As an entrepreneur and someone who has had the privilege of being picked “last,” I have learned how to fend for myself, how to pick myself up, and how to be my own cheerleader. These “survival” skills were invaluable to me as I grew Vizion Products, Crimson Design and Development, and Barrel O’Monkeyz from start-ups to success stories. While the life of an entrepreneur, without question, centers around self-reliance, none of us can do it alone, not without support from others and the support OF others.

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you a preview article from Bryan Elliott, Founder, SoCal Action Sports Network, whose writing appears in Entrepreneur Magazine. Bryan offers some sage advice on perseverance, self-reliance, and not being dissuaded if you are, indeed, picked last. Also, be sure to check out Seth Godin’s writings as referenced in Bryan’s article (Seth is known for Tribes, Permission Marketing, and many other titles that I recommend).

– Paul June

3 Reasons to Pick Yourself

by Bryan Elliott, Founder, SoCal Action Sports Network

A personal story . . .

I just finished writing my next article for Entrepreneur Magazine (working title “3 Reasons to Pick Yourself”), where I shared part of an important lesson learned a long time ago and again recently by reading Seth Godin’s new book, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

The full article will be published on Thursday this week, but I didn’t include all of the personal details, and I’d like the share 1 out of the 3 reasons to pick yourself (vs. waiting to get picked by someone else) with some confessions and embarrassing truths here with you, with the hope that this helps at least one person . . .

1. You are NOT going to get picked.

For me, waiting to get picked always conjures up painful memories of the elementary school playground. I was in 5th grade and loved to play sports, especially basketball. The problem was that I hadn’t hit my growth spurt yet and was one of the shortest kids on the court. I usually got picked last or not at all when we split up teams.

It’s sad to admit but more than 30 years later I’m still kind of pissed at Mr. Hamblin, the PE coach, who mocked me because I was, in his words, “too short to play” in the coveted Teachers vs. Students basketball game on the last day of the school year. This and other times of rejection left me feeling frustrated and misunderstood. I was pretty good at sports (by 5th grade standards), but I was being judged solely on my height. I often sat on the sidelines feeling defeated with resentment and great contempt for tall people!

This pattern continued into high school, and although I worked hard to earn a spot on the varsity team in 3 different sports, I was often ignored or given limited playing time by coaches who preferred to play the bigger kids who were in their minds “a sure thing” to win games (that’s me below in my freshman year).

bom_bryan-elliot-hsfbIn business, I continue to experience the feeling of being ignored, passed over, exploited, rejected, and being treated unfairly all the time. I have felt defeated and wondered where my friends were when I needed them most. I have felt desperate and alone. I have felt the resentment and contempt for those in power who didn’t pick me after nailing the job interview, after years of thankless service, for well-deserved promotions, new projects, or whatever.

I confess that I’ve held grudges—even for things that are ancient history . . .

During my darkest moments when I lost sight of hope, I was so miserable that I was tempted to blame others or outside circumstances for my misfortune—real or perceived—to the point that I wanted to retaliate and seek revenge.

I’ve heard it said that “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It’s true, I’ve had a taste of it.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Some people, like Coach Hamblin, suck. Yes, we will be treated unfairly by unforeseen circumstances or people—deliberately or without malice—and either way isn’t fun. But we shouldn’t be surprised when adversity or rejection come, nor allow the applause, or lack of, to determine our worth. This is the journey we’re on.

The path that used to be safe and secure—that cushy, high-paying job at the glamorous brand or position that is never in jeopardy of being downsized—is gone. At any moment, the tightrope you’re walking on can get cut out from under you. And there’s no safety net.

Whether you work for someone else and love it, spend your days sending out resumes, or are confined to a soul-sucking cubicle, there’s comfort in knowing that there’s an alternate choice: Pick yourself.

Don’t waste time playing to an audience who couldn’t care less about your tune. Don’t waste another breath of air trying to convince the unconvinced. There’s a danger after you’ve been rejected so many times . . . tell me if this sounds familiar:

  • You want to crawl under a rock and stop trying . . .
  • You start believing the critics or crickets and settle for less . . .
  • You get mad or resentful every time you hear the word “no” feeling undervalued and unappreciated . . .
  • You sabotage relationships or opportunities by rejecting them before (you think) they reject you as a defense mechanism . . .
  • You start using those in power as the scapegoat or excuse for your less-than-awesome output or performance . . .

Don’t do this. Don’t give them power by giving in. Keep your chin up, find the right audience ,or do better work until you get noticed. Never quit.

Seth said this in his latest book The Icarus Deception:

“Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out permission, authority and safety that come from someone who says, ‘I pick you.’ Once you reject the impulse and realize that no one is going to select you—that Prince Charming has chosen another house in his search for Cinderella—then you can actually get to work.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on this either publicly on Twitter or through your comments.