I said that the other day out of reflex. I hadn’t said it in a long time. I was joking around with one of my buddies, play-fighting if you will. It is one of those standard responses when someone wants something from you (even if all they want is a fight) and you are trying to motivate them to make a decision.
Normally it is two guys squared up, ready to fight. Both are willing to go the next step, but neither wants to commit to the next step on their own. But no matter what the circumstances, neither wants to take the first punch. They each want the other to make the first move so that they can react. They are waiting to follow, neither want to lead.
That strategy has always bothered me. In the schoolyard, guys would talk tough. They would bump chests, push each other, talk about each other’s mommas – they would do everything but commit to the first punch. This is what I knew of school yard fights in the 3rd grade. It took an older guy to teach me that it was the one who threw that first punch who usually came out on top. It was the guy who had the heart to act first.
R.T. was an O.G. in the literal sense. He was my best friend’s older brother. He was a gangster who worked his way to the top of the game (at the street level that is). He died around the age of 26 doing gangster shit. But before that, R.T. taught me how to fight. My dad taught me how to box, my mom taught me how to find sticks and rocks when your hands can’t do the job (see how men and women attack a problem differently?). R.T. taught me how to survive for real.
R.T. told me that if someone comes up and pushes you, you were to drop a hammer on them. There was no pushing back and getting into a tussle. I was told to hit them until I couldn’t move my arms any more – then you kick them. This is survival in the jungle. There is no such thing as a dirty or a fair fight. There was only surviving the fight. You keep moving until you can’t move anymore. That’s how you get what you want. That’s how you survive.
So, while messing around with a friend, I said “Come on man, there is nothing between us but air and opportunity” it stuck in my head. I thought about all the times I let air keep me from my goals. I let air keep me from opportunities.
I was at a high school graduation in San Diego, which was attended by Tony Robbins. You might remember Tony Robbins from his Personal Power self-improvement books and tapes and infomercials. Tony was about 12 feet away from me. I wanted to go over and shake his enormous hand (no offense Tony, if you happen to catch this, but come on man…), maybe get a picture of us together.
I don’t get squishy over celebrities (he is not the first and only one I have ever met) but this was pretty cool and I respect what he was able to do – he started out broke too. Plus he wasn’t celebrity by pretending to be someone else. He was a celebrity based on his Hustle – there is a difference.
My sister-in-law is a friend of his son’s. They went to high school together and we were all there at their high school graduation. I stood there and invented a dozen reasons to NOT go over to him just to say hi. My wife and her family tried to motivate me to go over. I said no…
“This is a personal occasion, I don’t want to bother him”
“He is with his family”
“It would be rude”
“I don’t want to interrupt”
The truth is that for some reason, walking the 12 feet to say “hi” scared me. It didn’t feel like it at the time – at the time it felt like it would be inappropriate. But now I realize that it was fear.
Admitting that you are afraid is a hard fact to swallow. I’m no punk. I have stood eyeball to eyeball with people that wanted to kill me, even shot at me. I have been surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned and survived. I have been in high-speed pursuits with the police and got away. I have looked at my family through the wrong side of wired glass. I have played with high explosives and lived. I have been through some scary stuff and have been able to keep my cool. Introducing myself to a stranger is nothing compared to that stuff. But for some reason, I seemed to care about what might happen if I went over and put out a hand to this guy.
What is the most I could have gained?
A huge contact
What is the worst that could have happened?
He could have said “Nice to meet you.” and walked away. I mean he wasn’t going to punch me in the throat for saying hi.
Afterward I told myself that this would not happen again.
So why do we do it? Why do we let the air between us and opportunity hold us back? Fear of failure? Maybe. Fear of the unknown? Are we afraid that someone who you want to meet will look at you and dismiss you as irrelevant? All of this is bullshit.
I gave this dude power over me. From 12 feet away he was controlling my actions. He didn’t even know he had pimped me. More accurately, I pimped myself.
Nothing, short of a gun to your head, should ever prevent you from advancing your hustle. Never hesitate to go up and say something to anyone. If you are at the store and you see a guy rockin a Rolex and a tight suit. Say hi. Introduce yourself. Ask what he (or she) does. Ask for a card. Write on the back of the card a quick summary of what you talked about and where you met.
Get used to doing this. I have made many contacts from chance encounters. I have boxes of business cards that I have picked up from people. If anything you will have a cool mailing list of people that you could either sell to or hit up to finance your next project. No matter what, you will build a database of people who are already on their hustle. And that is a good list to have.
Never let yourself pimp yourself. Never let air prevent you from making a move. Never let air get between you and opportunity.