5 Steps Entrepreneurs Need to Take to Overcome the Fear of Rejection
The fear of rejection is so strong that most people choose to live half versions of their lives rather than risk someone telling them no.
It’s so painful, most people don’t risk it. Trust me; I know.
As a mindset and success coach for entrepreneurs, I’ve coached brilliant people -- visionaries with big missions and powerful mastery -- and every single one of them has had to face the fear of rejection at some point in their journey, and some, more than once. More than that, even though sales (the ultimate rejection practice!) is my mastery, I still feel the fear of rejection in my own life.
But I have learned to not take it personally: It’s our old fight, flight or freeze response.
Do you know you are meant to be on camera, doing Facebook Lives and talking to your audience, but feel paralyzing stage fright knowing that others will be watching you? That’s your freeze response in action.
Do you procrastinate making the calls, sending the emails and building the relationships that you know will help you in your business because your feelings of nervousness and insecurity are so intense? That’s your flight response taking charge.
When you show up for your business, do you feel constricted, scared and pinched in your physical body? Does it seem like all your negative beliefs and fears are screaming in your face? That’s your fight response, making everything into an enemy.
For entrepreneurs, it’s guaranteed rejection will happen.
Here are five steps to overcome your fear of rejection and claim your own power, mastery and success -- all at the same time.
1. Name your fears.
Acknowledge what’s really going on inside. Get your writing materials and make a concrete bullet list of all the things you’ve been avoiding because you’re afraid you’ll be rejected. Go even deeper, and add to your list all the things you don’t want someone to say no to. These are all the things you don’t ask for, won’t ask for and maybe don’t even acknowledge you truly want.
For instance, if you’re looking for new romance, you have to be willing to ask someone on a date. When you ask, they might say no. Or if you want a raise or a promotion in your company, you must be willing to make a proposal to your boss. Again, when you ask, they may turn you down.
Be honest about what you’re avoiding. Once you have the fears named, they’re less likely to surprise you and take you out.
2. Face your fears and welcome rejection.
Once you know what you’re afraid of, the next step is to confront those things head-on.
For each of the fears you wrote down in step one, write down a concrete action that would be the opposite.
For example, are you avoiding sales? Make a plan to make 50 cold calls in one week. If you are hiding out and avoiding interacting with others, plan on doing 30 days of Facebook Lives. Plan them, improvise, it doesn’t matter. Just make a plan to get on the camera and let yourself be seen. Or if you are spending too many nights alone? Challenge yourself to ask 10 people you are attracted to out to coffee.
Get creative and radical. If your action steps seem comfortable to you, challenge yourself to get even more bold.
New results demand new action. Now you’ve got a game plan.
Related: 4 Ways to Turn Your Fear Into Fuel
3. Get uncomfortable -- every single day.
For each of the action steps you listed in no. 2, do at least one every day.
It will be massively uncomfortable for you (or you would have done it already). The discomfort is normal, but remember, you can do it.
When you make getting uncomfortable a daily routine, you’re retraining your mind to get comfortable being uncomfortable. A little bit goes a long way. Over time, the big, scary things that have been looming large will seem manageable … and maybe even exciting!
When you’re in “fight, flight or freeze” mode, you’re letting your fear sit in the driver's seat.
And while this biological response is completely normal, it runs counter to your vision and goals.
When you’re in flight mode, you go away from whatever you’re afraid of. You want to get as far away from it as possible. Your fear is moving you. When you’re in freeze mode, you feel numb and stuck. You don't know how to move forward, so you don’t move at all. Your fear is keeping you stuck. When you’re in fight mode, you attack your clients, friends, boss, co-workers. Your fear is determining your emotional reactions.
When fear is doing the driving, you’ll end up going away from the thing that you want.
As soon as you flip that switch and act through fear, rather than from fear, you will see opportunities for money, sales and clients that were invisible to you before. Fear was obscuring the view.
Confront what you’re afraid of and take the steering wheel back -- habitually, repeatedly, daily.
If you want to truly overcome your fear of rejection, it’s not a one-off; it’s an everyday practice. The goal here isn’t to stop being uncomfortable; it’s to know that the discomfort can’t stop you from creating what you want in your life. Similarly, true freedom doesn’t mean never being rejected. It means knowing that even when you are rejected (because you will be!), the world won’t end and your life will continue to grow and expand as you move toward your goals.
We all live fast-paced lives and tend to focus on our problems. Train your mind to feel resilience and even joy in the face of possible rejection by making time to reflect and celebrate your growth. Look at your list of action steps. What did you do? Which fears did you face? Which actions pushed your comfort zone? What did you learn? Acknowledge yourself for doing this deeply uncomfortable work.
Taking the time to celebrate will train your mind to respond to the results of your bold action, rather than the fear of taking the action in the first place. And then, the next time you challenge yourself, you’ll feel the excitement of the end result.
And keep going. The more you consciously choose to face your fears, the easier it will be to do it. Celebrating yourself for your action and growth will rewire your brain to not only be more resilient in the face of discomfort, but to actually get excited for the next opportunity to get uncomfortable. Why? Because you’ll know you’ve been able to do it in the past, it wasn’t as bad as you thought, and the result that you were doing it for made it all worthwhile.
Related: Breaking Free of Fear
5. Let fear guide you, not drive you.
An amazing colleague of mine, Kristina Hallett, recently shared, “If my first reaction is to want to vomit, I go for it immediately.”
Make this your M.O.
Here’s the truth that will guide you through this: Fear is an indicator that you are right on track. Fear only emerges in the face of the unfamiliar. When do we face the unfamiliar, the new? Every single time we change.
Fear emerges in response to growth; it’s a sign you’re doing something new. If you’re here for growth and transformation, fear will come up over and over again -- a sign that you’re doing just what you set out to do. The emergence of fear means you’re on the right track. It’s part of your guidance system.
One of the most amazing things about entrepreneurship is that it demands that we move past our fear of rejection. It’s simply not possible to go big, be successful in sales and make the money that’s required to be a sustainable business without getting past the fear that stops most people. Say yes to all of that -- and welcome the rejection as part of the process, a tool to guide you to more mastery and success.