The World Wide Web Turns 28 Today — AKA Your job isn’t to be validated
Today, the world wide web turns 28. Here is Tim Berners-Lee’s paper from March 1989 inventing the internet¹ as we know it. I’m drawn to the comment marked at the top of his paper: “vague but exciting…”
There’s your powerful reminder: people won’t always appreciate the full potency of your idea at first. And that’s okay!
Your job isn’t to be validated…
Your responsibility to your idea is not to ensure people recognise its potency. It is to work at it until its potential has turned into a powerful reality.
Your responsibility to yourself is not to ensure people recognise your value. It is to cultivate a strength of mind and of character that does not depend on validation from others. It is to work on yourself — every day — until you become what YOU set out to be, and until your work is having the impact you envision.
Seeking validation from others can block your mind to the value you can add. It can blind you to the value of your work. Do not allow people who tell you now that you are somehow not enough — that your idea is merely a “vague but exciting” mix — stop you from doing it. Your job isn’t to be validated, your job is to get shit done!
Seek pointed feedback, but not (just) so it validates you…
I must note here that Tim’s idea was likely vague and rudimentary at this point, and that the review was likely not dismissive. However, many of us — especially starting out— can attach so much importance on others (especially those we admire) to fully understand what we’re setting out to do. That’s the crutch I am saying you do not need.
You need feedback — in fact, invite as pointed feedback as you can get. But feedback is to improve you or your idea, not to be depended on for validation. You do want recognition — and definitely work hard to carve a name out for yourself. Do not be blinded by it as though what you do isn’t valid without the recognition.
What we now recognise as a fundamental driving force of our day-to-day was once marked down simply “vague but exciting.” Imagine a world where Tim Berners-Lee stops there.
Listen to AfricaNowNow — https://anchor.fm/s/9c5e14
¹ Tim’s inventions were the world wide web, HTML, the web browser and HTTP — the internet as we know and use it today (not the whole of the internet)