Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about rejection. We get so used to rejection as creative entrepreneurs, the “no” from the gallery, the polite “I’ll think about it” from a potential client, the absolute nothing from an online publication. All of this rejection can wear you down. You start to get used to it, to expect it.
And that expectation might be the most insidious part of all.
As we build up our thick skin against rejection, the callus can become a resigned way of being. We pursue our artistic goals and continue to put our work into the world, but instead of expecting a “Yes,” we begin to expect the “No.” That thick skin gets spiky, and we cuddle into it, immersing ourselves in this familiarly uncomfortable space.
The thing is, if we keep snuggling into that place where the “No” is expected, then when we get the “Yes,” we don’t know how to handle it. Receiving praise for our work feels awkward. Now that we finally have a fan, we push them away. We miss the deadline for the article that got accepted, are rude to the gallery owner who wants to display our work, reject an offer of help from a friend.
Dangerously, we may even begin to block our chances of getting that “Yes” by not putting our work out into the world at all, or by piling up tasks until we’re too busy to pursue any opportunity.
And all because we’ve allowed that spiky, uncomfortable “No” to become so familiar that we can’t permit the “Yes” that could manifest itself right in front of us.
Last summer, a client picked up a piece of his custom furniture from a gallery where he shows his work. As he walked back to his SUV to stow it safely for the trip home, he heard his name called from the street.
My client turned around, unsure of how to proceed. “Yes.” The fellow walked up to him and said that he saw a fellow carrying a table wearing a ballcap with the name of the company on it, and took a chance. Then, he told my client how much he admired his furniture, and that he hoped to have some in his home someday. Then, the stranger went on to his next stop on his vacation.
Stunned into silence, my client walked back to his vehicle, strapped the table in, and headed home. As he drove, he thought about all of the things he could have done differently.
Because he’d never prepared for the “Yes,” he wasn’t able to take advantage of the situation. To ask the stranger if he’d like to be added to the newsletter mailing list, to inquire as to which piece of furniture he most admired, to recommend galleries in the area where this fellow could see more of his work in person.
But, now that this experience had occurred, he could prepare for what to do the next time it happened.
And this could happen to any one of us.
What if, the next time you put your work out there into the world, you assumed you’d hear a “Yes”? Do you think you could believe, maybe just for fifteen seconds, that the gallery owner would display your work, the editor would accept your pitch, you would win the contest? Maybe you could close your eyes and just pretend for one short moment that you were the sort of person who assumed your work would be accepted?
Taking that one tiny action can begin to prepare you for the “Yes,” so that WHEN it comes, you can embrace this chance you’ve been given.
Yep. This creative and entrepreneurial life is a hard one. But preparing ourselves for rejection one hundred percent of the time leaves us unprepared for the acceptance which lies in wait.
Remember. You’re an amazing, creative person. Take a moment, even if it’s only five seconds, and embrace what the possibilities could be.
***Please note that this piece uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Tools™ as I continue my journey to becoming certified in that style. You can find more information at http://www.kaizenmuse.com.