In the business world – particularly in the startup world these days – there’s a lot of emphasis on the importance of failure. The mantra is: “fail early and fail often.” Because if you’re not failing, then you’re likely not pushing yourself hard enough and getting out of your comfort zone.
Some people think we’ve gone too far in our celebration of failure, but I think there’s a lot of value in not being afraid of making mistakes. I try and adopt the same mentality when I snowboard. If I’m not physically falling, then I’m likely not trying things I’ve never done before. (I may have taken that philosophy too far this winter.)
Here’s a video from Gary Vaynerchuk’s #AskGaryVee show where Jack and Suzy Welch are guests and the first question has to do with this exact topic: the importance of failure.
Given all of this, I was fascinated to learn about something new this week called Rejection Therapy. I was out for beers with some good friends of mine earlier in the week and one of them – who is an educator here in the city – started telling me the story of Jason Comely.
Jason was a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario. His wife had recently left him for someone “better” and he went into a deep slump. Eventually, he realized that he had become terrified of rejection. His wife had rejected him and he never wanted that to ever happen again.
Initially he withdrew from life.
But eventually he decided that he was going to experiment with the exact opposite approach. He decided that he was going to force himself to get rejected by someone every, single, day.
It didn’t matter how it happened, but he had to get rejected. He would walk up to strangers and ask for a ride home. He would ask for a discount before buying something. The list goes on.
Eventually he thought it would be a good idea to start documenting all of his rejections: this is what I did today and this how I got rejected. It became a game for him. When he would get his rejection for the day, he would celebrate it. Then he thought to himself: why not turn this into an actual game that other people could purchase? And that’s what he did.
He calls it Rejection Therapy and here are the five objectives that he lays out:
1. To be more aware of how irrational social fears control and restrict our lives
2. Smash the tyranny of fear and reap the treasures (treasures include wealth, relationships and self-confidence)
3. Learn from, and even enjoy rejection
4. To not be attached to outcomes, especially when it involves the free agency of other people
5. Permit yourself to fail
Playing Rejection Therapy may not be for everyone. But I think the lessons are universally applicable. There’s value in trying. There’s value in asking. There’s value in making mistakes. And there’s value in not being afraid of someone saying no.