Meet Paula. Born in a small village in Germany, her dream was to explore a big world and to go as far away as possible. Yet, in the midst of her adventures, she decided to stop running and step into making Berlin her home. The why and the how, we hear as we sit together in one of Mitte’s most beautiful cafés called “My Goodness”, right next to “Becycle” – a new indoor cycling gym where Paula started to work as a ride instructor just a few months ago.
It seems like this studio is your home. Is it?
Well, yes it’s my extended living room. I feel like I have a couple of them in Berlin. Berlin is my home.
What’s special about Berlin for you?
Berlin has always been special to me. One can sense the weight of history and influence this city has had, and is now pursuing in fresh ways. To be honest, I never saw myself spending much of my life in Germany, but once I got to know Berlin, I knew this would be the only place I would live in – if I ever moved back. And so I did.
Wow. So what happened in between?
My twin sister and I, our dream was to travel the world and make music. This eventually brought us to a college in Sydney, Australia, where we met lots of gifted songwriters and artists. At some point, I hit rock bottom and found myself in an identity crisis. I realised that I didn’t want to build my life on talent alone. I was done living in this war zone of comparing myself to everyone. Instead, I wanted to learn how to let go. Rather than striving to be the best, I wanted to bring out the best in others. I got a glimpse of a much bigger life and surrendered to serve. It prepared me for Berlin.
What do you mean by that?
I came back to Germany, impacted and changed on the inside, however unsuccessful and unqualified on the outside. I only knew that I wanted to make a difference in the city and that it could be much bigger than just music or any other status. I knew I couldn’t make a difference on my own – I needed a community of like-minded people around me. I became part of a church. I had to balance between different jobs and move multiple flats. At that time I realised that just doing a job for the sake of earning money was not enough for me. I wanted to get a job that lifts others. This is where my passion for sports came back into the game. Today, I am a spinning instructor at Becycle – and I love it. But I believe that this is just one chapter of the whole story, because my story is still unfinished.
What does “unfinished story” mean to you?
Unfinished story to me means hope. I might not be where I want to be, but I am not where I used to be. Unfinished means I am not judged for where I am right now, there is no need to strive. I can enjoy the ride. The best about the ride? It’s like a spinning class, you are not on your own. The most powerful thing about an unfinished story are the characters that play their part. For me, my friends are my biggest encouragers, without them I wouldn’t be where I am.
Speaking of dreams. What is your biggest dream right now?
I guess the biggest dream is to share that hope and grace of my unfinished story with as many people as possible. My passion is to develop leaders in all spheres of life. I believe we have to redefine leadership and build great businesses that ultimately lift people.
Easter is coming up – what is your personal connection to Easter?
There is a lot of religious stuff and traditions when it comes to Easter. My personal connection to Easter is simply this: God’s presence can change everything and anyone. You cannot make a method or religious duty of it, you need to experience it. Easter is a great opportunity for people to come together and experience the presence of God. I love that we can pass on God’s love to people in our day-to-day lives, even in the workplace.
Is there any particular story that comes to your mind?
I get to meet and encourage a lot of diverse and influential people that work hard every day. What I love most about my job is that I can help people to leave different from the way they came in. Like a woman one day that came into my class. She had had a tough day of working with the homeless on the streets, was tired and overwhelmed, but during the class I said something about recharging yourself in order to be able to give to others again. Afterwards she came up to me because she was so thankful about what I had said. It opened up a conversation about faith and where we get our strength from.
Please tell us one more thing about you. Who or what inspires you?
Oh, sure. Teams in any extreme sport discipline are a great inspiration to me. Also people who have done something for a long time and stuck with it. Basically, teamwork and endurance inspire me. I want to be able to say about my life “She did not give up!” I want to be determined, even when things get tough.