Overcome the Fear of Rejection by Leveraging Courage

Published December 17, 2019

TOPICS IN THIS ARTICLE

ConfidenceLeading YourselfResilience

Leaders make progress by stepping forward with new ideas, new initiatives and new directions.

So, why is it that leaders will sometimes shrink back? What is it that causes leaders to stall, even though they might possess a breakthrough idea?

Often this hesitation is labeled a “fear of failure.” But more often, it is a “fear of rejection.”

In his groundbreaking book, Rejection Proof, and in his inspiring talk at the 2019 Global Leadership Summit, Jia Jiang pointed out that the fear of rejection is a sometimes debilitating malady that can inhibit even the most accomplished leader.

The fear of rejection comes in all shapes and sizes:

  • You have developed an idea that has the potential to add great value to your team’s goals. But it’s a new way of thinking; would they accept an idea so different from what they have tried?
  • You want to launch a new project that would require new resources, but which could solve important problems. But would the necessary resources be approved?
  • The team seems to be committed to a plan that you believe could be improved. You can see a better way forward. But would anyone want to deviate from the current plan?

In each scenario, the option not to step forward is driven by a fear of rejection. And it will stall your leadership every time.

The option not to step forward is driven by a fear of rejection. And it will stall your leadership every time.

Early in my career, while working for a media company, an important division in our company unexpectedly found itself leaderless. With almost no notice, the leader of the division left the company leaving a sudden void.

As I sat at my desk that day, I found my mind racing with ideas as to how I would rebuild that division if I were ever to have the chance to lead.

But other voices in my head were telling me not to put my name forward. “You’re too young and inexperienced,” I told myself. “They will laugh you out of the office. Why put yourself in the position where you could be embarrassed?”

But another voice also came to mind. It was a voice from Scripture that reminded me: For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Fueled by that reminder, I humbly, but confidently walked into my boss’s office and asked to be considered for that vacant role. An hour later, I emerged as the director of that division.

As you learn to pay attention to the voice of courage, you will find that it can soon drown out all other voices.

The fear of rejection has never left me, and in leadership the fear of rejection will likely never leave you either. But if you are a person of faith, the reminder of the spirit of courage you have been given can drown out those fears.

So, the next time you find yourself developing a new idea, a new initiative or a new direction, don’t be surprised if the fear of rejection emerges. And when it does, choose instead to listen to the voice that calls out your spirit of courage.

As you learn to pay attention to the voice of courage, you will find that it can soon drown out all other voices.

About the Author
Scott Cochrane

Scott Cochrane

Vice President of International

Global Leadership Network

Scott Cochrane serves as Vice President of International at the Global Leadership Network. An insightful and genuine leader, he travels the globe mentoring international teams. Prior to joining the GLN, he was the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia, and provided leadership to the Global Leadership Network Canada.

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