Letters from Vietnam (7): When I travel…

Rice Cutting in the Central Highlands of Vietnam

Letters from Vietnam – Part 7

Or should it be: Lessons from Vietnam?

Travel teaches toleration

Somebody once said “Life is a book. And if you don’t travel you only read one page.”

This is wonderfully true.

Travelling is not about getting from point A to point B. It is about being on the way. It is about sucking the marrow out of life. It is about finding the balance between experiencing and learning as much as you possibly can and letting go. Travelling is not holiday. It’s a journey. And if you do it right it has many destinations.

Let me share some of my travel experiences that may seem as a flipside of a pleasant journey.

When I travel …

When I travel

  • I get dirty.
  • I get an upset tummy.
  • I catch a cold.
  • I get a sunburn.
  • I get eaten by insects.
  • I get ants in my pants.
  • I get lost in the alleys.
  • I get stalked by street hawkers.
  • I fall for scams.
  • I’m asked for my name a million times.
  • I find hairs in the bathroom that don’t belong to me.
  • My eyes hurt from the air pollution.
  • And – as everybody else – I suffer from the three undeniable truths about travelling.

Am I looking for those experiences? Definitely NOT! I am not striving for such experiences, but I am tolerating them. Such experiences are ultimately the only way to make the most of my journeys. Only by tolerating a list of negatives I can create a list of positives, that btw. is much longer than the one above.

Lesson learnt

It’s an old cliche that we can’t have light without shadow, that there is no mountain high with out a valley low, and that we can’t enjoy a jungle without being carried away by tiny nasty creatures.

I feel a bit sorry for this cliche. It has been beaten up and misused by many motivational speakers. But still, there is an undeniable and deep truth in it:

You can’t have one without the other.

My personal favourite of this cliche is the following: It doesn’t matter what decisions you make, you will always have to pay a price. If you don’t want to pay, you’re not getting anything. So many people try to cheat their way through life. But I am convinced, in the end, it doesn’t work. Nothing is for free. And even if your decision is to spend the rest of your life on the sofa – you will have to pay the price.

I have a personal theory about the prices we have to pay in life. I strongly believe that the sum of the prices we have to pay in life is a constant. It is one given quantity that is pre-defined for each our lives.

There are two ways to pay your debts

One way is to make many payments during the course of life. The other way is to pay everything at once, usually at the end of your life. Which one do you prefer?

Let me shorty explain the difference between these two kinds of payments. The iterative payments I call toleration, the one payment in the end I call regret. Which one do you prefer?

If we opt for the first way of paying we make a lot of decisions and take bold action towards life. We take responsibility for what we do and what happens to us, we act accordingly, we pay the price (like learning a lesson, taking a course, overcoming fear, trying something new, …) and we move on. In other words we accept the flipsides of life as the currency to create a good one.

If we prefer the second way of payment, i.e. if we pay one big price at the end, then we were obviously too afraid to have made some keen decisions when we still had the time to do so. This is regret. You know that regret shows its ugly face to you when you ask yourself questions like: “I only wish I had…”

I don’t think that this is a state of life that we should ever experience. It’s the toughest and saddest thing of all to realise that time is running out and that it is now to late to get dirty.

So, once again: Which one do you prefer?

Application of the lesson learnt to your business

Don’t waste an opportunity.

Life is full of opportunities. If you waste an opportunity you are effectively wasting life.

Same with your business. There are hundreds of opportunities. They usually come disguised as problems. And this is exactly what you should looking for: Problems. Most of all look for problems of your clients. If they have a problem you can be the problem solver. Customers are willing to pay huge amounts of money for someone who takes care of their problems. If you are an employee then become a trouble-shooter and don’t be a trouble-maker.

When companies hire they have only one question in mind: “Is the candidate sitting in front of me solving my problems or adding to my problems?” All other questions circle around exactly this one. Assessment centres, questionnaires, interviews, evaluations, checking your profile on Facebook – the only question why hiring companies are doing this is to find out to which group you belong: Creator of problems or solver of problems.

Which one do you prefer?

And now go and find some trouble. Look out for problems. If you find a problem don’t complain but act on it. It is the ultimate way of living a better life and creating a better business. And if you are a good problem solver clients will be more than happy to come back to you over and over again (and hand you heaps of money).

Tạm biệt,
Herzlichst,  Ihr Dr. Thomas Rose


If you want something do be done quickly give it to a busy man.


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One Comment to Letters from Vietnam (7): When I travel…

  1. […] the difference between controllable and uncontrollable trouble. I’ve written about the joy of finding controllable trouble in my last post. Uncontrollable trouble is something you want to […]

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