Wayne and Garth said it to Alice Cooper: “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” I feel their pain.
I have asked myself: “why isn’t anything happening for me?” I am coming up on 20 years of web development. I’ve written for more years than that. That’s a ton of experience. How am I not rolling in money and accolades? Maybe it’s a simple matter that I haven’t done anything that would make me worthy of success.
To succeed, I need a win. Instead of a win, I have had a series of successful holding actions. Income, but not a lot. Work that takes a lot of extra energy to accomplish. Breaking out from my current dynamic would take an energy boost. When I built my Throne of Nerds, it caught on because it was “something.” The Internet can be divided into the fault lines of those who create and those who talk. Ironically, this post is a discussion about creation. People are hungry for content, applications, and entertainment. They get distracted by the hand wringing.
I need to work up a way to create and produce something in the way of content, applications and even entertainment. For me to get out of my current state, I have reach escape velocity. I need to take what I know and what I am capable of and realize my potential.
Before I go from here, I need to ask about who I am. If I am in mediocre position, is that a mismatch with my potential or am I getting what I deserve?
Do I Suck?
This is an important question. Do I suck? Am I in a bad place because I’m a bad person? Am I here because I cannot do a good job; nor write a good sentence; nor craft a good idea? Maybe. Prodigies sit at a new instrument and quickly master it. Most of the world is made up of non-prodigies. People have to learn and evolve their capacities. Putting aside the question of whether or not I suck, I have enough experience and foundational knowledge that even if I presently suck, I can improve.
On some topic areas, I suck. I can improve. On some topic areas, I am always going to suck. C’est la vie: time to figure out where I will be mediocre and task that work to someone else.
Add Some Compassion
2015 was really hard. 2016 didn’t prove much easier. The renovation kicked my ass. The lousy real estate agent diminished my win. There are important people in my life with special needs and I have tried to find compassion for myself and then extend that compassion to their needs. If I didn’t add some compassion for myself, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. There are too many opportunities for stock-taking to come up with an accusation. The accusation being that I am damaged goods: not capable; not knowledgeable; not worth any attention or good fortune. I have to proceed with the assumption that I am better than that. If I don’t have compassion for others, I would be a cold, calculating monster. It’s important for me to treat important people and situations like they’re a piece of my heart and not an ingrown toenail.
Where Don’t I Suck?
Web design. There are better designers out there. I know that. But I know web design backwards and forwards. I can hand-code. I can build out WordPress. I can build out Drupal.
Programming. I have been programming for most of my life. I felt stalled out. I spent a week taking refresher courses (OO PHP, SVG, Ajax, JQuery, etc.). I now feel much better about my skillsets. What I will have to do is put on blinders when established code bases suck and the gatekeepers don’t want that changed.
Left-field thinking. I can turn an idea on its head and make sense of what others may not see.
Cooking. I know how to cook: technique, ingredients, combinations. More than that, I can teach people how to do what I do.
Experience. I have 20 years in web design. That has given me a lot of time at bat. I am actually able to peddle some of that experience by sharing artifacts of that experience (see below).
Effort. I put in a level of effort into my work that astounds other people.
Where else don’t I suck? I need you to tell me (in the comments, please).
Should I reach out from my current position and try to be more than I am? If not, then I stop here, call it a night and wake up to be a wage slave with several free hours every day. If I decide that I want to reach for the stars, then I have to take action with plan that has a chance of success.
To get somewhere, I have to build on some small strength I possess to build out and reach for more. I work in the digital realm. That’s my arena. My plans for what I do next will play out online. For the last couple years, I haven’t had much time. That is why my prominence has diminished. I’m not doing much of anything online. I cannot belch out the next novel, the next big app or the next Big Thing overnight. What I do need to do is recognize my capacity. My time is finite for now until I can Crawl my way to some wins.
When Lestat awoke from his living death, he sustained himself of the smallest of creatures in the soil: beetles, bug and worms. He crawled from the grave and feasted on his first find with a spine.
I have to start someone and that somewhere looks like a crawl compared to the eventual sprint I will need to accomplish. My first feat will have to take a minimum of effort for a maximum result. One of my means to crawling from where I am is to recycle and use what I already have.
I looked through my resources. I’m a writer, though I am not thinking that one of my old stories could be dusted off to become a best seller. I am also a technical writer. As a side effect of running a web design company, I have had to write proposals for web development, SEO and grants. What do those look like? Let me show you: http://shawndewolfe.com/proposals I have genericized many of my proposals and posted them to my website. Check them out!
The next step in my crawl: create some new digital media. I like shooting video. I love my new GoPro. I am going to combine my interest in shooting video and my wish to earn some cash by posting them onto a service such as https://www.videoblocks.com/ to sell off my better footage. This isn’t my big thing: it’s something I can do to crawl my way to better cash flow and do so in an enjoyable fashion.
The next level of effort: Web design. I went into business at the start of this year to do web design. I am still doing that. Design work takes effort and time to yield a reward. That is an obvious moment, but the level above the crawl takes more energy.
- I need to play the game of web design better. I have recognized my sins: I did a lot of sub-contracting to local designers. It’s work I cannot reference. When I talk with new clients, I have to overcome my slim portfolio. I also worked at a discount. I couldn’t control the nature of the change requests that came in. I meant I had moments of “spec as you go” on projects. Not a workable approach.
- I sometimes waive taking a deposit, especially when working as a sub-contractor. That’s such a bad idea as the proponent has provided you with risk, but no reward. So the waiver of deposit will never happen.
- Bill every two weeks for any work done. Every two weeks, I will generate a report for any project and it will accompany an invoice for every project. If a client has more than two outstanding invoices, work will stop until the invoices catch up.
Financial jeopardy is my current problem. With twenty years in web design, I want to evolve past web design as my digital means of making money. What does that look like? It involves doing more digital product creation: I have started that, and I am going to do more of that through my product website: http://products.shawndewolfe.com/ WordPress plugins and a content generation service I am working on building. I know my weak points in turning this desire into a reality and I have a plan for getting those capacities into shape.
Success in the above steps will give me the life I want. What if I can make my steps into something that others could follow? After I get what I want and where I want, the sprint would look like me building out those steps to let others get to live the life they want. It may just amount to packaging my advice and sending the how-to to friends who need help with the course correction.
I know I should wake up every morning and just feel worthy, happy, fulfilled, etc.. I do the math. I am where I should be based on what I’ve done recently. The truth is, I can do more and I can accomplish more. When I listen to inner-symphony of all of my moving parts, I hear an orchestra doing a warm-up: excellent instruments and musicians-- but they’re not synchronized or playing in harmony. So being worthy is as much about being a conductor of my talents and opportunities.