How to deal with rejection

Few of us know how to deal with rejection. Rejection sucks.

It feels lousy to put yourself out there just to be crushed.

When I was in college, I decided to teach a free class about personal finance and invited everyone I knew.

No one showed up.

emptyconfroomAn empty room.

Dealing with that rejection stuck with me for years. I was afraid to throw events even after I wrote a New York Times best-selling book and had hundreds of thousands of readers.

But over the years I’ve learned to overcome those fears — and even love rejection.

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Dealing with rejection in 3 steps

Today I’m going to show you how with my 3 steps for dealing with rejection.

Step 1: Let rejection excite you

Here’s a counterintuitive truth about rejection: it can be exciting.

Most people don’t see it that way. They give up the moment they’re first rejected.

But that is exactly why dealing with rejection is so exciting. The moment you experience rejection and decide to push through anyway, you automatically separate yourself from 99% of the people out there who got rejected and chose to quit.

My former editor and friend, Jay Cross (creator of DIY Degree), calls this concept The Continuum of Doers.

The Continuum of Doers

The idea behind the Continuum of Doers is you are never competing with everyone who enters a competition. Every obstacle makes lazy or uncommitted people drop out, leaving you to compete with a tiny handful of true winners at the top.

From this perspective, we see that rejection is a merely an obstacle most people never even try to overcome.

But you can both overcome rejection and keep yourself from experiencing more of it in the future. Here’s how:

First, pinpoint what the reason was that led to you being rejected:

  • Did you email your resume to a hiring manager and never hear back?
  • Were you unable to get a second date after the first one fell flat?
  • Did a client hire somebody else after you missed a deadline?

Once you’ve identified any trouble spots you can work to systematically improve yourself in those areas.

Using the examples above, we could learn how to write a killer resume, practice what to say on a date, or plan ahead and create a project calendar for the client.

If we do these things, then our chances of succeeding shoots through the roof the next time around. We’ll not only overcome rejection, but easily breeze past the barriers that have held us back.

Step 2: Plan for failure

When I was applying to colleges, I noticed something interesting.

A lot of the people I knew were applying to top schools, and if they were rejected they’d say: “Whatever, I didn’t want to go there anyway”.


I remember thinking: “If you didn’t want to go, then why’d you apply? And if you DID want to go, why give up so easily?”

I fully expected to get rejected from my dream school (Stanford). That’s why I outlined a plan of specific actions I’d take to get in even after they rejected me. I was going to send them updates on my coursework, my copywriting business, and press clippings of articles I wrote.

Getting a “no” was only the first step of the process.

That’s how it is in other areas of life as well. From selling to dating to business — to just about anything. We need to expect failure and plan what we’ll do when rejection comes.

That’s exactly what top performers do.

James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself, talked about this process when we sat down for a talk on how to deal with failure.

We all face a fear of failure. It’s how you manage the fear of failure that determines your success.

Step 3: Consider the source

A problem my students sometimes face is criticism from people who don’t understand why they are trying to improve their lives.

They’ll hear things like: “What are you doing trying to get your ‘Dream Job’. You should just be happy for the job you have!”

Of course, that’s usually coming from the guy four cubicles down who’s been stuck in the same crappy job for 25 years.

When you get negative feedback, first consider the person it’s coming from. Then ask yourself: Is this someone I should listen to? Is it someone I admire and respect? Or just a random critic who enjoys cutting people down, and doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about?

As someone who’s received thousands of hateful comments and emails over the years, I’ll be the first to tell you that most people LOVE to offer criticism — but not solutions. Don’t bother listening to those people.

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