A few weeks ago, I attended my first social networking meeting in many years. I was inwardly uncomfortable from the second I arrived. Though I concealed it fairly well, my inward awkwardness prevented me from taking advantage of a host of opportunities that presented themselves.
I did speak with many people, mainly because they approached me, however I was unable to initiate conversation myself. I collected several business cards and only realize a week later that I hadn’t followed up on any of the contacts. I had been so impressed by having taken the action to drive to another city and mingle with strangers that I thought I had accomplished my mission. But my mission was to gather clients for my consulting business and in that I failed.
During the gathering, which took place in an upscale bar, a place I would never choose to be on my own, there was time allocated for the more aggressive business people to introduce themselves to the group. I forced myself to be one of the people who was called on to speak. I saw myself, incredulously, leaning against the bar, introducing myself and discussing my business. As my mind began to cloud over, I forgot half of what I should have said about the benefits of my practice. My attempt at humor was feeble, and may well a been misunderstood by many, but surprisingly I didn’t care.
In retrospect, I still don’t care whether they thought I was a rebel or a clown. These people meant nothing to me, they were strangers, extras in the movie of my life. What I care about is my own failure to take that opportunity, post speaking, to converse with the people who expressed an interest in my services. All I wanted to do was to withdraw an escape. I was spent. There was nothing left to draw on. I just wanted to go home, and after sequestering myself in a corner of the bar as I suck down my third or fourth Cola, I did just that.
Today there was a scheduled network meeting at lunchtime in a bar in my own town. I knew I should attend. I woke myself up early enough so that I could make the meeting. Instead I chose to work on my websites. Working on my sites is important, however considering the urgency of my finances, acquiring new clients was certainly a higher priority. I chose to avoid a situation that was uncomfortable and rationalized the decision.
I will be productive today. I will work in solitude until I drop, but I know that the thing I really should have done, was to attend that meeting and seek out an immediate income source. I know I didn’t because I would find the situation unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
There’s an ancient parable where the spiritual master encounters his disciple furiously searching in the grass and asks: “What are you doing?” “Master I lost the keys to the temple.” “Where did you lose them?” Asked the Master.
“Well”, said the student, “I’m pretty sure I lost them in the temple but there’s so much more light out here.”