I recently read an article that preached that being thick skinned was for chumps. Though I highly respect every blogger’s opinion, my thinking is quite the opposite, although it certainly didn’t used to be that way, as I used to take every rejection as a personal attack.
The article talked about the necessity of being thin-skinned which will allow people to use anger to fuel their success. Again, my thinking is completely the opposite… well, now at least. What I have found is that there are several issues with using anger and revenge to fuel success but I will save that for another post.
Today, I want to talk about 7 actions you can take to help get you started growing the thick skin you need to succeed in business and in life . I challenge you to do these items on the list. If you don’t see the benefit afterwards, email me, as I want to talk to you. Not kidding. You will find my email in the contact section of this site. I will set up a short call to discuss your results from these steps and give some additional insights and exercises to practice to grow the armadillo skin you need to achieve the level of success you desire.
I challenge you to print this post, put it in front of your desk in plain sight and knock them out, one by one:
1- Write Down The Things That You Have Been Avoiding The Most And Do Them
Look at your agenda. If you don’t have an agenda, make one. Write down everything you believe you need to do today, this week and this month. Review the list and find the items on the list you very much want to put off or avoid. Copy and paste those ‘procrastination’ tasks on a separate sheet and put it in plain sight on your desk. Every day, go down the list and do one. Never go a day without doing one of your procrastination tasks.
2- Call Bill Gates
When Gary was looking to be a stockbroker back in college, he got a job at a firm and stood up on a desk and made 500 calls a day standing on top of a desk. One of his tasks each day was to ‘bag the elephant’. He was told each day to call Bill Gates and try to get him on the phone. Of course he was completely intimidated at first due to his fear of failure, but then learned to thrive on trying a new way each day to get to Mr. Gates. Though he never got Gates on the phone, that experience gave him thick skin early in his career. To this day, Gary is not afraid of calling a soul.
Try calling the person you most want or need to get into contact with. Do it each day as a practice. As they say, the prize goes to the bold… and if you do get the person on the phone, make sure you have something of value to say.
3- Approach The Un-Approachable
This one is not just about tackling hard and challenging agenda, but hits you much deeper and on a personal level. If you are single and there is a person you have always wanted to talk to but never have, the next time you see him or her, take action, engage and ask him or her out. If the person says no, are you in any worse position then you were the moment before you asked the person? Of course not. You can only benefit from this.
On the business side, this can be anyone who you need to talk to that you can benefit from (and you feel they can benefit from you). Go up to that person and do what you have to do and say what you have to say. This will give you the best chances to get what you want. Remember, You Miss Every Shot You Don’t Take .
4- Look People In The Eye Each Day
Tim Ferris in The 4-Hour Workweek gives people a practice to look strangers in the eye to try to grow thick skin. Is very uncomfortable at first, but like building a muscle, it gets stronger the more times you put in the work. Start trying to make eye contact with strangers throughout the day. If they say something negative, Ferris suggests you apologize and tell them you have mistaken them for someone else.
5- Approach 3 people a day
Ferris also believes in approaching people each day to thicken your skin. It doesn’t have to be someone you are attracted to, as the exercise is to help you gain a thick enough skin to approach anyone without getting nervous or tongue-twisted. It also gets you to think much better and quicker on your toes.
6- Make amends
Think about people who you have done wrong in your life, then contact them and apologize. In addiction, it is called making amends. I have worked with people in my homeless foundation to make amends to people who they have harmed, and I have made amends myself for any wrongs I have done to people in my short 40 (something) years on Earth.
7- Do whatever is uncomfortable
If you notice, there is a consistent pattern in all of the above actions, namely, doing what is uncomfortable. One of my favorite quotes is that “growth begins the moment you step out of your comfort zone.” So, for this final action step, write down anything else you have been putting off in any part of your life, both professionally and personally. If you haven’t mustered up the courage to go to the gym, GO TO THE GYM. Whatever it is that you have been putting off or afraid to do, the only way to do it is, well, you know the Nike slogan, I really don’t have to repeat it do I?
On a final note, you will find when you have thick skin you take the word procrastination out of your vocabulary. You will not only be unafraid to do the uncomfortable things anymore, you will actually be excited to do them, thus the discomfort will be gone. Nobody puts off something they are excited about.
So go do what you don’t want to do, go after what you want, and take every shot that you have to give yourself a chance to achieve your goals and live the life you truly want.
To read more on this topic, I recently collaborated on an article in Forbes with David K Williams on how to grow thick skin.
Have a great day!