Tag Archives: Bravery

Experimenting With Rejection

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Editors Note: You don’t actually have to Keep Out, despite the sign. This will just probably be a slightly different post than you’re used to from me. There are no cats, or campers, or deep and hilarious thoughts. Just me musing about the direction I’m going to go for the next phase of my work and life. I’ll be back with more hilarity later this week though if this isn’t your thing! 🙂

A little secret about me, I’m terrible at asking for things. I don’t want to impose or take up too much of someone’s time or energy, I don’t like the idea of rejection and I generally don’t do well with being laughed at… unless I started it. That’s probably not earth shattering, I’m sure if you asked 100 people 98 of them would say they hate rejection. The thing is, out of those I’m sure there are plenty that would ask anyway. That’s where I want to be. And considering I’m an growing entrepreneur it would be pretty handy if I could learn to ask for things, because obviously no one is going to just offer it… despite all my hinting.

I read a blog post the other day about a man who wanted to learn to accept rejection. He knew being turned down for stuff was inevitable and he wanted to get past the fear of asking. So he decided to make sure the fear of rejection didn’t keep him from asking for what he wanted in life, because that would have actually been rejecting himself before anyone had a chance. Deep stuff, yes?

The way he decided to conquer that fear was pretty ingenious, kind of akin to the invention of sliced cheese or Redbox. He decided that for 100 days in a row he would make an intentional effort to be turned down once a day. He would ask for anything that came to mind and assume the answer would be no. He asked a policeman to drive his cruiser, a pilot to fly his private plane, and showed up on a strangers doorstep holding a soccer ball and wearing a full soccer uniform, asking if he could play ball in his backyard. He did anything he could to be turned down once every day.

The crazy thing is that according to the story, in all three of those examples, he wasn’t turned down. He played soccer in that mans back yard, he drove that police car and flew that plane. But as cool as it would be to play soccer in a strangers backyard that’s not really the part that piqued my interest. The part I thought was so interesting was the concept of asking with the intention of being rejected. It takes all of the pressure off, if the answer is no you can just shrug and say ‘Yea, that’s what I thought!’. There’s no risk of looking silly or being embarrassed because you tried and failed. Well, I suppose doing the walk of shame in a soccer uniform might be a bit embarrassing, but you know what I mean.

I think the experiment sounds pretty interesting, and I think we’ve established I like a good experiment, so I thought I would incorporate it into the Year of Change. Plus the answers may very well be surprising. Ya never know, maybe I’ll get to drive a police car.

Now, I think there’s probably a very fine line between asking in a genuinely expectant way and sounding pushy, or even having it sound like you’re just joking. I’m sure learning to ask will be just as important as learning to accept a possible no. The question needs to be phrased politely, but in a way that makes it clear you expect the answer to be yes. I’m sure a smile and the manners you learned in kindergarten will go a long way. And obviously being gracious if and when the answer is no would make the whole thing less awkward. Plus it beats silently backing away like a weirdo.

I’m in a perfect position to try this experiment. I own a small graphic design firm and I’m working on growing it by getting more clients. My ideal clients are small boutique businesses and bloggers, and I need to reach out to those people before I can offer to help them with what I do. I also need to contact other design firms and build relationships that place me on their list of freelance contractors. Another goal is to grow this blog and do more freelance writing, which might include guest posting on other blogs. That means I have to put myself out there for those possibilities.

This is the last day of my first experience with the Start Experiment (you know, the cult I joined?), and Round 2 starts this coming Monday. I’ve spent this first experiment getting my website and portfolio in order and talking to mentors, it wasn’t what I planned to accomplish, but it’s what needed to be done first. I’ve come along farther than I even planned in the beginning, and now I’m ready to reach out and start actually building the business side. So I’m going to combine the two, starting Monday the 12th I’m going to spend the next 24 days asking for things that will help me build my business. The answers might be no, they might be yes, I might even get laughed at. Whatever happens though I’ll keep asking and I’ll share it here, along with everything else we talk about! I might even throw some crazy questions in there just for the heck of it.

Also! Do you want to join me in an experiment? The Start Experiment is now open to the public! It begins Monday August 12th and lasts for 24 days. If you’re interested in getting motivated to change your life and want to join us there will be more information on Jon Acuff’s blog starting tomorrow, or you can always contact me to find out what flavor of Kool Aid to bring. 

 

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Choose Your Adventure: Life

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Have you ever played a Choose Your Own Adventure type game? It’s usually a book that everyone starts reading at the same spot, and along the way you’re given a series of choices that lead you down different paths. The choices you make determine the outcome of your story. You could read the same book over and over and come up with a different ending each time.

Sound familiar? I thought it did.

Life, in its essence, is the ultimate choose your own adventure game. We all basically start the same, give or take some environmental and physical differences. Along the way we’re given choices, dozens of them a day sometimes. And the way we respond to those choices determine the outcome of our story.

You might make the choice to drop out of school or finish and go to college, you might decide to get married and have children or focus on your career, you might choose to rob a bank or work in a factory for twenty years. Nothing (aside from those pesky cops) makes any of those choices any more right or wrong than the others. But they all change the outcome of your story.

Sometimes the choices are smaller than that. Choosing to eat a salad or a candy bar, choosing to save money or buy something. But no matter how seemingly insignificant they are every choice changes your path a little.

The key is to make sure the choices you make every day are leading you to the outcome you want. If your dream is to become a doctor and you choose to work in a factory you may have misunderstood the rules of the game.

You won’t get it right all the time, and there will be detours along the way, but you have a much better shot if you know where you want your path to lead. If you know where you’re going and aim to make your choices line up most of the time you’ll get there. The saying “Begin with the end in mind” applies more than ever to this game.

You have to know where you’re going to know how to get there. So where do you want your path to lead? What type of person do you want to be? Don’t just pick at random, really think about the life you want to live.

If you want to be seen as brave and adventurous you may have to choose not to be afraid when the time comes.

If you want to be someone people see as educated and worldly you may have to choose to read a book instead of watching reality TV.

If you want to be a fitness expert you have to choose to practice what you preach.

If you want to own a business, start a blog, or travel the world you have to make the intentional choices that lead to those paths.

The really fun thing about this game is you are in complete control. Even if you round the corner and find a dragon waiting on the other side, you get to choose how to handle it.

Think about how you want to be known, pick your story, and then make sure your choices line up with it. The time is going to pass anyway, so why not make the most of it?

Apparently, If You Don’t Ask The Answer Is Always No

Who would’ve thought that? Someone really should make that into an inspirational t-shirt or Facebook graphic.

I’ve been a designer for years, I taught myself to design websites on (gasp!) Geocities when I was 13 years old.

I was at one point in time the queen of wavy textured backgrounds, and have used more than one of those little ‘Under Construction’ GIFs. You know the ones, they looked like a pixelated road work barrier and usually had a little blinking light on top. They always showed up with a message that said “Oops! This awesome corner of the web is under construction! Please check back again soon!”. Alas, lots of sites never came back from the blinking GIF… I assume they were absorbed back into the internet or collected up and recycled into MySpace.

The blinking GIF existed before we had plugins for our WordPress sites that let us install a countdown timer with a signup button to join our mailing list. All with one fell mouse click.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

I swear I’m going somewhere with this. Anyway, my point being that I’ve been doing this a while. I’ve built up my skills over time, learned a ton, and had plenty of customers, but never to any real end. I haven’t made a fortune, or even really sustained myself for any length of time with design work. Even as much as I’ve always wanted to call myself a designer and spend my days doing something I love.

Several years ago I decided to get serious about it and set up a legitimate business around what I was already doing for people. I bought my business license, worked for hours on a logo and stationery, then spent a few weeks going to local businesses and handing out cards, telling people who I was and what I did. Looking back on it I wasn’t near bold enough at the time, and probably looked like a geeky traveling salesman.

I did get some jobs, and I was already building sites for quite a few local government entities and factories, but none of it was what I really wanted to do. They are jobs, and they pay okay, but they didn’t need or want someone with creativity or design skill, they just needed someone to build a site. Every now and then a ‘fun’ site would come through, I would get a chance to work with another entrepreneur with a dream, and those were the sites I loved.

But I still didn’t try to do anything specific to meet those people. I didn’t figure out who exactly I was looking for, or how to find them, or even what to say to them if I did find them. In fact, I spent most of my time being so scared that I wasn’t good enough for them that I did nothing at all.

I would take work as it came to me, even if it was for someone who was definitely not on my ‘ideal customer’ list. I never turned a job down. But I also never manned up and went out looking for people who really needed my specific skills, my style, my personality. My target customers.

Because of that work was sporadic, I did minimal marketing and then expected jobs to come to me. Shockingly, they didn’t come pouring in. So I blamed it on living in a small town… my target market is mostly female entrepreneurs with small, fun, boutique style businesses. There’s not a ton of those here, so that might be half true. But that’s just a cop out really.

Cut to last year, when the great mind shift of 2012 occurred. I had already decided that 2013 was to be the ‘Year of Change’, and it turns out there’s something about selling everything you own and deciding to live more intentionally that really opens you up.

I think the act of choosing to make that first bold move, and then following through, helped immensely too. I realized that I can do anything I set my mind to, and that maybe the worst that can happen really isn’t that bad. So what if someone thinks I’m crazy? That’s their problem, not mine. Maybe I’m not ever going to be able to run a successful business, but if I don’t try then I sure as hell won’t be able to.

My fear from before, the one that said I wasn’t good enough to work for these fun, stylish people… It’s gone. I now realize that it was just that, an irrational fear, a silly little voice in my head.

Part of what helped me realize that was putting myself out there. This blog, my Etsy store, choosing to be more open on my Facebook wall.

I decided one day that life really was too short, and that every other cliche thing I had read on Pinterest was probably true. I can choose to put myself out there and possibly build a life doing what I love with people I think are awesome, or I can do the opposite because of what someone might say. I’m pretty sure when the zombie apocalypse hits I won’t be giving a second thought to what someone said.

So I put my designs out into the world, I became more open and started introducing myself to people in the forums on Etsy, I started blogging regularly and sharing the posts on Facebook along with my newest designs. It took a lot of courage at first, I won’t lie.

And you know what? Shockingly, it started working. People actually responded when I told them what I needed. They responded to the blog, to my shop, to me. Turns out, the people I thought I wasn’t good enough for were completely receptive when I offered my services. Who woulda thought.

I’ve done more business in the last few months than I have in the entirety of some years in the past. Apparently the only thing holding me back this whole time really was me.

I can’t help but wonder, if I had started being true to myself years ago, where I could be by now.

My work isn’t quite steady enough to make a living on yet, but the benefits are killer. I feel so incredibly alive when I’m doing something I love, whether it’s helping an entrepreneur put their vision into their website, creating a custom sticker for someones baby shower, or training to run a 5k. It fuels me.

Doing work you love, for people you care about, is an amazing experience, and I hope I get to do a lot more of it. I think everyone should strive for that.

But I think the coolest thing about all this is what I’m learning – that it’s been in my control this whole time.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t decided to…

– make an intentional change in my life

– decide where I wanted to be and start walking in that direction, however slowly

– just ignore the fear and open myself up

– and most importantly, decided to just ask.