Thursday, October 22, 2009

On cold calling, and asking a girl to dance

Question posted on a social network: “I need to make cold calls in order to find a new job. I can’t make myself do it. How can I get over my fear of rejection?”

I had similar fears. (A long time ago!) A teacher asked me bluntly, “What the hell are you protecting?” I was OK after that.

Let me tell you what the teacher meant.

You can treat your ego like a new Porsche. So fearful of dings, bumps and scratches that you never drive it anywhere. If you do drive, you park at the edge of the lot, far away from your Porsche’s fellow automobiles. Or straddle two parking slots.

So. You never get any errands done, you never get the pleasure of driving the open road, you annoy people instead of constructively engaging with them, and you wonder why you spent all that money.

The first scratch on that Porsche is such a treasure! You don’t have to worry any more about getting that first scratch. Now you can enjoy your car.

OK, enough with the car analogy. Now we’re talking about your ego. What aspect of your self-regard is so precious that not bumping it is more important than getting a job? What part of it is so fragile that knocking it around will shatter it and prevent you from functioning? What part of it is so valuable that you’re tempted to spend a lonely life cherishing it, foregoing the pleasures of social interaction?

For 99% of us who are past high school age, the answer is “no part of it.” In no way is ego maintenance more precious than reaching out to other people.

It may take considerable introspection before you can fully realize this truth, within your own personality and life situation. But once you have realized it, everything becomes easier. Job hunting, meeting girls, meeting guys, asking the boss for a raise, making sales calls.

See my book The Conscious Manager: Zen for Decision Makers for more details.