A lot of people are afraid of doing things that are unconventional. This fear holds them back from achieving more. They might be too uncomfortable to ask for a raise, for example, or unwilling to start a business because they’re afraid no one will use their product.
He came up with something called the “Stranger Challenge” and the “Coffee Challenge.” Both are designed to help the challengers learn more about themselves and grow.
The Stranger Challenge is a series of “failure games” that encourage people to do things they normally wouldn’t, such as high-five or take a photo with a random person on the street.
The Coffee Challenge is one of Kagan’s favourite Stranger Challenges. It encourages people to walk into a coffee shop and ask for 10% off their purchase and wait for a reaction.
“We have a thing called the Coffee Challenge,” Kagan tells James Altucher in a recent podcast. “You have to ask for 10% off at a coffee store. Any coffee store. Get a muffin, ask for 10% off. Most people will make an excuse. ‘Oh, I’ve already done sales for five years.’ ‘Oh, I’m not afraid of doing that.’ ‘Oh, I don’t need a discount, I have money.’ But if you go ahead and ask for 10% off coffee, I guarantee that you will learn something about yourself that will surprise you.”
Another challenge he suggests everyone do at least once is to sit in the wrong seat at an event or on an aeroplane. Not to be a jerk, but to test yourself and overcome fear.
“The next time you are flying or have a ticket for an event, sit in the wrong seat,” Kagan says. “I did it and it’s definitely uncomfortable. The point is not to be an arse; it’s not to be rude. The point is to follow through, be a little uncomfortable, and grow…if you’re doing what everyone else is doing you’re not going to get what you want. How are you going to win [that way]? If you have a little discomfort, that’s the moment you start growing and learning. You find it’s not as bad as it seems. You find out, ‘Hey I’m still alive’…A lot of people psych themselves out before they even start.”
Here’s a video of one person who took Kagan up on the Coffee Challenge. The audio is a little tough to hear, but he managed to get his $US3 tea for $US2.80 simply by asking and negotiating.
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