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5 Ways Criticism and Rejection Builds Your Capacity to Succeed Remaining true to your entrepreneurial quest, despite those who would undermine you, develops enormous emotional strength.

By Sherrie Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


No matter who you are, when you have a dream and are committed to achieving it you will face critics and experience many rejections. You will face people who have the outright desire to take you from your path. Many people, who may be in power, will use their position to push down ideas that are not in line with their own, or ideas they do not understand or value. Just as deterimental are the "caring concerned" who, in trying to protect you from your unrealistic dreams, keep you from them.

The greatest obstacle to success is your fear and belief in what a critic says. Instead of running or quitting, make the emotionally strong choice to move forward, in spite of perceived setbacks, understanding that sometimes it is only your opinion that matters. In that way, you will receive five powerful gifts from the people and situations that don't wish you well, at all.

1. Emotional strength.

The pursuit of success nearly guarantees the more you seek to fulfill your purpose, the more obstacles you will face. As you come across naysayers you must learn to not integrate their fears into your own belief system and decision making.

Pursuing a dream is emotional strength training. The more motivated you are to make a difference and change the world, the more you rise in your success. The more you want to create and lead, the more rejection and criticism will show up on your path in an effort to derail you.

This is an opportunity to develop the skills, strategies and resolve to continue forward. In this way, your naysayers become your greatest motivators. They fuel your desire to show them just how wrong they are about who you are and where you are going.

When in doubt, remind yourself that naysayers belittle others in an effort to stop feeling so little themselves.

Related: Terrell Owens on How to Overcome Pitfalls, Distractors and Naysayers

2. Self-control.

Receiving criticism and rejection is common when your pursuit is doing important things in the world. Force yourself to become conscious of the rude, ill-informed and unkind people who emerge to tarnish your shine. With an awareness of them you gain more control over your emotional reactions to them.

Negative people lurk around every corner. The reality is that things aren't going to be fair on your way to the top. Accept that. Because you will interact with a fair number of these people, you have the opportunity to develop unbeatable self-control.

Critics love to get under your skin and push you off balance. It gives them a sense of power. Therefore, use these people and experiences as exposure therapy until, eventually, rejection and criticism has little to no power over you. By weathering exposure to the negativity of others you develop control of your emotional reactions to their efforts to set you back.

Related: How Successful People Stay Productive and In Control

2. Refocus.

Learn to say "next" to every "no." Rejection it is not the end of the world, nor does your idea merit being discarding. Look for gifts in the feedback that comes with rejection. Accept what can be successfully applied to refine and make your idea better. Then, move on.

Each rejection leads you closer to that "yes" you are seeking. Each "no" feels like another step back but is really bringing you one step closer to realization of your dream.

Refocused energy is the most creative energy. You have the opportunity to refine, repurpose and perfect what is already in place. Rejection, if you allow it, can fuel your deep desire to succeed. To be successful you must compete, compete, compete.

Related: 8 Questions to Refocus Your Vision and Achieve Success

3. Fearlessness.

Success is all about risk. Each time you put yourself and your idea out into the world you risk rejection and criticism, so do not be shocked or dismayed when it happens. Success is about getting knocked down, learning resilience, getting back up and risking again.

Each time you take a risk you become emotionally stronger. Each loss provides the information your pursuit needs to determine what new direction to take. Risk takes courage and courage can only be developed by doing courageous things. Giving up takes zero effort, getting up takes resilience.

Most of the happiness derived from success is not monetary but the confidence you build along the way as you risk, fall, try again, risk and then succeed.

Related: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Learn to Manage Risk

4. Unwavering belief in your purpose.

When you believe deeply in what you are doing, what you are creating and what your ideas stand for, you develop the resilience to withstand all rejection and criticism. There is nothing more profoundly necessary for true success then a deep and unwavering belief in your purpose.

There will be all kinds of people who want to shrink your ideas or steal them. Others will want to use you for your idea or simply tell you your idea is worth nothing. Pay attention to who you listen to. Be smart about who you choose to pitch your ideas to. Pay attention to your gut instincts. Protect your ideas and only share them with those whom you respect. Do your research and work with like-minded innovators.

With deep belief you can remain hard working and quiet because your success will do the talking.

Related: Stop Listening to These 5 Self-Limiting Beliefs Stunting Your Business

5. Unflinching in the face of challenges.

What kind of true success can really come without real effort, real labor, real heartache and real sweat? Success does not come to the weak. No journey is devoid of self-doubt or setbacks. Success is a matter of standing up to your challenge. It is a matter of commitment and not giving up. It is about getting up and suiting up, even when things look bleak. It is having the complete resolve to pursue your higher purpose.

There is nothing unrealistic about a dream that is in complete alignment with your purpose. If what you are doing ignites your passion, inspires you to plan and persevere, then you will, without a doubt, achieve what you have set out to achieve. Any person with a deep conviction and commitment to success will succeed. Therefore, the only opinion about your dream that really counts is yours. The negative commentary of others merely reflects their limitations, not yours.

Success is built upon your own determination, not managed by anyone else's opinion. This is why success is never a straight shot to the top. None of us would be nearly as successful as we are without the gifts of the naysayers, the tough rejections or the harsh criticisms. It all depends upon what you choose do with it. To be a standout success you must learn to control your emotional reactions and turn all of the criticisms and rejections to serve as your greatest advantage. Most importantly, see the value in it all and be thankful all along the way.

Success, at the end of the day, is your greatest revenge. Be sure you are the last one standing.

Related: How Do You Build Resilience?

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.   

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