"To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." ~Aristotle.

Rejection is an inevitable part of the journey for anyone who wants to achieve anything.

Even for the most secure and experienced entrepreneur/writer/artist/musician, rejection stings. How can we delineate between useless criticism and meaningful constructive feedback?

How do we know whether someone has a point we should heed when we are sharing our dreams & ideas with the world?

It's a delicate balancing act: thickening our skin while still remaining open to valuable input from the "experts" in our field.

Our 15-year old son is a budding writer (which of course makes me ecstatic). For his Honors English class, he recently turned in several chapters of a novel he's writing. The night before he submitted it, he excitedly shared, "I spent 4 hours on this. I could have done it in much less time and still received an A. But I didn't want to stop writing! The ideas kept coming!"

In today's cookie-cutter educational system that revolves around standardized testing, sometimes highly creative, original thinking is discouraged.

I wanted to bottle his enthusiasm so that I could release it back to him in the future, when he inevitably will have the wind sucked out of his sails by a cynical critic that is not qualified to weigh in on his abilities.

Rowling is in great company. James Joyce's masterpiece "Ulysses" was also turned down by numerous publishers, and so was George Orwell's "Animal Farm."

In the music industry, artists can anticipate rejection 50% - 80% of the time, when you factor in auditions, record deals, demo tracks, song lyrics, etc.  Record labels turned down U2 and Madonna, telling them they weren't ready to go public.

Honest Tea Founder Seth Goldman did over 1,000 pitches and landed 120 investors. "I took $25,000 at a time. There were plenty of times when I was financially out of business. But you need just enough fumes to keep on going," he shared.

Minimizing the emotional impact of rejection is an exercise in mental fortitude.

We can not allow the opinion of one, or even a select few, derail our pursuit of our dreams. We can not empower the voice of others to shape our destiny. 

How can you rise above the negativity and remain positive, even in the face of defeat?

1: Know that you are not alone. Everyone around you faces rejection. It's part of the human experience.

2: Acknowledge your courage. Following your dream, taking the risk to reach for something bigger, and asking others to believe in you is bold!  Honor your own courage.

3: Don't empower the critics.  Press forward to achieve your goal. Do not retreat back to your place of comfort and safety. This may mean revisiting where you are right now, and making changes or improvements to try again. Or, it may mean pursuing alternative paths to move your idea forward.

4: Ensure your circle of support is strong, genuine, and honest. Your circle of support is essential when you are stepping outside of your comfort zone. Think of yourself as someone walking on the high-wire. Knowing that you have a net below you to catch you will empower you to move through the experience with grace and confidence. Your inner circle is your safety net, and trust that they will catch you when you stumble.

5. Silence your inner critic. Above all, eliminate all negative self-talk. Your inner voice will be the single most important voice in your process to move to the next level. You must believe - and communicate to yourself every day - that you are capable and worthy of achieving your vision. There may be days when you are the only one that believes this. Your self-messaging may make the difference between your success and failure on particularly challenging days.

Failure and rejection are two of our greatest educators. They shine the light on our weakest links, and also instill in us the strength we need to move forward. Ultimately, we are all stronger because of them.

Wishing you the best of luck as you move forward in your pursuits!