Having been at 4 conferences during the past 3 weeks, I’ve got a lot of things stirring in my mind from my conversations with several dozens of people. And I got to listen to a bunch of podcasts too, so that’s added to my brain activities too.
One thing I noticed is a fear of doing something that can make a difference. It’s been my experience that many good people just don’t necessarily have some ambitious dreams to be doing more than what they’re doing, to change the world, and that’s okay. But, something’s stirring for the younger generation to make a dent in the universe…
For those who do have a dream, there’s this thing called money holding some people back. And it doesn’t have to. Here’s how.
There’s that wonderful (and annoying) question of: “What would you do if money didn’t matter?” Easier for people who have attained financial independence to answer that question. But for the rest of us 99% of the world, we have bills to pay and have to do some kind of work to earn a living.
A small percentage, maybe 10-20% (wild guess, don’t quote me) have the entrepreneurial ingredients to create their own smart passive income or solopreneurship. Another small percent use money to make money, aka investing. And then the rest are employees or contracted freelancers. In this real world, that typically takes 40-60 hours a week.
If you’re someone that has the skills to produce something that enough people want and would pay for, and that is in the ballpark of what your dream is, then great! Lots of books and courses to get you there if you want to work to serve the market. (tho’ there’s a shadow side of that, working for yourself sometimes looks like working for a thousand bosses instead of being an employee working for one boss).
And there are some of us with dreams or visions or ideas that don’t fit the market. In today’s world, that does not have to be a show stopper.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Get a job for the 40-60 hours a week to pay the bills. Then use your cognitive surplus to go after your dreams.
What are your dreams? I’m referring to the thing that you often thinking about how the world should be, how the world ought to be, and what someone (you) can do about it. A dream that motivates you to do something about it. Not just the short-term project that can be done in a month or a year. The dream that is bigger than you are and it can take decades or even a lifetime to leave your mark, make a dent, and towards fulfilling that dream. I’ve heard someone call this your “ultimate contribution.”
We live in a world today with a multitude of Internet technologies. There are enough free tools and resources to do significant things. Instead of fundraising $1000’s as seed money to start something, I say, just start. Start with the free tools readily available.
What I’m talking about is digital goods, not tangible goods. What this looks like is using the freely & readily available digital media platforms of all kinds: videos, audios, images, text, e-books, essays, blogs, and the like. And there’s many platforms freely available— YouTube, Vimeo, Spreaker, Soundcloud, Anchor, Instagram, Flickr, Photobucket, Tumblr, WordPress, Medium, Blogger, and many many more.
Pick a platform, any one will do. Get started. And, keep going.
As I listened to people with ideas, a dream they have, a problem they see and want to solve, an idea before its time—but they haven’t started yet. Reasons like: not enough time, not the right time, want to have a higher quality production, want to make sure it succeeds, don’t want to fail, seems too big or too hard, not sure it will work, what if nobody listens, don’t feel qualified, why bother, don’t know how to do it, never been done before, isn’t good enough, don’t know enough, don’t feel not ready, could upset people, might attract critics, can’t finish on time, don’t have permission, whatever.
Underneath it all is something called fear. Fear of failure. Fear of shame. Fear of criticism. Fear of incompletion. Fear of imperfection. Fear of difficulty. Fear of the unknown. Even, fear of success.
My encouragement, my challenge, my exhortation (which ever of these words work best for you) is: get started.
So what’s on your heart and mind? Say it. Share it. Write it. Show it. You don’t have to announce it to the world, but getting it out of you and into the world is the first step towards making it a reality. These 2 quotes point to this phenomena:
“Nothing comes into existence without it being first spoken.”
“It doesn’t exist until it is written down.”
I write this in hindsight as I look back at how I started blogging in 1999. That’s like 17 years ago. That’s a long time of blogging. I didn’t know what I was doing. But I was crazy enough to give it a try. I didn’t have a plan or road map. I started. And, I’ve continued. For years.
After 10,000 hours of doing something, you get better at it, even if you’re not the best in the world, even if you don’t become a professional and get paid for it. And that’s okay in my book.
By getting these ideas out of me and into the world—through blogging & writing, through talking on audio podcasts, through occasional videos—people have found (some of) it helpful. Some recurring topics have emerged over time: Asian American, church, internet, multiethnic, social media. And for me it’s been a good process of discovery and exploration. I’ve gotten more self-awareness and developed my voice. To quote Jon Acuff: “You don’t know your voice until you use it…“
What’s stirring in your soul? How are you using your voice?