by Yann Girard — Get free updates of new posts hereTweet
You probably know this feeling. You've been on an amazing trip, been gone for a long time, have been living and or working in a different city or even another country and come back home.
Your friends and family will probably ask questions like “How was it?”.
And that's a hell of a complex question. It's so complex that the only thing that I can usually think about is “It was awesome.”
And that's that. That's usually the end of the conversation. And you move on to another subject.
This sometimes makes me sad because I really feel like sharing some of the incredible, amazing and mind blowing experiences and stories (if people are really interested in them).
Instead, these complex questions usually confuse me quite a lot.
All of the memories start to kick in at once, my brain is cluttered for a second and then the next second my brain is completely empty. Blackout. It's like a test and you forgot everything you learned. Nothing. Nada. No experiences to share. No stories to tell. No clue where to start.
And then you go for the easiest answer that comes to mind. The answer you choose when there's too much to say, but no time or energy to explain. The answer you always give when you're kind of lost.
“It was awesome”.
What I realized for myself is that the best way to answer these questions is to look for stories. To ask yourself the question, "what are the stories worth telling". That usually helps me to better answer that question, share my experiences and not feel like a complete jackass.
So I'll use this technique for a question someone asked me the other day.
A few days ago someone on Facebook asked me what my final goal or vision was with all my writing and my online presence.
Boom! Millions of thoughts popped up. For a split second I saw the answer right in front of my eyes. And then all of a sudden everything was gone. All that was left were small pieces of content, experiences and lessons learned. Single pieces that didn't make any sense anymore.
But I still tried to make sense out of them and answered something like “I have fun doing it”. It just feels right” and so on. You know the usual stuff. The usual BS you answer when you have no clue what to answer. When the question is just way too complex to really answer it.
So you go for a version of “It was awesome”.
Neither you, nor the person asking the question will be satisfied.
That's at least what she told me. She told me she wasn't satisfied. That she wasn't convinced. And I knew that I wasn't convinced either. So I decided to dedicate a post to the subject of complex questions.
And I'll try to answer the question of my ultimate goals and big vision by telling three stories.
When I was 25 years old and about to graduate from university I decided to participate in an exchange program in China. I mainly did it because I didn't feel like working in a big corporation in Germany. Or becoming a consultant.
I was a lazy bum and thought that this couldn't be it. I didn't want to start working. It meant that I would do the same stuff until I was 67 and ready to retire. The horror.
It didn't make any sense to go abroad one more time. From a financial perspective it was another year wasted. Another year where I didn't cash in on my education. I did it nevertheless.
The first day I arrived at my hostel in China I met my future business partner. But I didn't know it back then. Back then I didn't even know what an entrepreneur was. Fast forward:
I started a clothing label for the Chinese market, worked on it for about one and a half years (while finishing my thesis and some other stuff), failed miserably and went back to Germany to start working a corporate job.
Would I have done this if I had a big plan? Probably not..
While I was living in China I also taught English in Chinese and Japanese companies. It didn't make any sense back then, just like starting a clothing line in China didn't make any sense back then. I majored in technology management. I did it nevertheless.
I mainly did it because it paid solid money. Looking back I have to admit that it helped me to gain a lot of confidence and it tremendously improved my English and my presentation skills, which were not very convincing back then.
Would I have done this if I had a big goal or a big vision I had to follow? Probably not...
When I came back to Germany I pretty much took the first job offer I got. It was one of the biggest telecommunication companies in Germany. Everybody told me that I shouldn't do it. That I wasn't made to work in such a big company and so on.
Even though it didn't make sense back then, I did it nevertheless.
And I learned a hell lot about big companies. About dinosaurs. And the way dinosaurs try to become more flexible. To become faster. To be innovative. And once I learned enough I moved on the the next quest. The next story...
I know I said I had three stories. I wanted to mention this story nevertheless. Who cares about numbers anyways?
The fourth story is the story you're currently a part of. The story of me writing stuff online. The story you're currently reading.
Does it all make sense to you right now?
No, probably not. It doesn't make a lot sense to me either, right at this very same moment. But these were a few stories I felt like sharing with you. Some lessons learned...
At the end of the day, some things are just too complex to understand them in their entirety. Especially, if you try to understand them by looking in the future. Most of the things only make sense looking back. At least for me.
And then sometimes, all of a sudden it all starts to make sense. All of the seemingly unrelated pieces of the puzzle seem to make sense. The dots start to connect and a beautiful picture unfolds right in front of your eyes and you're wondering how the hell you could not have seen it before.
Some things will unfold right in front of you and create a magical puzzle. Some of them will become part of that puzzle, whereas others won't.
I see life as a constant search for puzzle pieces. For pieces of a puzzle I don't know yet. I have no clue how it will look like in the end.
If we already knew how our puzzles might look like in the end, life would be very simple. But it's not.
Life is a constant struggle of disappointment, setbacks, failures, broken hearts and what not. And sometimes we're happy. But all of these things will push us to find our pieces of the puzzle. All of these experiences will in the end form a beautiful puzzle.
All of these things happening to us is life teaching us its lessons.
And that's the reason why I don't have a satisfying answer to the question what my goal or my vision is for my writings and my online presence. Even though I might have a few hypothesis, I try to ignore them. My hypothesis were never right anyways.
I also totally understand why people want to follow big visions or goals. It makes life easier. And life itself is hard, confusing and troublesome enough already. If you have goals and big visions you know what puzzle pieces to look for.
You already know how your final puzzle is going to look like. And that's totally fine.
But for me and the way I live my life this approach somehow takes all of the life out of my life. To me it feels like ticking boxes on a list. It takes away all the excitement. All of the unexpected quests and adventures.
After all, it's up to you to collect your pieces of the puzzle and decide about how your puzzle is going to look like. Even if most of the time most of the things don't make any sense to you or to others right now.
If you always follow a plan, goal or a big vision you might never see that puzzle. That puzzle that you were meant to form when you were sent here. That grand masterpiece. That piece of art you're going to leave behind once you're gone...