This isn’t elementary school. Don’t wait to be picked!

Source: Library and Archives Canada/John Boyd collection/PA-060732 © Public Domain - nlc-6354.If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. ~ Jim Rohn

In gym class it was always the same.  Whenever we played a game that required teams, two people were picked as “captains”.  Then, the teacher would flip a coin to see who would go first and the two captains would take turns choosing people to be on their team.

While I was reasonably athletic, it was still humiliating.  Each person’s value to the two captains was publicly displayed.  If you were one of their friends, or if you were really good at the game, you might be picked first.  If not, you would be picked later.  The fear was that you’d be last.  This meant nobody wanted you, but someone HAD to take you.

Even when I was chosen toward the beginning, I hated it!

Today, things haven’t changed much.  Even though we may have graduated from school, many of us are still waiting for a “captain” to choose us for his or her team.  While we may call them interviews, its still “picking teams” and for those of us that aren’t the “captain”, the feelings are the same.

But it doesn’t have to be.  You don’t have to wait to be selected.  You’re an adult.  Select yourself!

If you don’t like the job you have today, make some changes and create a new one.  That change can be as small as limiting the time you spend on tasks you don’t like so that you can have more time for the ones you do.  On the other hand, it could be completely reinventing your current position.

If you don’t have a job today, make some changes and create one.  This can be as small as trading some of your spare time to friends, family, and acquaintances for their help (financial, physical, or emotional).  Or, it can be as significant as giving up the job hunt and starting your own business.

The point is to stop being a victim and take charge of your destiny.   As you do, you will find that all kinds of opportunities arise.

Let me give you a personal example. Years ago, I was unhappy with my job.  I literally dreaded Monday (and every other weekday for that matter).  Just about every assignment seemed to be a chore.

I couldn’t quit because I had a family to support.  However, I couldn’t find a new job either.  It wasn’t for lack of trying.  I applied for every job I was even remotely qualified for.   I interviewed for many of them.   I didn’t get a single offer.

Then, a friend of mine gave me a figurative “whack in the side of the head.”  She asked me what I wanted to do.  Not what I wanted my job title or salary to be, but what I thought an enjoyable day should be like.  As I sat down to think about it, I realized that even the job I hated had opportunities to do things I considered enjoyable.  I was just overlooking them because I was fixated on getting out.

With her help (and my supervisor’s), I adjusted my day.  I started finding ways to spend less time on “chores” and more time on my interests.   I found that as long as I could communicate the value my work was bringing to the organization, I was given latitude to continue.  Did I get to do everything I wanted?  No, but I got to do quite a bit.

Then a funny thing happened.

Not only did I start to enjoy my work more, but leadership made investments in several of my projects.  This led to greater visibility within my organization, which ultimately led to my current job–which I enjoy very much.

While it would be oversimplifying things to say that my change of attitude and focus were responsible for my new job, I think it would be irresponsible to ignore their significant contribution.  If you’ve ever interacted with someone that is desperate (for food, for drink, for a job, for a relationship, etc.), you know how obvious it is to everyone around them.  By finding a way to take even a little control of your own situation you stop being a victim and that shows, too.

So, stop being the victim.  Stop waiting for somebody to choose you for their team.  Go out and make your own opportunities.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

If you’d like more thoughts along the same lines, check out this Seth Godin post on picking yourself.  You might also like this James Altucher posts and book on choosing yourself.

Image  Source: Library and Archives Canada/John Boyd collection/PA-060732 © Public Domain – nlc-6354.
 

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Scott’s new book, Swimming In Quicksand, is a parable about taking control of your career that contains proven strategies anyone can use to dog-paddle their way to success.  It is available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format.

If you enjoyed this blog entry or the book, please share with your friends, colleagues, and family.

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