“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” – Mick Jagger
Too soon? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But the way 50% of this country currently feels about the election is how I am tempted to feel this morning about pursuing my dream. When you put all of your hopes in an expected outcome that doesn’t come to fruition, you can become disenfranchised or disillusioned. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As many of you know, I am pretty outspoken about the fact that my dream is to one day perform for Sight & Sound in Lancaster. It is a professional theater that produces biblical musicals and runs all year around. Last year, I submitted a demo reel to them in hopes of getting a chance to audition. I didn’t really think I had a chance, but I figured, what the heck? To my surprise, they invited me to come to their “invite-only” auditions. So I went to my first professional theater audition, and did my best, though in hindsight I was wildly unprepared. I actually made it to the end of the day without being cut, so I went home feeling pretty good about my chances.
That was until I found out how the process works. Since it was my first professional theater audition, I had no idea what I was in for.
After waiting over two months to find out, all while struggling to stay afloat in my new business, I got that dreaded email rejection. Truthfully, I was devastated. I saw this opportunity as a lifeline, and I had misguidedly put all of my hope and faith in this thing working out for me. I see parallels in this story to the current state of our country. People put all of their faith in a person or political party to be their lifeline, and when said person does not get elected, we are devastated. But I digress. Now, as I regularly outline in this blog, I have made my share of mistakes and missteps along the road of life, but for some reason I felt that if they were all leading to this moment it would, in a way, validate or redeem all of that mess I had created. But here I was again, a floundering startup business, and no clear direction for 2016.
Shortly after receiving my rejection email, I realized that if I was going to succeed in my business going forward, then I needed to make a change. It was around this time that I started to take both my life as an actor and as an entrepreneur more seriously. I realized that if I was going to build a business, then I needed to study and apply myself to business. If I was going to succeed in realizing my dream, then I needed to improve as an actor. In some ways, the rejection was the catalyst for everything I have accomplished over the past year. If I had not been rejected by Sight and Sound for the 2016 season, then I would have never launched the Real Person | Real Needs podcast and funding campaign. If I’d not been rejected, then I would not have been able to donate $2500 of my commission to people who need a safe place to call home.
In the past I would have seen this rejection as a closed door, a missed opportunity. But thankfully my wife was there to keep me from giving up. She told me that this rejection could just be a test to see how badly I wanted to pursue my dream. It was through her support that I committed to getting better and giving it my best shot rather than throwing in the towel and quitting. So I began to study entrepreneurs to improve my business acumen. I also started to study actors and the art of auditioning. I began to formulate a plan, then I started to test and try new things and develop my skillset through practice. Then I chose to aggressively pursue my dream. I launched my new business model and started going on professional theater auditions. I cut ties with my previous real estate broker to find the right group of people to surround myself with in order to succeed. Things have been difficult at times this year, since I basically rebooted my career after only one year. But thankfully I discovered that in order to succeed, I needed to do things that were true to the core of my convictions. I realized that valleys are part of the journey and that persistence in the face of adversity (rejection) is crucial. Finally, I now understand that things don’t simply happen over night. One choice does not produce change in an instant. It is by doing the right things day in and day out, and not wavering or growing weary that real change begins to happen. Through patience, we can finally begin to see the fruit of our labor. And when this fruit comes after experiencing failure or rejection, it is all the more sweet, and you will never take it for granted.
(For more information on this topic of pursuing your dream, you can download my free eBook at www.6wordsbook.com)
ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO GROW
So why do I bring all of this up? Well, I was invited back to Sight and Sound this year to audition again. I believe I did even better this time. But after waiting another two plus months, I received my rejection email again this past Sunday. In the midst of feeling elated about my current theater production and the review we received, I was smacked in the face again with the feeling of rejection. I am disappointed, for sure. But knowing all of the good that came out of 2016 after the last rejection, I take solace in the fact that 2017 is almost here and I have the opportunity to improve and accomplish some amazing things.
So, if you are feeling the sting of rejection, remember to take a step back and find ways to use that rejection as a catalyst to improve and do the most good with the time you have. Instead of lamenting a lost opportunity, take advantage of the opportunity to get better. I know I will.
“The more rejection you get, the better you are, the more you’ve learned, the closer you are to your outcome.” – Tony Robbins