<![CDATA[Rejection sucks no matter which way you slice it. And the crazy thing is that the people who are the biggest dreamers, go-getters, and risk-takers face the most rejection in life. I know that you've heard before about all the now-famous people who faced serious amounts of rejection before finally hitting it big. But I really wanted to drive the idea home that rejection is only a signpost along your journey--not the destination. Most people do not even take the first step toward achieving their dreams out of fear of rejection. You have not only taken the first step but you threw your arms open, exclaimed “Here I am! I have something to share!” and stood tall and uncovered as the subsequent feedback rained down upon you (or trickled in excruciatingly slowly). I know you’ve heard it before, but some seriously accomplished and influential people faced tremendous amounts of rejection before they finally got to the “YES” spot.
- Did you know that Harland David Sanders (“Colonel Sanders”, founder of the infamous Kentucky Fried Chicken empire) struggled to sell his chicken when he was first starting out? His recipe was rejected over ONE THOUSAND times before a restaurant finally accepted it. (Now that’s persistence!)
- In her early career, Oprah (yes, THE Oprah Winfrey) was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for tv”. I bet that person is kicking him or herself now…
- We all love Dr. Seuss’ intriguing rhyming stories, but his first book was rejected by not 1, not 2, not 3 or 26, but TWENTY-SEVEN different publishers. That many rejections would make anyone want to start speaking in rhyme!
Colonel Sanders, Oprah, and Dr. Seuss are just 3 examples of the hundreds of fabulously rich and famous people that have received the ugly red “REJECTED” stamp on their efforts. If you find yourself facing rejection, I want you to remember that you are in good company–amazing company–and that if you persist in pursuing your goals, you will reach them one day and then amaze even yourself as you exceed your own wildest expectations for your life. The next time you face rejection, I want you to do the following five things (in any order that you’d like): 1. Remind yourself that you are amazing. You went for it! And your story is just beginning. 2. Figure out what you want to do differently next time and what you want to keep the same. 3. For the things that you want to do differently, think of or find 3 people who are doing it the way you want to. Reach out to those people for advice and guidance (or if they’re ridicu-famous like Oprah or no longer with us like Martin Luther King, Jr. take notes by observation). 4. For the things you want to do the same, write them down so that you can remind yourself again that you are amazing and so that you can be sure to not leave any already-awesome part of your strategy out the next time around. 5. Take an hour, afternoon, day, or whole week to feel really sorry for yourself. Then get back to trying, failing, re-trying, succeeding, and climbing the mountain to the summit of awesomeness that is your life. Whew! After writing this post, I feel like picking up some (baked) chicken, reading Oh The Places You’ll Go, and crying a little with Oprah and her teary guests. What do you do when you face rejection?
Thanks for the words of inspiration, Kaneisha!
You’re welcome, Lisa! Thanks for reading!
I loved this post.Everytime I face a rejection, I just think over what went wrong and what should be corrected, take a couple of days to chill and then get back at it – trust me, it works !
In my family of high-achieving little Asian kids we faced a TON of rejection. My mom had a 24-hour rule — we could mope around and be depressed for only one day, and then we HAD to get over it (thanks, Tiger Mom!). I still enforce that rule for me and my husband.
Great post. Lately, I’ve been feeling the opposite, like I’m not pusing myself enough. I’m ready to gear up to the plate put myself out there and see what happens!
Cool post. Really helped me.
Thank you for this lovely post, Keneisha. Rejection is part of the path to success for those who achieve outstanding leadership, so drawing lessons is key to avoid having too much of this precious learning though 😉
I have a few questions (4 altogether) regarding another form of rejection, notably wait-lists.
I am placed on the HKS wait list. The reaction to this was quite equal to outright rejection – the sort of acute pain and sudden sense of crestfallen-ness because you felt that this degree is an essential part of your vocation and path forward. At all accounts, the application process was fantastic and I am super happy that I did it now and delved into existential queries on my meaning and desired legacy at this stage of my personal and professional journey. So thumbs up to HKS! 🙂
This being said, I would love if you enlighten the wait list candidates on what waiting lists are? (1)
The official letter states that being on the waiting list simply means that if there were more available places you would have been offered one, and that there is usually a very tiny margin between admitted and on-wait-list candidates. But this positive statement does not change the reality that you are not admitted at this precise moment and are faced with another couple of months of anxiety, even self-doubt.
Do you have any information/statistics on how many candidates are placed on waiting lists and how many manage to get out per application cycle? (2)
Do you think candidates who are on a waiting list can embark on some sort of ‘lobbying strategy’ to advocate for their worthiness?(3)
Also, if eventually one is admitted on the second round, in late April, early May – does this mean that all the fellowships and financial aid s/he applied for are all gone? (4)
THANKS for your replies! Keep the fabulous work going!
Kaneisha Grayson says
Hi Yanae, thanks for writing in. I think your use of the word “crestfallen” is perfect for how you and so many others feel when they are placed on the waitlist at HKS or another school to which they had their heart set on attending. The waitlist is challenging because of the uncertainty about what happens next, what your chances of getting admitted are, and when it will happen–if ever.
1) So what is a waitlist?
The waitlist is a shortened list of candidates that a school feels are strong enough to be admitted if spots open up in the class. Spots open up in the class when people who have been granted admission to the school do not accept their place. Schools use waitlists to manage their “yield.” It makes a school look better when most of the students who are granted admission accept a place at the school. Secondly, schools have a target number of students for each class, and using the waitlist allows schools to get as close as possible to that target number.
2) Do you have statistics regarding how many people are placed on the waitlist and how many get off of it?
I do not. However, I can tell you that nearly every year (if not every year), I have at least one client that is admitted to HKS from the waitlist. Other schools that my clients have been admitted to off the waitlist are HBS, Tuck, SIPA, and Kellogg.
3) Is there a lobbying strategy I should undertake to get off the waitlist?
It depends on what the school told you. If the letter you received notifying you of your place on the waitlist said that you should NOT send in additional information, then you should do exactly that and not send in additional information. Some schools say that you can send in a letter of continued interest, letting them know you want to stay on the waitlist, and providing any possible updates.
4) If I am admitted from the waitlist in late April or May, will all the fellowships and financial aid be gone?
I don’t have a lot of insight into the financial statuses of the schools, but I would say that if you are admitted from the waitlist, you should not count on getting a fellowship (though I suppose it is not impossible). You could still receive financial aid. And of course, you can always write a financial aid appeal letter.
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