This statue of George Washington (three blocks from our apartment) was erected by US citizens from Hungary in 1906 – City Park, Budapest
I’ve had some unexpected surprises living in Eastern Europe. One of the most unexpected is my renewed love of America.
You know the old saying “the grass is always greener on the other side”… Well, sometimes you need to visit the other side of the fence to notice exactly how green your side really is.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always been grateful for the opportunities that living in America provides me. But it wasn’t until I lived in Eastern Europe that I realized it’s actually the mindset of the American culture that’s made me so lucky, not the opportunities themselves.
I was on the metro in Hungary this week having a conversation with Teo, one of our European interns, when I got a reality check. You see, I was brought up in a world where everything is possible; that if you could dream it, you can achieve it. Naively, I guess I thought this was the case for the rest of the world.
I was sharing with Teo my experience of working (or trying to work) with Hungarian companies. We’d have an amazing meeting. Then I wouldn’t hear from them. They seemed trepidatious about doing a deal. Teo told me the reason I’ve most likely received this reaction is that failing is simply not an option in the culture here. If you or your company fails, you are shunned.
This is obviously not the way we roll in the U.S. If you fall, you dust yourself off and go on.
Of course, that is what you would do in the land where anything is possible, right?
Now, dusting yourself off and moving on is an amazing gift, but it also comes with some challenges. I’m clear about this now.
Here’s what it’s like in a world where anything is possible…
You’re at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. There are so many rides. Where do you start? Do you go with Space Mountain or Splash Mountain? The Jungle Cruise or the Haunted Mansion? Or do you start your day at a different park altogether? How do you know which one to choose? It can be overwhelming. But if you stand around waiting too long, you’ll miss the opportunity to ride.
On the other hand, if you just randomly go from ride to ride without a plan, that too can be stressful because in the back of your mind you might be afraid you’re going to miss something.
This morning it hit me. Here in Hungary, I’ve been going from ride to ride… but the whole while noticing an underlying anxiousness. I’ve been noticing that everything is a bit fuzzy. Why? Because there have been so many opportunities presented to us as a company. But what do I pick? My neighbor has created an amazing collaborative software that’s revolutionized the way small businesses work here in Hungary and would like to partner with us to bring it to the U.S. We have a designer ready to develop a mobile app for PitchRate. We have the opportunity to market some incredible Hungarian companies in the U.S. You get the point. They all have amazing possibilities. But what path do I choose? A path we’re already going down or something entirely new?
This is what makes being an entrepreneur so exciting. We get to choose to ride whatever ride we want, whenever we want.
But these choices can also, sometimes, leave us stuck. Often things seem too overwhelming, which prevents us from starting at all.
So where do you start in creating a ride plan? The first thing you must do is buy your all-day ride pass. How? You need to commit. That’s it. You need to throw your hat over the wall or you need to point to the moon and say that by the end of the decade a man will be walking up there.
Commit to what? You need to commit to making your dreams come true.
Even at Disney World, the land where dreams come true, you need to be committed to those dreams.
Get clear on your dreams. Don’t get overloaded with options. Capture your youth. Go immediately, throw a bath towel over your shoulders, and pretend it’s a magic cape that gives you mystical powers and puts your dreams within reach.
When you’re clear about your dreams, you’ll see all paths lead you to the same place.
I could choose any of the opportunities before me and they would all lead to fulfilling my dream to make a difference. See? Magic.
What opportunities are in front of you this week?