I once interviewed for a job with a global information services corporation.
The work itself seemed fascinating, but frankly, the workplace seemed frightening. It was cold and stale and gigantic. Trying to visualize myself being happy there was a severe stretch of the imagination.
And so, I respectfully declined the offer. No hard feelings. Just the wrong fit.
About a year later I bumped into the same hiring manager from that very interview. She had since transitioned into working for scrappy new tech startup, mainly because of its schedule flexibility and decision making freedom.
But as we reminisced about our first encounter back at the gigantic company, she gave me a piece of candid feedback that I’ll never forget.
I was honestly worried to hire you, as I thought you’d feel confined by the environment. You seemed too talented for that.
Now that’s the kind of rejection I can get used to. Because it’s not about failure, it’s about fit. You’re not talented in a way that’s necessary to fit into our machine. But keep being yourself and keep looking and keep listening, and eventually you’ll find a place where your talents can flourish, and where you can express your unique gifts to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Withers famously sang that if feels this good getting used, you just keep on using me until you use me up.
Perhaps rejection should be viewed from that perspective.
It’s not a no, it’s just a not here.
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What if your biggest setback was a rejection of a lifetime?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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