When many of us experience rejection, we create all sorts of dramas and stories and make it mean all kinds of untrue things in our minds. But part of the entrepreneurial journey is being rejected! Your idea, service, or product won’t be for everybody, and you have to learn how to think about rejection in a way that helps you sit with it and learn from it.
In every rejection, there’s an opportunity to mine for something you can apply in a productive, valuable way. Instead of putting ourselves into a funk, we can take the feedback on board and start to see rejection as a chance for us to learn, improve, and grow in our businesses.
This week, Director of Programs, Natalie Miller, talks with Resident Coach, La Tondra Murray, and Community Coach, René Washington about rejection and explains why, often, what we make the rejection mean isn’t actually what’s happening. We're discussing the powerful way Stacey Abrams dealt with rejection in her candidacy for governor, and how you can learn to think of rejection happening for you, instead of to you.
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René: I was feeling rejected when I hadn’t even put myself out there in a way that would call them in. So, we can create all these dramas and these stories and make things mean lies, make things mean untruths, make things mean delusions when we’re not really examining what’s actually going on in an objective manner.
Rachel: Welcome to the Hello Seven Podcast. I'm your host, Rachel Rodgers, wife, mother of four children, a lover of Beyoncé, coffee drinker, and afro-wearer, and I just happen to be the CEO of a seven-figure business. I am on a mission to help every woman I meet become a millionaire. If you want to make more money, you are in the right place. Let's get it going.
Natalie: Hello, everyone and welcome to the Hello Seven Podcast. No, this is not Rachel Rodgers, these are her trusty coaches. I am Natalie Miller, I’m the Director of Programs here at Hello Seven and I’m joined by La Tondra Murray. La Tondra is our resident coach. Hi, La Tondra.
La Tondra: Hello. What’s up, everyone?
Natalie: And Ms. René Washington, our community coach. Hello, René.
Natalie: So, we are here today to talk about rejection, straight up rejection. If you are on the entrepreneurial journey, if you have an idea, a service, a product, art or consulting, whatever it is that you want to bring out into the world, guess what, it’s not for everyone. You’ve got to put yourself out there and in putting yourself out there inevitably there will be some people who say no or no, thanks or nah. Really it doesn’t get much worse than that though in our minds it totally does, right?
Really, they’ll not say anything to you. In your mind though they’ve like run you up and down. So, we’re talking about that today, about how can we think about rejection in a way that helps us to be with it. Because we are, as René always says, we’re not delusional, we love to work the mindset, but we don’t imagine that we can somehow make it so that rejection doesn’t hurt or isn’t scary. At the same time, we can totally think the value in rejection. We can think about a different way or approaching rejection and thinking about rejection that helps to be with it more skillfully. So, that is what we are up to today.
René, La Tondra, let’s talk about Stacey Abrams. Stacey Abrams who is patron saint of many. She’s on many altars right now with candles all around her, but we were talking about Stacey Abrams and what has she taught – what does she have to teach us about rejection?
La Tondra: So much, so much. I think it’s a really powerful example of what it means to move through losing something that you want, as I see it. For her, it’s so interesting now, especially where we are in this moment in time and for those who listen in the future I think that Stacey Abrams can essentially write her ticket to do whatever it is that she wants to do and it’s all because she didn’t sit and stay in her rejection, her loss of the governor’s race in Georgia to Brian Kemp, but rather she kept moving. She kept moving forward.
There’s an article that came out in Vogue where she says – the article says, “Abrams refused to concede at first. ‘I sat Shiva for 10 days’ she tells me. ‘Then I started plotting.’” That’s the pivot, the being in the feeling. Rejection hurts. When you don’t get what you want it hurts.
Natalie: Especially when you don’t get what you want in the scenario in which she didn’t get it.
La Tondra: Exactly, exactly, exactly.
Natalie: You put yourself out there in such a hugely generous way and things don’t go your way for all kinds of reasons, yeah it hurts.
La Tondra: Yeah, absolutely. You move forward.
René: Yeah, and she did it in a very strategic way, right? She assessed her options and we talk a lot about body compass and going in to know how to move out and move forward. She absolutely did that because she was getting all of that blowback on not running for senate, on being so bold in stating that she wanted to be vice-president and then would tell you why she should be vice-president. She never backed up on that while at the same time setting up an organization to battle voter suppression.
So, yes, she turned – you talk about turning lemons into lemonade. My gosh, in a way that was just so bold and so against the grain for women and absolutely for black women to do that on such a grand stage. Like, who do you think you are?
La Tondra: She said, “Let me show you.”
René: Yeah, “Let me show you who I am.”
La Tondra: “Exactly who I am.”
Natalie: You know, I hadn’t thought about it from that lens exactly, René, but this is sort of one key piece, I think, is that after so many no’s to her candidacy for governor she didn’t sort of accept whatever came to her, she sat with my favorite question which is, “What do I want?” You know that – I’m sure that there was offer after offer and pressure after pressure for her and she sat with, what do I want? Who do I want to be? What’s the specific cause that’s most important to me and/or where can I make the biggest impact?
So, in that moment of rejection there’s this centering of the other person’s judgment. Part of what we can do, as La Tondra said, first you feel the hurt. Absolutely, we are humans. Rejection hurts. But then to shift back to center our own desire, our own intention. When we leave it all with them, with the no sayers we don’t have any for ourselves, anything with which to move forward like La Tondra was saying.
La Tondra: Yep, I think that’s so true, Natalie, and I think that it’s being centered in what other people want to give us, what other people want us to take or accept or how other people want to direct us. That’s what stops us. That’s the part of rejection that stops us. It’s embracing what other people want for us versus leaning into what we want for ourselves.
So, in some ways I think there is a fuel of sorts that can come from rejection not in a spiteful way, not in a seeking – vengeful kind of way, but simply as a reminder of what we want, a reminder of where we want to take our time and our talents and our energy and really an opportunity to push against what other people would have us do in that moment.
René: Absolutely, and that what do I want question, the preceding question to that is who am I? Which Stacey Abrams is so clearly laser clear on – she has total clarity on her who am I? Because that is what leads you to knowing what you want. When you are centered in the identity and the clarity of your who am I then, yes, you know this is what I want.
So, yes, she wanted to be governor. That didn’t work out. Who am I? I am a leader. Where can I show up as a leader? This didn’t work out. So, a lot of times, yes, we will go, “Okay, well let me go lateral or go down.” She’s like, “Oh no, I’m going up. I’m going up. Governor didn’t work out, VP. I’m setting my sights on VP.”
Natalie: Plan B VP.
René: Who does that?
René: We’re not taught to do that.
Natalie: No, we’re not. You know, it brings me to also those questions are so necessary as we sort through the feedback we get from rejection. So, in entrepreneurship especially, we’ll put an offer out there and maybe it doesn’t sell in the way that we anticipated that it would or people come back to us with objections, reasons why not.
Sometimes there’s a no and oftentimes there’s a reason why not. “Oh, you know, I just don’t have the money right now,” or, “Oh, it’s too long of a commitment,” or, “It’s not long enough of a commitment.” Everybody has their reasons. It is important to sort through all of that information. That is feedback. So, René, you love to quote Thomas Edison.
René: Yes, yes, yes.
Natalie: And lightbulb creation, so –
René: Yeah, the reporter asked him about failing 1,000 times and he responded, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention that took 1,000 steps.” It took 1,000 steps, so powerful.
Natalie: So powerful, right? Okay, so your offer didn’t work. Something didn’t work about it. You can take the feedback for the next time and at the same time that feedback has got to be filtered through who am I? What do I want? Who am I? What do I want?
La Tondra: I think it’s so important to create those answers as really kind of guideposts as an entrepreneur because what can happen is rejection will make us draw all sorts of conclusions about who we are as people. So, now I’m not – I thought I was this, but I must not really be this. Or I thought I was that, I must not really be that. We begin to release our identity and start to blow whichever way the wind blows us. Well, if this is what people want this must be what I need to do and furthermore, this must be who I am.
René: Yeah, or we just keep taking surveys, right? We keep asking, “What do you think about this or what do you think about that?” We create all these stories. Like Natalie said we can make it about money. I’ve been rejected at $25 on up to thousands of dollars. We take on other people’s junk and lay it on top of who we think we are, what is says about us when that’s not what it’s saying about us. That’s what it’s saying about that person or those people.
Natalie: Yeah, and that leads us to a second great question when we’re dealing with rejection. First, we want to ask, “Who am I? What do I want?” Recentering ourselves, and then the next question is, “What am I making this mean? How am I interpreting this?”
I think about I had a neighbor who invited me over for a post-election yay happy hour drinks on the patio. Socially distanced happy hour 2020 and I said, “No,” and the reason that I said no is that I had peopling all day long and your friend, Natalie, is fairly introverted, has a people-facing job and really needs some time not talking to people. Do I like the neighbor? I like the neighbor. Do I like drinks? I like drinks. Am I happy about the election? I’m happy about the election. My reason for saying no was really all about me.
But my neighbor could have been like, “Oh, she must not be excited,” or, “Oh, she must not drink. I thought she drinks, but maybe she doesn’t drink.” My neighbor could be like, “Oh, she doesn’t really like… She’s not very friendly.” My neighbor could make that no mean all kind of things and that’s another facet of rejection, I think, is that we can sometimes tell a whole story out of a no.
René: Yeah, when you said that it also made me think of, Natalie, all three of us are introverted coaches, businesswomen, entrepreneurs, right? All three of us are and so we hear clients say, “Oh, I’m just not this or that, so that means I can’t be.” Which is not true. Again, like you said, what are you making that mean? “I’m an introvert, so that means I can’t be successful in business.” No, that’s not what that means unless you make it mean that.
Natalie: Yeah, “I’m very sensitive. I’m very sensitive, so I can’t put myself out there because I’m very sensitive.” It’s all about embracing the reality and then figuring out how to work with it. So, we’re not at all saying, “Yeah, you can and it’s easy.” No, it might not be easy, but yes, you can and it’s about figuring out the way to approach it and the way to think about it.
René: Yeah, and you have to bust through the lies that you’re telling yourself. When we were talking about this and I told you about the time I was around a lot of people who knew me and were saying positive things about me and instead of that making me feel good about myself I made myself feel bad about it because I was, “Well, why haven’t they hired me? If they think I’m so wonderful, why haven’t they hired me?” And put myself into this real funk and then I realized you haven’t asked them to hire you.
I was feeling rejected when I hadn’t even put myself out there in a way that would call them in. So, we can create all these dramas and these stories and make things mean lies, make things mean untruths, make things mean delusions when we’re not really examining what’s actually going on in an objective manner.
La Tondra: I think the objective manner piece is super important as well because it does come back to extracting what’s useful from the feedback. So, in every rejection there’s an opportunity to mine for something that you can apply in a productive, valuable way. Maybe you don’t agree with the feedback or maybe you don’t agree with the direction that someone thinks that you should take with your business, but you can marinate on it, you can consider it and then you can take action in your own way.
So, sometimes when we get rejected, we throw the feedback away along with being in our feelings. We’re so in our feelings that we don’t mine for the gold that’s there. So, just because someone doesn’t do what we want them to do, just because someone doesn’t maybe even see the value that we have to offer doesn’t mean that they’re not providing something that’s useful to us in that rejection.
Natalie: Absolutely. That sort of makes me think that a next question to ask after, “Who am I? What do I want?” After, “What am I making this mean? How am I interpreting it?” is also, “What would I like to do differently? What would I like to try?” Again, that puts you into the centered, creative, co-creative sort of role where it’s not that rejection is something that is happening to you, but rather you are a person who is figuring out what it is that you want to put out into the world.
René: Because rejection is happening for you. What if I tell myself that? This rejection happened for me.
Natalie: Mm-hm, for me, for my clarity.
René: Yes, what is the clarity? What is the lesson?
Natalie: Yes, I love that. That’s a great question, too. “How is my rejection happening for me?” What I love is happening in this podcast, everybody, it’s really kind of a taste of how we coach at Hello Seven. We aren’t consultants who are ever telling you what to do.
Natalie: We’re trying to both ask you questions and teach you how to ask yourself questions that help to put you in that creative, “I’m going to start plotting” sort of seat.
La Tondra: Yes.
René: Yes, because here’s another question, Natalie, whose business is it? Whose business is it? Because that’s what all of the data, all of the feedback is helping you clarify. Whose business is it? Back to our Stacey Abrams example, she stated her business, right? All these opinions, I’m sure she filtered them through, but it came back to, “Whose business is this? This is my business.”
René: So, to your point of no, we’re not going to tell you as coaches what to do we want to help you parse through all of the options and you circle back to, “This is who I am. This is my business. This is the kind of business I want and for that business this is what I need to do next.”
Natalie: That’s got to be centered in you. We laugh about this a lot. I will say that if you do a survey asking people, “What time do you want the early morning meditation class to be?” Guaranteed some people are going to say, “5am would be amazing.” Some people are going to say, “It should be 6:30am.” Some people are going to say, “You know what? Not until 8am.” Everyone is going to have opinions and they’re all going to give you – they’re going to tell you when it should be.
Guaranteed, if you do it at a time that you don’t want – if you forget that it’s actually your business no one’s showing up especially the people – guaranteed, especially the people who asked you to be there at 5am. Oh, they couldn’t make it this week.
La Tondra: Exactly.
Natalie: I love that kind of call again to come back around to we’re getting feedback, maybe we’re getting suggestions, maybe people are saying, “If there were a payment plan. If it were shorter. If it were longer,” but ultimately, if it’s not sitting well with you, if it’s not aligned with what you want and what you believe will work it’s not going to work. Then, there’s like a self-rejection in there. That’s the one. That’s the one to watch out for, the self-rejection.
La Tondra: That’s right. It’s funny, rejection in many ways can be cleansing and clarifying. “You don’t want this? Well, that’s great. That’s not what I intend to do. That’s not what I’m here to create. That’s not self-honoring. This makes it crystal clear. Your rejection makes it crystal clear.”
Natalie: I love that and I think with that I’m going to share an anecdote that was really exciting to people in the club and I wanted to share it here, too. So, I have a 10-year-old and she is a Girl Scout. Last cookie selling season I was tasked with being the scout helper at one of those folding tables set-up outside your grocery store situation where the girls were selling cookies on a Saturday afternoon.
The group that I was with was an especially shy group. I had introverts. I had girls who were less forthcoming generally in their little scout meetings and then certainly here in the parking lot of the giant supermarket. So, as they were setting up for the day, they were counting how many boxes they had available and they were making goals.
They had a little dry erase board where they set up this is how many boxes we want to sell today. As I was looking over the set-up, I just had this flash of you know what these girls really need to do is they need to get nos. They need to get some no’s and, René, I know you said that this is something you’ve heard from a coach before that you’ve got to go get those nos.
Natalie: If you’re not getting no’s you’re not really putting yourself out there. So, I told the girls, I said, “We have a missing goal here. We need to get at least 100 nos’ today.” They were like, “What?” And I said, “Yeah, yeah, it’s very important.” I said, “As people walk by some people don’t like cookies, some people maybe there’s a brand of cookies inside that they like. Some people already have a Girl Scout they’re connected to, so definitely there are going to be people that say no.”
Notice there, I didn’t know I was doing this at the time, but at the time I was giving them other things that a no could mean other than you’re a terrible Girl Scout or I don’t like cookies. So, the girls ended up saying, “Okay, we’re going to try. We’re going to go for 100 nos.” Here are the couple of things that happened.
One thing that happened is the girls were so much more assertive and gregarious with the passersby because they had relieved themselves of the pressure of always selling a box and instead they were like, “I’m going for the interaction. I know I’m either coming out of this with a no that I can tally on the no side of the board or I’m coming out of this with two Samoas and a Thin Mints gone.”
So, they knew that no matter what putting themselves out there whether the answer was yes or no it was a win for them. They were much more gregarious. That specific table brought in more money than any other table in the entire season and that season after the girls learned to go for no’s as well as for sales that season brought in more money than any other season in the history of the troop. I’m going to take credit for that. I’m going to say that reframing rejection as, “It’s not bad. It doesn’t mean anything about you. It doesn’t mean this isn’t going to work. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a yes right around the corner.”
It means you can clarify, “Oh, if I ask someone who is pushing a cart and toting along a bunch of kids and they say no, those moms they don’t say yes a lot. They’re really busy.” “If I try to ask somebody with headphones in, most of the time they’re like – “you learn. You learn a little bit about your audience. You learn a little about your approach. By reframing it in that way here’s what happened. There’s this whole group of young girls who think differently about rejection and that’s huge.
René: It’s a muscle. It’s a muscle to be strengthened.
La Tondra: That’s right. It’s so powerful because you learn about your audience but you also learn about yourself, about what’s possible when you release the judgment, you release what it means about who you are, and you put yourself out in the world. I love that story, Natalie, every time you tell it.
La Tondra: I love that Girl Scout story, it’s beautiful.
René: Yeah, because there’s a neutrality in asking when you learn how to strengthen that muscle of the possibility of rejection is just a neutral – it’s just a question. You’re either going to get a yes or a no.
Natalie: Absolutely. The putting yourself out there, that’s a muscle, too. I will say, as someone who has a little online dating in her adult life it’s really scary, for me. For me, it was really scary the first couple of times I swiped right to say, “Hey, I’m going to put myself out there for this.” It’s only by doing it again and again, and it’s only by realizing that yeah, sometimes the answer is going to be no. Sometimes it’s not going to be a fit and that’s okay. I will survive that.
René: You didn’t die.
Natalie: I didn’t die. I didn’t die.
René: Even in the midst of feeling like you might 1,000 deaths you didn’t actually die.
Natalie: No. And each time you come back, and I think this is the thing, each time you come back from that no or back from that putting yourself out there and not getting a response, instead of saying, “Oh, it must mean I’m rejected.” To come back and say, “Huh, well, what do I have to learn here? What’s the learning opportunity? What do I want to try next?”
La Tondra: The curiosity, always back to the curiosity.
Natalie: Always back to the curiosity, La Tondra, so true.
René: And the intuitiveness in the more you know yourself because some of this you will immediately click into, “That wasn’t for me. It’s not about me. It wasn’t for me.” That’s all it meant. I mean, it’ll just be so clear to you, like thank you. I can say thank you I got that no. Thank you.
Natalie: Yes, that no was for me.
Natalie: So, let’s sum it up. The questions we want to ask when we are dealing with rejection are things like, “Who am I? What do I want? Things like what am I making this mean? How am I interpreting this? Things like what do I want to try next? Then, how is this is happening for me?”
Natalie: How is this happening for me? All right, well as always, La Tondra, René, thank you so much for bringing your wisdom and your clarity and your good vibes. So much fun. I almost want to sign off this podcast by like, let’s go get some no’s!
René: Yes, let’s.
La Tondra: Let’s.
Natalie: Let’s go get some no’s. All right, thanks, everybody.
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