1. Ask to help and/or assist
Whether I believed I could help with a website, blog, conference, or social media, I presented a few options and in many cases my offer was accepted.
2. I wanted to be in their club
More than a guest post, volunteer position, or even a job, I basically wanted to be in their club. The cool kids, the world-changers, the minimalists, the adventurers, and so on. I spent too much creative time thinking when I would receive the email or phone call saying I was in.
Sadly, I was still waiting to be picked.
In October, I was at Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference, and he was speaking about struggle and transformation. Donald had just moved to Nashville, and honestly he was a person I hoped would invite me into his club of cool guys and world-changers. I had a feeling (which I wasn’t paying attention to) I wouldn’t join his club, and then the thought struck me.
What if I’m the person I’ve been waiting for?
The thought was simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. What if I’m the change, the leader, the one who helps people grow, develop, and make a difference? Instead of waiting to be picked, I plant my own stake in the ground and begin building, connecting, and helping others?
Story Signals is a public action towards picking myself. I’ve loved podcasts for a few years, and look up to podcasters like Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Jeff Sanders, Cliff Ravenscraft, and others. Again, I hoped one day I would go to New Media Expo, high-five everyone, and talk about the cool stuff we’re doing. For me it’s hard to separate the affirmation of others as a measuring stick for my work, and my meaning.
The decision to be the person you’ve been waiting for isn’t an egotistical choice, far from it! You are actually deciding to be who you really are, one action at a time. I’ve found it’s more egotistical to wait for someone to pick you! In the mindset of waiting to be picked, you’re in a constant fight of trying to measure up to someone else’s expectations, and consequently the qualifications of those you’re competing with. I can’t count how many times I looked at another person and thought “I’m better at what they’re doing than they are, why did they get picked?”
My experience since Storyline has also led me to try and figure out how to become that person, which has been wrought with frustration and shiny-object syndrome. Despite this, I believe I know how to change. The decision and resulting actions are possibly the most rewarding and challenging I’ve ever faced. Here’s the result of my findings.
Step 1: Decide what you’re going to do
Step 2: Start doing it
Step 3: Keep doing it
Instead of trying to find the perfect match and be the perfect person, just start doing one of the things you really care about. Whatever IT is, IT won’t be perfect. Neither are you, your marriage, your kids, or the weather. I was and still am terrified the first few episodes of Story Signals will flop. That listeners will hear the sound quality, lack of cool music, filled pauses, and go somewhere else, laughing at me. But that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is shipping, putting my work on the line and continuing to grind. Because I can’t wait for someone to call me and tell me it’s good enough.
In the end, you must make a choice. Stop waiting for someone cool to call you up and invite you in to their secret club. It’s not going to happen. You are the person you’ve been waiting for.
So start acting like it.
P.S. – After writing this, I will email it to my list, post to social media, and promote it for several days. Each day, I will hope it goes viral, is retweeted by a cool person with lots of followers, and otherwise give me the satisfaction of being picked. This is natural, but I think the key is to not be consumed by the affirmation of others. You’re enough, and you’ll need to be reminded every day. You can be the person you’ve been waiting for.