The opportunity of a lifetime is to pick yourself. Quit waiting to get picked; quit waiting for someone to give you permission; quit waiting for someone to say you are officially qualified and pick yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to be an entrepreneur or a freelancer, but it does mean you stand up and say, ‘I have something to say. I know how to do something. I’m doing it. If you want me to do it with you, raise your hand. -Seth Godin
I work with leaders every day who continually develop their ability to align their personal vision and values with their work life. When faced with the challenges every day presents, many of us lose sight of our personal path in lieu of others expectations, whether it be the CEO, stakeholders, peers, or clients. When our actions are out of alignment with self, even if they align with everyone else’s vision, we are essentially giving up our freedom. We are sending a clear message that we don’t have the intention to pick ourselves because somewhere along the road we lost our way.
Why does this happen? It is culturally ingrained in many of us to wait to get picked. We wait to hear back from coaches, colleges, and graduate schools. We send countless resumes into the abyss and wait. We wait at job fairs and plow through interview processes. We wait to get the promotion, the designation, the title, the account. Many times we are picked, many times we are not, but neither feels quite right because it is the wrong message we have been receiving all these years. It works much better for the “pickers” if we wait for their call as it gives them all the power to choose but… The price is high.
Since we are celebrating Independence Day in the USA on July 4th, I thought it would be a good time to share four questions leaders can ask themselves to change the message from one of “please pick me” to, “I pick myself.”
- What activities am I doing at work when it feels like time flies?
- Write down as many as possible and keep the list somewhere you can see it easily.
- What outcomes am I attached to at work?
- How is that changing my leadership behavior?
- If I detach from those results today, would I act differently and if so, how?
- What three things would I pick myself for if I were building the team?
- Do any of these things align with my list from question #1?
- If not, what can I do to align my work more closely with those initiatives, projects or actions and energize me?
- What is it like to work for me?
- If you answer this honestly and with vulnerability, it may be the best indicator of all to your ability to pick yourself. If you do not feel free, you cannot foster an environment where others feel free, no matter how good your intentions are for them.
When we align with our own vision and values, we magically find communities, at work and beyond, capable of enhancing our alignment which creates momentum and excited anticipation. Conversely, if we continue to give away this freedom by waiting to be picked, we spend time in environments that pull us away from our personal path, causing tension and resistance. James Altucher, in his book, Choose Yourself, says it best:
Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, I did it again.
There is accountability, excitement and a little fear in picking oneself. Sometimes it feels easier to wait to be picked because then when we aren’t picked, we can blame some external factor. But, the rewards of turning the tables are infinite because every time we pick ourselves, we feel free at that moment which is the best way to not only celebrate independence but to feel it enough to support it in others.
It is a choice every day to pick oneself. What will you decide?