ABOUT THE FIREBREATHER BROTHERHOOD
In the self-leadership workshops I run we start off by sharing the high and lows of our live and to set the tone for how to tell the story I begin.
I'm very honest and basically open my rib cage and pour from my heart, my successes and the struggles, when I shine and when my shadow sides incapacitates me, both in my private life and in my career.
Most of the time there's a few men who discreetly catch me in the break or in the evening and tell me that it's the first time they hear a strong successful man show such vulnerability. That it's such a relief to hear that they're not alone with their emotions, with questioning if they measure up, with feeling lost under their mask of confidence and resolve.
MORE ABOUT ME
Hi, I'm Fredrik.
Long before what I described above, over more than 15 years working in and with corporations I've observed and directly experienced a lot issues directly related to the dysfunctional idea of what a man is so when men came to me share their stories I knew it was time to start talking with men about being a man.
That's when I decided to start the firebreather brotherhood .
I have over 15 years of professional experience from sales, sales management, alliance management, talent management and management consulting from large international IT and telecom companies Cisco, Telefonica, Juniper and IBM. And experience as an entrepreneur setting up a management consulting company in IT service management.
Originally from the south of Sweden, I went on to study at universities in both Sweden and England before setting off on an international career through Northern Europe and finally settling with my family in Prague in 2008.
I'm a certified coach with International Coach Federation, certified practitioner with Leadership Circle and workshop facilitator for Oxford Leadership.
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY
It was the autumn of 2005 and for the fifty-eleventh time in I couldn’t count how many days, weeks, months, the same question was burning itself through my brain from every imaginable direction.
Like every other morning, Monday through Friday, I was barreling down the narrow road to the highway that took me to work, my mind on fire not with ideas and energy, but with a morbid calculation that I’d come to think of as routine. So routine, in fact, I’d even gone through my old college physics books to refresh my memory on kinetic energy.
Eying the thick, ancient trees lining the road, I tried to calculate:
“What’s the optimal speed to crash my car into one of them so I don’t kill myself,
but hurt myself enough to get three months’ medical leave from work?“
As I said, morbid… but maybe not so unfamiliar.
I was 32 at the time, had a good job, made decent money. My life looked good from the outside. And, yet, here I was considering self-incapacitation as my only route of escape.
Every work day, I left my heart at home and replaced it with my laptop. From 8 am till 7 pm, I was busy with tasks, responsibilities and obligations that meant nothing to me. My reporting requirements kept me buried under Excel sheets for days on end, pushing numbers up the command chain so the powers that be could figure out ways to make more money off my department’s labor.
My days, weeks and months disappeared in a hazy blur of repetitive motion. I felt like a mouse trapped on a spinning wheel, always running, running, running to keep pace, but going nowhere. It was making me sick to my stomach.
But I had no idea how to get myself off the spinning wheel
without throwing myself off and into a tree!
Then, something happened. A chance came along when a friend asked me to partner with him on a new business. It was a risk, but then, staying at my job was obviously the greater risk – especially since I’d calculated 67 km/h as a good speed for a collision.
So, I did it. I dug deep, closed my eyes, took a breath and found the courage to jump off that spinning wheel.
And you know what…?
I didn’t crash. In fact, I landed on my feet.
Not the feet I’m standing on today, but two feet that would take the first steps on my not-always-straight thousand-mile journey to where I am today.
See, in the new business I came to realize the deep pleasure I got out of coaching and mentoring people. This, in turn, inspired me to get my professional coaching certificate.
Except, in my coaching, I continually came across all the same business problems I’d dealt with in my old job. All the questions about corporate goals, corporate strategy, corporate this, corporate that. There was no room for personal growth and life satisfaction, and I came to question the very belief system I’d been programmed with my entire life.
And so a new set of questions began to take over my thoughts:
- “Is this even what I believe in, or is it just what society expects me to believe in?”
- “What’s holding me back from leading a meaningful, purpose-driven life?”
- “What am I afraid of?”
- “What do I need to do to lead the type of emotionally fulfilling life I want to lead?”
The answers came to me with the clarity of a crisp and sunny winter morning just after a new snowfall:
No. Yes. Myself. To not be good enough. Trust myself in the moment.
And then there was the ultimate question, of course:
“What do I really want to do with my life?”
I thought long and hard about all the parts of my life that brought me satisfaction and joy. My wife, my daughter, my friends and family. I thought about my childhood dreams, and all those ideas of opening a bed and breakfast or backpacking around the world I’d had while on vacation from my old job. I made lists of pros and cons, weighed my options and judged practicalities.
But in the end, I did what I’d finally learned to do:
Trust myself in the moment.
And the moment told me that what I wanted to do – what gave me energy and filled me with passion and made me excited about Monday mornings – was to help other people find their way to an authentic, meaningful life. To help save them from a life of coulda been and shoulda done. To breathe fire into their souls and give them the confidence, clarity and direction they need to follow their dreams.
Change is hard, but as the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
My journey has taken me here. Where will yours take you?
It’s my mission to help you take that first step, to find your direction and to give you the tools and habits you need to live closer to your heart and have it all.
It beats purposefully slamming your car into a tree, that’s for sure.