Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Stop Waiting to Be Picked

The reason publishers are signing authors who have built their own platforms is the same reason YouTube sensations are appearing on car commercials. It’s because they’re not waiting to be picked.

Waiting to Be Picked

Photo credit: David Goehring (Creative Commons)

These people are choosing to start in spite of the fact that no one’s given them permission. And this is what makes them so attractive.

These are the trail-blazers, the trendsetters, and true difference-makers of our day. They’re the ones “crazy enough to change the world.” And you could be one of them, too — if you would just stop waiting.

We all want to be picked

Of course, this is natural: the desire to be chosen, to fit in with society’s standards, to be liked by the cool kids. It’s also a myth.

For every person or group that picks you, there is one (or a hundred ones) that doesn’t. You can spend your whole life trying to please them all. Or you can focus your attention on something that matters, like finding your tribe.

You must pick yourself

The real trick is to not wait, but to pick yourself, to “turn pro” in your head (as Pressfield says). To believe you can do what you’re asking others to believe about you.

That’s how you become “legit” in the eyes of others — not by waiting for acknowledgment, but by acting as if you already have it. And here’s the crazy part: When you do this, you get the permission you’ve been waiting for. Not by asking for it, but by proving yourself.

The paradox is you get what you’re desiring when you stop desiring it. In other words, the less concerned you are with appealing to an audience’s sensitivities, the more appealing an audience will find you.

It’s the classic “cool guy” routine that gets the girl every time by acting as if he’s not interested. Of course, he is. He’s very interested in her. But he moves on with his life as if he’s not. And she finds him absolutely irresistible.

Our heroes do this

This is what we love about our favorite movie actors and athletes and rock gods. They don’t care about the system. They care about creating art or breaking rules or just being themselves. They are above reproach, have somehow transcended the need for acceptance.

But of course, we know this can’t be true. We have read enough biographies and seen enough interviews to know that our heroes are just as human and insecure as we are. They just do something different with their fear. They don’t let it debilitate them. They choose to create and share their work, anyway.

They work through the fear instead of waiting to feel unafraid before creating their best work. And if they can, maybe you can, too. Maybe we all can.

Need help getting started with picking yourself? Download my free three-part series on building an audience so you never have to pick yourself again. You’ll get it free when you join my free newsletter

What is it you’re waiting to be picked for? Share in the comments.

*Hat tip to Seth Godin for giving me the language to articulate this idea.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Great blog post. You have gained me as a reader. I am tired of waiting for validation or confirmation to achieve things. I will increase my faith and use visualization to make my dreams reality. Thank you @jeffgoins:disqus.

  • Julian PG Riches

    I’m really happy I found this website. Super pumped. I’ve began to get going for myself, and stopped waiting for permission, and especially stopped trying to swallow it all in one bite. I’m going to aim for huge, but do it in nibbles, because thats how writing works.

  • Joyce Ackley

    Lots of good stuff on your blog. I’m glad I found it.

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  • Michael Scott

    ” You’ll also get regular inspiration and tips delivered straight to your inbox.”
    Couldn’t I get them delivered “curved” to my inbox? 🙂

  • Brooke Hardwick Writer

    I pick myself. Thanks for the encouragement Geoff. http://www.thewritelife.com.au

  • Just found your writing, fantastic and exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks!

  • Futurecrafter

    Thanks for the advice 🙂

  • Get It Productions

    Awesome article, I love this topic because it is so important especially as artists to stop waiting around to be told we’re good enough. Have you heard of James Altucher’s book Choose Yourself? It deals with this topic too. Glad I found your website

  • Abbi

    Great article! Wonderful advice!

  • Nasir Ali

    Awesome article, I love this topic because it is so important especially
    as artists to stop waiting around to be told we’re good enough. Have
    you heard of James Altucher’s book Choose Yourself?
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  • Rodney Goldston

    Hey Jeff…First love the new pic of you on your home page. 2nd could not agree more. 3rd yes thanks to Seth for giving us all this language not just to articulate to others but to look at what we’re doing and say…hey I can choose myself.

    A few years back at a Google event I met Seth, and when the Q&A opened up I got to ask the first question…they could not pick someone else because I rose my hand in true Arnold Horshack fashion if you know what I mean 🙂

    In answering my question he suggested I start a personal blog…which I did the very next day. I write about the business and marketing things that interest me and I did not make any attempts to monetize it. Some guy read a post I wrote and sent me an email (comments not active) to let me know how much he enjoyed it…it was David Meerman Scoot…this alone was payment enough for me to think that David had read one of my blog post…but I know for sure he read at least two because he mentioned them in the email.

    Last year I get a call from another guy who read my post 7 Things Anyone Can Do To Be Successful and offered me $1,000 to come do a workshop with a small group of high school students for 2 hours…I would have done it for free. Turns out this guy works for the legendary Kenny Gamble who now runs 40 charter schools across the country.

    Next month I’ve been invited to talk with students at the YMCA Achievers and LaSalle University about this same topic. I call it Get Up And Do Your Thang! (if you’re not doing your thang, you’re doing someone else’s)(A little James Brown spin on the Pick Yourself idea). Anyone interested can read about it here http://rodneygoldston.com/atlasalle/

    Last thing…In 2014 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I shared on my blog because I wanted to let as many men and their loved ones learn about the importance of early detection. That post has landed me an opportunity to work with a major health organization to do marketing campaigns to increase educational awareness. I hate to make a plug but please read this post it’s so important for men and their families at http://www.rodneygoldston.com/finger – it explains the importance of a finger exam in detecting prostate cancer.

    Hey man I’m sorry I was so long winded but this topic really resonates with me.

  • Excellent! They key is that, by ‘picking yourself’, you are becoming one of the 2%, rather than fitting in with the other 98%. This makes it a lot easier to ‘stand out from the crowd’.

    The people who achieve true greatness, are the ones who go and create true greatness. There’s nobody there to hand them exclusive membership for free.

    It’s a path few choose to tread, so it’s imperative you sharpen your tools so you can find your way. That’s where, as Jeff puts it, an ‘apprenticeship’ may help.

    Great book BTW. The Art of Work is most definitely an art in itself!

  • I needed to receive this message today!! I’m now realizing that you don’t have to wait for opportunity, you can create it for yourself! I’m learning there’ll be times where you’ll be the only one to see/understand your dream. You have to make others see what your vision is and I’m ok with that. At 21, I’m finally taking that major step all by myself, for myself. I will become a successful author and the work I need to put in doesn’t scare me, it excites me. Thank you for the daily motivation. It’s helping me believe in my own work and how I can inspire others with it!

    • Diamante_Flores ♥

      So true!! <3

  • Ron Brooks

    Great article, and very true. I searched around a while looking for someone to ‘pick’ me, and when I couldn’t find anyone, I decided to ‘pick’ myself. Because I took a chance and self published a book, as of this morning I can add Amazon Best Seller to my resume, as my family devotion book made it to the #1 spot in the children’s ministry category. Great advice Jeff–keep up the good work.

  • Valerie

    Waited and waited until I had enough. I decided to hire myself as the sole employee in my new business instead of waiting for someone to hire me for theirs! So liberating. I’m so confident and optimistic, I am excited before it’s even proven to be a success. I know it will be.

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  • Clara Meierdierks

    I am on a building up Phase, will anyone find me ! I know that nothing good comes without GREAT works. Thanks Jeff.

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  • franco

    Really great article! Had to share it! This is something I strongly believe in – research once, create many times for many platforms!

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  • Eliabet Betzabé Varela Reyes

    Hi Jeff!
    The fisrt time that I read you, I was waiting to find someone who only writes for himself, but when I started to read more articles, I change my opinion in all ways.
    I think you are not intelligent, you are smart, beacause someone who only express for himself will fall in the haughtiness, and you my dear Jeff, you share your success to motivate the entry world.
    I am FIFTEEN yesrs old, a high-school student, and I am glad about having this kind of tools where I can find you.
    You inspired me to be an independent woman for the future, and I will remeber the phrase “Be your own hero” forever, because the people who achieve their goals by themself and for themself will be a successfull people.
    Now, I am trying to inspire other people let them knowing that they are able to do whatever they want to do.
    I will try to be like you, a SMART person.

    • Jessica Galan

      Eliabet–I love your response to Jeff Goins. I also have a penchant for young Latinas who choose to dream and plan for the future! I teach high school. Check out: Malleableheart.com and be encouraged, Ms. Reyes! –Jessica

  • Jeremy David

    In the “about you” there was a description of you trying to take over the internet. Unfortunately, that is all I feel here. It lacks the passion but contains every bit of ego and self interest, layered by a degree of truth. It is mediocre fluff that can inspire and fool some, but lacks substance. You are a marketing genius, not necessarily a writer.

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