Resiliency: I Regret To Inform You…

This summer we featured a blog series on resiliency (“Talking Myself Through 13.1 Miles,” “Smile. Pass It On,” and “The Sky May Be Falling”), based on Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell Is Human. Today we offer the fourth and final installment in that series.

I regret to inform you that you have failed, or not been accepted, or did not make the cut, or just don’t have the skills we need at this time. Have you heard any of these before? Everyone has been rejected at some point…and it’s just not fun. But how do you get back up and move forward? How do you prevent something that feels so catastrophic at the time from becoming a roadblock in your life?

In Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell Is Human, he suggests that resiliency is a function of four components, with one being the ability to identify what can really sink you. But how do you gain that kind of perspective?

Enumerate: Count the rejections. How many potential customers hung up on you today? How many rejected job applications did you receive today? Collecting this kind of frequency data and tracking it over time helps to give you the perspective that there are good days and bad days. It helps to visually see that the number of rejections have decreased over time, even though it may feel on a daily basis like nothing is getting any better. Data is a great way to provide objective perspective.

Embrace: Learn from the rejection. Analyze it a little. Maybe you could have made a better presentation. Perhaps there is some room for you to improve your skills. Use it as a learning tool and then move on. Remember to keep it in perspective! In time, it’s okay to even laugh about it.

Appropriate Negativity: In this post last month, I pointed to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s research on positivity. But the reality is, there is room for appropriate negativity. You should get angry or even be upset with yourself in situations where it’s deserving. This type of negativity gives us feedback and can provide a level of motivation to encourage us to do better next time. The important thing is not to live in the negative. Express it, learn from it, and move on.

Defensive Pessimism: When I lived in California, everyone had an ounce of defensive pessimism. You prepare for the disaster that you hope will never come: The Big One! But by doing so, you think through that worst-case scenario and prepare for it. What if I lose my job? What if I don’t get another one immediately? What if this presentation is terrible? What if the Big One hits? Well, you have your water bottles, your food rations, gas in the car, cash on hand, and a first aid kit. You are prepared.

Write Yourself a Rejection Letter: Before your big presentation, write yourself a rejection letter. Recognize your own weaknesses and work on them! By poking holes in your own work, you will strengthen your skill set and in turn, improve your presentation!

B.F. Skinner said, “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” Use your mistakes to become resilient!

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