Why I am (have been) afraid to ask someone for their time, and it goes deeper than that unfortunately?
When you are trying to build anything it takes partners. It takes people and their time. Whether you succeed or fail depends on your ability to bring these minds and ideas along your journey, but that begs the question — why would they do anything for you?
Lack of courage has a cost
That is a mental struggle I have had recently (forever?) that has caused me loads of grief, sadness, lost opportunities, failed projects, and who knows what those ventures would have realized had they come to fruition. I will never have those deeper relationships, the lessons from the experience, and the never know what we would have achieved.
I am self aware to realize that as a weakness and have been working hard to crack this mental barrier. One I honestly cannot say how it arrived; what caused it to exist, and how I have let something like this sabotage my creative desires.
Why I hate asking
The number one thing I hate asking for is another person’s time. Simple as that — I have reservations, hesitations, and a million excuses prepared. This is impacting my relationships, love life, creative endeavors, charity work, and who knows what else!
My core fear — I am not sure I will be giving them value by taking their time.
I am pre-judging what they consider valuable and whether or not I can even provide them value in the discussion. It is profound how far this fear stretches — that of not being valuable to this person, most of whom I call friends and have spent 100s of hours working together side by side on hard projects.
What I have discovered
I recently shared this fear and had a healthy reframing, and it begins with me understanding my intention. If my intentions are good, then there should be no hesitation.
In fact, “if you’re proud of the quality of your work and the respect you show others, there’s no reason to hide. Your curiosity, your willingness to talk about niche topics with these experts, your true resolve to truly + intentionally listen …those are all the valuable things.”
So the value exchange is respecting, being curious, and giving your best effort in that discussion. Not some gimmick or prize, it’s you being earnest, intentional, and professional.
Relationships > Transactions
If you treat it any other way, it’s a transaction, and something tells me that you take more pride in your work than prizing transactions over relationships + connection — stay strong and keep doing you!
The importance again is intention. We aren’t trying to interview / collaborate people for a show, paper, job, project, or book. No we are beginning what hopefully becomes an odyssey together of mutual discovery, pleasure, and appreciation.
My simple mistake — I literally have been focused on the negative 2% chance we have a bad moment vs the 92% of the good we’ll create together. Simple, obvious on paper and to others, but a cyclone of confusion internally until I had this lesson.
What you can learn and do as a result
Use this to power yourself forward and break down the barrier as I have been forced to do myself. The questions below will free you, try them, add to them, share them please — never know when mine will re-emerge as something else:
- Would you take the meeting if the other person asked? → Yes, make the meeting
- Would you be able to put that person up / help them by taking the meeting? → Yes, make the meeting and seek to provide them value
- Can you both learn something together? → Yes, bing, book it
- Are you speaking about what you love and enjoy? → Definitely, especially if they love it too
Now you can book time on their schedule; on their time zone; in a way that is convenient for everyone — video calls, FaceTime, or simply voice. I have seen people chat easily on LIVE streams too. The medium doesn’t matter so long as you can engage, and ideally (if it is your intention) be recorded for distribution so others may benefit from this moment you two have made happen together.
Time is valuable, but lessons are invaluable
We cherish time immensely. I know I do things to maximize time with family, clients, and on my passions. While time is said to be most precious, I would balance that against lessons. Lessons come from living a life of purpose and exploration. Hard moments will come that will cause us pain, heartbreak, and suffering. Great moments will also bring joy, profound change in the world, and happiness. In each of these moments we gain life lessons, experience, building blocks for the next moment.
We are a species built on carrying forward knowledge year to year and generation to generation. Therefore — no matter the positive or negative aspect of the lessons, they are the only part of life we can never have that reduces our life’s potential and impact on the world.
Lessons are the cornerstone of who I am and who I will become, to lose them erases what and who I could have become tomorrow and in the future.
Please value lessons over time, as we can live a long life without ever experiencing life and that is the ultimate waste.
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I am a father, study of human behavior, strategist, cybersecurity veteran, and a coach and mentor on a journey to give more than I receive everyday. I lead teams globally, build products, and daily an executive for a leading company where I serve the largest companies in the world using the largest cloud deployments in the world impacting the financial services, healthcare, and fintech industries. I provide these publications and content through my media agency to deliver insights and advantages. Mindset, mental strength, mentorship, personal improvement, health, fitness, and humanist ideas are drawn from personal research and practice. Everything read and heard is my original works and my own perspective. All rights reserved for noted authors and sources. I produce research and strategy, as well as provide advisory services that include inquiries, briefings, consulting projects, and presentations on published findings as well as bespoke speaking engagements where I often keynote at conferences, seminars, and roundtables annually.