My friend sent me this post.
Reading it was a form of confirmation bias. It was as if I was reading what I’d been subconsciously (or consciously? How do you tell?) doing the past 2-years.
I’m in between step 4 and 5.
It started with creating my own AI Masters Degree. That turned into a job as a machine learning engineer. And the creating hasn’t stopped. Publishing work online has opened more doors for more me than any of my previous ventures.
I haven’t figured out 6 yet. But it’ll come. In the meantime, I’ll keep making.
Enough about me. What can you take away from this?
The post already says enough. I won’t repeat any of it. But I can add a lesson or two.
A) Choosing yourself is hard but worth it
It’s not for everyone. The traditional paths are there for a reason. They’ve stood the test of time. They work for some but not for others.
When I was younger I thought I’d be a TV star one day. My mum took me to an audition for an advertisement company. I was nervous but I liked being the centre of attention. After the audition we never heard back. Dreams shattered.
Then one day my mum found out the company went broke. I was 10. 10-year-olds don’t understand companies going broke. Why wasn’t I going to be a TV star?
Everywhere I went I felt like a combination of special and the one who didn’t fit in. I liked that. Maybe everyone feels it? Probably.
Aghh. Enough about me. That’s a 2 count.
When you pick your own path, you’ll have people questioning what you’re doing. You’ll get advice from all angles.
But there will be something inside of you telling you to push forward. You can’t explain it. When you try to tell someone else, they might get it, they might not. All the advice they give comes from a kind place but they’re not in your head. They don’t have to lay in bed at night with your thoughts. They don’t have to sit down at lunchtime and stare out the window with the feeling in your gut of the thing that’s pulling you.
Then you do it. You make the decision you’ve had sitting in your brain your body your soul. And it happens. The whole universe starts getting behind you. But it doesn’t make it any easier. You’ll keep coming up against obstacles keep questioning.
Is this the right thing?
Will things work out?
Where’s the answer?
Yes, maybe, no, it doesn’t exist, all valid answers.
Choosing yourself is a daily practice. You make the decision. Then you follow up with the effort.
Then tomorrow happens. And you repeat.
B) Online is great but people are better
The internet is amazing. It has lowered the barrier to entry to education, to creating, to making, to sharing, to meeting, to finding. You don't have to wait to be picked. You know this. But it’s not perfect.
You can learn from the best in the world and then remix their ideas with yours and share them. Others can find your work and learn from it and do the same. The snowball gets bigger.
The one thing the technology hasn’t replicated yet is the feeling of connection. Online communities are everywhere but they’re not the same as sitting down at a table with like-minded people.
Someone messaged me the other day. "Hello Daniel, I’m a self-made XYZ as well."
The message meant well and I thanked the person for the kind words. But I’m not self-made. There’s no such thing as self-made. This one is an asterisk on the end of the "2 Year Self Apprenticeship*".
*Take advantage of the online resources available to you. But don’t forget about your offline relationships.
An offline relationship can be completely online but it takes more than the odd like to convey it. Interact with those who are in your circle. Message the people whose work you enjoy, share it and say why you like it. These kind of acts are what keep the snowball growing.
Keep learning. Keep making.