The arrogance of belonging

Do you know how the maker of “Spanx” became so successful and brought her product on the market?
Side note: For those of you who don´t know what Spanx are: they are special kind of pantyhose that push your butt and belly in and make all your belly-rolls look more smooth under tight dresses for example.
After developing a prototype of her pantyhose she walked straight up to CEOs of major underwear companies and asked them to invest into her product. Why did she do that? Well, she just did not know any other way. She did not know the “official” path to success other inventors took. Here is a very interesting video of her success story.

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I love success stories and stories of people who are daring something so many others don´t. And I have come to see that these stories often have something in common. The entrepreneur/artist/person believes in the impossible. They believe that whatever they are doing might work and they have no time to hesitate.

These people give themselves permission to do incredible things. And to do so you need to be a tiny bit narcissistic, naive and well in some ways unaware. The people I admire so much, often lack sufficient information about the industry (like the Spanx lady did not have enough information about the undergarment industry and got her information from google searches).

But it seems that this kind of naive behaviour leads them to believe the impossible. And that´s the space when the impossible suddenly becomes possible.

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I am reading a book called “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “eat, pray, love”. She is writing about how to live a creative life beyond fear. She calls the described phenomenon “the arrogance of belonging”. In other words: You need to be arrogant to believe you have the right to create. And if you manage to allow yourself to do something, that´s when you are free to create whatever you wish. Nobody said it has to be perfect. But do it and do it for yourself.

I do, by the way, also believe this behaviour should be extended to other parts of our lives. Not just to entrepreneurialism. Creative living is, in my humble opinion, a lifestyle fitting to all parts of my life. I create, therefore I am. I have the arrogance to believe I belong and I have the right to create a beautiful relationship, career and many many creative projects in the future.

As Audrey Hepburn once said:

How can anything be impossible if the word itself says “I´m possible”!

 

Why not?

I had a dinner with my grandparents a couple of days ago. Besides a lovely meal and lots of wine they also asked me about my plans for the future. They wanted to know where I was working and if I was planning on staying there. They wanted to make sure I was paying all my insurances and saved money for my pension. And they asked me what kind of career I wanted to strive for and what I expected from my life.

Well, I said. I want adventure! When I am old I want to be proud of the life I created. I am looking forward to high-fiving myself about the amazing job I´ve done.
My grandparents seemed not to be able to comprehend. Finally they agreed on: “Sweetheart, life can´t be all about adventure.”
People, I am asking… why not?
My girlfriend´s father is an architect. He is a big supporter of young talented people. And he sees giving young architects a chance not only as his duty, but as an incredible resource of innovation. Young architects are not biased by industrial standards and by a “that´s how we´ve always done things”- attitude. They actually are very little biased at all, one could say they are a bit naive. However, this attitude is what opens the possibility of them discovering alternative solutions to problems and what brings new perspective. And that´s what my girlfriend´s dad is looking for. Innovation.
Architecture is all about finding new angles to do things. It´s about breaking the rules and about reinventing itself. Adding someone to your team who thinks “Why not?” seems to be a crucial factor.
I believe we need to reinvent many things. Not only the way we build our homes.
We might need to reinvent the way we work and the way our economy works.
The times when we had one employer for most of our lives are pretty much over. Finding a safe job even seems like it slipped down to the end of our priority list. According to recent studies in the US every third person is unhappy in their jobs. Job satisfaction, development options and moral values seem to play a much bigger role.
That´s why I like to spend my life asking “I want adventure. Why not?”.
Because if nobody tells me I can´t, maybe I can!

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Kudos to Goldieblox

Wednesday evening. I just finished watching a TEDx talk – crying.

The talk was by Debbie Sterling. The founder of goldieblox. She invented a toy for girls to develop their interest in science and technology from a very young age. I absolutely love her idea, her product and everything she stands for. The marketing of the company is super well made.

But most of all the story of her growing up in a world where she just did not fit in touched my heart and resonated with me like nothing else.

When I was just a toddler my mom tried to get me interested in “boys toys”. While she leaned over handing me a car to play with I leaned over to grab something else – her earring. I was a princess. But mom did not give up.

I remember having building blocks when I was a little girl. First there were wooden building blocks, I really liked them – but what I liked even more the little people that came with the building blocks and after a short while I got really bored by the blocks. Instead I would arrange the blocks into a house-shape for my people to live in. Later on I had Legos and a pirate ship and other things like that. As soon as I was done building the ship from lego blocks the story repeated itself. The pirates as well as the skeleton (man I loved that skeleton!) that came with the ship took all my attention away from the building blocks.

My favorite subject in highschool was math and I even attended an extra math class my teacher had set up for students who needed some “extra help”. Well, those kids never showed up. Instead it was me and my best girlfriend who were interested in solving extra tasks. Back then I was attending a catholic girl´s school. And the teachers took a lot of time to explain everything to us in detail. If necessary in different or “out of the box” ways.

The teaching methods changed as soon as I entered college. Suddenly the classes were mixed again. And boys seemed to understand technical stuff way faster than me. I chose a major in science. I loved tanks and I wanted to become an engineer for the army. (At that time I did not think much about war. I just loved tanks.) For the first time in my life I had the worst grades in my class. I was one of three girls – and definitely the only one looking like one. The teacher would sometimes ask me a question he knew I did not have an answer to. And when I was not able to reply he would say things like “Well, physics is not for girls” “Can somebody please explain it to our lady?” or “Come on, it´s really easy.”

After one year torturing myself I decided science was just not for me. Debbie Sterling is a girl from my generation. She did not grow up in Germany. But our cultures seem to be rather similar.

Thank you Debbie for inventing goldieblox for our girls. I wish I have had your toy back when I was still a kid.

Her TED talk

First GoldieBlox advertisement “Princess Machine”

A new GoldieBlox advertisement introducing the first action figure for girls. (MUCH needed. I had a ninja action man. My barbies loved him.)

Do you like to sleep in? Here is why I stopped that habit.

Monday. It´s all about priorities. I am repeating the same task over and over again and hope some day it will stick.

I keep on asking myself the same questions:

Is it what I really want?

Does it serve me and the vision of my life?

By answering these questions I am able to filter out all the distractions from my life. It allows me to let people, situations, fights and many other things go without ever looking back. I am practicing to ask these questions as often as possible. And from my experience there is always a clear answer inside of myself. My inner voice – what most people would call intuition or gut feeling – gets stronger every day. All I have to do is to listen.

I would like to give you two examples of things that don´t serve me.

Sleeping in. I know sleeping into days can be tempting. Pressing the “Snooze” button on my alarm sometimes happens without me even noticing. And suddenly it´s 10 or even 12 at noon! Sure, sleeping in and being lazy is lovely sometimes. But mostly it makes me feel like I wasted half a day. And usually when I slept until noon it gets really hard for me to get going and to have a productive day. I guess I am somewhat of a morning person. Thus, I realized there is no point in it for me. Sleeping in is cancelled – for the most part.

Getting drunk. Yes, everybody who was there at my birthday party last weekend will think “oh yes, now she has one of these *i´ll never drink again* moments”… And yeah, I have to admit. I was very drunk. And it was a lot of fun. However, I generally dislike getting drunk. It´s not only the evening that usually ends strangely. It´s also the next two days that feel unproductive and like hangover hell. The reason for not liking drunky-leska is similar to sleepin in. I feel like I am missing out on a lot of fun stuff I could be doing the following days. AND I can feel the poison in my body. Why would I do this to myself? Getting drunk – cancelled – (for the most part).

Now you might think: OMG, being focused sounds like a lot of work. And not like FUN. I don´t even feel like I am giving up on anything because the gain outweighs the couple of hours of sleep and glasses of wine by the thousand!

Happiness NOW

“Wow, it´s so nice here. I have to come again some times.” Or “We had such a great time. Let´s catch up soon.”
Do you know that feeling when you visit a new restaurant, or generally a new place, or you hang out with a nice person for the first time?

It seems like such a normal thing to do and sometimes it might just be an expression of how much we are enjoying ourselves. However, many of us try to extend the good time we had into the future without fully experiencing the present.

What do I mean with that?

If you are already thinking about when to come back to this place, whom to bring and what to talk about, maybe even what you could do better next time – it´s not possible to live the moment to the fullest. E.g. you are hiking alongside a beautiful lake and your mind goes: “Next time I should bring food. We could make a picknick here. Oh and let´s ask Linda and John if they want to come along. Their dog would have a great time. This could be our small hide-away. Let´s come back at least once per year.” Wow. You have build a whole imaginary future for yourself based on a snippet of your current experience. Are you then REALLY enjoying the moment and living this experience to the fullest? Nope, you are not even present. You are living in the future. And you probably missed a great chance to experience happiness NOW. In that very moment.

Many times when we do something without having any expectations we get surprised by how much fun we can have. If we give ourselves to the moment and allow ourselves to experience this moment without clinging to the fun parts we can actually have EVEN MORE fun! Nice.

2 steps forward 1 step back

Did you ever get frustrated along your way of accomplishing something? I certainly have.

Finding out what you want to do and getting started can be difficult at times. But staying on track to reach the goal you have in mind – following through so to speak – is even harder.

Getting on track requires a trigger followed by radical action. In this phase you are taking a leap of faith to get started on your new mission. Exciting!

Then comes the execution of your plan. The first couple of days are fantastic. The first week is going good. But then the slacking starts. Was this really such a good idea? There are no visible results yet.
Yep, staying on track is hard.

Keep in mind: Sometimes it goes 2 steps forward 1 step back

We have this linear curve of success in mind. Reality looks different.

The-truth-about-success

Here are some practical tips of how to stay on track.

  • Breath and relax.
  • Look back and be proud of everything you have accomplished so far.
  • Make small to-do lists with tasks that are easy to do. Break down bigger tasks in baby-steps.
  • Keep your big goal in mind. Working towards something instead of getting lost in the small chaos surrounding you really helps.

Here is Marie Forleo´s advice on how to handle the sh*t sandwhiches life hands you:

Oh you gotta love Marie!

The three hour guacamole

Mondays are a good time for guacamole. Every day is a good day for guacamole.

A couple of weeks ago I would have never thought I´d be more involved in the kitchen when I decided to study photography. Now however these two things seem suddenly related. First of all I have much more time to feed myself in a healthy and more conscious way – love! Other than that we were given a school assignment called “My favorite recipie”.

For this assignment we should prepare our favorite food and take pictures of it for an imaginary magazine. Later on the whole class will create a photo book with all the recipies. Sounds fun! And delicious.

First I thought this might be the easiest assignment so far. After all the assignment is super clear and does not leave too much space for my mind to go mad over. It turns out guacamole is not very photogenic!

And turns out I had absolutely NO experience in photographing food! (This nasty habit of taking cell phone pics in restaurants would have come in handy here!)

Eventually my friend and I spent the whole day in the kitchen. I took about 3 hours for my guacamole. She needed another 3 to bake a cake.

Breathing excercises in yoga are nothing compared to me standing on a stool with a camera, holding my breath every couple of seconds to take a picture. Seriously, taking pictures is the only thing I can do for hours without talking. I am super focused. The flower pot is in the frame? GET IT OUT! The tortilla chip does not look pretty? EAT IT.

See food and photography ARE related. Lovely day.

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