We obey traffic signals well aware that it’s a system, not a man, calling the shots. A system built on a series of computerised push and pulls. It’s our responsibility to make our presence known by putting pressure on the pad, but that’s all. When it’s our turn to go, we’ll be given the greenlight.
This is the backbone to the system many of us grew up with. We were taught that if we payed attention in class, turned up on time, tried hard and followed instructions, we’d be taken care of. We were told that we don’t have to be brilliant or creative to be successful. We don’t even need to take risks. We simply need to be obedient.
We set up our schools, workplaces and governments to support this system. A system that favoured what author, Michael Gerber, described as the rule of ordinary people. He reasoned that the perfect business model is one operated by people with the lowest level of skill because it’s cheap and easy to replicate. It meant we didn’t need brilliant lawyers or engineers. We simply needed a brilliant system through which run-of-the-mill lawyers and engineers could produce brilliant results. And for a long time we believed in it, finding comfort in the safety of being ordinary.
The problem is we were raised in a world that aimed to defend and leverage the system, not the people. A world that showed us that any project, if broken down into small enough pieces, could virtually be built for free. A world in a race to the bottom, obsessed with building more for less.
Today that system is shutting down. Everyday we see people we care about, some who are highly skilled, suffering because the promise we were sold growing up no longer works. The lights are stuck on blinking red. Deep down we know something is amiss and yet most are afraid to go because for too long we’ve been bullied into submission. We have it engrained in us that we must watch from the sidelines until we’re called. If only we recognised that the coaches and referees disappeared a long time ago. If only we recognised that every player on the pitch chose themself. If only we recognised that the only person who can greenlight us is us.
In October, I wrote a post called Stop Asking For Permission: Pick Yourself. You could say this post is the same message rephrased. It is. I say it again because it matters more to our success and happiness than anything else. Pick yourself. Greenlight yourself.