If your family is anything like mine, the warm weather draws us out of the house like little butterflies emerging from a cocoon. We enjoy the warmth on our faces, get a chance to reconnect with our neighbors who were also in hibernation over the (long) winter, and plan our dinners on the patio based on whatever can be thrown on the grill.
So not surprisingly, one weekend, the kids and some of their neighborhood friends were playing in various groups, and decided it would be really fun to organize a big game of kickball.
My oldest daughter doesn’t usually want to play (let’s just say that apple didn’t fall far from this tree), but as you might suspect, it’s one of my son’s favorite games. On this day though, my daughter decided (and I quote) “to be brave and just get out there.”
My first thought was “I might collapse with pride right here in this kitchen” but my second thought was, “Please God, let her not be the last one picked.”
To this day, I can almost conjure up the feeling of standing in a restless line of children, our little backs up against the waist-high cement retaining wall that surrounded the playground of my elementary school as teams were forming at recess.
That breathless anticipation followed by growing dread, as name after name was called and our little line grew thinner; it was a pattern I knew well. I wasn’t usually the very last kid left, the one who no one actually picks at ALL, the one who just walks to his place after the last name is called…but I often sweated it out near the end of the line.
Once kickball faded from memory, there was the world of middle school dances, followed by sports teams, and cheerleading squads, and theater auditions. The dating scene followed that, and then college acceptances, and then sororities, and fraternity mixers. Next up was summer internships and then companies recruiting on campus. Grad schools. Prospective husbands.
Pick. Me. Please.
Before we even know it, we’ve spent a lifetime perfecting the art of being picked, shaping our behavior and our appearance to be the one who gets chosen. It feels SO GOOD when it happens – when we’re the one who makes the team, or lands the job, or gets the ring. It’s a rush.
In fact, we like that feeling so much that sometimes we try to get picked for things we DON’T EVEN WANT. The job that’s not right. The guy that’s all wrong.
We don’t really want them. We just want THEM to want US.
This is dangerous territory, because the exhilaration of being picked can lead us away from what we truly desire.
And when this happens, we need to take a minute to check in with ourselves and see:
WHY does being picked for this feel so good?
Do I really want this?
What would I have to say no to in order to make this happen?
Because I know you are still concerned about my daughter and the kickball game, I’ll let you know that she DID in fact get picked for a team, and she was super happy about it.
But now my concerns are already beyond the kickball field. Is she going to be saying “Pick. Me. Please.” in 15 years when…
She’s one of the last of her friends to get engaged, and feels pressure to say “yes” to Mr. Definitely No when he asks….
She’s offered a job that pays twice her current salary, but that she knows in her gut is the wrong choice….
And what about you?
Are you going to say “Pick. Me. Please.” the next time….
Your boss offers a promotion that requires a move to another city…
Your company asks you to take on a big project in addition to your current work because “no one else can do it as well”…
You are asked to lead the homeowners association or nominated for the PTO board…
You are called by that Executive Recruiter…
The next time it happens, ask yourself this question. “Am I excited about the OPPORTUNITY or am I excited that I was PICKED?”
Answer honestly, because your future depends on it.
PS – If you struggle with making decisions on your own terms we need to chat.
Book some time with me here and let’s see if we can get you back in touch with what YOU really want.
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This was based on a blog post originally posted on September 10, 2015.