Two magic words that will change your life
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 49 seconds
It’s a rainy day in Southern France. I’m sitting in a giant landhouse – more like a villa – and wondering what to do with a day when you’re stuck in the middle of fucking nowhere. Naturally, being bored gives you room to think. And I was thinking: how did I get here? There are two answers to this question…
The first answer is: by car. We drove here, and it was quite the ordeal. One tunnel in Switzerland was blocked as an excavator had slipped from a truck. It was dark already. So we figured we’d take the mountain pass. It got foggier and foggier, the temperature dropped to around 2°C and slowly but steadily I began thinking we probably should have put in Winter tires. Especially when our tires started losing grip on the streets. Well, I’d like to tell you a crazy story about how we got stuck there, spent the night in the Swiss mountains and almost froze to death – but actually, we just made it out okay and all the sudden were greeted by a sunny morning at the Côte d’Azur. However, that’s not the story that I wanted to tell. Let’s focus on answer #2.
So – how did I get here? As most of you know, I’ve been working with a startup called “Linguedo” for quite a while now. We bring nurses from Italy to Germany and teach them German. Being our own bosses, we can pretty much do whatever we want as long as it adds value to the business. That includes having a company offsite twice a year at this very landhouse. The last year has been incredibly challenging and full of opportunities of growth. Working in a startup environment can be very rough, but it mostly is rewarding. You get to observe the direct consequences of your actions, something that’s rarely to be seen in corporate firms. And the only reason I’m with Linguedo is because I accepted a package for a friend.
Wait .. how? Kind of a weird job interview, isn’t it? My boy Kai asked me to accept a package for his co-founder who’d then pick it up at my place. He showed up and got it, but I was in a hurry – it was Wednesday, and Wednesday means Lacrosse practice. It’s a holy day. On the way back from practice, I thought: man, that was a pretty interesting dude. Would love to talk some more to him. When I got home, I had a text message from Matthias if I wanted to have lunch the next day. Hell yeah.
Long story short, 45 minutes into our Vietnamese fried noodles, I agreed to join Linguedo. A career in consulting, as I had envisioned it previously? Whatever. Join a startup? Why not. Let’s do it.
Why not. These two magic words shape the outcome of many lives. They’re the ultimate opener for doors that you previously didn’t even know existed. They’re the words that can turn your life around by 180 degrees. “why not” means saying “yes” to an opportunity. And that’s all you need.
Let’s rewind a bit. In 2008, my mother asked me if I wanted to spend a year abroad. I said “hmm … why not”. We negotiated a little bit (my parents wanted me to go to France because they’re manically in love with this country; I was set on going to Chile, but my mother wasn’t very convinced: “dude, you don’t know any Spanish”. Yes, mom, point taken.) and I finally was off to the United States of America. The beautiful state of North Carolina to be exact, and the not so well known town of Elon, close to Burlington (BurVegas or Borington, as the locals like to call it). I had a blast. This year turned my life around. It took me from being an overweight, clumsy guy to being an above-average athlete. It showed me that it’s easier than you’d think to step out of your comfort zone – and once you’re out there, it’s beautiful. It took my confidence to other galaxies, as being the only German guy at a countryside high school with 1200 students equals rockstar status. And all this stems from two words: why not.
Years later, in 2013, Kai (who I’m currently working and living with) asked me if I wanted to go to Rwanda. I’d have to learn how to make glasses for less than one dollar during the time when I’m supposed to study for exams, and everybody else from the team of 80 people at the time had declined. As you can guess, I said: why not – and all the sudden I was on a plane to Kigali, not knowing what was expecting me. Needless to say, this experience was very defining and showed me how to appreciate all the things that we have in the Western world. It also showed me that it doesn’t take a lot of things to be happy – but that’s a different story.
And then, Linguedo happened. In between, a million other things also happened, but I’m very prone to rambling on about myself and my achievements, so I’ll leave it at that. The point that I want to make is: if an opportunity presents itself, seize it! Nobody has grown or become successful by saying “yeahhh maybe I’ll do that some time else”. Saying “why not” takes you to places that you haven’t been able to go to before. Saying “why not” makes you grow.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably part of the lucky people who got to grow up in the Western world. We are all presented with plenty of opportunities – yet most of us reject them. “Too dangerous”, we say. “It’s not the right time right now”, we say. “I’m just not ready yet”, we say. Hell – are we ever ready? Is it ever the right time?
No. The time to strike is the time when the opportunity presents itself. Say the magic words. Seize the opportunity. It might be your last one.
I have an opportunity right now, too. There’s a fridge 10 meters away from me, and it’s full of beer. And I’m gonna have one. Because, after all – why not?
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