Don’t Disqualify Yourself – Podcast
There are plenty of opportunities in your career to be rejected. You might have your ideas for a new project rejected. Your application for a new job or new promotion might be rejected. Life itself is full of rejection. It is an unpleasant, if unwavering fact of life. That said, I find that many people seek to avoid rejection from others by disqualifying themselves before there is a chance to be rejected. Unfortunately, disqualifying yourself is one of the most damaging actions you can take in your career. It often means that you are throwing away opportunities that might otherwise expand and enhance your career.
This thought about disqualifying yourself came from an experience with my son recently. He is in the 3rd week of his Freshman year at a new high school and one of the first events was casting for the Fall play. Since both my wife and I are theater people (I even have a college degree in theater) we assumed he would be eager to try out. Unfortunately, word had spread that Freshman “never get cast in the Fall play!” My son took that to heart and wouldn’t even audition. He was too intimidated and ended up disqualifying himself from consideration before he even entered the auditorium. Of course, it ended up that at least 1 Freshman did get cast, despite the “word” on campus.
I see this type of self-disqualification all the time. We don’t apply for the new job because we have convinced ourselves we are lacking in one skill or another. We don’t reach out for the new, strange opportunity that presents itself because it is too far outside our normal life. We decide not to do something merely because others have told us it can never happen and we prove them right by not even trying.
The truth is, you never know what is going to happen when you apply for a job, reach out to a new opportunity or simply try something new. So much of the process is hidden to you. Relying on hearsay and rumor to make your decisions is ridiculous, if you really think about it. You couldn’t possibly know that the company needs to fill the position immediately and is willing to take someone with less experience. You can’t know that the theater director was looking for a particular type of “look” for a role — a look that only you fit. You won’t know if a new opportunity is right for you unless you take some time to investigate it, so why not spend some time looking around and kicking the metaphorical tires?
The truth is, self-disqualification is the easy way out. When you disqualify yourself you don’t have to face rejection from outside. You don’t have to face uncertainty. You don’t have to face someone else winning while you lose. You also guarantee that your career — and perhaps even your life — will stagnate. You will spend your life circling around the same, small business, the same small world and watch others move ahead in their careers. You might even bemoan your fate and wonder how life can pass you by while rewarding everyone around you. Instead of worrying about everyone else, though, you need to look at yourself and your actions. You might be acting as your own worst enemy.
Rejection is a part of life and not something that can be avoided. If you want to grow in your life and career, you have to risk a little rejection in the process. Chances are that rejection will not be nearly as painful as your fear has made it seem. Sure, it can be disappointing, but if you are constantly out there searching for your next opportunity, each rejection will seem that much smaller. The rejection will simply be one among many — part of the process — instead of one, all consuming rejection, that feels like the end of your career.
Are you disqualifying yourself from life and work opportunities? Are you allowing fear and rumor to prevent you from growing in your career? Are you allowing others to scare you away from opportunities that they are too scared to chase themselves? Your job in the coming years is to simply “show up” when opportunity presents itself. It is not your part to disqualify yourself from an opportunity before you even get the chance. Let others make the decision of your suitability for a given role. You may be pleasantly surprised that others aren’t quite so eager to dismiss you as you are yourself.