to be an entrepreneur. She looked at the notes, my assessment, and quite quickly told me I wasn’t ready for that. She told it with such an uninterested voice, and with a flow that read something like ‘you can’t do that’.

I remember this sentence very well. I felt this burning in my torso. How dare she say that to me. You don’t know me. You can’t tell me what I can and cannot do. You definitively can’t tell me what I am capable of. At this moment it hit me. If I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I needed to be one. If you want to be a basketball player, you need to play basketball. If you want to be a pilot, get yourself in a cockpit. If you want to travel the world, stop dreaming, and book a ticket. You have to believe and act like the person you want to become.

I quit my job after 4 months. I traveled a bit, and started my own business. The rest is history. At first I was upset about the fact this ‘professional’ coach told me I wasn’t ready. But later I thanked her. I am grateful for the situation, the path. I am grateful for these explicit, direct words. It was exactly what I needed. It was the slap in the face, the breaking of the chain, or the spark to my fire that lit me up. It released me of the fear for the start. And now I had the extra willpower to show her and all others to show I could.

“If I would have listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodeling.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger –

So my question to you is; Are you happy where you are now? Are you on the path you want to be on? Is there something you really want to do, but aren’t doing? Do you have people telling you, you can’t do something, or aren’t ready?

Let us know…


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The Struggle is Real – Societal Expectations

The Struggle is Real – Societal Expectations

Hi Magnanimites,

I’m facing a big decision. A decision that will have a profound impact on how (a big part of) the rest of my life will look like. It’s a decision that doesn’t have a single best answer, and so it is worth spending a little more time than average with the matter (and luckily I’m starting to think about it way before the deadline. Thinking ahead is a virtue). Maybe it’s not just a decision, but rather a dilemma. When I answer the question
will this bring me closer to my objective in life“, the answer is yes to a plurality of possible decisions.

What will I do after my BSc. in Psychology?

The immediate environment

What’s more important at this point to me however is another aspect of this challenge. I wrote an article about the Art of not giving a F@#$. It turns out it is quite hard to do that, especially when you’re on a road less traveled. And I can confidently label my path a less traveled one. A few weeks away from my 30th birthday, a student at university, happy as a child when I meet someone who is 25! The single fact that I almost don’t get to meet people of my own age in the environment I mostly reside is proof that the path I have chosen is quite a ‘lonely’ one.

The other factor to that, and quite a powerful one as well, is my ‘historical’ environment. My long time, same-age-friends have almost all chosen a more common path. They’re all doing great! A great girlfriend (in which area, I must say, I am the luckiest one, hehe), a great job with even greater perspective, their own place called home, babies are starting to pop up here and there. I have 3 or 4 marriages on the agenda the coming year for christ’s, mohammad’s and/or buddha’s sake!

And god damn I’m proud of them all. I am happy for them, I’m blessed to have them as my friends and for me they’re indispensible and irreplacable and I’ll do my best to let them know. There you are guys, you know who you are.

Talking and listening to them also gives me that feeling of… “For f@#!’s sake, I want that too!”. BUT… I want it at my terms. And these terms are not yet all fulfilled. So that longing to have that as well, I conclude, must come from these societal expectations and norms. Yet they are inherently artificial. Or is there someone reading this that can substantiate why we’re expected to live by this template? Interesting discussion.

Rat race?

Anyways, life is not a race, but that’s hard to realize when others are ‘in front‘. The road less traveled is quite bumpy at times. You’re tested on multiple levels, especially on the social one. Society has certain expectations, after high school you go and get a degree, get a girlfriend/boyfriend in the meanwhile, get a job, live together, marry and have kids (in whatever order), and then live your kids life, instead of your own. Of course it’s not as rigid as I’m painting the picture, but grosso modo these are the steps considered a normal path.

Societal expectations

The more and the longer you stay off that path, the more people begin to worry and the more they start asking questions. Of course it’s all well-meant, but this element partly is what makes life feel like a race at certain points. This is where it get’s cloudy at the intersection of what I want and what society expects. On the other hand I must admit that I also get a lot of respect from people for the fact that I dared to make the choice and choose this path. Thank you for that open-mindedness.

Now what..?

The most important thing for me at this point, is that I don’t get paralyzed by moments that require decisions such as these. So how do I plan to go about this?

  • Case studies
    • I will be looking at what other people did in a similar situation, preferably people in my own network. This will get me various perspectives, ideas and inspiration.
    • One get-together has already pointed me to the idea of consulting with companies for example, and have some orientating chat’s. (Thanks Frank!)
    • Another friend gave me a total opposite idea. How’s that for different perspectives!
  • Literature study
    • Are there any reliable texts and/or books on this problem.
  • Consult with friends
    • And of course I consult with my earlier named friends. People who have my interest as much at heart as I do myself in this case.

What works for me

These three bullet-points are all about getting new insights, new perspectives, new knowledge about what might work and what might not. The most important thing however, is that I choose something that not only works, but works for me! That is the hard part, this is how I plan to do that:

  • Try to be fully aware of what my body and heart tells me, and not my head
    • Your head is your conscious awareness, simply put. It’s exactly that part that is influenced by the outside world the most in a situation like this. I have to try and find the subconscious desires and drives (more about this difference in a later post, it’s powerful!). And I believe the way to do that is to go deep. How? That’s the question. My guesses:
      • meditation
      • intuition
      • (emotional) reflexes

Knowledge is potential power. Gain knowledge, do something with it, proceed.


I already mentioned that there is not just a single answer to my question. In psychodynamics there is this concept of equifinality, which means that more roads can lead to the same outcome. That is the feeling I have here as well. Then again, I think some roads will lead to more opportunities besides just the desired outcome at this moment. This is where systems thinking comes in. A way of thinking that is essential with challenges like these.


I’m not looking for pity. I’m sharing and structuring my thoughts on life defining situations we all face, in one way or another. The question is, how do we deal with it?? I’d say, grab the bull by the horns and look for the best possible outcome. The worst thing you can do is walk away and choose the easiest route. I’m afraid that happens more than we could wish for, and we all know at least someone who chose this way. This is where Michel’s question comes in handy again. Although this question doesn’t give me a definite answer, it sure does discard some easy ones.

To be continued…


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Breathe and stay calm

Breathe and stay calm

Ever since I got involved in some business projects more than a year ago, every day I have experienced an increase in pressure. More things to do. More things that really need to be done. More things that really need to be done, now.

I always had a knack for challenges, and this is no different. But other than sports, this shows up every day, all day long. I need to remain calm.

When in stress, which I am apparently not immune to, I always think about this quote I came across:


“Nothing gives a person so much advantage as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

-Thomas Jefferson-



Every now and then stress pays me a visit, and I need to handle it. I either release the energy with doing something completely different (sport, reading, meditating) or I take it head on, and solve the issues. Anyhow, the only productive mode is a calm and actionable mode.

So that’s the way to roll. Always.


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Why do we Endure? Perseverance and Grit

Why do we Endure? Perseverance and Grit

“History is written by the victors.”

Winston Churchill

The past months I’ve seen a lot of roads, airports, and hotel rooms. I am almost regarding Germany as my second home after putting in a solid 12.000 km last three months. I have to skip sleeping, down time, and my BJJ classes. All things I’d rather not, but I made a conscious decision.

I made a decision to go full steam ahead for a business I am helping to build. We install pineapple-cutting machines in supermarkets, and the business is getting more and more traction. The whole operation rests on a small team, and I am (literally) flying all over the place to fix, promote, and sell. I am not even getting paid that much, especially if you consider the hours I put in. I need to have broad shoulders to carry all the responsibility and deal with the pressure. Without sales, the company will not lift off. My job; get it off the ground, no matter what. Use your business school background and your entrepreneurial spirit to get it done.

Why do I do it?

A question I sometimes ask myself when after a tough weekend promoting our machine at an event, without any sale.

Why not just quit?

When I am really having a hard time I might think this, especially when I have to pass on the BJJ class a second time on a row or leave the evening for work again.

Why put yourself through all this?

Cutting back on sleep is kryptonite to me, and I feel less energetic. And knowing that my girlfriend hears me getting out of bed to get in the car at 5 in the morning, and being away from home until the next evening makes me a bit sad.

Why you ask? The power of perseverance or grit.


“continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition: the action or condition or an instance of persevering: steadfastness”


“firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger managed to survive by his grit and guile”

When I was young I had some talents. I had some interests. And I had some goals. I also didn’t really go all in. I just kind of did this, and kind of did that. I don’t feel sorry, I have done a lot of cool things, and will keep doing them. But there’s missing this one thing. This big achievement. Something that puts me to the ultimate test. A thing that will push me down, again and again. This thing that is unforgiving, doesn’t care if I have talent, interests, or goal. This thing will kick me when I’m down and under, but will give me the ultimate reward when I persist and endure. This business venture is that thing.

I remember this quote:

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.”

– Josh Billings

It’s kind of stupid, but it really captures the feeling I have writing this article. There is something magical about holding on to something. Going further than others are willing to go. Working harder than you actually think is possible. Doing more and dreaming bigger than you ever did. Read a book about people that achieved something, and you will learn they persisted, and showed grit in times of trouble. Nothing worth having comes easy. So the message to myself every single day is, persevere.


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From Lost Boy to Purpose Driven – Creating Self-Awareness

From Lost Boy to Purpose Driven – Creating Self-Awareness


having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions

The following phrases are actual statements different people told me multiple times, be it in different wording.

  • My job is great actually. Even the pay is fine! But it’s just not for me…
  • I hate my job! “So why do you stay?”, I ask. What else should I do?!
  • I keep ending up with these wrong type of guys
  • This is my third education, but it’s still not what I’m looking for
  • Dan, how’d you advise me to get a sense of direction..??
  • etc..


Imagine being eighteen and having the idea that you have to choose the direction of the rest of your life. You choose to attend university to become a high school teacher. In the third year you think: “what on earth am I doing here?!”. You’re about to quit, but you get offered a job as a teacher. You take it because you’ll make money, and because it’s “not that bad” (and because you are 21 years old). Of course your motivation is so low that you don’t make it to the finish line and you take another direction. You start a business with a friend in an utterly commercial sector which strands for certain reasons. Then you’re 25 and standing clueless in a retail store for a while. Diagnosis: Self-Awareness-Lack-itis.

Without a Root, There’s no Grip

Self-awareness is the necessary root for the right direction. It’s the little brother/sister of self-knowledge, and they go hand in hand. Respectively they’re the what and the why of your feelings, thoughts, emotions and actions. Together, these elements determine where you are and where you will be in life.

Self-Awareness, together with self-knowledge, will provide you with a grip on your life. Control. Control might have a freakish connotation about it. But paradoxically enough, control leads to freedom. Two fundamental needs of our human species. The freedom to choose, the freedom to have an own opinion, the freedom to execute on your ideas. Personal control, inherently, is a premise to these propositions.

Answering the Questions Asked

Now let’s address the questions we started of with. What exactly can, and in my opinion, should you do to become more self-aware.

  1. Meditate!

This one is by far, by miles distance, the best place to start and the biggest shortcut. To become self-aware, you have to be mindful of the things you do (or don’t do), think and feel. Meditation is about observing the contents and the qualities of your consciousness, which are the senses plus the thoughts and emotions. Meditating is for the mind, what sports is for the muscles. The more you train, the stronger it gets. Your awareness in general will expand, which is a life changing event in itself. I’ll stop myself from listing the other benefits science has ‘discovered’, millennia after the far east monks had empirically tested this already.

for Self-Awareness

  1. Ask the right questions

The last question in the introduction was asked me by a colleague a few years ago. The answer I gave him, I’d still give today. They seem so simple, yet they are fundamental. Just as the questions asked are fundamental questions. And the questions posed here connect seamlessly with Michel’s most important question. (Any questions?)

  1. What makes you happy? What daily events put a smile on your face?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. How can I make a money with this? How can I arrange my life so that my priorities will be in the foreground?

Answering these questions isn’t a matter of minutes. So don’t expect to answer them in a jiffy. To answer these questions you’ll need to prioritze them and be mindful (#1) of the answers daily life gives you. Also answer the opposite of questions a & b. Don’t underestimate it, and use #3!

  1. Write. Shit. Down.

In an older post I’ve already written about the con artist living in our skull. Some people are blessed with a memory like a vault. I only know a few of them. Good thing is, it is 2017. From 5 to 85 years old, everyone walks around with an external hard disk in his pocket. I’m in love with Evernote, but there are plenty of other ‘note’able apps (pun intended) that will improve your memory and creativity.

Be mindful, notice what makes you happy, and write down how you can build your life around it and monetize it (you have to eat after all).

  1. Read

Another phenomenon that I underestimated for the biggest part of my life. Reading the right books will give you perspectives you’ve otherwise would never get. It will give you new insights. It’ll take you to places you’ve never been, and it’ll teach you about yourself in a way that other people wouldn’t be able to.

We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too

  1. Life is an experiment

This is how I look at life. And it’s actually quite a scientific way to look at it. You have to try to prove or disprove your hypotheses, your assumptions, beliefs. This leaves room for mistakes, which supports the idea of freedom. Basically you have to be ready to get high fived. In the face. With a chair. Preferably not by the Hulk, but it’s a possibility! It’s not the end though. That’s freedom.

for self-awareness

Good things don’t come easy. Absent self-awareness will not appear on it’s own. So you have to give it some effort. If you’re not prepared to put in a few minutes of your day, to determine the course of the rest of your life, then this post is not for you. And on top of that, you’re breaking our heart. Now you wouldn’t want that, would you?!

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The Most Powerful Question You Can Ask Yourself

The Most Powerful Question You Can Ask Yourself

“All men of action are dreamers.”

James Huneker

The sun finally breaks through the hazy clouds. It’s a refreshing sight and puts a warm layer on the rough nature around us. We are walking on the Veluwe, a national park in the Netherlands. Together with my family and girlfriend, I am enjoying the mostly untouched nature of this place. One of my nieces is dragging along a tree branch she intends to use for something artsy. We all know she’ll drop it halfway, and she did.

But it is fun to see what make children decide on something and act. There is no or little restriction. There is no long process between idea and execution. There is also little planning involved, but that’s accepted and trained. What I found most appealing to this observation, and why I take it into this post is the questions we ask ourselves about what we do.

We say we want to be someone, reach something, or go down a different path. We have dreams, and we have options. But people are creatures of habit and often there is a too much room between idea and execution. There are restrictions and limitations. There’s no time. There’s no money. There are no resources, or we say “I don’t know how to do it”.

Magnanimous people were all born in times or situations of limitations. I think we can all see limitations with a certain perspective. But those same times and situations provide opportunity and options too. It’s just a matter of perspective. There’s always a way to find money, time, resources, and knowledge.

With that out of the way. What is holding you back? Nothing! So every day when you wake up, you go to work, or do the things you do, ask yourself this:

“Will reaching this goal bring me closer to or further from my major objective in life?”

Remind yourself every day of your major objective(s) in life. If you don’t have one, start doing things to find it. If you do have one, make sure you do something that progresses towards it, however small it may be.

Some years ago I didn’t know what I wanted with my life. I knew I wanted something in business, but had no clue what. But I knew I wanted to travel, so I made sure I could travel. I knew I wanted to do sports and try new things, so I made sure I did it. I needed to make money to pay the rent and feed my active lifestyle, so I worked and had jobs. But never was it exactly clear about what I wanted.

Looking back, it didn’t matter. I came across a business opportunity for me personally that had everything I wanted. I knew it was perfect. It is tough and will test me on everything regarding business and development, but it is what I want and need. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t yet found it, because I cultivated a habit of doing. A short line between idea and execution.

I didn’t know how to do things. Or where I could find the knowledge. That wasn’t the problem. I had the confidence and willpower to act on my decisions. The most powerful way to get from A to B. So grab that tree branch and drag it along. We need to embrace our dreams and objectives, by asking ourselves every day: “Will this bring me closer?”


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What Carnival Taught Me About Mindfulness

What Carnival Taught Me About Mindfulness

Oi Magnanimites!

Yes… Yes that is me on top of this blogpost. And yes, you may laugh, like everybody does (including myself) when I proudly show them this picture! That is me. Some 15 years ago. It was one of the best times of my life. I was crowned Prince Carnival and I was the ruler of the ‘Youth Sjansemaekers Empire’. I held speeches, I was the frontrunner in tons of polonaises, I had a few personal assistants who all had their specialized tasks, and once in a while I chanted a slogan that everyone chanted with me. It was truly marvelous and it is as silly as it looks.

Running after eachother in a line with big smiles on your face. That's what polonaises are.
Running after one another in a line, singing, with big smiles on your face. That’s what polonaises are.

Carnival in the Netherlands is mainly celebrated in the southern part of the country. When I was still an active celebrator (I have unfortunately been clean about carnival for a few years now), I really lived up to this time of the year, all year. We built carnival wagons with our group of friends and participated in processions with our piece of art. Well… actually two of the fifteen guys we’re the artists, the other ones (including me) just painted, because we weren’t even able to distinguish between a screw and a bolt.

The actual festivity takes 3 days. For the die hards, it is 5. And even 5 seemed too short when the last day came. The party started preferably around 10 in the morning, and ended somewhere between 5-8… in the morning. The end time depended on who you started the day with, what stuff you digested (or not), who you met in between, what kind of subparty was going on, and where you ended and who you ended with. And the beauty of it… No bloody F’s are given, because it’s carnival!! (This implies that I was the ruler of an empire with only one rule: party until your the last man standing, or die trying).

I was actually planning to write about something totally different for two weeks already. But at this very moment, a completely different world from the real one is going on all around me. A world I have been part of for some 25 years. And I say all around me, because that is what I have always thought when I was still in the middle of it. And exactly that, is what pinpoints the beauty of this festivity to me.

What a procession looks like
What a procession looks like

If you’re a die hard, carnival consumes you. You forget everything around you. You forget that there still is a normal world around, with people who are working (even though you go to restaurants, chip shops and kebabjoints in the meanwhile where working people are serving you), you forget that there is something called time (there are no hours, or days. There’s just parties, hunger, thirst and laughter), and you forget that there is something called health (given your sleep pattern, sleep places and the stuff you enrich yourself with).

The more I reminisce about how it was, how it felt, and about how I see it now as an outsider… the more I realize what an impact this happening has on people. It causes you to forget. And not only because of the alcohol (yes, alcohol flows, we have to somehow have an excuse for dressing up like that), but also because of the dressing up, the build-up towards the event, the utter oppositeness of our daily lives, and the being happy together for no bloody reason.

And of course this isn’t solely the case for carnival. I had the same experiences with Outdoor Summer Festivals. I like to think that those gatherings are, what world peace would look like. I always catch myself walking half as fast as I normally do on festivals. With a big smile on my face. (No, not like on that picture above).

Ok dude… What on earth has this to do with mindfulness?!

Well. Like I said, you are being consumed by the whole ambiance. And as a consequence of that, you forget time, you forget health, you forget work. In other words, you forget to worry. While you are being consumed by this marvelous phenomenon of collective happiness, you cannot be consumed with tomorrow, or yesterday. You aren’t thinking: “F&@#, why have I said this or that to my colleague last week”, or “I hope I will be able to make that deadline in a month”. In fact, you might not be thinking that much at all! You’re just present! Enjoying every moment of your experience!!

And exactly that, I believe, is a big part of what mindfulness is trying to teach us. Being present. Taking in your experience from moment to moment. And of course not every moment in life is as enjoyable as carnivalistic moments are. But learning how to be in the moment will definitely have a positive impact on the neutral moments we experience, to say the least. And carnival (and festivals) shows that good moments will turn into great.

I’ll be back next year, for sure! Before I forget what it’s about…


Any experience with mindfulness (or carnival) you’d like to share? Let us know and motivate others to fetch these experiences as well. And oh yeah… it’d be awesome if you’d like that Facebookpage of ours.

This is only a small part of what mindfulness is. More about what mindfulness can do for magnanimous progression in the future.