Inside Story

What boundaries are you breaking this year?

Have you noticed it too?

Earlyhlinglets its blue ribbon
fluttering again through thethe air;
Sweet, familiar scentsfte
Streak forebodingly the land.
Violets are already dreaming,
Will come soon.
- Hark, from afar a soft harp tone!

Earlyhling, yes you are's!
I have heard you!

What Eduard Mörike already recognized lyrically in 1829 can no longer be overlooked by us earthly people: Chocolate Easter bunnies have long since colonized the supermarket shelves, snowdrops are ringing, the first perky crocuses are already blooming, the days are getting noticeably longer, the sleeves shorter - Veronika, Lenz is here! And now that the carnival season is over, many a New Year's resolution to "get rid of that waistline gold" is being tackled late, but nevertheless. The number of those snorting their former dancing legs and hitting the running trails to get to where they hope their lido bod will be, but will probably end up at the orthopedist's office, is strikingly on the rise. Training plans are created and posted, big athletic goals are shared with the community, bikes are dusted off - but for real this spring!


In the blogcast, I read this recent blog article to you. With emphasis, of course!

Link to Apple Podcasts  Link to Spotify  Link to Soundcloud  Link to Amazon Music

Yes, Mother Nature breathes in noticeably, but she also allows herself many a practical joke. For example, she has equipped me - probably the least athletic creature in the history of evolution - with a physiognomy that makes me an endurance runner with astonishingly good performance values. So that this circumstance does not materialize into sinful squandering of the good gift, I run a lot and long. I accept the unavoidable physical training that comes with it. But also a bit grateful, because one does not become younger. Actually I run however for my head: Pear liberation at the fire shoe. Therefore also preferably always the same route, without special navigation requirements and without music, podcasts or anything else in the ears. No distractions of any kind! Just me and my thoughts. The long and winding Road in the morning darkness - freedom I mean.

In my almost 30-year career, I have developed heaps of concepts, cracked the toughest dramaturgical story nuts, gained insights, laughed, cried and made many a capital belly flop because my attention was too far away. In any case, much further than the roots on the soft path of the Prater-Hauptallee in beautiful Vienna or an icy spot on the banks of the Salzach. I got lost several times because I moved completely in my world of thoughts and simply overlooked the branch into the real existence.

Only what quages, countshlt?

The other day, the question came to my mind why more and more people are engaging in high-performance sports, i.e. going to extremes. To see what one can endure.

If successful participation in a marathon used to be on the "once in a lifetime" list, it is now on many people's standard program every month. Triathlon, Iron(wo)man, ultra-this-and-that ... Anyone who can still sit down on Monday hasn't really ridden a bike on the weekend. Anyone who still plays golf these days instead of regularly puking from exhaustion doesn't need to post their sissy leisure activity selfies at all. Way of St. James? Mount Everest? - It's already happening there like in the shopping mall on the last Saturday in Advent.

It is obviously no longer about the activity, but about the confirmation. And it's about the affirmation that, if you have any limits, you can break them. Above all, it's about the story we can tell about it. The theme of this story: I can grow beyond myself. But how!

Why is this so important to us? Quite simply: because it is important for us humans. Vital, essential for survival. We have to grow. We need to expand our spaces of possibility. This is the monomythical drive of every story: heroine leaves the familiar world, proves herself bravely in the new one and returns - transformed for the better - to the old world to share what she has achieved and learned with her own. Separation - Initiation - Homecoming is what Joseph Campbell calls it, Departure- Probation- Comebackis what El StoryDudelino calls it in the Little Story ABC.

However, probation has nothing to do with higher, faster, further, longer or more often - and if it does, then only conditionally. Because now comes the bad news, and I deeply regret that I have to deliver it: At some point, you can no longer go longer, more often, faster, higher. Then we simply can't go any further. This supernatural outgrowth of ourselves in the physical has natural limits.

Limit? What is it?

Why is this spectacular surpassing of its previous performance limits of such immense importance to a conspicuously increasing number of people in the first place? A fad that will soon disappear? A trend that will then also flatten out once again? The way I see it, this is just a variant of what we've been experiencing elsewhere and in a different form for a long time: self-optimization. Having a great professional career, for example. Earning more tomorrow than we do today. From rags to riches.

Or shopping marathon until the credit card muscle burns. When did the fact that you need (or, for that matter, just want) a blouse, a bag, shoes or anything else become a leisure activity? You go shopping and find out what you could have wanted. Maybe a new bike for the next competition against himself and his weariness?

In the book and movie of the same name, "Fight Club," Tyler Durden says, mutatis mutandis, "We buy stuff we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like." Somehow that sounds to me like the categorical imperative for sense-making in our so-called civilization. The main thing is more, bigger, newer. Something just on top of the existing, more is better. But Tyler also says, "The things you own end up owning you."

In many, many companies, this is the only way to recognize success. Sales up, market share up, profit up. More is better. What else, please?

Because we're already on the subject of bad news: The joy of the broken records, the pushed boundaries, the exceeded goals only lasts for a short time. Then the next one has to be added. But on both sides, there and there, the news remains as bad as ever: at some point, we can't go on. Money is out, energy is out, time is out.

What then?
What to do?
Everything off?

A never-ending story?

For countless of us, such proofs of achievement, these external success stories are actually the only ways to experience the need for growth programmed into our operating system. For we have simply forgotten, or have never even learned, that attachment to the material, to the external, to the narrative may bring us joy, but it does not nourish us in the long term.

The stories we have been told for decades about what success means and that self-actualization, the highest of all possible goals, is the happy ending, have blinded our inner eye. So we get stuck in a fatal continuous loop and get tangled up in the trap we set for ourselves.

Self-realization is good and important, but in fact it is not a goal, but the basis - an excellent basis at that - for the next step: growing beyond the realized self. The moment we begin to make contributions to something greater and more valuable than our external needs, a growth from within begins that knows no end. We move from a state of (perceived) lack into the true growth zone. We rewrite our inner story, beyond the happy ending. There, where insight is gained instead of an ultra-marathon, there where experiences of meaning rise and not just turnover curves, there we find fulfillment.

That's true for each of us, that's true for our teams, brands, companies - it's universal.

This is the great, eternal never-ending story that is about all of us and describes nothing less than why we humans are there as a species. Or could be. We are the ones who have to grow in order to stay healthy, and can only really grow by creating, improving, healing. For some that may be in their job, for others in being a parent, some start a business, others fix houses or heart valves. In the end, something is better than before. Then a task is accomplished - with each other, for each other.

There's nothing wrong with competitive sports, even high-performance sports, any more than there's anything wrong with enjoying a fabulous visit to a restaurant or wearing clothes that make you look so ratty, it's as if Mother Nature is demonstrating to us that a glorious spring is by no means all she's got. But in order for this to be sorted in the right place, we have to understand what we are really missing. What we want and what we need are often fundamentally different matters and are too often confused. Especially in the stories we tell ourselves about them.

Before something changes, the story changes with it. This should happen urgently with our so-called success stories. Because if we continue to recognize the happy end of our success stories only in the accumulated, in the breaking of material or physical limits, we will be more exhausted than if we had hopped an ultra-marathon on one leg.

If you want to rewrite your success story for yourself, in your job, in the foundation or management of your company, your team or your brand, i.e. if you want to find a story that is supported by a task, then I will be happy to accompany you as a mentor. Together we turn your signpost in the right direction. I have two offers for this:

  1. The "PowerHour" - my powerful short mentoring with immediate effect. For this you will find all information and bookingöhere.
  2. The "New Story Mentoring", a structured one-on-one program over about three months. There are currently two exclusive places available here again, and - so it is written - "The first shall be first!" If this would be something for you, write me a message.

Either way, let my grandmother, old Story-Dudette, accompany us in spirit as she followed in Eduard Mörike's Biedermeier lyrical footsteps on windsandals, whistfully rhyming, "New Story. New Glory."