You're reading Sentences, etc., a design and development blog by Justin Michael.


What aren’t you doing because you don’t feel qualified? Are you not writing a book? Not creating art? Not building something?

Let me ask you this: What would have to happen for you to feel qualified? There’s no magical qualification fairy that’s going to flutter down and tap you on the nose with their magic qualification wand, so that’s not a valid answer.

Seriously, think about it. What would make you feel qualified? In some cases, for some jobs, it’s an easy answer because there are exams or boards to pass. Doctors and lawyers, for example, can be labeled as qualified once they’ve completed a certain series of tasks and trials.

Creative work, though, is a bit different. There’s no board certification you have to obtain before you start teaching someone how to write code. There’s no bar exam to pass prior to creating a beautiful piece of art. Most endeavors lack officials standing by to proclaim your qualified status to the world, or endow you with a sense of being worthy to do something.

So how do you get qualified? You do the work. You practice. You get started, even though you don’t know what you’re doing. No one knows what they’re doing in the beginning.

Think of someone doing what you want to do, someone who you feel is qualified. Why do you feel that way about them? Is it because of their accomplishments? Their body of work?

Do you think you would have considered them to be qualified back when they were first starting out, before they had any work to show for it? Do you think they, themselves, felt qualified without any evidence of their abilities to point to? A common refrain among accomplished creative people is that they had no idea what they were doing when they got started, but they got started.

People you see as qualified all have one thing in common: They didn’t let anything stop them from getting their work done. They achieved something, and now the world can see it and proclaim them qualified. They, themselves, can also look back at their work and feel the same.

Feeling qualified is the result of work and practice, not a prerequisite to it. You will not feel qualified to do something until you do it multiple times. You don’t start out qualified, but starting is the key to being qualified.

So are you going to continue to feel unqualified for the rest of your life, or are you going to get started?