The truth is being a leader goes hand in hand with rejection. Nobody makes it to the top without being rejected somewhere along the way. The opportunities for rejection only grow the higher we go. What ensures success is sustainable is how we respond to the rejection.
We all go through it, but rejection’s subtle sting can feel more like a stab in the heart the greater our visibility and vulnerability become. As high-achieving leaders we can feel intensely isolated, ostracized, and harshly judged. In reality, much of our pain and difficulty is caused by what we tell ourselves about the experience, the nasty ways we knock ourselves down, and the notions we have about what happens next.
According to Inc,
"Ever notice how being turned down stops some people from trying again, while others bounce back from rejection stronger than before? Everyone experiences the sting of rejection, but confident people use that pain to grow stronger and become better."
Although rejection is difficult, it does not have to break you, or even throw you off your stride.
Have you ever noticed how some individuals are utterly incapacitated by rejection while others go through it, perhaps a little slower but unscathed?
Were they even more energized?
What distinguishes them from the rest? How can they maintain their confidence in the wake of rejection? Here are some of their best-kept secrets:
Leaders who are confident allow it to hurt for a while
Accepting what occurred instead of dismissing it is one of the most fundamental ways confident individuals deal with rejection. Have you ever met someone who declares, "I didn't need her/him anyhow! Forget them! I was far too good for it!" after being rejected by a firm or dumped? By contrast, when the confident and highly self-aware individual is rejected, they become humble (not humiliated!).
They are aware of the situation and begin to assess the rejection while strategizing future actions using their resources. In brief—they regroup with discernment and from a place of clarity and perspective. They can acknowledge where there was a poor fit or misalignment, perhaps a need for better communication or planning. Under challenging circumstances, confident individuals rely on their resources (internal, relational and organizational), and they are confident that if they don't have one in the moment, they can find one.
Leaders that are confident keep track and learn
Confident leaders evaluate what has occurred. They are constantly analyzing their role in the circumstance, and adjusting to assert their intentions and needs, while assessing the missed needs and concerns of the individual doing the rejecting. Confident individuals don't deny or repress what happened; instead, they examine it honestly to discover what they can learn and develop from it. Even our harshest critics are highly valuable teachers.
Confident leaders understand that "it" is unlikely to be personal
This is maybe the essential indicator of a resourceful, self-assured individual. They have a propensity towards seeing things from different viewpoints. Some call this emotional intelligence, others hone on empathy. Either way, leaders who aren't confident are likely to feel unjustly attacked, disrespected or undermined. Those with confidence can see through this and know they are ultimately able to rise above any perceived threat.
Leaders that are confident surround themselves with positive people
They have a solid support system in place that reminds them of their most outstanding qualities and helps them stay grounded when life throws them a curveball. Not only that, our positive supporters provide safe sounding boards when we need to vent. No one needs a bunch of purely “Yes Men” but we do need those who know us, and have watched us learn and grow on their watch.
Each of these responses to rejection help build our confidence in the face of rejection as much as they originate from confidence. When a leader’s confidence is lagging, and they are hit with a painful rejection, it is possible, with tremendous intentionality, to act in the way a more confident leader would, to build the muscle of confidence. We all must begin somewhere.
If you'd like some support navigating rejection, be sure to apply for your complimentary strategy session and we can restore your natural confidence!