Moments define our lives. Fractions of seconds that determine how we live our lives. In some cases meaningless choices proving to be monumental decisions. Sometimes deliberate, sometimes pure coincidence. Our days are filled with moments. Most of them never stick. Some create lasting impact. What’s clear is that we remember moments, not days. Covid-19 is a moment.
Rome or Berlin?
My life would have been different if I hadn’t picked Berlin over Rome for my high school weeklong field trip. My only reason for choosing Berlin is because we planned to visit East-Berlin and Dresden. Cities I thought I would never visit again in my life. It was 1985 and the iron curtain was still standing strong. Rome would always be an option later in my life, I figured.
That decision, taken in a fractional moment, created a domino effect later in my life. Because of what I learned that week in Berlin and Dresden as a seventeen-year-old, and the curiosity it created in getting to know Eastern Europe, I decided many years later to signup for a project in the Czech Republic. Because of that project, I now live in Prague, married with two children.
Moments and decisions, no matter how small they may seem, matter. They represent who we have become today, as a human being, as a relative, as a friend, as a colleague, as a leader. For example, taking control of your career and asking intentionally for an assignment abroad will have a significant impact on your personal growth.
Are you in control?
The key question is to what extent you can control these moments? Many of these moments are beyond our control. Missing a plane because of a traffic jam, and then meeting your future (business) partner on the next flight is pure chance. Some argue that these things happen for a reason. I’ve always struggled with that statement. Not because I don’t believe a lot is up to chance in our lives. It’s because I think we can be more deliberate in designing our lives and creating our own destiny. Not leaving everything to chance.
See the opportunity
Moments matter when you’re able to see the opportunity. I saw the opportunity when a colleague in 1995 started talking about a project in the Czech Republic. Curious about the opportunity, I asked to be considered. My trip to Berlin and Dresden 10 years earlier made me want to be part of the change. Asking to be considered for the job became a defining moment in my life. I took control by asking the question and created my moment.
“Never waste a good crisis.”
I love this quote by Winston Churchill. COVID-19 will be a defining moment for many. Good or bad. Most people will let the pandemic control them. They can’t wait to run back to their old lives. Few people will actively see the opportunity and find a new path. A path they could and would have never thought of if the crisis would not have forced them to slow down and consider their options.
Create you story
Soon we will begin to read the books and see the movies about this period. We will experience stories of enormous success and devastating loss. We will learn about people who saw the opportunity and created their own future. And we will see the downside of this crisis as well. No matter how hard the times may be for you, I hope you can and will take control of your story and create your defining moment.
QUESTION: What will be your story? What was the moment?