All you need is...a flexible job
Right before the chaos that 2020 brought to our lives, I had the privilege to fulfill my long-planned gap year, traveling throughout 9 countries on 3 continents for 11 months.
My first destination was Cusco, Peru. I spent such a magical 5 months at the heart of the Inca Empire, where I pushed myself to my limits in every imaginable way. Cusco is one of the highest cities in the world, at 3,399m above sea level. The Andean climate has shaped magnificent mountains but created one of the harshest environments due to their abrupt terrain and lack of oxygen. When I arrived, breathing was difficult; walking upstairs was torture.
As a volunteer, I had the opportunity to visit many of our beneficiaries in the Sacred Valley region. It was fascinating to meet weavers from remote mountain villages and learn about their lives. Many of these communities are entirely isolated, and their villagers have to walk an average of 5 to 6 hours a day one way to get to the next available means of transportation. You can see them carrying their belongings, including babies, on their backs and still walking for hours in a place where to hike 50 meters would take me half an hour.
I also remember hiking up Rainbow Mountain, such a renowned Peruvian landmark. The hike was just 90 minutes but I was walking baby steps due to the lack of oxygen. There was an option to ride a horse but, nope, I wanted to take up the challenge.
After 5 minutes in, I felt my lungs were not enough, my legs were not enough… but then, as the scorching sun was burning my forehead, I said to myself, “Silvia, you can do this!” and as if I was reaching the top of Mount Everest, I took one more step. I felt so proud of myself. But then, I looked left and saw a middle-aged Peruvian lady running while leading a horse. Yes, running. I could not believe my eyes. “How can she be running if I cannot even walk?”. Of course, I knew she was born at this altitude and her lungs were acclimatized. I knew it, but still, it was frustrating. These ladies were running, at an altitude of over 5,000 meters above sea level, in the freezing cold, only wearing short skirts and summer sandals and, most remarkably, able to keep a smile all the way up. Unbelievable!
After those stimulating months exploring life out of my comfort zone, I had a realization.
Humans, despite our vulnerability, are strong.
We can overcome incredibly unimaginable things. We can adapt to even the most adverse circumstances and conditions. These extreme environments shaped us over millennia making us such flexible beings.
That’s why I was not surprised when I saw the results of my “3-words” project at Storyblok. During my virtual coffee chats with my colleagues, I started asking them to define Storyblok in 3 words.
After many coffees and interesting conversations, I gathered more than 70 words full of meaning.
The winner? Flexibility.
People at Storyblok appreciate flexibility because we, humans, are flexible. Our lives are on a constant rollercoaster, and we appreciate organizations that adapt to our needs as we go through life. We appreciate environments where we can be vulnerable and share our worries and concerns with our teams and receive overwhelming support in return.
We are flexible beings, but, at the same time, we should be exposed to a certain degree of uncertainty for us to thrive. We want comfort at home and expect our bus to arrive on time, but we should remember that it is in moments of hardship that we grow our superpowers. We need more organizations that, like Storyblok, gently push us out of our comfort zone, believe in our hidden strengths, encourage us when we fail, and celebrate us when we succeed.
If you feel you are not made for such work environments, just remember that stability is a man-made concept. Roosevelt once said, “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” We are made to be challenged; we are made to be stretched and face uncertainty. That is where we grow as we test our limits. You may be afraid to go into the unknown and rely on your creativity and last-minute problem-solving skills. Maybe you are afraid of all that, but perhaps that is just what you need.