Earlier this week I contacted someone who I feel is inspirational and highly talented. I was looking through their website and learnt that last year they moved to the town where I live, so my immediate reaction was to fire off a quick email to ask them out for coffee. As you would, of course.
It was only after I — very excitedly! — told a friend of what I’d just done, that their surprised response hit me: I had acted in a way that others felt was courageous. Others, whom I consider equally talented, began to comment that they too felt this was indeed a very bold move.
It hadn't even occurred to me that this was something others might feel nervous about, or thought they were barred from doing.
But here’s the thing: without sending that email, the only thing I could be certain of was that I wasn't going to get to meet this amazing artist. I started out with nothing to loose, so a reply — heck, any form of contact! —would already be a win. If they accepted the coffee, then that’d be a home run.
It made me think — what other things do we limit ourselves from doing?
If a simple email is considered bold, just because we are sending it to someone we consider to be better than ourselves at something, then what connections haven't we made because we allowed ourselves to believe that the way is blocked?
When applying for jobs, people often devalue themselves and go for a lower paid job than they could get, as they feel that they have higher odds of getting it. But is this really the way to play your life? Are you not robbing yourself of the opportunities out there because you feel that they are out of your league?
How many times have you heard people ranking others as “out of their league”? But how many times is it just an excuse not to approach someone, and avoiding the fear of failure?
What other connections are we failing to make that would pull us up to “their league”?
The saying “Do one thing today that makes you scared” has never been more true. Fear has never been a reason not to do something.
Real bravery is to find something that truly scares you — and do it anyway.
I don't consider that initial email to my idol to be an act of bravery, as it didn't scare me to send it. But I am going to apply the learning and find out what approaches and connections I can make today that do scare me — and make them anyway.
- Find someone you admire on Twitter today — and not only follow them, but actually send them a tweet about why you like their work.
- Email someone who is top in your area of expertise and write one paragraph about why they inspire you. Let them know if they are ever in your area, you’d love to buy them coffee.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn and share something they have written with a phrase about what you connected with in their article.
Just one thing to keep in mind: don’t be a creeper. You wouldn't like someone stalking you in real life, so don’t do it in social media.
Obviously, if you are the one on the receiving end of a message from someone who admires your work — live up to it. Meet them and give them half an hour of your day to talk to them. Or if you’re really busy or live in the other side of the world, at least take a few seconds to acknowledge them when they reach out to you via Twitter or email. Conversations work much better when both parties say something. Besides, would you walk right past someone who approached you on the street without even looking at them? No?, then don’t do it in social media.
You never know if the person you are talking to might be your next business partner / collaborator, or why not?, your new best friend.
- you might end up getting the most amazing response! Check this out!
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