A reader writes in, telling me about a foe most all of us know far too well:
The fear of rejection.
It’s what’s stopping her from taking action.
And before you think that Martin is immune to that fear: I’m not.
I too have fears and insecurities, and yes: I too stop myself from taking action because I’m afraid I’ll get rejected.
That said, it’s become much easier for me in recent years.
In fact, these days I actively seek out rejection.
It’s become a hobby of mine to collect ‘NOs’.
The other day, I wrote an email to Seth Godin, asking if he wants to start a podcast with me.
Did I have any hopes?
It was about the size of a grain of rice.
Of course the guy is going to say no: he can have anything he wants, and if he wanted a podcast he would likely already have one.
So when the reply ‘Thanks, but I’m all set’ came, I cheered.
Next up, I’m going to try to pitch Richard Branson, because I have an idea for wordlwide energy saving, and if my theory is correct, he just might be interested.
And no, this is not a joke: I do really want to tell him my idea, and explain why I need engineers and physicists in order to establish if it’s viable or not.
Very likely, he’ll say no – he gets pitched several times daily.
So why would I try to get him interested?
Because YES lives in the land of NO.
The more often you go for no, the sooner you get to yes.
That’s why I collect NO, as often as possible.
It’s a game I like to play, and it’s amazing.
Now, I may be a bit reckless and brazen, and I understand that this reader, or indeed you, might not act with such abandon.
And you don’t have to.
If you want more confidence, and you want to move forward despite fear of rejection, it can be really easy, and a lot of fun.
Here’s the reply I sent my reader:
That makes sense. Rejection can be a really threatening thing, but that can change if you change your perspective.
Nassim Taleb writes about something he calls ‘antifragile’ – the notion that damage doesn’t weaken, but instead strengthens us.
A good example is in martial arts: those guys spend years punching and kicking hard things, which causes microfractures in the bones.
These heal, and since scar tissue is stronger than then bones themselves, they end up becoming much, much stronger because of the damage.
The same thing applies to confidence and fears: once you learn to accept rejection as a good thing, as something that strengthens you, the experience itself starts to feel like something wholesome, and the threat of it becomes smaller.
If that’s something you desire, then the best way is to start small, to actively seek out tiny little risks – mini rejections.
As you experience more of them, you’ll find that it becomes a fun game, and that (this is when the miracle starts to happen) you start increasing the stakes.
You can do it in all kinds of ways.
Silly, innocuous things: asking a stranger to tell you their name.
Asking someone next to you at a zebra crossing:
“Excuse me, I’m practicing confidence: could I ask you to carry my shopping bag across the street?”
Or even smaller: could I borrow your pen?
Can you tell me the time?
That’s just a few examples, you can do anything you like.
Each time you see someone, ask yourself: ‘What could I ask this person that I cannot predict they’ll reply yes to’, and then act on it.
I’m not saying that this is what you need, nor that it is what you want.
But I am saying that it’s a nearly failproof (ha, see what I did there? :) way to become more resilient and to reduce the paralysing effect that fear of rejection has.
This stuff works, trust me.
When guys are too shy to ask a woman out, and they seek help, this is the exact method that helps them gain confidence.
No is a good thing.
It’s something you can start to value, and even enjoy.
When that happens, your world will change very drastically, and in a very good way.
Luck favours the bold?
No, the bold create their own luck.
I recommend you try it…
Of course if you’re not afraid to get a no, and you want specific advice and guidance on what to ask, when, and of whom, then I’d be delighted to work with you.