“So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.'”
–Steve Jobs on his attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.
We’ve all been told NO when we wanted a YES. Rejection stings. It hurts. It sucks…It helps us.
Yes, NOs can help us. (hold on, was that sentence confusing?) Here’s what I mean. Imagine if Atari had simply hired the Steves. Would they have become all they became? Would they have done all they have done? Would I be typing this on a Mac today? Would I be talking in potentially gramatically incorrect questions? No way.
Because they were told NO, they had to figure out a way to make their ideas and computers so good that people would have to buy them and the industry couldn’t ignore them.
My oldest daughter, Faith, has been an actress since she was 6 years old. She loves it. But, all the way up through her junior year of high school she had never landed the lead role in any of her shows. She had gotten a lot of NO. It was frustrating for her and there were many teary nights. (Are you sure you want to be an actress, honey? It might be less painful to just hit yourself in the head with a hammer every couple of weeks.)
But she is driven. Faith taught herself tap via Youtube in the unfinished part of our basement. She talked us into getting her voice and dance lessons. She found an extra choir group to join outside of her school. She auditioned for every play she could find. She applied to every modeling/advertising agency in town until one accepted her.
She has worked and practiced HARD to become the actress/singer/dancer she wants to be.
If she had gotten more YES along the way, I don’t think she would have worked as hard. Why practice so much when you’re already getting all the good parts?
I know that’s true because I asked her, “Faith do you think you would be as good of an actress, dancer and singer today if you had gotten lead roles all along the way?” She said, “No way, Dad. I’m way better now. In fact, I’ve gotten better than some of the kids who used to get the lead all the time. While they were coasting, I was working and growing.”
Faith’s hard work paid off. She got the lead in several plays her junior and senior year of high school. She auditioned and was one of only eight students excepted to a very good Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting program. I have no doubt she can make this into her career.
I also have no doubt that she will face a lot more NOs, and they will continue to make her into the actress she needs to get to hear a lot of YESes.
I had the same experience with no while playing basketball, getting into radio, sales, voice work, and more. Oh, I’ve gotten plenty of NO. I still get plenty of NO. When I let that be the final answer, I’m done. When I look at why I get the NO, and work to get better, I’m often able to turn it into a YES.
What about you? What NO made you better? How can you turn a NO into the motivator to do the work you need to become who you want to be?
The YES you earn will be so very sweet.