Movies, theater, musea, cycling, and hiking with friends make up the bulk of Kristien's leisure time activities. The rest of her free time, she spends reading. More than twenty unread books -mainly in Dutch or English- lie blinking on her coffee table: primarily historical or generational novels, detective and crime stories.
"If I don't learn anymore, I'm dead." Her extreme curiosity stems from growing up in a three-country juncture. Continuously switching between three cultures and languages convinced her she could never assume she knew how things work because it is always different elsewhere. It was no surprise for her environment when she moved to work and live abroad.
Kristien values people but eschews heroism. She would have liked a meeting with Nelson Mandela to find out how he led a country about to explode, how he avoided civil war, and how he came to the insights of truth and reconciliation.
Her three guiding principles are:
🧭 Don't linger in what could have been: look back, evaluate and learn
🧭 All roads lead to Rome: we invariably have the choice to take alternative routes
🧭 Never assume: always check if you understood correctly. Ask probing questions to find the deeper meaning behind the words. Be aware that the pitfall is in yourself; your life experience filters your 'understanding.'
Young Kristien, she would advise not to set the bar too high, to show more mildness to herself. She was always in a hurry; one thing was not yet finished, and the next was already there. "Let go, relax, stand still and enjoy."
One of her more impactful mentors helped her grasp the international viewpoint, e.g., explaining Belgium to non-Belgians and what mattered in business decision-making. He was also the first to suggest not to be so hard on herself. Kristien felt safe to discuss even the more complex and personal issues with him. The relativism and the different perspective a mentor offers is priceless. Now it's her turn to give back and be proud when she has helped people accomplish.
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