Many years ago – back when I was building my career working in publicity, marketing and advertising, I also had a secret side-job:
I worked as an actress and model.
Was it glamorous? Uh… let’s just say I booked a lot of prestigious roles with titles like “Busy Soccer Mom” and “Fat-free Yogurt Lover” and the Grand Glory of Them All, this magazine cover:
Yes, that is me. The Cover Girl for Uterine Fibroids. A true career highlight!
I joke, but the truth is, I really enjoyed acting and modeling. It was a fun creative escape from my intense “day job” – running publicity & marketing campaigns for corporate clients – and it was a unique way to make some extra cash on the side.
Looking back, I realize that my short-lived acting career gave me a truly precious gift:
Acting taught me how to roll with rejection without crumbling apart.
Because when you’re an actor, “rejection” is just a standard, ordinary, totally expected part of your job. It’s not horrifying. It’s just normal. You get used to it. Actually, you become pretty desensitized to it – and that’s a great thing.
As an actor, your agent typically sends you out for several auditions per day – sometimes, 50 to 100 auditions or “go-sees” per month. Out of 100 auditions, you’ll typically get about 98 rejections and (if you’re lucky) a few “call-backs” – which is where the casting director says, “We like you. We’d like to see you again for a second audition.”
A ratio of 98-2 would actually be considered pretty stellar. (Mark Ruffalo – one of my favorite actors – actually went on 600 auditions before he booked a single role. Whoa.)
How about you?
How do you handle rejection?
Does hearing “no thanks” from a potential client send you into a vortex of despair?
Are you so appalled by the very possibility of rejection that you don’t even attempt to put yourself “out there” to begin with?
If so, that’s a serious problem. No matter what type of career you’re pursuing, fear of rejection will keep you in a permanent, suffocating choke-hold – if you let it.
It is time to get over it – and I promise that you can.
Here’s your first step:
Start telling yourself, repeatedly:
“Rejection is normal. Rejection is part of the process. Rejection is a good thing.”
If you’re not getting rejected, you’re probably not taking big enough risks – or maybe you’re not taking any risks at all.
Start thinking about rejection like that “burn” you feel at the gym when you’re working out hard. Ooh! Feel the burn! Yes! That’s good! That means you’re actually challenging yourself, not just phoning it in, and you’re going to see awesome results.
Got rejected by a publisher? Feel the burn! Yes! Sparkle up your proposal and keep getting your work out there. (FYI: Stephen King got 60 rejections before he sold his first short story. Keep typing. Keep going.)
Got a “no” from a client? Keep refining your approach. Get out there again.
Got low sign-ups after launching a new class or program? Pay attention to what worked and what didn’t. Try, try again.
Decide, today, that you are stronger than your fear of rejection. Decide it. Commit.
Your career will gain so much momentum once you do this. (Take it from a gal who’s been rejected. A lot.)
Embrace rejection. Feel the burn. It means you’re actually trying.
If Mark Ruffalo can go on 600 auditions and still keep trying, with love and passion for his craft, so can you.