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Seth Godin on Why You Can't Wait to Get Noticed

Success won't be handed to you and the traditional safety net has disappeared, so why not jump in?
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If you're an entrepreneur the idea of "choosing yourself" isn't new, it's a way of life. There was a time earlier in my career when I "waited to get picked" and it was often hit and miss. Marketing guru and author Seth Godin has written about why waiting for someone else to notice you isn't the best method for success.

Here's why you should stop making excuses and just jump in the game.

No one is going to hand you success.
For me, waiting to get picked conjures up painful memories of the elementary school playground. In 5th grade I hadn't hit my growth spurt yet and I usually got picked last for basketball, even though I loved the game and believed I had the skills, which left me feeling frustrated and misunderstood with a contempt for tall people. But tall people weren’t really my problem; I used them as the scapegoat. Do you have a similar excuse that’s holding you back?

In his new book (Portfolio, 2013) Godin addresses this issue and gives us some direction. “YouTube wants you to have your own show now, but they're not going to call you. Neither is Oprah or the Today Show," he says.

"Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out permission, authority and safety that come from a publisher or a talk-show host or even a blogger 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."

It may sound harsh, but no one cares as much as you. You are the only one who is going to make things happen. No one is going to hand it to you. Think you can hit the 3-pointer? Think you’ve got all the talent in the world and deserve a chance to play? You don’t have to wait for permission anymore. Get out there and show them!

Godin points to recent successful case studies of people picking themselves like comedian Louis C.K. who became frustrated with the ineffective process of selling tickets to his shows. The theater often gouged him on price and share of ticket revenue. He decided to spend $100,000 of his own money to produce his own comedy special and then circumvented all of the middle men and offered a no-frills digital download for $5 directly from his website.

It was a risky move for him to thumb his nose at the system but within hours C.K had grossed well over $1 million. Several comedians like Aziz Ansari and Jim Gaffigan have since followed this model.

Related: Seth Godin on Dealing With Critics and Rejection

Build your own safety net.
Remember those cushy jobs that used to come with great salaries? They're gone. Remember when you thought you had security? That's gone too.

These days the tightrope can be cut from under you pretty fast -- and then what?
Where is your safety net if you're not building something of your own either full time or burning the midnight oil in your garage? Those who have been (lucky, born into power or skilled enough to get) picked for the best paying or most rewarding jobs are the elite few.

Do you really love what you do? Most will admit they don't. Why suffer?

Godin leaves us with these words from Icarus: "Once you understand that there are problems waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. Your opportunity is not to have your resume picked from a pile but to lead. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself."

 Related: Lessons from Seth Godin on Embracing Uncertainty