6 Ways to Handle “Rejection”

Why Goal Achievement isn’t Linear: The Energetics of Joumor, & my 18-year-old nephew’s job search magic.

My sweet nephew Max is looking for a job in NJ while he’s home from college for the summer. He’d applied to a few places, but I hadn’t heard anything, so I asked what was going on.

“Nothing,” Max sighed.

I had an idea and called a local ice cream parlor where we’d recently had a good customer service experience. She said we could come right over and apply. Max admitted he wasn’t super comfortable driving that far but he agreed to it if I went with him. (I’m not the most comfortable driver myself, but I’m good at supporting people. 🙂

On our way, Max told me about his “failed” efforts in applying, and how one friend last year had lost hope after never getting a job. At the ice cream parlor, he filled out the application, only to find out upon beginning the interview that they were full on summer help. (The nice lady apologized to both of us for not letting us know in advance).

Understandably, Max was disappointed, but when he spoke of rejection, I pointed out that it had nothing to do with him- they weren’t accepting applications for his situation so it didn’t really count. We chatted as Max continued to do a great job driving around despite his discomfort. My other sister recommended he apply at a grocery store, so we stopped by and dropped off an application.

As we drove, Max reviewed the places he’d applied and been rejected (5). I asked him at how many of them he’d been interviewed: “None.” None? Then, wait, he hadn’t been rejected a single time! Max smiled each time we discounted- he had dropped off the application and not heard back, he had to go get ID and when he returned they said they’d be in touch…nothing had become a yes, but they weren’t real rejections, because they’d never interviewed him. Here are the main points we covered, which are true for most projects in life:

1. Go for volume. Most people, no matter their age, have to apply to more than 4-5 places to get a job. My friend who’s a lawyer sent out 150 resumes and 150 customized cover letters some years ago before finding her job. Joumor follow-up is 5-12 times, but for job applications prepare for 20 before getting remotely discouraged.

2. Don’t take things personally (even if it is!). It’s super hard not to, but with piles of applications you never even know if yours was even looked at.

3. Be willing to fail, and embrace failure like a game. I told Max the story of Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, one of my heroes- every day her father would ask his children how they had failed that day and be disappointed if they hadn’t. Sara Blakely went on to own the only privately held billion-dollar company owned by a woman, let alone a woman under 40.

4. Develop a thicker skin. Willingness to fail, not taking things personally, being realistic for how much effort it can take before you achieve your goal- mastering these concepts all determine how able you are to recover from things not going your ideal way.

5. Talk it out with someone you trust and be open to their input. You might not realize how stuck you feel because you haven’t followed 1-4. It can take some outside eyes and ears to help you see you don’t suck as much as you might think you do.

6. Be courageous. Although it might not seem directly related to your goal, behaving in a way that is expansive and courageous (like driving when you are uncomfortable) is good for your self-esteem.

Max had been mired in the notion of rejection, and it was bumming him out. By the time we made it home for dinner, he no longer felt rejected and was feeling more hopeful. Not to mention he was courageously practicing his driving the whole time.

About 30 minutes later, the phone rang. The very first place he had applied, the animal shelter, whom he hadn’t heard from in over 3 weeks called: would he like to come in for a trial shift? Why yes, he would!

There’s more to achieving a goal than just pursuing it nonstop. Perspective is everything, and it’s one of the hardest things to shift. That’s what Joumor is all about- finding as many ways as possible to feel differently and to take action so that you become more open to receive- both from yourself and from the world- in a grounded way, trusting your courage and your self-worth.

Whatever your project, may your Joumorous perspective serve you in accomplishing it expediently, honoring all that you do along the way.

For fun, here’s a list of some Famous Rejections Before Massive Success:

Harrison Ford- told he would fail
Sir James Dyson- spent all his saving and failed repeatedly for 15 years before creating the bagless vacuum
Henry Ford
Lady Gaga- dropped by Island Def Jam records in first 3 months
JK Rowling
Agatha Christie
Kathryn Stockett
Thomas Edison- “too stupid”
Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen
Zane Grey
C.S. Lewis
Steven Spielberg- rejected multiple times from University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts
Vera Wang- rejected from Olympic skating team
Colonel Sanders of KFC
Walt Disney- “No imagination”
Oprah Winfrey- “Too emotionally invested in her stories”
Dr. Seuss- “Too different”

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