Richard Branson made it, so did Steve Jobs. Look around you and you will see a few people who don’t seem to really care about the rules, instead they go for it and quite a lot of the time, succeed. We don’t like them much. I know I don’t – not when I have been patiently waiting in the queue, following the rules. Why should they go straight to the front of the queue when I have been waiting not so patiently to be seen, acknowledged and rewarded. Why should they get picked and not me ? What do they have that I don’t ?

And suddenly I am transformed back to the early 90’s when I was struggling to get seen and onto Nuno Gomes’s team so that I could do the deep diving I wanted. Suddenly I am back reliving three years of struggle and tears and frustration waiting to get picked so I could get from 142 meters to 186.

Where did this all come from ? Well, silly me, I accidentally started a new book last night and could not put it down – The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. For the last ten years I have been trying to understand what I did to get a world record. Why was I different ? Why could I break all limits and expectations in diving and be so stuck everywhere else ? I believed that ‘the answer’, the lesson that was hidden in my world record was that who I am is not set in stone. Who I am is a choice I get to make. It is something I can change which means that I can be whoever I want to be and in turn that means any dream is available to me, all I have to do is align who I am being with that goal.

The Answer is in Who you are Being, Isn’t it ?

For a decade I thought that elusive answer to limitless being was working out what habits and behaviours and thoughts sets I needed to add or let go of so that I could create something other than what I had. I knew that who I was had created what I had, so it made sense that if I wanted something else I would need to do something else that would create that. So I started choosing who I am and actively working on being a person for whom my dream was ordinary.

Ten years later and I am happier with who I am but am I limitless ? Not so much! So what was missing ? Until last night I couldn’t have told you and then another piece fell into place, all I could have told you was that I was tired!

How Tired Are You Trying to Turn that Dream into Reality?

I am tired! I am tired of not being picked! I am tired of not fitting in and not belonging! I am tired of trying and working at it. I am tired of having to conform and comply and let other people do my thinking for me! I am tired of never having a say and never having a voice.

I am tired of being the same, being mundane!

I am tired of there being no space for me! Tired of being told my limits when I know that I am limitless. Tired of having to convince people to believe so that they will pick me and make my dream come true.

I want to live in a place where limitless is normal and new ideas are cherished and applauded. I want to live a life where I am constantly challenged to find out how I could, rather than being told why I can’t. I want to live a live I choose and manage, not one that requires me to get lucky and be finally noticed and picked.

Life isn’t a lottery, it is a choice

In the words of Seth Godin:

“Our economy has become a giant lottery. Perhaps you’ll get picked to be on American Idol. Perhaps you’ll sue someone and get a windfall. Perhaps you’ll be the one who gets promoted to partner as a result of all your hard work (but maybe you won’t).

We celebrate the Forbes 400 and the maters of the universe and the lucky few who have won the corporate lottery, because secretly we are celebrating our chances of winning the lottery as well. Like most lotteries, this is a loser’s game, with the odds against us. What appears to be a meritocracy is actually a rigged game and a wheel of fortune. “

And there it was! The phrase that connected the pieces, “we are all trained to wait to be picked”. How familiar was that feeling of waiting to be seen and acknowledged. I waited for years to be picked by Nuno to be chosen as special and good enough to be the next world record holder. I never was. I thought the difference between me and everyone else who has walked away from a dream was that I was able to step outside of who I thought I was and who I had been told I was (not enough) and become who I needed to be to get to my dream. But what I did was so much more, I stopped waiting to be picked and picked myself!


Was it really this simple ? Why do I always fall back to believing that the lie that says I need authority to get where I want to know? The Japanese have a lovely way of describing the two ways of being. First there is Tariki which is the name for choosing to be helped and rescued. This is when you actively seek a higher authority to select you, move you forward and endorse you. Tariki in fact means you are helpless and always waiting to be rescued. Jiriki on the other hand is self-selection and self-authorisation. Jiriki means you save yourself!

Now that appealed to me. I hate waiting. I hate being dependant on someone else for my dreams to come true. I want to be able to do this for myself without being dependant on the favours of other people.

The Authority Trap

Yet here I sit,  waiting for authority. Here I wait to be noticed and acknowledged. Here I wait for permission to think for myself and live an extraordinary life to be chosen. As I read through Seth’s book I found myself asking one question, what if there is no authority left ? What if I am waiting for nothing ? What if it will never happen if I believe in the lottery concept of this ultimate authority ?

There is no more Oprah to choose me, instead there is You Tube and self-publishing and blogging platforms, all waiting for me and you …but they aren’t going to come calling, I have to pick myself. I have to stand up and be heard and be visible.

I feel a little silly having to learn this lesson again, after all it was hard enough to move from that place of safety the last time. It was such an appealing place as well. If only Nuno had picked me and given me permission and an authority to hide behind. Then the decisions wouldn’t be all mine, there would be someone else to share the blame with, share the risk. It was scary standing up then and choosing myself. It was scary taking sole ownership of my decisions , my mistakes and my successes.  Scary but worth every moment because I found my freedom. No longer did I have to choose what I said or did based on what someone else believed or some other set of rules that would get me accepted and that always changed. Now the only person who had a say was me. A whole layer of doubt and despair suddenly lifted.

I just love this example from Seth’s book, The Icarus Deception. He talks about two worlds, before the revolution (in the old industrial era of standardisation):

  • Virtually all musicians aren’t picked by a label and are invisible to nonentities
  • Of those who are picked, 98% fail in the marketplace
  • Of the remaining 2%, less than half a percent ever receive a single royalty check as a result of their recorded music. Ever!
  • So we had a world where the odds of being singed are close to zero and the odds of getting a check as a result of your sales, even if you are signed is even closer to zero

Now, after the revolution

  • A musician who sells two (two!) copies of a song on iTunes makes more money than she would have earned from a record label for selling an entire CD for $17.
  • There are more musicians making more music being heard by more people and earning more money than ever before


It can’t really get clearer than that can it ? So why am I still waiting for permission and authority ? I have no idea! Or do I ? Because when I read that sentence I feel the tension in my stomach.

I, like you have been brainwashed to seek safety and what could be safer than waiting to be picked, because it isn’t us to blame, it was the authority – we, our identity and self are never exposed to the harsh criticism of the world. The problem is that once picked you have to live in that unstable world of satisfying others, who are fickle and not loyal to you, only to themselves and their needs. If you say the wrong thing, if you do the wrong thing, you are no longer picked. Hardly safety at all.

How tired are you ? Tired enough to try something new ?

Tired enough to stop trying to keep other people’s attention and favour ?

Why not let go of how you think the world works and see how it could work ? It doesn’t require a drastic change or choice, just the decision that you are no longer going to wait to be picked, that you are picking yourself.

Imagine if you had the authority already ?

Imagine if you had permission ?

Can you see how your entire being changes in response to that ?

This is one of those ‘easy’ things to let go of. All it needs is for you to start seeing when you slip into waiting and for you to challenge that moment and ask yourself what you could do right now!

Why not pick yourself ? Really, why not ?