Facing your Fear of Rejection

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

We have all faced rejection at some point. Some of us have felt deeply humiliated and have held on to the pain or anxiety that the rejection has caused us. This has stopped some of us from being who we are meant to be.

Jia Jiang, entrepreneur & author had encountered rejection from a classroom experience at the age of 6. As he grew well in to adulthood, Jia found himself immobilised by his fear of rejection that stopped him from achieving his dreams. He looked online for ways to overcome this fear and found an interesting game called the 30 day rejection challenge. Jia decided to do for a 100 days, to de-sensitize his fear of rejection.

His quests started with asking a stranger for a 100$, for a burger refill at a restaurant, a request to plant a flower in a stranger’s backyard. He did get a few yes’ along the way. One was for the Olympic symbol in doughnuts from Krispy Kreme, and to be a greeter at Starbucks.

The lessons that Jia learnt from his first quest, where he experienced the flight syndrome, was to engage in conversation and to ask the question why? He figured that by asking why, we get an insight on a person’s thoughts & reasons.

The next lesson Jia learnt was to connect with the person by observation and awareness of their reaction. When he asked the Starbucks manager if he could be a greeter, he probably sensed the manager’s surprise, so he asked, “Is that weird?” Which immediately made him connect and the manager said, “Yes it is.” It is from making that connection, that the manager allowed Jia to be a greeter for an hour.

Another lesson Jia learnt was that persistence pays off. Coming from 4 generations of teachers in his family, Jia always wanted to teach but had no teaching certifications. He approached professors at the University in Austin to teach a course. He met with several rejections, however he persevered and went equipped with presentations on content that he would teach. Impressed by his dedication, the professor gave him an opportunity to teach a class. He was able to fulfill a lifelong dream by asking and being persistent.

My thoughts are that when we are rejected, we personalise the rejection. We think someone is rejecting our persona and hold on to the hurt and humiliation. Often we do not let go and allow ourselves to heal. The way to heal is by being aware and embracing our fears, instead of running away from them. Industry legends like Amitabh Bachan, Basketball pro Michael Jordan among many others are examples of people who have been steadfast to their dreams inspite of rejection.

Likewise, Jia Jiang in the process of confronting his fear, achieved fame and became a successful entrepreneur.
Here’s a link to hear Jia Jiang’s humorous account of his 100 day challenge.

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