We’ve all been stung by hearing “NO” and have allowed ourselves to be temporarily paralyzed by another person’s rejection of us or give up altogether. How can we not only move beyond the sting of rejection but also embrace rejection?

Author and entrepreneur Jia Jiang decided to face his life-long fear of rejection as he began his entrepreneurial journey. He knew that succeeding as an entrepreneur often means being invincible.

Jiang played a game of intentional rejection by committing himself to 100 days of straight rejection in order to overcome his fear. His outlandish requests ranged from requesting a “burger refill” at Five Guys to requesting to plant flowers in a stranger’s backyard. He was surprised to have received a few yes’s along the way, including when a Krispy Kreme donuts employee agreed to make him a donut in the shape of the Olympic symbol.

Here are the most important lessons from a game of rejection:

We can often turn a “No” into a “Yes.” People say no because they don’t have enough information or feel at risk. Asking the question “Why” gives the person an opportunity to share what is making them uncomfortable and gives you the opportunity to replace it with trust and confidence.

Say what is on that person’s mind. Empathy is a tool to break down barriers. Something as simple as “Is that weird?” or “You probably think I’m being a jerk right now” makes you relatable and on the same page.

Rejection is a numbers game (like so many things). Stand back up after enough nos, and you will eventually find a yes. Jiang’s score was 51-yes to 49-no.

Avoiding rejection is not a net positive. Most people believe avoiding rejection is a good thing, but when we shy away from rejection, we reject ourselves and our ideas before the world ever has a chance to reject them. This is the worst form of rejection!

“No” is not the worst thing that someone can say to you. The worst they can say is, “you didn’t even ask.” It implies that you said “no” to yourself before others could reject you.

There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.


Think of this quote every time you step into a situation that forces you to expand your comfort zone. Playing it safe isn’t really living, rather it’s just existing.