"How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all people, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us."
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet
My friend Will Keiper is writing an exciting book right now that you will be hearing more about in these pages. I want to thank him for reconnecting me to the profound work of Rainer Maria Rilke. I had to read the above quote about 20 times before the power and clarity of it really sank in.
Some people have dragons now in politics, in the economy, in their personal lives, and in the clients and customers they think are hard to get. They don't see that something helpless wants help.
* * * * * * *
In relationships there are two kinds of people. People in the habit of creating relationships, and people in the habit of reacting to other people. Creators and reactors. The good news is that creating and reacting are just habits, and it doesn't matter where the habits began or why.
What matters is, a willingness to see the habit and accept it as a habit. Once we accept a habit, we can choose to leave it behind.
As psychologist Dr. Nathaniel Branden has said, "You can't leave a place you've never been. "
We can begin now to form the habits that are the most useful to us in creating the relationships we really want to have-both in personal life and in the workplace.
When I am consulting with clients who are having a tough time in relationships, it always becomes apparent that their basic problem is that they're reacting to other people all day long. They're generating their own negative emotional reaction to people.
After a while, in listening to them, I get a funny impression that I am listening to the words of country music. You know those country songs I'm talking about. "I've been hurt so many times, I'm never going to reach out again", or "I've had my heart broken one too many times," "I don't trust women, I don't trust men." Songs with titles like "Is it cold in here or is it you?" or the saddest country song title I ever heard, "My wife ran away with my best friend and I miss him." Country music in and of itself is great, and the really depressing songs-the ones that really express the poetry of victimization-are beautiful in their own way, but their basic philosophy is not an effective way to live or to create the relationships we really want.
People who live their lives reacting emotionally to the behavior of other people, truly are miserable. They wake up in the morning and begin their day reacting to all the bad news on the radio or on the television, all the crime, all the injustice, all the evidence that they can't trust people. Then they react to other people in traffic, flipping people off, getting flipped off, honking as they weave their way to work, then at the job the reacting continues. A harsh word, an implied reprimand, a cold memo from management, blood pressure goes up, breath gets short, the throat constricts, there are unpleasant butterflies in the stomach. We shouldn't even call them butterflies in the stomach as we tiptoe through the day reacting to other people-moths-it's more like ugly moths fluttering in the stomach. The heart races, headaches form behind the eyes, all in the name of reacting. The daily habit of reacting. No wonder we end up resenting other people- no wonder we can't trust anyone.
What is needed is a gentle shift. Not a huge change, but a shift, just like the gentle shift of gears in a finely-tuned car. We need to shift from reacting to creating.
All of this reacting we do is a habit and because it's only a habit, like any habit, it's completely reversible. The good news is, habits are quite easily changed- especially relationship habits.
One of the first steps on the path out of the habit of reacting to people is to ask ourselves a simple question. It's a question first asked by Ralph Waldo Emerson many years ago, "Why should my happiness depend on the thoughts going on in someone else's head?" This question, no matter how we answer it in any given moment, gives us the mental perspective we need to start seeing the possibilities for creating relationships. As soon as we begin asking ourselves questions, we're on the right path because we're leaving the low life of deep negative emotions behind. We're rising up. Far above the butterflies in our stomach, above the pain in our heart, above the tightness in the throat. We are up there. In the mind. In the imagination. Higher still. We're in our spirit now. We're climbing the internal ladder up to the spirit. That's where great relationships get created. From the spirit.
* * * * * * *
What's the point of a coaching prosperity school??
Let's say I'm afraid to ask for someone's business. I'm having a nice conversation, everything is going well, I can tell that my prospect likes me, and I know that there is a good timing point right now to probably ask for something. So I say to myself, "Should I ask? Should I ask for the business? Should I just very naturally say, 'May I have your business?' or, 'May I work with you on this?'", but I don't say anything. I don't say a word. I just keep listening and making friendly small talk.
Why? When I look back, I tell myself it was "because I was afraid. I couldn't do it because I was afraid to."
Cause and effect, right?
But let's look at this I-can't-because-I'm-afraid belief. Children don't buy into that. Children quite often are afraid but also do the thing they are afraid to do. The one doesn't automatically cancel out the other.
They only learn later in life to try to duck out of everything they are afraid of-that becomes their system later on, but when they are young, they do all kinds of things they are afraid of. They get up on bikes they are afraid to get up on, they get up on a high dive and jump off even through they are afraid-they try all kinds of scary things.
As they get older they talk themselves into a personality, an identity that carries with it permanent pervasive fears. And not just fears, but disabling, disempowering fears. That's the adult story of life and its limitations.
One of the greatest things we can do in sales is say, "Hey, I'm afraid to do this, but I'm going to do it anyway. I'm intimidated by this person, but I’m going to call him. This scares me, but I'm going to do it."
Because if I can start doing that, it is thrilling…this life of sales becomes pure adventure. It is so exciting to do the things I thought I was afraid to do!!!
If I'm afraid to cold call, if I'm afraid to ask for business, if I'm afraid to close, if I'm afraid to do anything, the best thing I can do for my selling and hitting my goals, for my own prosperity, for my family and my self esteem is to do it anyway. To break the cause and effect chain. Break it again and again. So that being afraid and not doing it are no longer joined at the hip. They are no longer locked in mutual causation.
A lot of my coaching clients who are coaches tell me "I didn't remember that part of my childhood until we started doing that together…breaking that chain."
That's the great thing about selling. It gives us opportunities throughout the day to come up face to face with things we are afraid to do. And I don't mean stark raving afraid. It's more subtle (and career-damaging) than that. It's that little twinge of insecurity, that little thought that says, "I'm not too comfortable doing this," and it's allowing that thought to shut me down automatically.
Notice I said automatically. It's subconscious. That's why it's so hard to find and fix.
But in the long run, what's really great about the selling profession is that I do get to do things like that. I get to raise my own self-esteem, improve the self-estimate of my own level of courage throughout the day. Other professions don't have that opportunity so readily available in each hour of the day.