I am surely not the only person who has ever fallen prey to a salesperson. What if I told you about a simple way to stay grounded and not be bulldozed by others’ wants? When I first launched my business, I was a nervous, shy, stay-at-home mom feeling awkward as she tried to pull herself off as a professional in a world she knew nothing about and didn’t believe she belonged in. My insecurity reached its height when I decided to board a plane and fly clear across the country to the heart of business: New York City.
My friend and I had gotten it in our heads that we were going to go to the National Speakers Convention to drive a lot of business. There were only several problems with this—one, I had just barely earned my membership to NSA and was still unsure about being a professional speaker; I’d convinced myself of my own inadequacy. Second, I was pregnant again and felt awful. My constant prayer was, Please don’t let me throw-up on anyone.
Then there was the third problem, which in its own way was bigger than the first two: I am introverted by nature, and when put in public situations where small talk is required, I become completely lost. Unlike my husband, who is awesome at small talk and engagement, I often go blank and have no idea how to maneuver myself through the situation. I would be rich if I were paid for how many times my husband has said to me, “Why didn’t you say…” Door-to-door salesmen loved me because I was tongue-tied when they showed up. As a result, I had a cupboard full of cleaners, painting, magazines and more.
So there I was, feeling inadequate, nauseous, and lacking networking skills. My friend was more street smart than I was, and instead of being afraid of New York, she loved it, but she was new to business too and also had doubts of how to navigate that world. We were the stay-at-home mom dual.
We decked ourselves out in our best outfits, walked our confident strut, and strolled into the reception area of the conference. After mingling a bit, we decided the safest place for us was the bookstore.
We began browsing and made it to the second row when a man in an outdated, powder-blue, worn-out suit found me. His suit must have grown tired from the effort of trying to cover his extended stomach. He greeted us with a smile and immediately began pitching his expensive product.
“No, thanks,” I said quickly and tried to walk on.
He blocked my path and looked at my name tag, “Ah, you are the Step It Up Queen. You need to ‘step it up’ and buy my product. Or are you afraid?”
I froze, staring at him. I didn’t want to buy his product, but I definitely didn’t want to not step it up either.
“Um . . .”
“Come on, are you the Queen, or what?” he cajoled me.
Nothing. Blank. Trapped.
My friend interrupted, “Ah, but she gets to make her own rules about how she steps it up.”
I looked at her, thought about what she said. “Yeah. I get to make my own rules. And that’s rule number one to step-it-up living.”
What a great idea! Make your own rules about how you show up in your life and what you do. This simple comeback from my friend became the key I needed to fend off pushy sales people and countless others wanting to talk me into doing things or buying things that go against what’s the right path for me. So whenever I feel guilted, pressured, or smothered, I remember—I make my own rules to how I live my life.
This rule frees me up to live my life. It has also freed me from worrying if I fit in, am good enough, and so on.. Now I live the life I want to live. I’m writing the books I want to write, giving the speeches I want to give, and coaching the people I want to coach. I’m having a great step-it-up life.
So here’s a question: Do you have a similar key? Does it need sharpening? What rules do you want to make? Next time you feel pressured, guilted, or cajoled, remember that you get to make your own rules.