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11.20.2008

It took me 25 years to become an overnight success

As I currently stay in South Africa, I had the chance to spend some time with a friend of mine who is COO of an South African IT provider. Cape Town is not only well known for its beauty and its good food but for interesting people. Here are some insights...

Frequently, I visit South Africa to travel the country and visit my friends. My wife and I always used our visits here to work on our private vision as a couple and as a family. So we come to this beautiful country to make our personal change management work. And I am very sure: It works here much better than if we would do it in good old Germany. And there are many reasons for this. One reason is as one of our friends here said on night: "In this country, there is a lot of good energy!" And in fact, it is true. You can feel it every time you meet one of those entrepreneurs that run companies or even just own B&B's. They have a personal spirit that just had to be successful. Not only in terms of making money. That usually comes after a while as a more automatic effect. It is the way these people think and feel about their work. It always has been an inspiration. So I would like to share an idea with you, that we discussed at a wonderful local restaurant in Cape Town. It is a  story that my friend Mich told me about a musician who became well known in the area. When he gave an interview after he was discovered he answered the question „how did you do that?“ as follows:

„It took me 25 years to become an overnight success.“

It think, it is a brilliant line. There are many people struggeling to get successful with what they do. Why would you expect to be famous for what you do right away? The musician worked hard to study music and even write his own. Or have it written in his case (as the press found out later). He still is famous as his core business is the performance in front of an audience by the way. And for a long time, he didn't really know what his core business would be! He tried a lot. Playing in a band (he still does), writing music (he still does) and performing his own stuff (which made him famous). So what you can learn from this man is that it takes time while working on ones own ideas, although it sometimes might look for an outsider that things just came up out of nothing (the overnight success). Maybe one can just do this, by being fascinated what one is doing. So it keeps you stick to a subject for a long time.

Ask yourself a question: What did fascinate you for a long time that you really got stuck with a topic, an idea, maybe what you do as a job or a hobby? What is always coming back to you in different perspectives? And: If you don't find anything: What might be worth it?

And how do you measure your own success? Just with the money in your bank account? With the time spent worthwhile on that subject? With the recognition that you get from others over night? With your own recognition?

I have the feeling here that many more people follow their hearts and their spirit here than back home in good old Germany. Even those having management positions in corporations like my friend. As a COO he told me, I don't really manage change. I just do „dirty work“. He meant that he was just solving upcoming problems and has no time for a strategic long term approach. Well, he ensures operations, that is his job. And when I asked him about his overnight success with this he said: „I have it every day, because I enjoy so much what I do.“ Thanks my friend Mich for your inspiration here in South Africa.

Well, I have another idea what helps in this country to keep people happy: maybe a lot of sun and a warm climate helps, too :-)

see you soon back in Germany...

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