I have gone from being The Idea Guy to being timid and afraid to trying new things at the office

When I was teaching, I revamped the curriculum for several of my classes to great effect (significant increases in enrollment).  Then when I went into Corporate America, I couldn’t believe how uncreative and lethargic everyone was.  Basically, one company or SVP would roll something out, then everyone would copy that.  How boring that was, so I started proposing lots of new ideas.  I even went so far to proposing an idea a month to our SVP (of a Fortune 500 company), who called me The Idea Guy during a speech in front of 500+ people, basically encouraging others to do the same.  Sometimes my ideas were marketing ideas, and sometimes they were product ideas (my favorite was the watch that would detect a heart attack and the bra that would detect rape, both of which were sent to me years later by peers after other startups got funding for similar ideas).

Sometimes this got me into trouble, and sometimes it had great effect (I made good extra money working on marketing on the side and a few of my ideas got me a few extra contracts).  But the past few years, with my illness combined with working for two awful companies in a row, I am afraid. I am afraid to propose something silly then have it cost me my job.  In short, my confidence is tattered.  I’ve got to get it back. One of the things that made me effective was no fear – if a wild idea got me in hot water, no big deal, off to the next one.  It hurt me a few times, but more often than not it gave me an edge.  

I have gone from being The Idea Guy to being timid and afraid to trying new things at the office

Illness made me more comfortable emailing Decision Makers and using my full name.

Part of my job as a Sales Person is reaching out to “new” Decision Makers.  It is a part of the job that most experienced sales people hate, but honestly it is an important part of keeping revenue potential high when you/I don’t work for a big and established firm.  Before my illness, I never used my last name (“Hi, this is Robert with ABC Company”) when I called, and never emailed someone I hadn’t met before – primarily because I didn’t want someone recognizing my name in a personal setting (a fear of at a dinner party someone saying, “Hey, I know you, aren’t you that sales person who called and emailed me last week?”).   But my potentially fatal illness a few years ago changed that – now I am okay emailing strangers, and using my full name when I call someone.  Why? Because everything in life is so temporary, and at the end of the day, no one’s opinion really matters any more (note: I still do the ethical thing, but not because I fear being judged — I do it because it is how I am wired to be).  That summer when I was coming off treatment, when I didn’t know yet if I would survive, the world seemed like a shadow and I didn’t feel like I belong in the world; for the most part that has passed, but in some ways I still maintain that couldn’t-care-less-what-you-think  mentality.  HOnestly, it’s quite pleasant and yet another gift my illness bestowed upon me.

Illness made me more comfortable emailing Decision Makers and using my full name.