“Success is in your hands, not in the whims of others.”

In life and in business, other people often make us uncomfortable … or nervous to the point of anxiety. It covers the spectrum of interactions: from our supervisors at work to people we don’t know at parties … popular people from school or the office, love interests, and even celebrities.

Understand, it is natural to feel intimidated sometimes. Often people we look up to—or those who we just don’t know who seem “calm, cool & collected”—can bring up feelings we harbor about ourselves that we are not good enough, smart enough, interesting enough. The good news is, you are. We are all made from the same source and the truth is—and this is repeated in many spiritual scriptures “we are all special and we are all not special.” We are all equal, my friends. BETTER YET: we are also beautifully different from one another, too—which means all of us have some unique value and flavor to add to a conversation or social setting. If only we really knew and believed this!

I’m asked to speak at high schools and colleges two or three times a month … and in some way, shape or form, young adults want to talk about how I approach “face-to-face” meetings. Many admittedly are deficient in this arena because technology has over ridden their lives and they’d rather “text” than talk. Understandably,  they look for tips and want to know how I have overcome any “fear of intimidation.”

I share with these young adults:

Here are some reasons why other people should NOT intimidate you:

1.       It’s YOU, not them.

The fear of others is generated within us, not by the person in question. And realizing this helps us release it.

2.       We all have faults, fears and insecurities.

The infamous Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort said in his memoir, “I’m insecure and humble, and I embarrass easily… But I refuse to show it. If I had to choose between embarrassment and death, I’d choose death. So, yeah, I’m a weak, imperfect person.”

HOW ABOUT THAT? Even Wall Street wolves get scared!

3.       People are just people.

I really found this to be true on three particular, separate occasions. One was in New York City. I met Jeff Gordon. As a fan of any sport, something came over me and I introduced myself to him with little more than a smile, and a “Hey, aren’t you Jeff Gordon?” He was such a southern gentleman! He even answered my silly question—I asked “After a 500 mile race at 200 miles per hour, is it hard to drive the speed limit when you leave the track and drive home?” I was sincere, but it hindsight, it’s a dumb question. He said with a smile … “It sure is!” It was a dumb questions because he has a driver who drives his bus to the next race once the race he was in is over. Duh!

The other was at ESPN where I met Kenny Chesney. Similarly, I introduced myself and he was very warm and humble. It was quick, but very natural, and yet, his stage persona was the opposite of his off stage one. Most people—including famous people—are cool!

The third occasion was when I volunteered my time and phone number to a beautiful stranger in a mall. She is now my wife!

4.       Other people are nervous, too.

You might be the one that comes off intimidating. Ever thought of that? Shyness is misunderstood as aloofness all the time. A friend of a friend of mine who appears standoffish confided that he is introverted and loves it when people take the initiative and interact with him. When I shared that he does come across as a little aloof, he was surprised as it is the opposite of his intention. Sometimes, if you make the first social move and say “hello,” you might be eradicating two people’s nerves.

5.       You are giving power over to your ego when you worry or overthink the situation.

Intimidation/nerves/anxiety is your lower self talking. Or as one woman remarked, “tell the obnoxious roommate in your head that they have been evicted!”

6.       What is the worst that can happen?

Someone might have given you the brush-off. So what? ‘So what’ is one of the greatest things you can ask yourself in this world. As a business professional that goes to a lot of networking events, I have been given the brush-off more times than I can count. It neighbors in the hundreds. As far as I am aware, I am still alive and well (and certainly more successful as a result of still ‘grinding’ every day).

7.       What is the best that can happen?

You might establish a new friendship, build a new career connection … even get a date! The opportunities are abundant when you stop allowing fear to get the better of you.

Nothing made the need for this document more clear than when an old friend recently told my wife he thought I was intimidating. “Wait, me? Super friendly, interesting guy from a small town … ME?”

Like our values, the qualities that intimidate each of us vary for everyone. Well here is one universal truth, amazingly expressed by Eleanor Roosevelt when she remarked, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

And I don’t need to meet you to know that there is nothing inferior about you, my friends.       Be blessed always …