When the impossible becomes possible
It all started in May 2016. At that point it had been about 9 months that I had been looking for my first job in the Netherlands. One day my boyfriend found this Facebook post that said "apply to our 1 month program and build your own business in the tourism industry in Lisbon”. The evening before the deadline, we wrote the application that was about to change our life. One month later, we were in Lisbon. We had done the first impossible thing.
When we decided to found our first company, we went for what seemed an impossible dream: turn a small village in the Alps into a home for digital nomads. At that point, not many people knew the concept of digital nomadism. Coliving spaces barely existed in Europe - they were mostly in Asia. The village we settled for was unknown to the clients we were going after. And, both of us had no experience building and running our own company. And yet, we went for it. The calling to try was stronger than anything else.
4 years later, we were full house and our clients were coming from as far as Australia. We'd welcome high-level entrepreneurs from all over the world in our house and tiny village. We were no longer struggling to get bookings - people came from recommendations. We'd made the impossible possible.
In the meantime, in May 2017, we'd started talking with other coliving operators because we felt lonely in our job. Our discussions led to monthly webinars, which eventually led us to create an industry association: our second company was born. Again, at the time we started, I felt I could never do it, and I thought no one would be interested in what we were doing. And yet, when pandemic hit, we were one month away from our second annual conference in Los Angeles. We were - and still are - recognized in the industry. More and more members joined. Our programs were fully booked. We were no longer struggling to attract new clients. Partners in the industry approached us.
When pandemic hit, we had massive plans with our businesses and lives. None of these happened. For me, the world stopped the day they closed the ski slopes on March 14, 2020. At that point, my personal life and my work went on standby. I suddenly had nothing to do. The impossible was happening. So I started the only thing I thought I could work on: my mind. And that changed my life. It transformed me and my career in a way I could never have predicted. I became happier. 2 months later, I woke up in the middle of the night to watch "Start with why " by Simon Sinek, and I knew I had lost my "why" for my career. These dreams that were impossible a couple of years ago had been achieved. And I wasn't fulfilled anymore. I realized that I'd been stuck in my career, and I felt I was suffocating. Now, I stand behind the companies and I know that they are doing an amazing job at transforming their clients lives. They were just not transforming my life anymore. I figured: if they are not good for me then I'm not good for them either. By staying, I'd be sabotaging and hurting the companies’ growth. So I resigned. This decision has been relatively easy to make, and really hard to execute. Mentally I was struggling: I felt ashamed and guilty.
After I quit, I had a sudden rush of excitement. I felt free for the first time since years. I had a summer of true happiness. For 3 months I was living in the clouds where everything is perfect and possible. I moved to Berlin with my boyfriend, and was close to my best friend. Because I didn’t know what to do with my career, I started working together with my friend on helping her develop her own business. We spent countless hours walking in the parks, walking and talking,
eating cakes and drinking wine. I was so creative and productive. I didn't really have a work plan for the first time ever. I just worked because it felt good. I had zero pressure to do anything for money. Work became pleasure. When people asked me what I did for a living I replied: “I just left my 2 businesses and now I'm walking in the parks of Berlin and talking about my best friend's business”. This brought me so much joy. And at the same time, I faced so many demons: "I'm not good enough for her ", " Who am I to say that to her?", "She is wasting her time with me and my stories". The imposter syndrome, perfectionism, self-sabotaging thoughts, fears, were real in my head. But none of this mattered because I had a purpose. The impossible became possible.
After 3 months of relentless mindset and business work, the obvious happened: I reached a new level in my mind and career, I became a new person. I understood that I didn't want to hide anymore behind business partners, or team members. And my demons got louder, so loud that they sometimes paralyse me. I knew that in order to reach the next level and silence the demons' voices, I needed help and so I hired a coach to help me build my own company on my own terms.
At the beginning, it felt impossible. But I knew from so many experiences that the impossible is possible. It’s all a mind game: the cage is invisible, the prison doesn’t exist. The door is wide open. Your purpose is waiting for you to grab it. When you go for your dreams, the impossible becomes real. And that is how Swiss Escape Incubator was born. This was just the beginning of an incredible journey!