Why don't more people start businesses? I don't think it's a lack of ideas. We've all had the thought, 'Hey, wouldn't it be great if someone started XYZ thing' at some point, probably multiple times. Lack of resources certainly holds many back from maximizing their dreams, but that's not what stops most people from getting started. I think many of us are simply scared of rejection

That's completely natural. We're profoundly social creatures with millions of years of evolution behind us in which group rejection was literally life threatening. No wonder being laughed at, dismissed, or ridiculed is so terrifying for so many of us. 

So is there no way around this obstacle if you didn't happen to be born with a supernaturally thick skin or loner disposition? Actually yes, suggested Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd at the Aspen Ideas Festival recently. You can train yourself to transform rejection into fuel. 

Turning rejection into rocket fuel

Wolfe Herd certainly knows a few things about hardship and rejection. A co-founder of Tinder, she resigned in 2014 and shortly thereafter filed a sexual harassment and discrimination suit against the company. Undeterred from her bruising early experience in the online dating space, she then turned around and founded Bumble, a kinder, gentler, more female-friendly alternative to Tinder. 

To put it mildly, investors were not initially impressed by her idea of having women initiate conversations on the app. Wolfe Herd was undeterred, pressing on with her idea and eventually raising $10 million to get it off the ground. Today the company is worth north of $6 billion. 

How did Wolfe Herd manage to weather so much rejection? In Aspen, she claimed the ability to not just ignore naysayers but actually feed off them is her "superpower." 

"I personally love being underestimated. I think it's a total superpower," CNBC reports her telling the crowd. "I think I've trained myself to be motivated by people who say 'no' and create energy from that."

"I just retrained my brain from Day 1: Every time I got a hurtful email or tweet or some investor telling me [the idea for Bumble] was stupid, I just got really excited about it," Wolfe Herd continued. "People generally don't know how to see things that don't exist yet, so you just have to believe in yourself."

A superpower you can actually learn

This might sound like a true superpower -- an ability beyond us mere mortals -- but Wolfe Herd isn't the only entrepreneur insisting that this is actually a trainable ability

One of my favorite long-time editing clients, Sahar Hashemi, is an author and founder of a successful UK coffee chain. At speaking gigs (and in person) Hashemi claims she never saw herself as entrepreneurial material. In fact, she started her career as a lawyer. Only when she threw herself into starting a company did she develop entrepreneurial superpowers (which is why her first book is called Anyone Can Do It). 

Among those superpowers, Hashemi claims, is the ability to turn rejection into energy. She calls it 'notching up no's.' Every time someone tells her no, she takes it as a sign she's on the right track and moving forward with her dreams. No one would bother telling you no if you weren't pushing ahead, after all. Rejection is an essential part of the creation process. In this view, if no one is saying no to you, you're probably either not doing enough or not dreaming big enough. And each no means you're one step closer to success. 

Similarly, Spanx founder Sara Blakely has spoken about how, when she was young, her father would ask at the dinner table what she'd failed at that week. The lesson wasn't to discourage failure but instead that a lack of failure is a sign of a lack of effort and ambition. (You can watch her tell the story in the video below.) 

All of these wildly successful founders are pointing the ambitious but anxious in the same direction. If you want to do big things, you can't avoid rejection. But you can rethink it. Instead of thinking of 'no' as a painful comment on your failings, instead think of it as a sure fire sign that you're making progress. Draw energy from the knowledge that you matter enough to say no to and rejection can actually become fuel for your ambitions.