The Power of Vulnerability [TED VIDEO]

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The Nirvana of Losing

Losing is Nirvana. Photo by Ian @

There is a ritual Tibetan monks perform in the second year of their ministry, high in the snowy Himalayan mountains. The ritual involves replicating an intricate ancient symbol, called the Rangoli. The Rangoli is meant as a sacred welcoming area for the deities.

Replication of this incredibly detailed symbol takes five years of painting part time. During this period, no one can see the work in progress. The monk paints in solitude.

On the final day, the divine Sensei of the monastery examines the design. The monk is blessed if the Sensei approves of his painstaking endevours.

On that fateful day of examination, as the painting is being presented before the Sensei, the Sensei looks the monk directly in the eyes and proceeds to destroy the fragile design with a single sweep of his arm.

The shock of witnessing this work of beauty being destroyed without hesitation is meant to create one of two responses from the monk: a shining moment of blankness, known as Nirvana, or the monk weeps with joy with the abrupt realization that anything and everything can be reduced to nothing.

The monk loses something precious, but gains something far greater: understanding of an eternal principle.

The moral of this story is this: winning doesn’t exist. As Scott Adam’s asserts, winning is merely a predetermined outcome based on a lot of practice and even more losing.

To put it another way, the secret to success is failure.

Losing on the other hand, brings understanding. Sometimes, like in the case of Tibetan monks who have 5 years of painstaking labour trashed without a glance, it brings enlightenment.

Losing may signify you haven’t lost enough, or weren’t lucky enough. Either way, it means nothing.

It is Nirvana.

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Story of the Tibetan ritual was gleaned from Akshat Sehgal’s An Edifice Of Thought.


A Year from Now

A year from now you may wish you had started today.

Karen Lamb

Want more? Here’s the complete, up-to-date listing of Rejection Therapy blog posts.

You’re More Like the Wolverine than You Even Know

Wolverine. Property of Marvel Comics

The New York Times reported on new research that suggests rejection actually causes physical pain.

Being the creator of Rejection Therapy, I can vouche for that. I’ve had some pretty big rejections. Blown out even. Decimated.

Does it hurt? Yes, like nothing else. My entire being feels shell shocked. It’s not a sharp, stabbing pain. It’s a ringing, searing sickness I feel through my entire body.

One time I brought flowers to the office of a woman I met the night before at a club. When I handed them to her (in view of a roomful of people) she said she had a boyfriend. *

It was like a tank blew a hole right through my chest.

But you know what?  I’m still standing.  I’m inspired by the courage of  those who put their life on the line for others. It puts life into perspective.

Withstanding rejection also gives an experience to draw upon. For me, I can say, “I’ve been through worse and came out stronger. I can do this! I’m come’n atcha SUCKAS!” (or reasonable facsimile thereof).

Yes, rejection can be the best confidence builder in the world.

[ Article continues after the jump.]

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But being rejected does more than build true confidence. Your body adapts, stops overreacting, and you become stronger.

My own personal experience working as a die caster in a foundry bears this out.

The first few years there, the die cast machines were only semi automated. We had to scoop out the molten aluminum from the holding furnace with a big ladle.

We wore gloves but you could still feel the intense heat of the furnace on your hands. Our work shirts were made of simple cotton and provided zero protection against molten metal.

There wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t get burned either on my hands, arms or face. On night shift it happened twice as often.

At first, having a glob of molten aluminum splash on my skin was shocking and painful. But after a month of it happening every single day, it was nothing. I just brushed it off and carried on.

Sure, it’s a different kind of pain, but our bodies can hardly tell the difference.

Think of it this way: You actually have the mutant healing powers of Wolverine (another Canadian superhero) within you right now.  Someone blows a hole through your heart, you wince, shake it off, and keep on going. You freak!

Yeah, rejection hurts,  but you’ll be stronger for it Bub.


* Do something dumb like this at least once in your life.




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