Yesterday I had a major “wobble”.
I’m really moving out of my “comfort zone” and I can see that this is absolutely necessary so I can get nearer to the place I want to be in life. The problem for us all, of course, is that moving out of our comfort zones is, well, uncomfortable! Personally, I realised yesterday just how far out of my comfort zone I have to go when it comes to actually generating business out in the real world.
I have, during my entire life, never really faced these fears before even though I identified them many years ago – they have remained unresolved as I managed to “get by” and make a comfortable living as an employee in a field so narrow that I could avoid confronting these problem areas. Being self-employed means we really do have to face a whole range of fears head-on – there is no “corporate shield” to hide behind now! I know that only by practising those things I am afraid of will I lose the fear and “expand my comfort zone” – this much is accepted wisdom, but of course just knowing this does not make the process any less uncomfortable!
The thing is, when I face what I’m up against, it’s REALLY daunting – it seems that what I have to do to succeed in my new self-employed life is a bit like climbing a towering, vertical cliff without a rope! Yesterday it was as if I approached that cliff, looked up at it and wondered how on earth I was ever going to climb it. I made the mistake of looking at the whole daunting task instead of just working out where my next foothold is.
I think that’s something I need to remember. Looking at the whole task – like looking up at that massive cliff – just caused me to freeze and think I would never be able to do it. Finding the next foothold and planting my foot in it – almost a piece of cake! So what I did yesterday was to really break down the big actions on my list into “footholds” – baby steps that will take me a little bit outside my comfort zone – things that I can JUST DO without thinking about the whole daunting task of “generating business”. The key to these little steps, for me, is to define them clearly and in such as way that they are small enough for “doing” without any deep strategic thinking.
When I’ve taken one of these baby steps, I’m no longer stuck – I just made a little bit of PROGRESS and it feels nice. I may have only done a little thing, but at least I did it, and it’s another little step up that cliff!
If you have your own tips that you found useful when “facing the fear” in self-employment, please leave a comment!
Sometimes I look up from my computer when I am working here at home and glance sideways, my attention diverted by a movement outside. Often, it’s one of the workers in the office opposite, standing outside, talking on a mobile phone, having a cigarette break.
On a bad day, I find myself envying them for a moment – envying the camaraderie of the office; the steady salary; the pension. Then I wake up to myself and realise that they are effectively in prison nine-to-five every day. Or at least, that’s how an office career job seemed to me whenever I was stuck in one. I was dead inside, marking time each month just paying my way, learning little in the way of new skills; getting little consolation during my weekends and evenings. It was as if someone else ruled the very core of my existence.
So after a few moments of empty envy, when I see these furtively smoking employees I remember how much I am learning, how I am moving forward with my business, albeit hesitantly and slowly – and most of all I remind myself how I am right now taking charge of my life and living it true-to-character, instead of acting out some badly cast role as a servant to some undeserving god.
I’m writing this pretty much off the top of my head. I’ve literally just got out of bed and switched on the laptop.
I awoke this morning having had a bad dream. In it I dreamt that I was being bullied and ridiculed by a man who had hired me into a full-time sales job with slick words and promises of how great it would be to work for him, only to find myself on day two of my job in an office meeting, surrounded by about 30 men, many of them decades younger than I, jeering as my boss humiliated me in front of them all, saying that he always suspected I would never make the grade and my first day had proved him right. He then suddenly grabbed me and said he would show me what he did to people like me, at which point he gave me a “dead leg” and caused me to fall to the ground as everyone laughed.
The reason for me writing this is firstly to break the dream and stop it clouding my day, but also to acknowledge that really this is an embodiment of one of my irrational fears, a fear that I need to overcome. Since I did a telesales job about 20 years ago, I have a real “thing” about what I think of as “selling”. Unconsciously I think of selling in terms of cold calling against a daily regime of targets and a threat of job loss if I fail – this describes that job from 20 years ago. Really, I KNOW that sales need not be like that. I know that every businessman has to sell to succeed, but my unconscious, narrow view of selling is preventing me from getting into the process and engaging with prospects on MY terms, in MY own inimitable way.
Recognising this problem is a great help, and my dream last night was another prod that reminds me I really need to get some positive sales experience and overcome this problem that really is hindering my business. Sales for me is really about setting out my wares, showing people how they can benefit from them and bringing about a successful trade in an almost natural way, a win-win way in which both parties walk away happy. This, I have absolutely no problem with and I know I would actually come to like it, because I genuinely love “trading”. The pressured sell, when you make enough cold calls to get some of them to stick with some unfortunates whom you happen to catch at a weak moment, that completely turns me off.
So I need to work towards looking at the sales process as the thing I think of as “trading” and not the thing I think of as “selling”, because one conjures up horrors for me and the other I genuinely love.
I know I am not alone in having some sort of block about “selling”. I would be interested to hear your comments – go on – write one below while you’re here..