Rejection hurts. When you put yourself out there, offering your time, energy and gifts for hire, there is pain when the opportunity keeps on walking and chooses another option or candidate. If you’re out there working it, this happens the majority of the time, and we SHOULD be able to look at it objectively.

However, the anticipation and the hope you hold with each attempt takes energy. The idea of what could be gets you emotionally invested. It is hard, but the proactive thing to do is to turn the information this round of the process have given you, into knowledge and experience. Managing rejection with creativity will help you observe what has changed each time.

Creatively managing rejection starts with stability

I am very blessed. I am in a period of amazing opportunity where I am exploring and discovering opportunities that I hadn't considered before. Many of you know that I teach/coordinate Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) class. There are many benefits of FPU. But the two that pertain here are that you first get an accurate picture of your monthly expenses and second you build up an emergency fund. These two things have allowed me to remain calm since my most recent full-time position was eliminated. I know that I and my family are fine financially for x days into the future. Plus, I know how much work I need to keep that deadline moving off into the future as fast as we're approaching it. If I can get ahead, extending that date, or at least keep it moving forward at the same rate, then I'm effectively earning a living successfully.

It is kind of like a spacecraft in orbit. I really enjoyed learning how orbit works. This explanation of Newton's Cannonball covers the idea well. Orbit is simply going fast enough parallel to the ground, so that your falling progress, moving toward the Earth misses the planet and you just keep going around and around. If you slow down your horizontal speed, gravity brings you closer earth, descending or diminishing the altitude of your orbit. If you add speed, you move farther away from the earth. Go far enough out and eventually you leave the pull of gravity. So orbit is the opportunity where you get balance these forces into a useful state of equilibrium. You are in control and have the ability to adjust.

Once you are stable, the family is eating and the bills are being paid, use opportunities, even negative ones to discover! If you aren't stable, get some work. Deliver pizza, find some freelance work in your field, if you have a college degree you can possibly hop into a manager position at McDonald's (I've done this, it was hard but also fun!)

It isn’t permanent. Many of these temporary, stopgap jobs can be scheduled off the daytime work hours so you are free to interview and network during the standard daytime workweek.

Managing implies control

When you try for something new, it certainly doesn’t feel like control. When turned down, yes, that specific decision was out of your control. But the rest is all you. Gathering what you can from the experience, using it to enrich your next decision are your next steps to creatively manage rejection from here.

In my situation this week I learned of an opportunity of which I was previously unaware. Through several channels I’m involved, an alert popped up. I jumped on it. I labored over my materials through the weekend and even paid money for some portions (personality and skill-type assessment tests) of the application to be completed!

The more I read, learned and considered, the more exited I became. This was a chance to work remotely for a highly-respected leader in a business frontier I’m very passionate about. I was starting to throw around the terms like “dream job” and “ideal opportunity.” I received contact and swiftly scheduled my interview. Yesterday I had a great talk with a guy who intimately knew the world I’ve been studying. White talked and I was even more eager to get to work with him and others like him.

If I let emotions get in the way, I’d have been devastated. But as I was talking with this nice fellow and potential future colleague and friend, I could see that they were also looking to fill a very specific need they had at a very specific time. It happens, even if it is an amazing change to move a real rockstar onto a team, sometimes they need one member of the band and not just any rockstar. So if you’re an amazing singer and the band needs a drummer, they aren’t picking you this time around.

Glean all that you can

I love the term “glean.” I learned of it, during my youth in Sunday School classes, from the story of Ruth in the Bible. After the harvesters moved through a field, there were inevitably fragments of the valuable crops missed. It was often an intentional act of charity to leave some product. The poor could follow along and gather the left behind crop to consume or trade.

What I take from this is the inspiration to keep moving forward. Gather what you can quickly without getting stalled by minutiae. Following a rejection, you can choose to stew in the negativity of getting turned down. Or you can take inventory of what happened. Find value in the bits that are left behind. There is more good stuff there than you realize.

If I examine the benefits I just gained during this past week:

  • I got to build new, real connections within a company I highly respect.
  • I may have become a blip, worth of a moment of attention, on the radar of the founder of this company who is a prominent person, a business-world celebrity.
  • I learned how this particular organization is structured.
  • I gained several juicy bits of industry information during the delightful interview.
  • Even though I had to pay, out of pocket, for two personality tests as part of my application, I now have test results that help me to better understand myself, my strengths. Some of this data, will likely help me fix my own gaps and focus better on the best benefits I offer. You could even say they could help me become a better person.
  • It reminded me, that there are still positions out there, in companies, that I can get excited about.
  • If I did my job right during the interview, those I communicated with should have a favorable impression of me and should think of my right away when they spot a better fit. (I'll also be following up to thank them and will attempt to plant that idea firmly in their memory of our interaction.)
  • It gave me a timely topic to write for this blog. Something that has been surprisingly fruitful since it has been started. One wonders if they'll have enough topics when they start a blog. When you pick the right topic for you, it is ridiculous how easily the ideas come. Even in a very busy week, with freelance gigs in motion, I've produced a few posts and have several other articles in the works.
  • I may find other benefits, but the one that I like best is this opportunity to reflect.

If it was just a mind-numb week that slips by on so many people’s calendars, then I wouldn’t have benefitted as I have just described. Instead, I have this moment to explore, to look in some shadows for passages that were previously hidden from me. I’ve built some bridges and opened up new avenues for opportunity.

>>Please take a second and share in the comments your current level of excitement or frustration for the opportunities you see in front of you right now. Then think about how you can better creatively manage that rejection and turn it into opportunity.

Photo: Mystery Bridge by McGhiever CC BY-SA 4.0