Sunday, December 06, 2015

Reject Me, Please

For years now I have been learning everything I can about Design Thinking and trying to live the process and mindsets of this concept in my everyday life.
One of the basic tenets of Design Thinking is to try things and not to be afraid of failure. “Fail fast and fail often,” we say.

Well, I have been doing a lot of that lately.  I have been sticking my little neck out and getting it chopped off.

Of course, I take it personally.  I know most of the time it’s not about me, it’s more about how busy the other person is, but I when I reach out in my career searches and transitions, I take the rejections hard.

Even writing on this blog over the last year has been difficult. The funny thing is as I looked at the patterns of these rejections and what happened afterwards, I noticed something interesting.  It was working.  With each rejection, I got feistier, more creative, and more productive.

Sort of like, OK, if you don’t want me, I’ll try another avenue and then another. I have this crazy courage because I love Design Thinking and I love teaching it and I am going to keep on doing it one way or the other. 

When I was a freshman in high school, I met with my college counselor, Mr. Bettencourt, and told him proudly, “ I want to go to Stanford”.  He looked at me and said with complete certainty, “Denise, we all have dreams, but your chances of that are almost non-existent.”

He didn’t even know me, but he rejected me.  I call those my “Mr. Bettencourt” moments.  The moment that someone rejects me and I leave quietly and go do what I need to do.

I never went to see Mr. Bettencourt again until the end of my senior year.  I just said goodbye to him and told him that I would be going to Stanford in the Fall.

Things don’t always work out like that for me, in fact, they rarely do, but the feeling I get when I fail or feel rejected gives me more energy than praise could ever give me.

I don’t like failure, actually, I feel terrible when I am first rejected.  I think, oh they’re right, I really can’t do it, but then something happens, I hit rock bottom and there is nowhere to go except up.

I teach my students about failure and its importance in moving forward and learning to design your life forward.  If I really am a good teacher, then I must live what I teach.

So, I need to make peace with rejection and failure and maybe even be grateful for them because my biggest accomplishments are after after my biggest rejections.

I will be teaching a new set of workshops starting in January on Design Thinking.  The workshops will be about what Design Thinking is and how it helps you get unstuck and live a more creative and peaceful life. I know that’s a tall order and if I hadn’t experienced it myself, I couldn’t teach it.

If you would like to be on my mailing list for these workshops, email me at: and I will let send you information on time and place.

Happy Holidays to all of you.