I'm cleaning out my desk today and one of the fattest files I'll be tossing has weighed down the file drawer for over a decade now. It's my "rejection" file.
I don't know if most authors keep their rejection letters or not, but I held onto mine for years. Of course, after a while I no longer received rejection letters.
I received rejection emails instead. I think I even took the time and paper and ink to print many of those and stash them away as well.
Why did I keep track of my rejections? I just knew there would come a day when the "acceptance" file would bulge bigger than the "rejection" file.
I was wrong.
Sure, I've had plenty of success as a writer and speaker, but the acceptance letters, emails or phone calls never outnumbered the rejections.
So today I'm ditching those downers.
But before I do, I want to tell you the more important reason for keeping them all these years.
You see I think we gain from our losses.
Recently, as I listened to the rain come down on the metal roof of our cabin in the Great Smokey Mountains, I talked with two lifelong friends about the ups and downs of life. My friend Candy told Michelle and me a sweet story about how our 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Mike Campbell, had approached her after a little snafu they encountered together as principal (Mr. Campbell later became the middle school principal) and band director (Candy had returned to her middle school alma mater as band director).
After explaining how she and Mr. Campbell got their wires crossed about the date of an upcoming band performance, Candy told us, "He said to me, 'Candy, the way I see it, with every situation we need to glow and grow. The glow here is that you had a great concert last night. I couldn't have been happier.' He paused and added, 'The grow? Well I can't think of one this time. You exceeded my expectations!'"
But Candy went on to tell us that Mr. Campbell, whom she still considers to be the best principal she's worked for in her 27 years, used that principle with every failure, every mistake, every misunderstanding.
Every situation presents an opportunity to glow and to grow.
- What went right?
- What's the positive element?
- How did you shine?
- What improvement was made over last time?
- What was gained?
- How did you succeed?
- What did you learn from the mistake?
- What could you do differently next time?
- What might make it go even better?
- What character trait was put to the test?
- What critical input did you receive that you should seriously consider?
- What advice was given?
So before I toss those rejection letters, I'm going to glance back over those acceptance letters one more time. I'm going to glow in the radiance of a little approval and payment offered! But I'll also read the rejections again, looking for areas in which I've grown since first receiving them. I'll glow in that acknowledgement as well.
Finally, I'll reckon one last time with any criticisms or encouragements tucked away in those rejection letters that I need to take to heart afresh.
I choose to glow and grow. Not one or the other. But both.
Now let me ask you a few questions.
- Do you both glow and grow in the big situations of your life? Or are you more prone to only glow, ignoring sound advice and criticism? Or maybe you only grow, beating yourself up and never acknowledging that you did do at least something right.
- Do you help others glow and grow? When you're talking with a friend about the project you endeavored together, do you carefully consider both the lessons learned and the shining moments? Do you encourage your friend by both complimenting her and offering advice when appropriate?
- Do you practice the glow and grow philosophy as a parent? Or do you just expect your child to grow from their mistakes without ever letting them glow in the spotlight of your praise and appreciation? Or do you shower love on your child when she does something right but blame and shame her when she makes a mistake? Beware. You're setting up a pattern of conditional love that she'll be trying unsuccessfully to navigate for the rest of her life.
How do you handle the teachable moments of life, for yourself and others? Do you blame and shame? Or do you glow and grow?
|Michelle, myself and Candy on our recent
girlfriends trip to the Great Smokey Mountains.
We've all done a lot of growing and glowing
over the years!
Labels: disappointment, overcomer, struggles