Stranger 13. This one was a game changer for me. To begin with, I didn’t feel like I was playing the game because I went in seeking a Yes not a No. I got a No and it suddenly felt very different. I’m including this in the game and reframing the rules (hey, I’m the one playing the game, back off :))

Having done my weekly food shop I was pushing my trolley to my car and I passed by a woman not much older than myself standing alone in the corner of the car park with a trolley full of bags. I got a sense she was troubled and I smiled at her as I passed. She stared blankly at me.

I loaded my shopping in to my car and then did something I never do. I drove over to where she was, stepped out of my car and offered her a lift home. Not a huge deal, just offered her a lift. She told me she’d phoned for a taxi but they hadn’t turned up. She’d phoned again and still no sign. I told her that wherever she lived I was happy to take her home.

“I can’t get in to a car with a stranger”

“You seemed troubled, so I’m happy to help you if I can”

“I am troubled, I’m worried. I can’t walk home with all these bags”

(We were in an underground car park which was soon to be locked as it was approaching closing time)

“I don’t mind how far away you live, I’m happy to take you home, save you walking, that’s a lot of bags you’ve got.”

“I can’t get in to a car with a stranger”

I smiled and got back in my car. As I drove off I waved at her, she looked away.

Then I realised, I’ve just been rejected. And it didn’t feel nice. And the implications of why I had been rejected didn’t feel nice. I wasn’t a psychopath looking for my next victim, I was innocently offering help, she needed a lift, I was there with a car. Curiously I began to feel annoyed.

And yet of course I fully understand why she said no.

The “not nice/annoyed” feeling quickly dissipated as I realised she didn’t reject me, she rejected an idea of who I might be. In that moment I was the generic stranger. Within certain contexts saying no to the generic stranger might just save her life. Within this context it made her life just that little bit harder. We all have the right to make our lives that little bit harder.

So I got a No. And for a very fleeting moment I took it personally and I felt the slight pain of that.

On day one of this game I stated that my main intention was to seek a rejection, to become comfortable with that little word No. I now see how I’ve limited myself in my thinking. If we’re just seeking a No, once we get over the novelty of the game, there is a risk that the game itself becomes a gimmick. We get caught up in the content of the request and the intention can become lost.

If we seek a Yes just as much as a No, in fact, if we don’t seek anything, if we are willing to be so present in the moment and so vulnerable with that other person and then make our request…..what then?

This was a game changer because the rejection bothered me. How great to experience the discomfort of that little word No. And to see that discomfort as an illusion.

So to all of you who prefer to paddle in the pool of content, I hope what I request in future adventures continues to amuse and delight you. For those of you who care to plunge deeper depths, I hope you’ll be inspired by what’s to come.

About the Author

I coach high achievers in the performing arts and music industries, together with entrepreneurs and leaders in corporate. I'm drawn to work with pioneers and innovators. "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes" Marcel Proust

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