Life in autopilot

Dec 16, 2016Lifehacking

I woke up. I felt the heaviness of life pushing onto my shoulders like a sumo wrestler jumping over me. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t open my eyes; they were as closed as the most secure vault in the world. Shut. Locked. Impenetrable.

I was calling myself a fraud, an impostor, a phony. I was scared that someday, someone would have found out the truth, that I wasn’t worth anything and I would have never accomplished much in life.

That’s how I was feeling that day.

But then, eventually, I woke up.

Later I found the amazing story of a Chinese actor and model named Wang Deshun.

He became a theater actor at age 24. He started learning English when he was 44, learned pantomime when he was 49 and started working out when he was 50. At 65 he learned to horse riding. He started working on his abs when he was 70 and learning how to drive a motorbike at 78. In 2015, at 79, he walked a sold out runway show at China Fashion Week and he was glorious. He had the energy and the smile of an 18 years old guy, not 80.

I was watching this video and I started chuckling.

I realized that I am still young, that I barely started living and I can still do so many things and that feeling of sadness, uselessness and emptiness transformed itself in joy and energy, so much energy that I could have powered the streets of New York at Christmas.

Deshun Wang taught me that it’s never too late to start something new.

The reason why I am telling this story is that recently I had a couple of conversations that connect to Wang Deshun.

I talked to an old friend and he told me: “You know Stefano, I think I’ve always been drifting in my life, jumping from one thing to another as they came, without really thinking too much about it”.

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He reminded me that most people live in autopilot: they just wake up and do what they have done yesterday. It’s not that they want to do it, it’s just easier, you don’t have to think whether you want or not, you just do it. And when something new comes along they just go with it.

The other conversation was with a very smart guy, an investor. I asked him: “How did you become an investor?” and he candidly replied: “I just decided”.

I stared at him and smiled… That very statement was so powerful. Listen to the sound of these words:

I. Just. Decided.

He reminded me that there are some people that make decisions everyday, that set goals for themselves and no matter what happens they keep pushing. Others, most of us, me included, drift.

Everyday I remind myself that I have a choice: the choice of sitting back cradling myself in this mesmerizing melancholy, enjoying the melodramatic melody of my thoughts and sink deep down into the chalice of self-indulgence


I can decide to be different. I can decide to become a speaker. I can decide to become an entrepreneur and open a company. I can decide to be kind to strangers. I can decide to be a good father.

But I have to make an effort. And making an effort is not easy. It’s up to myself: I can drift or I can decide.

The reason why I started with the story of Deshun Wang is that most of the time we fall into the trap of thinking that it is too late. It is not.

So it’s up to you. Do you want to drift? Or do you want to live?


I am an entrepreneur and speaker. I tap into my experiences talking about entrepreneurship, startups, life-hacking, leadership and company culture. I love to explore the intersection between technology and humans.

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