How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

Failure isn’t holding you back: fear of failure is. We’re conditioned to fear failure, as if lack of failure guarantees success. The reality is that lack of failure equals lack of risk-taking, which is required for meaningful success. Here are five actions you can take to shake off the doubt and fail like a pro.

1) Embrace your mistakes. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck identified a certain way of thinking shared by people who embrace their mistakes in the pursuit of success: the growth mindset is resilient in the face of failure and sees it as necessary for learning and achievement. If you immediately berate yourself for a mistake, you’re probably stuck in a fixed mindset. Dweck’s website offers some powerful insights into changing your mindset, but the bottom line is this: to change your mind about failure, all you have to do is… change your mind. Stop beating yourself up. Successful people don’t see failure as catastrophic, they see it as a good data point to guide their next attempts.

I’ve been practicing this for a few months now, and it really does take the sting out of failure. I’ve changed my internal dialogue from a sarcastic rejoinder to myself – “Way to go, Einstein!” – to a mindset of objective inquiry: “Huh, that was interesting….” This helps me separate my outcomes from my self-worth, and gives me room to creatively explore new options for reaching my goals. Try this, it really does work!

2) Stop trying so hard. Author and researcher (and self-professed “change geek”) Susan Alexander tells a story about being on a biking tour of the French countryside, when she seemed to hit a physical wall on what should have been a fairly easy hill. She struggled to make the climb, wondering if fatigue, mechanical problems or the altitude were making her discouraged and exhausted. With quite a distance left still to climb, she was enduring what should have been an enjoyable ride. Then a man in her party rode up from behind her and told her she was in the wrong gear: she was pushing too hard and making too little progress. Alexander’s lesson: “A quick fix is right there in front of us (hello, Occam’s Razor!), but we miss it. It’s either too obvious, or we forge straightaway into over-functioning or over-analyzing, forgetting that simplicity is often a formidable match for complexity.”

Physician and author Lissa Rankin talks about how to relax into success by being more “eggy” rather than “spermy” at the right times – stop chasing and start receiving. You may find a new ease that clears your mind, refreshes your energy and refocuses you on more purposeful, productive pursuits.

3) Ask for help. We’re afraid of looking less than competent when we ask for help, as if we’ve failed because we don’t know absolutely everything there is to know about everything. Here’s the secret you already understand about yourself, but forget about others: when someone asks for your help, they make you feel appreciated and therefore, you are eager to help them. Now, I’m not talking about the purposeful helplessness that manipulators use to get others to do their work or thinking for them. I’m talking about sincere, meaningful engagement with someone whose knowledge or assistance you value. Remember how you felt the last time someone said to you, “Hey, I’d really appreciate your help on this.” It felt good, right? The asker got what they wanted, and you felt valued. Make someone else feel good about helping you, and in the process advance toward your goal. I love this fable by an anonymous author:

A man was trying very hard to lift a large rock.

His friend approached and asked him, “Are you using all of your strength?”

“Yes, I’m trying my hardest,” the man said.

“Are you sure?” the friend pressed him.

“Of course I’m using all of my strength!” the man replied impatiently.

“No, you’re not,” said the friend. “I’m standing right here and you haven’t asked me for help.”

4) Say no when you’re afraid to. Get out of the habit of assuming that when someone important asks you for something, your reply should automatically be yes. When your manager piles yet another deliverable on your stack, or your best friend asks you to babysit on an exhausting week night, or your daughter asks you to stop planting flowers to go buy her science fair supplies, you do a quick calculation of the consequences of “No.” Often we say yes to avoid conflict, but think for a minute how you’re training these people to view your valuable time: it’s at their command, their needs are more important than yours, and you’re not capable of negotiating things that are important to you.

An easy yes is a cheap yes. Make them work for it. You must teach others how to respect your time and energy. Author and marketing guru Seth Godin posits a very powerful reason to say no. “The choice: You can dissipate your gift by making the people with the loudest requests temporarily happy, or you can change the world by saying ‘no’ often… You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.”

5) Say yes when you’re afraid to. A friend of mine is making the leap from a stable, predictable (read: wretchedly unchallenging) corporate job with benefits into the shark tank of entrepreneurship and individual health coverage. She spent many months unhappy in her job, but was afraid of flying solo for all of the obvious reasons: unpredictable income, no built-in infrastructure, uncertain chances of success, a hangnail turning into an amputation because she couldn’t afford the medical bills. She clearly was afraid to say yes to herself, to the opportunity, to the friends and colleagues who believed in her, because yes meant uncertainty – but also the possibility of enormous growth and success and lots of people watching her and asking things of her because she was successful. Saying yes can be scarier than saying no.

Finally, she experienced a moment of clarity when she focused on all of the great things that could happen, and gave them more power than all of the bad things that might happen. She already had the rest of us at yes, she just needed to hear it from herself – even though she was afraid. Now, she has colleagues coming out of the woodwork offering support, contacts, good wishes… and asking her for jobs.

Saying no sometimes close doors, but saying yes always opens them. Especially when you’re afraid.

Five simple ways to remove fear of failure from your path to success.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Fear?
  • Find a therapist to combat fear and anxiety

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

Fear of failure is a significant obstacle that stands between you and your goals. But it doesn’t have to be.

Fear of failure is the intense worry you experience when you imagine all the horrible things that could happen if you failed to achieve a goal. The intense worry increases the odds of holding back or giving up. Being successful relies to a large extent on your ability to leverage fear.

What can you do to prevent fear of failure from setting you back?

1. Redefine failure as discrepancy.

Success is often hard to define. Failure is even harder.

What is your definition of failure? Giving up? Never going after your goals? Not achieving the desired outcome? Not achieving the desired outcome within an expected timeline? You may think that the answer to this question is obvious. But it is important to be clear about what you consider failure, since failure is the object of your fear and the obstacle to your success.

To make your goal pursuit fail-proof, switch from thinking about failures to thinking about discrepancies between what you hope to achieve and what you might achieve. Discrepancies provide you with information that you can study, explain, and learn from so you can recalibrate your future efforts.

As long as you continue making an effort, there is no room for failure. When you give up altogether, for no better reason than fear of failing, that’s a different story!

2. Distinguish between real and imagined threats.

Fear is our response to two kinds of threats: real and imagined. You already know the difference. Real threats pose a risk to our survival. Imagined threats are hypothetical scenarios. Delivering a speech in front of a group of people is an imagined threat because there is little risk to your survival. Delivering a speech in front of a pride of lions in the savanna is a real threat because they are not interested in hearing you, they are interested in eating you.

Fear of failure by definition involves imagined threats. And while the fear is real, the threat is not. For the time being, the threat is a prediction, a product of your imagination, a scenario you built. This doesn’t make your fear unfounded or irrational. But it makes it premature and unnecessary. Instead of letting it stop you, study it and plan how to avoid the consequences you’re scared of.

3. Create promotion rather than prevention goals.

The research on goal achievement suggests that there are two types of approaches that people take with respect to their goals: approach and avoidance. I like to call them promotion and prevention goals.

Promotion goals are about achieving a positive outcome (e.g., “I want to get a raise,” “I want to expand my client base,” or “I want to get a promotion”), while prevention goals are about avoiding a negative outcome (e.g., “I don’t want to lose my job” or “I hope I don’t get a negative review”). Prevention goals are associated with more disorganized approaches to goal pursuit, lower engagement, less self-determination, and more anxiety. Moreover, prevention goals lead to the creation of more prevention goals in the future.

Fear of failure leads to the creation of prevention goals, which may blur our focus, undermine our efforts, and make planning difficult. Reframing prevention goals as promotion goals is one way to take fear of failure out of the equation.

While most of us set promotion goals at one time and prevention goals at another, it is important to remember that how we frame our goals can obscure our intentions, delay implementation, and make it easier to give up.

4. Expect a good outcome but do not become attached to it.

The more attached you are to the outcome you envisioned when you set the goal, the more likely it is that you will interpret discrepancies from that desired outcome as failures. As circumstances change and as your experience changes you, what you initially saw as the ideal outcome may no longer be attainable, appropriate, or meaningful. However, if you choose not to re-evaluate or adjust the outcomes you expected, you will be stuck in discrepancy and convinced that you are failing. The research shows that people who reappraise their goals and are able to adjust either their approach or their expectations enjoy better physical and mental health.

Some goals require focus and persistence. Others, however, require openness and flexibility. Being able to reevaluate and redefine the outcome you hope to achieve is a good buffer against the fear of failure. We should evaluate our success by the amount of thought and effort we put forth, rather than by the outcome we achieved.

5. You are strong and you can prevail.

Fear of failure is not about the challenges ahead or the effort required. It is about the consequences we may suffer if we fail. We are not afraid of the work we have to do, but of the remote chance that our work will not be good enough to yield results that meet our standards.

Researchers on fear of failure have identified several negative consequences people with a fear of failure expect, including feelings of shame and embarrassment, a big-blow to self-esteem, the prospect of an uncertain future, the loss of social influence, and disappointing important others (more on this topic here). Notice that people estimate the psychological cost of failing to be much higher than the material cost. People with a fear of failure are less worried about losing money than about losing friends, losing face, or losing faith.

To attenuate fear of failure further, identify the consequences of failing that scare you the most and evaluate your ability to deal with these consequences. Instead of talking yourself out of the fear by hoping that nothing negative would happen, focus on building confidence to deal with the consequences.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Which of these consequences scare you the most?
  • How much impact will they have on you? Are they merely unpleasant or life-threatening? Will they just make you feel uncomfortable or will they hurt you deeply and irreparably?
  • How quickly will you move on? Are the consequences permanent or reversible? Are they short-lived or will they linger forever?
  • How well can you handle them? Can you exercise damage control or will you hide and disappear?

Ultimately, what makes us fearless is not the fact that we do not experience fear, but that we are confident that we can deal with the consequences of our actions. That’s what makes people fearless and that’s what could help you become immune to fear of failure as well.

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

Debbie Millman told me her biggest regret was not “going for it” after she graduated college. She took the “safe” option, got a job and built a career. And a great career she built, becoming the president of Sterling Brands, and working with over 200 of the world’s largest businesses.

Yet, she chose this route not because she wasn’t good enough to make it on her own, but because she was scared to.

Fear took over, and it was the fear that she would fail.

Fear itself isn’t a problem. You’re allowed to worry and stress. This doesn’t make you weak, and it does not define you. But, if you wish to get to where you desire, you must fight your fear.

It took Debbie Millman years to figure this out, but once she embraced her creativity, with shows like Design Matters and books like Look Both Ways, she began to overcome her fear of failure.

Millman also told me about a chat she once had with her good friend, Dani Shapiro, who said, “We think we need confidence to do something and take action, but confidence isn’t what we need. What’s more important than confidence is courage and competence.”

Like anything, learning how to overcome your fear of failure is a skill. It takes practice. You need to learn how to embrace it, because once you do you can build real success on the back of it.

As Shapiro says, you don’t need confidence, only a little courage and competence.

Here are a few inspiring TED Talks to help you find some.

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At the beginning of each new year many people consider making resolutions to change for the better. Of those who succeed in making resolutions many fail. But many fail before they give success a chance because of fear. Some are afraid of failure, others are afraid of success. Regardless of the source of the fear, it immobilizes too many and prevents them from achieving what they desire and are capable of.

There is no more sure way to fail than to never try. This year, don’t let fear kill your hustle before you even get moving. Here are 14 ways to overcome fear and make this year the one where nothing holds you back.

1. Understand fear and embrace it. Fear exists to keep us safe. It is not inherently bad or good but a tool we can use to make better decisions. Fear isn’t designed to keep us inactive, but to help us act in ways that generate the results we need and want. Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform your actions, but not control them.

2. Don’t just do something, stand there! We tend to admire people who are quick to action, but being deliberate, creating a plan, and pacing yourself are also actions. Many a successful undertaking has been threatened or ruined by haste alone. When fear strikes consider whether the correct action might be to analyze the options and make a wise, well thought out choice rather than jumping to what seems right in the heat of the moment.

3. Name the fear. Sometimes merely stating what your fear is gives you the strength to deal with it. Say your fear out loud, write it down, or focus your mind on it. When you try to ignore your fear, it grows. When you face it, it shrinks.

4. Think long term. If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be afraid you won’t make the next payroll. But what’s your three month outlook, or the outlook for three years from now? Thinking about the long term won’t fix your short term problem, but it can help you think about it more objectively and come up with the right solution.

5. Educate yourself. We are afraid of nothing so much as the unknown. If your fear is based on a lack of information, then get the information or knowledge you need to examine the situation based on facts rather than speculation.

6. Prepare, practice, role play. The long standing top fear in the United States is public speaking. In many surveys, death itself ranks in second place to standing in front of a group and opening your mouth. If your fear is related to your performance in a certain activity then prepare, practice, and role play. Carmine Gallo, author of Talk Like TED , told me about Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor who practiced her popular TED talk (over 18 million views and counting) more than 200 times. If you don’t have that much time, Gallo says “I find that practicing a presentation a minimum of 10 times is ideal.”

7. Utilize peer pressure. Have you ever done something scary, like jumping off a high bridge into a river below, only because you were with friends who were egging you on? Peer pressure, like fear itself, can be positive or negative depending on how it’s wielded. Surround yourself with people who will push you to overcome the fears that are holding you back from what you want.

8. Visualize success. Athletes may imagine the successful completion of a physical task thousands of times before achieving it. This mental mapping ensures that when the body moves, it’s more likely to follow its pre-ordained path. The same practice will prepare you to succeed at whatever you’re trying to achieve.

9. Gain a sense of proportion. How big of a deal, really, is the thing you’re afraid of? We sometimes get so caught up in the success or failure of a particular quest that we lose sense of where it fits in with everything else we value. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? Sometimes the reality is bad, but often you might find that the fear itself is worse than whatever it is you’re afraid of happening.

10. Get help. Whatever you’re afraid of, is it something you have to do alone? Can you find a mentor or support group to help you through it? Athletes have coaches. Students have teachers. Sometimes friends, even if they have no expertise in the area you’re struggling with, can provide the needed support to face your fear.

11. Follow others, find a recipe. Are you doing something that has never been done, or can you follow the footsteps of someone else who has accomplished it before? Is there a formula for success? Has someone written a book on the topic, or can you tweak a formula from another field to meet your needs?

12. Have a positive attitude. In Brian Tracy’s book The Power of Self-Confidence: Become Unstoppable, Irresistible, and Unafraid in Every Area of Your Life he asks “What would you do differently if you were absolutely guaranteed of success in any undertaking?” Would you try more things? Would you keep working long after others would have given up? People who have positive attitudes are successful because they keep trying after others give up.

13. Be willing to pivot. As the adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But there’s also the saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’re afraid to do something again because it didn’t work out the last time, figure out why it didn’t work, and try something different before you give up trying altogether.

14. Focus on others as your motivation. There are things we would never do for ourselves that we would quickly and fearlessly do for others. Hyrum Smith, the co-founder of FranklinCovey, once asked a mother in his audience during a presentation if she would be willing to cross a standard metal “I beam” placed from the roof of one skyscraper to another. She said no, she wouldn’t. He asked her if she would do it for a million dollars, and added that now there was a bit of wind and some raindrops falling. She still wouldn’t. Then he told her to imagine he was holding her child over the edge of the opposite building, and if she wasn’t there in 10 seconds he would drop the child. What do you think her answer was under those circumstances?

What methods have you used successfully for overcoming fear? Tell us in the comments below.

Last Updated: February 26, 2021 References

This article was co-authored by Catherine Boswell, Ph.D. Dr. Catherine Boswell is a Licensed Psychologist and a Co-Founder of Psynergy Psychological Associates, a private therapy practice based in Houston, Texas. With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Boswell specializes in treating individuals, groups, couples, and families struggling with trauma, relationships, grief, and chronic pain. She holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Houston. Dr. Bowell has taught courses to Master’s level students at the University of Houston. She is also an author, speaker, and coach.

There are 33 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 111,686 times.

Fear is something we all experience, especially when setting out on any new undertaking. Failure is one of the most common and most damaging fears that many people struggle with. [1] X Research source However, failure is often the first step toward success: highly successful people such as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson are very vocal about how often they have failed and how that has shaped their success. [2] X Research source Merely avoiding the feeling of fear is not likely; however, you can take a close look at your fear of failure and then work with it to shape your future success. Read on to learn how to move past your fear and toward your goals.

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

Catherine Boswell, Ph.D
Licensed Psychologist Expert Interview. 29 December 2020. [6] X Research source However, if we view our results as more or less effective, with the aim of improvement, we are able to always make positive changes. [7] X Research source

  • Studies show that people who are successful usually don’t encounter fewer or more setbacks than people who aren’t. The key is entirely in how you interpret those setbacks. Don’t let them convince you that success is impossible. [8] X Research source
  • Meeting your idealized results takes time and hard work. Success is a process. Don’t let any perceived failures prevent you from continuing that process.
  • Don’t run from this process, but embrace it, knowing that it will only yield better results.
  • Remember that you can’t control or predict everything. View unexpected variations or fluctuation as what they are: external elements beyond your control. Only account for what is in your control.
  • Make sure your goals are realistic and obtainable.

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

Catherine Boswell, Ph.D
Licensed Psychologist Expert Interview. 29 December 2020. Plan any future actions in accordance with what you have learned from past actions. [13] X Research source

  • Improving your future plans by keeping track of what works and what doesn’t will help ease the fear of failure.
  • Learn to value failure. Failure is just as informative and valuable as success.
  • Experiencing failure will allow you to learn from what didn’t work and will help you avoid that setback in future attempts. You will likely still encounter challenges, roadblocks, and setbacks, but you will be better equipped to overcome them with the knowledge you have gained.

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I’m going to make a confession here. It’s not easy to own up to, especially since I love to support women business owners. But sometimes hard truths can be helpful. So here it is: for many years I wrestled with a serious fear of rejection in business that almost made me give up and quit.

When I think about my success in business today, it’s hard to believe that I let this fear cripple me. But it did. It was a formidable foe.

Personally, feeling unwanted or unneeded is a soul-sucking, confidence-killing experience. When you’re in business, rejection by a potential customer or client can be just as painful.

Even after going through this myself (and figuring out how to put the fear of rejection in its place), I’ve seen this powerful force hold so many women back from growing their business.

Fear of rejection in business has likely happened to you, too.

What fear of rejection in business looks like

Any of these situations sound familiar…?

There’s a perfect event coming up where you can promote your business. You mark the date on your calendar, BUT on the day it’s taking place, you get anxious and back out.

You connect with someone who you know can benefit from your product or service. BUT, when you’re about to send the follow-up email or dial their phone number, you hesitate, afraid, and then decide against it.

You want to inform your clients or customers that you’ve decided to raise your prices because you know you’re creating more value for them. BUT, when you try to compose the email, you worry that you’ll lose business and you delete it.

Don’t beat yourself up. I’ve done it. You probably have, too. It’s bested all of us at one time or another.

Why rejection in business is so scary

Growing your business doesn’t just happen. It takes work and the courage to leave your comfort zone behind and face your fears.

That includes the inevitability that some potential customers or clients will refuse to buy what you have to offer.

On the other hand, there are customers or clients out there who need exactly what your business provides.

The trick is to not let the “no’s” erode your confidence and belief in your product or service.

Rejection is simply part of doing business.

When you reach out to enough people and hone your ability to better qualify potential customers or clients, you will begin to hear “yes.”

Trouble is, the “no’s” can hurt so much that you’ll do almost anything to avoid feeling that way.

When you don’t know how to manage rejection, that wound can cut deep. As a newbie business owner, you haven’t yet grown a thicker skin to fend off those attacks to your self-esteem.

Having been there and felt that, I’m here to tell you that you can learn to look at the risks and challenges of doing business differently and view rejection for what it really is: fuel that can light the fire of your motivation.

How to beat the fear of rejection in business

Remember I said I figured out how to put my fear of rejection in its place?

Here’s are three proven ways to dominate your fear of rejection:

  1. Embrace the fact that some potential clients and customers will reject your offer. Better yet, anticipate that “no” is the answer you’ll receive.

Get comfortable with the idea that “no” does not equal failure on your part or mean that something’s wrong with you. “No” today may not mean “no” next month or next year. Your prospect may just not be ready to buy now. What’s important is that you’re asking and refining and improving your pitch every time.

Take “no” in stride. It’s okay. Just move on to the next opportunity.

  1. Once you lock in this mindset, it’s time to start working it.

If you’re actively marketing your business, you’re going to experience a lot of rejection.

Toughen up and realize that everyone in business has had to deal with rejection. I guarantee that almost anyone who you view as successful worked hard for years first – and experienced your same fear of rejection in business.

“Overnight success” is a myth. You won’t be perfect out of the gate.

  1. Knowing rejection is inevitable, go big.

How would you approach marketing your business if you weren’t worried about rejection? When you get control of your fear and kick it to the curb, your courage muscle gets bigger – and with that, the possibilities that are open to you. “No” doesn’t frighten or stop you anymore.

When there is no desperation in your pitch, an interesting thing starts to happen. You start to hear “yes” more often.

Rejection is actually your ticket to success

Here’s a reality check…

Remember when you learned how to ride a bike? You fell. You probably got some scrapes and bruises. But then you made the decision to get back on. To figure it out. To keep trying. Once you got the hang of it, you loved the ride and forgot why you were afraid.

Fear in any form is uncomfortable. Fear of rejection in business is scary. And, when you are rejected, it’s painful. But, getting over it and moving forward is also part of the work you must do as an entrepreneur. The sooner you come to terms with this reality, the more you’ll grow and thrive as a business owner.

The fact is sometimes you’re a fit for the needs of your potential customer or client and sometimes you’re not. It’s just the way it is in business.

Rather than running from fear or (worse yet!) quitting, make the brave choice and keep moving forward.

Rejection is the path to business success.

Do you have questions about how you can succeed in your business and accelerate your journey toward reaching your goals? I invite you to learn more about From Startup to Success coaching packages. Begin with a no-cost 30-minute consultation to discuss where you are with your business and where you want to go.

Share this post:

I’m going to make a confession here. It’s not easy to own up to, especially since I love to support women business owners. But sometimes hard truths can be helpful. So here it is: for many years I wrestled with a serious fear of rejection in business that almost made me give up and quit.

When I think about my success in business today, it’s hard to believe that I let this fear cripple me. But it did. It was a formidable foe.

Personally, feeling unwanted or unneeded is a soul-sucking, confidence-killing experience. When you’re in business, rejection by a potential customer or client can be just as painful.

Even after going through this myself (and figuring out how to put the fear of rejection in its place), I’ve seen this powerful force hold so many women back from growing their business.

Fear of rejection in business has likely happened to you, too.

What fear of rejection in business looks like

Any of these situations sound familiar…?

There’s a perfect event coming up where you can promote your business. You mark the date on your calendar, BUT on the day it’s taking place, you get anxious and back out.

You connect with someone who you know can benefit from your product or service. BUT, when you’re about to send the follow-up email or dial their phone number, you hesitate, afraid, and then decide against it.

You want to inform your clients or customers that you’ve decided to raise your prices because you know you’re creating more value for them. BUT, when you try to compose the email, you worry that you’ll lose business and you delete it.

Don’t beat yourself up. I’ve done it. You probably have, too. It’s bested all of us at one time or another.

Why rejection in business is so scary

Growing your business doesn’t just happen. It takes work and the courage to leave your comfort zone behind and face your fears.

That includes the inevitability that some potential customers or clients will refuse to buy what you have to offer.

On the other hand, there are customers or clients out there who need exactly what your business provides.

The trick is to not let the “no’s” erode your confidence and belief in your product or service.

Rejection is simply part of doing business.

When you reach out to enough people and hone your ability to better qualify potential customers or clients, you will begin to hear “yes.”

Trouble is, the “no’s” can hurt so much that you’ll do almost anything to avoid feeling that way.

When you don’t know how to manage rejection, that wound can cut deep. As a newbie business owner, you haven’t yet grown a thicker skin to fend off those attacks to your self-esteem.

Having been there and felt that, I’m here to tell you that you can learn to look at the risks and challenges of doing business differently and view rejection for what it really is: fuel that can light the fire of your motivation.

How to beat the fear of rejection in business

Remember I said I figured out how to put my fear of rejection in its place?

Here’s are three proven ways to dominate your fear of rejection:

  1. Embrace the fact that some potential clients and customers will reject your offer. Better yet, anticipate that “no” is the answer you’ll receive.

Get comfortable with the idea that “no” does not equal failure on your part or mean that something’s wrong with you. “No” today may not mean “no” next month or next year. Your prospect may just not be ready to buy now. What’s important is that you’re asking and refining and improving your pitch every time.

Take “no” in stride. It’s okay. Just move on to the next opportunity.

  1. Once you lock in this mindset, it’s time to start working it.

If you’re actively marketing your business, you’re going to experience a lot of rejection.

Toughen up and realize that everyone in business has had to deal with rejection. I guarantee that almost anyone who you view as successful worked hard for years first – and experienced your same fear of rejection in business.

“Overnight success” is a myth. You won’t be perfect out of the gate.

  1. Knowing rejection is inevitable, go big.

How would you approach marketing your business if you weren’t worried about rejection? When you get control of your fear and kick it to the curb, your courage muscle gets bigger – and with that, the possibilities that are open to you. “No” doesn’t frighten or stop you anymore.

When there is no desperation in your pitch, an interesting thing starts to happen. You start to hear “yes” more often.

Rejection is actually your ticket to success

Here’s a reality check…

Remember when you learned how to ride a bike? You fell. You probably got some scrapes and bruises. But then you made the decision to get back on. To figure it out. To keep trying. Once you got the hang of it, you loved the ride and forgot why you were afraid.

Fear in any form is uncomfortable. Fear of rejection in business is scary. And, when you are rejected, it’s painful. But, getting over it and moving forward is also part of the work you must do as an entrepreneur. The sooner you come to terms with this reality, the more you’ll grow and thrive as a business owner.

The fact is sometimes you’re a fit for the needs of your potential customer or client and sometimes you’re not. It’s just the way it is in business.

Rather than running from fear or (worse yet!) quitting, make the brave choice and keep moving forward.

Rejection is the path to business success.

Do you have questions about how you can succeed in your business and accelerate your journey toward reaching your goals? I invite you to learn more about From Startup to Success coaching packages. Begin with a no-cost 30-minute consultation to discuss where you are with your business and where you want to go.

How to beat your fear of rejection and embrace failures

Chances are, you read the title of this post and huffed, “I hate rejection! Rejection, I will dance upon your grave!”

The good news is that you’ll never stop experiencing rejection, so you won’t have to be shining up your dancing shoes anytime soon.

Wait — did I say the good news?

I did. In my career as a magazine writer, book author, content marketer, blogger, and copywriter, I’ve been rejected well over 500 times. Yes, I counted.

But instead of seeing “no-thank-yous” as a sign that I should just give up and get a real job, I see them as a tool for boosting my career success.

Here are five reasons to consider rejection your bestest friend …

#1. Rejection teaches you how to stop being rejected

In the late 90s, I was trying without success to break into the national women’s magazines. Every pitch was met with rejection.

Then, one day, I received an email from an editor at Woman’s Day. She said she liked my query — in fact, she wanted my permission to showcase it at a writers’ conference as a pitch that was almost-but-not-quite there — but that I didn’t do enough research on the topic. Why don’t I expand on the idea and send it to her again?

So I did a few interviews, added some quotes to my pitch, included a few examples of what I would include in the article, and turned it in.

Behold! My first women’s magazine assignment.

And I went on to write for Woman’s Day again, and also sold more than a dozen ideas to Family Circle (and became their highest-paid writer) using my new, well-researched query approach.

Of course, not all rejections will be full of friendly tips from prospects, but you can learn even from boilerplate “No thanks” responses.

For example, if you’re getting a lot of these impersonal rejections, that’s a sign you’re doing something wrong and need to reconsider your approach. Something about your letter of introduction, pitch, offer, or samples may be lacking.

#2. Rejection allows you into an exclusive, world class club

Ever hear of The 4-Hour Workweek — you know, that New York Times bestseller that created a worldwide movement to work less and earn more? Author Tim Ferriss was rebuffed 26 times before he found a publisher willing to take him on.

Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was turned down 30 times. King was so frustrated he chucked his manuscript into the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to submit it just one more time.

JK Rowling suffered countless rejections before scoring a hit with the Harry Potter series. She’s now one of the richest people in Britain.

Take heart that the rich and famous have been where you are right now, fielding no-thank-yous left and right. When you get rejected, you have something in common with the most successful writers out there.

#3. Rejection demolishes your competition

I cannot even tell you how many wannabe writers I hear from who gave up in the face of rejection.

That makes me sad, but it offers an advantage for you: The more writers out there who let “no’s” stop them, the more opportunity there will be for you to land those content writing gigs.

In other words: Fewer writers = less competition. Yay, right?

#4. Rejection helps you cut through the crap

Think of rejection as clearing the path towards your best successes.

All those prospects who are turning down your content writing offers — they’re just obstacles you need to get past before you finally reach the prospects who will hire you.

Every rejection brings you that much closer to an acceptance. Think of those famous failures we just talked about. What if Tim Ferriss had stopped at rebuff #26, or Stephen King had given up for real at #30?

They were at their final rejections, people!

Who knows which will be the final rejection on your current marketing campaign? If you’re learning from rejection and tweaking your copy and offer in response, chances are you’re getting pretty close.

#5. Rejection brings you better clients

My take on rejection is that if someone turns me down, that means we wouldn’t be a good fit.

You may be thinking — especially if you’re a newish writer — that any client would be a good client, but believe me (I know from experience) that there is such a thing as a bad client, and that you don’t want one.

So the ones who turn you down? They’re sparing you from slogging through an assignment for a client that isn’t a match for you in work style, writing style, pay, or PITA (that’s Pain In The A**) level.

Even better: When you get a rejection from one prospect, that leaves room for better ones to enter your life. (Why yes, I do believe in all that woo-woo energy stuff!)

Over to you …

Why do you love (or hate) rejection? Are you on the verge of giving up?

Can you see how rejection can be used as an ally in your work, instead of merely a hard bump in the road?

October 13, 2010

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Fear is a powerful emotion. Whether you’re facing a fear of failure, fear of rejection, or even a fear of success, it can cause you to miss out on opportunities, second-guess yourself and lose momentum in your life. But fear can also be a powerful driving factor behind positive action, if you know how to leverage it.

It doesn’t matter what you’re afraid of — taking the plunge and starting a business, saying no to a client, applying to speak at a conference — you can use the fear in a positive way. Here are a few ways you can gather up the fear and use it to your advantage.

Recognize the Fear

One of the worst things you can do is try to ignore what you’re afraid of. Denying fear exists doesn’t help you conquer it and can cause you to make poor decisions because you feel ill-prepared when faced with the problem head-on.

Instead, acknowledge that the fear exists, explore where it’s coming from and outline what needs to happen for you to overcome it. Many times, bringing your fear fully into the light of day by putting it on paper or saying it aloud will begin to remove some of the power.

Use the Fear as a Check-In on Reality

Now that you’ve admitted to yourself that you’re afraid, take a closer look at what is causing you to be afraid. Do you worry that taking the plunge and leaving your job will cause a serious financial setback, the client you say no to will pull all work from you, or your speaking application will be rejected? Well, all of those outcomes are entirely possible and valid concerns.

Instead of letting the worry about what might happen dictate the decision you make, analyze the possibilities and use it to create best and worst case scenarios you can live with, and let that drive how you decide to act.

Turn the Fear on Its Head

Fear is often a case of perception, how you view the potential negative outcomes of a situation. Adjust your opinion of what may happen by assigning positives to even the worst outcome.

For example: Quitting your job to start a business and facing a financial struggle results in you finally being rid of a job you hated and gives you an intense motivation to succeed as a business owner. The client leaving when you say no proves he wasn’t an ideal client and your business is likely better off without him. Being rejected to speak at the conference taught you several lessons about what to do and not do when submitting a speaking application.

Let the Fear Slow You Down

No, don’t let your fear stop you, but it’s okay to pause while you consider it. Sometimes one of the best ways to use your fear is by allowing it to exist for a short period of time, taking a break from the pressure to beat it, and using the time to reflect. This may not rid you of your worries instantaneously, but it can give you a clear head and a new focus as you work on getting past it.

Fear is very real and can be paralyzing, but it is possible to use to your advantage and turn it into a motivator. How have you used fear to your advantage?