Most of the time when we wait in line to get picked, we do not get picked. It was not that we are not trying – it is because the math is not in our favor. Why do we care so much about getting picked? Buried deep into our culture is the image of the gatekeeper. Either we get through the gates or we do not get to the other side, the side where the dreams come true.
The internet changes everything. The gate at major publishers and movie studios has been replaced by the gate at Amazon and YouTube. The gate at YouTube and Amazon consists of “Click Here” and then we can publish our books or videos. It creates a whole new set of rules, and suddenly the traditional gatekeepers do not have as much power or leverage as they used to.
When we pick ourselves, we are showing confidence, impatience, and generosity with our work. We can leverage the Internet by taking the existing materials, piecing them together, and sharing them back on the net. Eventually, the new materials might be good enough for someone to take notice of our work. When someone notice our work, they might decide to share with others or even contact us to do a project like what we had published. The momentum of deciding to do the work in the first place can push us far enough to score the first paid gig and many more to come.
The mindset and the need for being picked is deeply ingrained in us. Many college graduates incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt by spending an entire career showing up in classes, getting good grades, and doing what was asked on the test. When we expunge them into the world, we forgot to tell them that the corporate placement office with guaranteed job placement is not there anymore. We also forgot to tell them the line for hiring the compliant workers now rarely offers the good jobs the graduates thought they would deserve.
The good job these days is a job where we get to pick ourselves. We earn our paycheck when we bring initiative, creativity, and insight to what we are doing, not cause there’s a manual. If we want a manual, we better go work for our local McDonald’s because that is where the manual is. The traditional gatekeepers are under an enormous amount of pressure because they do not get an easy audience anymore. All they get are the people who either do not know their options or those who do not care.
Bit by bit, people are learning to pick themselves to be able to keep on doing what they have chosen to do. With the magic of “Here! I made this,” we do not have to say it to everyone. We only need to say it to the people who choose to engage with us. That is because we are going to hear or see the artists and entrepreneurs that we choose to hear or see. Then maybe, the word about our work can begin to spread.
“It’s free. I made this if you like it, please share it.” When we pick ourselves, one of two things will happen. Our work strikes a chord and it spreads. When that happens, someone is going to call us up and ask us to do something similar for them. More likely, that work is not going to spread because it was not as good as we thought it was. In that case, we should do more of the work and make it even better.
We are not our resume anymore. We are our work – the work we have chosen to do. This imbalance between no gatekeepers and not a lot of people willing to pick themselves create a window of opportunity for those of us who pick ourselves. That window is not going to last forever, and there is no better moment to pick ourselves. After all, if we are not willing to pick ourselves, who will?