Decide what to do with the time

Today is my first day of work on my own.

I decided that my last day at work for Domain7 would be December 31, 2012, so that the new year would be a completely new year for me.

My wife and daughter and I spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day watching the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Leading up to this day, I’ve been doing a lot of reading:

I see myself as anonymous in the creative world. That may not necessarily be the reality. But, for myself at this time, it is the right place to be. I may never do anything great, and that’s okay. But I want to be able to do what I need to do. I have spent the last several years learning a little bit about how to collaborate with teams to produce technical and creative work. It has been a great experience.

What I have learned through those years is that I have a strong desire to create that does not seem to lend itself entirely to the type of processes and work flows that I have had the opportunity to be involved in at Domain7. I feel as if I was able to do the best work that I could, given the constraints, and I was able to do work that I could be proud of. But, as a generalist rather than a specialist, I have felt the roles that I was assigned to be somewhat confining.

The Domain7 team are a fantastic group of people to work with, and I feel it has been a rare privilege to have been involved in some small way with the tremendous growth that the organization has experienced over the past seven years. I want to make every effort I can to maintain connections with my colleagues and friends at Domain7.

But for now, I have decided that I would like to explore areas of creativity that are beyond the scope of the role I had at Domain7 as Senior Designer.

A different sort of RFP

I am considering a different sort of Request for Proposals (RFP). Money is not as much of a motivator for me (although it is definitely a factor). I want to work on projects that engage my sense of purpose in this world. I want to work on things about which I can say, “This is what I was made to do.” I will work for free for three months [or some other specific time frame] for anyone who is able to propose and provide work that I love. At the end of that term, if the work does inspire me and fire my imagination, I would then like to negotiate the terms of my engagement to continue doing work that I love.

For the moment, I am defining my own job description:

  • Meet new people and deepen the connections I have already made
  • Learn a new language, new skills and get better at my craft
  • Think, write, create, build and innovate
  • Decide what to do with the time

Decide what to do with the time

We don’t all get a Ring of Power, like Frodo did in The Lord of the Rings, but perhaps we have all been given a task that only we can fulfill. We each decide whether we will rise to the occasion, even if the task appears to be too daunting or overwhelming.

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

In the case of Gandalf, his role was to guide and to encourage. And it might be safe to say that is a role we can all play.

You are a Ring-bearer

Gandalf helped set Frodo’s feet on the path, but it was only during the Council of Elrond at Rivendell that Frodo realized what he needed to do. He decided to take on the role of a Ring-bearer, having little idea about what the next step might be.

Frodo: Mordor, Gandalf, is it left or right?
Gandalf: Left.

It can be a lonely business, being a Ring-bearer, and there are a great many fears that can overwhelm us as we set our minds to the task. Galadriel provided some timely encouragement to Frodo.

Galadriel: You are a Ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a Ring of Power is to be alone.
Galadriel: This is Nenya, the Ring of Adament. And I am it’s keeper. This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way, no one will.
Frodo: I know what I must do, it’s just that… I’m afraid to do it.
Galadriel: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

In taking a different path, I will certainly face dangers and fears, but as small as I might be, I can take some consolation in the fact that I have the opportunity to change the course of the future. It may not be as significant as saving Middle Earth or “making a dent in the universe”, but it may be that I am the only one who can fulfill this task.

Still, if there is one thing that we can all do, it is to encourage.