Rejection Proof is a book by US-based Chinese author Jia Jiang. I picked this up at a Melbourne bookshop on a whim. Turned out to be a good choice.
Jia was a typical nerdy Asian guy who moved to America with dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. As a child he idolised successful innovators like Thomas Edison and Bill Gates. He even thanks Bill Gates in his Thank You section of the book!
His journey to “100 days of rejection” started when he was trying to get a new business off the ground. He quit his corporate job, dumped his savings and months of his life into building a new app. His wife generously agreed to support him with a 6 month period devoted to the venture.
When he had a chance to get investment in his fledgling business, he seized it. After a long wait, he received a very short email from this potential investor. The verdict? No.
Jia was crushed. Immediately he wanted to dump the whole thing. When he told his wife he was going to give up, she instead he fulfil his end of the bargain - his 6 months were not up yet.
Realising his sensitivity to rejection, he came up with the idea of a blog “100 days of rejection” where he conceived of ideas to ask for various outlandish things and see how he could handle it.
Here are a few of the lessons he learned along the way (ones I got some value from, at least):
Rejection is human. Often it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the circumstances of the rejector.
Rejection is only an opinion. You don’t have to accept that opinion.
Rejection has a number. Sometimes it can take dozens or hundreds of rejections before you get to a yes. Don’t give up at the first hurdle!
Retreat, don’t run away. If rejected, there is a strong temptation to run away because it can be so painful. However, you gain much more from the experience if you bid a tactical retreat. Make a more modest or modified request instead of just accepting the no. You might be surprised.
Freedom to ask. Fear of rejection makes us not ask for what we want. By taking the first step and asking, even if rejected, we build our strength and courage to pursue what we want.
Much of our fear of rejection is primal. In the early days of humanity, people lived in small groups or villages. You were surrounded by dangerous animals and the risks of exposure or hunger. To be rejected by your peers was to be ostracised and ultimately could lead to death. Is it any wonder we fear rejection?
The trouble is, that survival strategy is maladaptive for today’s living conditions. If you’re rejected when asking for a business opportunity or a better deal, the worst that will happen to you is that you’ll miss out. But this is where you begin anyway! Without asking, you will always miss out. So usually there is little to lose and everything to gain by pushing past your fear of rejection.
Everywhere in life there will be gatekeepers. In my own exprience as a consultant, I am always seeking new business opportunities. Often, I need to push past the reluctance to pick up the phone or to approach someone new. This book helped me to define my fear of rejection. This has given me more power to take chances.