Channeling Rejection Into Personal Improvement

Successful entrepreneurs have learned how to take rejection and turn it into a positive event in their life. Learn the three steps to making rejection a catalyst for change in your life.

Rejection – a Growth Opportunity in Disguise

This time of year can present some very emotional challenges for high school seniors. They’ve put in a tough four years of academic work, prepared a myriad of documents and mailed them off to the colleges of their dreams, hoping for acceptance at top institutions. They are a bundle of nerves and anxiety awaiting news so critical to their futures. Alas, many of these high school seniors will receive rejection letters and may initially feel their dreams have gone down in crushing defeat. Rejection can be a tough reality, but rather than seeing it as the enemy, realize that rejection creates a tremendous growth opportunity.

Look in From the Outside

It is often difficult to step outside of our own perspective of what is best for us. For example, you may feel that acceptance at an Ivy League college is a requirement for your future happiness and wellbeing. Let’s suppose you don’t get accepted at Harvard or Yale and end up going to UC Davis instead. You may find that UC Davis is a perfect fit for you and exactly where you want to be after all. What we assume is best for us is, in fact, not always best for us. As difficult as it can feel at the time, rejection is an opportunity in disguise – an opportunity to re-evaluate your plans, examine your initial beliefs, and really think about whether what you thought you wanted is what best serves you.

1. Snatching Opportunity from the Jaws of Rejection

We all have dreams, be it of going to a dream school, getting hired at the most prestigious company, or fitting into the best social circle. Oftentimes, our desires may be based on what we perceive others want for us, or how others define success. Young men, for example, often dream of being a great athlete to please a competitive father. An attorney may be reminded by others at work that he’s not reached the pinnacle until he’s offered partnership.

For that young man whose father wants him to be a star quarterback, rejection really stings when he doesn’t make the team. In reality, he may find he excels as a member of the debate team and finds that the intellectual and team building skills of these pursuits are much better suited to his nature. The attorney who doesn’t make partner decade after decade may have a tendency to feel as though he somehow failed for being rejected as a partner, but he may find what he gained is more time to spend with his amazing wife and kids, enjoying great vacations, school events, and date nights – time to enjoy that which he may have missed dealing with stress and untold hours at the office as a partner. What seems like rejection may be the universe’s way of saying, “hey, I’ve got something even better for you!”

2. Perseverance Wins the Day

Sometimes rejection is life’s way of telling us to keep trying. We may need to regroup, jump right back in with both feet and try again. If you’ve worked hard on a proposal and your boss shoots it down, you have to be willing to try again. Be ready to accept that, for whatever reason, what you offered did not meet the specific needs of that moment in time, but you can work from a new angle, find a fresh approach and step up to the plate once, twice, or as many times as it takes for rejection to become acceptance. Rejection is sometimes an opportunity to rechannel our efforts on the road to success.

3. Don’t Take it Personally

A talented artist may stand for hours at a showing as people walk by her work, barely noticing it and certainly not buying it. An aspiring author may submit a book to 6 different publishing companies only to receive rejection after rejection. It can be easy in that moment to take it all very personally and feel like your best efforts are not good enough. There’s every possibility that the aspiring artist and author has merely not reached the right audience yet.

How we process these momentary rejections is key to our ability to flourish in the long run. If we allow ourselves to believe that we are undeserving and our efforts are just not good enough, rejection can defeat us. If we treat rejection as an impetus to keep striving, believing it’s just part of the path we must walk, then we see rejection for what it truly is – an opportunity to learn and grow, not something that can ever crush our dreams and goals.

Never be afraid to step up to a challenge or take a chance. In doing so, you give yourself the opportunity to grow. Taking risks and testing our limits exposes us to potential rejection. Once we accept that and learn how to be better and stronger for it, we’ve already won the battle. Rejection becomes but a sheep in wolf’s clothing and while not always a welcome guest, it is one from which we need never hide.

This content is inspired by the article ‘3 Ways Rejection Helps Us Grow’ by Shakti Sutriasa, LCSW, MA, first published at

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