You’ve Been Rejected – Congratulations!

Have you had a personal or professional rejection recently? If so, you’re in good company.

I just read this Wall Street Journal article by Sue Shellenbarger about some of the most famous faces today’s rejection from their college of choice. Warren Buffet, Ted Turner and Tom Brokaw are just a few of the smashingly successful people today who were all denied acceptance to their first-choice university.

What all of these people have in common is that they were able to look past the sting of their failure, find the positive, and try again.

Here are a few of my favorite rejection quotes:

“The truth is, everything that has happened in my life…that I thought was a crushing event at the time, has turned out for the better,” Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., says. With the exception of health problems, he says, setbacks teach “lessons that carry you along. You learn that a temporary defeat is not a permanent one. In the end, it can be an opportunity.”

To “allow other people’s assessment of you to determine your own self-assessment is a very big mistake,” says Lee Bollinger, Columbia University president. “The question really is, who at the end of the day is going to make the determination about what your talents are, and what your interests are? That has to be you.”

“The initial stumble was critical in getting me launched.” – Tom Brokaw, broadcast journalist

“I took it as a signal that, ‘Look, the world is really competitive, and I’ll just try harder next time,'” — Paul Purcell, head one of the few investment-advisory companies to emerge unscathed from the recession, Robert W. Baird & Co.

“I want to be sure to make this point: I did everything I did without a college degree,” Ted Turner, founder of CNN, says. While it is better to have one, “you can be successful without it.”

I know these words of wisdom have made me feel a lot better about my own recent failures on my first tests in my MBA program. In light of these recent events, Paul Purcell’s advice spoke loudest to me. I know I didn’t study as much as I could or should have, so now I know I need to try harder on the next tests.

How about you? What has a recent failure or rejection taught you?

Did this post inspire you? If so, please share it with others and/or tell me what you thought. Thanks!

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4 Responses to You’ve Been Rejected – Congratulations!

  1. Alex says:

    I can’t really think of any recent failures, but I enjoyed this post a lot. Great quotes. We learn so much from our failures and I believe everything happens for a reason, so whether we are being taught a lesson or it is creating space for another opportunity, it is supposed to happen

  2. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Alex. Thanks!

  3. Susan says:

    Definitely! I got rejected for years and years and after feeling sorry for myself I got pissed off and decided to hell with them! I can be a successful writer if I want.

    I started reading any essays I could on what editors want and why they reject writers. I spent as much time, if not more, on my pitch letters than the article. I started get personalized rejection letters and read them repeatedly to soak up any constructive criticism I could. And eventually it worked. Articles, travel guidebooks, recognition. In some ways it felt like it happened overnight. Then I realize it took the better part of a decade, occasionally peppered with a small hit.

    I also think sometimes we want to succeed so badly we don’t see what the editor does – that it’s just not the right connection and relationship. Rejections often save us from ourselves.

  4. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Anger juice — what champions drink for breakfast! I love it! All kidding aside, anger and frustration can be used constructively, such as in your example. That’s awesome you had the courage and tenacity to strike out on your own and stick with it.

    You bring up an excellent point that I should share with more people (I smell a future blog post): As a former magazine editor, you would be astounded at the amount of query letters we received and we were a pet publication. I can’t imagine the volume that editors at women’s lifestyle magazines must see. A ton of writers’ query letters never saw the light of day at our magazine. When you’re writing a query letter, it’s easy to forget that you’re competing against hundreds, possibly thousands, of other writers.

    I especially like, “Rejections often save us from ourselves.” So, so true, Susan. I just went after a part-time writing gig for, which I am a member of and truly love. I came really close, but ultimately I did not get the job. Looking back now, there is absolutely no way I could have handled one more thing on my plate right now. It was definitely a blessing in disguise.

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