I’ve never dealt with my fear of rejection too well. I know some people who deal with it without a care in the world. Maybe you’re one of these folk, or maybe you’re like me and dwell on the dread of someone saying no to you… turning you down… bringing your fear of rejection to the forefront and present.
It drives shivers up my spine and always has. Whereas if you take my old buddy Jonny, for instance, he dealt with rejection like the mere inconvenience it is. Because let’s face it, rejection is a click of your fingers. It comes. It goes. We should move on and cast it aside. So why don’t we?
It’s what Jonny did, and it was never more apparent than when we went out drinking to pick-up girls.
Simply put, Jonny didn’t give a damn, walking from one girl to the other until someone agreed to dance. Goose-stepping and shaking his body, he embarrassed the hell out of me, because nearly every single girl would laugh and say, “No thanks.”
Yet Jonny never failed. He never went home alone. Where I stood to the side at two o’clock in the morning, he remained on the dance-floor – kissing, dancing, having the time of his life…
I’d convince myself with nonsense like, “He focusses on quantity whereas I strive for quality.”
In a way this was true, but for the most part pure bullshit. It was my fear of rejection that held me back. Each night I’d fall in love, but would I speak to her… or dance with her… or ask her share a drink with me… ?
My fear of rejection took control, insisting she’d say no and ridicule me. The very thought of rejection and failure destroyed me, thus ending any possibility of good or bad. I’m not endorsing Jonny’s methods because he was a nightmare for the most part, but at least he knew.
He didn’t allow his fear of rejection to hold him back. He moved in, asked the question, and knew one way or the other. He never stood on the side, wondering like I did. And to this day my fear of rejection holds me back – be it with girls, business, and everything in between.
But in 2013 I did one thing that’s made a massive difference in my life, and although I still listen to my fear of rejection far too often, it’s not nearly as powerful as it once was. Better yet, it’s something you can do, too. Today. Right now!
THIS ONE THING EASED MY FEAR OF REJECTION
Shortly after working for myself, I decided to write The Successful Mistake. I knew it was a book that would change my life, but I also hoped it would beat my fear of rejection into a pulp.
Why? Because there I was, some young entrepreneur without an audience or clue, forced to email successful entrepreneurs each morning and ask them for help… guidance… to jump on Skype with me and chat about their #GreatMistake.
‘They won’t reply.’
‘They’ll say no to you… they’ll reject you.’
‘Who are you to ask for their time?’
‘Why the hell would they jump on Skype with you?’
To this day I hesitate before emailing someone I don’t know… look up to… idolise in one way or another. I want to, but my fear of rejection peeks its head around the corner to try poison my world. It’s easier to neglect it today, but I wouldn’t say it’s easy.
Maybe it’ll never be easy for someone like me. For some, your fear of rejection is part of your life, but it doesn’t have to be an important part. Because if I can push it aside, so can you. And although this focussed around my business and new book, it’s changed my outlook on other fears, too – speaking to girls, networking, taking risk…
Everyone has a fear or two tucked up their sleeve. I do. You do. The person sat next to you does, too. But we all have the opportunity to push it aside and kick-on regardless. Your fears want to dictate your decisions, but you and only you have the power to stop this.
And there’s one thing your fear of rejection hates…
YOUR FEAR OF REJECTION HATES YOUR COMMITMENT TO SOMETHING IMPORTANT
The difference between reaching out to those I admired and asking them to be part of The Successful Mistake, compared to say, emailing them hello, is that The Successful Mistake required commitment.
As I introduced myself, it was as an author writing a book. My email had purpose. My question had purpose. Beyond this, I made a promise to myself and to them. I couldn’t show up some days, rather ALL days. I made a commitment, which is something your fear of rejection hates.
Because your fear’s sneaky, enticing with you dirty deeds like procrastination and the promise of tomorrow, and craziness like, ‘It’s okay, this isn’t that important.’
It is important, and screw tomorrow! Why wait when you can start the process today?
Your fear wants you to wait for a better time, another time, some other time that isn’t now, but those empty promises offer nothing. Without commitment, it’s so easy to listen to your silly fear of rejection.
It affects me to this day because a few weeks ago I wanted to reach out to Seth Godin and say thank you for being awesome. It had nothing to do with The Successful Mistake. There was no commitment to this act, so would you like to know what happened?
My fear of rejection took over. It insisted Seth wouldn’t read my email or care. Why would he care about my thanks and silly words? It wanted me to listen, but I refused to. I sent that email. I got that reply. I fought my fear of rejection, and although it isn’t easy, it’s easier.
And because I made a commitment with The Successful Mistake, I’ve proved to myself I’m strong enough to approach people I look up to. So even now, when I wish to reach out to someone unrelated to the book… to the commitment I made…I find it easier to push fear aside and stride forward regardless.
HOW YOU CAN PUNCH YOUR FEAR OF REJECTION IN THE FACE, TOO
On this occasion it’s fear of rejection, but I sense fear of all shapes and sizes hate commitment.
Commitment engages meaning and motivation and places purpose in your actions. Had I decided to reach out to 150+ successful entrepreneurs merely to say hello, I sense I’d have given up long ago. Because there’s no commitment in such an act. Once you hear a few rejections, or even worse, silence, you say, “Screw this. My fear of rejection was right.”
But because I made a commitment to writing a book, I had reason to try… try… try over and over again… try new things… try new approaches… keep persisting and forcing my fear of rejection further and further down.
I didn’t do anything you can’t do. Trust me, I’m not some brave individual who thrives under risky circumstance. I continue to struggle when it comes to approaching girls to this day. Every time I reach out to someone I admire, my chest rumbles with doubt. My fear of rejection hasn’t gone anywhere, but because I committed to something, I’m able to keep it at bay.
So if you wish to tackle your own fear of rejection (or any fear for that matter), make a commitment.
Whereas I committed to a book, maybe you commit to a podcast… or an accountability partner… or a blog… or a course. Make a commitment to something that matters, because it’s at this moment you add meaning to what you do. You have reason and motivation to push your own fear of rejection to one side.
It may not be easy, especially in the beginning, but it does get easier. And it places other fears and aspects of life into perspective. Approaching girls continues to scare me, and I may never act like Jonny (which is no bad thing), but I’m able to see rejection for what it is – a tiny inconvenience in the grander picture.
There’s always another girl. I doubt any rejection is so brutal it kills me. If one entrepreneur doesn’t want to be part of The Successful Mistake, I’m sure another will. And if a potential client turns me down, that just means I need to turn my attention to someone else… and then another… and another.
But it begins with a commitment, and adding purpose to what you do.
As such, The Successful Mistake is a book I’ll forever value, because it’s helped me overcome my fear of rejection. Cheers for reading, and be sure to let me know what scares you on TWITTER or FACEBOOK. I’d love to chat and learn more about your fine self.