By Jia Jiang, an entrepreneur, blogger, writer and speaker, who last spoke at the 2014 EO Latin American Conference
Rejection is as much a part of running a business as finance and operations, and yet as entrepreneurs, it’s often easier to avoid rejection entirely than face it head on. In this special interview, Jia Jiang, founder of Fearbuster.com and an EO speaker, talks about the power associated with embracing rejection, learning from the fear and using it as a tool in business and life.
From China to Louisiana, USA, from college to owning your own business, rejection has played a big role in your life. How did you learn to overcome the rejection you faced, and what did the experience teach you?
“At first, I wasn’t good at dealing with rejection, and like most people, I felt it held me back from a lot of opportunities in my life. It wasn’t until I became an entrepreneur—specifically, when I was rejected with an investment opportunity—that I started doing my ‘100 Days of Rejection’ journey, which afforded me a chance to research rejection, explore its dynamics and learn more about how it impacted me. By facing rejection and running toward it—instead of away from it—I learned that rejection is only someone’s opinion, and that it is a very temporary setback. I subsequently lost my fear of rejection, and I found it opened up a whole new world for me.”
Rejection is a key factor in the entrepreneurial journey. How can our members shift the paradigm and use rejection for good?
“There are a few ways one can use rejection to their benefit. First, it’s important to recognize that rejection is a strong motivator. Many successful people, when rejected, became stronger in their resolve toward achieving their goals; they use rejection as fuel to their fire. Secondly, rejection eliminates choices. When looking for prospective customers, for example, it is easier to sell to people who believe in your product or service, than it is to convince people who don’t. A rejection can serve as a great prospecting tool to find the customers you want to serve. Lastly, we can use rejection to rapidly learn about our product and service if we minimize the emotional effect it has on us. If we step back from the pain, we can use people’s rejection, and the underlying reason for that rejection, to know how and what we can be doing better.”
What can rejection or regret teach us about living a more fulfilled life?
“Rejection and regret are two different things. Rejection means we have tried and had a temporary set- back. As I mentioned earlier, rejection is not a bad thing. We can use rejection to propel us forward. In the end, it’s not about the yeses or no’s; it’s about doing what you find meaningful, which will undoubtedly bring rejection. And it is what’s meaningful that will lead us toward a truly fulfilled life. On the other hand, regret is the result of not trying, and of rejecting ourselves to avoid rejection from others. Running away from temporary pain seems like a gain, but it is ultimately devoid of meaning. When we are old, our regret will most likely come from what we didn’t do, rather than what we did. Regret is often irreversible.”
What should every entrepreneur understand about the role rejection plays in business or life?
“We need to first understand that rejection doesn’t have to be all about us. Rejection says as much about the rejector, maybe even more, than the rejected. A rejection can serve as an important key to understanding the underlying belief, fear, aspiration and logic of the rejector. If we can understand why we are rejected, we can easily address that reason and turn rejection into an acceptance or tool to improve ourselves, our products and our services. Secondly, rejection is a numbers game. There is no such thing as universal acceptance or rejection. We have to understand that if we talk to enough people or try enough times, we will find acceptance. If we can move beyond rejection, and even ignore the pain that comes with it, if we simply keep going, we will achieve our goals.”