Fears That Don’t Go “Bump” in the Night

Posted: February 25, 2012 by sirdiggy in career news, life, social issues
Tags: , , ,

Every now and then I check out the blog site of Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Workweek.  On his blog, he features a conversation and some material from Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich (both books are New York Times bestsellers, FYI).  On Ramit’s site, he has sections dedicated to his Dream Job products/courses, which has videos that talk about mastering job interviews, negotiating starting salary, how to negotiate a raise, and so on and so forth.  I watched a few of these videos (they’re free); one in particular talks about negotiating salary – something that I’ve never done.  Ramit and one of his Dream Job partners talked about the fears people have about asking for more money – several of which I subscribe to.  But it got me thinking on a deeper level – what am I really afraid of?

In Suze Orman’s book The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, she talks about confronting one’s earliest childhood memories about the first time money had meaning to that person, particularly if it was a negative experience.  Well, I reached back into my childhood, and the realization I came through didn’t have anything (directly) to do with money, but it was a pretty damning breakthrough altogether:

I’m scared of being wrong and making a mistake…

In fact, it’s not the actual being wrong or acceptance that I will make mistakes – it’s the backlash/consequences of which that scares me.  You know what happens when you grow up as being the “smart one”?  Sure, people recognize you as being smart, but they don’t realize that being smart does not mean you won’t ever be wrong, or that you’ll make a mistake.  And when you do slip up (because yanno, being the “smart one” is in no means equivalent to being perfect), it’s like, “well you’re so smart, how come you didn’t know that?”

Let me give you two adult-life examples:

During my initial summer semester in grad school back in 2003, I hooked up a couple of times with this chick that lived about an hour away from campus.  We had met online through a webcam chat-room service a few months beforehand, and I had told her I was relocating near her way for school.  For the initial engagement, I picked her up and she spent the night in my on-campus apartment.  The second time, I spent the night at her crib after hittin’ the bar for a bit then chowing at Denny’s.  Cool and copacetic, right?

Two days after I came back from her crib, I saw her online and I naturally hit her up… only for her to respond by accusing me of raping her!  She claimed she was technically drunk when we had sex – she had maybe a drink and a half worth of Long Island Iced Tea at the bar in which afterwards we went to Denny’s eat – food sobers you up pretty good from my experiences.  Most importantly, after we got back to her crib, we fell asleep for three-plus hours before waking up to do the damn thing – it certainly was not rape.  Apparently, the woman had a reputation amongst the people who knew her online for being “whorish” and claiming outlandish shit; two nosy broads female chatters had called me to fill me in on the woman’s M.O.  They also said, “Well you’re so smart, you’re dumb…”


I mean, I never paid attention or sought out gossip on this woman or any other.  So I didn’t have a “complete scouting report” on the lady and I ended up sleeping with someone with rather whorish tendencies – fine, my bad.  Like I’m the only man – smart or dumb – to have done that.

Next example…

About seven months after I moved to Albany, I finally landed a radio gig working in promotions (which soon led me to learning the ropes as a weekend on-air talent).  Quite a few people offered me advice on how to go about my business, but one jock in particular said something that went against how I was raised and the roots of my work ethnic:

Do a good job, but not a great job.  If you do a great job, the first time you do something that isn’t great, people will look at you like ‘what happened?’

That didn’t make sense to me at the time.  Why wouldn’t I want to do a great job, to do my best?    It took me so long to get this chance – I was gonna bust it out no matter what it took.  And I did – except it didn’t matter much when I was fired in seven months for accidentally and unknowingly filling one of the station vehicles with the wrong grade of fuel.  Years  – and many conversations with the radio people I knew – later, I wondered if maybe dude had a point.  In a business that is said to set people up for failure, was it better to keep expectations modest by dumming myself down a bit?  What was the lesson to be learned: that in a business in which you’re sure to make mistakes, any one of which at any time can be cause for a pink slip?  It took me years to get over that.

Looking at the two examples, I guess it could be concluded that I’d be better off not being smart and not wanting to be great.  That way I wouldn’t deal with as much backlash to my mistakes, because not as much would be expected of me.

I can’t do that.  I’d be frontin’ on myself big time.

So if I need to get to where I need to be, I need to get over this fear of making mistakes.  I’ve already tried walking down the “safe, secure” road, and it doesn’t work for me.  I don’t have money for counseling, so I’m going to have to man up and figure out how to overcome it.

So maybe Suze Orman’s bigger point was not just defining a fear that keeps you from being more successful with money, but finding a deep-rooted fear that had been keeping you from being successful period.

Thanks Ms. Orman.


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