In the short term, the work I’m doing is super risky. Since February—when I fired my last big copywriting client—I have been making very little money. I get by on a few coaching clients and yoga classes, now-diminished savings, and a bank loan. Which is a choice. I wanted to be able to give my all to creating my first online course. So I have been focused on that and not on looking for more work.
In the long term, the work I’m doing is the least risky option. Once I’ve found all of my 1,000 true fans, I’ll have a life of connection and meaningful work ahead of me. And also income that I have control over. This is not the case for folx working jobs where they depend on a company or organization for a paycheck. That to me is high risk because at any moment that job could disappear and there’s not much an individual can do about it.
This way of thinking is something that Seth Godin talks about a lot in his work. In his book Linchpin, Seth explores what it means to be indispensable. Because to be anything else is to live in the perpetual instability and stress of being disposable. So few of us are linchpins but, according to Seth, we all have the potential to become one. And we don’t need permission from anyone but ourselves to go do it.
In the age of the internet, shipping your work has never been easier. There are fewer and fewer gatekeepers to get in your way. What’s more, people are hungry to find the things that are meant for them; the art and the products and the community. Chances are if there’s something you’re searching for, there are other folx out in the world searching for it to. You have the ability to satiate their needs as well as your own.
In our crumbling industrial model, permission was something that had to be given by someone higher up on the food chain. Now, however, we don’t need anyone’s blessing to put something out into the world. We can make our art and share it. Which is both exciting and terrifying. Suddenly, there’s no place to hide; suddenly, doing the work we feel called to do is something we can start immediately.
Of course, privilege factors into being able to just do it. And we don’t need that much privilege to start to make waves with our work. Things may be slow moving and take a while to catch on. But there are probably very few things that could completely block you from doing your best work altogether. And while sticking with what you know might feel like the safe or even “right” thing to do, in today’s rapidly changing world that’s a risky choice to make.
What feels risky about choosing to stay where you are?