Human beings are wired to fear rejection. Instead, we are encouraged to seek acceptance and approval from others.
Think about it: when people easily accept and approve of you, it feels natural but when you are rejected, it feels like a breathtaking sucker punch. In many ways, rejection can take the life out of you whether it’s a job rejection, business-related rejection or a romantic rejection. It can literally kill your motivation.
On the flipside, the knife-sharp, painful feeling of rejection can be a force for good—it can help propel your forward momentum, pushing you to heights you never thought possible. Many of the most successful people in the world have a tale of rejection after rejection before they were finally able to break free to attain their goals.
So, whether you have been rejected once or countless times, here’s how to harness each rejection into a source of motivation:
Each rejection is a learning opportunity, literally and metaphorically. When you are turned down for that promotion, that dream job or that funding, you can take it as an opportunity to learn a new skill or polish up on a skill related to that which you are pursuing. Learning something new not only prepares you for that position you are looking for; it actually sets you up for even better opportunities.
As mentioned earlier, rejection can be a learning opportunity in the personal sense. Every rejection offers you a chance to take a step back and reevaluate yourself in terms of your readiness, capacity, priorities, wants and needs.
For example, you may think that your start-up is ripe for venture capital investment to be able to move on to the growth phase but until you are rejected, you will not realize the essential structures you need to first develop before you can receive funding from the perfect investor.
Every time you are rejected, take that as an opportunity to ask, “Why did this not work out and what changes need to be made to make it work,” instead of “Oh well, this didn’t work out so we are doomed.”
If you have been rejected even just once, you know how deeply painful and perturbing the experience can be. Upon experiencing a ‘no’ response, you may either crumble or use this experience as an opportunity to build resilience and grit.
Is it any wonder that the people who have gone through numerous tough experiences; those who have been rejected over and over are the ones who demonstrate greater resilience?
As Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
The difference between those who attain their goals or fulfill their dreams and those who do not is in the level of grit and persistence when faced with life challenges.
Instead of letting rejection wear you down, use it to develop the type of persistence that will eventually guarantee your success.
Rejection could be a way to show you that you are going about it all wrong.
Maybe you are approaching those investors wrong. Or perhaps you are targeting the wrong investors or potential business partners?
Maybe you are not targeting the right prospects.
Use the rejection you receive to determine whether what you are pursuing is really worth it and whether you are doing it right. If it is worth it, keep going at it. If it is not worth it, maybe it is time to take a different direction.
It is said that success is a numbers game. That is, to succeed, you will likely have to do something numerous times or over a substantial amount of time to slightly increase your chances of success.
But other than making the odds work for you, when you try over and over again, you automatically become very good at that particular thing; you automatically elevate yourself to a level that makes you ready for a ‘yes.’
When I was starting out in the world of work as a teenager wanting to earn some extra money I took a job selling products door to door. I received hundreds upon hundreds of rejections weekly. It was in fact one of the greatest learning experiences I ever had and which developed the skills that helped me build multiple successful businesses in the future.
Whether it is making cold calls, following up with job interviews, asking for funding from donors, or reaching out to joint venture partners, doing it and getting rejected, doing it and getting rejected, doing it and getting rejected…makes you so much better at it that it lands you the perfect client, job, investor or business partner.
Albeit being one of the most deeply painful human experiences, rejection can teach us numerous lessons and impart the valuable virtues of patience, grit, persistence and focus. No matter how many rejections you receive, there is always an opportunity to turn it around for the best and thrive.