What have we done in our search for validation?

Watching a movie about a famous 19th century inventor I’m reminded of the many placards on Georgian houses around Dublin. If you’re not familiar, the algorithmic architecture synonymous with the period, is still beautiful to this day and one of the best examples is not London (thanks to the great fire) but Dublin.

In recognition of the many great personas that Ireland has delivered to the world in all disciplines, often plaques are placed on the houses of their birth. These plaques will tell a short story of oft forgotten people of how they may have been known in their day – philosopher, engineer, doctor, playwright, lawyer….

What I remember with interest is that the substantial majority would have many occupations in combination. It was a time where, without an central certification authority, you were recognised as professional in an area by declaration and by your networks recognition.

This meant that people with a genuine interest in an area were able to discover groundbreaking new inventions, discoveries, theories and proofs irregardless of what we now know as educational certification. Those whose contributions now shape our world more than the combined contribution of academics did not receive validation from the educational institutions that teach using their works.

Don’t misunderstand me, there is an enormous value to the world and humanity provided by the educational institutions and the execution of the crazy ideas produced by those with desire, dedication, insights but without validation.

In everyday life, we place on a pedestal the attainment of a University Degree, with good reason, but without those that failed to follow the charted course our world would be vastly different.

Without those who had no institutional validation but yet changed the world we would be without Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Spotify and inventions that shape our everyday life going back centuries to the days of Tesla and before.

This has meaning for me because I have again with my latest startup to present my story to new people. To share a story of being an early pioneer in several categories (Web Development, Saas ATS/CRM, Ondemand Platforms and now AI in recruiting) not by accident, but consistently makes me ask myself about what I want for my children. I failed university in my first year, twice over. Yet shortly after my class was graduating I was closing my first exit.

For the glamour of the success the reality was that I had no choice. I had no university degree, I had no experience or any special knowledge. The success I enjoyed was a combination of interest in the power of technology and ….

….. desperation.

For me, and repeatedly since, success was not really the goal. My alternative has never seemed secure and so I push forward, not as qualified for a role, but as a pioneer defining new categories in the hope that I can create a role for myself because those first years and my failure in academics have created in me a fear that I am not employable.

So in full circle, we have gone from pioneers without qualifications changing the world, to crippling debt in the attainment of validation from those who often have not succeeded in the word teaching the works of those who never received the academic validation into a world where still the most celebrated successes come more often than not from those who fell from the accepted path.

And my question remains – what do I want for my children with these conflicting evidences?