My kids came home tonight talking about kickball. My oldest daughter doesn’t usually want to play it at recess (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. Today 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 have been 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.
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 as you
You are asked to lead the homeowners association or nominated for the PTO board…
You are invited to apply for that startup incubator with the awesome national reputation…
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.