Pushing past her discomfort and getting rejected is the best thing my friend did. She had always wanted to be a great saleswoman. But she was terrified of customers rejecting her sales pitch.
To put this terror behind her, she did a crazy thing…
One day, she decided to go to an upside hotel down the street, one with uniformed doormen and sparkling chandeliers. Dressed in her usual simple top and jeans, she ambled through their beautiful glass doors and asked the man at the front desk,
“Excuse me, sir, do you have any rooms tonight?”
The elegantly dressed man told her rooms were indeed available. “How much are they for the night?” she asked. When he told her 200$, she put on her best smile and asked him if he could let her stay in one of the available rooms for free.
Thinking she was crazy, he told her ‘No!’ The rejection did not deter my friend. She told him she had taken some music lessons in college,
“I could sing in your lounge and in return, you can let me stay in your rooms.”
A few minutes later, she was ordered to get the hell out of the hotel.
I could see the glint in my friend’s eyes when a uniformed guard escorted her away from the hotel, “Now, I can face strangers and explain about any product without fear of rejections standing in my way.”
Rejection feels like standing naked in front of another person, to have that person see your body.
No, rejection is more nerve-wracking than standing naked. Hell, it’s even worse. You feel more vulnerable in that moment than you ever did before.
Many people, myself included, are terrified of rejections. For example, you would like to ask your boss for a raise, ask the bank for a loan, or send your draft to a major publication. These are just a few things you want to do. But you don’t do them, because you’re terrified of getting rejected.
Fear of rejection is the main roadblock in our path to success.
Yes, sometimes, circumstances may stand in our way of achieving what we want. But, most of the time, fear of rejection stops us from achieving what we want to achieve.
We’re terrified of getting rejections. So,
. We don’t send our drafts to publishers.
. We don’t ask for a promotion.
. We don’t send our business proposal to a potential client.
We push things that matter to us into a distant archive in our minds. And we seal it in a lockbox. All because we are terrified of fear of rejection.
We act as if someone will shoot us if we push past our discomfort.
In the safe world in which you and I most likely live, the stakes of rejection harming us physically is low. Almost comically low. For instance: If a publisher dislikes my draft, they may not publish my article and that will make me sad, but nobody is going to come to my home and shoot me over it.
And yet, we act as if a rejection will put a literal dagger in our hearts.
In my writing career, receiving rejection emails with one or two sentences is like a dagger through my heart. You know this feeling. It’s a punch in the gut feeling you get when someone rejects your work.
But, no matter how much rejections hurt you, they will not kill you.
A lot of rejections are harmless when you stop being afraid of them. So after almost three years of professional writing, I have learned to handle frustrations that come with rejections.
Also, something else helps you to face any rejection without stopping the work you need to do.
Getting rejected again and again.
Would you ask a stranger to compliment you or ask to assemble your own sandwich at the subway?
One entrepreneur did.
On the project, “100 days of rejection”, Jia Jiang, teaches us a lot about pushing past our discomfort and getting rejected. After his startup got turned down by investors, Jiang realized one of the main roadblocks in his path was his own fear of rejection. To desensitize himself, Jiang spent a hundred days asking for simple, relatively harmless things he thought likely to be rejected.
For example, he asked strangers to give him compliments. He asked to assemble his own sandwich at subway.
I would run away like a woman running away from a burning fire. That’s how much doing these things terrify me. But I get the lesson.
Every successful person, at some point, has faced the risk of worse rejections. They probably felt starkly uncomfortable asking for what they wanted, too. Still, when it really mattered, they pushed past their discomfort and asked anyway.
The friend I told you about in the beginning is now a hotshot saleswoman. She can easily start a conversation with strangers. When working with clients, she gets lots of rejections. But that does not bother her. She has learned to deal with rejections and get back to work.
In my case, I would send my work out to publications. And I would get rejection letters in my email in return. I labored over my drafts alone in my bedroom — also in coffee shops, in libraries, in the apartment of various friends and relatives. I sent more and more work out. I was rejected.
My heart would crack when I got rejections. Who would not get a punch in the gut through rejections? But I took the long view. I wanted my writing to go further. If I wanted to write forever, and I do, then I have to deal with frustrations and disappointments rejections create in my heart. So I learned to get back to work despite rejections.
There is something cool about facing rejections. The more you face them, the less they terrify you.
So why not practice pushing past your discomfort and getting rejected for things that matter to you? A raise in salary? A promotion? Sending a business proposal to a potential client? Introducing a new product to your clients?
Even if you got rejections, the practice of getting rejected is good for you. No one has explained the unavoidability and importance of rejections with a metaphor like Mark Manson,
Every single pursuit — no matter how wonderful and exciting and glamorous it may initially seem — comes with its own brand of shit sandwich, its own lousy side effects.
As Manson writes,
“If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands, of times, then you’re done before you start. Because if you love and want something enough — whatever it is — then you don’t really mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it.”
Rejection represents that shit sandwich. You have to learn how to deal with it if you want to pursue any career you want and be successful at it.
One friend has not learned this lesson.
This friend wants to be a writer with all her heart. But it turns out she doesn’t want to eat the shit sandwich that comes along with that pursuit. She loves writing, sure, but she doesn’t love it enough to endure rejections. She doesn’t want to work so hard at writing unless publishers knock on her door and accept all her work. This means she wants to be a writer with half her heart.
Soon enough, she will quit pursuing writing.
If you want to be successful in any field, then handling rejections is a fundamental aspect of any work. Getting rejected is the most underrated trait a person can have. Rejections are not an interruption of the process: they are the process. How you manage yourself when a boss rejects your promotion request or customers rejecting your product measures how far you can go.
So take your discomfort and fear of rejection and hold them upside down by their ankles and shake yourself free of all your cumbersome ideas about getting rejected.
Because, in the long run, you’ll get a lot farther than if you’d been too scared to face rejections.