In a recent Six Steps to Getting Strategic session, my client shared a familiar story with me.
She had just met up with an old colleague for lunch. As she sat across the table listening to him complain about the job and the colleagues she’d left behind, she felt a sense of satisfaction at having moved so far away from that life.
Soon, the attention turned to her.
“What are you up to these days?”, he asks.
She starts to tell him about the past few months. She’s working on this business idea. She’s about to start a pilot program so she can test it out and prove that it can work on a bigger scale. Then she’ll receive great recommendations and referrals from the participants of the program. It will all take off!
“I’m really confident about it. I know I have something people really need and it’s going to be great!”, she exclaims.
He nods as she speaks and asks her a few questions to show a bit of interest. But there’s a look on his face that shows he’s not quite sure. Her enthusiasm starts to fade away and she become quiet and withdrawn. The little voice in her head whispers, “This guy thinks I’m crazy”.
Has this ever happened to you?
Try these three things to help you through these awkward moments when people think you’re crazy.
Be yourself and stop caring about what other people may think. You are brave, you are strong, you are smart, and you are passionate. Have confidence in yourself and in your abilities. There are others out there like you.
The person in front of you may not see the world as you see it and may never have the courage to walk in your shoes. Don’t let their comfort zone limit you and change your mind. You have the power to create change, influence people, and impact lives. Use your voice, use your actions, use your intelligence.
Use it as an opportunity to share your story*. Motivate this person by giving him the case for change and explaining the impact that you long to have. Help him to understand the underlying need for it, what your plan is, and what the benefit will be once you are fully successful.
Use the opportunity to hone your message and test out the words that work best. Look out for the times when his eyes start to light up. Notice which words don’t work so well. From these informal exposures, you will become much more confident in telling your story when it matters most.
If you find that the voice of doubt is getting louder and stronger and you find that you’re feeling deflated, try to reframe the situation. Sometimes our perception of the situation needs to change.
Maybe he doesn’t really think you’re crazy. Maybe you’ve just misjudged his reaction. Maybe you’re making assumptions. Maybe it’s your own inner-critic getting the best of you.
He could be sitting there thinking you’re so courageous to be following your passion. He could be thinking that your idea is so amazing that he’s a bit jealous he didn’t come up with it himself. He could be thinking that you’re incredibly inspirational, passionate, devoted, and brave (because you are, you know)!
over to you
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Think of a recent situation you’ve been in that you misjudged and write down all of the alternative possibilities. Instead of “he thinks I’m crazy”, what could it be instead?
support from other crazies
Do you want to know that you’re not alone in the startup journey? Do you want to meet like-minded people who are walking in your shoes and feeling the same fears and insecurities? Then come along to our Social Sound Off meetup on Friday. The event is free, but spaces are limited so grab your spot here.
p.s. pass it on
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*Next week I’ll be featuring a special guest post from Jo Bradshaw on how best to tell your story. Leave your email at the side or bottom of this page to be first to hear of when it’s available.