This blog article is dedicated to my American friends and family – especially to those living in my home town Seattle. Of course it is written for those coaching and consulting people that I deal with here, as well as abroad.
Maybe you know this: You change countries like you change lanes on a Highway these days. But every once in a while you spend enough time in a different context and you find yourself changing! This is for me one of the greatest self experiments I did a couple of times. It is living proof that we construct our realities and that this process is steered mostly by context. Let me show you, how…
For the last couple of weeks, I spent my time traveling in the U.S. a bit for business but mostly for vacation. It was time to put my wife’s and my soul into “neutral” and become a traveler. We went to places first that we long knew, because we lived there already and come back every year or two. So at first it felt like another place of home. Well we visited also a couple of nice islands in the Pacific and what really strikes me is the fact that I always meet interesting people.
So we also did this time: We met Tobi who today is managing a beautiful property on the island Maui. And he told us a bit of his life story. He had totally different jobs in certain times of his life. It all started as coast guard officer in Key West. He just wanted to do something more useful than going to war in Vietnam. Well, became good in soccer, so he became a well known soccer pro for a while. After that, he was a referee. What was next: He was working for a company that bought old airplanes and refurbished them – repainting the cockpit… after a few years he built 1:1 prototypes for big car companies and had his own business. After the invention of personal computers this industry changed a lot, so he became a realtor – and was again happy! And last but not least he became manager of property on the most beautiful spots in the world – and is happy.
Quite impressive this biography, I think. But not only that one person can master these changes. Tobi told us, that he had the feeling to “jump down a cliff not knowing how to land” but that in the actual process it felt somewhat natural and easy. The time and well – the context was just right to develop himself into. He was ready as was the world around him. Today, he seems to be not only bright but very experienced in a lot of ways.
Back home I see and feel that a lot of people struggle with becoming what they could be e.g. after they lost their jobs in big corporations. Here, we do not have a culture (well, or a context) that offers role models or assists in becoming an entrepreneur. I watched a famous TV show last night with Ursula von der Leyen – our current labour minister. It was a show about people being laid off in their 50’s and other problems. A marketing manager (52) was interviewed not seeing any possibilities after 130 applications. She said if nothing worked she’d become self employed as an entrepreneur. Our ministers comment: “Wow, you must be very brave to choose the really tough way.” Never thought about being an entrepreneur as a “tough way” and I wouldn’t want to change back to be an employee. But it shows how our culture still is different to the American.
Well – and for me it is always inspiring to live in foreign contexts for a while. Not only batteries are recharged, but I feel and see new opportunities – even here in my German context.