An autodidact is a self-taught person. They are independent and self-motivated. Entrepreneurs sort of get forced into becoming one to varying levels—but becoming an autodidact is also a way to achieve feelings of fulfillment that make for an interesting life.
Autodidacts are in pursuit of their interests whether that is personal or professional. Whether you are starting new companies or new hobbies, self-education creates self-meaning and is satisfying.
Autodidacts are “do it yourself” advocates and assume responsibility for teaching themselves new things. For anyone who has ever worked in a startup environment, you know it is a good opportunity to go free reign with your skills and abilities. Startups offer a great opportunity to develop yourself in roles that may not otherwise allow the same freedoms.
Example: computer is broken? Fix it yourself. There are computer forums with many people from around the world that broke theirs like you did too. This has saved many heart attack moments and made for short interruptions instead of complete stops from working had I relied on someone else.
There is a big sense of satisfaction that comes from putting out a fire and saving the day yourself that will keep you poised when it happens again in the future. That is not to say that delegating does not have value—but in early stage startups when resources, time and manpower are low, you often have to figure out things and do it yourself.
I once heard the advice that if you think you can do it, then take the project and you will figure it out along the way. That philosophy sums up the first year of my first consulting business projects.
I remember the fear that came over me when my business partner looked our new client in the eye and accepted the project of coordinating a National Conference for a non-profit. Having limited experience in event planning, I thought it was out of our reach but kept my mouth shut. This project was a referral from someone that knew we would be up to the task and be able to do it (mega thanks to her for the faith in us).
To alleviate the anxiety I felt for taking on something I felt I didn’t know enough about, I started making a list of all the things that we were going to have to do in order of priority before the big event. This same list became our roadmap for the entire project. The conference was a success, an amazing relationship blossomed with our client, and it was a lot of fun.
That project is just one example of working with a client on a new project and in a new industry that was unknown going in. Keeping your life fresh, interesting, new and challenging will never allow things to get stagnant and you will continue to grow.
Maybe you are happy with your job as it is but are bored with your personal life or feel that you do not have any new goals or interests. Try something completely new, such as learning to cook your own thai food or learning to play a new instrument; whatever it is, the process will be healthy for feelings of happiness and self-fulfillment. That is around the inevitable frustrations of learning something new. Check your local community and network: chances are you will find a friend interested in trying something new as well.
You just never know what is at the other end of an experiment or trial in your career or in your personal life. Perhaps a breakthrough is waiting to happen or the discovery of new skills from a project out of your comfort zone. By taking your own initiative to learn something unknown to your knowledge, you may unlock a new passion that would otherwise would remain dormant and never brought to life.