Rejection Therapy: How to Build Overnight Courage or Guarantee Failure

Written by Scott July 17, 2013

Rejection Therapy & Creating Overnight Courage

“Our rejections make us who we are.” – Jia Jiang

I fail a lot.

I pretty much always have. I get more things wrong than I get right. I try things and they blow up. I think I have something figured out only to realize I’m further behind than when I started. I’ve learned how to help people, but I do not have all the answers. In fact sometimes I wonder if I have any at all. I get reminded of this daily.

So now that I have that off my chest, how about you? You ever been there?

Most the world sees rejection as something to be avoided.

But this past weekend at World Domination Summit, Jia Jiang gave me a different look at things. After investors turned down his startup, he decided he’d turn rejection on its head. He went on a quest to get turned down once a day for 100 days.

He proceeded to ask people for things that seemed to guarantee a “no” (or slammed doors or slaps in the face). He called it Rejection Therapy.

He asked a police man if he could drive his cruiser. He asked a pilot if he could fly his private plane. With ball in hand, he knocked on a random neighbor’s door to ask a man if he could play soccer in his backyard (while dressed head to toe in his favorite team’s uniform). He even asked a donut shop to make him a custom treat in the shape of the olympic rings. Anything was fair game.

His goal was simple: To desensitize himself from the fear of rejection.

And it worked. But the unexpected part was the experiences that came with these ridiculous requests… He drove a police car, flew a private plane, played soccer in a random backyard and filmed a now viral video of his custom donut being made. Almost every expected no turned out to be a yes. And that was just the start.

How to Guarantee Rejection

I’ve noticed a simple experience that every Living Legend I’ve studied, interviewed or read about has in common…

They’ve all been turned down.

They’ve been laughed at. They’ve been ridiculed. And it’s happened to them a lot. More often than we’d like to imagine.

As it turns out, the more successful you are (however you measure it), the more rejection you’ll experience.

The more your ideas get out to the public, the more clients you have and the more your audience grows, the more people there will be to potentially criticize and pick apart your plans for the world. The bigger Live Your Legend gets, the more likely there’s someone to laugh, scorn or even hate me. That’s a scary thought, but it’s a real part of pursuing something that matters. The president of the United States was rejected by over 40 million people. And he’s the guy who won.

I used to think I could avoid rejection by just following some template – doing what everyone else told me I was supposed to do. And this seemed to work perfectly well. The only problem is it made life about as fun as the poison oak I picked up backpacking last weekend.

Without the chance of rejection, nothing interesting happens.

You can put your ideas out there, you can ask people for things, and you will no doubt be turned down here and there. You might even get turned down a lot.

But the best way to never get a no is to never share your idea in the first place.

That’s also the only way to kill any chance of a yes.

And that’s the biggest most certain rejection of all – turning down our own idea in our own head. That’s the thinking that causes us to never open our mouths in the first place – to never pick up the phone, knock on that door or stand on that stage.

If we reject ourselves, nothing has a chance. If we open ourselves to the rejection of others, we’ll actually have a shot at it becoming something. Of making an impact. Of living your legend.

Plus the rejections and failures teach us the most anyway…

Getting outclassed in the interviews for my “perfect job” out of university taught me to be better prepared (and that things happen for a reason). That lead me to a year of entrepreneurship and adventure in Spain.

Having hundreds of investors reject me and say I was too inexperienced when launching my investment fund, taught me persistence (and to find people who actually needed what I had to offer). That lead to one two-line email bringing in a $100,000 investment.

My first website growing by zero percent for four years taught me the importance of finding a specific niche where I could add tremendous and unique value. That lead to Live Your Legend.

The Surprising Yes

Despite the power of learning form rejection, the crazy thing is that often what we assume will be an obvious “no”, becomes an excited “yes”. And with that “yes”, a whole new world unfolds. An idea becomes a business. A dream job becomes a career. The hot girl at the bar becomes a soulmate.

A few years ago, at the end of two grueling days of case studies and role playing in a Karrass negotiating course, our teacher gave us just one core takeaway…

“If you only take one word from this course, let it be this: Ask.”

There is no more powerful negotiating tool on the planet. It’s saved me well over $10,000 in product discounts and giveaways (yes, I have fun keeping track). It’s kept an officer from writing me a speeding ticket for going 88 MPH in a 65 zone (I stick to 71 now). And it got me the kind of wife and best friend I used to only see in movies.

When done in a compassionate way, there is zero risk in asking.

People don’t enjoy turning others down. We want to support the people around us. And the only way that’s possible is to open and share. Be that person who asks no matter how crazy the request.

My challenge to you simple: Go out today and throw yourself in rejection’s path. Start incredibly small. Get used to it. It’s going to happen whether you look for it or not. Might as well lead the charge.

Welcome the “no” as a lesson, or embrace the “yes” as an opportunity. Either way your world will begin to change. So will ours.

Rejection hurts.

The only thing worse is never having a chance to hear a “no” in the first place.

I’ve always tried to treat life as an experiment. That means constant trial and error – and plenty of error. What people miss is that it never ends. No matter what level you reach, the process continues.

But that’s the beauty of it. Plus, where would the excitement be in making something you were certain was going to work?

Imagine what the world would look like if people started to act in the face of rejection, as opposed to freezing in fear of it. What might be possible? What would you do differently?

I’m off to give a talk to 100 or so people tonight. I’m nervous. I always am. I wonder what they’ll think of me. I wonder if I’ll screw up. I wonder if they’ll laugh.

Who knows, but at least I’m going to find out.

What about you?

What’s one thing you’ve been rejected from? Or one situation where you expected a no and got a startling yes? Share your war wounds with us in the comments. Make us stronger.

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“It was 18 months ago when I came across Live Your Legend and it just completely blew my mind. I was living this life thinking I have to kind of just do this. Then it was like a kid on Christmas Day with my wife thinking ‘we don’t have to do this anymore.’ It was literally a life change. It opened so many doors. Thanks for everything you’re doing.”

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