An excerpt from The Great Discontent’s interview with Seth Godin, emphasis mine. From their about page: “The Great Discontent is a journal of interviews focusing on creativity, risk, and what connects us as artists.”
If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out, what would you say?
This is easy. There’s a picture that I just saw online two days ago. Monday I have this seminar I’m running for free for college students and I’m going to show them this picture before we start. It’s a picture of someone graduating from college. You can’t tell, but you can guess that they’re probably $150,000 in debt. Written on the top of their mortarboard with masking tape it says, “Hire me.” The thing about the picture that’s pathetic, beyond the notion that you need to spam the audience at graduation with a note saying you’re looking for a job, is that you went $150,000 in debt and spent four years of your life so someone else could pick you. That’s ridiculous. It really makes me sad to see that. The opportunity of a lifetime is to pick yourself. Quit waiting to get picked; quit waiting for someone to give you permission; quit waiting for someone to say you are officially qualified and pick yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to be an entrepreneur or a freelancer, but it does mean you stand up and say, “I have something to say. I know how to do something. I’m doing it. If you want me to do it with you, raise your hand.”
Brilliant. Just brilliant. I don’t know if it’s my Generation X, the way I was brought up, or just how I am, but being picked meant you were someone special. You had to work hard to prove to the pickers that you were worthy of being picked. So silly!
Changing that perception requires a willingness to fail, repeatedly. This is touched on in the interview with Seth. He’s an advocate for failure and understandably so. How else are you going to learn and improve? You have to make mistakes else your life will be lived in monochrome and monotone. Yuck! So ugly and boring.
Make mistakes people. Be proud of them. Seek them out and be thankful for what they teach you.