Changing Your Perspective

Claude Hamilton

ADVERSITY IS OFTEN AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO GROW

It’s easy to get discouraged when the going gets tough. But I want you to try something. The next time you reach the point where you can’t even imagine what more could go wrong, and you just want to hide under the covers and admit defeat—try changing your perspective and celebrating instead.

Like I mentioned before, unless you’ve met adversity, you don’t know how strong your character is. You don’t know what you’re fighting against, and you don’t have anything to push you forward. After all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Maybe instead of throwing our hands in the air, we should be welcoming the opportunity to grow.

I wrote in my book, Toughen Up!, that people only become great when they have to struggle, adapt, and overcome. And I stand by that. Think about the last time you achieved something great. It wasn’t easy, was it? If you’ve been facing difficulties while trying to achieve your life’s purpose, congratulations! You’re probably on the right track.

Remember when I was first starting out and I experienced those unexpected rejections? Before that happened, things had been going relatively smoothly, all things considered. Of course, there are always bumps in the road when you’re starting a new business, but I was very optimistic and had plenty of energy. So when I was rejected a couple of times in a row, without even getting a chance to present my business, it was devastating. It was hard to push through and keep going. But I did—and I learned from it. I focused on keeping my character strong and, instead of dwelling on the fact that I was rejected, I looked at ways that I could achieve a different outcome the next time. I changed my perspective! I toughened up and kept going.

Claude Hamilton

REJECTION CAN BE A DEVASTATING EXPERIENCE

It’s been years since that disappointing day, and I still get rejected. But now, I try to learn from it so that the next meeting might go differently. And sometimes those rejections are for the best. Maybe that person just wouldn’t have been a good fit for my business.

One of the toughest challenges is learning to deal with attacks on your business and your personal goals. Writer Henry James addressed this when he said, “I don’t want everyone to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did.” Now, that doesn’t mean we have to go out looking for enemies, but I think it’s important to remember that if we’re doing truly important work, we’ll naturally provoke those people. And when that happens, instead of doubting ourselves, we should celebrate the opportunity to strengthen our character.

There’s an old saying that hits the nail on the head: “If you haven’t been misquoted, you probably haven’t said anything that matters. And if you haven’t been attacked, you probably aren’t doing much that will really make a difference.”

Has disappointment or rejection helped make you stronger? Share your experience in the comments!

Pushing Past Rejection

Pushing Past Rejection Claude HamiltonWhen was the last time you were rejected? Were you presenting an idea to your boss? Initiating a new relationship? Making a sales pitch to a client? No matter what the situation was, I’m sure it was rough. Being rejected is hard, and regardless of the other person’s intention, it always feels personal.

When I think about rejection, one particular experience comes to mind. I was just starting to build my business. I was full of enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. That day, I was looking forward to bringing a new trainee along to a couple of business meetings with potential clients.

At the time, I was still working as a diver. Diving is hard work. It requires a lot of physical strength and endurance, and I often ended my days on the job with new bumps, bruises and scratches. This time, the scratches were on my face, and because the water was dirty, they were infected. But diving had been a part of my life for so long that I barely thought about it. I met with my new trainee and we set out for our meetings, feeling keen and confident.

The first meeting was at the client’s apartment. But we didn’t get very far before he suggested we meet somewhere else. Since were already there, I pointed out that it made more sense to stay. I was startled when he responded with “Man, you know what? I don’t think there’s anything you have that I’m interested in.” It stung. I was new to the business and wasn’t used to rejection yet. But we set it aside and went to the next meeting.

This time, we barely made it past the front door. The man we were there to meet stopped up as we were walking up the stairs and told us that he wasn’t comfortable with us in his house.

It dawned on me then. With the infected scratches, my military haircut, my lean, muscular frame, I must looked like a hardened warrior—or maybe a criminal. Either way, my appearance was making people uncomfortable.

We left and I went home to bed, feeling overwhelmed. At that moment, it seemed so easy to just give up. I tossed and turned all night, running through the encounters in my mind and wondering if I should quit. But the next morning, my wife went off to a job where she wasn’t respected. It was worse than that, actually; she was constantly hassled by the guys who worked there.

That was all the motivation I needed. I wanted to get her out of there, and that meant I had to refocus, push through the rejection and keep working toward my goal. I accepted that there was a learning curve to my new path and I gave myself time to adjust.

When I look back now, I realize how much I would have lost if I had quit. Our life, our friends, our community and the lifestyle we’ve built—if I hadn’t pushed through, we might have missed out on all of it.

So the next time you feel like quitting, make it a learning experience. Look at what went wrong, and if it’s something you can fix or improve on, then do it. If it’s something that you can’t change, move on and try something different next time. If you’re working towards a goal that you truly want to achieve, never let rejection pull you down. You might be giving up more than you know.