Lessons from Fight Club: The Hard Fist of Rejection

I don’t know whether I’m masochistic or just unlucky, but it seems that I have a lust for the path of greatest resistance. All of the hobbies and careers I’ve pursued thus far seem to have extremely high rates of failure amongst participants. From acting, to competitive bodybuilding, to entrepreneurship, it seems that I like swimming with the sharks. And trust me, I’ve gotten bitten my fair share. Still, somehow I find myself making it to the top of the heap more often than not.

Why?

I’ve realized now that there is a formula to making it out on top in most competitive situations. It’s actually a one step formula with only one requirement:

You must be willing to take a punch. Repeatedly.

You must be willing to face the hard fist of rejection.

Rejection is the name of the game in business and in life. So why do we work so hard to avoid it? Why do most of us spend our entire lives running from rejection only to find that the sense of security we are looking for continually eludes us?

The answer is simple: the security we’re searching for can only be found by traveling through pain, not around it.

Let me give you a concrete example:

You have a great start-up idea and you know all the steps it’s going to take to launch. All you need now is the money. So the elusive hunt for an angel investor begins.

You prowl the net, you scour your city, you ask friends-of-friends. You have some near misses. Sometimes you get within one email of the start-up capital that you desperately need. It all falls through.

You keep hearing the same word over and over again: “No”.

Panic.

You curse the universe for giving you such a brilliant idea without the means to see it come to fruition. You’ve tried every avenue around your problem besides sitting outside of Goldman-Sachs with a plastic cup and a sign.

After months of trying, you’ve come to what appears to be the inevitable conclusion that 99% of would-be entrepreneurs make. Your idea just isn’t going to work. Other people don’t share your vision and you don’t have the tools to make it happen alone. In all honesty, it’s probably for the best. You’re emotionally drained. This whole process was stressful anyway.

What if there was another way? What if you could fight through the rejection?

You can, but it requires you to change your thinking.

Rather than suffering through each emotional blow that rejection serves up, I’d like you to start thinking like Edward Norton in Fight Club:

1.) Risk and reward go hand in hand with rejection.

If you want to do anything meaningful or awesome in life it will always be protected by gatekeepers. This is why most people do not get to do what they truly want with their lives. They give up the second they get to the gatekeepers. Don’t do this! Realize that the gatekeepers will be there before you even start the journey. Mentally prepare yourself for the inevitability of a struggle. Norton’s character knew that starting the club would be risky. He knew that people would abandon him. He knew that he would lose a lot of what he thought made him “normal”. He didn’t care.

2.) Norton gets a sick satisfaction from getting the crap knocked out of him.

Why? Because he came to the fight for the rush. Every time he feels the adrenaline rush of pain, he knows that he’s a little bit closer to his goal of personal freedom. This is how you must begin to see your life and your goals when someone tells you “no”. Every time you get a “no”, I want a sly smile to creep across your face. You’re smiling because you know a little secret that the naysayer doesn’t. You know that your goal will be accomplished. It’s almost like you can see into the future. So when they tell you no, you can’t help but think about how funny it is that you’re going to get what you want, whether they plan on helping you or not. It’s just that simple. That’s why you’re smiling.

3.) You have to become energized by your pain.

All the mental energy you’re putting into worrying, fretting and fraying…put that energy into your focus and embody everything that it means to be a warrior. When you get knocked down on your feet, get angry. Spring back up with greater resolve. If you get a little roughed up and notice some blood on your lip, wipe it off and keep going. Intensity is the key. Most people become weakened by their pain. Great fighters use it. They become energized. They become hyper-aware.

It takes a special person to brave the dangerous terrain of entrepreneurship. It takes a fighter. If you can cultivate the ability to fight through pain and outlast the competition, victory can be yours.

Originally published by Daniel on Under30CEO.com

 

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