Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you?  The closest I’d ever come to that, before Friday (no pun intended), was in my elementary school days – I once jumped off a playground swing and landed, most unceremoniously, on my belly… It was embarrassing, painful, and left me dazed for a more than a few minutes.

That’s pretty much how I felt after leaving a consultation with a new client, last week.  She was referred by a friend, so I figured this would be a pretty straight-forward, pleasant introduction.  And it totally started off that way…

She let me know about her brand (she’s a business advisor) and I gave her information on the services my company offers.  She’s a talker, like me, so we covered lots of ground, quickly.  She is extremely down to earth and she let me know she wanted me to feel comfortable as well.  Now I see it was all set-up (just kidding… mostly).

As we slipped into girlfriend mode, she (let’s call her Iyanla) started asking more in-depth questions about how I market myself and follow-up.  I admitted that my style of follow-up is very “low-touch”.  In my eyes, clients like to be left to make a decision on their own without being pestered. Iyanla allowed me to keep explaining myself, nodding politely, then BAM!!!

She punched me hard and fast, right in my bagel-eating belly!

Okay, she didn’t physically punch me, but the words she spoke sure did the job figuratively…

“You’re afraid of rejection.”

Straight up, no chaser – Iyanla called me on my stuff. I immediately went on the defensive, but it was too late.  The truth bomb had been dropped and there was no ducking for cover.  She was right.

There was more conversation after that, but it’s pretty fuzzy, because I was  reeling from the fact that she’d known me for all of 45 minutes, but recognized, inside my brain, I’m still that little girl who jumped off the swings – the girl who wants people to like her.  That seemingly innocent desire, coupled with an odd mixture of perfectionism and procrastination, is a potent cocktail of entrepreneur self-sabotage! Yes, I want clients to have a fantastic experience with me and give glowing referrals; And it’s okay to wish to avoid annoyances that will turn potential clients off, but not to the point where I fear making strategic business moves (which is kinda where I am many days of the week).

I was able to recover well enough to offer Iyanla some help on her social media (after all, I owed her for the impromptu business counseling session) and I thanked her for her wisdom and candor.  We walked to our cars together and hugged.  I know we’ll talk again.  She’s the kind of person I like having in my life – gut ache and all.

So now that the fallout is settling and the bruise on my tummy is starting to fade, where do I go?  When you know better you do better, right?  At this point it’s about figuring out the right balance – confronting my fear of rejection, while respecting the fact that I truly refuse to be an icky, selfish, annoying marketer.

For now, I’m reading Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection.  It’s crazy how much I can relate to the author’s experience in leaving corporate to become an entrepreneur.  Quite honestly, just reading his experiences make me nervous and queasy, because I know I’m zany enough to follow in his footsteps in some way.  I don’t know what my “rejection therapy” will look like, but I’ll be sure to let you all know when I nail it down. 

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