Change of perspectives
I will tell you a story about how I learnt to take on new perspectives, re-imagined concepts of life, understanding people better and discovering inspiring projects.
To paint you the bigger picture I must go back in time. I have always considered myself to be an organized and goal-oriented person, having planned most of his near-future or at least having a good vision about what is going to happen. The first crack in my plan I happened three years ago, when I had the opportunity to live in a bus. Us In A Bus is a “radical-change” project of a Kiwi family with four boys, which decided to live in a house bus and ultimately sold their house in Timaru to prove they are serious. Hamish runs the web development company Verb, which is now transforming into making fine web things.
During university, I happened to work for Hamish. In retrospective, I couldn’t have been luckier, because I started when they were ready to leave suburbia behind and start a life on a bus. They had a good idea what they gonna leave behind, but not what they will encounter next. I have lived with them on the bus for more than a month, being introduced to road schooling and concept which imply living in the moment rather than long-term (or even short-term) perspectives. When I returned to Germany, I was convinced that life changed tremendously. But I was thrown back to reality and my former life in a heartbeat.
Traveling is not only living in a different time zone but rather living on different two planets, rotating in different speeds.
The perspective of living in different time zones
The clocks in my former life now seemed to tick different and inconsistent. I seemed to be out of sync. I have reinvented time for myself bases on my adventures and the people surrounding me. This created a massive gap between the space I was in, the space I expected to return to and the space I actually returned into. This gap and the way I experienced life were the reason I then chose a period in life full of change, permanent movement and new challenges.
Never have I felt more disconnect to home, never have I been running faster to reach a goal which moved the same speed away from me.
The next thing I did was realizing the Falls Creek project, which I came up with to travel the world with a purpose. Connect students and businesses and offer services like short-time project involvement and self-development workshops at universities sponsored by companies which want access to our generation Y. I had to decide between “Buy or Make” or better to say “Join or Make”. I decided for “Join and Make” and I joined MARKET TEAM e. V. which is a national student organization in Germany, organizing workshops for students to connect with potential employers and develop soft-skills and self-reflection.
I joined to take over when the time comes. Exceeding my expectations, I spent a year doing what I missed during three years of university and got involved in volunteering and making new friends I can also professionally work with. When the time came I almost missed this opportunity, because I decided to rather travel and volunteer for another year. After weeks of talking to friends, mentors and ancestors I was ready to become one of the three CEO’s leading the organization. Those “two other members” soon became the two closest persons in a way which is impossible to explain. Let me take you to our final team development workshop in July 2016.
The perspective of a trio reflecting what feels like a lifetime
The last year as voluntary CEO’s has been the most intensive year for all three of us. We spend 20 days straight (meaning we summed up one year) traveling through Germany to be approachable leaders, worked until late to develop strategies, leading teams and organizing events and workshops to help our members develop and connect. We met our limits both physically and mentally and literally lived for our organization.
A week before our period ended, we sat opposite to each other on tables staring thoughtfully on flip charts, which showed falling curves and high peaks, alternating strongly. They showed how each one of us felt during the last year: high on energy and motivation, low on feeling stuck and misunderstood, feeling unable to change what we were supposed to change.
Reflecting the last year together, I realized what a wonderful space we have created. A super honest and open safe-space, where we could share our thoughts no matter what.
Here we were, three fundamentally different characters with three different objectives, ambitions and stories to tell.
Three different perspectives we at the very end understood to take on to help each other to see ourselves through another person’s eyes. Three different perspectives of who we became and who we could become, when we keep improving.
The room was full of laughter when we talked about the memories we shared. This didn’t reduce the importance of the thoughts we shared about each other and ourselves. On the contrary, it made those thoughts great memories, which we then could access and which could change the person we will become. Throughout all the highs and lows, all the fights about power and decision-making, all the challenges we managed together — throughout all what happened, we formed a bond so authentic and strong. We became friends and we knew each other in a way, no one else could even imagine.
MARKET TEAM was our first experience in leading and shaping an organization. For myself, I have learnt to not only work for the sake of my ego, but for the sake of the team and the purpose of the organization. I have learnt that it is the variety and differences within a team which makes a good team great, worth the difficulties and personal challenges we face in our relationships. I have learnt to make compromises to decide as a team (that’s were I still have room for improvement). Nevertheless, I carried a question around, which I find very intriguing:
Is a team unleashing its full potential, when you can only ever find compromises?
The perspective of travelling the world again
Exactly 891 days after joining MARKET TEAM I decided to go on another adventure travelling through Thailand, Australia and finally ending up in the bus in New Zealand again. This time the objective was to figure out who I had become and who I want to be. Nearly 80 percent of my life naturally worked out without forcing opportunities or having big struggles. It somehow all aligned with my way of living (or made the way that I lived?). During my CEO-period at MARKET TEAM I became good at keeping distracting feelings towards people away from me. Now I figured it was time to be brutally honest with myself, approach all the feelings and memories I suppressed.
The perspective of a lone traveler
I have always traveled on my own. I enjoy the freedom of making choices, changing plans spontaneously and taking the time I need. This way of traveling always showed me great opportunities, as I was forced to connect and make friends with strangers. Hence, I met incredibly interesting and fascinating people on my journey. I had moments which created lasting memories such as meditating out in the forests in Thailand with an US-emigrant, making best friends with a Brazilian dude in literally a day in Liverpool and having sophisticated conversations with a professor on a three-days hike at Stuart Island, who tells you about his experiences exploring Antarctica.
This time, however, I experienced a new side of travelling on my own. For the first time in my life I felt lonely and unable to share my life with friends or “close strangers” (that’s what I call travel companions you share intimate life moments with). There were periods where I felt tired of making new friends and telling the same stories over and over again. I was caught with my thoughts and longing for a place to connect, to simply stay. Enforcing this feelings and understanding what they meant gave me intense insights to what my mind and body probably told me for a long time.
There is a point in life where it’s not enough to challenge yourself anymore and make your own experiences. Freedom also means being free while being with someone else, creating and sharing stories together. Because stories are the glue for friendships.
The perspective from within a tiny space
Reconnected with “Us in a Bus” and my second family, I this time exchanged the freedom of the lone traveler with 27 square meters and six fellow-travelers. This done, I started asking these questions:
What do you give up? What do you gain?
First of all I gave up the right of waking of whenever I want. This job was now taken over by the morning crew, always on time, always 8 o’clock. Living on the road forces you to manage your space, leave behind luggage, a good piece of your privacy and the comforts of having designated rooms for specific things.
In return I gained simplicity, the creativity of solving things with the resources we have and the ability to adapt to different environments very fast. A tiny space creates an intensity of your direct relationships in a way I haven’t experiences before. You start connecting with your peers and yourself better. And everyone learns to contribute to make the whole thing work.
After a while I started questioning my own life concepts of wealth, career and family. I am seriously considering the Tiny House Movement as one chapter of my life. One-off experiment only or life-changing decision — either way it will be exciting and valuable.
My next challenge will be to develop ways to incorporate those new concepts into my life. Just for kicks I will convert my Google Sketchup dream house into a tiny house or even a bus.
Fore more information and inspiration on Tiny Houses:
Have a look at the tiny houses maker Wohnwagon and those guys from Expedition Happiness, who transformed an old school bus into their home for a year. Hamish currently forms the NZ Tiny Houses Collaborative to drive the movement forward. There is another cool group on Facebook.
Read this article as an invitation to connect! Leave a comment, ♥ it or text me at firstname.lastname@example.org.