In this time in which we waste too much energy, trying to portray our best life on social media, rejection isn’t something we boast about.

Yet, we have all been rejected at one point! Whether it be at school, and you weren’t picked for the basketball team, or that your crush didn’t feel the same way about you, when the promotion you applied for goes to your colleague or when you receive yet another job rejection letter.

Some doctors have found, while studying MRIs, that the zones activated in the brain when we are rejected, are the same as when we are in real physical pain. Some scientists even noticed that taking Tylenol (a pain killer) could help reduce emotional pain.

While a few of us are motivated by rejections, many others are shot down and demoralised by them.

What if we considered rejection as something positive?

  1. The power of “why”

A few years ago, I made a commercial proposition to one of my clients, to which my client answered a firm, quite vocal “no”, followed by a “never!”, and a “how dare you” and “do you want me to fall into debt?”. I remember freezing and quickly changing the subject as to try and forget the incident.

Terrorised, I took his “no” as a definitive no, so I didn’t dig any further, I didn’t dare ask any questions as to understand why he refused. I could perhaps have helped me get a different answer.

I interpreted the “no” as a “never”, when my client might have been thinking “no, not like that” or “no, it is not the right moment”.

For the anecdote; I made the same proposition to the same client the next year with some very light modifications, and he accepted it.

Asking “why” allow us to create a connection with someone else, it allows us to discover what modifications we need to bring to our proposition, as to transform the “no” into a “yes”. Basically it helps us make progress.

If your boss isn’t thrilled by your idea, maybe you just have to tweak your approach.

Rejection is a step that only brings you closer to your goal. Just as a reminder; JK Rowling was rejected by 12 publishing houses for Harry Potter (she then became the first billionaire author). Walt Disney was fired from Kansas City Star in 1919 for lack of imagination.

One of my first bosses, the marvellous David Rushton, told me (while I was applying for an internal position) that whether or not you get the job doesn’t depend on your value but rather the people you are competing against.  No matter your qualities, if someone with more experience applies for the same job as you, you will probably not be picked, but don’t question your value. So remember that this is not personal.

Not getting what we want can also be a good thing. Dr Steve Maraboli said: “Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” Not getting the job, the promotion, or even being left by your wife or husband, is the possibility to explore other paths, which otherwise we would not have explored. It’s actually really lucky.

The more knock-backs, the bigger your chance of succeeding, and of developing your skills. Although rejection is painful on the spot, it’s a temporary pain. You will get through it. The experience also allows you to stand out in a crowd, it will give you an asset, which many others do not have: continuing after obstacles.

I like the idea that we must set ourselves goals for failure, as to allow us to fully develop our potential. If you aren’t stopped, well then, your goals probably aren’t being ambitious enough. The concept of rejection is great, because it proves that you are trying new things, and taking risks. Rejection also allows you to have more appreciation for your future successes.

In Jia Jong’s Ted Talk “What I learnt from 100 days of rejection”, he develops the idea that we can immunise ourselves from rejection. How? By making ourselves experience rejection as often as possible! After a while, you get used to the sensation, it no longer affects you.

-Know, that by doing this, you are multiplying your chances of succeeding- Statistically, the more you try, the more rejections you will get, but you will succeed more too. Only trying something once doesn’t make any sense! No one succeeds 100% of the time!

-Analyse-  What is the reason behind the rejection? You must remember to be objective while doing this. Another one of David Rushton’s words of wisdom: Only look at the facts, remove your emotions from the equation. Stop with the drama and concentrate on what you have to improve.

Act- Though your boss may have turned down your business idea, don’t spend your time moaning about it, get back to work as to be able to suggest something else instead (like when you fall of while horse-riding, you get back on immediately).

And to motivate you during moments of doubt, think about all the times when people have said yes to you before.

As Thomas Edison once said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” 

So, what risk will you take today?

Translated from French by Clara Rapin Limoges

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