WDS and Why You May Need Rejection Therapy

10 Jul

Over the weekend, I followed some of the World Domination Summit (#WDS2013) twitter feed, kicking myself that I wasn’t in attendance to hear many of the inspirational presentations, and to meet so many dynamic people. People like:

Many of these bloggers, I have been following for years, and some more recently. I am inspired not only by the businesses that they have created, but their views on life. They believe that anything is possible, or in the words of Alexis Grant, “make your own luck in your career and in your life”.

Chris Gullibeau has traveled to every country in the world and he frequently shares his travel hacks with others, and encourages people to live life in a uncoventional way. Darren Rowse sort of accidentally became a blogger in 2002, and now he offers his expertise, advice, and inspiration to other bloggers. For years I read J.D. Roth’s Get Rich Slowly on a daily basis. His journey and his writing really resonated with his readers, allowing him to become a full-time blogger and eventually sell his blog for a hefty sum. I have long been a fan of Pamela Slim who left corporate america to run her own business, helping others figure out how to follow their dreams and “escape from cubicle nation”. Alexis Grant is a former journalist turned entrepreneur, who has a very successful business doing social media and blog consulting, digital strategy, content and marketing, as well as many other projects.

I was already aware of these well-known bloggers, but what I gathered from the #WDS2013 twitter feed, is that there were also many inspirational folks at WDS, who I wasn’t aware of.One of those people is Jia Jang. Jia Jang grew up in China, and after a visit to his school from Bill Gates, he had it in his head at an early age that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. But, as often happens, life or fear or doubts, or simply momentum of life takes over. Jia Jang followed a conventional path, working a 9-5 job earning a good living,  but inside he was not happy.

At age 30, with his first child on the way, he made the courageous decision to leave his job and finally follow his dreams. But, four months into his new venture, he received a devastating blow from a potential investor. He was ready to give up, but after some encouragement from his spouse he decided to continue the journey, and looked at ways to deal with the rejection. He found the idea of rejection therapy and it resonated with him. The idea behind rejection therapy is the following:

1. To be more aware of how irrational social fears control and restrict our lives

2. Smash the tyranny of fear and reap the treasures (treasures include wealth, relationships and self-confidence)

3. Learn from, and even enjoy rejection

4. To not be attached to outcomes, especially when it involves the free agency of other people

5. Permit yourself to fail

Jia Jang, took rejection therapy to heart and did a 100 day rejection therapy challenge, with the aim to make 100 crazy requests to get rejected. Some of his wackiest requests included asking a stranger to play soccer in his backyard, trying to crash a Superbowl party (he did bring a bag of chips), and asking FedX to mail a package to Santa Claus. Surprisingly, some of his wacky requests were a failure, meaning that he wasn’t rejected. Perhaps his “failure” that received the most attention was when he asked Krispy Kreme to design donuts in the shape of the olympic rings:

Jia Jang was rejected may times during his 100-day challenge, but surprisingly some of his requests were accepted. Some of the lessons he learned were not only about rejection, but about the kindness of strangers. To hear more about his experience watch his Tedx talk on rejection:

If you are deep into a career transition, by now you have probably have experienced a lot of rejections like the job applications that go nowhere, the screening interviews that don’t translate to real interviews, and interviews that don’t result in job offers. You may also feel rejected by networking contacts who say that they want to help you, but don’t follow through or former co-workers who you thought would be more supportive.

I am a strong person, but a sensitive soul and I don’t deal well with rejection, which can make the experience of being in career transition even more painful. I so appreciate Jia Jang’s story and experience because it gives me a new way to think about rejection. I am not sure if I will ever enjoy rejection (see #3 above), but maybe I can learn to be more comfortable with rejection. After all, many highly successful people have been rejected multiple times. Here are a few examples:

  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from a junior reporter position and deemed “unfit for tv”.
  • Julia Child’s first cookbook was more than 8 years in the making, and faced multiple rejections before finally being published. 
  • Stephen Spielberg was rejected from acceptance into film school three times before finally being accepted. He later dropped out to become a director.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Aaron Rodgers was humiliated on draft day, being picked up in the 24th round after widely being expected to go in the first round.
  • J.K Rowling was a divorced, depressed, single-mother on welfare when she had the inspiration for Harry potter. She faced multiple rejections before getting the book published.

There will be a lot more rejection in life so we might as well get comfortable with it. If we can learn to use it to our advantage, it can be a positive motivator, rather than a distraction from what we are really meant to be doing. I am going to learn (I hope) how to be thankful for rejection, and maybe even learn to like (not love) it.

I’d like to hear from you. How do you deal with rejection? Do you need rejection therapy?


7 Responses to “WDS and Why You May Need Rejection Therapy”

  1. Rebecca Fraser-Thill at Working Self July 10, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Wow, what a story Jia Jang has! Rejection is still a sore spot for me, but I’ve improved a LOT over the past decade, which has enabled me to take many more chances with my writing. For me the key to dealing with rejection is to keep many projects – or applications, or what have you – going at once, so all your hopes aren’t resting on ONE outcome. Then when rejection comes to call, you just feel like, “Well, I’m so busy with X, Y, and Z, that rejection is what it is” and you move on.

    And I wish I were at WDS too!!! I’m plotting a path to get there next year…

    • Savvy Career July 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Rebecca. Perhaps we can meet at WDS next year!

  2. reginaldhalljr July 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Hey nice post. I deal with rejection by reframimg. Every time I don’t act because I’m afraid of being rejected then I’m really rejecting myself. That distinction has helped me immensely. So even if I try to ask for an introduction or I try to collaborate and I’m rejected, I instead told myself that my actions and goals ARE important. Important enough for me to risk rejection. Another part of reframimg is I try to use the word low interest instead of rejected. Sometimes people have high interest and sometimes it’s just low interest. A “no” isn’t necessarily an outright rejection. I’ve put myself out there A LOT within the past two or three years and reframimg is why. Thanks for this post. I plan to be at WDS next year too!

    • Savvy Career July 21, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

      Thanks for your comment reginald! I love the idea of reframing to “low interest” rather than rejection. And it is true that a “no” isn’t always a no. In fact, when I applied to graduate school, I was rejected at first, but then accepted after having an in-person meeting with the director. I am going to try to practice reframing more so I can get more comfortable with rejection. Hope you see you at WDS!

  3. Reggie July 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Ah! I wrote a long comment that got deleted. Anyway, great post. The thing that has helped me overcome rejection is reframing. For instance I realize that if I don’t put myself out there and go for what I want, then I am essentially rejecting myself. Even if I make an effort where I can be rejected like ask to meet someone, work a project with someone, or even a date — if I get “rejected” the fact that I was willing to take that risk proves to myself that what I wanted had worth. Continually doing this only reinforces that my goals/wants/needs ARE important.

    Another part of reframing that was helped me and I think would help others is the language we use. I try not to use the word rejected. Instead it’s either high interest or low interest. Sometimes I might ask for something or make an offer and someone says “no.” That just means they had low interest, and that’s okay. Everytime I hear no doesn’t mean I was rejected, it just means they had low interest.

    These two parts of reframing have really helped me in the last two to three years get put myself out there A TON.

    Thanks for the post! I plan to be at WDS next year too. 🙂

  4. Matthew Taylor July 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Nice post. I too am searching for a career change, and I’ve experienced some of what you’ve described (applications that go nowhere, etc.).

    I feel that rejection is easier to bear if you are very sure about yourself and your plans or abilities. That way, it’s easier to say, to heck with them, what do they know! But if you are starting out in something brand new, and you keep getting rejected, often without an explanation, it can be very difficult to bear. You need to have the occasional tiny success to make it feel worthwhile to continue. Otherwise, you are just someone who is completely unaware of your own incompetance.

    My biggest problem is that I don’t understand what other people want. It makes it hard to sell what I have.

    • Savvy Career July 21, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Matt. I think one of the more challenging things about career changes, and job searching is that there often isn’t a lot of feedback given so it is difficult to know what to change. I agree that small successes are important to feel like things are headed in a positive direction.

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