Stop saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Pick yourself.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear these four words?

Elementary school kickball team.

Does a pit form in your stomach?

Heart skip a beat?

If so, I’ll bet your bottom dollar it’s because you (like me) were occasionally (often?) the last one picked to be on a team.

Does the name “Paula Goodspeed” mean anything to you?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it doesn’t.

She was an American Idol hopeful contestant on season 5 of the show back in 2005.

She did not do well in her audition, and ended up yet another “reject” destined for the blooper reel. Simon was pretty freakin’ mean to her too. :(

Tragically, three years later, the Paula Abdul-obsessed young lady killed herself near Abdul’s LA home.

“I have to believe there is something good about me,” Goodspeed wrote just before her suicide.

Despite the fact that she had the word “Loneliness” tattooed on her finger, I’m convinced there were so many good things about Goodspeed, however, sadly, the world will never know.

The uncanny similarities between the elementary school kickball team and “Paula Goodspeed” may be elusive at first glance.

The reality is, both scenarios are rooted in the “Pick me!” mindset.

I say, pick yourself.

Although I admit I enjoy watching, the problem I have with vocal competitions like “American Idol”, and “The Voice” is every contestant is essentially saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”.

All determining rounds are dictated by other humans who happened to find themselves on a higher pedestal than the contestant.

The problem with putting someone on a pedestal, is all they can do is look down on you.

No matter how good the performance was, and no matter how far the hopeful contestants get, they’re at the mercy of the “judges”…and then an entire nation.

Ironically, there’s always a majority of bored mid-westerners (who don’t buy music) who watch and vote!

Anybody remember this incredible American Idol performance by Chris Daughtry? Ironically, Daughtry appeared on the same season that Paula Goodspeed auditioned for.

Despite that, and many other consistently incredible performances, he still lost to this guy.

Omg, he lost to this guy.

This is American Idol Season 5 winner, Taylor Hicks ladies & gents.

Daughtry finished in fourth place that season.

BUT…

His performance of Fuel’s “Hemorrhage”, was so good, that after he was not picked by a seemingly tone and taste-deaf America to continue on, the band [Fuel] personally picked him to be the lead singer of their already established band (that Chris was obviously a fan of).

You know what Chris’ reply was?

“No, thank you.”

This time, he picked himself.

He knew, he was enough, and more importantly, that he would work hard enough to write some great songs, and establish his own band (and brand).

Daughtry who went on to be not only one of the most successful Idol competitors, but rock artists of his time, and has to date sold over 8 million albums, and over 30 million digital tracks in the U.S.

Taylor Hicks (the winner of season 5) sold 705,000, of his first album release (which was timed to ride the buzz of his very public win), and a measly 52,000 of his second album only peaking at #58 on the charts according to this list of American Idol alum album sales.

He may possibly be doing kids parties now, and/or selling his own branded fanny packs.

Hell, William Hung (hero photo) is an “Idol Reject”, who despite being completely shut down on Idol, picked himself and went all in on this persona, even creating his own aptly titled Christmas album, “Hung for the Holidays”.

But, I digress.

My recent User Defenders podcast guest Cassie McDaniel has lived the important value of picking herself.

In fact, when I asked her in her inspiring, and empowering interview how the great opportunity to become Mozilla Foundation’s Design Director opened up for her, she rightfully corrected my framing of that question to how she opened that opportunity up. She said:

“The big doors don’t simply open up for you, you open them up through all the small steps you made before finding yourself in the doorway.”

Cassie picked herself, and is still picking herself as one who could almost be attributed for starting the gender-equality conversation for women in tech by founding Women&&Tech in 2012–when gender-equality conversations were just gaining momentum.

As someone who now runs and operates her own design firm co-founded with her husband Mark (Jane&Jury), Cassie is a great example of someone who picked herself.

She is also teaching this important value to her young daughters by the amazing example (and path) she has already established for them.

In closing, I’m not suggesting we pick ourselves so we can feed our egos, and say “we did it our way”.

No way, we need each other.

I’m also not suggesting we pick ourselves so we can be famous or the most popular web-celebrity (ce-web-rity?) around.

I’m suggesting we pick ourselves so we can help others, and serve them better.

You cannot pour an empty cup into another. You need to fill yours first.

With a growth mindset, and an ample amount of grit, there is quite literally nothing you can’t achieve that you desire if you work hard enough for it.

The people you serve will notice.

The great Zig Ziglar said:

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

That starts with picking yourself.

Stop paying attention to the “gatekeepers”.

Stop waiting to be picked.

Make your own damn kickball team!

Pick yourself.

If you found value in this article, would you help other designers find it too by giving this a huge round of 👏?

This article was first published on the User Defenders podcast Bi-Weekly Bugle.

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Jason Ogle

Jason Ogle

Host of @UserDefenders podcast. Human. Designer. Story-Catcher. Deep-Diver. Husband + Father x 7. Has a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe.