Two new ways to deal with rejection
by Dan Calamai - Managing Partner of Sangora | September 10, 2019
I couldn’t close the deal. After spending two months establishing a relationship, digging into the nitty-gritty requirements, refining a proposal, and heck, even getting access to their internal systems — the prospect decided to move forward in a different direction. Man, did it sting.
My first instinct was to follow the prevailing advice for dealing with rejection. I should “move onto to the next one” and “get back on the horse”.
And accordingly, I dusted myself off, lifted one foot into the saddle stirrup and was ready to jump back onto that proverbial horse — when I paused. If I move on too quickly, I won’t learn from my mistakes. Why did I lose the deal? What can I change to improve my chances next time? If I don’t take the time to ponder why I failed, how will I ever achieve success?
So I pulled that foot back out of the saddle and took some time to think about how I got into this position. But after about a week of self-reflection, a feeling of gloom overtook me. All the attention on my failure started to chip away at my confidence and I fell into a mini-spiral. Why am I so dumb? I can’t believe I worded the proposal like that. I’m never going to find another client. And just like that, I was in a rut.
If I won’t improve by moving on too quickly from failure, yet risk the spiral of doom with too much self-reflection, how can I learn from my mistakes?
Like most good advice, I think the middle ground is key. When dealing with failure, it’s useful to contemplate how I got there in the first place — but it’s equally important my brain doesn’t spend too much time in that space. To achieve that balance, I’ve started to:
1. Write down a list of what I can do better next time. The physical act of writing helps pull it out of my brain and solidifies the education.
- 2. Hold a personal retrospective/post-mortem with a trusted friend. It’s common to conduct retro meetings at work — so why not leverage them on a personal level? I find the conversational recap of challenges and lessons learned priceless. The second set of eyes and ears on the situation also helps bring out undiscovered ways I can improve without letting my self-esteem fly over the guardrails.
Definitely get back on the horse. But only after intelligently and sensibly figuring out why you were thrown off in the first place.
Dan Calamai is the Managing Partner of Sangora, a consultancy that helps media companies design, implement, and integrate their advertising technology. He writes about business, travel, and self-improvement on his blog.