Are you held back by a fear of rejection or failure? You’re not alone. In fact, fear of rejection is incredibly pervasive in our culture. But what if there was a way to turn rejection into a tool for personal growth and success? But what if there was a way to turn rejection into a tool for personal growth and success? What if, instead of trying and failing to avoid rejection, we leaned into it?
Listen to the Podcast
Failure is Inevitable
The first time you do something, it’s hard. In fact, you’ll probably screw it up. But let’s say you don’t, and you strike gold on your first attempt. If Silicon Valley has taught us nothing else, it’s that your inexperience with success will probably lead to a more catastrophic failure down the road.
Failure is an inevitable part of any journey to success. It provides us with valuable learning opportunities, allowing us to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to overcome future obstacles. By failing early, we can become stronger and learn how to bounce back from problems more easily. When we inevitably face-plant, it is important to pick ourselves up, brush off the dirt, and approach our next endeavor with renewed determination and a better understanding of what it takes to succeed.
Lean Into Rejection
There is no magic advice I can give you to help you avoid failure. However, there are many ways you can practice failure with relatively low stakes.
Rejection letters are a great example. Whether you’re submitting a novel for publication, applying for a grant for your nonprofit, or simply emailing someone you’d like to collaborate with, rejection is unavoidable. Instead of trying and failing to avoid it, lean in. Rack up as many rejections as you can. Instead of laboring over perfecting a single email to a single potential collaborator, send out a hundred and start counting rejections and ignored outreach. Aim for fifty.
With rejection as your goal, what’s the worst that could happen? That you get more positive responses than you’d hoped?
Jia Jiang’s Rejection Therapy
Jia Jiang, the author of Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible, decided to leave the corporate world to become an entrepreneur.
Unfortunately, his deep-seated fear of rejection held him back from taking the necessary risks to succeed. To overcome that fear, he decided to subject himself to a hundred days of “rejection therapy,” doing everything from asking a stranger to loan him a hundred bucks to giving a speech on a random street corner to asking a Krispy Kreme store to whip up custom doughnuts in the shape of the Olympic rings. By the time he’d finished his experiment, he’d learned that rejection was a lot less painful than he’d always feared.
The fear of rejection had been what kept him paralyzed. That incredible experiment allowed Jiang to face his fear while embracing vulnerability. Beyond personal growth, he created a book and built an enormous following. Success softens the pain of any rejection.
Of course, there are many other ways to practice small failures with relatively low stakes. For example:
- Trying a new hobby or skill that you’re not very good at
- Asking for feedback on a project or presentation and being open to constructive criticism
- Trying new foods or restaurants that you might not like
- Applying for jobs that you’re not fully qualified for
- Asking someone out on a date
The key is to embrace the possibility of failure and use it as a learning opportunity. By practicing failure in small ways, we can develop the resiliency and adaptability necessary to overcome obstacles and achieve our goals. Having the courage to fail embraces our vulnerability, and we build resiliency, adaptability, and grit.