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#WeStayLearning Issue 002: Becoming Rejection Resilient

#WeStayLearning Issue 002: Becoming Rejection Resilient
This week’s issue of #WeStayLearning is inspired by Jia Jiang’s Tedx Talk “What I learned from 100 days of rejection” and a recent “L’ that I got.

What I learned from 100 days of rejection | Jia Jiang
What I learned from 100 days of rejection | Jia Jiang
Two weeks ago, someone sent me a link to a Studio in London for Founders who create content. He said, “I feel like this is something you might want to build someday,” and I responded, “oh yes! but it’s also something that I could use in my life right now.”
A studio, complete with a fantastic set, will make my life much easier, so I applied for membership. This is funny because the landing page clearly said ‘founders only’, and the application had questions like ‘how much have you raised for your startup’. Yet I applied. The Audacity, right? Well, that’s not all.
They invited me for a tour, and I went. While there, the Studio manager reiterated that though they love my content and could see how I could bring value to their community, they weren’t sure because I am not a founder and I need more time allocation (min 8 hours per month) versus the avg. the 3 hours a month their members typically get. But she was said to still email her later, break down how I see it working, and she’d take it to the membership committee.
I went home, and with all the info I knew (3 hours per month, founders only), I still asked for 8 hours, and as expected, they came back with ‘I am sorry, but it won’t work’. I was pained. Very much so because my God! The studio is fine, and it will 5x my content creation life right now. But hurt aside, I moved on very quickly and scheduled my next set of interviews by the next day.
So when I watched Jia’s video above a few days later, it made so much sense to me because (a) I wasn’t always this audacious. I used to be very scared and cautious. If it didn’t seem like I would get something, I would not bother. (b) Rejections used to paralyze me for days. I’d wallow in them and cry and cry and cry before I could do anything else. But now, I feel my feelings for a few hours, or max. one day, and I move on. The reason is that I have become resilient to rejections.
In fact, my Audacity and resilience are very intertwined. Here’s how:
One of the things I learned in my early twenties that completely changed my perspective of life is “Do it Afraid”. Three simple words, but it packs a punch. Do it, afraid!
I even made a video about it.
Fear is not a Sign of Weakness | Do It Afraid
Fear is not a Sign of Weakness | Do It Afraid
Instead of letting my fear stop me, I learned that I could do it scared, and I have built that muscle over time that it has become Audacity. I will send anyone a cold email; I will apply for anything, I will price myself outrageously just because I can. Sometimes, it will work. Other times, it won’t.
When it works, it fuels my confidence and audacity to try another thing. And when it doesn’t (and this happens more often), it fuels my resilience - it builds the muscle of resilience for me and makes it easy to take my losses like a champ.
And so ‘do it afraid’ made me audacious. Audaciousness has made me try out for many things, especially those I know I am not qualified for. In turn, those rejections have built my resilience.
When Jia did the 100 days of rejection challenge, he did it to build the muscle of resilience; and each day, he learned something new that made it easier to turn a No to a Yes the next day.
He said, “…in my research; I found that people who really change the world, who change the way we live and the way we think, are the people who were met with initial and often violent rejections. People like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or even Jesus Christ. These people did not let rejection define them. They let their reaction after rejection define them. And they embraced rejection.”
Embracing rejection is hard, but here are four things that have helped me so far:
1. TRY:
I tell myself all the time that nothing would change if I get a No but a Yes can change everything.
Using the studio as an example: nothing about my life has changed since they told me no. But if they had said yes? Oh my God, it would have made my life and content so much better and easier to produce!. So I tried because of the possibility of the yes, no matter how slim.
I haven’t done the 100 days challenge, but I have built my resilience muscle by just trying. Sometimes, I try out for opportunities just because - not because I want it but because it is within my ability to try it out. And there are only two outcomes: a rejection that will teach me something or a Yes that can change my life.
Also, many things is a game of numbers: the more jobs you apply for, the higher your chances of landing a job. The more times you swipe, the higher your chances of getting your perfect match. Yes, people luck out in one try, but there’s nothing wrong if that is not you. Play the numbers game.
Except you are made of steel, rejection hurts. It hurts whether it’s the big kind like not getting that job that was so right for you or less significant like not getting that match on Tinder that you wanted.
When I get rejected for something I wanted, I let myself feel it. I’d take some time and just feel. I don’t tell myself that it doesn’t matter when it does because when it matters, it matters, and when it hurts, it hurts, and that’s okay.
Feeling makes it easier to move on. But when you are in denial, that hurt and the fear would creep up in the future and paralyze you the next time you need to try.
So feel today, so you can move on and try again tomorrow.
I never take rejection as a reflection of who I am because my rejector is not an authority on me. I am a badass, but I understand that I might not be the type of badass an opportunity needs at the time, and that’s okay. It’s not really about my badassery; it’s just that this thing and I do not really fit at this particular moment.
And yes, sometimes rejection can be personal, but a lot of times it’s actually not. So take the feedback, find the lessons and use that for the next try.
Who you are and what people are looking for could be different - it’s about the work, the role, the opportunity, their preferences, and if it is not for you, it is not for you.
Always improve. No matter what, do not stop improving. Whether it’s your career or being a better person for your future partner. The more you improve, the higher your chances of getting a Yes the next time.
Do not stop doing what you are doing in the place you currently are.
It took me tens of applications for like six months to get my first international remote job. The second took two conversations in two weeks to get an offer. The difference? Improvement!
So when I say I am an audacious person, it’s because I do things afraid and go for what I want; even though I know that there is this strong possibility, it won’t work out. The more I do this, the more I build my confidence and resilience. So with these two things, there’s no stopping me.
I will send a cold email to Elon Musk if I need to. Maybe he won’t reply, or perhaps as
Seth Godin did, he will. If he doesn’t respond, nothing about my life will change. But if he does, whew! Oh my. That possibility is worth a shot. I think this is how successful people get successful. By not taking things personally, feeling their emotions, continuously improving, and just trying.
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