Proving something vs. encouraging someone

For years I wanted to create music, because the artists I loved had proven what a difference music could make. Then for a decade I wanted to design software, because the tools I liked had proven how valuable thoughtful products could be. Now I might want to build corporations or something; it’s proven fact that a well-assembled team can have a growing impact. Right?

But honestly, what ultimately inspired me to “want to” work at something — wasn’t it the flip side? The negative. The broken: I need to be amazing in the studio, because otherwise the radio will keep playing mindless talentless crap. I need my software to delight people, because otherwise they’ll keep buying those awful overpriced enterprise deployments. We need paid positions that let us do the right thing without compromise, because otherwise…

I’ve spent my life so far trying, and failing, to prove (as I thought others had) that Good is better than Evil.

Worse. I wanted to prove “wrong” is “wrong” how? By trying to prove “right” makes “might”. I was going to be awesome THE RIGHT WAY and it would make me MORE rich and MORE famous than those cheaters who currently prosper. (Then everyone else seeing what I’d done, would have no reasonable choice but to also be Awesome The Right Way™, and stop making my world so terrible. Have you heard the atrocities that pass as songs atop the charts??)

What if right doesn’t naturally beat wrong? What if shortcuts prove more effective than the high road? What if even the positive inspiration itself fades? Great songwriters run out of ideas but keep recording; successful software starts to serve its creators (or national security “interests”) instead of its customers; once-heroic groups of people gradually become only self-preserving.

I don’t know how to always do the right thing AND be warmly reviewed and highly respected and promptly rewarded AND not mess up. I can’t inspire you with my everlasting proven success. (If the fate of the world depended on my musicianship changing everyone's mind about life and love and why? We’d be doomed.) That still won’t stop me from encouraging you to use your potential, and to use it for good purposes and the right reasons, regardless of the immediate or eventual outcome.

Pick up that guitar, write that app, hire that person — what are your gifts? Keep sharing them! We could all use the encouragement they provide.

Share this: Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit
Nathan Vander Wilt

Nathan Vander Wilt

Nate loves to wrestle big hard problems into little approachable softwares (/books/posts/tweets). If he's not busy designing apps for clients, he's probably busy building ideas for fun. Lately he's been also busy growing fish and plants together in his suburban greenhouse, and sharing good books and loud music with his family.

Liked this post? Follow this blog to get more.