Leveraging Rejection, In 3 Steps.

If you haven’t experienced some form of rejection recently, you’re probably not trying hard enough.

If you come up with new ideas, you’ll experience new rejections.

If you’ve written a book and start pitching it to publishers, you’ll experience rejection.

If you’re looking for a new job, chances are you’ll receive a no along the way.

Stepping toward something new is often stepping toward rejection. What’s interesting though, is that rejection isn’t what’s most important. What you DO with rejection is.

I’ll be honest. I have a love/hate relationship with rejection. Maybe you can relate. In fact, I’ve yet to meet the person who loves rejection. And yet, looking back, some of the very best circumstances that have happened in my life have come through the pathway of rejection.

As painful as rejection can be, there’s an opportunity each time if we’ll learn how to leverage it with these three steps.

Step #1. See rejection as a chapter, not a conclusion.

Step #2. Ask the person who is rejecting you for help.

Step #3. Leave a positive, lasting impression.

Recently, Fast Company magazine interviewed me about this. You can go more in-depth by reading their article:


I’ll recap each step quickly here:

Step #1. See rejection as a chapter, not a conclusion.

I’m reminded of what Pixar’s Ed Catmull said about the difference between successful movie directors and unsuccessful ones. “They don’t take rejection personally,” he said. “They learn from it.”

Once you’ve gotten the call that you weren’t selected, it’s easy to retreat to the couch with ice cream and Netflix. That’s fine, for a while. 24 hours to be exact. And while rejection is very personal, it can’t touch the reality of who you are. Or it least it shouldn’t. Instead, we learn from it and keep moving forward.

Another way to think about it is something I’ve often told myself. “Rejection is protection, in disguise.”

It’s so easy to see looking back that the rejection I received along the way was actually protection. One of the ways I’m trying to grow and mature is to see this quicker and believe this earlier instead of realizing this years from now.

Step #2. Ask the person who is rejecting you for help.

Something we might miss when we are rejected for the job is how hard it must be to be the person on the other side of us. I’m sure they don’t enjoy delivering bad news. (If they do, you don’t want to work with them anyway. Remember, rejection is protection.) Before the conversation ends, take a moment to ask them for help. “If you were me, what would you do at this point?” “Is there someone you know that you would recommend I talk to now?” “Can I touch base with you again in a few months to see how you’re doing?”

The point here is to keep the relationship with this person, open and on-going, if possible.

Step #3. Leave a positive, lasting impression.

I imagine it’s rare that someone who delivered bad news gets a thank you note from the one who was rejected. It’s why doing this is a MUST if you want to leverage rejection. Leaving a positive, lasting impression is always a good thing, regardless of whether it leads somewhere or not. Saying thank you for the opportunity to interview honors the person who invested time with you. Plus, it’s a first-class thing to do.

Finally, if you know someone who has experienced rejection lately, let’s partner together to show that person we’re FOR them. Send this email to them and let them know you’re thinking of them today, and remind them you believe in them.

As always, thank you for the being a part of our online community.

FOR You,
Jeff Henderson

PS. Chapter 9 in my new book, What to do Next, is called “When the Dream Dies.” If you’ve had a dream that’s died, I believe this chapter alone is worth reading. You can get it here


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