Each of us is unique. Fortunately, many of us dwell in times and places where this uniqueness can be acknowledged, nourished, expressed, and honoured in manifold ways without us having to fear threats to our happiness, well-being, health, or lives: We can be left-handed, red-haired, or blue-skinned; we can drink red wine with fish, water with steak, or white wine with porridge; we can wear miniskirts, burkas, or tiger skins; we can write letters, type text messages, or send smoke signals; we can read newspapers, social media timelines, or tarot cards
I’m not a movie buff. My favourite movies of all times are blockbuster kitsch romances, complicated stories with baroquesque soundtracks, and voluptuous film adaptations of morbid masterpieces of European literature. There have been times in my life when years went by without me watching a single feature movie at all, and there have been times when I accidentally stumbled into watching several movies in a row that I hadn’t even chosen myself. So, really, I don’t know anything about movies at all.
“If your business partners or colleagues lose focus, the reason could be a revealing cleavage – in particular, if you’re a business woman. Does this sound familiar? If yes, it’s high time for you to check the amount of female allure you bring to work”. Such reads the (translated) introductory passage of an article just published in a German business weekly. Always interested in learning about what makes women (or men) successful in business, and also, I admit, occasionally interested in fashion and style, this piqued my curiosity, and I went ahead and read the whole text.
A few day ago, I had dinner with friends at an Indian restaurant in Hamburg. In the center of the restaurant looms a larger-than-life Buddha statue. A little into our meal, one of my friends pointed out that somebody from the party sitting right next to the statue had deposited their computer bag on the Buddha’s lap. We all turned our heads, smiled, and frowned. We had a brief exchange about the reactions that might be seen in a Bavarian Biergarten in case a visitor from Asia would hang their camera onto the crucifix on the wall.
A few years ago, “every one of us a leader” was the motto of the annual Values Day at McKinsey. Of course, the concept behind this phrase raises some practical questions of internal organisation (which might be the reason why it was only chosen for a day). More importantly, however, these days, the idea expressed here seems to be omnipresent in books, articles, blogs, and titbits of advice on social media platforms that deal with questions of organisational or personal development aka “Leadership”.
“For traditional Buddhists, resurrection is daily business. Monday, kind of.”. This is a Good Friday Tweet posted by Morbus Laetitia this morning. What a lovely thought, I thought. And then: What if, indeed, Easter was not a once-a-year excuse for taking a few days off, while the feast itself (at least in Western Europe) has somehow lost most of its religious inheritance and spiritual appeal, in exchange for being devoured by chocolate bunnies and candy eggs? What if we made Easter our daily business, regardless of our religious (or philosophical) inclination?
A plane crashed in the French Alps, and 150 people died. This is horrible. Of course – as with all catastrophes and tragedies these days – media (especially in Germany) are full of news, reports, and comments. Social media buzz with meta-comments on those news, reports, and comments. Reactions cover the full range of human emotions and attitudes, reflecting people’s own “Betroffenheit” or “Empörung” (symptomatic in their untranslatability), as well as people’s “Betroffenheit” or “Empörung” with regard to other people’s reactions.
Why do we – including myself writing this blog post right now – feel not only the urge to talk about what happened, but also the urge to think about (and comment on) what other people might think, feel, and say about it?
Embarrassment is not usually talked about as a personal or institutional feature – let alone valued as a virtue. However, it is a fact that time and again, we are – openly or secretly – embarrassed by things going on in our personal or professional lives, from a runner in our pantyhose to a gaudy valentine’s surprise from our lover, from (our) kids misbehaving in public places to (male) managers getting it all wrong about gender diversity, from an associate presenting a badly designed power point chart to an esteemed colleague making a faulty argument in a newspaper article.