The fear of rejection, of getting “No’s”—from the opposite sex, your boss, a client, an investor—is one of our deepest fears. And with good reason. We are social creatures, biologically wired with a need to belong. We fear being disliked because it can lead to exile from our social circles. We crave the opposite—being loved.
In tribal times, being ejected from the safety of a community could have meant death. But we don’t face the same threat today. Fearing rejection no longer serves us.
Due to its deep evolutionary roots, the fear of rejection can be masked by all sorts of coping mechanisms. For example, instead of engaging with others, we choose to hide behind mobile phones and intellectual walls.
Without seeing this mechanism clearly, the fear of rejection can be difficult to conquer. The solution? Just like any other fear, it must be acknowledged and then confronted directly.
This is what entrepreneur Jia Jiang did. He overcame his fear of rejection by deliberately seeking rejection once a day for 100 days straight. That's right, over three months of day-after-day rejection. Jia book, Rejection Proof, is based on the idea that once we walk toward our fears, we take the wind out of their sails; they no longer hold power over us.
Key Points From Rejection Proof
- Biologically, we’re hard-wired to be terrified of rejection. This was useful all those thousands of years ago but today the fear of rejection holds us back.
- Rejection is not a be-all-and-end-all judgment on your skills, abilities, and personality, it’s the subjective opinion of one or several people whose views have been shaped by their own personalities and backgrounds. (e.g. J.K. Rowling had the first Harry Potter manuscript rejected 12 times)
- The solution for overcoming fear of rejection is to reframe your concept of it. Celebrate rejection and treat it as a valuable tool for getting you where you want and need to be in life. When you learn to overcome rejection and stop seeking as much approval from others, you naturally take more risks in life.
- Rejection is a numbers game. To get your ‘yes’ you just have to approach enough people.
- Ask why you were rejected so that you can improve your approach next time.
- Consider changing your environment or audience - Pitching to a different person or in a different environment can work wonders.
- Being afraid of rejection to the point that you give up altogether, is a rejection of yourself
- Don’t underestimate the power of humour. Go into each risk like a challenge with a playful attitude. If you choose to play it like a game, the rejection won’t be as painful or traumatic.
- When you’re authentic and discuss the reason and motivation behind your request, even if it’s trivial such as saying ‘I want X because it will make me feel better’, you increase your chances of getting it. The chance of getting a ‘yes’ increases even further when you acknowledge other people’s doubts, concerns, and even criticisms.
- Every single rejection has a positive aspect if you just take the time to look for it. Use rejection to motivate yourself towards reaching your goal by increasing your capability.
- Rejection not only makes people more empathetic, but it also makes people realize what their dreams actually mean to them - is the rejection actually worth it - do you want to pursue your dream badly enough to handle rejection after rejection?
- The need for constant approval leads us away from staying true to ourselves and living a fulfilled life. Make it your goal in life to feel comfortable in your own skin - let your rejection journey be about ACCEPTING YOURSELF rather than about not being accepted by others.
- For long-term success, you’ll want to detach yourself from the outcome. This means concentrating on factors that are within your control and not wasting your time and energy fretting over the unknown and factors that are beyond your control.
Rejection Is Not a Judgement Of Who You Are
Learn to rethink what rejection means - It’s not a be-all-and-end-all judgment on your skills, abilities, and personality, it’s the subjective opinion of one or several people whose views have been shaped by their own personalities and backgrounds. Just because 1 person doesn’t think you’re cut out for the job and rejects you, doesn’t mean others will react the same way.
J.K. Rowling had the first Harry Potter manuscript rejected 12 times by different British publishers. It was eventually picked up by Bloomsbury and went on to sell over 100 million copies.
Treat rejection as a valuable tool for getting you where you want and need to be in life. Don’t let people’s opinions be the final word - never give up and remember that rejection always has a number, to get your ‘yes’ you just have to talk to enough people.
Favorite Quote from Rejection Proof
"by not even asking, we are rejecting ourselves by default—and probably missing out on opportunity as a result."
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Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.