I’m not good at this

How often do you have the thought, “I don’t like doing this because I’m not good at this”?

I had it – viscerally – a couple weeks ago while going through the ordeal of buying a car. I had thought I was a decent negotiator, but those sales guys were owning me. I “walked away” from one dealer, thinking they would stop me and cave, but they didn’t! And I was like, “What do I do now?” So I drove around the corner so they couldn’t see the shame of my defeat and then pulled over to think.

My stomach clenched up, I felt nervous, and worst of all, inadequate. I thought, “I don’t LIKE this. I’m just not good at this kind of negotiating. I’ll just give up and take my lumps.”

And then I remembered one of the many times I had felt that feeling before – back when I started cold-pitching national media. I was basically terrified of them. Every single phone call took all the resolve I could muster. Even pressing “send” on an email gave me jitters. I would think – “I’m no good at this, I should just go back to calling local journalists I already know.”

Well, I guess it’s obvious that I didn’t quit. I realized that I was uncomfortable not because I “wasn’t good at it,” but because I just hadn’t done it that much yet. After pressing forward, it eventually wasn’t as scary to reach out.

And sitting there on the side of the road around the corner from the car dealership I realized the same thing – it wasn’t that I wasn’t “good” at buying a car. I just haven’t done it that much. So I calmed myself down and eventually arrived at a deal that worked for me and the dealer.

I don’t know if pitching sets your nerves on fire – maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But if it is scary for you, that doesn’t mean you’re not good at it. You just haven’t done it that much – or maybe you haven’t done it that much in the way that feels authentic to you.

Set aside your self-doubt and pitch anyway. Focus not on how you feel, but instead on the people who will benefit from your successes – your client (internal or external), the influencers who will have valuable content to share, and their audiences who will find it useful. Refine your approach with the lessons you’re learning here and from your own experiences. Soon the fear will dissipate. And you’ll find yourself powered by the sense of eager anticipation that precedes the thrill of winning placements.

This article was originally published on January 21, 2016

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