My year 5 school teacher used to give us these general knowledge quizzes each week to complete as homework. The thing was though, they weren’t really an exercise in your general knowledge at all, they were just an exercise in using an encyclopaedia. And the kids that had encyclopaedias at home did it no sweat, and those that didn’t (like me) had to do it at lunch time using the school library (or copy a friend at the last minute).
And now that no-one is even printing encyclopaedias any more, the skill that was learnt is not really much use anyway.
It always amazed me at how much of a difference having rich parents made in school. It was so much easier for kids that had these tools like encyclopaedias to conduct good research that I wondered if the teachers even took it into account when marking the work. I tried my best even though I lacked what some of my peers did, and generally got in the top handful of the class when it came to grades. But I sincerely felt that my schooling would have been easier had I had access to the same resources my peers did.
But since that time, 21 years ago now, the world has changed a lot. Of course, I am talking about the internet. But it’s more than that.
The price of a decent personal computer has dropped significantly relative to people’s incomes, internet access is getting cheaper and better each year, phones are mostly now small hand held computers, and most public libraries or McDonald’s restaurants offer information access via free wifi that 1 million encyclopaedias could not have hoped to offer you a decade or two ago.
But what we have created with all this easy and cheap information is world where there are no longer any excuses.
If you want to sell something, you now live in a world where it is so much easier to find an appropriate buyer for your item than ever before.
Do you want to write a book? You no longer need to wait for a publisher to discover you, you can self publish anything you like, and make your literary creation available to millions in moments.
Do you want to learn a new skill or want to educate yourself? There are countless ways to learn now for free and with such advanced techniques (like Khan Academy) that a high school or university seems like an antiquated way of doing it.
Do you need funding for your awesome idea? Have you ever heard of Kickstarter, the crowd source funding site that brings artists and inventors together with people that want to fund new and exciting projects and get rewarded for it (or even NOT get rewarded for it)?
Do you have a craft skill that you want to turn into a few dollars? Perhaps a hobby or passion that you want to get a return from? I have so many friends now that are running their own stores online or simply on Facebook that I am simply blown away.
You don’t need to wait until a bank will give you a massive loan, you don’t need rich parents, you don’t need someone to discover you. You just need to realise you live at a very special point in time where the entire world is slowly waking up to the fact that they don’t need a large corporation to give them “job security” and they are no longer limited to doing business with people in their geographical vicinity. People are slowly realising they can educate themselves as much as they want, they can develop their idea as much as they want, and they can try and fail and try again with such little downside risk that it almost seems ridiculous not to at least try.
If I haven’t given you a big enough kick in the pants for not having a go at chasing your dreams, then perhaps you should read this infographic, it’s the top 10 things people regret on their death beds.
Really, we never had any excuses before for not having a go at our passions. But now, the age of the excuse is truly over.