The Fear of Rejection - Christine Kane

This one falls into the category of episodes I call, “If I can do it, so can you.” I’m sharing the nitty-gritty side of what I’ve experienced as an entrepreneur to help you see the reality of what “business success” looks like.

To kick it off, I’m gonna get really open and honest with a story from when I was working with my first coach on one of my biggest obstacles at the time: fear of rejection.

Hear about the sneaky tactic my coach used to get me to take big action toward my musical aspirations and how it not only got me over my fears but eased me into making my goals a reality.

I’ll share with you the 5 steps I learned that help you take real action toward your intentions, plus a bonus step to prepare you for potential rejection (and help you give less of a shit when it shows up.)

Let’s dig in to uncover the truth behind your fear of rejection and give you the tools to move beyond it to the next level.

Episode Transcript

When things can’t get expressed, no one actually knows what the true desired outcome is.

Welcome to the Soul-Sourced™ Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative, secretly sensitive and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host, Christine Kane. Let’s do this.

Hello everyone. And welcome to episode number 26. Yes, we have done a half a year here and I will be honest. I was actually thinking I would only do a half a year and that this would be my last episode, but obviously, I’m still going. If I had a cowbell, I would ring it, but welcome to episode number 26 of the Soul-Sourced™ Business Podcast. And I am doing it again here, my people, I’m being freak. I am sharing things about myself that I shouldn’t share, but I was going to be like a kick-ass entrepreneur business strategist type, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I guess we’ll just start a category of episodes and we’ll call them the, “If I Can Do This, So Can You” episodes, and on this one, I’m going to talk about rejection and most people won’t admit just how scared they are of rejection, or maybe they’ll admit it to a coach, but they won’t go out there and say it publicly, publicly use your words, Christine. And I think that’s why we all love people like Brene’ Brown so much because people like Brene’ Brown, they just lay everything bare, and they put this kind of thing on the line and they’re so willing to just be vulnerable about who they are.

But the truth is I have met very, very few business owners, or creatives or entrepreneurs or artists or whatever, who haven’t faced and dealt with a lot of rejection or the fear of rejection or the what-ifs of rejection. And once you start facing that fear and walking through it, it loses its power over you. It really does. And so the experience of taking action gives you kind of a direct experience of the untruth of it. But at first, I get it, it can feel like a kind of a death to your soul or something. So we’re going to go back in time, quite a ways here, to when I was working with my very first coach. And at this time I was pretty clueless. I was still caught up in the typical way of thinking, which is the, Oh, it’s just this underlying unconscious belief that change or healing or transformation would be kind of like taking a pill. You know, I would get the coach. He would tell me what to do. And magic would somehow happen. I would change, but I wouldn’t have to change if you know what I mean. Like I wanted to get rid of things like my fear of rejection, but I didn’t want to actually have to, you know, face things like my fear of rejection.

And so when we invest our time and money into something like coaching, we often want that payoff and we want it really fast. But the gift is that now, as I get to look back and see how I was impacted, cumulatively in a way that has been totally transformative in terms of my patterns and how I show up in my work and business and what I’ve been able to do and make and build, it’s kind of like I’m a different person now.

Coaching over the years has, has kind of built on itself and it’s changed everything for me. And much of this was started by the fact that my first coach could see some of my obstacles and patterns and he did not see them as the truth of me, which is how I saw it, but he saw it differently. I saw it was like I was irreversibly this way, and there was nothing anyone could do about it, and he just simply did not endorse my stories. And it doesn’t mean that he was without compassion, but he was relentless in that, he held me to a certain standard, even when I fell on my ass and especially in the face of rejection, which was a major obstacle for me. So this fear of rejection was something that very subtly and unconsciously kept me playing small and not taking those uncomfortable action steps that could really expand my career. And that’s the thing is that these steps are what really, really start to stretch us and expand us.

So for me, how did that play out? You know, what did that look like for me? Well, it was things like how I treated my business. So if you’re reading or if you have read my book, The Soul-Sourced™ Entrepreneur, you know that there’s a section in there where you take kind of an inventory. It’s what I call your business backstage. And you look at things like people and time and the stuff that’s in your environment and around you. And this is what I was doing at this point in my music career, when I was working with this coach, this was when I discovered that I was intending one thing, but then I wasn’t congruent with what I said I wanted. And my coach was the one who started calling me out on it. So for instance, I was saying, I was intending, that I wanted to perform in better venues and theaters and festivals, but I wouldn’t hire, for instance, a good photographer, because way underneath, I didn’t think that one would want to work with an unknown like me.

And I didn’t think it mattered all that much because I was an unknown or I wouldn’t even consider working with a major producer, which I dreamed of doing, because I didn’t think one would want to work with me, there’s that rejection, because I wasn’t famous. I wouldn’t put myself out there for any big showcases because I told this story in my head of not being able to handle the rejection, you know, and you know, this thing, we all do this where we avoid this thing we’re scared of. And what’s very weird, and this is the key part, is that I didn’t even realize how insidious this was for me until my coach took me through the process that I’m going to share here and pushed me out of my comfort zone. And in that action, in that process, it broke years of old conditioning around the fear of rejection.

It pretty much changed everything. And how do I know it changed everything well, not that you’re going to do this, but if you were to look at the trajectory of where I was as a musician, before I hired my coach, I made, I think two CDs and my career was growing and it was, it wasn’t like I was just completely stalled out, but I was still very subtly playing small. I wasn’t taking chances or reaching out to many new venues or promoters. And I think what had happened was that I had broken through quite a bit just to get to that place, just to get things started, that when I reached this sort of ceiling, I didn’t have the tools anymore to get to that next level. I kind of just got flattened and I didn’t think there was anything else I can do. And then after this work, I did with my coach, if you, if you were to look at the years after this, and then the next CDs I released, there was an immense acceleration.

It’s like the brakes came off and things started to flow. And I link most of this phenomenon to the work I did to get over this one insidious fear. So a little background, Mike, that my coach at the time, he had been a stage and television actor in New York, City before he started his own business, and that was great because he understood the life of the arts and the world of business. And he told me that as an actor, one of the things he learned is that you have to love auditioning. You just have to love auditions and you have to get used to them and you have to learn how to be rejected. And in some ways, music was a really great prep for me to jump into business and coaching because music or anything in the entertainment business is kind of, it’s like a conveyor belt of people’s opinions coming your way and rejections coming your way and other people who are much better than you out there or getting better shows than you or selling more than you and you having to navigate this world of outside opinions of your work, which is, you know, it feels like that’s your very heart and soul and the core of who you are.

So when I began with this coach, my intention, as I said, was to Uplevel my music career and breakthrough this stuck spot that I’d gotten caught in. In one of the many things I wanted to do was I wanted to work with a really great producer on my next CD. I had started writing the songs for that CD. I had these little dreams all in my head of like, ah, I would love to work with a really great producer, but I didn’t believe that I could find someone who would be interested in me. What’s key here is that my coach did not tell me to get over myself. He did not lecture me about rejection. He didn’t analyze my mindset. All he did was he gave me an assignment, and the first assignment was simply to make a list of all the producers you’d love to work with on your next CD, and then bring that to our calls next week.

So, I did that. I made a list in no particular order of my favorite producers. My next assignment was to pre-write a letter that I would send. And this was by the way, before the days of being able to send music online and having online capabilities, I had to email them first and then send an actual CD in a packet. And then I was to start with name number one on my list. And I did that. And then I followed up with an email to that person. And I do remember that that first producer wrote me back and said, I wasn’t a match for him, or I don’t even remember how he put it, but it was in retrospect, if I told you who it was, and you knew the music scene, you would agree, you would have said, what were you thinking?

It’s so true. He knew he had the wisdom to say, Oh dude, I’m not the right person for you. But you know, anyone who has a fear of rejection does not see that wisdom. They only see the rejection. And when I brought this news to my coach on our next call, he just, all he said was great. Go to the next name, do the same thing. And so I did. And then the same thing happened with that producer and my coach, his response was great. Who’s next? Send it to them. And I started feeling bolder at that point because I realized that the goal was not to get someone to like me and not reject me. The goal was to get through this list.

So I sent the next three all at once and one of them got my CD and emailed me back instantly. And it was a producer in New York city. His name’s Ben Wish, he’s done some exquisite CDs. And we got on the phone and we really deeply connected. And it started a very cool relationship. We did two of my CDs together, my CD Rain and Mud and Wild and Green. And then my last CD, which was called Wide Awake. And what I learned here was such a big deal, was that for one, an emotional obstacle makes itself seem so very real. And it does that by getting more and more puffed up in your head and in some ways becoming more and more nebulous, like fear of rejection. I mean, what the fuck is that anyway? Like, it’s meaningless. It means nothing.

So my coach was very sneaky. There were steps to get around this. He never wallowed with me in this nebulous fear of rejection. The first thing we did was I defined the vision. I knew what I wanted. And some people never even allow themselves to take this step because they’re so, you know, stuck in this whole idea of the fear of rejection, but just being able to articulate what you want, the direction you want to go, the ideal situation for you, that is a starting point. I have seen many of my clients leave things to roam about in their brains and when things can’t get expressed, no one actually knows what the true desired outcome is. So a great place to start is the age old question of, if money and people’s opinions and time were not an issue for me, here’s what I’d want. And you don’t have to make it like a big grandiose dream, but you can just start writing and give yourself a chance to start getting clear. And so in my first year of working with this coach, this is the kind of stuff that came out in our coaching conversations.

It was stuff that I hadn’t even bothered to ask myself about it all just sort of stayed tucked down inside, and I hadn’t really expressed any of it. So pulling it out is always step number one, mining for your dreams. The second thing I learned was the power of getting stuff out of your head and onto a list. And in this case, just writing down on paper, the names of the producers whose work I admired, got that content out of my head and into my sites. And when I did that, it ceased being such a big fat, hairy deal. It was just a list of names. Then you always want to remember this. Your brain is a problem solver. It is not a container. In fact, your brain makes a very shitty storage device, and using it as a storage unit of any kind slows down its processing and problem solving abilities.

So the idea of making a list was pretty key for me. I used to think that the first step of anything was to get over the fear of it. And in this case, to get over the fear of rejection and the first step is not to get over your fear of rejection. It is to break down that goal into some list or into some kind of parts. And after that, which I guess is the third big takeaway for me from this experience is that you look at the smallest, doable task you can do. So my coach was brilliant at this. He had all kinds of very simple tasks for me like, okay, write the template cover letter that you’re going to send, you know, that’s going to be your email, and then write the follow-up email that you’ll send after you’ve sent the press kit to make sure that they’ve gotten the press kit, and all of these things were just tasks. It was a checklist. None of them had anything to do with what my mind saw as the big fear, the rejection, they were just these small tasks and very doable. And plus each time I did them, I trusted myself more and more.

And then the fourth lesson of this for me is that there were dates and there were deadlines I had to complete things by. The great thing about coaching is that it sets up these natural parameters. And I talked about this in this podcast, in the episode called The Six P’s of Coaching. But in this case, I knew each week what had to be done before the next call and my coach wouldn’t let me get on those calls if I hadn’t done the work, he would get off the phone If I had not done my work. And so deadlines and completions were key and they made the task and getting it done the main thing, not my fear.

And now think about this. If my coach had just said to me, okay, just, you know, send your stuff out to every producer, blanket the world with your press kit and cover letter. It would not have worked. Small and doable with deadlines was how I started to get over the fear of rejection. And then the fifth and last lesson here is a big one. And that’s especially if you’re one of those business owners who is more sensitive than you care to admit, and I know no one wants to admit this, so I’ll just, you know, raise my hand and say, that’s me. I’m the little wimp inside. I’m my only reader and listener. No one else is sensitive. What I’ve learned over the years, though, that is so valuable, especially when you’re first breaking through what I’m calling here, which is old conditioning, it’s to set up a bookend, I call it bookends. Sometimes I call it parentheses, set up a bookend support system.

This situation with my coaches is a story from many, many years ago. And I was in my late twenties, I was maybe 30 at the time, but the impact was huge, and especially since my music career really took off after I worked with him. It was such a big thing that when it came time for me to set up a coaching program, I created a training for my clients about how to be accountability buddies for each other. That training is still one of our most popular things about the Mastermind we have.

And this idea of bookends is one of the key pieces of it because you want to bookend every little situation that feels scary to you. And what that means is that your buddy, that person, that coach, that accountability buddy, is there when you’re about to do something scary, they become your encourager. You call them and say, I’m about to do this. And they cheer you on. Then you go off, you do the thing and they’re waiting for you on the other end to either celebrate that you did it, or they hold the space for you once you get the result. And in the case of my coach, he cheered me. He just totally cheered for me each time I got that rejection. And he would say things like, Oh wow, that’s great. That was some serious courage you showed there. And then he would say, you know, who’s next? And we would move on. It is so helpful to have bookends. If you have a fear like this, and it doesn’t matter, it could be a fear of rejection. It could be, you know, whatever it is, but you educate that person on how they can support you best. And you know, if they’re not in a program or if you’re not in a program where you get trainings on how to be an accountability buddy, you can educate them and say, here’s what I most need.

And I know that might sound really basic, but it is. It’s like putting training wheels on your bike and learning. You can make these big steps by just honoring, Hey, I just need a little bit of support right now. It’s not a big deal. And I’m going to add on one bonus item for you. If you are one of those people who has a fear of rejection, or if there’s any kind of pattern. And that bonus step is just to kind of plan your response in advance. And again, if you’ve read my book, then you know that I walk through this in the book, it’s all about triggers and how you’re going to respond. And you’re going to recreate your response.

All you’re doing, is you are bringing self-awareness to the table before you dive in and throw yourself into that ring. Or as Brene’ Brown likes to say, into the arena. All you do, is that before you take the action, you create a list of things that might trigger you in this situation. And when you have at least three things written down, you then consider how you would typically react in a situation where this happens. Like, say, you hang up the phone, you might hang your head. You’ll tell yourself there’s just no use, and then you’ll spend the rest of the week numbing out. You’ll binge watch Netflix, you eat junk, you don’t do your yoga, whatever it is for you, just watch how that one moment might typically spiral for you.

Then what you want to do is write down in detail, one new action step that you will take in that moment. If that trigger happens instead of the self-defeating behavior. And it could be as simple as, you know, go for a walk or call a friend or water your plants, or work in the garden, or go to a yoga class or read a great book, just write it down as if you were scripting it, describing the feeling in your heart, the desire to collapse, but that you take a deep breath, you get a glass of water, you wander out to the garden and you transplant the Solomon seal. If your me. You can even write down how long this break is going to last and exactly when you’re going to sit back down in your office again and begin again. Really just write it out in detail. In other words, what we’re doing here is we are planning for your neuroses. And I know for some of you, this is going to sound utterly ridiculous, but I doubt if it does, you would have made it this far in this episode, but it really does work. Especially if you have spent years honing old conditioned responses that you have never given a second thought to shifting.

And I’m going to close here with a story that I heard Cheryl Richardson share, uh, Cheryl, Richardson is an author and a coach, and she’s written some really great books, like Take Time For Your Life, but I, I can’t remember where she said this, but she was talking about how she and Debbie Ford and Debbie Ford is an author was also an author. She’s no longer alive, but she, they were very good friends. And she was talking with Debbie. And I guess Cheryl had, was sharing that she had always been very scared before she gave talks or did events or did any kind of workshops, but she was scared of what could go wrong, or if it went badly or if people didn’t like her and Debbie Ford said to Cheryl, something like this, she said, you’re not scared of something going badly. You’re scared of what you will tell yourself about yourself If it does go badly, you’re scared of the voices in your head.

And I’m not sure if it was exactly like that, but that was the gist of it. And that is so true. We’re not ultimately scared of rejection. We’re scared of what we’re telling ourselves about the rejection. We’re scared of the meaning we bring to it. We’re scared of like that same old voice in our head that says, you see, I’ve known it all along. The rejection itself isn’t what we’re frightened of. It’s all the little mind fuck we do in our own head. So keep that in mind, as you consider this weird nebulous thing we call the fear of rejection, because it really is nothing but thoughts. And all of these little action steps are action steps that move you through in spite of the thoughts. And it’s a brilliant way to work with it, but in the end, you start to realize is it has absolutely no power over you.

Thank you for listening today. I’m going to see you guys on our next episode. In the meantime, The Soul-Sourced™ Entrepreneur is my book and it is now available on Audible and it is available in audio on Amazon. So if you want to grab the book, you can get it on Amazon, on Audible, and of course in your local bookstore. I really appreciate you guys getting the book. I appreciate your amazing reviews on Amazon. If you want to leave a review, you can go to Amazon, and I hope that your year is closing out beautifully and masterfully, and I will see you next time. Bye everyone.