“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
– Jimmy Dean
Did you know your sense of smell is not only directional (that’s why you have two nostrils), but you’re also capable of scent-tracking just as well, or even better than, a dog? Perhaps this explains how my daughter always finds where we hide our expensive chocolate.
Let’s Get Rejected
“Michael: It’s an enjoyable read but not particularly pertinent to our audience.”
It was one of the first rejections I received when I was trying to break into the online writing world.
But I happened to have a close friend and mentor who encouraged me to not only stand tall in the face of rejection, but actually to seek it out.
His motto (or hashtag, ‘cause we’re in the 21st century) was #LetsGetRejected.
It did to me, too, at first.
And every time I now share it with someone, their face scrunches up with confusion.
Why would I want to seek out rejections?
But it’s a philosophy that has been — quite literally — life-changing for me.
When I actually started applying that principle to my life (I’d literally print out and save every rejection email I got and put them on my desk like some sort of trophy pedestal) I realized why it was such an important mindset to have.
It paved the way to my future success.
Why Rejection Hurts
Rejection hurts because most of us were taught a few simple lessons as children…
- Don’t make other people upset.
- Don’t let other people down.
- Failure/rejection is shameful.
In fact, one study found that “the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain.”
And it’s something most of us want to avoid.
Problem is, rejection is a fundamental part of success.
If we want to be successful, we need to steel ourselves for rejection.
Because failure and rejection are how you learn what it takes to be successful in the thing you’re pursuing — they are the lessons which point you in the right direction.
And those lessons can only be learned through “failure.”
As Ryan Holiday writes, “Failure shows us the way—by showing us what isn’t the way.”
With every rejection I received early in my freelance writing days (and still today!), I learn something new about this business.
Maybe it’s about how to find great clients.
Or how to charge more money.
Or how to stand up for myself as a writer.
Or how to be better at my craft.
But there’s always a lesson.
And the more I learn, the better I get.
The better I get, the more successful I am.
In other words, the more I fail and learn from those failures, the more successful I am.
People who shy away from failure and rejection miss out on the lessons (and opportunities) that those uncomfortable experiences provide.
So how do you become more resilient in the face of failure and rejection?
Flip the script.
That was the secret behind my mentor’s motto.
By seeking rejection, by expecting it, I became unstoppable.
Even the most seething, angry, disgruntled rejections became proof to me that I was on the right path.
#LetsGetRejected, I’d remind myself.
I stopped viewing the successful route as being filled only with victories, and realized that it’s even more filled with failures and rejections.
Every rejection, to me, became tangible evidence that I was heading in the right direction and doing the right things.
My stack of printed-out failures eventually became the pedestal upon which my successes stood.
The faster I built that pile of rejections, I often thought to myself, the sooner I’d get the success I craved.
I often imagined myself running parallel to other people trying to do the same thing.
They would run into the same obstacles as me, at the same time as me. We both had a choice of quitting or going forward.
They would quit and settle for less.
I would press forward and beat the odds.
That’s how I envisioned my progress — it’s still, when I’m feeling particularly competitive, how I envision hard things today.
Rejections aren’t hurdles in the way. They’re the pre-requisites for success. You’ve got to go through some failure and pain to get the success you want.
How Bad Do You Want It?
Most people quit early.
And yet success takes a long time… and requires a lot of failures.
You can’t hack the things you want. You can only work hard toward them with consistency and grit over the long-haul.
Doing so requires resolve in the face of rejection.
So… how badly do you want it?
If you want something badly enough, then you’ll be willing to embrace the rejection and failure that comes along with the success.
And if you’re thinking to yourself, “It’d be so much easier just to do nothing”, remember that life is meant to be an adventure.
Trying and failing (or maybe succeeding!) is a lot more fun than living a boring life full of regret.
Get out there.
Learn from rejection and failure.
View them as stepping stones toward success.
And remember what Tim Ferriss said, “If the challenge we face doesn’t scare us, then it’s probably not that important.”
5-Minute Video of The Week
This Week’s Riddle
Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!
Only one color, but not one size, Stuck at the bottom, yet easily flies. Present in sun, but not in rain, Doing no harm, and feeling no pain. What is it?
This Week’s Journaling Prompt
Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt.
Why are you afraid of rejection? How could rejection be a stepping stone toward success instead of a barrier?
This Week’s Challenge
Seek out your first rejection in pursuit of something exciting to you. When you get it, pat yourself on the back and try again. You’re heading in the right direction.
Riddle Answer: A shadow.