Many times a day, I hear from someone who asks for help promoting a cause. They have something they’re working on and want to share it with me—totally fine.
I generally like to help as many people as possible. Being helpful relates to feeling happy, at least for me, and it’s also a nice thing to do. A good third of my Twitter stream is composed of messages about other people’s projects.
Some of these requests, however, come in the form of “vote for me and spread the word” pitches—and these I feel less comfortable with.
“There’s this contest where someone will live on an island with all expenses paid…”
“I’m trying to win a dream job for a year…”
“Help me take a big trip and meet a celebrity…”
“I made a video so I can win a scholarship / grant / investment in my company / organization / charity…”
I don’t usually promote “vote for me” contests for a couple of different reasons. First, who am I supposed to support? There are probably a dozen deserving people in our community for any given pitchfest—and even if they’re not in our community, odds are there are plenty of other deserving candidates. I don’t believe that online popularity is the best qualification for awarding a prize, but that’s often exactly how it works.
Second, these contests usually benefit the companies that start them much more than anyone else. It’s an effective business strategy: hold a contest and get contestants to do all the work while we receive all the benefit.
So here’s the thing. If you see a contest or promotion or other invitation, you might as well throw your hat in the ring. Someone has to win the lottery, right?
But for everyone who doesn’t win, remember that someone else’s contest or award has nothing to do with the opportunities that are available to you every day.
For every person who wins a contest, my hope is that many more will realize that they don’t need permission to pursue a dream.
You don’t need a company to come along and make your dreams come true. The world is full of people who have chosen to do something for themselves.
You really can find your own dream job, move to an island, or whatever it is you want to do. And wouldn’t it be better if you did it for yourself?