Things I’ve learned from the biggest decisions I’ve made in my life
And how each big decision you take will bring awesome learnings that you will cherish forever
I was reflecting recently about my whole life, my career and all the decisions I have made during this short time on earth. I came up with some discoveries and thoughts about how everything was meticulously put together to bring me to this exact moment, where I feel happy about each big decision and moments I lived.
With this text, I hope to help anyone that is in front of big decisions and somehow help them to jump on that huge opportunity in front of them, because sometimes it’s scary to make big changes or taking big decisions but you have to realize that you don’t have to be afraid of changes, you should be afraid of no changes.
I am going to push you through some decisions since the early on my life — where my personality began to be molded by events that at the moment seemed like small things but now I discovered that they were very important decisions for me. These decisions forged my character and the way I act. So let’s start from the beginning.
Normally, in every school, you are forced to take classes in different subjects from mathematics to arts and philosophy, I don’t totally agree with that type of education but I am going to leave that discussion for another post.
Anyways, when I was 7, I really did not like my art teacher and I made some efforts for him to did not like me either, it also forced me to have some serious thoughts about why should I have to learn how to make forms with glue and glitter (I seriously hate glitter until now).
All of this helped me to understand that probably I would never like art very much and that I had to focus my energy on other things. That’s when math and science conquer my heart and my brain, since that, I already know I was going to be involved in the future with anything related to numbers. It was an epiphany.
Most of the time during college I was always trying to thrive in math because that was the only way I had to explain to my parents why I always sucked in art — math was my shield and it is my shield until now, my life would never be the same without numbers, my lovely numbers.
Nowadays, I am very grateful to my art teacher, without him I probably would not have found one of my greatest passions. If you someday read this, thank you!
There are always going to be risks
So yeah, after all of that, I decided to become an engineer but that decision also meant that I had to start living in another city — scary thing for a 16 years old kid that lived with his parents his entire life.
I decided to go to live by myself thinking that the worst thing could happen was that I was not going to like it and I could always go back to my city…that’s when I learned a very helpful lesson, whatever thing that you have to decide, try to think about what could possibly be the worst case scenario, that’s when you are going to realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.
Everything ended up really well…I became an independent guy, learned how to cook something besides tuna with rice (very common dish for a student in Colombia) and somehow it helped me to become a better and more mature person. This period also allowed me to understand more about what I was going to want to do with my life, I regret nothing about this decision.
At the end of my studies, I did an internship in a traditional steel company, it was the common path for someone in my university, so I went there with all my energies expecting the best but during these six months I quickly understood that I did not want to work in companies like that, a traditional and bureaucratic company where is very difficult to actually make an impact or to be able of making things that matter to me.
This was probably one of the most important learnings of my life and it radically changed the way I think and the next decisions I was going to have to make in the next years. This experience allows me to understand some things about me and about the nature of work and I also met some incredible people that are friends of mine until today.
Also, this taught me that you can’t make the right decisions every time, sometimes you might take some that are unfeasible to sustain and then you have to decide which attitude you are going to take: to be frustrated for a “bad” decision or learn with these situations and take advantage on that to make better ones in the future.
Have some courage
I ended up my internship with a truthful and clear conclusion about my life, I am not going to work anymore for traditional companies — so I started to look for jobs in companies where I could feel that everything was going to be different, sadly, in Colombia during this period of time there were not many companies with the profile I was looking for (it’s amazingly growing recently).
That’s when I decided to start looking outside Colombia for positions that had basically three conditions: it has to be a company with an excellent culture and it must be a startup yet and it must be in a position where I can be involved with numbers and strategy, at that time I did not have at all previous experience in Business Intelligence.
It took me months after applying to so many companies and probably hundreds of interviews until finally got to speak with Bernardo and Eduardo, GetNinjas leadership, a marketplace in São Paulo, Brazil and after having a nearly 2-hour chat they decided to invite me to join their team a week after that — it was the scariest and exciting email I got.
Back then, it was really difficult to decide to live in another country for so many reasons: 1) I did not speak Portuguese 2) I did not have much experience in business intelligence, we can say none experience, 3) I did not know anybody there, 4) I had every person I love there and I could count many other reasons.
It took a lot of courage but I say yes without having certainty of nothing and with chances of failure but now that everything passed I can certainly say that it was again one of best decisions in my life, probably — I truly love my years at GetNinjas, probably the time where I learned the most and built almost everything I know now. That’s how I realized that in this type of decisions you have to always have enough courage to trust yourself and your abilities. No matter what happens, you are going to find ways to make it work.
Big decisions never limit your options
After two and a half years at GetNinjas and after having the most valuable experience of my life, I started to feel that I wanted a change…I was a little bit more used to changes by then, so I asked me: what’s next? what should I do to be more challenged and learn more? Curiously, I was more courageous and experienced than the 23 years old guy that arrived in SP almost 3 years ago.
I had several interviews with other companies, finally, I decided to go to work at Uber Brazil, I was really curious about working in a company of that size and now I was not afraid of confronting new opportunities.
Here is a new lesson I figured out during this change, sometimes you might be worried that when you have a big decision to make, you are going to be in some positions you can’t escape from. The thing is, that new choices are never going to limit your options — sometimes it can open other new ones that you never expected before.
The most important mentality you need to have it is that you should always have to keep pursuing new opportunities that are related to your goals, this way you will always have other new opportunities arising all the time.
It has passed almost the first two-quarters of 2019 and now I am working at OLX and living in Rio de Janeiro, how did I get here?
Applying most of the lessons I learned during my short path:
- Don’t underestimate what it looks like small decisions, in the long run, everything you decide/learn could be game-changing in the future
- Every decision it’s going to have some risks but you have to understand that there are very few risks you can’t solve afterward
- The attitude you put when succeeding or failing after making some decision matters
- Have the courage to trust yourself and your abilities, you will be surprised about what you are able to achieve
- Making big decisions in your life does not limit your options — it will actually unblock new ones
Like I said before, after one incredible year at Uber, it appeared the opportunity to come to work here at OLX, in Rio de Janeiro (what a beautiful city)— the challenge looked so good and for me, OLX had an interesting culture and product I was going to love to work and help them to improve it using my skills. After nearly 6 months working here, I regret nothing, work here and live here is an outstanding experience that it also helped me to take care of myself: my health and the more importantly, my brain and my skills.
Now, I am really anxious about what is going to be my next great decision or big movement in my life, I learned to embrace change as a thing it needs to happen in order to grow more and improve myself. Like I said before if you want to grow: you don’t have to be afraid of changes, you should be afraid of not changing at all.
I hope this helps people at some point, Most humans go through some harsh decisions during their lives, so I don’t feel special at all, I just want to share my story and be reflective about my path.
If you want, please share with me your story and your learnings, I would love to read it!