NEXCUE Imagination Leadership

My First Big Professional Rejection and How I Recovered

My first storyboard was rejected by a major advertising agency. I felt like my career was over even though it had just started, I was only a year out of college.

As far back as I could remember, I was rarely rejected. In fact, in high-school, I was awarded the highest honor by the principal for my artistic skills. I was highly lauded for my creative problem-solving skills.

But, as a recent college graduate, I was a freelancer and could not afford to fail. I was so devastated when that storyboard was rejected I did not even go back to request compensation. The money did not matter to me as much as my wounded ego. 

It took me days to recover from the pain of that experience. 

Many years have passed since the sting of that first rejection, but I still remember how it felt. Now, I want to help you recover from rejection.

So, here are three mindset cues to tell yourself when facing rejection: 

Stay hopeful – Regardless of how hard rejection can be, you must not lose hope in your future. Today’s pain is not a predictor of future failure. Being hopeful will help you stave off depression. If you can’t be hopeful on your own, surround yourself with positive people.

Grow through what you go through – What I did not understand early in my career is that my college education only equipped me with skills. It did not teach me how to have an indomitable will. My mentor encouraged me to learn the lesson when I failed and keep growing rather than succumb to discouragement.

One way to try to avert rejection is to ask lots of questions before starting a project with your client. You can either understand a problem, not understand it, or misunderstand it. 

There is nothing worse than doing a bunch work in the wrong way simply because you did not clearly understand the assignment.

Humble people ask questions, but the silence of an arrogant person brings certain death.

Be kind to yourself – When I was younger, I suffered from low self-esteem. It was not until I became an adult that I got help. I learned I needed to be kind to myself, which meant I had to shift my thoughts and actions.

For example, I shifted my thoughts and actions about rejection:

Thoughts: I stop believing rejection was a crucifixion of my character and skills. 
Action: I made improvements to my character and skills after being rejected. 

And I made a shift in my perspective about validation:

Thoughts: I stop seeking validation of my ego when I present my work.
Action: I seek to add value and help other people do good work. That part was hard because there are some thankless folks. Whew!

Thanks for reading! I hope I added value to your journey. 
Take your cues from me and live a great life. NEXCUE!