Why Do Women Even Think They Should Earn As Much as Men?

Anti-feminism, society, and their suicidal consequences

How to raise emotionally intelligent and sensitive kids in a performance-oriented society? How to make girls feel strong and empowered in a world that is still mostly driven by men? How to do better than me as a brother and save your sister’s life? How to gradually change the world?

By sharing my experiences, I hope to open the eyes of fathers that still think their sons are worth more than their daughters and of mothers that think they aren’t entitled to speak up. Ultimately I hope to contribute — be it by triggering some discussions or thoughts — to the change of a society, that is solely performance-driven.

How the ideal world looked like for her

A story about loneliness

July 13th, 2008 — The day that changed our lives

We were enjoying a family lunch at my parents’ place. Enjoying in that context is relative, but lunch was ok. We had leftovers of a typical Flemish dish that tends to taste even better the day after, all flavors absorbed.

In the background, we could hear a lot of sirens fading in and out. We speculated a bit on the seriousness of the event that must have taken place, checked if we could see anything further down the street, and went back to our dishes and wine.

After lunch, we moved to the couch for dessert and a bit more comfort, as my ex-partner was eight months pregnant with our oldest kid (the boy is fourteen now, still as cute as they come). Then our worlds changed for good.

The doorbell rang. Two police officers — one junior male and a more seasoned female, wearing glasses on a face that is burned into my retina — came up asking my mom to take a seat. Blood drained from her face and while collapsing into her chair, she realized. We all realized.

Where it all started

31 years earlier, a girl was born. Blonde, beautiful blue eyes, and a catchy laugh (hearsay of course, as I wasn’t around at the time just yet). Very soon it became clear that her gray cells were operating at a rate far beyond average. I can confirm that from the moment I started building up memories.

Like most siblings, we had regular fights. I was a football player, using the gate of the house as my goal, making the building shake with every goal or miss. She was a bookworm and musician, not a massive fan of those continuous earthquakes. But mostly we had fun together, building He-Man caves out of Pampers boxes (number three came a couple of years later, just at the time we needed the boxes), or stuffing shoes with hay from our hamsters — normal kids’ stuff.

As a little girl, she was already very opinionated. She had a strong sense of justice, she knew how the world could become a better place (her drawing gives an idea — equality, nature, and harmony were so important to her), and she was strong in defending those views against my dad (who as you will soon find out, had and has other strong opinions).

I was just a simple boy playing football in a man’s world. Watching my dad get upset every time my sister had a different opinion became normal. She would end up crying in her room, my dad would end up stating she was crazy. She was alone. She was lonely. Not crazy. I didn’t realize it back then.

The anti-feminist and racist home of a feminist idealistic girl

My mom was a nurse. She loved her job, but the moment she gave birth to my sister, she became a housewife. My dad convinced her by saying there was no financial benefit in having a job while having to raise kids. She also gave up her car back then and never drove one ever since. She became fully dependent on my father.

We are all products of our upbringing. Some choose to learn from mistakes, while others follow blindly and pass on that same upbringing. My mom is in category two. Humble (leaning strongly towards submissive), trying to be good and kind to anyone and everyone, but not to herself. Always avoiding conflict, even when it is needed for the ones she cares about.

My dad grew up in a farmer’s family. Very much male-centered and very much afraid of anything and everything looking different than the typical local farmer. He is also category two (although there are many additional complexities and funny — at least for outsiders — contradictions, that might deserve a book eventually). Dominant, always right, and underdeveloped EQ (close to the one of the average kitchen table — just a literary reference to my previous post — I could have picked any other object without emotions).

The average kitchen table at the time — source Unsplash

Both at our kitchen table and dining table, we got fed, fed with ideologies about people from other religious backgrounds, about women. “Why should women even think they need to earn as much as men in sports? They don’t have the physique and posture. Why do they want our jobs? They should be taking care of their kids.” Mom just nodded.

After being fed, my dad used to just state: “a cup of coffee would do me good”. Mom would get up, make coffee and serve. I think she got upset twice in their now almost 45 years of marriage. She already knew the answer waiting for her, as she heard it more often than twice: dad was the one paying the bills.

Maybe it’s not a valid excuse. Even simple boys playing football in a man’s world should see these things. But I was a boy. I didn’t feel it, because I was in the privileged group.

At the right side of that very same dining table, a young girl was being fed with the same ideologies. Every single one of these statements, every implicit command to my mother, and every comment about women felt like a personal attack, a dagger slowly piercing her young, strong female heart. She asked my mom to stand up. She fought my dad when he said what he said. But she was alone. For years. Until she left home… probably even until she left life.

Perform well and all is good

I’m drowning
No one sees me

Captured in brains
Marks are good
I am small
I am drowning

Where are the people
Who sees me
I am drowning

And I don’t know how it feels
to feel
How it feels to be

Marks are good
but who cares about me
I am small
I am drowning

A poem by my sister

Society is performance-driven. Power and performance are what matter out there. Achievements at school, a university degree, a nice job title, your next salary increase or promotion, the size of your car, or the pool in your garden… that’s how society measures people. All people.

On the other hand, the spectrum of people is enormous. All of us are different. All with different qualities, different colors, different interests, and emotions. And yet we are all still measured by our society in the same way.

My sister had great marks. Everything was just fine for the outside world, her teachers at school and music school. No reason to worry, on the contrary. To some extent even for my parents, these marks were creating the feeling that they were doing a good job. Yet she wasn’t recognized and accepted as the person she was.

My sister tried to be different but was pushed to fit in. Then again she felt she was different and tried but failed to fit in. The constant loneliness, the struggle to be recognized as a girl, a woman in her own family, in this world… the pressure to be normal she felt from all directions, all together drained her. It drained her to the extent she lost faith in her ideals. She lost faith in society, she lost faith in life.

I hope I will have the courage to jump off. Or in front. But rather off. I’ve always been afraid of trains.

She had always been afraid of trains. Yet that day, the day everything changed, she found the courage. She walked there, put her clothes in a container for the poor, left her ID card in a little light blue Holly Hobbie purse (she had kept that from the days we were making He-Man caves and we were putting hamster-hay all over the house), and jumped. In front.

How to change?

It is so sad to conclude that it took a life to change mine. It changed the hard way. But through the years after, I came to understand my sister better. I came to understand myself. Day by day. Where I used to be part of the performance society, I now started seeing things from a different perspective. One that is irreversible, one that is right, one that is me.

What makes us people different is our souls. The potential to feel, to have emotions, and connections with each other to a level no other animal can. Sure we’re also smart and we perform and evolve at an incredible pace (although it is questionable whether our paradoxical society is good for us), but next to this performance there is the magic of our souls we can’t explain.

Yet there is no(t enough) place for sentiment, for emotions in the nerve center of our society. Companies, governments, and institutions select sharks. People who eat other people if needed, to perform. To please their boss, to climb a ladder. All for money. All for power.

I am convinced we need genuine and authentic leaders, we need people, and we need a people society instead of a performance society (or at least more balance, because in the end, we all enjoy modern comfort — things are not black and white). Perhaps we will evolve a bit slower. Maybe Elon’s commercial space flights would be out of the question in this century. Maybe streaming Netflix in your self-driving car won’t be for the coming decades… but so what? We would have a better world.

Where to start?

Of course by understanding the purpose of life (I didn’t put a smiley because of thousands of content-less articles on Medium  stating this is not a good writing practice, but it was meant in a not-so-serious way 🙂 — oops).

More seriously, be it also more cliché: we can and should start by changing ourselves. I chose to change. It took me part of my adult life, strong other people with other views, and some serious events to really evolve and escape from my racist, anti-feminist, and conservative nest.

I chose to focus on the emotional development of my kids rather than emphasizing their more measurable performance. What does your heart tell you? How do you feel? Did you consider the impact on others when you did/said so?

Emotionally intelligent kids are our future. They can bend evolution in a way that can and will make this place a better place to live. Understanding what they feel, sharing and understanding what they feel, and acting on it, instead of blocking every sentiment will eventually be a game-changer for all of us.

Kids and adults that are emotionally educated (leaving aside if they are emotionally intelligent), will always consider the impact of what they do on other human beings. Of course, it is naive and idealistic to believe that we will evolve to a world that doesn’t need feminism, that is inclusive -regardless of skin tone- and where every life is worth as much as another.

But we can change. We can revolve.

Every one of us has a voice, an opinion. However, most people (even in the most democratic and liberal regimes) are looking left and right before expressing it. It will take balls (meant as figuratively as can be — as I hope you understood from the above), but people need to speak up in all layers of society. We need changes at many levels. Time for the next chapter — this might become too much of a prophecy…

Is it possible to change the world? A short rational intermezzo.

99% Of the population wants a better world. Better meaning more human-being-focused. 1% or less is focused on performance, revenue streams, and power. That 1% owns roughly half of the money. Add the middle class to this and it becomes clear that 85% of the capital is (still unevenly) distributed over 12% of the world’s population.

Wikipedia — Distribution of wealth

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of London tried to answer the question of how many people on earth are needed to ‘revolve’ society. The outcome hints toward 25 percent of the population (the full article can be found here).

I tend to disagree with that bold statement and would like to add a sauce of relativity on top: if that 25% of the population is not equally distributed in the different layers of society and let’s say all of them come from the “miserable” red group (with all respect for the red people— I didn’t pick the labels), they are screaming in the desert.

On the other hand, this could also be good news: if we want to change the performance-driven society, it might only take 25% of the mid-class and millionaires to move the needle. Relatively good news: fewer people in absolute value, but the hardest ones to convince to speak up, as they ‘benefit’ from the society they might even dislike.

If we want an inclusive world, we probably also need a decent mix of 25% (don’t pin me on that number — I expect some error bars on that percentage) people that dare to speak up when they see things going wrong, and don’t just look the other way. And this is where we come in… people that raise their voices, parents who focus on a healthy balance between brain and heart, and who are not shy to see a psychologist with their kids when it’s needed. Emotional intelligence has the potential to change the world.

Hippies and suchlike

I’m not a hippie or suchlike. I am not a preacher, not a naive person who thinks we can turn back time and trade carrots for beans again. I like watching Netflix, I enjoy taking pictures on a computer the size of my hand. During the day I am a senior director in a micro-electronics company (and I don’t say this to brag — impostor syndrome: check).

But I lost my sister.

We/I can’t get her back. I can talk to her — which I often do — but she doesn’t talk back. Nevertheless, when I ask her something, she’s right most of the time.

Losing someone hurts. It is a never-ending journey on the curves drawn by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. In the end, you come to accept, but the hurt is still there. Trying to extend her life by understanding, embracing, and sharing her philosophy seems to help. Trying to raise my kids in a way they will never feel lonely while being with their parents helps. Being conscious about the feelings of my kids, as well as the feelings of any other human being — including my own — brings me a bit closer to my sister.

She was beautifully vulnerably naive. She saw a world that would make me feel better. A slower pace, time for each other. Time to sit down and watch a shy butterfly land on a flower in the late afternoon. A world that by itself is mindfulness therapy. But the people didn’t get her. Neighbors laughed at her ideas. I didn’t get her. I told her she needed to find a job, focusing on our pregnancy, not realizing how weak she had become. The old me sometimes thought things would be easier if she would just fit in.

On that day the same neighbors that mocked her, came by to say how beautiful her ideas were.

On that day, I found a bed full of tissues with dried tears. A table with at least fifty personalized application letters she wrote, together with as many rejections. She tried to fit into a world that wasn’t worthy of her, till the very last moment.

Sorry for not understanding you. For not seeing your attempts. For not being there to back you up when it was needed. Sorry for being black or white, when you needed gray.


Thanks for changing my life, for letting me see things in a completely different way, for letting me raise my kids in a way that would have made you happy, and would have saved you. Thanks for letting me be me. Thanks for having been you till the very last moment.

Thank you for changing my world!

The paradoxical society

We’re all part of the “fast forward”

Five years ago, I was part of a meeting where future electronics-applications were being discussed. Sitting there with all these enthusiastic managers, tech-geeks and nerds with an enormous ego, I truly got scared (to some extent of the size of their ego’s, but mostly of how they want the future to look like).

Our intelligent fridges would be equipped with camera’s and gas-sensors, perfectly able to tell just how much inventory you still have, if something is about to go bad (and of course sending you recipes for dinner with those ingredients), sending shopping-lists to the grocery-store to auto-fill itself. We were discussing self-driving cars (so people can work while commuting) that would be able to analyse our emotions by face recognition, so they could already adapt the music at home to the way we feel or inform our spouses trouble is on its way.

Artificial intelligence will become part of our lives, whether we want it or not… all in order to increase the productivity of us, the working ants (See We Are But Ants).

All of us are part of it. The constant urge for more. Fast needs to become faster at an exponentially increasing and scary pace. Enough doesn’t exist.

It’s only sixty years ago people were not used to have a tv at home and they gathered together with their neighbors to watch one of the rare shows that were broadcasted. Till 30 years ago, we had the patience to rewind a VHS tape or our commodore 64 cassette to find the right game (always that magic when typing “load”). Only twenty years ago smart phones started to find their ways into our lives. Today we can’t live without them anymore, they’re part of our lives, extensions of our body. Screens are everywhere. Shows are on demand. We’re reachable any time of day and when we’re not standby, people start to wonder what’s wrong. We get lured into the world of social media, where people show the best of themselves, raising the bar for their ‘friends’ (even the ones you know for a fact are unhappy or depressed, often still manage to make you feel you need to step up just a bit, with their fake online-happiness… :))

We’re victims of the society’s unstoppable need for speed. And yet all of us contribute to it. Of course the above sounds negative. Evolution is nice, gadgets and technology are amazing exponents of what human beings can achieve…

… and yet we all scream for “pause”

Compared to only 20–30 years ago, there’s a tsunami of inputs coming at us every day. It’s amazing how human beings adapted to this threatening avalanche in a couple of decades, however we weren’t taught how to deal with this continuously and rapidly changing world.

People pay money to do some breathing exercises — inhaaaaale, hold, exhaaaaale… — Not ridiculizing meditation, I also did so — but it is just creating time for ourselves and pressing that pause button. We pay hundreds of dollars/euros to be in an offline yurt out of reach of any cellular network. Thousands of euros even to go to to places like this (nope, not an affiliate link, just fyi 🙂 Now that I think about it, not too wise for someone who’s writing about passive income models).

Evolution of burn-out leading to inability to work in one of the smaller EU-countries — https://www.brusselstimes.com/251162/alarming-figures-burnouts-at-work-increased-by-66-in-three-years

We seem to be in a fast forward-pause loop where the balance is disturbingly tilting towards the speedy side. Many people don’t realize this causes a constant energy-drain, until some( )thing(s) goes wrong. There’s an alarming increase of burn-outs worldwide, there’s more anxiety-attacks and depressions. We might just not all be made for this pace. Humanity might not be intended for this (what is in the end the purpose of life? I know, too big of a question for too small of an article). Maybe we evolved too much to be happy?

Commodore 64, joystick and an even older calculator on top

So what to do?

We can’t turn back time. But restoring a healthy balance is what we can have in control. If mowing the lawn makes you relax (I admit — I’m a lawn-guy), take the time to do so and don’t buy one of those fancy robots. Say no to some evolutions, say no to your boss, so no to the fast-forward of the movie called your life. Slow down and enjoy disconnected moments. Dig up that old commodore 64 and take the time to “load”.

Investing in real estate — intro: save money on books

In my search for passive income sources (see “WABA — We Are But Ants” and “Why work doesn’t work”), I read many books about real estate investments and every single time I was disappointed. Hundreds of pages filled with emptiness. General descriptions, common sense re-written, some toddler-tips and straight forward pointers.

But you don’t get to see the magic of scaling up. How you move from that one investment for which you saved several years to the next? Because passive income at some point needs to become tangible. Sequentially saving for years to buy a new property for which a tenant pays the mortgage isn’t going to let you retire any time soon. Yet the writers of those books all claim they became millionaires in less than 10 years (me want!). So how do you really leverage? How to go from zero properties to a real-estate portfolio? What’s the trick?

In a series of posts on real estate investments, I will share some of my experiences (failures and successes) and I will also summarize the books that I read in a couple of posts with key take-aways, so you don’t have to waste money to find out some people really can fill many pages with limited content. I’ll try to stick to the following topics — topped with some of my personal experiences:

  • Pre-requisites for real-estate investment
  • Different real-estate investment methods — which one suits you?
  • Finding the right property — the golden square mile
  • Negotiation — putting rational limits, asking the right questions
  • Renting out — avoid tenants from hell at all cost (I had my share of those when I started and lately I got tricked again — I blame it on Covid circumstances)
  • Scaling up your portfolio

Upon writing, more topics might pop up. Eventually I also hope to get some readers and interaction with those readers, so more subjects can be added on demand. Just to be clear: I am not there yet myself – as said before – just sharing my path & findings.

آزادی – Freedom – Liberté – 自由

While working on the PIM to help people to find their way in the world of passive income to obtain freedom, I am these days constantly struck by the relativity of that fight for freedom.

When I look around me, I see sad friends, emotionally wrecked people. I see proudness when schoolgirls take off their scarfs and stand together for the future of their country. I see strong, persistent people that are fighting worldwide to bring attention to their country. I see anger, fear and frustration being altered by hope and sparkling eyes when an Iranian athlete is in competition without hijab.

Normal for most of us… but an historical event for people that have been suppressed for more 43 years. People that were imprisoned for having an opinion. Who were sentenced to death without fair trial. Who have been raped, tortured, beaten and killed just because they looked at life in a different way. Or just because they didn’t dress the way “they were supposed to” – #mahsa_amini. These days Iran is revolting. Women, kids, men all literally fight for their lives and freedom in the streets of Iran. Fearless, because they are prisoners of a regime… because they have nothing more to lose, only something to fight for.

Image source – Freedom House

For the “green” people (see map above) this might be hard to relate to. But in order to create a different, free world, without dictatorships and suppression, we all need to contribute to color the purple and orange areas into green. Everybody has the right to be free.

I stated before that the purpose of my blog is for sure not a political one, but this is a fight for freedom that goes beyond Iran and needs worldwide attention and help. It is a signal we need to give to the world. A signal that change is needed. A signal that a lot of “ants” together can lift the world to another level.

Feel free to share this blog or to sign a supporting petition on change.org: https://chng.it/y6VJ85cZ

Thanks a lot for reading!

The Passive Income Model – PIM

Yet another workweek at the office has passed by. October. A completely different color palette is starting to show and many lifeforms are preparing for a well-deserved winter-break (is it normal to be jealous at deciduous trees?). The adults were right: the flight of life shifts to the next gear when having kids – I can confirm having joined the adults with kids-group some time ago. Co-parenting seems to even have replaced my old gear-box with something cruelly more powerful.

Somehow knowing that things need to change -as you could read in my previous post, Why work doesn’t work– and feeling time fly by, results in some conflicts (still manageable – but an occasional eye-twitch can’t always be suppressed). My goal is to be able to slow down and have time to do what I want, yet there is an orientation phase that takes (a lot) of time, there will be an investment phase (taking time and perhaps money) and there’s the risk none of it will work out. Add a job, burn-out recovery and three kids to the mix and you’ll realize it’s gonna be a frightful fight for freedom 🙂

As I mentioned in my initial post Why – We Are But Ants, the orientation-phase -listening to podcasts and reading blogs/books about passive income streams- has some minor side-effects. Besides broken car consoles and books ripped to pieces, it really makes you wonder: am I that stupid? (Ok, I wonder about the latter more often, regardless of people making passive income by selling thin air/talking about passive income, but I guess that’s me :)). People who googled “passive income” know exactly what I mean: wherever you look, you get the same lists, with some vague explanation. No concrete examples of how much money and time you will need to invest, how hard it will be to generate revenue and how long it might take to see some light in the ant-tunnel.

I’m working on a model to at least make that initial google-search more focused and to reduce that standard list of options to a top-5 that fits your personality and your time-/money-investment possibilities. A model that gives a more concrete explanation of your top-5 earning models (risks, timeline, financial requirements,…), including links to existing, more specialized sites that can get you going. Ladies and gentlemen, my beloved 10 followers (ok ok – 9 admittedly: I follow myself – curious to see what happens on my own page :)): I am eagerly expecting the PIM! I will share ultrasounds of premature stages whenever I think it looks nice enough to get some feedback and then iterate (or abort poor little PIM if the public opinion doesn’t agree upon it being life-worthy – no intention to start any abortion debate here).

In the past 20 years I’ve already made some attempts to become financially independent, long before people started to be on FIRE 😉 In my next posts on passive income, while PIM is growing, I’ll share the scarily discouraging stories I lived as landlord, Crypto-god and stock-star (I told you I often wonder: am I that stupid – you might start to wonder too ;)). But: still standing and ready for the next series of stories.

Thanks for reading!

Why work doesn’t work


the condition or right of being able or allowed to do, say, think, etc. whatever you want to, without being controlled or limited (Cambridge Dictionary)

There are many definitions of freedom, but all more or less come down to the above. There are also many different levels of limitation of freedom, as I also indicated in my post on the ongoing protests in Iran (#mahsaamini), so everything I write is so damn relative and I am fully aware of it!

Bút our day to day work-reality affects our lives, our kids, relationships, health,… and deserves our attention, so eventually there’s time and energy left to serve bigger purposes (if you feel like it). From my first post, it’s clear I didn’t study something I’m passionate about, but passionate people in my team, colleagues that did study the right thing end up on my (these days) virtual sofa on a daily basis, because they are unhappy at work. I’ll try to be as objective as possible listing the freedom-limiting factors of working for someone else and the reasons for me to escape 🙂

You sign a contract that says how many hours you will work. It shows the depressing amount of days a year you can take for yourself and how many of those escape-options in a row are allowed. It sets your rules, your boundaries. We’re supposed to be happy when we can slide our working time by one hour to accommodate our daily rush – evolving a bit with the age of our kids , but always intensive. We can’t do things at our pace. We feel bad about it, but at the same time there’s a guilt- and/or stress feeling when we’re 5 minutes late in a meeting because we had to clean the back and neck of our baby who just released its entire tummy-content under high pressure right at the moment we were about to race to kindergarten (been there, done that… sometimes I was really surprised by the reach). We’re trapped by our contract, our agenda,… trapped by our employer. Our time is blocked to serve a king or queen (or a board of those types). We literally lose our freedom to breathe when it’s needed.

And yes… you get paid to do so (some more than others), but also these earnings are ‘blocked’ by time. Either you work as an employee and have a fixed salary (sure some get a bonus/stock options/RSU’s/…), or you’re billed per hour, but everything has a ceiling. You’re limited by a fixed amount in your contract, by the amount of hours per week you can work if you’re paid by the hour. Your earnings are limited by time and tax (where I live, my net-reward isn’t even half of the gross).

Safety feeling
Working for an employer gives you a safety feeling. You have something to rely on every month. It’s not enough to be free, but it pays the bills. You’re protected. Letting go of this is the struggle for most people, including me. I’m currently living a conflict phase between following my heart, breaking free or keeping that safety net. I have a family to take care of, a mortgage to pay. It feels a bit like chosing between knowingly, golden-handcuffed crawling back into that cage every day or jumping out of a plane with something on your back, hoping it will open timely to save you and give you the rush of your life (I’m not a fan of jumping out of an airplane, but I did so. The chute opened. I was glad I did so once in my life. My girlfriend asked the instructor if she could go up again, before she even landed 🙂 People are different, we need each other to balance… but in the end I did it. Now ooonly the figurative jump is left). Just saying, the safety feeling is limiting chances to obtain freedom in several aspects of life. With my blog I will share how I deal with my jump and perhaps I will need your help and virtual safety feeling to do so.

Limiting pyramids

  • The power pyramid
    Power is a bitch. Yes, hierarchy is needed, but 99% (perhaps I exaggerate a bit) of the cases I’ve seen in my 20-year career, people moving up become politicians, opportunist, ego’s (nerds with an ego in my sector). They lose spine, because the way to the top is obeyance. And it seems at every stage there is a growing fear to have or express another opinion than the one above or even to table the obvious truth. I can’t imagine this gives a feeling of freedom either. It gives a precious title to show and brag about on Linkedin, being of course publically congratulated on that same platform upon achievement by the people sitting next to you in the office – so their titles get some attention again as well or their chances of climbing up increase by 1 point. This pyramid (often also rectangle or reverse pyramid, depending on the amount of managers) is limiting your freedom in many ways, but if you’re willing to follow, who knows you might go up one level and get some more crums.
  • The competence Pyramid
    I’ll keep it short on this one. When googling for this, one will find a pyramid going from knowing/vision to doing/execution. This is not necessarily parallel to the power pyramid and in many cases has been proven even to be exactly the opposite, when high level management starts to “do” without knowing. I can elaborate a lot on this, showing how destructive this can be to a company… Probably I will in the future, which is the main reason for writing anonymously, as I’m halfway up the first pyramid and the upper-crows wouldn’t really understand (anymore). I literally asked not to get promoted by the way, as I don’t think my competence level matches my precious title on Linkedin 🙂 Still they did – hence present tense in the previous sentence. I show facts and reality tho, for as long as it lasts. On topic: wrong competence management and incompetence above you can really be limiting your freedom (even the limited freedom within the job-cage) and your development options.
    • The Lencioni Pyramid
      This time I’ll really keep it short. All the above in a team leads to a lack of trust. At least as long as I’ve witnessed, whenever there’s politics and ego-centrism in an organization, there is no trust between people. It limits a lot of things, ultimately even the freedom to enjoy results.

Employees are numbers… or ants
Even though a job feels safe (and for sure it offers a lot of safety nets, even when you lose it), the higher you go up in hierarchy, the further away the people that actually do the job and the more those people are considered as numbers in excel. Your name and competences disappear, you become a job-title, a labor cost, an FTE-%,… in an excel file.

It is without too much discussion assumed that you’re willing to work evenings and weekends to meet a deadline even without extra compensation. Just because you adore your company and caring leaders. You are assumed to sacrifice your personal life and your family time, to (possibly) have issues with your partner for doing so. For the queen ant. I had people in my team doing so. It literally made me cry how devoted they were… one year after I was asked to make a list and bring a message to some of them. To me they are people.

First of all, the purpose of my writing is not to depress my 2 followers (if I did: so so sorry… but I’m really grateful to you for being there :))
The purpose of this purpose-topic is to highlight that for many people the true purpose of what they are doing all those hours a week is missing. Often the purpose offered by management is the achievement of revenue and the realization of the fabulous motivational hockey-stick. To be honest, it makes many people wonder about their purpose in life more often than it gives purpose to their jobs. And for the believers… as long as I’ve seen it, the hockey-stick miracle keeps on shifting to the right.

The moving miracle

Limiting creativity
Last year I went to a career-coach for the second time in my life. The evaluation showed I was a highly creative person. I was flabbergasted. Moi? Creative? After some talks with the coach, it looked like I lost all my creativity (or rather the believe herein) during my professional career. For me this is an obvious limitation to develop my potential (and fun). I won’t generalize too much, but in many cases the revenue-purpose tends to kill or limit many people’s creativity.

How to get out?
This will be one of the core-topics on my blog and it’s my upcoming path I will share. I am convinced that passive income generation is key. My next work-oriented blog will list the options I will try. The steps towards my second free-fall-jump.

The burn-out clichés

Truth is I didn’t just start writing because Christmas decoration was in the stores even before my birthday… although it gave me the final push 😉

For years I’d been looting my body… first without knowing, then knowing but not caring and finally knowing and caring, but not being able to snap out of it.

I might elaborate on the above sentence if my loyal fanbase expands beyond the single follower I currently have (ok ok… I am that single follower – what can I say? I wanted to try out if wordpress was broken, since I didn’t get an audience. Still now, it makes me happy for a second when I see my blog-statistics. The duration of the disappointment – realizing again it’s me myself and I following myself – also shortens, so the balance is tilting towards happiness). So leaving the elaboration on the how/why for a later time.

I reached the point where I was on holiday with my kids (co-parenting 3 lovely monsters) and I couldn’t move anymore. I could only lie down. I could exceptionally drag myself to the pool (which looked 10 times bigger on picture and was actually an ennobled bathtub that made my son cry at arrival) and wanted to sleep. I was actually so restless I couldn’t sleep properly: my body felt like it was under permanent attack and needed to be on guard 24/7. Cortisol. It f***s up all other hormones by the way – the only focus of your body becomes survival.

Upon return I thought I’d go for a run with my daughter – back then ~11 years old and to put it euphemistically: not the fastest runner around. We barely ran 1km, my sports-watch started making a sound I never heard before and I was about to crash. I had to ask her to stop and face the facts: even a half dead cheetah is able to catch up with a turtle – so I was beyond half-dead. The 1km run resulted in 2 additional recovery days for my heart-rate (not kidding) and despite the fact that all blood- and heart-tests were negative, I had never felt so close to being dead as I did back then. Yup, feelings have the power to conquer your body. Feelings caused by work, divorce, break-ups, kids, covid and kids, losing my sister years ago, some luggage from the past… and the feeling I would always be strong enough to bounce back. In the end, it’s me 🙂 I always did!

So all clichés were there: I never expected to feel like this… not me?! I ignored signals I didn’t know of. I kept on working full-time while my job and fight for the people in the organization were a constant drain for me. Till I didn’t bounce anymore and I sat on my knees in front of my three kids, telling them how sorry I was, I couldn’t be a good dad to them at that moment. It needed change!

For the first time in my life I invested in me. In all possible ways (also financially, because my beloved multinational employer of course didn’t insure mental issues – those are for the weak… and the weak are not the winners… and my company only hires the best :)). I felt guilty doing so at first, but grew out of that. I felt pressured to go back to work, but let go of that eventually (I know I made it sound Ninja-tough and strong, but it took me months to accept). I was going to take as long as was needed.

During the process (lasted a year, still not 100% there), I realized 1 thing: I needed to change my life. I needed freedom. I wanted to do things I like doing. Writing is one of them.

I actually realized more things. You need to be strong to make the decision I took in this over-populated world with its society-rules and -pressure. And you need a person next to you that believes in you, despite cortisol-mess, fears, tears, fatigue and all emotions that come on your path. Thanks love x

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Mahsa Amini

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

I don’t have any intention to give this blog a political character – however given my huge fanbase ;), my incomparable quest for freedom and mostly because of the fact I have Iranian friends and family in law, I wanted to draw attention to the situation in Iran – all little bits help.

A 22-year old girl -Mahsa Amini- died after she got beaten up by the so called morality police of the Iranian regime, because her hijab wasn’t properly covering her hair. After years of suppression, this was the final drop for the people of Iran. People are in the streets, risking their lives for freedom. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-62986057

As said, I don’t want to make this blog political at all, but I do want freedom for everyone on this planet and I support all people that try to achieve it.

We Are But Ants

For years, I’ve been thinking to write. Today is the day to stop just thinking about it. The day local stores replaced the outdoor furniture by Christmas decoration in the middle of one of the hottest summers we’ve had so far.

It’s exactly twenty years ago since I started working as an engineer in electronics. I studied to become an engineer, because I didn’t learn how to listen to my heart. I learned to listen to the world-record holders of risk aversion (my parents) and teachers who all just saw a straight-A-student and wanted a top-notch career for me. Up till that point in time, no one ever asked me what I would really like do to. No. One. Ever.  

From the day I started my masters, I slowly started to forge my own solid, golden handcuffs and my beautiful golden cage. For a moment I even thought I was doing well. The slightly uncomfortable slumbering feeling that I didn’t really like what I was doing was suppressed by a nice company car, bonuses, raises, my first apartment and later on an own house… allowing me to cover up my growing, always recurring feeling of unhappiness. Sneakily, day by day, I was trapped in a world I do not belong to. Queuing up every day to work for our queens and kings, queuing back home exhausted in the evening to enjoy the crumbs we got fed.

I think I haven’t felt free since I was twelve. What an age… playing football in the park all day long; jumpers for goalposts, trading marbles in the streets (or admittedly win them with slightly custom-bended rules from the less gifted neighbors across the street – genuine apologies). Feeling the heat of the soft, melted tar between the old concrete-plated roads and just sitting there, on that sidewalk, time seemed to stand still.

Soon I’ll be 43…

I want to feel free again, but I need the income (co-parenting three super-kids, mortgage to pay). I googled how to do so. I read books. Listened to podcasts. Everything I read or listened to was written by people that are free. People that generate a passive income sufficient to be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want it. People who are now following their hearts. And as much as I hoped these people would inspire me, they frustrated me. Reading (and thereby sponsoring) “I’m financially free and you can be so too”, at some point made me want to tear that book apart… Hearing “I lived in poverty and now I make 430k of which 90% with passive income” at the beginning of each podcast-episode, made me feel like I wanted to smash the central console of my car. That happened in a misanthropic mood. And only in thoughts. I’m not the guy ripping books apart or smashing car consoles. Although once I did… mildy, when the electronics of my second nice company car (Alfa) died on me for the third time in less than a year.

I don’t know who I’ll be writing for yet, but even if I only write for myself… it might be fun, who knows. But I do know I don’t want to frustrate people writing about something I achieved, telling them they can do so too. I want to write about life, dealing with its frustrations, my freedom-attempts, be transparent about failure and success, inspire and get inspired by people that read what I write and share. I still need to figure out how to share success if I would achieve it, but I’m sure I will find ways.

Time to stop feeling like an ant, time to give a different meaning to WABA.

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