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As a child, let’s just say that I was somewhat of a late bloomer. When I was a teenager, getting attention from any of the boys (or girls) was neither an expectation, nor a reality.
In fact, as proof here is a picture of my grandmother and me (at the ripe age of 14), standing with Bill Clinton.
There is a lot going on in this picture, so you may not notice just how awkward I truly was as a teenager, so here is a closer look:
The combination of the rectangular wire-framed spectacles, the inability to smile like a normal person, the hair pulled back in a questionable middle-parted ponytail, and the oversized suit closely resembling the one my grandmother was wearing at the time, all resulted in an adolescence of disappointment and isolation.
Needless to say, rejection was a concept I was all too familiar with. Of course as I grew up, rejection began to present itself in new forms, specifically when it came to work and career choices.
Like many of you, I had dreams as a child of what I wanted to be. But then, I became a marketer, and so all those aspirations were flushed down the toilet. And naturally, as a marketer, I continued (and still to this day, continue) to face rejection on a consistent basis.
Usually it means having a pitch rejected to contribute to an online publication, or to speak at a conference. But the thing about rejections is that they never really stop or change.
What does change is your experience, your tenacity and eventually your realization that rejection is just a precursor to acceptance.
In this next episode of Drunk Entrepreneurs, I thought I would not only share some strategies of my own for dealing with rejection, but I also decided to reach out to some other leaders in the industry to understand what their perspectives were on rejection.
I had a chance to speak with Eugene Woo, CEO of Venngage about his thoughts on rejection. Eugene shared some insightful stories about first starting out as a young entrepreneur.
His main takeaway was the importance of building up resilience in people from a young age. He gave the example of his own daughter. Eugene expressed that he tries to ensure that his daughter is put into situations where she doesn’t always get what she wants immediately. In doing so he hopes that it will build up her own perseverance and drive.
Watch the episode to hear more of Eugene’s thoughts on rejection.
Use Rejection To Fuel New Inspiration
Ross Simmonds had a similar outlook on rejection and how to deal with it. He stated that it was completely natural to face rejection in business and emphasized just how important it was that as an entrepreneur or business owner you don’t let that stop you in your tracks.
Rather, Ross suggests using any obstacles to fuel new inspiration for the future. Consider every rejection as a challenge or a puzzle to solve in order to get back on track with your initial goals.
Rejection Is Incredibly Common And Necessary
Overall I think what’s important to note is that rejection is a necessary evil for any business owner or entrepreneur to face. I’ve always believed that when it comes to success, a yes always exists. You just need to get past all of the nos first.
Consider each rejection a stepping stone that gets you closer to your goal. As long as you learn from it, and use any feedback you receive as an opportunity to grow – you will eventually get past every hurdle.
In fact in a recent article from Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot, he talked about the importance of repetition as a management tactic. There was one point he made that stood out to me in particular, and that was:
“It took me 20+ years as an entrepreneur to start to recognize the power of repetition — and even then it’s still uncomfortable for me. But, discomfort is your first hint that your message is sinking in. It’s natural for it to feel unnatural. Unnatural, but profoundly necessary.”
What does this have to do with facing rejection? A lot more than you might imagine. Just as Dharmesh states, repetition is crucial in order to get a group of people to wrap their heads around a certain idea, and eventually embody it. The initial discomfort eventually goes away.
When being rejected the first time, it also feels not only unnatural, but embarrassing, right? But eventually you start to get used to it. The trick is to remind yourself that each time you get denied, you’re actually learning something new and getting closer to achievement. It feels weird at first, but sooner than later you’ll become more resilient and develop a tougher skin.
Here are 3 of my own tips for dealing with rejection head on:
1) Pinpoint specific reasons you were denied.
Let’s say you were trying to pitch an article to a well-known site, but your draft was rejected. What do you do? Do you pitch that same article again and again, or do you listen to the feedback which was given and keep perfecting your work?
It’s a leading question, but obviously the right choice is to ask for and then apply that feedback. By using every “no” as a chance to continuously narrow in to areas of improvement, your skills will never stop developing.
Naturally it’s easier to get upset or insecure when you’re constantly being told that what you are doing is wrong or undesired, but keep reminding yourself that this is just one more obstacle to get past.
2) Don’t get defensive. Listen to where things went wrong.
It’s easy to feel the need to jump to the defense when things don’t go as planned. But sometimes it’s better to consider the feedback you receive in a constructive way. In roundup conducted by Venngage asking various conference speakers how they deal with negative feedback, Vera Jones of Vera’s Voice Works stated:
“Your focus should not be about being approved but rather being improved! True winners are always looking for ways to get better. Seeking to be approved involves a lot of unstable emotion.
Seeking to be improved involves a lot of stable evaluation. If your mindset and your desire is to be improved, then you will remain open to all forms of constructive critique, because you will always be welcoming and processing for information to grow or to better yourself, your product or your service.”
Listen to where things may have gone wrong and always try to focus on the silver lining. When not enough feedback is given, ask for ways you can improve. It’s the only way you’ll actually get closer to that “yes”.
3) Persevere as many times as it takes.
Finally, keep applying the feedback you receive until you manage to succeed. Like I said, “yes” exists once you get past all the “nos”.
You’ve heard all the stories about entrepreneurs who fail over and over again. This should act as proof that success does not come easily or happen over night. Without consistent perseverance, rejection is all you’ll ever know.
Whenever you feel let down by the rejection you face, just come back to this post and look at the sad photograph of my adolescent self. It will hopefully act as a reminder that rejection is an inevitable part of life for everyone, but also the first step towards closing in on success.