In my last semester of my undergrad studies, just before writing my thesis, I was obsessed with starting a business. I had just come back from America, and one of my professors there had been raving about Tim Ferriss. I read The 4-Hour Workweek and spent half my time planning, thinking, trying to come up with ideas.
I don’t exactly remember why, but after my last exams, I applied to some internship programs. Perhaps I thought it was my duty to at least sample the job market before jumping into entrepreneurship with both feet. And so, on a cold November morning, I sat on a train to Munich, wearing the one suit that I had, freezing my butt off. The interview went well, but I had no expectations.
Miraculously, a few days later, the phone rang: I would be spending five months in the marketing department of BMW M — the company making the cars I had adored since I was just a toddler, barely able to point them out from the backseat of our car as they went by. It was a dream come true.
The work was fun. No one took themselves too seriously. I even got to drive all the cars! Plus, it was spring and summer — in Munich! They also took us to some really cool events, like the 24-hours race at the Nürburgring. I really enjoyed every second of it, and yet…
By the time the internship was ending, several key people were leaving the team, including my mentor and now friend, the person who had hired me. They told me I was “their best intern ever” but somehow bungled getting me into their fast-track program for Master’s students. Most of all, however, after less than six months, I felt there was nothing left for me to learn. It was all routine, and the cars practically sold themselves. While it was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look, the best part was still driving them, not selling them.
When I returned to Karlsruhe to complete my thesis, I bolted through most of it in just a week. I was more driven than ever: I would become an entrepreneur. That winter, I registered a sole proprietorship, and I never looked back.
When Master Oogway confesses to Master Shifu that he had a vision of their arch enemy breaking out of prison, Shifu instantly instructs the prison to “double the guards, double the weapons, double everything!” Remaining calm as Shifu gets more and more agitated, Oogway only says: “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.”
What if I had gotten a job after my internship? What if I had enjoyed my comfy life at BMW? Maybe, I was secretly hoping for it. To not have to go down the harsh road of self-employment. Of course, in the end, even the best job I could possibly get only solidified my initial decision. No matter how many fancy cars I drove, the road always led right back to my destiny.
In the grand scheme of things, control is but a persistent illusion. If something is truly meant to be, there is nowhere we can run to escape it. You won’t always know that’s what you’re doing, and you’ll only ever find out in hindsight what was planned and what was only a deviation, but in the end, all roads lead to destiny — and there’s no reason to ever believe you’re on the wrong track.