Mental Kung Fu to Cope with Rejection
- September 1st, 2016
- 4 mins READING TIME
No ifs, ands or buts. Rejection hurts.
Whether you’ve been brushed-off by a prospective customer, dismissed by an investor, declined by a bank or spurned by a potential employee, rejection stings.
But what separates winning entrepreneurs from also-rans is how you deal with rejection. Even prepare for it. Because rejection is inevitable if you’re putting yourself out there, taking the risks of a determined start-up. And you are.
So let’s train for resiliency with some proven techniques for bouncing back and powering forward.
1. Strip rejection naked
Strip the rejection down for what it is and – more importantly – what it isn’t. It’s not failure. It’s not an indication that your business has no future. It’s not disaster-in-a-door-slam. And it’s not about YOU.
Take a breath. Strip away the ego and emotions and what do you see?
A rejection is simply one person/entity deciding your offering doesn’t fit with their plan for that day, that year, that moment. Or, as my nan would say: different horses for different courses. Being ruthlessly clear-eyed will help you get back in the saddle fast.
2. Use rejection as learning fuel
Every rejection is a chance to assess – not second-guess – your actions.
Transform that surge of adrenaline (disguised as panic, fear, anger) into energizing fuel for answering this question: What can I learn from this?
Maybe the targeting needs to be more precise. Maybe the pitch needs fewer, but better, numbers. Maybe meetings at 4pm Fridays aren’t such a grand idea. Maybe you feel more confident with colleagues alongside. Maybe you feel more effective in one-on-ones. Maybe you need to reach out to greater quantities of folks instead of pinning all your hopes on one whale. Or maybe you’re chasing too many small fish and should concentrate on a few biggies.
Or maybe there’s nothing you can or should change: they just weren’t into your offering [see #1].
Only you can assess the situation – preferably with some good intel. Ask for feedback e.g. “What’s the one area where (my) XYZ didn’t seem a good match for helping (your) PDQ reach its goals?” Notice the impersonal tone here; all business, just seeking to understand where the primary mismatch was.
You may not get an answer, but sometimes the answer you do get can be illuminating, even invigorating:
Well, Tricia, six weeks ago, we’d have loved to invest in your organic butcher shop. But the CEO went to India on holiday and came back a vegan.
Good to know, eh?
Tricia might’ve spent days moping about the turndown if she hadn’t asked. She can confidently move on to more carnivorous waters.
3. Restore mojo with convo
Starting new conversations is a great way to get past rejection:
- Call a current, happy client just to check in and chat
- Have lunch with a former colleague that you adore
- Visit your nan or nan-equivalents
- Celebrate something – anything! – with friends
- Help someone with bigger problems than yours
You feel better just thinking about this list, right?
Positive connections like these heal wounded mojo.
Go forth, generate happiness and your mettle will be mighty once again.
Perseverance is everything. Find new open doors (aka opportunities) and walk on in.
Persistence, however, isn’t always advisable. Returning to the scene of rejection, shoving a crowbar into a shut door and expecting miracles wastes your energy.
When in doubt, talk to other entrepreneurs. Successful ones know that rejection is an incremental payment on your dues. They can also help you distinguish between a dead-end and a roadblock. Seek out and take in their wisdom.
5. Remain extraordinary
This may sound pretty Oprah, but it’s true: Be strong in your sense of self. The world shifts around us all the time. Nevertheless, your core belief in yourself must remain steadfast.
Recognise your courage here. Most people wouldn’t have the guts to venture into business, let alone hit up strangers to be their customers, investors or partners. You do.
Therefore, entrepreneur, you are extraordinary sui generis. And you’ll continue to be so long as you heed these immortal, move-on words from Winston Churchill:
When you’re going through hell…keep going!