So, it’s curtains for 2011, and i’m old now, having just had another birthday. Time to grow up, I guess. Well – in that vein, here’s a bunch of things i learned and grew in over the last year.

Be active, not passive

I spent 4 years in a dead-end job, waiting for something great to happen. Needless to say, it didn’t. Eventually, the revelation dawned on me that I was meant to make that ‘something great’ happen. I should have been active, taking initiative, rather than passive. We’re not meant to sit there and take life as it comes, we’re made to get out there make a ruckus.

This led me to wonder, ok so i’m meant to do something, but do exactly what? Options in life are basically infinite, so you need some boundaries when choosing. Which leads to my next two lessons.

Use what’s in your hand

So – what to do with my newfound zeal for action? Well, the first key is to look at what’s in your hand. Do what you can with what you have. In my case, that is programming skills with making iPhone apps. So I started making lots of apps in my spare time and on the train to work, and putting them on the app store. I contacted a couple of charities and offered to make apps for them.

Try a bunch of things

The next thought i had was to use the concept of ‘failing forwards’ when it came to trying to figure out what i should be doing. Basically, try a bunch of ideas, and see what fails and what works. The failures – well, give those up as a bad idea; as for the successes, keep at it with those.

So for me, working with the charities ended up being a failure. Working on my ‘comet server’ project was another failure. But working on iPhone apps in my spare time was a resounding success.

Start a book club with friends

This year I started a book club with a few friends. We mainly read inspirational / leadership themed books, and meet up every few weeks to discuss what we got out of them. It’s been a great source of inspiration and growth to us all.

Some practical things that have been important: Kindles, not paper books, are the only way to go in Australia – as it simply takes too long to ship books from the states for it to be workable. Also, we’ve decided it all works better if we’re reading the same book, so that we can all discuss it together.

It turns out that Benjamin Franklin did exactly this – set up a book club with friends. In the day of kindles and cheap ebooks, it’s a really easy way to grow.

Start small

One recurring theme in my life this year has been to ‘start small’. In my apps, i try to keep them small and manageable so that i’m more likely to finish them. Same with other projects in life: my friend one day wants to become an ambassador for fatherhood. So we’re working on getting to start small, as a blogger. Once he’s got 100 posts, he’ll write an ebook. Later on, possibly a printed book, and then we’ll see what doors that opens.

The key is to start small, with something that is within reach and currently achievable. Starting small is the key to achieving big things.

If you’ve got no platform, you can still work on yourself

It’s all about building a platform. Someone like Bono has a massive opportunity to make a difference, because of his influence. His fame and influence with world leaders are his platform. And he can act from that platform and achieve far more than most people can.

I’ve found that living an influential life is about building that platform. We start with no platform, then we may have a small platform when we have a family to influence, then a larger platform if we became a business leader, and so on. As before, it is all about starting small, and doing what we can with the platform we’ve got. As we do what we can with our current sized platform, it’ll naturally grow – and then we can do more.

But all this left my friends and I with the question – what do we do, as guys with no platform or influence? Well, we realised that if you’re not in leadership over anyone else, you’re in leadership over yourself. So your own self is your platform. So do what you can with that – build yourself, learn to lead yourself and grow yourself.

I’ve got a plan now

This year’s growth started with the thought: I’m getting older, probably should grow up and do something with my life. But no further plan was forthcoming until much later on. It’s funny how doing the best with what you’ve got brings ideas to the fore about what you can do next.

Anyway my plan (described in another blog post) is to keep working for a few years, meanwhile working on apps in my spare time. And when the time comes that the income from apps reliably eclipses my day job, i would leave work and start a business creating iPad applications for small businesses, with the dream being to emulate the success of Dr Chrono (an iPad medical management app) in Australian hospitals.

It’s surprising what you can achieve with a bit of work

There’s been a lot of hard work this year. Between me and a friend, we’ve written a heck of a lot of apps and blog posts. But it’s been amazing what has come out of it. In his case, his quality of writing has gone through the roof. His first book is looking more achievable by the day. As for me, 10 apps later things are looking bright.

Thanks for reading! And if you want to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you: chris.hulbert at gmail.

Chris Hulbert

(Comp Sci, Hons - UTS)

iOS Developer (Freelancer / Contractor) in Australia.

I have worked at places such as Google, Cochlear, Assembly Payments, News Corp, Fox Sports, NineMSN, FetchTV, Coles, Woolworths, Trust Bank, and Westpac, among others. If you're looking for help developing an iOS app, drop me a line!

Get in touch:
[email protected]

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