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  • James McPartland

Rejection or Disappointment?

"If you reject me, you hold my power. If you disappoint me, I hold my power"

- James McPartland

Access Point: Rejection or Disappointment? | Blog post by James McPartland | Speaker, Author, Executive Coach

Ever notice how being turned down stops some people from trying again, while others bounce back stronger than before? We all experience the sting of a brush-off, a cold shoulder, or what can feel like a slap in the face.

But mentally strong people don’t stay down. They have somehow learned to use the pain to grow stronger, become better, and take ownership of all of the results in their lives.

Whether you’ve been excluded from a unique social circle, got passed up for a promotion, had a publisher tell you that your work isn’t good enough, or you’re striving for levels of approval that never materialize, not one of us are immune from the fear of being told that we are not good enough.

When insecurity surfaces, those who are mentally strong will overcome their fear of failure. Some call it interpretation or perception. Others, awareness. Whatever the label, overcoming failure requires us to look deeply into where our power lies.

When we dwell in feelings of rejection, someone else holds our source of power. If we are strong enough to hold our power, we come to see that inside of our disappointment lies an opportunity to learn from the circumstance and do something about it. Simply put we can choose to improve. If I learn to use a setback as a force for good, I can make progress. And, in life, progress is one of the best things we can strive for.

In my work with executives and professional athletes, I have seen a theme arise among those that excel in their craft. These are people who, like you, want to tap into their potential and experience life to the fullest.

So how do we turn the stumbling block of rejection into the stepping stone of disappointment?

Stay with me a few more minutes, and allow me to empower you with…

5 ways to maintain your power when you’re tempted to feel rejected:

  1. Acknowledge your true feelings. Rather than suppress, ignore, or deny the pain, mentally strong leaders own their emotions. They admit to feeling discouraged, embarrassed, or even sad. By naming the emotion, they can let the experience of those feelings pass so that a more empowering emotion can rise to take its place

  2. See the gift inside of setbacks. Setbacks provide evidence that there is something to learn. We know what we know, yet it's what we don't know that brings the greatest opportunities for growth. Owning a disappointment allows us to hold onto our power, learn something new, and use our setbacks as an educational force for good in our lives

  3. Be good to yourself. Mentally strong people treat themselves with compassion. They are deliberate in redirecting negative emotions to thoughts that acknowledge their own growing pains. When things don't go your way, why not treat yourself as a trusted friend?

  4. Allow setbacks to define your growth path, not your identity. Difficult moments need to be put into perspective. One person's opinion, one single incident, or one mistake should never define who we are as human beings. One's own self-worth should never be delegated to another person's point of view. Just because someone else thinks something about you, it doesn't make it true. Besides, elevating someone's opinion of you only serves to diminish your own opinion of yourself!

  5. Maintain a growth mindset. When something doesn't go our way, ask yourself:

    • What's good about this?

    • What am I supposed to learn from this experience?

    • What else could this mean?

The best leaders are lifelong students, inherently eager to learn. Curiosity is a superpower, vital to both an individual and an organization's performance. Products, ideas, and people improve when tested by real-time experience. It is only through feedback that products develop, ideas evolve, and people find out what they are made of. When we have a fixed mindset, we argue for our limitations and seek predictable people, events, experiences, and results. But with a growth mindset, we understand there is always something for us to learn.

If we are up to anything significant in our lives, pursuing something bigger than ourselves, we are going to make mistakes. While we all want to look good in the eyes of our peers, teammates, colleagues, and supervisors, maybe we would do well to allow for a “daily disappointment quota”.

What will you pursue this week that has no guarantee of success?

What courageous conversation will you endeavor to engage in?

In an effort to stretch yourself, knowing that a failure is an option, what group are you willing to approach and perhaps be frustrated by the experience?

If you were to test drive a "disappointment goal”, allowing for both success and disappointment, what might you learn? Who might you become? What imaginary dragons would you slay? What type of example would you set for those that look up to you?

What we get in life is important. Yet who we become in overcoming disappointment can never be taken away from us.

You hold the power to define the value and gifts you have to offer the world. And now, you have a heightened awareness of the price we all pay when you give that power away.

So go ahead, feel disappointed. But don’t stay down. Learn to use the pain to grow stronger, become better, and take ownership of every result in your life.

You got this.


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