Malik Shaffy Lizinde, Expert Entrepreneur
The Art of Ideating – Newsletter

Rejection. An inevitable part of life, it is particularly so for those who dare to step into the world of growth or even entrepreneurship. From clients declining proposals to ideas needing to meet the enthusiasm they deserve or even being rejected by your own people, can often feel like a daunting roadblock. However, as I learned through my own journey, it’s possible to transform rejection from a roadblock into a stepping stone.

In my life, I faced more rejections than I could count. Each ‘no’ felt like a critique of my vision, creativity, personal belief, and even me. Each failed business venture felt like a nail in the coffin of my dreams. However, with time and much soul-searching, I learned that these rejections did not measure my worth or potential. Instead, they were opportunities for learning and growth.

One of the most challenging aspects of my journey was that it was often not there when I reached out for support. The people I thought would be my cheerleaders sometimes rejected my ideas or me as a person. I was rejected for not being one of them, for being misunderstood, and for being me.  This was a tough pill to swallow, but it forced me to develop a thick skin and become my own biggest supporter.

Dealing with rejection, particularly from those close to us, can be a gut-wrenching experience. However, over time, I learned great ways to cope:

Separate the Rejection from Your Self-Worth: Remember, rejecting your idea or business is not a rejection of you as a person. You are not your work. This distinction can help prevent rejection from affecting your self-esteem.

Use Rejection as a Learning Opportunity: Instead of seeing rejection as a dead-end, view it as feedback. Analyze what didn’t work and use this knowledge to refine your ways of doing, improve your skills, and return stronger.

Practice Resilience: Like a boxer in a ring, you must get back up each time you get knocked down. Resilience is the key to transforming rejection into success. This is a trait I saw exemplified by being Rwandan and learning from our own transformation. We Rwandans chose to see their challenge not as a setback but as an opportunity for growth.

Build a Trusted Support Group: Surround yourself with positive influences and people who believe in you no matter what. They can provide the encouragement you need when you face rejection.

Don’t stop: Persistence is crucial in the face of rejection. Remember that ‘no’ often means ‘not yet.’ Keep refining your craft, and stay true to your vision.

My journey as an entrepreneur of, even my personal life, for I have grown up till today, has been filled with rejection, but every ‘no’ and every failed venture has been a stepping stone towards growth and eventual success.

Mastering the art of rejection is about transformation and resilience. It’s about shifting our perspective to see every ‘no’ as a ‘not yet,’ every setback as a setup for a comeback. It’s about embracing the lessons that rejection brings and using them as fuel to drive our growth.

Rejection is not a dead end; it’s a return on the path to success. And remember, you are not alone in your journey. We are all navigating the path of rejection, resilience, and eventual triumph.