Monthly Archives: July 2016

Monday Motivator: Get Rejected

There is a challenge floating around social media for writers to gather 100 rejections this year. You see, writers can be a bunch of perfectionists. They don’t want to send anything out until it’s perfect, and they always hope that “one more draft” or “one more look” will make it so. But then they never quite think it is perfect, so the draft sits in the computer file, never to be seen by anyone other than the author.

Writers can also be a sensitive bunch. A friend of mine’s wife attended a famous writing conference in Tennessee. I don’t know what happened, but according to my friend, she was tempted never to write again. Even the mildest criticism can send some writers off into an ice cream and coffee binge, drowning their sorrows instead of writing.

So to gather the courage to send out enough work to get 100 rejections is a big deal for a writer. But it’s necessary if they hope to publish or even improve their work.

Fear of rejection, however, is not just a problem for writers. Most of us can relate to the cold fear that can sweep over our entire being when the possibility of rejection enters the room:

  • We don’t ask a person on a date because he/she might say no.
  • We don’t apply for a promotion because we might not get it, and our colleagues will know we failed.
  • We don’t make a suggestion at a staff meeting because it might be turned down.

No one likes rejection, but the successful learn to muscle through and ask a person out, apply for the promotion, and/or make the suggestion. Because the only way to learn to handle rejection is to suffer through it and realize that it won’t kill you.

A great example comes from a book whose author and title now escape me. But this guy decided to get over his fear of asking girls out by going out to the quad on his college campus and asking every girl who passed by on a date. All but one said no, and that one stood him up. But he learned that while rejection is uncomfortable, it’s not fatal.

The lost elections of Abraham Lincoln’s career are common knowledge. Yet he became one of our country’s best presidents.

So if you have not been getting rejected lately, you probably aren’t trying hard enough. Get out there and have someone say no to you.

By the way, I have gathered two rejections since I joined the challenge at the beginning of July. And, yes, being rejected hurt, but I’m getting enough batch of stories ready to send.


Monday Motivator: You Get to Decide

I’m listening to one of the Great Courses: “Lifelong Health.” The lecturer, Anthony Goodman, M.D., tells this story: A man in his 90s liked to go sculling on the Charles River each day. His family said that he needed to stop, that he was too old, that he could fall out of the boat and drown. His reply was  that sculling made him happy. And between dying from falling out of his boat or falling out of bed, he would choose the former.

You might view the man as a role model (my interpretation). Or you might see him as selfish, causing his family worry.

But my point is not so much that he made the right decision, but that he made a decision. If he agreed to stay home and eat soup while he watched The Price is Right, he still would have made a choice. He might have told his friends how his family took all the fun out of his life and gave him no options, but he would be wrong. He made the decision to appease his family.

One of the problems of becoming an adult is that we have to realize three things: We have choices. Some of our choices will make people upset. We have to learn to live with the ramifications of those choices.


People will not always be happy with our choices. Sometimes for good reasons. We might be doing something incredibly stupid. And we would be foolish not to take good counsel into account. But still the decision is ours to make.

And sometimes people will want to keep us from some of our choices, out of fear, protective love, or simple jealousy. In those cases, we have to acknowledge that and decide whether we can live with their disapproval or anger if we proceed. It would be nice to be surrounded by cheerleaders, but many of us aren’t that lucky. Still here is the key point: Even if we decide we can’t live with the anger and disapproval, we have to acknowledge we made the choice.

And we need to acknowledge that sometimes we make bad decisions. And spending time trying to find someone to blame is not helpful. Analyze the situation. See what you can do better next time. And move on.






Monday Motivator: Find a Way

Librarian Emily has two dogs. A few days ago, she took PK for a walk, leaving Olive in the fenced-in backyard. Olive can be trusted to run around while PK needs more encouragement to get his exercise.

They had been walking for a while when Emily noticed that PK kept stopping and looking back. At first, she, not unreasonably, assumed he just wanted to return to the cool house. But then she also looked back. And there was Olive running after them, determined to catch up. When she did, she looked at them as if to say, “Why have you stopped?  You forgot me, but I’m here now. Let’s go for our walk.”

Emily doubts that’s there a moral to this story, other than that Olive can be annoying. But I disagree.

Olive is a good example of persistence. When she discovered she’d not been invited for a walk, she decided she would not be denied. And somehow she squeezed her not insubstantial body through the very small space between fence and the ground. That took determination as well as a willingness to suffer a bit.

Olive’s story made me think of the barriers that get put in our way and how many times we just accept them and stop:

  • We don’t do well on the first test, so we drop the course.
  • Someone tells us that we’re too (old, young, poor, uneducated, unattractive, etc.) to pursue a particular goal, so we give up.
  •  We decide to start exercising, but the first time we do, we fall off the treadmill. (Okay, that could just be me.)

And, truly, we have to investigate the barriers and fences because sometimes we are failing for a reason, and there’s no harm in dropping one goal and starting another.

But in some cases, that fence needs to be jumped. Or knocked down. Or wiggled under.