So What's Good About Rejection?

Who doesn’t love that scene in Pretty Woman, after Julia Roberts, while ‘escorting’ rich businessman Richard Gere, takes his credit card shopping, but is patronised by the shop assistants and buys nothing.

Then shops again, this time with Gere, and pops her head into the shop where she was made unwelcome, carrying several, expensive shopping bags to say: “Big mistake, BIG, HUGE!”

Who wouldn’t love to be able to do that after a hurtful rejection?

There have been some pretty spectacular rejections over the years, which must have had the rejectors kicking themselves for a long time afterward. For example:

  • JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was turned down by 12 publishing houses before Bloomsbury took it up after Chairman Nigel Newton’s eight year old read it, loved it and nagged him to publish it.
  • Fred Astaire was told after his first screen test: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Can dance a little.
  • ”Walt Disney was fired because he “lacked imagination.”
  • The Beatles were rejected by Decca Recording Co. in 1962 because: “We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.”

So if you are experiencing some challenging rejections at the moment, just remember what good company you are in! Did any of them just throw the towel in? Obviously not!

So, how do we make rejection into a good thing? Basically, we need to view it as a learning experience that gives us something to work with so that we can grow, develop and achieve what we want next time.

People don’t learn half as much when things go well as they do when things are tough. When you read autobiographies of successful people, they pretty much all have their crisis years, which they use as a platform for their later success. For example:

  • Apple Inc founder Steve Jobs was a college drop out and was sacked from his own company;
  • Tony Robbins, self help author and inspirational speaker, experienced financial ruin;
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Saunders owned nothing but his recipe after the depression
  • Einstein was considered slow because he didn’t speak until he was four or read until he was seven!

I’m sure it is less common for people who never experience truly difficult times to find the incentive and motivation to go the extra mile and to achieve exceptional successful.

Rejection is an experience from which you can learn. It is feedback through which you have the opportunity to extract all its informative goodness before you throw the husks of it away.

However, you need to develop the right mindset. It doesn’t do anyone any good to keep sifting through their near misses. Once you have taken all that is worth learning from that experience, then it should be filed and forgotten. Combing over past rejections is an unnecessary form of masochism and should not be indulged!

There are many occasions in life where people are trying to connect a need with someone who can fulfil it. They have to consider several people until they find the right fit. It’s not a process of separating good people from bad, it’s just about finding appropriate links!

I can think of many occasions where I am grateful, with hindsight, that I was rejected. Jobs that wouldn’t have suited me, flats I wouldn’t have been happy in, partners I wouldn’t have thrived with. As I look back I am grateful for all of those rejections, which really worked out for the best for me. I’m sure we all have examples of those.

Trite sayings like: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, exist because there is truth in them. And, one of the most powerful ways to assist this process is to develop a sense of humour about rejection. First find out what was good about it and then why it is funny! People often say: “Someday I will laugh at all this,” but as NLP co-creator Richard Bandler says: “Why wait?!”

Check out these spoof rejection letters created by Andy Ross a literary agent who was a bit frustrated by some of the rejections he was receiving on behalf of his writers. He guesses how these same publishers would receive books by Shakespeare and Hitler.

So, next time you experience rejection, remember, ask what can you learn from it? Then in the words of the song sung by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in Swing Time: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!”

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