Rejection can either make us or break us, and it’s all in how we handle it. The secret is in finding the hidden gifts in rejection and use those to move forward. The critical question is: How do you turn a big setback into an awesome comeback?
I’m a big believer in looking forward, not back. Over and over, I have seen great performers and achievers encounter rejection with centeredness and grace. To them, rejection is like an unwelcome guest who came through the door just ahead of a beloved friend.
These achievers look past the present hurt and disappointment to anticipate what I call the Hidden Gifts of Rejection.
- The Hidden Gift of Resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from rejection. How can we recover faster from “no” so we can go get the “yes”? I learned this lesson when trying to publish my first book, The 5 Best Tools to Find Your Dream Career. After countless rejection letters, a door finally cracked open with Jist Publishing. A chance to present my book to their executive team, to sell it. I flung opened that cracked door and flew out to meet their team. We struck a deal and my first book became a reality. Viewing no as feedback rather than the end is the key.
- The Hidden Gift of Growth.Working through fear and rejection can unlock great energy, and this is the basis for a growth mindset. Even when you experience rejection, a growth mindset focuses on your innate potential for maximum performance. Success depends on how hard you are willing to work consistently and adapting to performance feedback. A fixed mindset looks back, rejecting the dynamic potential of hard work and holding on to rejection. A hidden gift of rejection may be to get rid of the thinking that holds you back. My friend Jim Loehr teaches it this way: identify your old story holding you back and replace it with your new story—one which includes a formula for being your best self.
- The Hidden Gift of Insight. Sometimes rejection can give us insight we never would have gained otherwise. I saw this all the time working with coaches. Sometimes after a tough year, they would get fired and move into broadcasting. The booth gives them a completely different view of their sport, literally. This new position gives them the chance to gain new insight on the media and share their coaching insight with a broad audience. It keeps them in front of their peers, which can lead to them rejoining the coaching ranks—and they have gained new insight on their sport. Rejection offers a path to valuable insight that often can only be gained this way.
- The Hidden Gift of Perspective.Rejection presents us with many choices. There’s no one way to deal with it. You gain perspective when you see more choices, when you step way back and see the big picture. One option that’s hard, but it’s still an option, is to not take it personally. Results are separate from who we are. This distance is so important. The more that we make it about us, the more emotional we are likely to get and the less likely we are to move past rejection into our best selves.
- The Hidden Gift of Opportunity. Home Depot co-founder and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is an example of finding the opportunity inside of rejection. In 1978, Blank and then CEO Bernie Marcus were fired from the home improvement company Handy Dan during an internal power struggle. How did they respond? Together, the two co-founded that little company we know as Home Depot. Looking for other famous examples to inspire you? Michael Jordan didn’t make the varsity basketball team. Oprah was fired from her TV anchor job. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. The trick is to see the opportunity inside of rejection.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
The next time you face rejection—and if we are living fully it’s going to happen—remember the Hidden Gifts of Rejection. Look for the opportunities waiting as you get past the initial pain. Use this adversity to reconnect to your mission in life build resilience, insight and perspective, and make this setback into your next remarkable comeback.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach business people the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.