Risk more rejectionBy Margie Warrell | Nov 30, 15 09:41 AM
Rejection is scary and it sucks, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't risk it. Margie Warrell shares how braving the tough times can help us grow ...
As I neared the end of writing my first book, Find Your Courage, I decided it was time to see if I could find a publisher. I did some research online and put together my ‘query letter’, which I sent to a long list of publishing houses. In the months that followed, I received dozens of rejection letters and emails. As I opened and read each one it was disheartening. I believed I’d written a book that would be helpful to a lot of people who felt stuck in their lives and yet no publisher was willing to back it. But as discouraging as it was, I kept sending out more letters, all the while plugging along with finishing my book, speaking publicly and writing my monthly newsletter. It wasn’t easy, but I hung in there and I’m so glad I did. Because one day, about six months into my rejection marathon, I opened my inbox to find an email from a major publisher who wanted to buy the international rights to my book. I will never forget how thrilled I felt in that moment. Find Your Courage was going global!
Of course, most of us barely got through kindergarten without experiencing rejection. But whether you were the only child in your grade-5 class not invited to the birthday party of the year, whether you were passed over for a prized promotion or whether you had the love of your life tell you that you weren’t theirs, you’ve no doubt felt the sting of rejection.
There’s no doubt about it, rejection can be very painful and feel intensely personal. But while it’s hard not to feel its sting, it’s vital not to let your fear of it keep you from risking it.
Rejection is not about you. What you make it mean is.
You can have the ripest and most delicious strawberry ever grown, but there will still be someone who hates strawberries. The value of my book didn’t change after a publisher picked it up. What changed was that someone recognised its value! The truth is, a rejection says far more about the person rejecting – their values, their perceptions, their priorities and indeed their biases, insecurities and fears – than it does about the person who has been rejected. Maybe they weren’t up for the relationship or commitment. Maybe they thought you were over-qualified and would quickly get bored. Maybe the timing was off. They made that decision based on their subjective assessment – one shaped by their concerns, values, assumptions, opinions and unconscious biases. The rejection means no more, or less, than that. The rest is pure conjecture.
The part of rejection that relates to you is about the spin you put on it; that is, the story you tell yourself about why you were rejected and the subsequent actions you take. If you interpret a rejection as proof that you are unemployable or unlovable or doomed to never achieve what you want, you’ll find it tough going to do whatever is needed to achieve the result you want. Rather than chastise yourself or wallow in self-pity, make the most of the opportunity to learn and grow, and set yourself up for more success in the future. As poet and author Sylvia Plath once wrote, ‘I love my rejection slips. They show me I try’.
Don’t waste your rejections; learn and grow from them.
Talk to any truly successful person and they’ll tell you they’d never have got to where they are had they not been willing to risk rejection. Again and again and again. They’ll also tell you that they provided invaluable opportunities to gain useful feedback, to polish their offer and fine-tune how they presented it and themselves. If you didn’t get the second interview, find out what they wanted in their ideal candidate. If you were passed over for that promotion, ask what it is you need to strengthen to get it next time. Opportunities go to those who stay proactive even when they aren’t getting the results they want. The more often you’re willing to put yourself on the line, the sooner you’ll get over it.
The more you put yourself ‘out there’, the sooner you’ll land what you want.
Obviously, if you’re reading this now you know that I’ve since been ‘lucky’ (three times!) in having a book published. Which is what tends to happen when we’re willing to risk rejection: we strike it lucky! But not really. Because it’s not luck; it’s arithmetic. The more you put yourself out there, the greater are your odds of getting ‘lucky’ and creating amazing opportunities, building new and rich relationships and achieving what truly excites you.
As my dad always says, ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it’. By refusing to get sucked into negative comparisons, self-rebuke and self-pity you can rise above your ‘rejections’ and do the very things you need to do to bump yourself up to the top of the list.
Rejection never hurts for as long as regret.
Too often we spend our lives avoiding any possibility of rejection. Our fear of being judged as unworthy keeps us from putting ourselves ‘out there’. But just imagine the possibilities that would open up for you if you were willing to risk rejection and embrace the belief that doing so was crucial to achieving what you truly wanted in your work, relationships and life.
So stop making rejection mean anything about how worthy you are or the value you bring. Dare to risk being rejected more often – not to injure your pride, but to expand your possibilities. Isn’t that worth the occasional sting? To quote Bear Grylls: ‘If you risk nothing, you gain nothing’.
This is an edited excerpt from Brave: 50 Everyday Acts of Courage to Thrive in Work, Love and Life, by bestselling author, media commentator and Forbes columnist Margie Warrell. Available now, Brave is a powerful guide on courage, self-belief and resilience from. Check out the book trailer as well as the Train The Brave challenge here.
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