“I knew people that because their work was good, they had an audience. They could pick up a phone, and call nearly anyone and get them on the line just based on the reputation of their work. The irony is that most people spend their lives working to make money to become more “free.” When in fact if you are good enough, you can create your own freedom and you don’t have to wait. You just have to be good.”—
The end of the year means cleaning up my digital life. I found this little quote tucked away, hidden deep in my endless cache of SimpleNote snippets. Looking back on this nugget now, it seems really appropriate for the new year, right?
I love that getting better is the key to unlock that door to wherever we want to go. Skill brings us freedom. Freedom means more options with the ability to choose, and it runs both ways: that means saying yes to incredible things, but it also means saying no to cruddy things. I think often times we ignore that saying no to something we’ve always had to accept is a special treat. I’m paying someone else to do my taxes this year, and it feels like a snow day in April.
Choice being the foundation for freedom isn’t an earth shattering realization, but it’s still surprising how neatly our dreams sort into saying “yes” to our desires and “no” to our annoyances. And when we do that (like I did) a pattern emerges: “Yes” usually runs on time. “No” usually runs on money.
From experience, looking to money as a liberator to allow you to say “yes” to all the stuff that runs on time is a fruitless venture. One gets conditioned to postponing things, deferring our Yeses further into the future because something unexpected came up. Money eats time. We can change time into money easily, but we can’t always change it back. There’s always a loss in the process. Spending cash is no guarantee that we’ll get more hours to spend on what we truly want to do. Money is necessary for lots of things, but it’s helpful to remember that converting money back into time is shaky alchemy.
As we creep into 2011, I write this as a reminder for myself, and maybe for all of you: we should take pleasure in our no’s, but we shouldn’t think that they will lead to future yeses. If we want our yeses, all we need is time. And time, that is something we have the freedom to invent for ourselves.
So this is my permission slip: to myself, and to you. Happy New Year.
I actually take seriously the idea that the Internet can make non-traditional techie actors powerful. Therefore, I am less sympathetic to hackers when they use their newfound power arrogantly and non-constructively. This is an interesting difference in perception. How can you tell when you are the underdog versus when you are powerful? When you get that perception wrong, you can behave quite badly quite easily.
If you can read, and have any form of patience that extends beyond the internet’s 5 second attention span, I highly recommend this.
Jaron Lanier’s argument is a strong one, and his opinion about Wiki-Leaks is well thought out. It isn’t perfect, but this article paints a picture of our current state that I agree with on many levels.