By Jia Jiang
Recently I discovered a strategy for beating my fears. I call it “rejection attempt,” a deliberate effort to experience rejection.
This wasn’t easy for me. As someone who grew up wanting to be an entrepreneur, I had never believed in any sort of self-help or even business training. I thought worrying about my emotions was for the weak and gullible. Instead, I thought I should worry about real-world achievements, such as making great products that people could use or inventing awesome technologies that would change the world.
My mind-set changed when I realized how much the fear of failure and rejection had held me back in the first 30 years of my life. I didn’t put myself out there – I stayed in the cozy comfort zone. When I had good ideas, I quickly abandoned them after someone I trusted told me how dumb they were, only to see someone else turn them into a wild success.
I eventually went all in trying to pursue my entrepreneurial dream, and rejection from an investor made me cry and almost abandon everything. I realized how fragile I was in that moment.
Fear had a direct impact on my business and personal life. If I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur or businessperson, I would have to develop “emotional intelligence,” or – simply – guts.
I did so by having people reject me for 100 straight days (thanks again to my friend Jason Comely for the inspiration). After my rejection journey, I made a breakthrough. I realized that rejection isn’t something I should shy away from but something I could use to my advantage.
By getting rejected, I learned not to give a damn about people’s opinions and judgment. I became relentless in pursuing my goals. I learned that I can’t control and don’t want to manipulate others’ feelings and attitudes toward me, and all that matters is what I can control: my own actions, emotions, and reactions.
Lastly, I learned that courage is not like height, which is genetic, or even intelligence. Instead, it’s like muscle, which can be developed through exercise. In this case, repeatedly seeking rejection is the exercise.
This month, I designed and hosted my first-ever product, The Rejection Gym. Six brave souls took the challenge: to be rejected every day for 30 days. The results were nothing short of astonishing. I learned that I was helping people to not only overcome their fear of rejection but fear of a lot of things: judgment, networking, failure, saying no, public speaking. It’s an exercise that helps you overcome fear.
On March 16, 2015, I’ll be speaking to an audience of B2B sales leaders at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia. Join me there and let me know what your biggest fear is; I will help you beat it.
Jia Jiang is author of Rejection Proof and founder of FearBuster. This post originally appeared here, on Jia Jiang’s blog, and is used here with permission. Slight modifications have been made with approval from the author.