Remember what it was like when we were kids and we had to choose teams? There was usually two captains (often self appointed) and everyone else would line up, and one at a time, a poor kid’s self-confidence would either be validated or weakened.
I was always big for my age, and a decent athlete, so fortunately (at least I thought at the time) I was usually in the top half of the group. But I can remember, distinctly, the look on the faces of the kids who were picked in the lower half – particularly the kid who was picked last. Often that kid would turn instantly into the comedian – which I believe now to be the only coping mechanism that they had at the time.
I can remember more than once however a look of sadness on the face of the boy or girl who was picked last.
The look of sadness knowing that they waited and waited, with anticipation, to be picked, but no one wanted to pick them until there was no one else to choose from.
From an early age our socialization conditions us to gauge the quality of our experience by how our efforts, or abilities, are received, and judged by others. This creates a habit of passivity – we take a passive approach to our experience, and our fulfillment. Many of us come to believe (at least subconsciously) that our life is not entirely in our hands – how we feel is highly influenced by how others feel about us or our work.
We love playing baseball until we are picked last, then we aren’t sure we want to play anymore;
We loved doing that science project until our teacher gave us the C-, then we stopped loving science;
We learn to wait – wait for approval, and wait for enjoyment.
For a lot of people, this “waiting to get picked” stays with them into adulthood, perhaps even throughout their entire lives.
They wait for their company or their boss to notice how valuable they are and finally reward them for what they’re worth.
They wait for that recruiter to find them and offer them the job of their lifetime.
They wait for that pay raise so that they can feel good about their contribution.
They wait for that vacation so that they can find peace and enjoyment.
They wait for the day that never seems to come.
We don’t have to wait anymore. We don’t need to be picked. We don’t need anyone’s permission to be fulfilled.
The Internet has completely changed the game. It has created opportunities for business, expression, publishing, learning, and relationships, beyond anything even imaginable fifty years ago. It has completely changed the way that we do business, the way that we communicate, and the way that learn.
It can also completely change the way that we view our lives. We don’t need people’s approval, validation, or acceptance to feel good about ourselves. We can feel alive and fulfilled on our own.
I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the many biographies of unique, authentic, and innovative people that I’ve read reveal something that all of these people seem have in common:
They didn’t fit in the “conventional” model.
Isn’t that telling us something?? Perhaps that the “conventional” model of life, success, what we are supposed to be, do, learn experience, is wrong – or maybe broken? Shouldn’t we instead model those innovative people and intentionally try not to fit in the conventional model?
Many of the most successful people were picked last.
Many of the most unique and authentic people didn’t have anyone’s approval – at least at first.
Many of the most creative innovators were social outcasts, couldn’t find success in school, and didn’t fit in the box that society had created for them.
If this is the case then why would we ever want to be picked? Why would we even care one bit whether or not we had anyone’s approval.
Now is the time that we can pick ourselves.
Want to create a business? The Internet has made it easy start.
Have an opinion you want to share? Throw up a blog, within minutes you could have a meaningful discussion.
Do you have art to create? Create it and share it with the world.
You don’t need fancy degrees. You don’t need an institution’s permission, or the approval of a boss. You don’t need anyone’s permission for that matter. You don’t need to wait to get picked.
You just pick yourself.