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.



Another Day To Do Something Different

To many, today is just another day. To others, it’s a new day. A chance to look at things differently to the way you usually do.

If you usually travel on the same route, what’s stopping you trying something different?

If you usually look straight ahead, try looking up every now and again. What do you notice that you haven’t seen before?

If you have the same lunch, try something different. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite food and then maybe that experience could inspire you to visit the country from where the food originates?

I love the weird ‘differentness’ of the work of Salvador Dalí. We don’t have to be as extreme as that perhaps, but then again, why not? The only thing is to do whatever works for you.

Today I’m at home cooking Japanese ramen for the first time. No idea how it’s going to turn out but it’s been fun trying something new.

What’s your something different going to be?


El Poder Del No

Un amigo me recomendó recientemente ‘El Hombre Del Sí’ (‘Yes Man’). Es un libro y una película fantástica en la que el protagonista dice ‘sí’ a todo el que se lo pide y como consecuencia, ocurren muchas cosas buenas. Sin embargo, después aprende que ‘sí’ no es siempre la respuesta correcta. Esto me hizo pensar en el poder de decir ‘no’.

Aunque decir ‘sí’ puede traer oportunidades, decir ‘no’ puede ser igualmente poderoso si se usa en el momento adecuado.

Por ejemplo, ¿nunca has querido decir ‘no’ a alguien y después dijiste ‘sí’ haciendo finalmente algo que no querías hacer?

Por supuesto hay muchas razones para decir ‘sí’ a cosas que escapan a nuestro control, pero a veces, aunque sea desafiante, decir ‘no’ podría haber creado mejores oportunidades y además, podría haberte hecho más feliz.

Decir ‘sí’ a una nueva oportunidad puede ser fortalecedor. Sin embargo, ‘no’ puede ser igualmente importante, si no más importante, ya que te puede dar tiempo y la posibilidad de vivir la vida que quieres vivir.

Así que, dilo. Inténtalo. Pero sólo si quieres…

(To read this post in English, read ‘The Power Of No‘)

Posting In Spanish

I’ve been living in Spain for almost a year now and as a result, I thought it about time that I write something in Spanish. This has also been inspired by a Spanish friend’s challenge to publish two posts in the language:

– one post that I’ve translated from one of my previous English ones
(published 23 Dec 2014)

– another that I will be writing directly into Spanish
(to be published before 31 Dec 2014)

This has been at the back of my mind for a few weeks now and as the New Year’s Eve deadline is looming, I thought I’d better get on with it. So, the next two posts on this blog will be in Spanish.

For those who don’t speak the language, I will of course be publishing a translation and if this goes well, I hope to publish more occasional posts in Spanish in the future too which would be an interesting challenge for the new year…

Decisions, Decisions

I’ve just taken my first ever Spanish exam. Been planning it for a while and am glad it’s finally over but I was struck by the fact that while I’m in my 40s, the other people taking their exam all looked like and probably were in their early 20s.

Suddenly I was reminded of being a 20 year old student at university where two of my close friends on my course were in their 40s. Now I am them, so to speak, and perhaps have more of an insight into what they might have been thinking at the time and I imagine that the most common thought for them when dealing with my younger self and my friends at the time would have been ‘what on earth were you thinking when you made that decision?’ and in hindsight, there were probably countless suspect decisions that I made at that time, however…

Every decision we make is the best we can make at the moment we make it. 

We do our best with the emotional, psychological and practical resources that we have at our disposal at the time. With age, experience and hindsight, everything may seem easier and maybe you would have made a different decision, but you did what you did with what you had. We handled it differently then, but we handled it in our own way and that’s all we can ask of each other and ourselves, isn’t it?

Scared woman

I Scared Myself And Survived

As you may know from yesterday’s post Do Something That Scares You (Especially On Halloween), I was quizmaster at a quiz last night speaking in English and Spanish. Speaking in a foreign language with an audience was something that scared me but I thought I’d do it anyway.

I’ve only been in Granada for a few months so I made some linguistic mistakes but the most important thing was everybody seemed to have fun and the feedback was very positive and that’s a good thing.

In the big scheme of things, a quiz in a bar in a foreign language is not a big deal but challenging yourself to do something that scares you is. I took on the fear and ‘survived’.

At this point, two things come to mind:

  • For me – I wonder what’s next?
  • For you – What are you going to do to scare yourself to move you forward in your life?