Learning From Rejection

No matter where you look, life seems to thrive on the two parallels of selection and rejection. Situations keep coming up almost endlessly where we must decide between these two parallels. Starting from our breakfast, through the day, and even at the dinner table, we either go with whatever is served or reject it in favor of something else that we feel like having.

Have you ever considered what goes on in your mind at that instance? The exact same thing could also be happening to the person that we rejected earlier?

An even stronger proof of this problem manifests itself in the job market where one qualified candidate is selected in preference to another equally qualified, and in some cases even more experienced one. Of course, the selectors have their own reasons for taking such a decision, but one person does get rejected in preference to another one. There are times when we reject others, but there also arise situations when we end up tasting our own medicine in the most unpalatable way. Have you ever considered what goes on in your mind at that instance? The exact same thing could also be happening to the person that we rejected earlier? So where am I going with this all too common comparison, you may ask, and rightly so. Please allow me to explain some of the lessons we can learn from rejection, and the same may not necessarily be confined to the job situation alone. I am sure the highly intelligent readers like you will find lots more valid points to support my brief post:

  1. The fabric of humanity is woven with the warp and weft of accommodation, acceptance, mutual respect, adjustment where necessary, as well as compassion, and many more virtues that we, as humans command. “Human beings, like plants, grow in the soil of acceptance, not in the atmosphere of rejection,” says John Powell, an Oscar-nominated English composer credited with scores for over 50 Hollywood films. No wonder, these words give us numerous ideas about how we grow from little children into mature, phenomenally successful adults. It is the soil of acceptance that helps us build valuable connections across the length and breadth of this universe. On the contrary, constant rejection pushes one down into a shell from where it becomes tough to force one’s way out. The decision is up to us whether we want to practice acceptance as the ground-rule when related to others or to nurture preconceived notions and reject people just because of the way they look, talk, or conduct themselves momentarily. I would much love to give it a deeper thought before reaching a decision in my interaction with others.
  2. “The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about.” This quote comes from an article I read during my extended travels overseas. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the immensely powerful thinker behind these words, and as such, I would humbly seek your forgiveness. For all practical purposes, this quote takes my earlier views a few steps further. I would call it a lack of initiative on our part to delve deeper in learning about other persons, their ideas, views, and assertions before jumping at a negative conclusion and reject them outright. There is every possibility we could lose more than what we hoped to gain through this interaction. I am reminded of another lesson my parents taught me as I was growing up. My dad used to tell me: ‘I have a dollar, and you have a dollar; if we both exchange our dollars with each other, we will still have a dollar each; On the other hand, I have an idea, and you have another idea. If we both exchanged our ideas with each other, we should both be richer with two ideas each.’ The tragic part of life is that we continue to indulge in rejection more often than showing a keenness for learning or accepting.
  3. “The mind revolts against certain opinions same as the stomach rejects certain foods.” -William Hazlitt. The 18th-Century born, multi-talented English essayist, gave us this powerful insight into human character without mincing his words. When considered with an unbiased focus, we shall be able to unfurl the puzzle of this trait with comparative ease. Little wonder, we all have our favorite foods. It is also equally true that we all nurture certain specific opinions about people, places, things, ideas, methods, systems, as also anything else under the sky. Our brain is wired to take anything unknown as a possible threat. It may not necessarily be deemed as a physical threat, but a challenge to our notions is an equally alarming situation for the brain to trigger its defense mechanism. Herein lies the possible reason for an easier bent towards rejection. What I learn from this explanation is the need to use our analytical capabilities, before rushing to judgment. Same as food can be cooked in a hundred, or perhaps more, different ways by variously qualified and experienced chefs, opinions could also hide within their multi-faceted possibilities unbeknown to many. It will only be in our own interest to broaden our mind enough to consider those hidden messages before jumping to rejection as a natural decision.
  4. “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” -Harold Wilson, the force behind this quote, twice served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, from 1964 to 1970, and then again from 1974 to 1976. So true, and yet so difficult to appreciate a fact! A person lying in his or her grave is not expected to make any progress other than yielding to the process of degeneration that nature reserves the right to exercise on our dead bodies. Taking a cue from the above, why should we not strive to make utmost progress while we can? Of course, progress is hard to achieve all by ourselves. We need many different mediums to help us move from point A to point B in life. Until and unless we learn to accept, and properly interpret the signals we receive from others, rather than rejecting them without due care, we shall be creating only obstacles in our own path.
  5. “Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself.” -Havelock Ellis. Henry Havelock Ellis, known as Havelock Ellis (1859 to 1891,) was an English physician, writer, progressive intellectual and social reformer. Same as we cannot reject death as the ultimate climax of living, we are also equally hard-pressed not to reject pain as an integral part of our day-to-day life. While we rejoice and make merry at our achievements, the unfortunate setbacks push us into a seething pain that may or may not find an outlet. The resulting pain leaves behind a sense of relief as we find sympathy from others of our own ilk. When left unexpressed, the same pain starts to ferment, thus making us increasingly tense. Given this scenario, will it not make sense for us to accept rejection as a direct result of our limited reach in matters beyond our immediate control? Pain arises from failure while failure itself emanates from rejection. Until and unless we learn to accept pain and death for what they are in the true sense, we shall only be rejecting the fundamental core of life.
  6. “Character is the final decision to reject whatever is demeaning to oneself or to others, and with confidence and honesty choose what is right.” Once again, I must apologize for this quote without giving credit to the unknown author. The author has brought out the significance of our character as the determining factor in deciding what is demeaning. At the same time, we also find the antidote to this malady. Confidence and honesty come to the rescue of one determined enough to take the right decision in rejecting or accepting someone or something. Confidence in our analytical skills, our intelligence, experience, past experiences in similar situations, as well as our foresight can all be counted as the drivers of balanced decision-making techniques. Failure to use the above skills to their best possible outcomes leaves us vulnerable to decisions that may haunt us for a long time to come.
  7. “There are countless ways of attaining greatness, but any road to reaching one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity.” -Buck Rodgers. Rejection of mediocrity coupled with a commitment to excellence helps us separate grain from the chaff. When we focus on the positive aspects of human nature and look at every individual as another source of learning, and shed our pre-conceived notions, the change helps us create an opportunity for mutual growth. Not only does it help us gain respect from unexpected quarters but also brings a wider network of helpful people into our circle of friends and acquaintances. Unlike the Social Media scene where millions of ‘Likes’ create an incredible sense of pride the real-life scenario helps us garner a much higher level of support in our initiatives. Yes, reject you must, but do it only for wasteful practices, shabby philosophies, and shoddy ideas that prevent you from moving forward.

I hope the discerning readers will be able to relate to a few of the above possibilities, if not all. Of course, I shall be keenly looking forward to comments, suggestions, as also your critique that would help me sharpen my focus a bit further, and in learning a few more valuable lessons.

Thank You!


Bharat Mathur
Bharat Mathur
WHERE goal setting and systematically achieving each one of them has been the ‘Mantra’, where earning trust by delivering value has been an uncompromising principle and where deeply impactful experiences have made an indelible impression to look directly into the eyes of toughest problems and tackling them head-on has been a major cementing glue in the foundation, Bharat Mathur fits the bill, hands down! Creating value for others, out of the challenges his career in the “C” Suite kept throwing at him left, right and center, Bharat now finds solace in being a ‘Guide by Your Side’ rather than a ‘Sage on the Stage with An Eye on What You Buy’! Past 4 decades of Bharat’s life have been no less eventful than that of anyone else in similar circumstances. However, the way he lived from one challenge to another and stayed focused on his goal is clearly visible as much in his Coaching as in his #1 Best Seller Book: “you Are YOU-nique: Realize Your True Worth”! His next book project tackles ‘Internet of things’ (IoT) from the viewpoint of a layman and helps understand this fast-approaching revolution in simple, easy-to-understand language with live examples: “SMART PHONE + I o T = INCOMPARABLE OPPORTUNITIES” Nurturing a number of successful businesses, mentoring a lot more towards astronomical growth and helping them identify and eradicate trouble spots, Bharat has rightfully earned the nickname: ‘Achiever’ Send him Bouquets or Brickbats, Bharat loves it all!

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  1. An excellent article written with deep thought and discernment into human nature. With the help of wisdom from some really smart people who viewed life with deep introspection, your article touches on some key areas in life that are impacted by rejection or acceptance.

    Thank you, Bharat.

    • First things first, I must tender my sincere apologies to you, Ms. Jones, for the inordinate delay in response. Somehow, I missed the notification indicating your beautiful observation. Yes, you are absolutely on the mark when it comes to learning from the wisdom so liberally shared by our predecessors.

      Thank You, With Warm Regards, and A Prayer For All