We’ve all heard the entrepreneurial mantra, “Stop waiting to be picked.”
Coined by Seth Godin, the phrase has taken on a life of its own. It’s not surprising that people have latched on to it. It’s great advice.
But like many buzzwords, catch-phrases, and bits of wisdom borrowed from our heroes, people tend to either miss the true meaning or change it all together as time goes by.
And in this case, not getting the whole meaning could cost you opportunities.
Lost in the Translation
The phrase, I’m sure, was meant to encourage people not to wait around for some authority figure to tell you that you’re allowed to pursue your dream. That you should start making things happen for yourself. At least that’s the way I read it.
But based on what I observe online, I’m convinced that a lot of people are only half understanding the message – and may be missing out on opportunities to succeed because of it.
Warning: Deconstruction Ahead
Let’s do what word geeks like me do. Let’s pick apart the sentence and analyze it.
“Stop waiting to be picked.”
It’s a directive, right? It’s telling us to stop doing something we shouldn’t do. But what is it that we shouldn’t do?
Most people would answer, “wait to be picked.” After all, that’s how the sentence ends. And to a degree that would be an ok answer, but more specifically…
In that sentence, what word is the word “stop” referring to? The one word that it’s pointing to?
Waiting is the bad thing we’re not supposed to do. Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself and hoping someone select you or tells you you’re allowed to do something significant.
But somewhere along the line getting picked was thrown on the pile along with waiting as a “bad thing.”
Quit Picking on “Picked”
Being picked isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s a wonderful thing! Waiting around for it to happen is the bad thing.
Artists, for instance, have to self-promote their work. If I’m a talented sculptor and I wait around in my studio for some famous art collector or museum curator to stumble in and accidentally see my work, I’m doomed. I’ll never be discovered.
But… if I promote my own work, make contacts, join groups of like-minded people, and continue to do amazing work over time, then someone may very well notice me. And when they do, I might just get picked because of my track record.
And what’s wrong with that? Nothing at all. So stop picking on “getting picked” already. Hear the real message behind the phrase and start focusing on the important part…
STOP WAITING TO… (do amazing things)
Put Yourself in Position
Since we’ve established that waiting is the real villain in this whole scenario, what do you say we give good old “getting picked” a chance to break away and have a life of his own?
Besides, in reality “getting picked” in the dramatic cinematic fashion (like most of us think of it) almost never happens. Very rarely is someone scooped up from obscurity and placed on the top rung of their field overnight by some generous benefactor.
But that doesn’t mean that in time you can’t work and earn your way into a position to be picked.
Part of not waiting includes doing great work and putting yourself in places and situations that will allow you to be noticed if and when the opportunity presents itself.
If you can put yourself in a position to be noticed time and time again as someone who does stellar work, you can and will eventually be picked out of the crowd.
It’s not magic or luck. The opportunity to be noticed and chosen is earned through exceptionally good work and perseverance.
Are You Positioning Yourself?
No matter what your work is, stop and ask yourself…
Do you constantly looking for opportunities to sharpen your skills and learn to do better work?
Are you taking classes, reading books and seeking the help and advice of others? I don’t care how experienced you are in your field – you can always learn more. There is always a different way to look at things and different ways to approach a familiar problem.
If you think you’re done learning, then you may just be… well, done period. If you ever find yourself thinking that you already know everything, then that should be a red flag that you’re deluding yourself.
Do you belong to associations, mastermind groups or online groups in your field?
Not only is exposure to like-minded people in your area of expertise good for you educationally, it provides an opportunity to meet new people, hear new ideas, and commiserate with other people just like you.
I personally belong to two online membership communities that have been invaluable to me. I’ve received training, built strong friendships, made business contacts, and I’ve been presented with opportunities because I’m active in those circles. If people in your field don’t know you, then they can’t possibly think of you when opportunities arise, can they?
There are so many resources available out there on how to start a great blog and building a thriving audience base. These days, if you want to be noticed anywhere you really should have a strong online presence.
So… Seth Was Right
Not exactly a surprise ending, is it? I never promised you a twist.
Listen to Seth’s advice. Don’t wait to be picked. Go out and be excellent, take chances, and put yourself in a position to be noticed. (and maybe eventually picked)
Your turn to share.
Tell us about a time when you put yourself in the position to be noticed or picked… or share your opinions in the comments.
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