Seth Godin writes in The Practice:
“[…] because there’s far more supply than demand, most of the feedback we receive is rejection. Rejection comes not just from the market, but from self-confident gatekeepers who we perceive as knowing more than we do.”
In my experience the worst thing about a rejection is not that they said no but that they won’t tell me why they said no so, in the absence of an answer, I supply my own answers. Maybe I’m no good? Why else would they say no?
Science tells us that our brains evolved to seek certainty even when the evidence, in a more critical light, is sketchy and unfounded. When confronted with uncertainty, in particular the uncertainty of a rejection without feedback, we scramble for an answer and in our haste we can latch onto beliefs that just aren’t true.
But sometimes there are good reasons for withholding feedback in a rejection. If you’re a magazine editor you can expect abuse if you tell a writer why their work wasn’t accepted because most writers pour themselves heart and soul into their work and any criticism of the work is a criticism of their very being. When a critic gave one of his novels a bad review the writer Richard Ford bought one of her books, blasted it with his shotgun then mailed it to her.
I’m astounded when I read of people being rejected hundreds of times before they finally broke through. For example, the actor Mark Ruffalo was rejected for 600 auditions. Can you fathom the emotional toll of being rejected that many times? We know, in hindsight, that he eventually succeeded but at the time he didn’t know. I applaud anyone who keeps going. Perhaps the only guarantee of success is that we don’t stop.
Og Mandino writes in The Greatest Salesman in the World:
“[…] it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner.”
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