IMAGINE THIS: You are a basketball player preparing for your first big game in a month. You are not the best shooter on the team, but you have accepted your role as the slasher–the one who zips past the defender to finish at the rim every time. That means your go-to scoring method is the highest percentage shot on the court, the layup.
In the month leading up to your game, you have practiced numerous creative ways to score your layup regardless of how the defender responds. You have rehearsed several countermoves, completed over 1,000 layups, and done countless scenario-based drills to include scoring through contact and making midair adjustments. Saying you adequately prepared to score during your big game is a severe understatement.
It’s game day, and you are having a phenomenal 30-point game doing what you do best. You could not be more confident as the game nears the end. It is now the fourth quarter with ten seconds left; your team is losing by two points. As expected, your team passes the ball to you–the slasher–to score the ball and send the game into overtime. You make an exceptionally elusive move to pass your initial defender. As you drive to the hoop, you see another defender appear in your peripheral vision. You smirk because this is one of the drills you have rehearsed numerous times, so you are expecting the defender to make contact, foul, and send you to the free throw line to attempt an extra point after you score your layup. You jump first, then the defender jumps. You make a nice, midair adjustment and release the ball close to the rim. Without touching you, the defender swats the ball to the other end of the court. “Rejection!” The commentator yells, “…and that’s the game!” You retreat to the locker room as the crowd erupts in excitement.
Have you ever been there?
Not everyone is an athlete, but we all have experienced some form of rejection and failure. Rejection and failure sting a little more when we feel we were fully prepared to succeed. I believe we usually do an excellent job preparing to succeed but very rarely do we adequately prepare for rejection or failure.
Those who know me know that I view rejection and failure as opportunities. Though we strive to avoid them, we should never fear rejection and failure. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” This leads me to my first point: learning how to respond to rejection begins with properly preparing for both success and failure.
With all that in mind, I am not suggesting we attempt to fail in our daily endeavors, because like Theodore Lindsey Templeton said on Boss Baby, “aim for failure, and you’ll always succeed.” Instead, I submit that we should aim for success but recognize that failure exists on each side of our target. So when we miss, we should identify where/how the shot impacts the proverbial basketball hoop (target), make the necessary adjustments, and shoot again!
How should we respond to rejection and failure?
Now that the preparation is done, how do we respond to rejection and failure?
- Validate your own feelings. Your feelings are natural, so it is ok to feel an array of emotions when you are rejected. Avoid downplaying your feelings; instead, embrace them, and indulge in some healthy coping activities like taking a walk, listening to music, writing, connecting with friends and/or loved ones, and talking to your counselor (just to name a few).
- Identify what (not who) is causing those feelings. I recognized that focusing on “who” causes animosity, distrust, and conflict with others. This does little to help you adequately respond to rejection and failure; thus, we will maintain an introspective viewpoint. When I feel rejected, I like to use the “5 Whys” business technique that I learned from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm. Simply put, you ask “why” five times then develop a countermeasure. Use this tool to your advantage. Let’s use the above basketball scenario as an example:
- I am sad.
- Why? (One)
- I am embarrassed that someone blocked my layup.
- Why? (Two)
- I was having such a great game.
- Why? (Three)
- I practiced extremely hard to prepare for this game.
- Why? (Four)
- This was a really big game.
- Why? (Five)
- This was my final opportunity to play in front of my family and friends before the season ended.
- Countermeasure: I will connect with my family and friends, discuss my feelings when I feel comfortable, and celebrate a great game and fulfilling season.
- Shift your PERSPECTIVE. In a previous blog, I challenged you to maintain laser focus on shifting your perspective in eleven key areas. Learning to shift your perspective in these areas will help you develop the resilience you need to respond to any rejection or failure:
- Pressures of life
- Learn from it and make the necessary adjustments. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Ask yourself, “what can I learn from this?” Then apply those lessons when you are ready to try again.
- Take another shot! This is one of the most important steps. You will recover from your rejection. Your failure is not final. Go out and win!
As always, thank you for your support! Like, share, comment, and bring your friends to https://parent-child-connect.com/blog for their own encouragement, hope, and positive messages!