Is your life in a rut?
Are you wishing you had a girlfriend and a good job so that you’d finally be happy and content with life? Are you unfulfilled in your day to day?
Do you see other people in life looking happy and wishing you had what they had?
I’ve been there, and this is the one thing that I did that saved my life.
The Biggest Mistake Of My Life
Between the ages of 22 and 27 I worked for Yahoo! in sales. I’d never sold a thing in my life, but I sold the hell out of myself to get that job.
I’d showed up to the interview in jeans. The first question out of the interviewers mouth was, “why are you wearing jeans to a job interview?”
Not the greatest start to a job interview.
“Casual Friday?” I replied hesitantly while instantly feeling the back of my knees sweat.
It was Monday. I was hoping there was a shred of humor in the man.
I nailed the next question.
“Sell me this pencil” he asked me.
“This pencil?" I said, while holding up a pencil, "I’m not even sure you need this pencil. This pencil is for serious businesses only. I’m sure you’re a serious business but this might be too much pencil for you. Perhaps we can start you off with something a bit more appropriate.”
They hired me and I’d never sold a thing in my life.
When I showed up for my first day of work, I was terrified. Terrified that I was hired to do something I had no idea how to do.
Terrified that when I picked up that phone for the first time I would choke.
That the person on the other end of the line would hang up on me, or call me a loser, or ask me questions I didn’t have answers to. Or that I wouldn’t know what to say, that I’d be so overcome with fear that I’d hang up on them.
The Thousand Pound Telephone
I was so terrified that I couldn’t pick up the phone. My anxiety was through the roof and I’m not an anxious person.
But I had no choice. I’d sold myself as the salesmen they needed and told them I had a blueprint for success. I told them that I was so terrified of failure that I made sure I never failed.
I’d talked myself up a bit, maybe a bit too much. Oops.
So I did what I had to do. I picked up that thousand pound telephone and dialed the first number. And then I did it again. And again. And again.
I picked up that telephone and dialed phone numbers for five hours straight without getting up. I didn’t go to lunch. I didn’t go to the bathroom. I dialed phone numbers and talked to people.
Every Fucked Up Thing Happened
Everything I thought would go wrong did. People said no and hung up on me. People asked me questions I didn’t have answers to.
I choked hard on some calls. I hung up on people twice because I didn’t know what to say.
One man asked to speak to my supervisor. Another kept asking me what I wanted and I couldn’t stop yammering about synergetic dynamics. I still don’t know what that means or why I said it. I suppose it sounded business-like.
But then something odd happened. I made some sales. Not many, but a few.
I talked to strangers about their lives and their businesses. People told me about their families, their vacation plans, and their business struggles. Some people were opening up to me. I was astounded.
Before picking up the phone, I thought I would die. I was so full of fear I literally thought my heart would stop from the anxiety.
I didn’t die.
I didn’t even come close.
I worked there for 5 years and quickly became one of the top sales reps in my department.
This Happened Over And Over Again
Not just at Yahoo!, but in life.
Several years after leaving Yahoo! a friend of mine asked me to help him start a hostel in Panama for people traveling to South America with their vehicles. I told him I didn’t speak Spanish. He told me not to worry, everyone speaks English in Panama.
So we packed the truck and drove from San Francisco, California to Panama City, Panama in 14 days. He dropped me off with an old Land Cruiser and some start up money and wished me good luck.
“You’re not staying?” I asked.
Apparently not. He had a job lined up in France, I was on my own.
I quickly realized that almost no one speaks English in Panama other than a small community of ex-pats.
I'd never felt this lonely in my life; it was rough, and I was terrified.
That’s how I found myself living in Panama trying to do business as a tourist with zero Spanish skills.
But I knew enough from working at Yahoo! that there was only one way out of this.
I had to pick up the thousand pound telephone.
Hola, I Speak Spanish Now
I found a tutor and started learning Spanish. I listened to Spanish audio books five hours a day. I found a house to turn into a hostel and hired workers. We spoke with our hands and I gestured wildly trying to communicate with them.
I spend most nights eating alone, studying Spanish, and wondering how I was going to get out of this mess.
Slowly but surely I started to pick up the language.
And then they started showing up. Travelers, tourists, and people traveling on motorcycles and in their vans. We’d gotten the word out and the hostel was becoming a success.
I made friends, found a community, and even went on some dates.
I’d gotten through the rough part by doing the one thing that terrified me the most. I’d walked towards the fear, picked up the thousand pound phone, and got to work.
Doing The Work Has Saved My Life
Doing the work and staying in action has saved my life every step of the way.
When I’m terrified of doing something, I get into action and I do the work. I do the work that I don’t want to do. Every day.
I do it as soon as I can before my brain talks me out of it. If I wait too long, I’ll find a million reasons why I shouldn’t do the work and there’s a good chance I won’t do it.
Writing scares me, so I do it first thing in the morning while my resolve is high. If I wait too long, no blog post.
Talking to people with my video camera scares me, so I do that as soon as I can. Not first thing in the morning because no one wants a camera shoved in their face first thing in the morning.
Talking to women scares me. I say hi to people as I walk through the day. I sign up for interesting events and force myself to go even when it’s the last thing I want to do. I ask out a woman I want to ask out even when my brain tells me she'll for sure reject me.
When I’m not happy with my body and what my mom calls my baby fat (I'm 34 years old), I do the work. I go to the gym, I stop eating sugar and pasta. I do the work that feels like the hardest thing to do.
But I do it anyway.
When I want to collaborate with people, I force myself to introduce myself to them and ask if there’s an opportunity for us to collaborate on a project at some point in the future.
When they say yes, I’m prepared with ideas of what we could collaborate on. When they say no, I thank them for their time and remind myself to ask them again in six months.
If I Don’t Do It, No One Else Will
I can want a girlfriend and pray for one until the cows come home, but Amazon still hasn’t figured out how to ship women straight to my apartment. If I want a girlfriend, I have to meet women. If I want to meet women, I have to do the work.
I can wish for an awesome career where I talk and write about sex and get paid for it, but if I don’t do the work to set up this business, it’s not going to happen.
If I don’t write the blogs and the videos that people connect with, I’ll be sitting on my couch wondering where my career and my girlfriend are.
This applies to everything in my life. Doing the work has saved my life.
When I want something, I do the work.
When I’m terrified of something, I do the work.
When I'm unhappy with there I'm at, I do the work.
So, what work are you needing to be doing in your life? What area of your life do you want to change? What are you terrified of doing?
Today’s a great day to start doing that work. Trust me. The sooner you do it, the better you’ll feel.