2011 is about to wrap-up, and when I look back on the fullness of life that happened in this small period of time (and especially looking back at my reflection of 2010), I wonder how much bigger things can get… because 2012 is already shaping up to be monumental and I wonder how I will get out from the shadow that towers from this past year.

A year ago, I wrote about how I took command of my career. This year, above all else, I learned something and it is my wish that you take this with you:

I don’t need permission to make awesome things happen.

I started this year pushing out ideas about Future Learning Experiences. This eventually fed into work done by Rustici Software in conjunction with ADL, now known to the world as Project Tin Can (@projecttincan). This was the work of many smart people inside and outside of ADL, sharing their best ideas because we believe there’s a different (arguably better) way to approach learning, mediated by technology. By now, it should be clear that ADL intends to leverage the work that’s gone into Tin Can (maybe AICC CMI 5, too) and it will be the basis of a next-generation SCORM (don’t get too hung up on the name, but if you are in the learning space, you hopefully get the idea here). A year ago, we made the case to explore it. By this year’s end, the bigger “we” — all who participated in Tin Can’s interviews, forums, etc; people who attended the many presentations and discussions on Tin Can and CMI 5 and LETSI Run-Time Web Services — the bigger WE made the case to DO it.

This is what I came back to ADL to help do… and, because you all stepped up and demanded it, it’s happening.

The same can be said about the Federal Learning Registry. As I wrote about earlier, the community of developers and the end-users who stand to benefit most from the effort is stepping up to drive the direction of the work, which is exactly what should happen.

In both of these projects, the community isn’t waiting to be told it’s okay to want the future. There are larger forces presenting an indefinite future — one where no one technology solution or direction is necessarily prescribed, but a future where the problems can be articulated… and encouraging people theselves to step up and make the future into something definite.

This shifts the focus from the bigger WE as consumers… to WE as makers. This encourages us to become more engaged members of our various communities. As “makers” we design, tinker and play with ideas. We impact our homes, even our neighbors.

The projects above were set in motion at the beginning of 2011, with these intentions… but I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t have a feel for where it was going (or if this notion had the legs I, myself, was hoping it would) until a transformative experience I had in June, where an entire world beyond the learning and education community opened to me. It was at this unconference, surrounded by warm, open and entrepreneurial spirits that I began to understand that to be brave, I had to do things that are a little scary. To lead, I have to be brave. No one will give me the permission to lead, nor to be brave. That’s something one has to own. I figured out something else resulting from that experience: that if I really believe in what I’m doing, commit to it and open the ideas up to support others as they champion the ideas as their own… this is how amazing things move forward.

Last year I took command of my career. This year, I started to take command of my life’s work as it revealed itself to me. I’m here to help people develop themselves into better neighbors and better citizens. Take that however you want, it probably still holds true.

I love what I work on. I love my profession. I fully embrace the people I work with. I have the best job I could imagine… but I’m not waiting on anyone to tell me that it’s okay to help people develop themselves. That’s on me. Everyday.

Figure out what it is you’re here for. Follow your heart and mind where that leads you, with every breath. Make awesome things happen, and be brave in doing so.

Game on, 2012. Throw me your best and worst. I may not be ready for it, but I’ll take it as it comes.

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