Universities choose high school seniors in a crazy game of selection. Publishers choose a select few books to publish. I’m shepherding chosen experience reports for the big agile conference in the summer where a program team chose a limited number of reports. Instead of “being chosen,” why not choose ourselves?
Last week, I spoke with a mom whose son is trying to choose between two schools. One school costs $80,000 a year. One school was so impressed, he received four years of zero tuition.
For me, it was a no-brainer. Take the free ride. The money the family will save in college fee allows everyone so much more freedom. However, the “selection,” the “other-people-choosing” bias means he’s still thinking of the crazy-expensive school. When someone else “chooses” us, we often feel a particular validation.
I see this in book-writing, too. If you write for a publisher, you make much less money than you do if you self-publish. If you self-publish you do have to do the work: create a cover, write a blurb, paying for various editing, and so on. It’s a lot of work.
Often, publishers ask you to write the blurb and choose a cover. Publishers will definitely ask you to do all the marketing for the book.
Sometimes, it’s worth working with someone—being chosen—for other reasons. It’s up to you to decide.
Too often, people want to be chosen for validation reasons. “I’m good enough because I was chosen.” The real problem is that when other people don’t choose you, it could be for any number of reasons. Not because you’re not good enough.
Let me use publishing as an example. Publishers might not choose you because:
- You published with a different publisher (online, other books, articles, whatever) and the person making the decision doesn’t like your previous choice. It’s not about you. It’s about their bias.
- They already have their 10 (or 20 or 500) books for that year. They don’t have room for more. It’s not about the quality of your work.
- They don’t have sufficient internal processes and their copyeditor just quit. They can’t take more books. They can’t actually publish more. It’s not about you at all.
If you don’t get chosen for something, it’s almost never about you. It’s about the other person/entity and the choices they make.
You can choose yourself.
For college, you still have to play the admissions game. However, instead of choosing a school that lands you in debt, you can say, “Wow, it’s great that they chose me. Do I still want to choose them or do I want to choose something else that offers me more ease in my life?”
For publishing, you can choose yourself and self-publish. You’ll learn a ton along the way.
For jobs, if you’re having trouble finding an employee job, maybe consider contracting or consulting, a form of choosing yourself.
You might not always have to choose yourself. I hope you consider if you need the courage to do so, or when you can choose again.
That’s the question this week: When do you choose yourself?
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