Rejection – the driving force behind so many of our fears. The reason we’re afraid to audition for that part, apply for that job, or ask out that person we’ve been crushing on from afar for months, or even years. Though we avoid it like the plague, rejection can actually be a catalyst to get us to where we’re really supposed to be, and to help us become who we’re really supposed to be. Rejection, if approached with the right attitude, is actually pretty great, despite how crappy it feels.
Rejection is inevitable
Every now and then I’ll watch one of those entertainment news shows while eating dinner, and catch some random movie star’s interview; one thing I’ve heard them always talk about is the sheer amount of times they were rejected before they ever landed a big movie deal.
Another popular example I’ve heard several times is that of Colonel Sanders, the man who created the ‘finger lickin’ good’ fried chicken recipe that turned Kentucky Fried Chicken into a household brand. Legend has it that at the age of 65, Sanders drove from house to house, meeting to meeting, trying desperately to find someone to partner with him to market and sell his famous fried chicken. He was rejected 1,009 times before he heard his first ‘yes’! Now, that’s persistence.
If you want to accomplish or pursue anything worth your blood, sweat, and tears, begin by understanding and settling in your mind (and heart) that not everyone will understand your vision, agree with your mission, or even appreciate your drive. As such, rejection is inevitable, and we have to come to terms with that if we’re going to keep on track and not falter in reaching our goals.
Rejection can be good for you
I’ve come to learn that although rejection hurts, it can actually be good for me; I just had to shift my attitude around it.
I often talk about my experience of applying to med school, twice, and getting rejected right out the gate both times. Now, nearly 6 years later, I realize I would have been a terrible doctor. I discovered how much I truly don’t care about medicine, especially the bureaucracy of public health care, and that I only really wanted to follow that path because I enjoy meeting new people and having my own office. Needless to say, I’m so glad I got rejected from med school – that would have been a long, hard four years of grueling school work, followed by an even more grueling residency, only to eventually land me a job I was going to hate.
Since then, I’ve faced numerous rejections as I’ve applied for jobs in writing and marketing, having no “traditional education” in that field (ridiculous!). I’ve been rejected from projects that I’ve wanted to work on, brands and companies I’ve wanted to partner with, people I’ve wanted to meet and interview…the list goes on.
But, despite the sting that comes with rejection, I’ve decided that I’m not going to let rejections ever stop me from keeping on; I’ve understood that for every ‘no’, it’s only leading me closer and closer to my ‘yes’. Shift your attitude to seeing rejections as a step forward, rather than backwards. It’s actually bringing you closer to your big breakthrough, so keep going!
Use rejection as a tool
Rejections can be a valuable tool in shaping you to become a better, stronger, smarter, more efficient, and productive person. Use rejections as a means for improvement.
Here are some ways of dealing with rejection in a productive way:
Ask for honest feedback.
This can be very difficult because your emotions and pride are so closely linked with the fact that you put yourself out there for that job, that partnership, or that meeting with a potential client. Ask them for honest feedback about your performance and ask for specific reasons why you were rejected or passed over. Make sure you approach this with courage and professionalism, without fragile emotion, and with a receptive attitude that’s eager to learn and grow. Anything less than that might come across as desperate and even sad, definitely not that way you want to be perceived or remembered.
Implement the feedback you were given.
Don’t bother going out of your way to ask for feedback if you aren’t prepared to receive and actually implement it. Of course, not everything you’re told may be relevant, but have the wisdom to take the constructive criticism with a thick skin and use it to make yourself better, and a greater force to be reckoned with.
A ‘no’ today may turn into a ‘yes’ tomorrow. Nothing is ever a complete dead end. Use the feedback you’ve been given, improve on the areas in your life that need some tending to, and don’t be afraid to try again. Apply for another position with that same company, pursue that client again with a new angle, or request another meeting with that person, but this time with a new proposal. Maximize the work you put in before, and capitalize on it when the time is right, when you’ve got a little bit more experience and insight under your belt. Don’t let something as simple as a rejection stop you!
You’ll never know until you try, and even when you try, you might get rejected (for now). But, it’s all good – rejection is not failure; it’s evidence that you aren’t just spending your life hoping and wishing. You’re out there, in the trenches, getting shit done, and with that comes a few ‘no’s. Keep going, keep knocking on doors until you get that ‘yes’. It’s coming – don’t give up!
Here’s to the Colonel, whose buckets of fried chicken are a source of so many of my happy, delicious childhood memories…