The Ketchup Theory


The Ketchup Theory

“I can’t!”

“You bloody can.”

“Please can you do it, I really can’t!”

“No, don’t be an arse – go!”

“I CAN’T I’ll screw it up!”

“What?! How the hell do you screw up asking for sodding ketchup?”

My sister is putting up a fight. She’s 17 and in 6 months when she turns 18 she’ll be leaving to move to Los Angeles on a scholarship…to work in the film industry as an actress and special effects artist…and we’re arguing in Burger King because she can’t ask for ketchup due to anxiety. What fresh hell is this?

I’m not sniffing at anxiety, as most of you will have noticed I talk about anxiety management a fair bit and am a fully paid up member of Neurotics Anonymous complete with jitters, rapid speech and a flair for creating a panic attack out of a vague feeling. I don’t just get anxiety, I make it a god damn art form.

However, I’m not the one about to move across the Atlantic solo, currently scared rigid in Farnborough of asking for ketchup.

Anyway, as older sisters are obligated to do, I mock her mercilessly and then I drag her up to the counter with me on the premise that she’ll just listen and learn. Learn by doing; but she doesn’t know it.

We go up, get the attention of someone and we stand there….and I say… nothing. Little sis looks urgently at me, she’s not sure what’s happening but I just raise my eyebrows at her and she’s now fully panicking realising I’ve dropped her in it. It’s open your mouth time or no ketchup – ride or die baby.

She mutters about ketchup (they give her barbeque) and she takes that and marches back to the table – hissing blue words at me as she goes. I know better than to laugh and even more so than to point out that she did it…even if the result wasn’t as tomatoey as hoped for.

I swear you’ll think there is no point to this but stick with me.

A week or so later she tells me that “something happened.”

She was out for lunch with a friend and this friend wanted….KETCHUP. She couldn’t ask for it, she told my sister. She got nervous asking for things like that. Without a seconds thought, my angsty little sister got up, strode to the counter, asked for ketchup and brought it back to her friend – no sweat. Then realised what had happened.

She couldn’t do the thing. Her friend couldn’t do the thing. When she realised her friend couldn’t do the thing, SUDDENLY SHE COULD DO THE THING.

We call this The Ketchup Theory.

You can’t do the thing.

Someone else can do the thing.

Someone else can’t do the thing.

You can do the thing.

I would apply this in everything and not just limit it to condiments but hey, you do you.

Let’s do a little practical magic and apply this to something a little more flavour of the week.

Business owner X has no idea how to do Y – she’s also terrified of trying and failing. She’s also got so many things going on she doesn’t even know how to start or where to learn skill Y. What the hell should X do?

Nobody has every skill in the book but let’s take a moment to create a network. Write down your name and something you’re good at and something you’re (apparently) bad at.

Now write down people you know and skills they have. If you asked them I’m sure they’d each say there was something they were crap at – how many of those would then be able to link to another person on your board who had that skill?

This is a face value version of The Ketchup Theory. You can’t do something, you’re scared to try, you’ve talked yourself out of pursuing it as a route for your business to venture into. Why not outsource this skill? Why not find someone who for one hour a week could do it for you OR better yet, teach you how!

Now is the time for business owner X to seek out skill owner Y or in my case the VA with the ketchup bringing skills that X needs.

It’s not a defeat to source someone who can do something well to help you with something you can’t.

Why is this like the ketchup theory? Because for every thing you can’t do that someone else can, there is something someone else can’t do BUT YOU CAN.

You may be able to whip up a coffee table from a hunk of wood but have absolutely no clue how to use social media. I can’t make a coffee table out of a hunk of wood but I can social the hell out of media.

Anyway, my sister used this theory whenever she got nervous, she would remember The Ketchup Theory and actively seek out methods of doing or getting someone else to do what she felt she couldn’t.

Oh and the nervous disposition meets LA thing?

She nailed it – she’s now a professional a burlesque dancer.


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