Elect Yourself: No One Else Will
October 2, 2017
Do you think people are chosen for awards and recognition because they shine so brightly the world can’t possibly ignore them? That they get plucked, in all of their magnificence, from total obscurity and dropped center stage?
Do you think the golden few that get the grants, or the prizes, or the big gigs, or the publications are far more gifted, or privileged, or connected than you?
Do you think you need to have all your ducks in a row, or work for years to develop a reputation, or follow all the rules before someone out there will toss you a bone?
Awhile back I was attending an awards ceremony for regional authors when I spotted an odd, awkward girl I’d met the year before seated on the panel of judges. There she was, an unpublished 24-year-old with eye contact issues, evaluating the merits of some serious writers.
Of course me being me, I asked her how she’d landed on that panel. She happily explained that she’d been blogging for several years, and interning at a city magazine, and listening to people talk about various opportunities in the local publishing arena. She’d simply picked up the phone one day, called one of these folks, and volunteered her services.
I’m always amazed at the sort who wake up one morning and decide they’re going to do something they’ve never done before. No real experience, or proven expertise, or impressive qualifications, they just throw themselves into the mix.
I’m not sure if it’s confidence, or naivete. Perhaps it’s a combination of both.
My girlfriend Beth had never considered herself a looker, but one day she decided, for whatever reason, to compete in a beauty pageant. She filled out an application, read the rules, and several months later placed runner up in the Mrs. Connecticut competition.
One of my clients talked with me about her desire to become a mommy blogger. With no writing background, or obvious audience, she began submitting pieces to a site she follows and, viola, she’s a regular guest contributor.
I can’t tell you the number of gutsy people I know who have taken a personal success, or a burning passion and turned it into a viable, moneymaking business. Average people who got sick of nine-to-five jobs that paid for shit, or got laid off in the down economy. They bought themselves a domain name, learned how to build out a site, and held themselves out as weight-loss experts, search engine optimizers, online magazine editors, virtual assistants, media consultants, and confidence coaches, just to name a few.
An online guru I follow named Laura Roeder, explained how she got named one of The Top 100 Entrepreneurs Under 30. Ready for this? She submitted an application. In other words, nobody picked her needle out of a freaking haystack.
It was one of my first coaches who pushed my ass onto a stage farrrrr before I thought I was ready. She said, “If you’re going to fill workshops, and build a coaching business, you’ll never do it sitting in your pajamas on your couch.” Thanks to her incessant nagging, I learned to pick up the phone, call coordinators, and get my talks booked in lots of venues.
I had to overcome, by the way, The Impostor Syndrome: that fear of being discovered as someone who does not know what she is doing or does not belong. (Note: every single writer I work with suffers from this.)
I have no doubt everyone I’ve mentioned thus far felt the same way.
But my favorite story of electing yourself for the position, of just throwing your raggedy hat into the ring and seeing what happens, is the one about the Australian ultra-runner Cliff Young. Honestly, you’ve got to see this clip to believe it!
Here are a few points I’d like to leave you with:
- Elect yourself
- “Winners” aren’t chosen at random, they apply for the job
- If you don’t ask, the answer is always no
- The pizza deliveryman will not show up at your door bearing an invitation
- Opportunities will rarely fall in your lap, no matter how much you deserve them
- You get what you negotiate; not what you deserve
- Ask yourself, Why not me?
- Getting your foot in the door is only the beginning. Then you’ve got to do the work
- When you think you don’t have what it takes, that you simply don’t belong, think of Cliff