How to Cope With Rejection
Life is tough sometimes. It deals cruel blows and just when you thought you were about to make progress, something drags you right back down. It's hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude when you encounter more failures than successes.
We suffer rejection in all areas of our life at times, not just career setbacks but personal ones too. You could argue that the personal ones hurt more because they are exactly that. Personal. Although when you feel like life is giving you the short straw, we even take rejections in other areas of our life personal.
As I mentioned in my article “The Overnight Success Myth”, the odds are seriously stacked against you having a smooth and easy passage to a trouble free life. In truth, life is never going to be trouble free. There will always be setbacks along the way but with experience, time and patience, you can and do, learn to view them from a different perspective.
“Getting knocked down in life is a given. Getting up and moving forward is a choice” – Zig Ziglar.
A great quote from a great man that I was lucky enough to meet in person, some twenty years ago. For me, he was a master at making people understand that your circumstances don't define you. It´s not what happens to you but how you respond to it that matters most. There are always choices and each choice you make, moves you further towards or further away from your end goal.
Rejection is hard to handle for most of us and often, the truth hurts. Maybe your presentation wasn't as clear as it could have been, maybe your negotiating skills are not as sharp as you thought they were or maybe your interview skills are not as honed as they need to be. However, rejection and failure are not an end state. They are simply just a reminder that we need to change certain things if we are to move forward.
7 Famous Rejection Practitioners
- Henry Ford: Wasn’t an instant success. He failed and went him broke five time before he achieved the success with the Ford Motor Company
- Walt Disney:Was fired by a newspaper editor because he lacked imagination and had no good ideas. He later started a number of businesses resulting in bankruptcy and failure.
- Thomas Edison: Was told he was too stupid to learn anything. As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When he was asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he replied, I didn't fail, the light bulb created in 1,000 steps.
- Elvis Presley: In 1954, Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him…“You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”
- The Beatles:When they were just starting out, Decca recording company turned them down saying…“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
- J. K. Rowling:Before publishing the series of Harry Potter novels was nearly penniless.
- Harland David Sanders:Better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken had his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected over 1,000 times before it was finally accepted.
The above is to name but a few and is by no means an exhaustive list of people who have gone on to accomplish great things after learning how to cope with rejection. History is littered with examples of people who refused to be deterred and bound by temporary constraints of rejection.
It's All About Perspective
Don't take it personal
Taking things to heart won´t do you any favours. At worst it will set you back. At the very best it will leave you in the same position as you were. Try to understand that if you have had feedback about rejection, it means that someone is trying to say to you “what you're doing isn't working.”
Learn from the experience and move on
Take the advice as constructive criticism, learn as much as you can from the experience and move on to the next challenge with your newly learned knowledge. We will always make mistakes and those mistakes may often come at cost but making a mistake and learning from it is not nearly as costly as repeating or compounding your mistakes.
Build rejection into your schedule
For many people, rejection and failure is part of a numbers game. Knowing your rejection rate is a good indicator of what your success rate will be. Building rejection into your schedule and embracing it as a necessary step towards achieving your ultimate goal helps you look at those dark moments in a different light.
Focus on your accomplishments and progress
Don't sit and dwell about how far you still have to go and how much better it would have been if you hadn´t got all those rejections. Focus instead on how far you have come. Remind yourself that you have only got this far because you were able to accept, learn and refocus after each rejection that you encountered.
Some Final Thoughts
It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer – Albert Einstein
Sometimes you just need to be around something long enough to work it out. Looking at the cause of your rejection and dissecting it from its roots piece by piece, is a skill that can be learned. Yes it will take time and patience. Yes, you may be sick and tired of being sick and tired but you're not alone. Somebody, somewhere has gone through what you are going through and has come out the other side stronger and better equipped to deal with life's blows. Stick with it, analyse from the outside in, adjust your focus and keep moving forward.
If you have anything to add about getting through the tough times and coping with rejection, leave a message in the comments box.