Helena de Jong: Five steps to improve our performance
Life for Helena has not always been easy. Although she enjoyed a good childhood she had to work from a young age and had to take care of herself when others could not. This did not deter her though and actually gave her a boost to empower herself even more. For 15 years she has been running her own business with the conviction that she still has a lot to invest in both herself and also her in her clients. In this interview she tells us about her daily work with important executives and CEO’s and shares with us five very valuable tips for all those who want to improve their performance.
How connected are you to your childhood memories and which memories in particular have marked your life?
I have very good memories of my early childhood. I was quite a shy girl and when I was nine years old, we moved to a farm in a place called Holten. That move started a period of many changes in my life. I was one of four children and I was always quite insecure inside. I often had the feeling that I could not achieve much because I was not super-smart. I had a hard time memorising things like learning tables for instance and I still wasn’t talking much. My parents tended to tell us what we were doing wrong instead of complimenting us. During the time that we lived on a farm my uncle and aunt also lived with us for a long time so we also had their constant attention so we were raised very protected. Actually nothing much was taught or shown to us as my parents did things just as they learned it from their own parents. What most marked my life was the illness of my father and then the divorce of my parents.
Was there a key moment when you decided what to do with your life?
One evening my parents came to talk to me. My father was very ill and could no longer work in the market. So from the age of 14 I helped to grate cheese for sale and on Friday afternoons I also helped to sell the cheese. My older sister didn’t live at home and the other children were still too young. So I was actually the only one who could fill in. From one day to the next I was dropped from school and soon I was on the market stall full-time together with my uncle. I worked at the market for two and a half years and in that time we came to lose everything bit by bit. After two years my parents told us that all our money was gone. That felt like hitting the bottom and that everything was being washed away from right under my feet. So we then had to move house. Shortly after, our father suddenly left us overnight. He was still ill but he had met someone else. In the meantime, my uncle had asked a friend to come to and work with him at the market and so for me, it felt as if there was no more room to proceed. That was a very low point in my life at the time. Everyone was just busy with themselves and so my mother was unable to be there for me. Everything was taken care of and I just felt superfluous. That’s the point when I realised that something needed to be done. That led to the next turning point in my life that later led to the career change and the eventual building of my business.
From that moment on I started looking for my own answers and that was the beginning of another life.
How would you describe your career today and at what point is it?
My career really started 15 years ago when I started my own business. Life as it is now for me can best be described as a mirror of the beliefs and choices I have made and the way I am programmed. That also applies to the success of a business or our career choices and our life.
These days with the hustle and bustle of the rat race and enormous pressures from the outside for us to perform whilst paying the mortgage etc it seems that we have forgotten that we are only human. Despite the fact that we have beautiful talents, ideas, dreams and visions, very little of our potential manifests in daily life.
Many people are still guided by what others think or expect of them or what they expect of themselves. They often want to prove themselves by thinking that everything has to be ‘more than good’ and close to perfect. There is a great fear of failure and too much focus on achievement and success as well hoping for ultimate fulfilment. They think that attaining this perfection will enable them to say: ‘I now have time for myself and my family and to lead the life I want. Only that time never seems to come because there is always another thing that requires attention.
My mission is to show them that there is another possibility to experience and a way to live their lives successfully, healthy and free.
How would you describe your work with key leaders and CEOs?
What I have found is that at some point, they seem to ‘get stuck’ and run up against their own limits. They then try to fix the things that are outside of them which is not always possible.
I actually transform people in the first place by deliberately disrupting the way they look at the world and then give them new tools to shift from the inside out. Working from the inside out makes their talents more visible, the mission becomes clear again and provides them with the direction that suits them best. Compassion, gentleness and understanding are built up here both towards oneself and also towards others. It deepens relationships, builds trust and provides better health and joy. They often choose to get out of the rat race completely and take better care of themselves as well as creating more time for themselves and their family.
Can Entrepreneurs really learn to improve their business performance? How is this done?
Everyone carries their own talents and have created the right conditions to do what they have come here to do. I do this for companies or businesses on the basis of five key principles:
- Continue to develop yourself on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level so that you can become a better version of yourself as a better leader, parent and partner. Being proud of what you have accomplished.
- Delegate what others can do faster, better and cheaper than you. Make sure you divide your work. Together you achieve much more than you could ever do alone. A well-composed team achieves better results and more time for yourself and your family.
- Communicate openly and honestly with yourself and with your colleagues and employees. Good communication builds genuine relationships.
- Train your team and inspire them! You build a team based on trust, support and loyalty. This creates new leaders in the team who then take on their own responsibility. This ensures better performance and a closer team.
- Practice self-care. That is what is often missing if you put yourself last and live on autopilot. Take care of yourself first because only then will you provide real value in the world and be able to help. You alone determine the success and degree of fulfilment in your life and in your business or career.
In your opinion, what is the greatest potential that an individual or an entrepreneur has?
Your greatest strength really lies in yourself. Listening to the voice of your heart instead of your head. You often encounter this at a time when you are faced with a decision or when you have taken a path that no longer suits you. Our minds sometimes want to go over that and tell you that this is what you have to do or should do. That is the time you have to listen to your heart.
I believe we all have our own story. All of our circumstances and experiences are not for nothing because they all mean something. The challenge for all of us is to see it as such and to do something with it. To use our experiences as lessons that we learn from to develop sd individuals. To discover your talent and your mission is key and then sharing that unique talent with the world in everything you do.
You have no influence on whatever comes your way but you can influence how you want to deal with it and what you want to believe. That is where everyone’s resilience lies! Being a leader from the inside out does make a real impact on the world!