his morning on my way to Vienna, I was listening to a special radio show dedicated to Avicii, the DJ who died unexpectedly and far too early last weekend. The show was playing all of Avicii’s hits. Frankly, I really like his songs and productions with other artists, but very often when it comes to music, I do not pay close attention to lyrics. But this morning, I did.
“So wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older.”
It is tempting to think about staying in bed on a Monday morning. But I thought about the line: Would it really be that great to wake up when everything is over, when everything we worked for has been achieved?
We all have phases, where we are exhausted and do not really know if we are on the right track. I recently had such a phase as well. I questioned all my recent decisions, was worried about what would come next and got caught up in terrible “what if?”-scenarios.
However, looking back on my start-up journey and even my corporate career or educational path and private life, I think it is essential to go through the really tough phases. How would we appreciate what we have achieved if we do not know how hard we had to work for?
“They tell me I’m too young to understand, that I’m caught up in a dream.”
I got a lot of laughs and weird faces when I decided to take the leap. I still get comments like “one day it will be difficult to go back to the real work life.” I will leave this remark uncommented here. I think it you do not have to be a founder yourself to judge it. However, if we do not dream and do not take risks, nothing will change. Sometimes, it needs the right amount of craziness to move forward. However, I am not telling you here to take uncalculated risks, throw your life away and do not think about the consequences.
When I went to Hong Kong in 2014 on a three-week trip to assess the start-up landscape and the opportunities for my own business, I was listening to the Avicii song “Lay Me Down” one evening. I was 28 and listened to this song by a 24-year-old, who by this time, had already made it to one of the biggest DJs and record producers in the world. If stories like his are possible, I had to try at least if I could make my dream work out as well. I had no idea if the risks would pay off and what would happen. And to be frank, I still cannot predict the future.
Fact is, even though I have gone through really rough times, I would not have wanted to have woken up when it was all over. No, I am not a masochist and going through the really bad phases in life is more than just tough. However, everything happens for a reason and it definitely makes us stronger – and appreciate our successes much more. Even though it might sometimes be difficult to understand why certain things happen, especially if they are unjust, the only thing we can do is to keep going. Hence, the key takeaway from this song is not the chorus – it’s the first two lines:
“Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart.
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start.”