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How you can bounce back stronger after facing a rejection?

The three-step method to do it


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ambi parameswaran

3 years ago | 4 min read

You will hear numerous stories about someone became successful.

How she managed to crack the most coveted competitive exam. How he managed to get into the most difficult-to-get-into company. How she was awarded the most prestigious project.

In our enthusiasm to celebrate success, we often ignore or brush aside the trials and tribulations that a person would have gone through before facing success.

Very rarely do you read about how someone failed to get through and struggled for weeks or months to get back on his or her feet.

Why?

Is it something that is peculiar to India? Is this common across the world?

There is a famous Japanese saying “Fall down six times. Get back up seven”. It is also said that Japanese society is probably the most intolerant to failure. The USA on the other has a rather benign view of failures and rejection.

You can apply for a job in the US with a gap in your CV. The interviewer does not give you lower marks just because you were ‘laid off’ by an employer. This is also noticed in West European countries.

But in Asia, it is as yet a rarity to see an HR Manager forgiving someone for getting ‘laid off’.

In India, we are also obsessed with the institute you go to. The college you manage to get into. Newspapers celebrate the big salaries offered to students graduating from the IIMs and IITs.

On the one hand, this is to be encouraged. It sends out a message that education can get you big money [as against politics, corrupt practices etc.]. But this kind of celebration of a high salary tag creates an inferiority complex in students graduating from the so-called second-rung colleges.

What they don’t realize is that the media reported numbers could be an average. A few job offers made with dollar-salaries can push up the average while doing nothing for the student languishing in the last quartile of the class.

So be it the challenge of getting into the right college or institute or getting into the ‘dream company’ there are hurdles to be overcome. And this puts tremendous pressure on the young ones. Parents add to the pressure. Sometimes even the peer group adds to the confusion.

How to manage this and stay sane?

In my new book ‘Spring – Bouncing Back From Rejection’ I have explained a three-step approach for managing rejection and preparing for success.

The first step is to be ready for rejection.

We should be positive and confident in what we are setting out to do. Nothing wrong in aiming for the best institute. We should aim high.

As the famous ad guru, Leo Burnett said, “Reach for the stars at least you will not be stuck with a handful of sand”. Each and every one of us should reach for the stars. As we reach for the stars we should be aware, at the back of our head that we may not succeed.

There has to be a Plan B and maybe a Plan C. We may not articulate these lest they become our ultimate goal. But we should have them ready. When rejection hits us, we will definitely feel the pain.

And neurologists have found, the pain of rejection is processed the same way in our brain as a physical pain. A tablet of paracetamol or ibuprofen may help. Feel bad for a bit. Feel the pain. But don’t let it ruin your week.

The next step is to get behind the rejection and learn to process it.

What really happened? Remember you were not rejected. Your CV was rejected. The first lesson in processing rejection is not to take it personally.

The interviewer may have rejected you because he was having a bad day. The college may have rejected your CV for a reason difficult to fathom.

Find out what happened. Here it is important to have a Rejection Processing System. This system should include people you can trust. It could be your parents.

Sometimes they too can be biased; what about a former teacher; or a friendly but frank uncle? Can they give you unbiased feedback on what could have happened?

Finally, you need to figure out what you can learn from the rejection episode.

What can you do better the next time so that you don’t get rejected again? Should you rewrite your CV highlighting something that you had not presented in your first CV.

Should you prepare an introductory talk that highlights things that motivate you? Before the next job interview is there something that you should do? Should you fix your Linked In profile? Do better homework about the company where you are applying for a job?

The three-step method, of facing rejection, processing rejection and learning from rejection will get you ready to reboot your education and career journey.

It all starts with the realization that if you don’t face rejection you are not reaching high enough. Remember rejection should be badge you should wear. Those who have not faced rejection have led very boring lives.

Even the most successful people we know have had to face rejection. And rejection is seen in academia, business, writing, sports, bureaucracy… you name it and rejection is there.

Those who have succeeded have managed to learn from each rejection they faced and got better.

As Michael Jordan, possibly the most successful basketball player ever, said “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I have been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.

I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded”.

If the most successful basketball player can admit to his faults, failures, rejections, why should we feel shy. Admit to your fears, your failures, your rejections. That may well be the firmest step you take towards success.


Ambi Parameswaran is an Ad Veteran, Independent Brand / Executive Coach. His recent book ‘SPRING – Bouncing Back From Rejection’ examines how we can become better at what we do if we learn to manage rejection better.

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ambi parameswaran

Ambi Parameswaran is an Ad Veteran, Independent Brand / Executive Coach. His recent book ‘SPRING – Bouncing Back From Rejection’ examines how we can become better at what we do if we learn to manage rejection better.


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