How has rejection lead to your success?
The first thing we do as human beings when it comes to achieving a goal is to share it with friends, family and of course, strangers on social media. And why the hell not? If you’ve worked hard, put the grind in and created a project with spit, love and bathroom breakdowns, then it’s your right to celebrate.
However, along the way most of us would have experienced rejection in one form or another. Whether it was an idea, a business plan, a course, a date or a job offer. We publicly shout loud about our highs (hi LinkedIn), but quickly bury most of our lows in a sandpit of dirty shame.
Rejection is scary, but who for?
We’ve all received the email that begins with, ‘we regret to inform you that…’ And it feels like someone has just hit your inner child with a heavy baseball bat. To protect that inner child from feeling further hurt from those ‘uncomfortable’ emotions such as sadness, pain or even anger, we often react in two ways:
Our egos and minds go into instinctual survival mode. I didn’t want that job role in the first place, it wasn’t my first option, and my favourite, they have no idea what they’re talking about anyway.
We do our best to forget the email, by having a nice glass of wine followed by six tequila shots.
Are we, the witness, really hurt? Or is it just our ego’s that we feel the need to defend?
One of the key things here is to first ask yourself is this rejection or productive criticism? Someone can give you vital feedback, however our little inner critic likes to bungee-jump straight off the bridge into rejection. There is a big difference between, ‘Sam, this presentation isn’t as strong as your other ones,’ to, ‘Sam, you’re a worthless piece of sh*t.’
Productive criticism is your ally. Listen and LEARN from it. It will only make you better at what you’re doing. When those defensive feelings or thoughts come up, breathe it out and let it pass through you. Take a little time out before responding and reflect first.
The other day, a business partner of a writing client I worked for critiqued my work. My first thought was ‘this is bullsh*t.’ Once I’d calmed down the next thoughts followed:
Was she correct? Does it sound better in first person? (It did).
Does she have more knowledge at hand because she works for the business and I’m outsourced? (Yes).
What information was missing and what questions did I need to ask so I can do a better job for the next client?
If I am open to feedback, will people want to work with me again? (Yes).
Was the criticism really that bad? (No).
(Productive feedback can only be given by those who work for the ‘greater good’ of the company or individual. If you have a sardonic manipulator giving you criticism, any teardown of you is for their powerplay only).
How can we look at rejection as part of our success?
The guy at starbucks saying no to your date, the agent saying no to your book proposal and your dream company saying no to your job application, are all perceived forms of ‘personal rejection.’ Your mind can argue that the starbucks man may just have been going through a breakup, or the agent didn’t read the proposal properly, but either way it’s hard to talk your way out of this one. Normally shame, embarrassment or feelings of not being worthy come up.
How do you cope with them?
Again let them pass with non-attachment. I know, easier said than done.
Ask yourself what the positives were? You finally had the courage to apply for that dream job role, more will follow.
What did you learn?
When you’ve been rejected in the past, has it ever stopped you? No - great, yes - why? (Back to question 3).
And the best question yet?
5. When has rejection actually lead you down a better path?
When you really think about that one, it’s mind blowing to realise how multiple rejections can actually lead to our biggest success.
Will openly talking about our rejections/failures make us more equipped at learning from them?
It’s our programming to hide from our rejections and failures. Maybe it’s because we view it as a personal weakness or a shameful secret. But when a close friend has told you they’ve been rejected, do you feel horror and embarrassment for them or a deep admiration? It’s a form of bravery to try something new, knowing very well that there’s a chance you’ll be knocked back. When we listen to a famous person's story, it’s not their successes that make them relatable or likable, but it’s often their rejections and failure that makes us feel connected to them.
In the most recent order - here is a list of some of my most notable rejection journeys that have served me better than succeeding.
1. My book proposal was rejected by a book agent I admired.
Afterwards I hired someone to edit my book proposal and give me feedback on how to make it better.
2. A University in Sydney rejected me on a creative writing course.
Instead of staying in Australia, I moved to Bali and started freelance writing for clients, saving me a lot of debt!
3. Two top hospitality companies in London rejected me after an interview.
A week later I got a job role from the best hospitality group in Sydney, allowing me to travel there.
4. A chiropractor I was sleeping with, rejected a relationship with me.
Probably for the best as it was morally unethical.
5. A modelling agency in London dropped me because of my hip size.
I found an agency in Hong Kong that flew me out there.
I’d love to hear yours!
Written by Amy Manson.