Facing Rejection

When attempting to get anywhere in life, rejection happens. It’s a facet of reality that most of us fear. Jia Jiang, in his TED Talk “What I learned from 100 days of rejection” faces down that fear in the best possible way and talks to his audience about what he learned from his experience.

Before you face rejection:

  1. Come Prepared to Do What You Want to Do.

When you face rejection:

  1. Don’t Run!
  2. Listen For Them to Ask You “Why?”
  3. Echo Potential Concerns
  4. Explain Yourself/Negotiate
  5. Ask Them Why They Rejected You.

Pretty amazing stuff!

You can find Jia Jiang’s TED Talk on “What I learned from 100 days of rejection” here:


Influence & Unconditional Positive Regard

There is a concept in Psychology circles called: “Unconditional Positive Regard” (or U.P.R.), which gives us a leadership framework for showing our support to others, even those who it might be difficult for us to do so. It goes like this:

  • Accept the person.
  • Praise the effort.
  • Reward results.

Now, I grew up in a crime and punishment household like most of you. I don’t know what would have happened if my parent’s didn’t believe in “spare the rod, spoil the child”. God knows, we don’t want to spoil anybody, that would probably make an already bad situation worse. But if a person is not doing irreparable damage to my institution, I think that institution-wide U.P.R. should be the step I start with long before “retraining” people even becomes necessary. For instance: my parents did reward me for good grades. As a result, I made it through higher education with a firm drive to keep my grades at a respectable level, long after I had aged beyond the reward system. Positive management style, positive employees/volunteers/children, positive results.

The science is fascinating: when you reward people who meet your standards on a regular and unbiased basis, it creates a cognitive dissonance that strongly brings people-with-problems in line with your naturally high achievers or those who already strive to meet your standards. Even if achievement and reward doesn’t drive them to shift their behavior, peer pressure might just do the trick: when your neighbor gets a raise, then your other neighbor gets a raise, human psychology suggests you will emulate what they do in order to join them. I am who I work with.

Furthermore, when the pressure of constant corporate punishment no longer looms over your office, church, bakery, salesfloor or candle shop, it fosters an environment of trust. Trust, if you remember in Christopher Barrat’s TED talk comes right before “Buy”; BUY a product, BUY positive performance, BUY success for yourself as a leader because those under you feel safe, driven and the need to succeed themselves.

Unconditional Positive Regard is unique, and in today’s society, is difficult to find because it is human nature to either directly confront, or passively distance ourselves from people-with-problems. As a result, U.P.R. may actually be a huge source of influence that is largely untapped.

Unconditional Positive Regard was a concept developed by Psychologist Carl Rodgers. For details on the concept, check out the wiki here:


Know Myself

It’s always been a little difficult for me when people try to give me compliments. It’s like, I don’t want to believe it when people start to brag on me, so I frown and by the way I thank them, I realize it sounds like I’m not really grateful. I’m totally grateful. I’m just afraid.

“What does this have to do with Leadership, Business or Success,” you may ask.


Success is a dance that has everything to do with understanding truly where my strengths and weaknesses lie (i.e. Self-Discovery!). Negotiation, whether for a sale, on a resume, in an interview, to get promoted, and more…all of these things require me to be on point with my strengths and weaknesses. If I were to have a weak ego, or conversely, a large one, I would either be underselling myself or overcompensating for a weakness. My ambitions would either get eliminated, or devoured.

A major tenet of this process- “Know myself.”

I have to realize that my weak ego is a choice. It’s hard for me to admit that I’m a charitable person with a good singing and radio voice, or that I’m a good writer, but that doesn’t make it untrue. I just work hard to be better than average in some areas. As the Bible says, the person who buries his talents in the ground has them taken away from him and given to the person who has more-literally that was speaking of money, but figuratively I think the analogy is correct. I need to start taking inventory of my talents before I lose them.

For more about having a healthy ego (they refer to it as “true humility”), see this cool chart I found: http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/truehumilitychart.htm

Mosaic Vision

Sitting at Chick Fil’a over delicious chicken-based fare, my friend A.J. and I had a conversation about a leadership opportunity where I wasn’t able to accomplish the goals set out before me. To be fair, the goals were pretty astronomical and the odds of failing were high. That said, it happened, and at the time, it devastated me. A.J., as is often his role in my life, was less focused on my mistakes and more focused on what could have been done better. The line of thought that followed made me consider leadership in a new light.

Have you ever seen one of those collages where the picture of somebody’s face is created out of thousands of tiny pictures?

What if, being a good leader, a good visionary, means that instead of simply trying to create my “big vision”, I interview everyone in my organization, draw out their “small” visions, and piece them together over time?

By doing it this way, I could also throw my full resources into accomplishing the smaller vision goals until such a time as they are either complete or sustained. I might then have budget to throw into the next set of visions.

What results is a big-picture dream work made out of smaller vision pieces that I, as a leader, or as a part of a group of leaders, help to guide and create. Obviously, not every smaller vision makes the cut, but members usually have more than one idea. People generally don’t like change, but if it’s their idea, and comes in small enough parcels, they become enthusiastic about that change, and sell it to everyone else. They are also more likely to buy into the Mosaic vision as a whole.

Credit for this one goes to the sea of books on leadership and business AJ has read and shared with me. Thank you as always, my friend!

The Marriage of Learning and Networking

In a discussion with a well-read friend this evening, we batted around the possible reasons why the children of the wealthy have an easier time of making something out of their lives than the rest of us. Money is the conclusion I normally come to, but if that were true, scores of lottery winners who quit their jobs wouldn’t end up destitute the following year. The answer is found in other aspects of the consistently wealthy.

“If you examine them closely,” said my friend, “you’ll find that wealthy people are constantly learning and they are constantly making connections with others. Not everybody does that.”

Being out of work has driven me into books, like “What Color is Your Parachute” by Richard Bolles, which both teaches you about yourself, and leads you into a form of networking called “Informational Interviewing”. Over the next two months, I’m going to do my very best to connect with successful people and find out how they got to where they are. I’m going to be reading every book, and listen to every TED talk I think might be applicable to the foundations of this blog. And I will relay everything I learn back to you, dear reader. I hope to prove the points my friend has made, and perhaps in the process, make something of myself.