From the look of utter pain and defeat in his eyes, I knew he was telling the truth.
We sat there, across from each other in the Barnes and Noble bookstore. No matter what we did, he would not be able to approach a girl.
Earlier, I could tell we were going to have trouble when we did warm-ups.
“We’re going to the food court, ” I’d said, “but first, I want you to ask five people for directions how to get there.”
“But I feel like I’m lying. I know where the food court is.”
Social anxiety will play the strangest tricks on you.
No, it’s not a legitimate excuse. But really, are any of them?
He barely squeaked out five directions.
But when it came to just saying “Hi,” he had a total shut down. His body wouldn’t let him do it.
He had a rough day that day.
I tried to play hardball.
I tried to play softball.
I tried rapport and telling him the truth: That he is a brave brave person and that he can do it.
His body wouldn’t let him do it.
That night I talked to him. I told him he could have a refund if he wasn’t happy with his progress. He said he wanted to stay.
“I don’t know what else I can do,” he said.
He couldn’t approach women, but his rapport was superb, as good as any who had been through the workshop. Sensitive and probing, he got underneath to issues when he talked to people.
I decided the next day that I wasn’t going to pressure him. Cold approaching isn’t for everyone, and I needed to accept that, even if it was frustrating to me. He’d met people through other avenues in his life and he would continue to. We could still work together to improve.
Since we were at the mall, I decided to take him shopping and do some fashion consulting with him. We found some cool styles that suited him and got help from a cute sales clerk. He seemed to be happy with it.
Afterward he said to me “I see that that had a two-fold purpose. We got to clothes shop and I talked to that girl.”
In my mind I was a bit arrogant when he said this. “Yeah, okay…” I thought to myself. It honestly didn’t seem like much to me.
But later he relayed how much it meant to him. The look on the girl’s face when he came out in those new clothes.
We tell them during their bragging sessions how important it is to celebrate victories, to learn to celebrate even the smallest victories. Seeing the small progress this person made and seeing him count the small victories was one of the most inspiring moments for me.
Later we laid out a plan for him to leave his house every day for the next month without a watch, and ask one person for the time. Or get an opinion from one person.
I have to say this is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Seeing guys take it to the limit. Seeing them push everything, sometime succeeding, sometimes taking it as far as it can go.
And I’m there too.
All of us, trapped in our bodies, wrestling with our nature and our programming. In a struggle as beautiful as any that exists.