The Power of the Project

CC license, thanks to catalogue on Flickr

CC license, thanks to catalogue on Flickr

The past few years many of us have gotten used to seeing new companies pop up from nowhere. Companies require regulations, organizational charts, business plans, and revenue models. Companies are supposed to show stability by incorporating and having charters.

My world has changed, though. I don’t live in a world where a company is stable.  Neither do you.

Many people are fearing the worst of the current financial crisis – losing their job.  Is the Company really that stable?

A few years ago I heard so many of the Boomers say they were glad to be retiring soon because they’ve lost faith in their Company.  Their friends were getting laid off, being phased out, given packages to quit early.  The Company was showing its true colors.  It exists to make a profit, not to give you stability or hope.  The Boomers aren’t stupid or slow. They understand more than any of us what’s happened. 

Today I work as a freelancer and own my own businesses (not Companies).  I don’t have employees. I have partners and contractors (who run their own businesses).  Why? Because we heard the cry of the Boomers who are getting laid off. We’re not so slow either.  We started our own businesses because we put our trust in other people to exchange their money for our value.  We’re paid to do something that helps our fellow humans.  If we don’t, we don’t get paid.

And “they” said Generation X was lazy. We’ve taken the red pill.

The Project is King

So today we’re an army of freelancers and entrepreneurs.  Tomorrow you might be one too.  We started by calling ourselves bloggers or geeks.  We’ve now graduated to “owners”.  Owners of our own destiny.  Owners of our name, our brand, our work, our time, our resources, and our attention.  And this trend is growing beyond the geeks.

As the early adopters of technology, we have engaged with, encouraged and contributed to the Project Economy.  We got tired of doing “what’s right for the Company” and struck out on our own.  We embraced the risk, and now we’re happy to move our game piece one step further.  We benefit not only from the stability, but the enjoyment of our work and lives.

CC license, thanks to lenifuzhead on Flickr

CC license, thanks to lenifuzhead on Flickr

The project is like a hobby, but smaller and shorter in time.  It’s a beginning. It’s an idea that we realize we can actually help make a reality.  Some Projects require a team, others are created by one person alone.  Either way, the project is the extension of our beliefs in the need for a better world. You might want a world where less children die of starvation.  Or the person next to you might think a better world is where we can share our location through location-aware cell phones.  The person behind you in the line at the supermarket might think her better world is one where she stands in line for less time.  Our world matters.  It matters to us, and we believe it can be changed.  Soon many many more of us will believe we actually have the power to change it by working on our Project or leading a Tribe.

Instead of creating a company – which takes too much time, effort and money – we just begin.  We embrace the freedom of simplicity and the absent permission-asking culture.

My Projects have been as short as 3 hours or as long as several months.  They have added great value to my life, my skills, my network of friends, and my bank account.  Each of those are important to me to balance, and Projects give me the ability to do so when no Company could.

Eventually, a Project might turn into a Company or a business, and that might be the intention in the long run, but they don’t start that way. They start as a way to make our lives better.

Trust me, the world is changing.  The Project is king.  We are enabled.  We have the ability.  Soon, we’ll understand that we are leaders and we’ll begin to lead.  Soon, the Project will be the jumping off point for worlds changing faster than we ever imagined.

Soon.  How about now?

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

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