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Brave Sunday: I dump your ass. 

(Source: Stranger Things via Giphy)
Happy Sunday, goal-getter!

The editor-in-chief from my college newspaper went on to write professionally and in the highly competitive field of comedy in New York City. She set a unique goal in 2018 that gained her a bit of attention - she wrote about it in The New York Times and appeared on The Today Show to talk about it: her objective was to be rejected 100 times during the year

The goal of seeking rejection feels futile, and maybe a little bit self-destructive. But for adults, knowing your way around rejection is essential if you want to thrive. 

As Emily Winter wrote in her piece recapping the mission in The New York Times, "If 100 seems absurd, recall all those stats about how today’s young adults are essentially rejection magnets: We change jobs and careers more frequently than ever before, are more likely to rely on the gig economy, relocate more and need new friends in those new cities, and we’re marrying later. It feels as if the only constant is change, and that means we’re forever at the whim of other people’s judgments, opinions and decisions. It’s unsettling at best. At worst, it’s crippling."

What this goal really meant for Emily Winter was that she was aiming to try and it assumed that most of those attempts were going to end in, "No."

What happened for her after a year was pretty magical. Because she threw her hat in the ring for opportunities that she didn't think she would get, she ended up landing some of them. She heard "yes" in that chorus of "No."

At the end of the experiment, she wrote, "It’s the middle of December and I have 101 rejections and 39 acceptances. I’m so tired, and that’s how I know I did it right. If I weren’t exhausted, it would mean I’d just spent the last year asking for things without putting in the work to earn them. To me, there’s nothing more off-putting than entitlement."

Rejection is a reality if you try.

I stumbled on an email I wrote to my husband about 5 years ago. I had forwarded along a note I'd sent to a brand that I wanted to show up at an event we were hosting. I didn't want them to write us a check. I didn't want them to look me in the eye and tell me they were proud of me. I just wanted them to change locations for a couple of hours and talk to the people we were gathering. 

"Fortune favors the bold," I wrote in the body of the forwarded email. 

I laughed at that email when I found it because it was implicit that I was nervous they'd say "no," to my tiny, innocent request. Since that sheepish ask, I've dined on a steady diet of "No." From pitching brands on ridiculous ideas that we dream up at HQ, to spending two years of my life pitching a business to investors. Sure, some people say "yes," and they say it more frequently as they come to trust you. But at first, it's mostly, "This isn't a fit for us and our fund at this time."

What have I learned in that time? You get used to it, but you have to hone a couple of skills. 

1. Focus on volume. Don't hang all of your hopes on one project, partner or funder. That is a recipe for disappointment. If you hear yourself saying, "we really need to land this one," do more outreach and quick. It will keep you moving forward and forward is the only direction that matters. 

2. Say this with me, "My project is not my human baby." Your project is a separate entity from you - it is not of your loins - and when your project is rejected, you as a human are not rejected. This is important to maintain your self esteem as you continue to hear, "No." This separation of project from self allows you to to be objective and fix things if they need to be fixed and to bounce back faster when you need to. Practice adjusting the sentence you say when you're rejected to "it wasn't right at this time," instead of a version of "I wasn't right."

3. Develop coping skills. And quickly. When we were in the thick of fundraising and towards the end of our tech company's life, I used wellness and learning as my coping mechanisms. Every time we heard, "no," I asked myself what I got out of the experience - what I had learned. And when the stress mounted - there were days when I would have to talk myself into getting out of bed. Those were the days I knew that I needed to spend more time than I thought I had on managing my stress through movement. I'd run, pick up heavy things and feel like myself again after I showered. 

Your challenge this week: try.
Your effort will result in forward movement, but you have to be ready to hear, "No." Find a new way like Emily Winter did to positively frame rejection. 

But if you don't try, you definitely won't hear "no." You also won't get what you want. 

Be brave out there,

Jeana Anderson Cohen
Founder and CEO of aSweatlife


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