Pick me! Being the best

Thursday, July 4, 2013 Permalink

I had a session with my life coach Karen last week and we talked about the fact that I’m struggling to pursue my business interests.

When I finished work and moved I had a vague plan to try to earn some money from blogging and writing; and supplement that with part-time work (ideally something mindless or unrelated to my previous life).

So… after moving I registered a business name, so I could invoice clients and claim expenses and so forth. But at some point between December last year and early this year, I seem to have (almost unconsciously) decided that I had to focus on making money from my ‘business’. And… as a result, I’ve felt like an abject failure.

I’m not good at ‘touting’ for business or clients.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an excellent schmoozer and networker, but I’m bad at the hard-sell.

I hate the notion of ‘asking’ for stuff; even if I’m the one with something to offer. In my little mind, approaching clients for business is like asking for a favour. It reeks of desperation. It feels ‘needy’.

Even worse, it feels like forcing something on others which they may not want.

I told Karen that I actually hoped that I got an okay part-time job soon so I could drop the whole ‘having my own business’ thing and just do a bit of paid and sponsored blogging.

It’s not like I don’t have business ideas. I have a heap. I look at certain local companies and think how they’d benefit from using social media, or the fact that they need someone to update their websites or blogs or edit their magazines or newsletters. I would love to be paid to write blog posts for the local newspaper. But… I balk at the notion of approaching ANYONE suggesting that I could indeed save them from themselves or how much they’d benefit from my help.

Karen was effusive about my ideas and we discussed my struggle to pursue them.

“I’m not sure what it is,” I told her.

We talked about my fear of failure, or of rejection. We talked about my fear of success. We also talked about my concern at selling myself as THE BEST person do be doing the task at hand.

“I can’t tell people they should use me cos, what if I’m not the best,” I said to Karen. I’d feel bad if I was short-changing a client. “What if there are people better?”

“Are there?” she asked me.

I had to admit that I wasn’t sure. I’m in a small town, the talent pool is kinda limited. I’m not directly comparing myself to anyone in particular. (And my dad’s voice echoes in my head, reminding me that – no matter how good we are, there will ALWAYS eventually be someone better.)

Karen suggested that – even if there were others who could do (whatever it was I’m saying I can do) better – if I’m the one with the idea/s, surely that’s all that matters.

This being-in-business business (even to the extent I am; which is ‘sort-of’) is a whole new world. I told Karen I didn’t really suffer the same dilemma when employed by others. In those cases, a company identifies a need; I (and others) apply; and if I get the job it’s because OTHERS think that I’m best candidate. It’s not just my word!

Which brought us back to a whole new (but recurring) subject and issue – the fact that many of us (myself most definitely included) rely on others/external sources for validation. *Sigh*

Do you ever have similar struggles: putting yourself forward for something which (you worry) others could possibly do better?


  • Jess
    July 4, 2013

    Yeah I totally get this! I think it is a bit of an Australian thing to sort of not want to hard sell (especially yourself) and not want to put yourself out there as the best. When I was in the States most of the jobs I did had a hard selling aspect. Personal training I had to sell myself and I felt like a tosser doing it even though I genuinely felt I could make a difference. But my colleagues and no problems with it and had spiels about themselves down pat. And all sorts of responses to rejections, whereas I felt like it was pushy and embarrassing.

    • Debbish
      July 5, 2013

      Oh absolutely. I spent a year in the private sector (about 11-12 years ago) and there was an expectation I would be liaising with colleagues from my former department so I knew about upcoming contracts etc. I couldn’t help remembering how I’d perceived the ‘carpet-baggers’ when I was in their position, so found it really hard!

  • Char
    July 4, 2013

    I relate to everything you’ve written here. I have my own business but I’ve struggled to put myself out there. Luckily word of mouth managed to bring me enough work to keep the wolf from the door but some of those old reliables have stopped coming over the years and I’ve found myself with a lot more time on my hands during some months of the year. And I have no idea how to go about marketing myself – don’t know if I even want to because I really don’t want to be too busy.

    I too would love to blog for a newspaper or magazine but don’t have the confidence to put myself out there. I get told all the time that I write well – but by friends and that’s what friends are supposed to say. Rejection isn’t something that’s easy to take so it’s much more comfortable to not put myself out there.

    • Debbish
      July 5, 2013

      Yes Char… I suspect there’s that comfort element. And I’m the same – it’s one thing for my mother to tell me she thinks I write well, but that doesn’t mean I actually do!

  • Satu
    July 4, 2013

    I do get you, but I still think you approach the thing from a wrong angle. 🙂

    If you think you have something to offer to some company, you should write out in detail how you could help/benefit their business. It’s a better angle than the “am I the best angle” that get’s you (or helps those businesses) nowhere.

    • Debbish
      July 5, 2013

      True Satu – and I was being a bit glib. Since setting up the ‘business’ I’ve only approached one potential client (by email) and did set out a ‘why your company needs me’ case. I got a ‘not-interested’ response, but a very polite one and they commented on my professional approach. (Naturally I wondered initially if they were being patronising….)


  • Vicki
    July 5, 2013

    I hear everything you are saying … coming from me who is supposed to be starting up her own business right now .. I am slowly learning that I need to be a bit for “forward” when offering my services!

    • Debbish
      July 6, 2013

      Yes… perhaps it just takes time!

  • Katy Potaty
    July 5, 2013

    I completely understand how you feel. I often struggle to put forward my skills when people are in need of them, thinking that I’m not enough of a ‘professional’ for them.

    My advice (if only I could take it myself…!) I think you should grab every opportunity for income and just RUN WITH IT!

    • Debbish
      July 6, 2013

      I don’t worry as much about the professional part (I don’t think….) just the putting myself forward bit!

      PS. Will try to heed the ‘run with it’ advice. 😉

  • Lou lou
    July 6, 2013

    Once when I was feeling like this I was told to read the feel the fear and do it anyway by s Jeffers. It changed my life!!! If you send me your address I’ll gladly send you a copy!

    • Debbish
      July 6, 2013

      I can buy / borrow a copy Lou Lou, you don’t have to send me one!!! Love that it changed your life!

  • Jo Tracey
    July 7, 2013

    As you know, I totally get where you’re coming from. I guess the thing is, there may be better people out there, but if they’re not offering their services…I’m struggling at the moment with the same concept re some travel article pitches I know I need to make, but haven’t done so for the same reason. For some reason, because they mean so much, the prospect of rejection frightens me more than the other stuff I pitch for. Weird, I know.

    • Debbish
      July 7, 2013

      Oh yes, I get that some mean more than others!


  • Julia
    July 11, 2013

    To be honest, this topic resonates with me greatly. Just like many other people, I rely on externl sources of validation. For unknown reasons, I need external sources for validation of my success and talents. And yes, I always think what if there’s somebody more talented than me out there or what if I could actually do better than now. Thanks for this food for thought

    • Debbish
      July 13, 2013

      You’re very welcome Julia. I’ve actually just done another post about the very issue of rejection and the perception of others!!!


  • Sonya Richi
    December 25, 2015

    Hi! Thank for this great info! I have to say, that for me need confirmation of my success! Even sometimes I need someone to approve of my derection where I was going! Perhaps if I find reason that no longer have to prove anything to anyone! Thanks onec again!

  • Jerry Mainscret
    January 26, 2016

    Oh, thanks for sharing Debbish! Hard-selling is my weak point too. Unfortunately I’m bad barger) We should keep trying, don’t you think so?

    • Debbish
      January 28, 2016

      Oh, absolutely… practice makes perfect… #orsomething 🙂

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