You may remember I’ve written about a place called Stowmarket before.
It’s about 40 miles East of Cambridge and it’s one of those places no one ever actually goes to. You either live there or you’re passing through it.
And the only reasons you’d live there are…
- Your parents make you.
- You work in London and you want easy access to the train line.
- You were born there, you have an IQ of less than 3 and you don’t have the imagination, wherewithal, or brain cells to move your sorry arse somewhere nicer (like, say, Somalia).
And yes, I used to live there (see No. 2, above).
The house I lived in was actually very nice, and my neighbours at No. 17, having the benefit of a properly functioning genome and a family tree that didn’t involve hundreds of years of incest and inbreeding, were surprisingly nice, too.
Which brings me to Rick.
Rick was a huge bloke. Easily topping 6ft 2in and built to match. He was a power-lifter, you see, and while he was, um, somewhat “well fed”, under the fat he carried a vast amount of muscle. I’m no shrinking violet and will take on blokes much bigger than me without a qualm (just as well since I’m a fuckin’ dwarf), but I’d hate to have got into a rough and tumble with Rick.
Fortunately, though, Rick was a thoroughly decent bloke and was the stereotypical “gentle giant”. His kids loved him and I never heard him shouting or even raising his voice to anyone.
Which is why it came as such a shock and a surprise to hear the sudden high-pitched screaming coming from his garage one quiet Sunday afternoon as I pottered around in my front garden.
It was so loud and unexpected it made me jump, and I looked up just in time to see Rick come flying out of his garage shrieking in utter terror, accelerating down his drive as if chased by the Legions of Satan. He saw me on my lawn and made a bee-line for me, cowering in my shadow, keeping me firmly between him and his garage.
Fuck. Anything capable of scaring Rick like that had to be Really Fucking Scary, right?
I swallowed hard.
“Err… Rick,” I said, “what’s up, mate?”.
“Sssssspider”, he said.
I thought I must have misheard. “What?”, I said.
“A sssssspider.”, he said, panting with fear, “In there“. He pointed a shaking finger towards his garage.
I did a double take.
Item: Rick: 6ft 2in of mostly solid muscle (with some lard).
Item: Spider… this was England. Even the biggest spiders are, like, pretty fuckin’ small.
I forced back a grin and said, “Do you want me to get it out for you?”
I said, “You’ll have to show me where it is”.
He shook his head, “I’m not going back in there!”, he said.
So I shrugged, chatted with him for a while, and then carried on with my day, while Rick went back into his house, presumably to get his wife to mop his fevered brow.
Now, it’s easy to laugh at this kind of thing, but there’s a serious point in there for us.
See, when you feel fear, it’s real. It doesn’t matter it’s just an emotion and thus, by definition, resides only in the confines of your own skull — as far as your mind and body are concerned it’s a real threat. In this case the fear was of a teeny-tiny little spider. But most of us have equally irrational fears — public speaking, flying, open spaces. All utterly irrational and even laughable to those who don’t share your fear… but to you… fuckin’ nightmare.
Much of what holds you back in business and marketing is down to the irrational fear of looking dumb in front of your staff, colleagues, friends, family, customers, clients, and competitors.
Alas, you won’t achieve much of anything if you let these things control you.
It’s OK to feel fear; it’s folly to let it control you. This is particularly important in business where the irrational fear of doing things differently form the norm pretty much compel you to follow the majority — and get the results you’d expect from doing that (clue: 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 5 years, so taking the road most often travelled doesn’t seem to be a particularly good idea to me).
On the other hand… sll sorts of businesses are making money from my free 52 Ideas seriesfrom lawyers and accountants, to software engineers and arse-whacking Disciplinarians.
The two things they have in common are a determination to succeed, and a willingness to look at their businesses in a slightly different way from the norm.
So… keep doing what you’ve always done and keep getting what you’ve always got… or click here and look at things in a slightly different way.