Šilainiai Project is 5 this year.
Exactly five years ago today I started the active preparation for project launch in the autumn 2015.
It has been an incredible, life changing journey and even though it was tough at times I am very happy that I started it. I cannot express in words the gratitude and humility that I feel to so many people that took this journey with me – either one moment in time or continuously. It’s 2020 and the journey continues… #silainiaiproject2020
Here are some things that I feel like sharing with those who might be at the very beginning of their journey / letter to myself five years ago
- There will be people that will think you are crazy and will tell you not to even bother, that you can’t start something alone. Listen and try to understand their reasons for saying this, but always make up your own mind. Innovation and groundbreaking projects are never born by playing it safe. If something has never happened before, it is not the reason not to do it.
- Share. Don’t keep your dreams and ideas to yourself. Talk to people, write about it, present it, shout it out… There might be somebody out there who wants to join you and help to make it a reality or might have some invaluable advice. Take precautions, but fear of being copied and not starting is the worst possible outcome. Later on – share knowledge and resources with others.
- Don’t expect it all to work out the first time. Try, fail, try again. Ask for feedback. Constructive feedback is worth gold. This is how we improve. Sometimes we learn much more from failures than successes. Embrace these learning outcomes.
- Integrity. There will be times when you will have to make difficult decisions, it will be hard and you will have to make sacrifices. However, be brave not to compromise on your values – it makes you who you are. Know yourself.
- Be flexible and sensitive to new information and changing situations. Having a plan is good, however be ready for change and for the unknown. This is where the magic happens.
- Ask for help. Build a team. You can’t know everything and do everything – it’s a recipe for overburn. Find people who share your passion and values and divide tasks by competences. It will take time to find team members and, so you know, two people are a team too.
- Don’t assume things. You might think that some things are self-explanatory. Think again. People speaking the same language might understand the same word differently. Use simple words, explain what you mean, use examples, visual material. Try to look from another person’s perspective – it is not easy and sometimes impossible, but still – try.
- Realize that this is your job. Understand the value you are bringing and monetize it. It will be hard, but you do need to eat and pay rent. Otherwise you will end up broke and overburnt. “Day job” is good, but it will leave you with less time and energy to do your work. Find the balance that is right for you.
- Do your best to build teams, projects and situations that are resilient and sustainable.
- Never stop learning.
- Join local and international peer networks for professional and emotional support and feedback. Support others.
- Have holidays from work. Even if you do love what you do, it is healthy sometimes not to do it. You will be back refreshed and with new energy, which will improve your work.
- Value your supporters and keep them updated on your progress. It can seem an impossible task sometimes when there is so much happening, but do the best that you can.
- Enjoy it. There will be ups and there will be downs and sometimes it will feel like a roller-coaster. Celebrate milestones, however small they might be – you and your team did it! Eat cake!