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Reframing Rejection to Reinvent Yourself

A friend reached out recently, letting me know they were being let go from their current administrative position. They were, of course, devastated and feeling the expected emotions of rejection, loss, confusion, and fear.

Hearing things like: We are going to go a different way; You’re fired; I am not renewing your contract; You interviewed well but we chose a different candidate; and so on can be a blow to the ego. For so many people, this time of year can mean the end of their time in a particular job. It can be shocking but it should not represent the END. For others, interviewing for positions and not being the successful candidate also represents a significant setback. Rejection, after all, is a part of life. We all deal with rejection. It might be in the form of ending a romantic relationship, a personal friendship, professional relationship, or a partnership, or it can be found in the examples above.

How we choose to frame it and look at it is truly the most important element. Rejection can be a good thing…if we frame our minds appropriately around it, learn from it, and work hard to not take it personally. Here are three important framings for those rejections that happen in our life that allow us to get better, stronger, and happier:

  1. Don’t beat yourself up: if you are being let go from a job or have a client tell you they don’t want to work with you any more, it hurts. Yes, you are going to take rejection personally. Who wouldn’t take offense or feel distraught over a non-renewal of a contract?  When I was in the process of leaving my superintendent position, I had to stop and take some deep breaths. I knew in my heart and my head that I was doing the right work. I just had to remind myself that others might want to see something different. And that is ok! We do not always see eye to eye and it is NOT a reflection on who you are as a human being. In fact, it may well reflect more on the person(s) making the decision than it does on you. This doesn’t mean point the finger of blame at others. That isn’t healthy either. But don’t shoulder the entire decision. The frame: You are not this decision. Do not let it define or stop you from fulfilling the purpose.
  2. Remember, it’s YOUR journey, not theirs: you are the traveler of your path, nobody else. The road will not always be smooth, there will be rough patches. It is in the tougher times that your character is revealed and strengthened. Keep this rejection in perspective. Remember, no matter how long you were in this relationship, it is not your entire journey. Be grateful for the positives that come from it; learn from the rejection that is ending it. As you make your way on your life’s journey, you shouldn’t be defined by what you do for a paycheck. Rather, be defined for who you are as a human and the impact you make on others. Moving on from this rejection affords you an opportunity to make an even greater impact, to meet new people, and to grow. The frame: You are traveling your path. Be grateful to have had this experience and learn from it for the next phase of the journey.
  3.  Find the positives from the experience: when faced with rejection, we can feel defensive and deflated at the same time. After all, we are being told we won’t be part of something we have invested ourselves in for a length of time. It can be easy to dwell on the loss and the anger, but we have to be willing to reflect on the entire situation. What did you learn during your time in the organization? What relationships have you built that will last beyond this moment in your life? Also, consider looking at the opportunity that you’re now presented with. How amazing is it to have a chance to start again, start over, or even completely reinvent yourself. A friend of mine was let go from his superintendent position and started a small business instead of returning to education. When I see him now, he looks 10 years younger. He has eliminated a lot of stress he was dealing with in his life and is thriving in this new chapter of his life. The frame: opportunity is knocking, do not wallow in disappointment so long that you miss this chance to make your life better. You’ll look back and see who you were then vs who you are now and say…wow, look at me now!
  4. BONUS: yep, I have a fourth frame – but this comes from one of my favorite podcasts, the “Ed Mylett Show”. This week, Ed talked about how to master success. In this episode, Ed shares that failure is one of the keys to success. We have to move from the awkward phase to the mechanical phase to ultimately be a natural at anything. Rejection and failure are part of the process…but they aren’t the process all to themselves. Check out this awesome 14 minutes of the Ed Mylett Show for more! (honestly one of my favorite episodes of his ever!) The frame: failure is part of the process of achieving success.

Look, being fired, let go, non-renewed, dumped, broken up with, or rejected is not fun. I am certainly not saying you won’t run the gamut of emotions. You should, after all it represents loss. Grief is going to happen and you’ll make your way through the process in your own time. But remember this:

Do not let rejection define who you are

You are going to bounce back. You are going to be stronger because of this event in your life.

Have a #RoadToAwesome week


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  1. Tim Riley

    Great message here. I needed it this morning. I’m terrible with rejection. I take it very personal and shoulder all the blame.

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