You didn’t make the ball team. You didn’t get accepted to your favorite college. You didn’t qualify for the home loan.

These things happen. Rejection is a fact of life. Successful people, however, know they need to embrace rejection instead of shy away from it.

The wealthiest and most successful people in society realize that rejection is a temporary setback, and they keep pushing forward. Other people allow rejection to overpower them and stop them in their tracks. They allow that negative feeling to take up permanent residence in their brain. But rejection doesn’t deserve to have that much power over you. Rejection exists only in your mind. It gets awarded power only when you allow it to enter your psyche, control you, and devastate your life.

Successful people face rejection over and over again. Henry Ford is a perfect example. By the turn of the twentieth century, he had experienced two failing companies and lost the money of two different investment groups. But he didn’t give up. He located a third group of investors who gave him $28,000 to start a motor company. The “Model A” was born and Ford went on to make millions of dollars. Imagine how different Ford’s life would have been if he had given up after failing with his first company.

Someone saying “no” to you won’t kill you. But the fear of rejection can prevent you from taking the necessary risks that could lead you to true success. It’s the foremost reason people don’t get more of what they want in life—they think they can escape the pain of failing if they don’t even try. But they also lose the opportunity to learn valuable lessons —lessons that could propel them toward success.

When you decide to take risks, you accept a rejection as a possibility. What you don’t have to accept is becoming discouraged and considering yourself a failure because of a rejection. You just need to change the way you think about it:

First, stop taking rejection personally. It has nothing to do with you.

Second, understand the reasoning behind every “no.” In this way you redefine rejection.

Finally, instead of allowing rejection to grind your efforts to a halt, turn it around: use rejection as a catalyst to gain momentum toward your goals.

Recognize and detour past these three rejection “potholes” to achieve that waiting success. It’s right around the corner for you! Refuse to let rejection take you down. Instead, recognize it as an opportunity to gain something—a new client, a sale, a friend. Follow these three steps every time you experience rejection and you will be well on your way to achieving true success.

Step One: Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Stop taking “no” as a personal attack. Many people hear “no” and immediately take it to heart. They embrace it. They believe the person who said “no” has waged an all-out war on their character.

Half of all salespeople allow rejection to stop them completely after the first “no,” and half of those who are left give up after the second “no.” After one or two tries, 75 percent would rather hand over the opportunity for a sale to their competitor than consider how to approach this prospect again and again and turn the “no” into a “yes.”

Anytime you go into a situation where rejection is a possibility, remember that if someone says “no” they are not rejecting you as a person. They are simply rejecting your idea or product. When you believe you are a worthwhile person with worthwhile ideas, you will not feel personally rejected. People can reject your product, but they cannot reject you unless you choose to let them.

Step Two: Redefine Rejection

The best way to change your thinking about rejection is to redefine it. Rejection exists only in your mind. Rejection is temporary; it doesn’t mean “no,” it simply means “maybe.” Therefore, view rejection as a stimulus to continue toward your goal.

When a prospect says “No,” he is not locking a door, he’s simply not opening it. He is really saying, “Tell me more. Show me. Give me more reasons to say Yes!” If you throw up your hands and walk away, you’ve just told your prospect he is right—that your product or service isn’t worthy of his business.

The first “no” usually means that you both need more information:

When prospects say “no,” you simply haven’t supplied them with enough information to say “yes.”

Step Three: Allow Every “No” to Encourage You

Once you have changed your definition of rejection, every “no” can propel you toward a “yes” with increasing speed. Rejection will fire an ever-increasing desire to provide your prospects with all the information they need to be sold on your idea or product. Every rejection will provide the necessary momentum for you to learn and perfect your selling technique. Regroup and ask yourself what your prospect’s biggest reason for rejecting your product or idea is and plan to address those concerns the next time you speak.

Your beliefs about rejection determine your degree of success. Don’t let the fear of rejection kill your initiative. Rejection is not a personal attack. Instead of giving up, re-frame rejection in your mind as an opportunity to regroup and try again and again. When you do, the prize, a “yes,” is just around the corner.

JACK PERRY is a renowned leader, coach and expert on sales,
motivation and leadership. He is author of
Jack, You’re Fired,
and currently serves as a Sr. VP for a division of John Hancock.