May 26th, 2018
Just a year ago I had stepped into what has become a whirlwind of change, enlightenment, and adventure in the land of ideas. Over twelve months of living without the comfort of the people and culture that I used to call home, I have learned what it means to reframe one’s challenges into opportunities to grow and to develop into a more hopeful and experienced traveler in this game that we all call life. Here are twelve lessons that I have learned along the way that will help you become a better version of yourself…
- Speak up for what you believe in
People hesitate to challenge the status quo because the fear of rejection out triumphs the satisfaction in displaying leadership. I have learned that if you want anyone to support the ideas you stand for you have to start by sharing them with the world. No one is going to care what you have to say unless it involves them in some way. By sharing your ideas with the world you expose yourself to the criticism of others but at the same time you open up the opportunity for others to contribute to your creativity.
2. Challenge yourself to think outside the box
Faced with living out of a suitcase and an empty apartment I have found that having all the extra space and restriction on my spending habits have actually proven to be a catalyst in encouraging the progression of my inner passions and creativity. Only when we have ‘burned our bridges’ can we use the pressures of our environment to find a solution that will best fit our needs. Humans are designed to survive not for success. If you want to succeed in solving a problem make it a matter of survival.
3. You are unmotivated because you lack a clear sense of what it is that you desire
What do you do when everything in the world you have ever wanted and more has been granted to you? This is the feeling I found myself in the middle of a living out a childhood fantasy yet challenged with the cold reality of realizing I would someday have to return back home to pay back the kind people who have helped me along the way. Confused by a lack of direction in not knowing what I wanted to make of my time abroad I decided to use the opportunity to experiment with different activities and get involved with me new people. I quickly learned that by trying something new it opens up our perspective to the world and deepens our understanding in our selves in showing us what we are good at, curious about and need to improve. When it doubt take action, the more time we delay making a decision to change what is holding us back it will only grow to paralyze ourselves.
4. Learn to say no to the wrong people so you can say yes to the right people
This lesson goes hand in hand with the one before. Once you take the action to expose yourself to new people and activities you will eventually have to make the decision who and what is working towards your advantage. That goes without saying you also play an important role in advancing the prosperity of others with your presence, however, the question is are you taking the opportunity away from someone who could benefit from your intelligence by trading that away to a toxic person or undervalued activity? That is only up to us to decide.
5. You are the collection of your daily actions, not what you do for vacation
People talk a good game of what it is that they would like to do and who they would like to be but all you will ever be is the person you are today and the decisions you prioritize on a daily basis. Speaking a foreign tongue on a daily basis has taught me that language is the sum of our daily experiences and is proof of the stories and interests you carry along. The beauty of it all is that it is also an opportunity to reinvent yourself out of the past we might not be proud of.
6. Failure is a sign that you are courageous enough to leap outside of your comfort zone
I tried running for a few seasons in high school but I never could have imagined that I would be running a marathon in the near future. Not having the luxury of having an automobile has encouraged me to become more in touch with the dexterity of my body and to be able to push my physical limits in the hopes of being able to make it to the bus stop on time. I quickly learned that no matter how hard we try to plan out our activities we can never expect the unexpected circumstances that tomorrow brings. Although there have been many missed connections, grueling runs and uncomfortable changes to my diet with time I have learned to appreciate the simplicity all of these virtues have brought to my life.
7. Good relationships don’t happen for no reason, they require the present and active attention of both parties’ interest and curiosity in each other.
No matter where you are on this planet, every community will operate smoothly without the knowledge of your presence. It is our responsibility to make ourselves known and needed by our neighbors in order to feel like a part of the community. This goes without saying that relationships in our life change depending on the changing circumstances of people’s needs. As we grow older our perceptions of the world will become more developed and respectively we will subconsciously attract different people in our lives depending on our set of values. This goes without saying that every relationship is a form of compromise in one-way shape or form in which requires the tentative care of appreciating others and the respectfulness to be patient and honest with others in how they treat you.
8. Surround yourself with others who share the same values as you, not necessarily the same interests
Wiping the relational slate clean I was amazed to be met by the pressure of conforming to those who I knew were only looking to indulge in their own insecurities. Luckily enough I stumbled upon the right group of people over time who shared the same hope and excitement in the world and in themselves that I so longed for. Feeling quickly at home one decision led to bigger networks and deeper connections with people who I had just begun to get to know. Although we shared many different interests finding that we shared the same principles made the conversation flow to a whole other tune.
9. We all get the same 24 hours.
Don’t complain that there is not enough time in the day to do what it is that you would like to do, instead strive to use your time more efficiently. Commuting outside the city every morning with my bike has taught me to search within my day and actions more critically for the time to put my dreams into action. Whether is reading or listening to a book or implementing small habits such as exercising on a daily basis and preparing meals every little action you take adds up no matter if it is checking social media on your phone or calling that person whom you know would like to hear from you.
10. If you believe in yourself, others will believe in you
Just before my departure, I had found myself getting involved with climate change activism on a microscale of researching topics and reading articles. As soon as I settled down into my new home I quickly became occupied with traveling around Europe interviewing corporate executives, decision makers, and thought leaders. How did this all happen you ask? Working back to lesson #1 I found myself speechless at my first few conferences representing a media group to whom I have only held conversations with over Skype. However, the more curious and interested I became in others the more they became interested in what I had to say. This all started with the decision that I would learn to figure things out with the hope that if there are people employed to speak on stage for hours about the issues of the world than who is to say that I couldn’t one day too.
11. Whenever you try something new it’s going to suck but if you stick with it you will find a way to figure things out
After my poor bike gave out on its last gears I made the decision that I would start running to the bus stop in lue of training for my first marathon. In German, they say to kill two fleas with a fly swatter and I was determined to do the same. However, as I got caught up in the hustle and bustle of the morning rush I too found myself off course to being punctual to work. Not to mention that I also forgot the key to the locker room… in due time you will figure things out, just have the patience in yourself to know that they will. Perhaps it is not a surprise why I am no longer rolling around on these two wheels anymore…
12. Making America great again starts with you
Besides asking where I am from and how an American has come to learn German the question I most get from strangers goes along the lines of the terrible and embarrassing news propagated from home. In the respects of longing to regain the respect of the world I have learned that we are all ambassadors of where we come from no matter if we are away from home at school, with our friends or across seas. The people you meet are an opportunity to become positively influenced by the values from where you come from.
Now it’s your turn…I want to hear from you. Which one of these lessons did you most enjoy reading or think are most applicable to your lives. Please leave your comments below and I look forward to starting a conversation with you soon!