I first wrote this post on October 28, 2009 when I was just getting started with Financial Samurai. Nobody gave me the time of day and it was a rough slog! I've since updated the post 12 years later and continue to believe it's incredibly important to seek rejection if you want to grow.
Unless you’re perfect, there will be times when things don’t go your way. You’re last to be picked in PE class, Yale says, “thank you, but no thank you”, and your girlfriend/boyfriend dumps you for another man/woman. Do you start sulking? Or do you get up, get angry, and prove to yourself you’re worth it?
Some people are so afraid of rejection, they never put themselves out there. They let their childhood dreams die because society tells them to do this or that. They reject themselves before even giving others a chance!
Here are some lame excuses people who are too afraid to try, tell themselves:
“Why would this school accept me?”
“Why would she want to talk to me?”
“I don't deserve a raise so I'll never ask.”
“I’m not good enough to work for this firm, so I won’t bother applying.”
“What if everybody thinks what I say is stupid?”
“My writing is horrible, why would anybody want to read anything of mine?”
These types of thoughts crush dreams, lead to low-self esteem and mediocrity.
Change The Way You See Rejection
Use the following five strategies to change the way you see rejection. Rejection hurts. However, it doesn't have to. By seeing the good in rejection, you can use rejection to propel your career, gain more wealth, and ultimately live a happier life.
1) Always ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?”
On a scale of bad things, 10 being some terrorist attack and 1 being a puppy pooping on your carpet, getting rejected by a firm, a girl, a company, or a potential client is around a 3. It’s no big deal! An given it's no big deal, you must continue to carry on.
2) Success is a numbers game.
When guys go out to bars, those who don’t care about rejection (point #1) usually succeed because they ask the most amount of women out as possible!
If your chance of scoring is 10%, and you only ask two girls to have a drink with you, you’re going to have a snowfall’s chance in the Sahara of getting the girl’s number. You need to ask 10 girls to even have an opportunity for one to not think you’re a creep!
You may think your green marble has nothing to offer, but I bet if you put it up on Craigslist or Ebay there will be someone looking to buy it. The scale of these two sites is huge; you are maximizing your numbers game. It’s the same for finding a job. Make enough phone calls, ask enough people and attend enough networking functions and you will get there.
3) Put your rejections in plain site as a badge of honor and take some of them personally.
When I was in my 20s, I used to have my college, work, and publisher rejection letters all taped up on my refrigerator and office wall for me and all to see. They were so motivating!
Back in 2009, I approached some personal finance network asking if I could join and they told me to go away. Awesome! Every time I see the e-mail, it motivates me to write more and grow Financial Samurai. I've asked a couple of the major PF writers for help before, and most have never bothered to reply back. Sweet!
Now that it's almost 2020, literally none of the personal finance blogs in that exclusive network are still around.
The best rejection that keeps on giving is my college wait-list rejection. Being rejected from one of my target schools has given me 20+ years of non-stop energy to prove their decision wrong.
It’s a gift that keeps on giving! I must admit it’s an interesting scenario when I have to deal with interviewing candidates from this particular school. Honestly, it makes me absolutely giddy to watch their football team crash and burn this year!
4) Seek out rejection.
Rejection is like adrenaline during a fight or flight scenario. You’ve heard about people lifting cars and doing miraculous things because of their body’s natural defense mechanism kicking in.
Whenever you attempt something new, seek out somebody at the top of his or her game and get rejected. Turn your rejection into Popeye’s spinach and pound away. Benchmark yourself to them and work your butt off to prove them wrong.
I remember when I was in my mid-20’s, I was rejected from joining my senior colleagues on a client visit because they said, “it’d be too crowded.” What they really meant to say was I was too junior, too inexperienced, and they didn’t believe I could hold my own. They may have been right, but I enjoyed taking their rejection to mean they were embarrassed of me.
I used this rejection to work an extra 20 hours a week on my communication skills, while buttressing my knowledge of my particular product area so I would come across as the consummate professional. It worked, and I was promoted a year later to Vice President.
5) Know that even the best get rejected.
Here are some great examples of successful people who got rejected:
- Michael Jordan got cut from his sophomore high school basketball team.
- Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star in 1919 because, his editor said, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
- While a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Anna Wintour did lots of shoots, but apparently Tony Mazalla thought they were too edgy, and so she got fired after 9 months.
- Jerry Seinfeld was fired after a poor performance on his very minor role on the sitcom Benson. Apparently no one told him he had been fired and he only found out about it when he showed up for a read-through and discovered his part was missing from the script.
- Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times.
And the list goes on and on and on. Winners get rejected all the time. Winners are the ones who are able to keep on grinding for over a decade.
Embrace The Happy Loser Archetype
Clotaire Rapaille, a psychoanalyst and ethnographer describes a happy loser as someone who sees rejection as a challenge. The first “no” stimulates their brains to want to try harder and not give up. Clotaire highlights one example where a firm defines success not by how many wins a salesperson achieves, but by how many rejections instead.
In other words, until the happy loser receives a “no” from a perspective client, he or she has not succeeded. The Happy Loser archetype is similar to one who loses a tough tennis match. Instead of making excuses, the happy loser goes and runs 10 miles, hires a coach, hits 1,000 serves and does everything possible to prepare to win the next time around.
I’ve always believed the most intimidating opponent is the one whose been rejected all throughout high school but survives. Those are the guys who’ve experienced enough rejection to last a lifetime.
With a large chip on their shoulders, they have an unwavering desire to prove people wrong and so happen to often be the biggest successes. All that anger is bottled up into a cannon used to blow away the competition.
Some may wonder whether being a happy loser can be taught. The answer is yes! By shifting your mindset to look for NO’s you will gradually start experiencing the thrill of rejection.
Smell The Fear And Do It Anyway
So I ask again, will you let rejection crush your spirits, or raise your determination? You need unwavering focus in order to succeed in a world full of talent. The world is getting MORE competitive, not less, thanks to globalization.
Remember my #1 motto: Never fail due to a lack of effort because effort requires no skill. Go out there, get rejected, knowing that each time you do, your hunger grows until you finally succeed!
Updated for 2021 and beyond.