Attention Young Entrepreneur! Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

The pain won’t be so bad as the embarrassment of walking around like a funny looking duck. Have you ever been in the middle of a promising conversation with a prospective client and suddenly make a simple slip of the bear and fudge it? You’re saying all the right things, showing up really well for yourself, demonstrating your core competencies and specific offerings with legendary alacrity…and suddenly you say something so stupid, irrelevant, out-of-line, self-doubting, and/or naysaying that you blow the whole thing?

We’ve all been there.

It’s called shooting yourself in the foot because it’s just too appropriate. These blunders can be as effective at spoiling the deal as pulling out a nail gun just before the final handshake, firing it through your navicular bone and screaming in the client’s face. At least, it feels that way…on the inside. Don’t let it get to you.

Why do we do this?

Psychologist Steven Stosny has some ideas. Apparently when we are under stress we can start to revert to a more emotional, toddler brain, mode of thinking, I want, mine, no. Ooh ice cream, etc.[1] Excitement, like helping a client realize you are who they’ve been looking for all along, is also a kind of stress. It is good stress, but our brains can interpret it as bad stress. Which promptly rolls back into Dr. Stosny’s point that under stress, we tend to revert to emotional, habitual responses to the situation. Getting too comfortable too fast, losing track of where you are, and inexperience can all contribute to blowing the whole thing.

Another fun anecdote: Joe Blo is asleep. Suddenly something tips off the nightstand at the foot of the bed, and he sees a hand poking up over the edge. Jo Blo blows off his toes.

Basically, my advice is this: don’t get spooked by your own shadow. Take it easy on yourself when you trip and move forward with confidence. Even if that one didn’t work out, trust me, there are a bunch more people who need your help. It will save you a lot of time beating yourself up for something that is a natural part of the way you grow.

I’m not saying this as a mentor, but as a fellow young entrepreneur who is walking with you.


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