Last week, I was sitting with a friend in a large Starbucks in midtown Manhattan. My friend had recently gotten back from Latin America. He was full of stories of his hedonistic adventures in Colombia and Argentina. I was excitingly listening, and even reminiscing about my own fantastic years in Latin America.
Suddenly, his eyes drifted to the back of the coffee shop. He stopped talking and appeared to be admiring something. I smiled, turned around and noticed a cute girl sitting and reading a book. She was sitting around half way towards the back window, 3-4 tables from us.
“Cute girl, and she is reading a history book!” my friend excitedly said.
I turned around and squinted my eyes, trying hard to read the title of the book she was reading. Finally, as she slightly twisted the cover in my direction, I caught the title: The Norman Conquest.
My friend, a self-proclaimed history and military nut, naturally became curious. After all, here was a cute girl reading a history book, a very rare occurrence indeed in this age of Kindles, Laptops and iPhones. My friend was intrigued. I was intrigued, although admittedly not as much as my friend.
Not giving it further thought, I buried my head back into my laptop and continued working on my new web application.
A minute later, I looked up and noticed my friend still looking at her, no doubt still mesmerized by what he was seeing.
“Why don’t you go over there and ask her about the book?” I finally asked him, which in my opinion, was one of those super obvious questions that didn’t need to be asked. “How else would you know why she is reading it?”
My friend looked at me. I noticed fear slowly filling his eyes. He turned pale. His body was slowly shrinking in the wooden chair. His brain was racing 200 miles per hour to come with an answer, most likely an excuse or an elaborate rationalization.
I know exactly what he was going through, and that’s why I didn’t take my peremptory gaze off him. I wanted him to feel pressure. He felt it. He remained silent. His eyes darted all around me as he struggled to come up with an answer that would both please me and convince him.
“I don’t know man, she isn’t really my type,” he finally uttered the most common excuse since the beginning of The History Of Mankind.
Having heard this excuse about a billion or a trillion times, I had already in my arsenal the right response.
“Good, then don’t flirt with her. Don’t ask for her number. Ask her about the book. Maybe you’ll learn something new,” I immediately countered, not taking my gaze of him.
He took few more seconds before formulating a response. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
Finally, he blurted out something. I thought it was vomit, it looked like vomit, but it was actually worse: another excuse.
“Dude, I came here to relax and chill, and that’s what I wanna do,” was his final answer.
He was rapidly becoming defensive.
I looked at him. He continued to slowly shrink in his seat, until sooner or later he would disappear altogether. He was suffering. He knew perfectly well that the last few statements were blatant lies, lies to me and lies to himself. There was tension. His bones turned into water. A puddle formed under his chair. I began to highly doubt his stories of debauchary in Latin America.
Feeling disgusted with what I just witnessed, I got up, and walked towards her table. Once I reached it, I stopped, and, while standing, asked her about the book. She smiled, looked at the book, looked at me, and in a calm tone began telling me a bit about the book. I took the book, flipped through it, and asked her various questions about it and why she was reading it.
After patiently listening to her responses, my sixth sense informed me that she was up for more conversation, so I grabbed the empty chair nearby and sat down. Initial conversation gave way to a more topics. After some time, I politely excused myself and went back to my table. She smiled and said good-bye, but I couldn’t help noticing a bit of a disappointment in her eyes.
“So, how did it go?” My friend eagerly asked. Large drops of saliva were falling from his mouth onto the table.
“It went well.”
“Did you get her number?”
“Because I didn’t want it.”
Here’s how I saw it: I was curious about a topic. I saw a girl reading a book about it. So I came over and asked her about it. That’s it.
But most guys will never do something like that in their whole lives. They will hide behind excuses and rationalizations.
“She is not my type.”
“I don’t have time.”
“She looks busy.”
“I just want to chill and relax.”
“She’s too ugly.”
“I don’t wanna pickup girls in coffee shops.”
“I’m going home.”
If you peel away each and every one of this excuses — and it’s very easy to do that — what you begin to see is a man without a backbone, a man without guts, a man who wants something but lacks the capability of actually getting it.
And the absolute worst thing in the world is when a man begins to rationalize and justify his inability to do something because of the lack of will.
From my point of view, there are two reasons which could’ve prevented my friend from achieving the necessary task. The first reason is because he couldn’t physically reach the person. Maybe there was a tall concrete wall behind him and he didn’t have his Spiderman climbing gear. Maybe the person he was trying to reach was in a house guarded by a well-armed paramilitary militia with semi-automatic weapons. He couldn’t reach this person in order to ask the question. It was not physically possible.
The second reason is because of something specific with my friend. Maybe his legs were tired because he ran a marathon the previous day and couldn’t stand up. Maybe he was sick and didn’t feel well. Maybe he had a throat infection and couldn’t talk.
Other than the above reasons, I can’t think of anything else that would’ve prevented him from doing what he needed to do.
Now, here’s something about this situation you probably never realized: it has nothing to do with the girl; it has nothing to do with getting laid; it has nothing to do with game; it has nothing to do with success or rejection; it has nothing to do with getting a number.
The only thing it has to do is will. Yes, the will to act upon your own needs or desires, such as obtaining some information from another human being that you find valuable.
Of course, if my friend couldn’t care less about the girl or the book she was reading, then there would be no point of talking to her, and I wouldn’t be writing this article. But my friend was intrigued and he was a history buff who was genuinely curious as to why some girl was reading that specific history book. That’s why my friend’s inability to ask another human being something he wanted to know is completely unacceptable.
As I sat there in Starbucks, I remembered a similar experience in another coffee shop a couple of months before. One sunny afternoon I was sitting in a local coffee shop in Dumbo (Brooklyn) with a friend who recently launched a mobile app marketing company. We were sipping our expensive artesian teas and bullshitting about random travel stories.
Three tables away, at a large communal table sat three guys with about five laptops and some tablets. They were talking about their new mobile startup. My friend, who does mobile marketing, overheard the conversation. After several minutes of listening, he smiled and approached the table. He told them that he overheard them talking about mobile apps, and wanted to learn more about their business. He sat down, and few minutes later motioned me over to join them.
We ended up sitting with them for thirty to forty minutes. What was the outcome? Actually I don’t really remember. Doesn’t matter anyway. But could you really call someone a CEO who doesn’t have the guts to come over to a set of prospective customers? After all, isn’t it what his job really is: to sell his company’s products, to meet new people, but above all, to foster relationships. And how can you create a relationship with someone if you don’t come up to them and start a conversation? You can’t. You either try to sell your company’s products or you don’t. You open your mouth or you don’t. It’s that simple.
Why is coming up to a random person who might have information for something you need an answer to at a coffee shop (or anywhere else) a big deal? Because it is a big deal. Because if you don’t have the will to ask someone for a piece of information, then you don’t have the will to be successful since being successful is itself dependent on obtaining useful information anywhere and anytime where it might suddenly present itself. It’s dependent on getting up, walking over to the person, and asking them a specific question. Success is literally defined by having continuous will to act on your needs and desires.
Motivation is dead. Mentorship is dead. Personal development is dead. A life coach ain’t gonna help you. A guru ain’t gonna help you. A master class ain’t gonna save you. No one cares if you need or want or desire something. You must go and get it. It ain’t just going to magically appear on your lap.
If I want to buy bread, I go to a bakery.
If I want to buy shoes, I go to a shoe store.
If I want to go watch a movie, I go to the movie theater.
If I want to ravish a girl’s body, I go to a bar.
If I want to stay in shape, I do pushups and sit-ups every morning.
If I want to have endurance, I run few miles in the evening.
If I want to go to Brazil, I go to the airport.
If I want to swim, I go to a beach.
If I want to make money, I pitch my services to anyone who might be interested in what I’m selling.
If I want to know why is a cutie reading a history book, I go and ask her.
That’s what I do — That’s what I have to do. No one else is going to do it for me.
If I want something, I go and get it.
And if you can’t do that; if you can’t come up to a bunch of prospective customers for your company at a coffee shop; if you can’t physically come to a cute girl who’s reading a history book, then the question becomes: what are you capable of doing? Humor me. Because I’m doubtful. And, seeing that you’re stumped, I’m not the only one.
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