I’ve worked in sales for years and pretty much always performed as expected. When I sold products and services on behalf of a company I was the company to the prospect I was speaking to. To the prospect, I was ABC Company – it’s face and voice.
That arrangement served me well because I felt like I had a whole world of support backing me up. I had a company or corporation with resources devoted and forces deployed for my success at the moment of sale. Without being conscious of it I felt capable because of ABC Company.
However, whenever it came time for me to strike out on my own – as an entrepreneur, an Energy Healing practitioner, a Transformational Coach – I would freeze with terror. I had no ABC Company, with all of its size and muscle, backing me, supporting me, encouraging me, training me, guiding me.
I was on my own. And I felt it, too. On my own, alone and, as a result of this, incapable. I felt incapable of performing, much less closing the deal.
I was sharing this with Caroline the other night and I said, ‘I do all the prep work and the creative brainstorming to prepare the launch and then when it comes time to step out on the court, I freeze.’
As I was saying this a memory flashed through my mind of an incident that occurred when I was about 9 or 10 years old which I’ll relate right now. (PAY ATTENTION TO MEMORIES THAT FLASH THROUGH YOUR MIND AS YOU SHARE!!!)
It was a warm autumn night in the South Bronx, around 1977 or 1978, and I was with a neighborhood friend, David, who was about 13. I looked up to David as did others. Someone he knew from the ‘other side’ of Cauldwell Ave was on ‘our side’ of Cauldwell – someone whom David knew and was friendly with.
I say ‘other side’ and ‘our side’ to point out that the stretch of Cauldwell Ave that included our 2 blocks was split by 156th Street. “Our side’ of Cauldwell was, I’d say, 95% Puerto Rican with some people who were Black (African American and West Indian). The ‘other side’ of Cauldwell was seemingly all Black. This is a point of fact and nothing else. Though the 2 sides didn’t mingle there never was any animosity or anything like that. The reason there was no mingling, for the most part, was that in a city as large as NYC with about 8 million people (I include the 5 boroughs), your block becomes its own little world whole and distinct from another that may be just one block or one street over.
When the meeting between David and his friend, who was with another friend, ended, David immediately made his way home which was in the apartment building that we stood in front of. I started up the dark, empty street toward home when, after taking only about 5 or 6 steps, I was put into a choke-hold from behind. In a low whisper, hard-edged and menacing, I heard, ‘Gimme your money.’
I could hardly breathe because of the tight squeeze around my neck. I felt his hands rifle through my pockets. He dug out a quarter and some lint. He then let me go and when I turned around it was the boy, about 13 or 14 yrs. old, who had just been speaking with David. Disappointed at finding only a quarter he gave it back to me and told me to ‘get the f— outta here’. Terrified, I turned and hurried away with tears streaming down my face.
When I got back to the heart of the block a group of guys were hanging out and talking animatedly as you often see on the streets. They saw me approach and, in tears, I told them of what happened. They insisted we go to the other side of Cauldwell to settle matters – one, because of what happened to ‘one of our own’ (and this was NOT in a PR vs. Black context at all but in a ‘block’ context); and two, because it happened on OUR block!
As we headed to the other side there were about a dozen of us and I felt protected, safe, powerful. I had visions of my guys beating the crap out of the mugger.
When we arrived there was a group of about a dozen or more waiting for us (they obviously saw us approaching as a pack). The leader of my guys related the details of the incident to the leader of their group (always the one who steps forward to speak on behalf of his group). The 2 leaders concluded that the mugger and I would have to fight to settle the matter.
WTF!!!!!!!!!!!! This wasn’t what I had in mind at all!!!
So the 2 groups formed a big circle with the mugger and I in the middle, face to face, about 10 feet apart. I took one step toward him with my hands dropped down by my sides because I knew nothing about fighting. When I took that one step the mugger got into a fighting stance that clearly indicated he knew what the heck he was doing.
No way. I turned 180 degrees and refused to fight. I was scared. My guys, all older than I, threatened to kick my ass if I didn’t fight. I was cool with that. Then they threatened to tell my older brother, Dicky, saying he was going to kick my ass. No problem. I refused to fight and that was it.
We returned to our side, and I felt I had let down the whole block, bringing shame and embarrassment upon myself and the people in my community. They called me names, laughed at me, and added to my humiliation.
As I reflect on that incident I realize that it was FEAR that defeated me in that moment. And not just the fear of the other boy and the beating he might have given me – it was the fear of fear itself!
And I had repeated that incident throughout my life – not the telling of it, but LIVING IT OUT! When it came time for the final showdown, for the moment to get on the court of life and play AS MYSELF, I backed down. Sure I was safe and big and powerful and confident when I was in the GROUP, in the PACK, but ALONE I cowered and ran.
Doing sales on behalf of a company or corporation? No problem at all.
Selling my services and MYSELF as the service-provider? I’d turn and run at the first sign of a challenge. (I’d also do this in relationship, too, but that’s another story).
You see, for most of my life, it had been easy and safe to get a job and work in someone else’s name. I avoided taking responsibility for my empowerment, my independence and my growth. I could hide behind the size and numbers of ABC Company – and reduce myself to a number in fact! – because doing so meant I could comfortably avoid the spotlight, the scrutiny, the expectation, the challenges, the risks and the rewards of striking out on my own, in my own name.
I’ve learned and grown a lot since that night. I learned that courage is not acting in the absence of fear; true courage is acting in spite of the fear being present.
I also learned to not fear the fear, but rather to embrace and work alongside the fear and even ask the fear what does it have to teach me. Then I am learning and growing thereby. Then I am courageous.
I’ve worked with many people over the years in my Energy Healing and Coaching, but always with the day job as a safety net. Now, fully engaged in and committed to doing Healing and Coaching full time, alone, I have more time and energy to devote to my passion of contributing to people’s TRANSFORMATION in a way that truly makes a difference.
And by doing so, I am discovering the power and aliveness of acting in my own name. By doing so, I am creating a future that does not equal my past.
I share this with you in the hope that it will resonate with you in such a way that you will identify any false, self-imposed limitation (including the ones hiding in your blind spots!) and break any self-defeating pattern in your life.
And if you want some coaching along the way, I can coach you and give you the tools and technology to help you fulfill what is important to you.
All I can do is coach – the rest is up to you. And you know what? You will. You absolutely will.