Friday, December 23, 2011

I wish I could learn to reject rejection.

           Rejection is a terrible thing. It can reduce a full-grown man to tears. It's something I have a really hard time with. But there's one thing even more debilitating to creative people. The fear of rejection.

            If your ad is rejected by a client, especially for no good reason, it's up to you to defend it, which I gladly do. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.  But if you're afraid of rejection, it can throw you into more than a deep funk. It can keep you from doing your best the next time.

            A lot of professional salespeople go through this rejection stuff all the time. The hardened ones even have a set of words for it: "When you're hot, you're hot. When you're not, you're not." Those are the days you find them playing alone on the golf course.

             Harvey Mackay, the salesman's salesman who wrote the best-seller, "Swim with the Sharks", says you can't escape rejection, but you can learn from it. Here are some of his suggestions for dealing with rejection:

             1. "Dissect your thoughts under the microscope." Mackay suggests paying attention to what you tell yourself. Thoughts like "I'm no good" or "This is too hard" can defeat you without your saying a word.

             2. "Identify realistic fears." Mackay believes knowledge is power. Having answers to feared objections will prepare you for your presentation, and help you feel in control again.

             3. "Focus on the moment." There is a moment of rejection but the feeling lingers. Accept the feelings but internally answer the criticisms. Mackay points out that athletes have ups and downs all the time, but don't wallow in defeat. They make it work for them the next time.

             4. "Be more assertive." Most fears of rejection are based on the desire for approval from others. Who made them the Supreme Court of your abilities?  "People respect peers who stand up for themselves," he says. Of course, you need substantiation and a basis in reality for your self confidence.

           Early in my career, my work was rejected quite often. Fortunately, I was able to separate myself from my work. When someone got personal in their criticism, it hurt a lot more than when they critiqued my work.

           From that I learned to trust my taste, my judgement, my own insight, my own convictions. In my work.

           Of course, if you think my singing is bad, that's a whole other thing.

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