Better Than Great: The Secret Force Behind Domination

Mark Zuckerberg. Photo by Andrew Feinberg

Although there are many different story versions bandied about, the most believable narrative to Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard education has him as a brilliant hacker and social outcast.

And, as the story goes, Zuckerberg did not resign himself to being a social leper. Instead, he leveraged rejection to his favour. He used the extra alone time and motivation to build his own social club, one all his Harvard peers would clamber to join.

It would seem rejection was the catalyst for Facebook, the social network that is currently 500 million members strong.

How does this relate to you? Well, if you’ve ever been unemployed, then you know what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. You found yourself with two options: get into another business or, like Mark, start your own business empire.

And then there is Mike

Michael Jordan is another prime example of the power of rejection. He was cut from the varsity basketball team in his sophomore year. There was no conspiracy involved. He simply wasn’t good enough.

He went home, closed the door to his room and cried is eyes out.

That single rejection became the launch pad in his basketball career. Pain gave Jordan that deep down, right to the cellular level motivation that Gatorade never could.

He practiced harder, played ferociously and didn’t stop for anything or anyone until he dominated basketball at the highest professional level.

Now his NBA records are as unreachable as his vertical leap.

Your experiences are likely similar to Mike’s. Maybe you didn’t make the local softball team, or spent more time on the bench than at the line of scrimmage. Don’t make excuses. You simply weren’t good enough. Time to be like Mike and work harder.

[ Article continues after the jump.]

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Written Off and Forgotten

How about cycling legend Lance Armstrong? After recovering from testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain, Armstrong said,

“Through my illness I learned rejection. I was written off. That was the moment I thought, Okay, game on. No prisoners. Everybody’s going down.”

Rejection became the prime motivator that powered the 33 year old Texan to win the world’s most gruelling race an unprecedented seven consecutive times.

The lesson we can learn from Lance? Life can get pretty low, but that only means your comeback will be that much greater.

Like the Irish proverb says: You must empty a box before you fill it again

The Rejection Effect

There are many other exemplars of the “Rejection Effect”. Stephen King’s first book Carrie received so many pink slip rejections he threw it in the garbage (the book was later recovered by his wife Tabitha).

Aspiring writers know what rejection is all about. It’s not a condemnation of you. It’s an invitation to address the weaknesses in your wordsmithing and make it shine.

Sure, rejection is harsh. Rejections are a stiff uppercut to the ego. They knock us out of our comfortable bubble we inevitably settle in. They toughen us up.

But remember these icons of business, sports and entertainment who, rather than give up, decided to transform rejection into motivation to become not only great, but utterly dominant in their discipline. Look at rejection as the premium high octane motivation you can’t get anywhere else.

Rejection. Do you have it in you?


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§ 4 Responses to Better Than Great: The Secret Force Behind Domination"

  • I can understand the principles behind this article, but the information on Stephen King’s Carrie is totally inaccurate. In On Writing he explains how he wrote three pages of the manuscript – which he intended to be a short story – then tossed them in the bin. His wife rescued it, read it, and urged him to continue.

    Nothing to do with rejection at all and quite a different story to one you have described.

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  • rinkjustice says:

    I appreciate your comment Adam. Sorry I didn’t get to it sooner.

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  • Vava says:

    You’re assuming the response to the rejection is to overcome, toughen up, practice more, etc -lots of people out there who will just resign to the rejection “their lot in life”.

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  • rinkjustice says:

    I think that’s a tendency for some people (including myself sometimes) to give in when rejected, but I think it’s better to find the lesson in the rejection and build from that.

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