How Bruce Lee Helped Me Get A Spanish Driving Licence

Perhaps this is something we don’t like admitting, but although we may want to get things done as soon as possible, sometimes it will just take longer. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.


I’ve just managed to get a Spanish driving licence for a friend. It’s been a process which started a few months ago and as is the case in most places, dealing with bureaucracy can be a challenge and in Spain, perhaps more so. Either way, after several months and visits to various official administrative departments, I collected the document this morning and I’m relieved and happy, even though it perhaps took longer than it needed to.




However, when faced with a potentially unfriendly beast such as government departments with some staff who lean more towards the ‘computer-says-no’ school of customer service, I have found there are are four key elements to get what you are looking for:


1) be prepared, do your homework and make umpteen copies

2) focus on developing a relationship with whoever can help you as opposed to having a go at who is being obstructive. Perhaps I should have known that the grumpy man in the pink trousers was not going to be the most helpful. Having said that, can you ever trust anybody in pink trousers?!

3) take a breath and be patient (this one is important)

4) take another breath and be a little bit more patient (more important than the last)


Bruce Lee talked about ‘being like water’ where the water in a bottle takes the shape of the bottle or whatever container it is in.


In this case, I had to assume the shape of the staff in the Traffic Department and ‘speak their language’. In time, it worked, but in the meantime, being like water and working together with the ‘system’ was ultimately much more productive than if I had fought against it.

This approach may not work in all situations, but I know the next time I will have to deal with Spanish bureaucracy, like Bruce Lee, I will most certainly aim to ‘be like water’…

Baby image courtesy of The Odyssey Online.
Bruce Lee image courtesy of Bloody Elbow.



Permission To Not Be Positive

“Sometimes I want to go home and stay out of sight for a long time”


This is a lyric from a song called ‘Van Occupanther’ by one of my favourite bands, Midlake which gets me every time. On listening to it today, it got me thinking especially about how it feels to ‘sometimes want go home and stay out of sight for a long time’.


Being online for example can be a wonderful thing and maybe the truth is that some people ‘lie’ about their online presence as they want to put on a ‘happy face’ on Facebook or maybe don’t feel strong enough or that it’s even appropriate to talk about things on their mind and share in such a public way. And of course, this sense of having to put on a brave/happy face can also be  a personal or professional pressure in our everyday lives.


The reasons for wanting to stay out of sight for a long time could include depression, loneliness, prospect of conflict or just having a bad day. We’ve all been there to some degree and some more than others. When we feel like this, many people focus on the positive solutions and offer up advice which can be and is certainly meant to be helpful. Statements in the manner of ‘You just have to focus on the positive’ are well-intentioned but like everything in life, the solution to each problem is not always the same. It needs to be flexible depending on the situation.


However, sometimes we do just need to ‘go home and stay out of sight’ if not for a long time, then at least for a while. We may come out the other side in a better way or not, but that’s not really the issue here.


It’s more about giving ourselves ‘permission’ to occasionally feel okay about setting aside positivity for a time to embrace sadness, which after all is an inevitable part of the human condition of which many people are quite naturally afraid.


Once we’ve spent a little more time with ourselves and our own sadness, we may then have gathered the strength to not only not be afraid of dealing with sadness itself, but also anything else which we may face in our lives, including perhaps the ability to be positive.

We can’t be positive all the time, however hard we may try. From time to time, I think we need to give ourselves permission to not be positive.


Read a previous post inspired by music Embracing The Melancholy.


Watch the video to ‘Van Occupanther’ by Midlake.


One Thing At A Time

You would think that it would be easier to do one thing at a time, but how many people do you see who are doing two or perhaps more of the following everyday things at the same time?:

– chatting
– reading/looking at mobile phone/tablet
– communicating (making a phone call/sending an email/text/Whatsapp)
– listening to music
– eating/drinking
– driving/cycling/walking (crossing roads)

While they are doing some these things simultaneously, they are not focusing on any one of them with all their attention and in the case of driving, cycling and walking, there could even be quite dramatic consequences.

Everyone seems to be in a rush to get things done quickly, but what is the point if you are not doing any of them well?

People are also missing out on the very real benefits of getting the full effect of the conversation they are having with their friend if they are constantly being distracted by social media notifications. And not only that, but they are also essentially saying that the person sending the email or making the call is more important than the person in front of them who made the effort to be there. So the question here is, what could you prioritise?

Maybe everyone’s attention spans have shifted more than ever since the advent of the internet and mobile phone technology, but surely more choice is a good thing, isn’t it? Some people talk about being better at multitasking than others and that may be true and sometimes even necessary, however at times when you have a choice, what could you focus on more intently and mindfully to get more benefit from it?

Do you want to get things done well or do you just want to get more things done?

When did you last listen to music without doing anything else? Or read a book in silence? When did you last stop to look around you and really absorb your surroundings? What did you notice that you may have not seen or experienced because you were doing something else?

With all the distractions of the modern world, I accept it can be challenging as it is something which I constantly face too, however what’s stopping you trying to focus on one thing at a time? Maybe, just the once. And see how you go.

I look forward to hearing how you found it.

Orange Red

Sometimes Good Things Happen To Good People

I’ve recently been concerned about a friend of mine who has been worrying for months about a combination of family, work and financial issues. Although she felt she was doing as much as she possibly could, nothing seemed to change and she was getting increasingly stressed.

So in an effort to address the issues, she spoke to some family members and tried to be as open and honest as possible with them and they reciprocated. The conversations were challenging to say the least and the problems weren’t yet solved, but things were slowly moving forward and she soon noticed that she was starting to feel the weight on her shoulders lift a little.

In the meantime, she’d been applying for jobs in her field for several weeks, not expecting any of them to come to pass and then, in the same week that she’d made progress with the family, she was offered a job. One that she really wanted that would not only solve the work issue, but also improve her finances. She’d been to the interview, they’d been impressed with her experience and skills and she’d got the job. Where’s the surprise in that you may ask? But she didn’t seem to understand why she had been given this opportunity. I’ve known her for many years and it hadn’t surprised me in the least that she’d got it as I know that once she sets her mind to achieve something, she does it and this situation was the evidence if any more were needed.

Inevitably, we went to the pub to celebrate and after a few drinks, I think she was even starting to believe me. But perhaps it’s nice to just think that although the world can occasionally be a hard place, sometimes good things do happen to good people.