Finished May 18
Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection by Jia Jiang
Jiang describes his experiences learning how to take the risks necessary to get to the life he wants to live. Jiang was born in China and from a young age envisioned himself as an entrepreneur. He did well in school and was able to go to high school in the U.S. on an exchange program. He then went on to university and a master's degree in the U.S. He got a good job at a successful company and married happily. But he still yearned for the entrepreneurial dream he'd had as a child. His wife urged him to quit his job and work as hard as he could for six months to fulfill this dream. So he did.
He got together a group of people, and after four months of hard work found his concept rejected by investors. This is how his story of rejection-proofing himself begins. He found himself inspired by a website called Rejection Therapy created by Jason Comely to face rejection. He started a blog called 100 Days of Rejection. And he began seeking out situations where he expected to be rejected. Even with that expectation, he found it difficult. But something interesting happened. On his third try, he wasn't rejected, but instead the person he asked worked to accommodate his unusual request. And that happened again on his sixth request.
The blog post for his third request was picked up by Reddit, and went viral, catapulting him into unexpected fame, and offering him interesting opportunities. When faced with new options for his future, Jiang decided to continue his journey into overcoming rejection and focus on a way to overcome the fear of rejection. This led him to research rejection and our reactions to it, and he includes his findings here.
His experiences caused him to rethink rejection, recognizing it not as a whole rejection of the person asking, but as an interaction between two people, based on the opinion of the rejector, something that could be influenced by many factors having nothing to do with the requester at all. This rethinking caused him to look harder at how different strategies could be undertaken to turn that initial no into a yes. This included asking different people, asking why to see what the reasoning behind the rejection was and looking for a way to change the ask to avoid this reason, asking for alternatives to the initial request, looking to collaborate with the rejector to find a way to make it work, and changing the environment of the request.
One thing he learned quickly was not to argue, but to show interest in the reasons, and understanding of the situation. He found that just as it helped him to adjust his request to know why the request was rejected, knowing his reasons for asking helped the rejector collaborate with him for a way to accommodate his request. He found it was important not to make assumptions about the mindset, interest, or needs of others when making his request, and that considering who to select to make the request from was helpful in a successful interaction.
His success also forced him to focus on the other side of the interaction, how to say no to a request he got himself. He, like many of us, didn't like having to turn down people's requests, but he was inundated by so many that he had to. So he looked at how to do this in a good way by looking at how people had responded to him.
He discovered ways to look at rejection in a positive light by examining the reasons for it, and using rejection to motivate him to try harder or work differently towards his goal. This process also led to him finding new meaning in the process in several ways. One was finding empathy: he was better able to understand others. Another was finding value by learning what really mattered to him when it came down to it. A third was finding his mission, his focus and creating a new beginning for himself based on it. He found the freedom that asking gave him, to have new experiences, make new connections to other people, and become aware of what is lost by not asking in the first place. He also found a greater acceptance of himself, finding the importance of fulfilling that inner need for approval before looking to others.
His journey have him the ability to detach the experience from the expectation of results, finding that being results-oriented actually led to worse results because it leaves you unprepared for feedback that could be helpful. He was able to analyse a situation and focus on what he could control, and lay aside the worry about all the elements that he couldn't. This isn't something that he could learn and move on from. He found that he needs to keep exercising that "fear of rejection" muscle to keep it strong.
This is an insightful book that will encourage readers to go after their goals in a thoughtful and structured way.