Failure is an opportunity, not a stop sign!
Rejection. No one likes it, but some are more afraid of it than others. I’ve had to come to terms with this a lot recently, because I’m learning how to do sales calls for Gathering. In order to be a successful sales person, we must be willing to face rejection. I’ve been told that often sales people receive more no answers than yeses, but they still keep going. What is that thing inside of a sales person that helps him or her to keep trying again and again, even after being rejected? I’m not sure what it is, but I know I have to find it in order to be successful.
There are a lot of ways we can be rejected – we can ask someone out and be rejected; we can apply for a job or a promotion and be turned down; we can do a sales pitch and have a person say no; we can ask a friend to lunch, they say no, and then see them eating out with someone else. I’m convinced that there are more ways to feel rejected than there are stars in the sky.
But if we don’t risk rejection, we may never go on that first date, we may never receive that job or promotion; we may never make the sale, and we may end up with no friends.
Rejection is painful, but it is a necessary risk, because if we avoid the possibility of rejection, we will never accomplish anything of real value.
So, rejection happens. How do we deal with it?
First of all, we should look at rejection in a positive way. Rejection is good for us. Every time we receive rejection, it toughens us up, and it gives us the strength to try again. After that scary hurdle of that first rejection, the next ones must get easier. Why else would politicians keep running for office even after they’ve lost? Sometimes I think that most people in office eventually win because people became familiar with their names after they ran several times and lost. I’ve always thought that a politician’s concession speech must be one of the most painful things to deliver – especially after a nasty campaign. And yet they try again and again. Could it be that, once a person has experienced rejection, he or she becomes toughened up, so that rejections are seen as a challenge to overcome instead of a loss?
Rejection teaches us. Since I’ve started Gathering Magazine, I’ve read a lot of business publications. One thing that I’ve learned is that most successful small businesses failed at first. But, instead of closing the business and giving up, the owners looked at what they could do better, and then they changed things. I have even read about some businesses that started out as one thing, but then evolved into something completely unrelated to the original plan. These entrepreneurs decided they were not going to take “no” answers lying down – they were going to keep on fixing things until they heard a “yes.”
Sometimes rejection turns out to be a blessing in disguise. I know from experience that several people who received promotions at one of my old jobs ended up being the first people laid off when our company started cutting back. Maybe some things we reach out for aren’t a good fit for some reason, and the Lord is looking out for us.
Finally, those of us who have been rejected are in very good company. Jesus Himself was rejected. In Mark 10, He said, “haven’t you read what Scripture says, ’The stone the builders didn’t accept has become the most important stone of all?’” Mk 10:12 (NIV). He was rejected by his own people and his closest disciples – think of Peter denying Him (Matt. 26:68-70) and of Judas, who kissed Him and then turned Him in (Matt. 26:48). In fact, the crowd was given the choice between having a murderer put to death and Jesus, and they chose that Jesus should die (Luke 23:18). No one was more rejected than Jesus, and He didn’t do anything wrong at all.
What this means is that rejection does not make us losers; it makes us winners! We share the fate of being rejected with Jesus and many other important historical figures – including Walt Disney*, who was fired as a newspaper editor for not having enough imagination. Bill Gates’ first business was a failure. Failure is an opportunity, not a stop sign! And remember the most important thing – even if all of humankind rejects us, we are still accepted where it counts – by God. Scripture says, “My father and mother may desert me, but the Lord will accept me. “ Ps. 27:10 (NIV).
We are, all of us, truly people of substance. We are children of God, and we all have something valuable to offer. So, next time you hesitate to do something because of possible rejection, remember that rejection can always be a blessing – either because there is a good reason for it or because something good will come out of it. Rejection is a positive, not a negative, so reach out and pursue your dreams, regardless of what may happen!