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12 Inspiring Ways Truly Alive People Approach Life

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To quote the great philosopher—Forest Gump—“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get.”

So true. But why is it that some people get boxes filled only with the finest chocolates? Life may certainly be unpredictable, but truly alive people approach life in a way that squeezes out the positives from the unpredictable.

Marcus Aurelius said, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

Here are 12 inspiring ways truly alive people approach life:

1. They’re unrealistic. 

They prefer to live in the ‘impossible.’ They believe that people crazy enough to think they can change the world, actually do (Steve Jobs).

For the longest time, everybody thought it was impossible to break the four-minute mile. Everybody except Roger Bannister. If he was realistic about things than who knows when, or if that barrier would’ve been broken.

Shoot for the moon, if you miss you’ll land among the stars—cliché, but truth. It is so much better to aim high, and potentially miss, than to aim low and be sure to hit.

2. They adjust with the seasons.

They understand that everything has its season. And they flow in synch with the lifespan of that experience. They know when it’s time to change careers; when they’ve outgrown a position, a relationship, or a stage in life—and they take the appropriate action.

To be truly alive, is to move with the seasons in life. They’re not living in winter and expecting warm weather. They don’t start a new career and immediately expect the big bucks. They understand when it is time to sow, and when it is time to harvest.

Don’t mistake a tough season—a tough experience—for a miserable year. Everything has its season.

3. They can laugh at themselves.

They’ve turned their ego into an Oopma Loompa that can be laughed at. They take themselves a little less serious than the world expects. Truly alive people get out on the dance floor even with two left feet, and get on stage like they’re singing in the shower.

What’s life without a ton of laughter? When people are laughing at you rather than with you, join them. It’s healthy not to take yourself too serious.

4. They keep adding to their Bucket List.

They see life as a journey of growth; not just collecting stamps, but new experiences.

Truly alive people know that without aspirations and goals, stagnancy will surely set in. Life becomes dull when it becomes predictable—even people in Hawaii can get bored of the beach.

So keep setting new horizons, when you knock something off your list, add another.

5. They take criticism like water off a duck’s back.

Truly alive people cause others to think about their own lifestyle. Some people get inspired, others get annoyed.

Trying to please everyone in life will only result in frustration. No matter how hard you try, there will always be those who find a way to criticise. You can either develop thick skin, or become a sponge soaking up all the negativity.

The former will keep you sane, the latter will drive you insane

6. They look in the rear-view mirror.

They reflect. Often.

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

While you never want to dwell too deeply on a negative event, reflecting on what you have done well, and what you could improve on, is a great practice for making positive future decisions.

The past can be a great teacher.

7. Pain drives them, rather than defeats them.

They know at every given moment, they can choose to play the victim, or the victor. They see obstacles as opportunities, and turn their scars into strengths.

History has shown us that there is no situation so tragic in life, that the human spirit is not able to overcome.

8. They wear their heart on their sleeve

They stand for something, and they’re not ashamed of it.

Alexander Hamilton said, “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.”

The United States Declaration of Independence recognises the importance of expressing what you believe; that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness flourishes in the positive expression of your will.

Seek out the message that speaks to your soul. Embrace it. Unashamed.

9. They run their own race.

Because comparison is crippling.

It can quickly rob your well deserved celebration when you place your accomplishment next to someone who’s doing ‘better.’

There’s only one you in this world, don’t try and run like the person beside you. You have your own stride, your own style, your own voice, and your own pace. When you understand that—not only will you truly be able to celebrate your own victories—you can sincerely celebrate the victory of others without any jealousy.

10. They “re-calculate” after wrong turns.

We all make bad decisions. But losing a battle doesn’t mean losing the war.

Truly alive people allow their life-GPS to go into “re-calculating” mode. They roll with any punches and keep heading toward their destination. They are flexible with the journey because they are determined and sure about their destination.

Be absolutely clear on your goals, generate a powerful enough “Why.” If you stray off course, you’re strong momentum will carry you where you need to be.

11. They Don’t Bottle-Up Emotions.

In times of sadness, truly alive people allow tears do their healing work. If they’re upset with someone, they lovingly address the issue. When they’re celebrating, the whole neighbourhood knows about it.

When emotions trigger off the welling in your eyes, the release should not be restrained. You’ve been told to listen to your body when it comes to food, sleep, and rest—that advice should be applied when emotions are calling to be expressed.

12. They watch sunsets.

Because regardless of how hectic and frustrating the day can be, truly alive people know they can count on the simple, yet profound reminder that there’s always something to smile and be thankful for.

Let the sun set, and take with it your fears, concerns, and struggles.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

Callum Connects

Denise Mossis Kipnis, Founder & Principal of ChangeFlow Consulting

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Denise Mossis Kipnis’ curiosity in people and the world, lead her to set up ChangeFlow Consulting.

What’s your story?
I’m driven by curiosity. Having been the only one in a room who looks like me for most of my life, I developed a curiosity about who stays, who leaves and who thrives in minority/majority situations including when and how connection and collaboration happen. I was a systems thinker long before I knew what that was, always asking why and so what; and seeing the pieces, the whole, and the places in between. So helping people and organisations move through the complexity of transformation feels natural to me.

What excites you most about your industry?
I see change and inclusion as two sides of the same thing; I don’t practice one without the other. Some people see change as death, as loss, as exhausting. And it can be. But I see in the work I do as an opportunity for something new or hidden to emerge. When an organisation understands that it is first a group of people, who themselves represent and belong to groups of people, and it begins to tackle what it would mean to understand and learn from all that talent, all that diversity, to have them all working for and not against the organisation, to truly unleash all that their people have to offer; that’s magic.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Change and inclusion are personal values as well as professional strengths. For me, living and working outside of the States was a bold experiment to see whether any of the stuff I’d learned about change and inclusion would work outside of the US. My husband and I targeted Asia specifically: it would be the greatest contrast, culturally speaking, for me; and a unique career springboard for him.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Although I’ve practiced in other cities, I am biased towards Singapore. In some ways it’s what Los Angeles is to the rest of the United States, a microcosm of sorts. The regional/global nature of it means that so many different nationalities and cultures are represented. As a result of this mix, you never know what you might get. In some situations, cultural dynamics are obvious, sometimes subdued. The variability is compelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Michael Rouan.

Who inspires you?
Often it’s a “what” not a “who.” I can get inspiration from a passage in a book or a situation in a movie, as well as a turn of a phrase or watching people interact. I often make the biggest connections between the various threads I’m working on when I’m sitting in someone else’s event.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m honestly not blown away by much. Instead, I’m struck how circular things can be: ideas often come back around with a slightly different twist and I watch the way it shakes things loose for people. I recently sat through a workshop on Self as Instrument, and despite being thoroughly versed already, I learned something. In preparing for a panel on design thinking, I unearthed a new language to describe things.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
You’ve caught me at a good time. I’m sitting in appreciation and gratitude for all my experiences, because I wouldn’t be who I was today if all that has happened, didn’t. And yet one thing comes to mind: It wasn’t until I redesigned my website two years ago (shout out to Brew Creative!) that I realised I hadn’t made explicit agreements with my past clients as to what I could share publicly about our engagement, or whether I could use their logos in my promotional materials. In my business, confidentiality is so important, and yet I need to be able to talk about the work as reputation and experience leads to the next success, and so on. It turned out a lot of the contacts I had known had left the organisations where the work was done, so they couldn’t help at that point. So the practice I’m carrying forward is to get those agreements up front, and to make sure my relationships in client systems are broad as well as deep.

How do you unwind?
Science fiction, puzzles, wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Home. I don’t travel to relax, I travel to learn and explore.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Built to Change, by Ed Lawler and Chris Worley. To my knowledge, it’s the first pivot from advising organisations away from stability and toward dynamism, from strategic planning to strategizing as an action verb; to blow up the traditions and rigidity that impede organisations from developing change capability.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re taught that there are two kinds of people: those who see forests, and those who see trees. There is a third type, my type, and we see the ecosystem. Worms, climate, birds, the spaces in between. This is the perspective organisations need to be successful in solving complex problems and thriving in change.
ChangeFlow uniquely blends four disciplines (two of which are multi-disciplinary in themselves): organisation development, culture and inclusion, change management and project management.

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeFlowConsulting/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmorriskipnis/
LinkedIn Company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4862954/
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.changeflowconsulting.com

Twitter handle?
@ChangeFlow

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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