Very few people would say that they enjoy rejection…
When you are a business owner, it may feel like you are dealing with rejection everyday. In my line of work I experienced different types of rejection, but it was a whole new level when I started my coaching business. In my profession as a psychologist I led different teams in different organizations. I put my heart and soul into creating these teams, especially when I was rebuilding a psychology department at a state agency I worked for. I worked tirelessly with HR to hire the best people, I created internal systems to make sure teams were diverse and work was being done at a high level of excellence. I created what I hoped was a warm, inclusive environment that favored innovation. I was proud of my department and the people that worked there. One of the high points was creating a separate program within our program specifically for people who had intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.
So, how did I face rejection at work? The hardest part was having staff members quit. One of my strengths is empowering people to shine and coaching them to know and fulfill their purpose. However, this would sometimes lead to people finding amazing opportunities elsewhere and many people in my department went on to amazing careers both in the public and private sectors. As much as I was happy for them, having them leave still hurt. There was of course the fear of getting along without them, but also deep sadness and hurt. They left me. I felt abandoned.
I never had to face this…
As difficult as it was to face rejection in the public sector, it was nothing like facing rejection in the private sector. When I worked in private and public institutions I never had a lack of clients. There were always more coming. In general I was popular with clients and they enjoyed seeing me, but even if someone didn’t show up or didn’t reschedule there were always more to come. I never suffered from feeling not good enough, not popular, or not needed.
As I started working as a coach, I faced constant rejection. Every encounter with a potential client suddenly involved me selling myself. Even writing my newsletter was an exercise in facing rejection, as I would watch who unsubscribed (this experience gave me a deep appreciation for the newsletters that I subscribe to myself, since I understand the effort that goes into them). I recognized this personal rejection in business as a brand new experience, one I hadn’t faced before. But, this discomfort and possible rejection is a feeling anyone who sells a product (or who sells themselves) faces everyday.
So how do we handle rejection?
Often we hear messages to just face it, tough it out, or develop a thick skin. While it’s true that facing rejection can hone a growth-mindset, this “tough love” approach is harsh and may not actually lead to the desired results.
Fear of rejection is fear of abandonment.
Fear of rejection IS fear of abandonment. It is the same emotion. It is all rooted in the fear of not being wanted. Where does fear of abandonment originate? Usually such a fear has deep roots in childhood. Were we rejected by a parent who was depressed or was an alcoholic? Did we experience rejection from peers who teased us? Were we selected for the sports team last in gym class? Did we get rejected by the boy or girl we had a crush on? Or, were we made fun of by the teacher in front of the entire class?
These early rejections find roots deep in our subconscious mind and get triggered in present day circumstances. So rather than being harsh and judgmental with ourselves, the key is to love ourselves through the rejection. Talk to your Inner Self in a kind and loving way. Encourage him or her with the voice of the “good parent.” Use the voice of the “coach” to review what didn’t go right and what could be improved. Create a safe and caring environment for yourself where you recognize that you haven’t truly “failed” if you haven’t quit trying. Flow with the growth process itself rather than only focusing on the numbers; enjoy that you are creating your business and that each encounter with a potential customer is the tapestry weaving your business together.
Get support from community.
Getting support from a business community that incubates innovative leaders is an antidote to feeling rejected. In our warm and supportive community you can freely explore the deep wounds that get activated when we face rejection without fear of criticism. You no longer have to feel alone as a business leader or shame that you experience rejection.
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I am looking forward to serving you here as we grow as leaders together.
With love & blessings,