What Are You Afraid Of?

A few weeks ago, I showed this video from Gary Vaynerchuk to my class. It’s about cold calling, and if you’ve ever been hesitant to pick up the phone and ask someone to do business with you, then you should watch it. You might just get up the guts to do it.

Or not.

You see, Gary’s the kind of guy who just does things, like picking up the phone on “live” video and calling someone out of the blue. He’s one of the most incredibly self motivated, outgoing, and uninhibited people I’ve ever met.  A lot of other people, even though they are very outgoing, still have HUGE issues with cold calling. I  keep that video nearby, so I can look at him when I need to be reminded of what I’m aspiring to be.

All this, and a brief conversation with my friend Kneale Mann this morning, has gotten me thinking about these issues we sometimes have with getting out there, picking up the phone, standing in front of a room full of people, or walking up and introducing ourselves to strangers. It all stems from the same issue – fear of rejection.

When you really take a moment to think about what fear of rejection really is, you begin to see how silly it is.

Schoolyard follies. I wasn’t one of the most popular kids in school. I was often the new kid, because I moved around quite a bit. I always had some issues fitting in at first, as most kids did. I had my share of scuffles in the schoolyard (sorry Mom), and was teased quite a bit because I was shy and not overly outgoing. I was easy fodder for the cliques.  Oh sure, I ended up making friends after a while, but it was hard for me. I’m sure if I asked around to many of my colleagues and friends today, they’d have similar stories about fitting in. My point is, fear of rejection is ingrained in us early on. We try to fit in with our school chums by being ourselves, and if they turn us away, it sticks with us. As we grow up, it only stands to reason that being ourselves equals rejection. And so it begins.

Tell me about yourself. We get out of school, and into the workforce. If there’s any place you have to be able to fit in, it’s in a work environment. It starts with the job interview. Going in to meet a total stranger, and trying to impress them with not only your skill set but your outgoing personality can be daunting, to say the least. And since we’ve already been taught that it doesn’t take much to be rejected, the fear becomes pretty intense. And then, if the dreaded rejection actually happens, and you don’t get the job, then you’re right back to your days of crying in the schoolyard. However, if you DO get the job, you’re equally screwed. Because now you have to be the new kid again, fitting in with your co-workers, and proving to your boss that you are actually capable of the things you said you were. Every day you get to be on the cutting edge of rejection. Fun, eh?

So why is this silly?

The past is the past. We really do spend SO much time dwelling on our past problems and identifying with them. New Kid Syndrome runs rampant, and it’s a primary reason why many people don’t succeed at their goals. They spend so much time thinking, “Well, I can’t do this because I’m shy”, or “I won’t try because they’ll probably just say no”, that we end up just not bothering at all. We don’t pick up the phone. We don’t walk up to that person we admire and say hi. We sit in the sidelines, taking the easier road.

Do you ever watch those shows where people have really bad phobias, of water or spiders, or flying, and the cognitive therapist treats them through exposure to the thing they fear? Well, what if you tried that? Expose yourself to the things you are scared of, like picking up the phone and calling a potential customer or advertiser, and just do it. If you screw up, no matter. Just try again. There’s lots of potential customers and advertisers out there! And I guarantee, if you introduce yourself to someone at an event, and stumble on your words or forget what you want to say, they aren’t going to laugh in your face. It’s not the schoolyard, after all.

So forget your past rejections, right now. You can make that choice. Go ahead, do it. It won’t hurt a bit, I promise.

We’re all in this together. We often think that we are the only ones who think we are afraid of the things we are afraid of. Therefore, we are kind of embarrassed by it, and we keep it to ourselves. We don’t want people to think that we have fears, so we do nothing, lest we be seen as vulnerable. And none of us want to be vulnerable. That would give the impression that we’re human, or something (gasp!).

I had a wonderful phone conversation with a very kind man last week, someone who has been in the same business as me for more than 30 years. When I told him that I was afraid that I was approaching something the wrong way, he told me that essentially, we are all in the same boat. No matter how long you’ve been around, we’re all up against the same things. It’s how you choose to take the opportunities that are in front of you that makes the difference.

Let’s face it. We are all afraid of being rejected, but my wise colleague is right – if we just stop and realize that we are not alone in our fears, that everyone is afraid of something, and that not letting the fear take hold and cause inaction is key to overcoming it, then heck, we’d all be a lot better off, right?

So get off your chair, get over yourself, realize we’re all in this together…and pick up that phone.

Category:about life
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1 Comment

  • March 24, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Wow sue this really struck a cord with me! I can honestly say that not only can I empathize with your past experiences but that I suffer from current fears of rejection. The video by gary that you mentioned was a great eye opener to how easy it really can be.

    Its also nice to know that there are other peopel (ones I look up to as well) who has these issues, so all in all great and uplifting post!



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