I ran into some clients recently whom I had been working with for a few months on a project of theirs in the planning phase. We had drawn up a few sketches, and in many ways I felt we had done a good job in connecting. We hadn’t communicated much over the past few months, but it is summer so I hadn’t paid much attention to it. Following the normal catch up, I asked them if they had any new thoughts on their project. With pensive looks, they told me that they had just started construction with another contractor. We both blundered some through the next few minutes and I bid them farewell. I told them I hope everything works out and they get what they want.
It’s easy to develop a stance that no one else can take care of a client better than you. It’s also easy to think bad about the contractor just to make yourself feel better. The lurking monster here is fear. Fear that we don’t have what it takes. Being turned down, feeling rejected drags us towards our fears. If unchecked, the patterns of coverup, deflecting, and anger can do more harm than good in dealing with the rejection. Thankfully with the right coaching, we can turn rejection into one of the best things that can happen to us. Many times it’s this arena where change happens.
The feeling of rejection is inside all of us at times. It’s a place of vulnerability where most of us find much discomfort. Rejection can look like being fired, firing someone else, losing a job to a competitor, or miserably failing. How do we turn what we see as a negative into an opportunity?
1. If it’s true change it, if it isn’t, forget about it. I heard this saying in college and man has it stuck with me. People say things all the time. If someone says, “your fat” and if it bothers you then you have uncovered a part of your life that needs some reflection. So is it true? Are you fat? If it is, work on changing it. If it isn’t, then the bully is just lashing out, and it has more to do with their own stuff than yours. If a client says you weren’t available enough, than you really have to remove emotion and really look into what they are saying. In my case the client didn’t have anything to say, so I had to dig deeper.
2. Realize that rejection isn’t who you are. By removing emotion, and realizing that we have the luxury of being whoever we want to be, rejection then can be a teacher. There are many things that we can just eliminate off the start that aren’t true. So that’s like 80% of what we hear. It would be nice if the percentage of true comments were higher, but in our culture typically the truth isn’t told to your face. So that 20% true said about you hurts. Hurt is key here, it is an indicator that something needs some work. Perhaps a client called you lazy. Ouch! Luckily we don’t have to be lazy. We don’t have to be uneducated, angry, selfish, antagonistic etc. These are all attributes that we have picked up over time. Either from our families, the culture we live in, or our own fears and insecurities. It’s not who you are.
3. Plan for change! So while being rejected, you have uncovered an aspect of your life or business that doesn’t jive with the type of people you want to be around or do business with. How does change start? If you don’t want the same rejection over and over for eternity, the simplest start is to put the opposite of your rejection in your mind and focus on it. By focusing, our body and mind conforms to attaining that goal. You will figure out how to be active, honest, or joyful. Rejection can be the alert to something that needs to be let go that you have adopted. Putting a plan into motion starts with focus, and continues with action.
4. Create more opportunities for rejection. Seriously, I thought we were doing this so I didn’t have to feel rejected anymore. Life isn’t about the absence of what causes us pain. Brené Brown teaches us to “lean into the discomfort.” If we are to create real change in ourselves, we must pursue the discomfort. As a contractor, I like to fix problems, not create more. With life and business, though, unless we are moving forward, we are moving backwards. Don’t just take jobs and relationships you know you can master. Put yourself out there where you are being rejected. The more rejection we can face, the more we will learn.
So I was rejected. It didn’t feel great at the time, but I am using the rejection to forge ahead. I allowed it to make me stronger, to be more introspective, and to focus my future. I know I received more from the rejection than I would have from getting the job.
What is a lesson you have learned from a rejection?