Copyright 2021 John Alex i Piotr Jankowski
firstname.lastname@example.org +48 509 774 360
John Alex: Hello you! Today I have the pleasure to talk not only with Piotr, but also with Leo - his wonderful wife! What will be the topic of our conversation? Today I will ask about their change, the method of turning sorrows into joy and why they moved at all and why to the Tri-City, why Gdańsk? I am convinced that your story will inspire many.
Good morning beloved, nice to see you!
Let's get to know each other
Leo: Dobrý den, John Alex. Rád tě vidím poprvé!
John Alex: Oh no, we won't be doing this interview in Czech, Leo. Please ... I know that you emphasize your belonging to the south of Europe - although it's rather eastern Europe - but always to the south ... now, we are in the north, we have the sea here (eghm ...), so please, my love, speak to me clearly.
Leo: Of course John Alex, I always speak Czech to new friends, it's a kind of business card, nice to meet you!
John Alex: Phew, it's good that you speak great Polish, Leo.
Piotr: I am also glad to see you, John Alex.
John Alex: Yes, excuse me Piotr. I was talking to Leo ... All right, dear. Have you been here in Gdańsk for over eight months, moved, anchored for good? So where do we start?
Leo: It's not quite like that when you say "moved", we still live in a rented apartment, in a nice area of a park and a lake, but yet that's not it - we are waiting for our dream place, and, unfortunately, it is still under construction ... already we're counting down the remaining days!
John Alex: It's all exciting, I'm very happy. But how did it all start?
Piotr: It's a complex matter, John Alex ... let's start with what became the original cause of our Great Change? Maybe I'll give you the context and the bumps that led to it, John Alex…?
John Alex: Of course, Piotr. Tell me!
Piotr: The time when the beginnings of the need for change began to appear in my head, it was the period at the end and immediately after achieving the goals that I had set for myself professionally in the previous company. After reaching a certain level, as if I wanted to prove something to myself... And I have proven it, but it quickly turned out that this was not what my life was about. Specifically? As a leader, "big boss", member of the board of a great international organization, etc., I built a fantastic team, co-created a fantastic organizational culture, led the team in difficult and demanding times of incredible growth, "we set up" a new city - Katowice as the second next to Łódź, we found a beautiful , a new building for our center, we launched new services covering all IT… a lot. It was really a lot and they were huge and impressive projects. Few people can say in the end: I successfully managed 2,500 people at the Center and thousands around the world in global roles. I am not afraid to say that I am proud of it. It is really a lot. Already during this journey, I began to notice that the path I was following, is the path to burnout: ten hours at work in office, working at home on top of it as well. Family matters passed me by, although I was with them, it was more or less next to me - not with me. I gave little... Leo helped Olek in his lessons, my Dad with maths - a great brain, which needs pointing out, so there was no one better. I looked at it grateful, because they made something possible for me, they took something on themselves, but my final reflection was that they were filling a void that I am creating myself. And I started to wonder what is most important...
John Alex: We'll come back to that, Piotr. Leo, what was your perspective?
Leo: It was fun time, it's not like Piotr wasn't there at all. He was. And with time, as these "big" things stabilized, Piotr was at home earlier and longer. It was not that we suffered, we both knew that in the role or roles in which Piotr played "there", we cannot expect more of him "here". We made this decision together, I remember the day we talked about it just before his promotion to the Head of the Center, Head of GDC and Board Member. We were just talking about what we are agreeing to, that there will be less of him and that I will take care of the son and house. It was a chance for Piotrek, I agreed, because I knew that he wanted it. And I wanted it for him.
Piotr: Of course, there were many such mini reasons, accumulated mini reasons over time, which we somehow managed to carry. Or, which I have learned and learned to eliminate, e.g. by starting tennis or learning windsurfing, or playing guitar in my case... to have something next to me, something that positively distracts me from work and gives me a break. It is worth having a hobby, because it does not take time, to the contrary - you hobby, which is a distraction from work, brings you closer to the Family. Even if we are not together at the very moment ... this is what work-life balance is all about, I understood it and implemented it and it worked.
We wrote about this here: https://johnalex.pl/work-life-balance.
And finally came 2018. The thing we were not ready for happened. I was not ready. The most important negative moment and a disaster - my Dad's death.
We lived house-in-house with my parents, it was an arrangement for mutual help and being a bigger family. The comfort of seclusion and closeness at the same time. 2 in 1. The layout worked perfectly. And suddenly it was gone.
Dad died, Mum was left alone, condolences came from the company, I went back to work... but things were not the same anymore. As a family, we weren't able to move on to the next stage, and Mum on her own, lonely… me at work all the time, again. We helped as much as we could, but my Mother probably stopped believing and wanting to live...
John Alex: And what happened next?
Piotr: Next was 2020, February. Between 2018 and 2020. nothing memorable happened for me in the company: stabilization after growth, global functions, trips to Japan, awards, relationships... there was no growth, nothing major to "build", instead a strong internal PR and politics... during this period I got two coaches from the company, one came from a global leadership program in 2018, which changed me a lot, and in 2019 Tomek the Coach - a "Kingmaker". We've been working on a change. Previous expectations and willingness to prove certain things to myself vs my real self. Fire and water. What am I really like? Who am I as a leader? He helped me put all of it together.
John Alex: And what happened?
Piotr: My mother felt bad, I felt bad in the company, the team also felt bad with me. That year was a time when many of us, following our former boss, started looking for another place for ourselves, mainly outside the organization. In my case, we met my boss and agreed on the terms of departure. I remember when I was driving away after the final meeting, I felt like a hand getting stripped of plaster after a fracture, do you know that feeling John Alex, when you freed hand goes up like a feather? I don't think you do… you're digital. Well, John Alex, when your casts are being taken off, your arm suddenly goes up by itself, it's so light. You've been carrying something heavy for weeks, suddenly they take it off, and the healed limb flies up! This is how I felt after almost 10 years in the company, although during this time I did not feel the plaster on my hand at all, and I only realized it when it fell off...
But I loved this company very much, mainly people, I felt sorry for leaving only because of the relationships and friendships that I made there and that have remained until today! Overall - it was a great time, but it's time for a change for me... And the company is doing well, the team was ready - that's what I'm mostly proud of.
John Alex: So what did you do Guys?
Leo: We started planning PRZERWA-EMS Studio, initially in Łódź. Piotr wanted to help me, I became a personal trainer and we decided that now I would do something that could give us a livelihood and at the same time - an amazing "fun". We got to know the EMS technology (Electric Muscle Stimulation), cool people, we came up with the concept of the studio and we were about to sign a contract on the premises when Piotr's mother fell ill ...
Piotr: Happiness after taking the cast off did not last long ... I remember that Leo approached me saying that my mother looks terribly bad. Something just happened overnight. At least that's what we thought then. On the same day, we went to an emergency room at the hospital... doctors, examinations, tests, tomography. In the next following days it turned out that it was a tumor with metastases. Developed quietly and painlessly and without any symptoms to date. From the pancreas to the liver. I have a request for you as you read this: get tested often and don't smoke. My mother smoked a lot, it was impossible to persuade her to quit.
She fell ill during the first COVID lockdown, I remember being afraid because I was several times in different hospitals, at different doctors, I changed my mask every visit...
And my mother passed away exactly 20 days from the moment we went to the Emergency Room. 19 days after I turned 40. The days of a struggle with a vague hope, looking for methods, doctors ... then palliative care. Watching Her dying while sitting next to you. Giving a glass of water.
I must add here how Leo helped me with my mother when it was necessary at times when she had no strength to perform hygiene tasks... I would not be able to do it myself, mentally. And Leo did it and I am eternally grateful to her and I admire her for this courage and openness to human matters.
John Alex: It's all very sad, Piotr. So how could anything positive be born of all of this?
Leo: When Piotr's Dad died, I admired Piotr's Mom and him for how quickly they got back on their feet and how quickly they recovered from the trauma.
Piotr: Maybe I'll start with a quote, thinks to Maya Angelou: “If you don't like it - change it. If you can change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain!".
We have implemented both parts of this thought and we live accordingly. I have built a very strong resilience over the years (sports and work). It is a very strong trait on one hand, on the other hand it blocked building relationships with people. In this particular case, very helpful, but this is a subject for another story, another time maybe?
John Alex: No, no, Piotr! Please - tell us about "resilience".
Piotr: I understand it as the capacity of the bucket to accept events without causing any negative effects to you as a person, psychologically or emotionally. This ability to keep "yourself" at ease with regard to events. The larger the capacity, the more you are able to carry on your shoulders, including small and huge loads.
I will start with why and what did it block me from? I am a very sensitive person - deep down in my heart, but building a lot of resilience (like "immunity") covered that fully. Basically if you are a resilient person, then what makes a total problem for others and for this reason they tear their hair out, for you it is something neutral just a challenge to overcome - ideate, plan, execute - done. Today, I am already aware how to use "resilience" consciously, so sometimes I hide resilience and draw double-empathy me outside just not to cause an effect of disrespecting someone's problem.
An when resilience helps? Well, It basically helps, you know - carry more. Besides, and moreover, my attitude towards solving problems never allowed me to sit in a corner and cry, I am not this type of a man... mourning after the death of my parents was short in my case, because after about two weeks we already started planning "what to do next" . This does not mean that I do not have deep regrets in my heart, I have and often remember them, talk to them or cry, for example when I listen to songs they adored. But it does not limit my action "here and now".
I came to one more strong conclusion: it is not when you turn 18 you become an adult, also not when you start living on your own, not when you get married nor when you have a first baby. For me, this maturity came rapidly in the years 2018-2020 and it means that from now on 100% is on my head. What our Family is, who our Son will be. There will be no more: "Please, Grandma", "Dad, help me with math", "Dad, what can you advise me", "Mom, I'm sad, hug me...". Nobody will advise me, not bring me back from error... We are alone. Such adults…! To this day, I still continue to find myself in this new adult role.
John Alex: So what is it, then how do you get this immunity, this "resilience", do you have a recipe for that?
Piotr: Everyone has to find their own way, everyone is different and creates their own system, based on different values and beliefs ... I can only say what helped me:
1. First, believing this quote: “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Do not complain!"
- in short, I do not feel sorry for myself, but I act.
2. Second: take care of yourself, your self-esteem. Even if you are losing someone, you have yourself and it is worth having yourself as someone you trust the most.
3. And apart from yourself - it is worth having someone nearby who will give you support. Your Partner, a Friend... It is not a shame to ask for help and cry out of despair. In management, we talk about "vulnerability", that is, about the sensitivity / handicap / susceptibility to something... We do not have to pretend to be big, strong, indestructible. It's normal and human that everyone (everyone!) needs support, conversation and a hug from time to time.
4. What helps especially in my case is "to act!". What builds "resilience" from the most trivial matters is looking at the event not as a wall you cannot pass, but as a problem to be solved. Like a test assignment. Someone (maybe fate?) puts something in front of me, how can I / we solve it and what will be the best solution?
Do you know the Circle of Influence?
If this is new to some of you, I will explain. This is the Wheel of Influence. Each of us has one. But each of us has inner or outer circles of different diameters. What is going on?
The outer circle is usually fairly constant, it's what is all around us, concepts beyond us - out of our control: globalization, politics, taxes, the weather, the death of loved ones, often also...
Right in the middle, green, is an area of full control: what I eat, how I live, what I read, how I behave, will I get promoted, etc.
And in between is the Partial Influence Zone - blue, I can act actively to impact it, but I don't have full control, e.g. what my health looks like, will I be successful, will I get my dream job, etc.
And now what is important and what follows from it - 2 things:
1. In a "today" state, it is important to:
2. You grow your resilience when we strive to change this state - and as indicated by the arrows:
Ultimately, the point is that the external area should be as narrow as possible in our lives, and the internal area as wide as possible... For me it is "resilience", resisting adversities and acting, instead of complaining about "bad luck" or bad fate...
And one more digression for the IT world. I thought that the middle area of Full Control in IT is when we do full DESIGN ourselves, it depends on us how the application will look and work.
In the Partial Influence area, we are Part Code Developer, we have WRITE PERMISSIONS, so no full control but we can add to code.
In the Lack of Control area, we are focused on READ...
Do you agree?
John Alex: Thanks Piotr for this story and for the "resilience" lecture. Leo, how did you start, what were the next steps?
Leo: We started planning quite quickly, it was very refreshing... we needed it, especially since it was not easy, even for a moment, to forget and do something else. We saw the Parents' House every day from our window. "Yesterday" we had family cloeseby to visit, "today" it is empty. It disturbed us, we talked and came to the conclusion that it would not work anymore - to live there and look at that house. And the new tenants in this house will not help us suddenly change the perception that it is still "the parents' house." So we made the decision quite quickly and automatically that we would not live there at all and we had to move elsewhere. Suddenly, we stopped all our career plans and launched the "New" project.
John Alex: What exactly happened, what did you feel at the moment and what exactly did you do?
Piotr: Here it is, when it is no longer sad and it is getting more optimistic. In the context of the change, we performed a Lifestyle Design exercise - Design how your life is to look like in details.
I suggested this to Leo and she agreed we both do it.
The idea behind this method is to describe and design your dream life in detail using all your senses. In very detail. What do you see when you wake up? What can you see from the window? How do you eat breakfast, with whom? What time is it? What does the job look like? What do you look like? What are you doing at which point in time? What does lunch look like? Where do you live? What are you doing tonight? When you open the window, what do you hear, how does it smell? What do you do on weekends? What does your job look like, who is your client? Etc. etc.
All aspects of your life in detail.
John Alex: It looks great and what was the result of your work?
Leo: The effect was very awareness-raising... Piotr designed our life separately, and me separately. Then we read it out loud to each other it turned out we achieved 95% agreement, so we didn't have to have any additional compromises. All the key assumptions were on point, so we were like: let's do it! It was a joyful experience for us as a married couple to have a similar vision of the future.
Additionally and in parallel we literally moved our finger on the map, imagining whether we want to live abroad or in Poland. Maybe Australia? Maybe the USA? Maybe beloved Spain? However, we quickly came to the conclusion that we do not want to leave Poland, but we definitely want to start living somewhere else than now… to change the environment.
John Alex: Please tell me why you chose Gdańsk and the Pomeranian voivodeship?
Leo: Oh, there are many parameters and many reasons, maybe first I will list them in general and then develop on it, and please, Piotr, add if I missed something, ok?
Piotr: Of course!
Leo: So these reasons are: sea, lakes, forests, improving the quality of life, living in a bigger city, improving all parameters of family life and community functioning at the destination, and professional changes. It was also important for me, that I, too, would start working, that Piotr would work less intensively than he used to, and that we could continue to “embrace” us as a family without spoiling anything.
Piotr: Nothing to add, Leo😊
John Alex: Okay, then make all these elements more specific... please expand first those related to geography, Pomerania and Gdańsk, and then all the others.
Leo: Okay, so the ones related to the move to Gdańsk ... so the first one: what we did was revise the city rankings. Official reports. In terms of education, quality of life, and subjective feeling of happiness by the inhabitants of Gdańsk (but also Sopot and Gdynia), in the last few years they were ranked 1-5 out of all cities in Poland. This was of course of great importance to us, and so is the importance of checking reviews before buying a product in an online store!
Specifically, we decided to choose Gdańsk because we wanted to live in the largest of these three cities, due to business and professional options.
Well, what can I say, we love the sea - I do even more than Piotr. It's my dream to be able to just go for a walk by the sea whenever I want, not once a year and pray for the good weather for your holis😊
Piotr: Regarding geography, maybe I will develop the issue of lakes and forests. A few years ago, over 6 years, I managed to "sell" to my family the admiration to the Kashubia area, the Bory Tucholskie and Kashubian as a community. I, from the age of 7, practically every year went to the lakes camping for long days or weeks to enjoy nature, wildlife, natural places, crystal clear lake water and atmosphere of isolation, wilderness in quiet, hardly accessible places. Tents.
John Alex: And that also influenced your choice?
Leo: Sure it did. Now we are 1-1.5 hours from the place wchich we love - we were even in winter this year, it was unreal before. And we can go there every weekend in the summer, although we will have a problem to decide whether the weekend is at the seaside or at the lakes. We cannot be here and there at the same time! The fact is, having these choices is better than not having them! And that's the next reason.
Piotr: We chose Gdańsk and the Tri-City also because it is a very green city, we love its hilly nature, higher terrace, lower terrace, Tricity Landscape Park, Oliwa Forests, Sopot Forests, Gdynia's Kępa Redłowska and Klif Orłowski... all close to us in Gdańsk And within 20 km there are amazing places for daily and weekend hiking and cycling trips, which we take advantage of with great passion!
Leo: And also the Old Town, Długa Street, or our favorite Mariacka street!
John Alex: I hear you guys are really happy. Okay, what about things beyond geography?
Piotr: We wanted to improve every aspect of our lives, even by a single point in scale. To make it closer to school, we also wanted to have more neighbors, i.e. the community around us (and we lived in a rural area, outside the city), so that my son would have friends in the immediate vicinity, it would be safer, for example, to ride a bike outside the house - Gdańsk has many bicycle paths and this is also its big advantage. It matters that there was good public transport and the proximity of stops, and from the area where we live, we can easily use buses and SKMs. And there is the Gdańsk Card.
We are proud since we became Gdańsk citizens and that we live in the "historical capital of Kashubia" -> "Gduńsk - stolëca Kaszëb".
And probably most importantly, the people we meet here, from offices, through professional matters, to our neighbors, are very kind and helpful to us. The people we meet are fantastic and we are happy that we are building new, good relationships. We only miss our friends left in Łódź, it is obvious...
Leo: It's true, we miss our friends, but we stay in touch and all of them promised to visit us often because of the place we have chosen. There have been two visits from them already for my birthday and yours, right?
John Alex: Well, what about the traffic jams on the ring roads? You were warned about them and what?
Piotr: I worked in Łódź, often came to Warsaw, honestly? In Gdańsk and on the Tri-City ring roads, rush hours are the same as in our previous cities. Sure, it's annoying, which is why we plans to use buses and bicicles more!
Piotr: Maybe I'll start because I want to say something important. As I have already mentioned, the last 10 years have been subordinated to my development, and for several years we have been talking about how Leo will want to build herself professionally and in business, so in my "post-corporate" life, my professional priority no. 1 has become and still is to help Leo in her endeavors. Great, incidentally, it fits in with the concept of John Alex, who is to help others to be successful, the dream customer No. 1!
John Alex: Wow, that sounds good, Leo?
Leo: I really appreciate Piotr's help and together we have really launched something that I dreamed of and in which I am very much realizing at the moment! Our (mine!) PRZERWA-Studio EMS (https://przerwa.studio), due to the above change in our lives, had to wait until the move, but we found a fantastic place and the landlord, the place was prepared very quickly and from January 2021, my dream Personal Training and EMS Training Studio operates and serves clients. I invite everyone to a free trial training and PREMIUM-style service!
John Alex: Wooow! This sounds great, if I wasn't digital I would love to sign up right now!
Piotr: You can't have it all, John Alex! Enjoy what you have!
John Alex: And Leo, what are you doing in this PRZERWA - Studio?
Leo: I disenchant people, I give them the opportunity to change, to be what they want to be, to work on their physicality (but also to cleanse their psyche through exercise) in an intimate setting, that's why I'm calling it PREMIUM. You come, I analyze you from head to toe, we talk about your goals, barriers, what you would like to change, I listen carefully, you get a free practice training, I watch you further and finally I will give you a training plan that will give you exactly what you need. Maybe you want to lose centimeters, maybe strengthen your body, maybe increase your buttocks a little, or improve your condition... I will adjust the training and myself to you, but it will not be easy! Success does not come easily😊
And we achieve it all with the help of the most modern technology - EMS. Muscle electrostimulation, which makes the training short, but very intense, and therefore you train once a week, and for the remaining 3-4 days your body still "digest" this training and still operates under the influence of the training... most importantly, it gives people happiness, I love people and relationships, I am happy when they start smiling, fulfilled and energized for their other tasks!
John Alex: Leo, I have to tell you that you are talking about all this with great passion. Congratulations and good luck!
Leo: Thanks John Alex!
John Alex: And you Piotr?
Leo: Like you didn't know, John Alex!
Piotr: Exactly! I created you, John Alex (https://johnalex.pl)... because I had so much to say, so much to comment before I became a Consultant, Mentor and Coach..
John Alex: Are you satisfied?
Piotr: John Alex, I work less intensively than before, I support Leo, I work commercially with clients - as a consultant, as a mentor, as a coach... I find myself in this new role, in many different projects, it is diverse, I touch different people courageously and responsibly, I am with several companies ... this is how I dreamed about my next steps and at the moment I want to devote myself to it. Of course, I am still learning and improving at the same time, and at the same time I have time for the Family... and I feel that I am alive. And that I am developing. And I am calm.
John Alex: A beautifully told story, my dear friends! I wish you every success and perseverance!
Leo: Thank you for this great interview, John Alex!
Piotr: See you, John Alex!