Pick yourself — even if the team wants you

Published by Lori Pickert on June 24, 2013 at 07:20 AM

This post is part of my series on PBH for Grown-ups — you can see all of the posts here.

There’s a popular notion going around:

Pick yourself.

Altucher says it:

Pick yourself.

Too often we want someone to like our novel. Or promote us. Or hire us. Or buy our idea. Or put our product on their shelves. Or tell us they love us. Or tell us we are good.

You have to choose yourself first. …

Greatness is when every moment you choose yourself rather than relying on the past or the future to choose you. Rather than relying on anyone else in the world to choose you. — What is greatness? @ The Altucher Confidential

Seth Godin says it:

It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one else is going to select you — that Prince Charming has chosen another house — then you can actually get to work.

If you’re hoping that the HR people you sent your resume to are about the pick you, it’s going to be a long wait. Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound.

No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself. — Reject the tyranny of being picked: Pick yourself @ Seth’s Blog

But — there’s an extra wrinkle.

The truth is, if you’re good, someone else probably IS going to pick you.

Someone’s going to want to publish your book.

Someone’s going to want you to write for their blog.

Someone’s going to want your content, your marketing ability, your skills.

Someone’s going to want you to work for them.

It’s very possible that no one is going to pick you. And in that case, you better pick yourself — or get used to warming the bench.

But it’s also true that if you’re good and people notice, they are going to sweep in and want to take advantage of your abilities. They’re going to want to put your talent to use. They are going to want you on their team. They’re going to want to tap your potential.

The question you have to ask yourself is:

Would I be better off picking myself?

There are entire industries (like publishing) built around taking your work and making money from it. There are people whose entire living is hustling up worker bees to fill their hive. These people are constantly looking for content and talent they can use.

They might pick you.

If you get picked and feel tremendously validated, before you walk around telling people about your book deal or your new job, take the time to sit down and think about where you want to invest your time, your effort, and your talent: in someone else’s dream? Or in your own?


No one picks you to start your own business.

No one picks you to be your own boss.

No one picks you to self-publish your book and keep the profits for yourself.

No one picks you to build up your own website, brand, and products.

No one picks you to create your own designs and share them under your own name.

The only person who can pick you to do those things is you.

Sometimes being picked is the right option. Sometimes they have something you need — experience, opportunities, contacts. Sometimes saying yes to working on someone else’s thing is the right call. Sometimes it’s what you need in the short term while you hustle hard on the side making your own thing.

But take the time to think about what it is other people see in you — your talent, your ability, your special skill — and then think about how you might exploit that for yourself. Think about how you might build something of your own.

If no one picks you, then baby, get out there and pick yourself. Start hustling.

But if someone does pick you, take time to think about it. Consider what you’re giving them and what you’re getting in return. Consider what you’re investing and who’s going to reap the returns. Think about how you might invest your talents in something that would belong entirely to you. Then do what’s best for you. But keep your eye always on what you want — the life you want to live, the person you want to be, the thing you want to build and share. Don’t let someone else’s validation knock you off course.

Pick yourself — even if you get picked.

All those who call you to themselves draw you away from yourself. — Seneca

The fellow who sits still and does just what he is told will never be told to do big things. — Charles M. Schwab


Comment by amy21 on June 24, 2013 at 08:19 AM

Okay, love this. It takes a lot of confidence to pick yourself, especially if nobody else has picked you first. Actually, it takes a lot of self-talk. I applied to teach summer camp art classes at a local museum; never heard back. As part of the process, I had to come up with class proposals, which I figured was a good thing to make myself do. Now, it's possible the museum was forced to advertise but already had their instructors picked out--or any other many reasons that had nothing to do with my abilities or qualifications. At any rate, I took that experience and proposed classes somewhere else--those are going to be offered. I'll be paid as a contractor, not an employee, and I'll probably make more per hour once the classes gain traction than I would have as an hourly employee at the museum. AND I can schedule the classes at my convenience so I don't have to pay for a babysitter. I could go on with the benefits of doing it this way...

After meeting resistance even trying to volunteer my time, I realized that at least where I live, I was going to have to create my own opportunities. That's fabulously exciting. If it comes to the point where somebody is seeking me out--well, that would be flattering and validation, absolutely. But knowing you can make your own opportunities definitely comes into play in evaluating other offers, doesn't it?

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 24, 2013 at 08:24 AM

I realized that at least where I live, I was going to have to create my own opportunities.”

and there you go — when you’re picking from the menu, your choices are limited. when you own the restaurant? they’re not.

way to go, amy. this is a perfect example of not quitting, forging ahead, making your own opportunities, and keeping your eye on the real goal!

Comment by kirstenf on June 24, 2013 at 08:54 AM

I LOVE this! This totally sums up pbh for grown-ups (and indeed for children!) to me. And this is what I did - as a result of reading pbh for grown-ups - which is why I am now working: on my own terms, in my own time. What I'm doing right now is only short-term, but I totally see myself doing this kind of thing going forward. I just need to remember to keep on with this attitude! Thank you Lori!

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 24, 2013 at 09:17 AM

i love hearing that you’re taking action based on this series! that makes my year! :)

(e-mail me and tell me more about what you’re doing!)

Comment by amanda on June 24, 2013 at 02:56 PM

"But take the time to think about what it is other people see in you — your talent, your ability, your special skill — and then think about how you might exploit that for yourself. Think about how you might build something of your own."

*wanders off muttering and deep in thought*

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 24, 2013 at 03:03 PM

mission accomplished!

Comment by lisahassanscott on June 24, 2013 at 03:18 PM

You wrote this for me. I know you did.

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 24, 2013 at 06:00 PM

oh, they all say that! :)

Comment by molly dunham on June 24, 2013 at 10:09 PM

lori, once again you have tapped into something that's been on my mind. i keep asking myself if i'm following my own plan or if i've become part of someone else's plan for me.

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 24, 2013 at 10:17 PM

i feel very close to you guys when you say these things. :)

“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.” — Terry Pratchett

Comment by Emily White on June 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

A friend of mine just sent me a link to this blog post and I'm so glad she did! This is definitely something close to my heart lately as I just left my publishing company to pursue self-publishing. I definitely felt like I needed to pick myself. It's been so freeing. I feel like I'm actually working toward something I love, rather than working long hours to help someone else's business, someone else's career.

Great post!

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 25, 2013 at 01:30 PM

thank you, emily, and congratulations! i’m working on a resources section for the site and there’s a self-publishing section (i guess that would make it a subsection :P) so check back for that! and good luck!

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