a woman stepping forward on a hill with grass
One step forward

Take Any Step Forward

by Ron Rex

Perhaps a new view is needed…

Research documents that as a human being, we can only entertain one emotion at a time. Perhaps that explains why sometimes we get stuck in an emotional state as a personality trait, even if the emotion is not in our interest. So how do we get unstuck? How do we, as human beings, move forward towards self-confidence and the ability to interact with other people? Our business consultant, Ron Rex, shares his journey in this blog from a crippling shyness to a confident ability to function in a sales and marketing role.

“Sometime back, many years ago, I found myself stuck in insecurity, anxiety and feeling paralyzed in everyday, normal interactions with people; not a good place for anyone as my average day required interaction with people. This emotional handicap only multiplies when you are asked to lead people, and to do so, you must be in communication mode and interact with them most of the time.

“Leaving a law enforcement career in the early 1980’s and going into a sales profession only compounded the issue of unconfident interactions. You might wonder how an unassertive person could be a police officer. That’s a different story but very related. When I went to my new company’s three-week sales training school, I came out of it on the “most likely to fail” list. I did not participate in the training and discussion during the entire time in training. I became acutely aware that something needed to change if I was to be successful, and more importantly, did not want to be miserable in a job.

“This led me to engage in an assertiveness training program with a coach who represented themself as a pathway to freedom from anxiousness and hesitance in interacting with people. Very quickly this program focused on the fact that the path to successful relationships was to trade off the negative emotions for positive ones. That sounded easy to say but I just knew it would be very hard to do. My coach was smart enough to tell me… “don’t try to take the full step all at once.” In other words, don’t define your progress in only a win-lose equation but give yourself room to switch emotional reactions to an easier, simpler step to take. In the world of psychology this is referred to as emotional shaping; staying on course yet not seeing it only as a win-lose journey.

“My coach’s advice made sense and deeply interested me. I began reading everything I could on the topic of unassertiveness. I consumed every piece of information on the psychological dilemma I could. I began to discuss the challenges of assertiveness more openly with my coach or anyone else who would listen. In short, instead of holding myself to a success equation of being able to go from shy and reluctant to boldly interacting with others, I had traded the emotions of being shy, insecure, unassertive, and worrisome to a deep “interest” in the “why” behind those emotional burdens of being socially uncomfortable.

“Well, guess what?! Holding “interest” in a topic or situation is an emotion. Remember, you can only hold one emotion at a time. I traded anxiety not for its opposites like confidence and self-assuredness, but for “interest.” I think the world of psychology sometimes sets the bar for change too high. Perhaps an alternative, more natural step forward can speed your success forward as you lead others to having a deeper level of confidence in themselves. I recommend defining your interpersonal challenges and be profoundly “interested” into why they exist. Let “interest” be your daily emotion. It adds energy to your life!”


Ron Rex stayed in that new sales arena and the new F100 company for twenty-five years; the last ten of which were served as an elected officer of that firm. After the corporate career, Ron went on to hold a professor position at a university teaching on organizational behavior focused on the success of individuals as they help companies achieve their goals. Today Ron teaches part time and consults with a variety of business owners on success maneuvers.