Go On, Jump Into the Abyss

If you read many “personal development” blogs, or much about starting/running a business, you’ve probably read something about how you should be doing things that make you uncomfortable. You should be pushing into areas that don’t feel all warm and fuzzy. Experts tell us we should be stretching ourselves.

It seems like strange advice, particularly if you are talking about business. You should do something you love, something you feel passionate about, right? So what would be uncomfortable about getting paid to do the thing you like doing most of all?

I’ve always written, but only recently has anyone agreed to pay me to write. The thing that is most uncomfortable about it is marketing. When I approach a prospective client, they need to know why they should give me their money, instead of someone else.  It’s uncomfortable to say “You should hire me because I am awesome! I will work hard! I have great rates!” It’s even worse to cold call. Then it’s like saying “You don’t know me at all and I don’t really know you, but you should believe I’m the best person out there to do what you need.”

There are ways around the uncomfortable situation, of course. But, maybe it’s a good thing to explain why you are good at what you do. Maybe it’s an exercise in confidence-building. Maybe the next time I am asked to “justify my existence” I’ll be able to do it a bit more articulately as a result of a few clumsy attempts to sell my business.

I’m learning that this new-found willingness to try things that aren’t quite comfortable is bleeding over from my business life into other areas. I’ve always considered socially inept and avoided situations where I might not know most of the people present and staying in the corner at parties.  In the last few months, I’ve ventured out a couple of times and have a few more meetings planned–with people I’ve never met before.  The surprising part is, I don’t dread it. It’s been fun.

If you are thinking about trying something you think you might like to do but you don’t feel very confident about (skydiving? applying for a new job? blogging? joining a group?) my advice would be to try it. At worst, you’ll fail miserably, be embarrassed for a day or two, then return to your normal day to day thing. At best, you’ll learn something, meet some new people, feel good about yourself. Go on, even if it’s scary. Just try.

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