A Little Bit Of MagicPosted on Feb 13, 2012 | 18 comments
I've got a secret for you. And yes, it works just like magic. But first a story.
Some time ago, before the days of Wifi and Facebook, I found myself running an internet-based business out of a concrete apartment on the outskirts of Nanning, China. I was 26, and not only was I creating my first business, I was also deeply entrenched in my first trip abroad. I had been in China only 6 months. I didn't speak the language, I was struggling with culture shock, and between my wife and I we had about $1,500 to our name. And yet, here we were, starting a business, and the pieces were just falling into place.
The company was called foreignteacher.com (if you Google it now you might still find a reference or two to me, but the current site is not mine), and the business was recruiting teachers to teach ESL in schools all over the world. I sent native English speakers to Brazil, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, and the Czech Republic. It was pretty cool actually. I set up a simple website using the original (and very limited) version of Microsoft Frontpage, started spreading the word around China about the business, and within a month I was sending people from Ohio and California to the four corners of the globe.
It's interesting how stuff happens when you just give it a chance. This business of mine was started in the middle of the night on napkins outside a cafe in Yangshou, China. Every local business man kept asking me if I knew anyone who could teach English and my brain just started clicking. Maybe there was an opportunity here. Maybe this is why I came to China.
Turns out I knew a lot of teachers. I knew countries of full of potential teachers and I just needed a way to get in touch with them. So, in one long evening, over many beers and many bowls of noodles, some newly found friends and I created the idea for this little enterprise and decided to call it foreignteacher.com. In a few weeks I had set up shop and somehow figured out how to design and publish a website. I was making connections fast. I quickly found teachers and matched them up with schools. And eventually, after a few months, I finally started to get paid. I never had one reservation. I never second guessed or tried to talk myself out of it. And that, in a nutshell, is how it all works.
I didn't go to China looking to start a business. I was an English teacher by trade. I went to teach English. I went for the adventure. But opportunity just has a way of finding you if you give it a chance. In less than a year I went from working with gang members in Los Angeles to recruiting teachers to work around the world from my home base in China. I never planned any of it - it just happened.
I promised you a secret. Well, here it is.
If you give yourself a chance to change, then you will start discovering new opportunities every day of your life.
This is really all the magic you need in life.
You want to travel the world? Let it happen.
You want to start a new business? Let it happen.
You want to be a better person? Let it happen.
This is not rocket science people, it only seems hard to accept because so many of us have done things the same way for so long. We get stuck in our routines. We get attached to stuff. We teach ourselves to have a real hard time accepting any sort of change.
I'll tell you this: The times when I have been most open to change in my life, are the times when the greatest opportunities have come my way. Just let the magic happen.
Now, some of you are going to want to know what happened to foreignteacher.com. Well, it eventually failed. I moved back to the States and started to have a real hard time collecting money from anyone. No surprise there, but I didn't see it coming. Rookie mistake.
But so what? I started another business shortly after and that failed as well. And then I decided to move up to Boston and ended up working in non-profits and mental health - two more things I knew nothing about, but have done well with. And now a blog and traveling the world - who knows how things will work out?
If you're playing with the idea of doing something big and different with your life, don't let the "what ifs" hold you back. My guess is that if you're thinking big, then you're ready to act big. And if things don't work out, then you'll just stumble upon some other idea and go give that a shot.
Opportunity will always come your way if you give it a chance. You have to keep your mind open. You have to be able to change. And you need to know that there are a million ways to do everything.
Take your chances. Let's see where they lead you down the road.