I spent almost 17 years working in nonprofits in every facet from marketing to IT to community programming to HR. The one area I never worked in, however, was fundraising. I refused to ask people for money because I was always afraid of how it would feel if they said no.
Rejection is some scary shit.
I also knew, going into consultant work, that I was going to have to bite the bullet and get over the fear of selling. And not just selling any old thing - selling me.
Turns out selling doesn’t really suck quite as much as I thought it would. I sit down for coffee every week with a bunch of really cool people, talk to them about what it is they do, and what it is I do, and, sometimes, what we can do together.
Easy peasy, right?
A client reached out to me yesterday, via email, to let me know that she had decided to not move forward with her coaching contract.
I found ten new terms of endearment for her and called her every one of them in my head as I immediately deleted the email.
Thankfully those geniuses (genuii?) at Google know a little something about the way we humans think and they offered up a a “Are you sure this is the way you want to handle this? Like, really, really sure? Like, maybe you should consider undeleting that email and handling your shit like an adult?” prompt.
Okay, okay - it technically only read Undo Delete, but we all know what it meant, right?
So I undeleted the email and reached out to her, thanking her for candor and letting her know that if she had any feedback on what would have made coaching with me more attractive, or alternatively, if there was anything that was particularly off-putting to her, I welcomed her input.
And she gave it. And it was good. And I thanked her for her generosity. And I meant it. And then I ran around for 24 hours proud as hell of myself for making it through the first big rejection without losing my shit and running for the hills with my hair on fire.
Big girl panties, I haz dem.
I still wish that people would come knocking at my door asking me to work for them. And I still wish that every person or organization I met with would want to work with me forever. And I still wish that I would never have to worry about how crappy it feels to lose a client again. But I made it over this first hump not only alive and well, but a bit smarter because I opened myself up to feedback in the face of rejection.
Rejection is an inevitable outcome of the human condition. How we choose to respond to it a choice to be made. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that we can choose wiser.