Rejection. It’s awful. It hurts. So many of us take rejection personally because we view it as a reflection of our self-worth and potential. Whenever you’re communicating your dreams, goals, and plans, you’re putting yourself on the line and there is always a chance of rejection.
But the more success you want, the more you must deal with rejection. The variable to the equation is how you handle rejection, and it all starts with perspective.
Rejection isn’t an obstacle, it’s an opportunity.
Hear me out. (Believe me, I've had A LOT of experience with rejection!)
Before landing my first TV news job, I sent out dozens of reels and resumes. For months, all I heard were crickets. I kept sending my material out, figuring someone would see my talent and potential. Oh, the joy of being a wonderfully bold and naïve 20 something!
Months pass and I finally landed an interview at a station in North Dakota.
This was going to be my big break!
Well, I didn’t get the job.
Remember, I was wonderfully bold and didn’t take rejection so personally in my early 20s.
I called the news director back and asked him why I didn’t get the job. He was stunned I had reached out after being rejected. I told him I wanted to know what I could do differently the next time I had an interview, and he gave me honest feedback. In this case, he said I was too formal and didn’t show enough personality. He told me (to paraphrase), "If you were like how you are in this conversation, I would have given you the job!"
I took his advice to heart and eventually ended up getting an even more prestigious job in Nebraska.
Side note: the North Dakota news director called me shortly after I moved to Nebraska to offer me a job. (I know, right?!)
Did I enjoy the initial rejection? NO.
Did I learn from that rejection and turn it into a learning opportunity? YES.
I didn’t take the rejection so personally because I knew I was meant to be a TV news journalist, and someone would see my worth.
I believed in my goal, and I wasn’t going to let any number of “no’s” stand in my way.
Again, I was young, wonderfully bold, and didn’t take rejection so personally. It's a lesson I remind myself of every time I feel a twinge of fear or insecurity.
A few lessons to add here:
1) Take critique with a grain of salt. Not everyone has your best intentions at heart. Not everyone will share helpful advice. But it's always good to hear different perspective. It gives you the power to decide whether to listen or toss that critique aside.
2) Not every rejection is about you. A “no” doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t good or worthy. A “no” could be anything- a candidate accepting a smaller salary, your application came in too late, the interviewer just didn’t click with you.
Whatever the case may be, choose to use that “no” as an opportunity to pause, reflect, reassess, and grow.
I had the opportunity to do a YouTube interview with the wonderful New York Times bestselling children’s author Pat Zietlow Miller. (If you haven't listened to the interview, I highly suggest you do! Pat is SUCH an inspiration and fountain of wisdom!)
During our interview, Pat shared that she received hundreds of rejections before successfully publishing her first book.
I had to ask: What kept you going? How did you stay positive in the face of all that rejection?
Her response: “[Rejection is] not a no, it’s just a not yet”.
WOAH! That was such an enlightening "ah-hah" moment for me!
Rejection doesn’t mean “no”, it means a “not yet”. It means you have room for improvement and growth. It means success is still within your reach. It means you WILL get there if you keep working towards your goal.
It’s all about perspective, and what we choose to take from the situation.
Here's to turning that awful obstacle that is rejection and turning it into an opportunity!