product designer, cyclist, armchair urbanist

Green Lights

If you work on a team, or if you’re trying to break into a populous career as freelancer, you probably know what it's like to feel as if your destiny is the hands of a group of powerful gatekeepers. Your boss, your peers, conference organizers, book publishers, even the disinterested public – they all seem to be lining up with stiff shoulders to keep you from breaking in and getting the opportunities you long for.

The longer you live, the more you’re going to bump into people who don't validate, don’t encourage, or don’t even acknowledge you. It’s not because your friends are cruel and heartless. It’s just that they don’t have any reason to be impressed with you yet; or maybe, they simply have different goals and interests than yours.

Here’s what I’ve been reminding myself of as often as I can:

  1. These folks don't have the final say on who I am and what I can do, and—
  2. If I'm waiting for validation to do something meaningful, I'm probably never going to get it.

Waiting for a green light to do something I know I can do is foolish and fruitless. If the job hasn’t been done, then even the “qualified” people haven’t done it. I guess that makes me qualified.

I have crazy ideas! I have big dreams! But no one cares about mere ideas. Ideas are paper thin. If I don’t act on them, they are meaningless.

I’m done waiting to get backed, funded, and qualified. The green light is a myth. No, I might not be the best guy for the job; but as long as there’s a job to do, the best guy to do it is the guy who gets it done.