"It's not quite what we're looking for." Or even worse, "You're not quite what we're looking for." How many job applicants, writers and performers at auditions have heard some variant of those chilling words? Or if we move into the arena of dating or even marriage proposals, the equivalent words might be the current, "I'm just not that into you."
I recently submitted what I thought was an excellent column for consideration by My View, and received a response that said, "I'm sorry, but your recent My View submission doesn't meet our needs at the present time." It was a nice letter, and even said that "the writing itself is fine," but it still hurt. I couldn't help but feel a bit dejected.
Then I started to reflect on how rejection felt and how it must feel to other people. After all, I had spent only the better part of an afternoon writing and polishing my submission. What about writers who work for years on what they hope may be the next great novel, only to get a standard rejection letter from an editor who remains faceless to them? What do they do? Submit it elsewhere, rewrite it, junk it and write something else, or give up writing altogether?
J.K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter series has sold more than 375 million books, knew rejection all too well. The manuscript for "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was rejected by 12 publishers, but she kept going until she got a positive response from the 13th. Rowling said when she looks back on her early rejections, "I was very realistic. I knew the odds were not on my side. It's tough the first time to get published, so I persevered. I loved writing and felt that I just had to try."
Actors, actresses, musicians, dancers and others in the performing arts probably endure more rejections than any other profession. They go to countless auditions and "cattle calls" and are most often not called back or chosen. Given that there is a vulnerable, sensitive side to performers, it must take a lot of grit not to give up in the face of numerous rejections, and a true passion for their art in order to have faith in their talent and keep plugging.
The most painful rejections are the ones being experienced by so many people in the current economic downturn. When individuals lose their jobs, have to close a business and possibly declare bankruptcy, they not only lose income and their standard of living, but also lose their sense of self-worth and pride.
And as exciting and moving as it was to watch Delores Powell and her family on "Extreme Makeover," how many other families who apply and never make it on to the show are still struggling in substandard living conditions?
If I look to sports, I recall that Babe Ruth's career batting average was .342. That means he didn't even reach first base two-thirds of the time. I know that statistic is often used in leadership training programs to encourage leaders not to get down on themselves when they are not successful 100 percent of the time. When my son played football in high school, he was inspired by what his coach told the players, and had the following posted over his bed: "Success is getting up just one more time than you get knocked down."
So when I reflected back on my own little rejection in the face of so many others that are much more significant, I decided to salve my wounded pride and sit right down and write another column for consideration. And you have just finished reading it!