138. Face your fear and watch it disappear.

The experts tell us the quality of our lives is the quality of our relationships.

I believe there is a great deal of truth to this assertion and it strikes me as odd the number of people I meet or talk to who want to expand their circle of friends and yet seem unsure how best to proceed.

Last week we introduced The Habit of Meeting One New Acquaintance Every Day and we talked about taking the time each day to introduce ourselves and strike up a conversation with a stranger for the simple reason of not knowing what may transpire.

We never know whether the person standing next to us in the elevator could possibly become a lifelong friend whose company we enjoy immensely and we will never know unless we make a point of saying something.

The Habit of Meeting One New Acquaintance Every Day does not ensure that your circle of friends will increase by 365 each year but it does, however, lead us to many interesting exchanges that we would be otherwise denying ourselves by not taking a moment to talk to as many strangers as possible.

The number one reason that prevents us from doing this is both inane and irrational. It is our fear of being rejected. It is interesting to note that this fear of rejection will prevent us from talking to a stranger who, in the in the event they do indeed ignore or reject us, we will never see or interact with ever again.

It is perplexing how crippling this fear of rejection is to some poor folks. The anxiety caused by this has cost many tens of thousands of people the potential to build highly productive and lucrative careers for themselves while also denying them the opportunity of exploring potentially worthwhile relationships.

In my own life, I attempt, often without success, to practice what I preach and so for the last week I have made it a point of striking up – or attempting to – a conversation with everyone I meet or encounter. This has included talking to people in elevators – somewhat uncomfortable as our personal space is rather limited – stopping people on the street and even, on one occasion, going over to two strangers sitting at a table in a restaurant and starting a conversation.

I would be lying if I said I faced these tasks fearlessly but I learned many years ago that the best way to overcome any fear is to do the very things that causes that fear.

That is what I did and while I cannot report successful outcomes each time, I can tell you that yesterday afternoon one of those people came to my office to meet with me and is now a potential new client.

Most people I approached were friendly but (understandably) guarded. I had three very pleasant chats and only one person told me to pound sand.

What was most interesting was the lesson that we should all heed.

By doing the very things we fear and that make us uncomfortable, we learn the fears we have are largely unfounded and the outcomes we fear will almost never materialize.

Which means The Habit of Meeting One New Acquaintance Every Day will not only expand our circle of friends, it will make us better equipped to deal with discomfort.

I think that’s called a twofer.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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