When I was in fifth grade, our class got to try out for the school chorus. All but three kids were selected. Yup. The three not chosen were myself and two boys who didn’t want to be in it anyway. It stung because I DID want to be in the choir. How bad could I be that I was the ONLY girl not chosen? I guess pretty bad.
But what a great kick in the butt it was for me. In sixth grade, anyone that signed up could be in choir and you can bet I signed up immediately. I continued to be in choir for seventh and eighth grade and all the way through high school and college. Eventually, I wasn’t just in the choir because they had to let me in but because I actually could read the notes and sing on key. I had the exciting opportunity to sing Carmina Burana with a collegiate choir and the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. I never became a great singer but I held my own and to this day I enjoy singing in my church choir.
The moral of the lesson isn’t just that I have a hard head and don’t like to hear “no” – although that is true too!
That 5th grade choir director’s rejection gave me the motivation to prove her wrong.
One of the biggest blows in my professional career was a proposal I wrote in response to a RFP that was designed for my company to win and we lost. Our company was liked enough by the customer that they wrote an RFP easy for us to win. We had the past performance and the expertise to do the job better than anyone else.
We lost because I didn’t know how to write a decent proposal. The contract was worth more than $1M and at the time my revenue was probably in the 100K range. It was a big deal I lost and that rejection was the kick in the pants I needed to admit my flaws and get the education I needed to write better proposals.
Rejection is humbling.
And we need it. Some of the best things happened in my personal and business life after rejection.
Ever see a forest a few months after a fire? The regrowth is green and lush and feeds the wildlife much better than before the fire. The pain of the fire is difficult, like the rejection we receive, but the growth it spurs afterwards is well worth the pain.
Rejection likely occurred because you became complacent or over-estimated your abilities.
So the next time you feel the pain of rejection, remember it is likely the kick in the butt you needed.