Overly Dedicated

If you don't listen to Hip-Hop you missed a masterpiece of an album, and you didn't recognize my theft.

That's the title of Kendrick Lamar's debut album: Overly Dedicated.

That's also what you need to be to be successful as a freelancer.  Overly dedicated.  You need to collect solutions like other people collect anecdotes, or stamps, or exes. 

People think I'm arrogant.  When people ask me what I do, I never know how to answer, so I just say "everything."  Because I will.  I'm a freelancer.  I won't stop until I've solved your problem.  Even after you've told me you don't need the solution anymore.  I still have to find that solution.  Wherever that solution is.

That's what a freelancer is supposed to do.

People close to me don't think I'm arrogant.  I know because I've asked.  Over and over.  Over and over again.  Maybe they don't tell me the truth because I have a temper.  I dunno.  But I'm gonna take them at their word.  Because I don't want to be arrogant. 

One of the things that people use as evidence in support during these mini-trials determining that I'm guilty of arrogance is the idea I have that everything has a solution.

They think that means that I think I know everything.

They couldn't be more wrong.

It's not arrogance that drives that certainty.  It's paranoia.

I assume that everything has a solution because I am afraid everyone else knows the solution and I don't.  And they don't want to share with me.  So I work hard to make myself valuable to ensure that people will share their knowledge with me.  If I'm a nobody, nobody will give me the time of day, and I'll have to work 10,000 hours to solve simple problems.  I read Gladwell's book.  I know how things work.

I don't have a lot of 10,000 hours.

There's only 647,000 hours in the average human life and in order to be healthy we should spend about 219,850 hours practicing for death—you know . . . sleeping.  I spent a lot of my 647,000 hours learning.  Learning is my favorite thing.  Learning to write, learning immigration law, learning basic internet skills, learning entrepreneurship, learning freelancing.  I am also apparently addicted to problem solving.  It's at the point where I'm no longer happy unless there's some problem I can chew at until I get it solved.  Luckily there's nooo shortage of problems.  How can I get my ex to stop hating me without having to lie and say it was my fault, while not drawing attention to if it's not my fault whose fault was it?  How can I be more successful, while wearing less clothes, and spend more time at the beach? How can I get the cable company tech to come when he says he's going to come?

I don't even have good communication skills because I spent so much time learning.  Communication is next on my learning list.  But I know people who are excellent at communication.  I know people who are excellent at marketing.  I know people who are excellent at fixing stuff.  

I have a thing, I don't even know what it's called, beside my bathroom mirror where I guess I'm supposed to put my soap?  I'm not sure.  But there's four holes bored in it.  I'm guessing so I can stand my toothbrushes.  Well my toothbrush thing is floopy.  It doesn't stand up so my toothbrushes will fall out if I put them in. I spent a lot of time being upset that I didn't know the solution to my floopy toothbrush thing.

I finally paid a guy and he came and looked at it and said: "Oh, epoxy will take care of that."  And I swear to you the guy took a pin prick's worth of this epoxy, daubed it behind my toothbrush thing, and a problem I'd had for more than a year just went away.  Just like that.  He didn't even charge me.  I had to force him to shut up and take my money.

What kinds of things have you learnt that you don't even have to think about?  The sort of stuff that is automatic, that is axiomatic, that is self evident to you?

Well there's a whole bunch of people like me who have floopsy things that need fixing—who have no clue how to articulate the problem, much less find a solution.  But we desperately want the solution.  You market that, and we'll force you to take our money.  Trust me. 

I've learnt that every problem has a solution, even if I don't know what that solution is.  What I do for my clients, is I find that solution, even when they don't know how to state the problem.  After that it's usually better if they find a specialist to iterate and refine.  But you can't skip steps.  First the solution.  I find that solution wherever that solution is.  I'm overly dedicated.  I'm a successful freelancer.   

Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo