If You Fear Rejection, Try The “No” Game

Sah Kilic

This simple mindset should 10x your opportunities.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4ZicZC_0XpZDHve00Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

If you’re like me, you get the same feeling every time you see an opportunity — and the opportunity could be anything.

  • When you come up with a new idea.
  • When you find a potential customer.
  • When you come across the perfect job description.
  • When you find a special someone.

In every case, you can sense the feeling, the fear — and it’s hesitation.

You don’t step up and try your luck, you write down the idea into your ever-growing notepad, you avoid turning the potential into actual, and you don’t apply for the job.

Why in the world would you not try when the downside is so low, right?

This baffled me until a few years ago when I hammered it down with some math that we’ll get to, and solidified it later with a great book.

Here’s how it goes.

The Battle of the Two Selves

The prefrontal cortex or your higher-order self knows that the reward is 20x to 30x that of the risk. There’s basically no risk involved at all; logic points to taking a shot, but no, evolution comes into the equation.

Your pre-historic self is turning the dial up on instinct, while your evolved critical thinking self is trying to talk reason, and it happens in such a way that even having a mild idea of what’s going on will help you immensely.

There’s a long list of cognitive biases (or mental shortcuts) that slap you in the face every time you’re presented with an opportunity.

The one that stops you from going after what you want the most is the one that you need to use to your advantage — and that one is loss aversion bias.

Loss Aversion

People’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains. And I’d go a step further — it doesn’t even need to be equal gains.

Like we mentioned a few paragraphs ago, the gain could be enormous, and we still cave to our pre-historic self and run away from the opportunity.

Because we don’t see things as a gain or an opportunity, we see things as a potential for loss.

How much I missed, simply because I was afraid of missing it — Paulo Coelho

The fear of looking like a fool, being laughed at, failing, or in essence, losing, is what stops you from going up to someone and asking them out or applying for a job you think you’re slightly unqualified to do.

It’s a fear of rejection.

It stops you from starting your business; it prevents you from pursuing something with even a tiny amount of pain attached.

I know because I’ve been there, I’ve talked to people who are there, and the good news is that there is most definitely a way out.

This Is What Loss Aversion Looks Like

In most cases, you’re dealing with three things; an opportunity, a high number of failures, and very low risk.

Does that remind you of a particular profession? Someone that deals with being rejected all-day every day?

For those who have always been the one saying “no thanks,” let’s exercise a little empathy for people in this line of work — a salesperson.

A salesperson is a prime example of someone who, by the nature of their work, deals with loss aversion — hourly.

And yours truly was, for a brief period, one of those guys — and to this day, some of the best advice I got about people was from that summer job.

Your Job Isn’t to Sell; It’s to Be Rejected.

Anyone can sell something to someone. It’s as simple as saying, “Hi, will you buy this thing?”

To which they reply, “Sure, I’ll take it!”

Getting funded, accepted into a college, or green light to date is easy; they say yes, and you’re off — it’s getting rejected that’s hard. That’s the work.

Salespeople are paid to take the “no,” they’re paid for the failures, for the constant smile, and airtight pitch. Their worth is in their ability to be rejected and stay strong.

The best salespeople aren’t fantastic at selling; they have a rock-solid resolve and a powerful mental vault. When they go to work, they know they’re going to get more losses than wins, and yet still do it.

They can somehow turn off this loss aversion, but how?

It’s a Numbers Game

I was the guy that would knock on your door and try to sell you a subscription. Yes, the most hated of people.

My supervisor would say, “Remember, after you keep it consistent, it’s all about the number of doors you can knock on.”

And he was right. It doesn’t matter what your percentage of success is; if you try enough times, you’ll succeed — all you have to do is focus on being consistent and keep knocking.

This subtle change in thinking means I’ve not focused on the gain or loss anymore; I’m focused on the consistency, the pitch, the craft — the value proposition.

And if I knocked on enough doors, I’d make the sales. This turned into a game that I’d play in every facet of life, one that’s let me receive more opportunities than I could have ever hoped to take.

Beating Loss Aversion: The “No” Game

Remember the actual job description of a salesperson we mentioned a few paragraphs ago? The ability to take the countless no’s?

That’s where you make the mental switch, that’s where loss aversion works for you.

When you’re out their pursuing customers, trying to get dates, launching products, you need to rewrite what you’re doing.

You need to change your outlook; change the way you’re looking at an opportunity.

You’re not trying to make a sale; you’re trying to get rejected.

How many no’s can you get? I bet I can get more — that’s the name of the game.

The rules: You have to try your best while still getting a “no.”

  1. Success is getting as many no’s as possible — that’s the gain.
  2. Failure is getting a small number of no’s — that’s the loss.

We instinctively try to avoid a loss. Well, in this game, the loss is getting a few no’s, so we need to get as many no’s as possible to win.

Not enough no’s = bad
A lot of no’s = excellent

Are my friend and I trying to get into a new industry? How many rejection letters can we get? The one with the most wins.

Am I writing the best article I can? Why be anxious about it? I’m a winner if it flops.

We’re on a night out, how many jokes can we fail to land? I better go up to that table and fail, because if not, I’m three fails down from my buddy, five fails down from my previous night out — I’d be losing, and I hate losing.

We need to play games where failing is the carrot, and not failing is the stick.

Do you see what’s happening here?

Your higher-order thinking knows that the more opportunities you take, the higher your chances of success even if you fail many times before you get there.

What you’re doing with The “No” Game is rewiring your loss aversion. You’re forcing yourself to honestly believe that every time you fail, that’s a win because you’re getting closer and closer to your goal.

This isn’t misinformation; it’s not a lie.

Yes, it’s some mental gymnastics, but it’s very much real. It’s a reality that your critical self knows, and because we know, we can play the game.

It’s the same mentality salespeople have, and it sure was the same trick I used when working doors in random neighborhoods.

The more no’s I got, the more excited I was. Why? Because it was one more loss out of my way, and victory was around the corner.

Hesitation and fear come from a place of instinct; it’s probably the most human feeling we can experience.

Understand that it’s nothing more than instinct; exercising the executive functions by deliberately weighing up the risks and rewards is the right strategy to act.

Cognitive biases dictate a lot of our actions, and loss aversion, like a lot of concepts on the list, is pre-historic and doesn’t apply to your modern-day life.

Playing mental games like the “No” Game or merely putting opportunities above the pain of loss is a sure-fire way to win.

  • You’ll win as your anxiety goes down.
  • You’ll win as you get better at pursuing ideas.
  • You’ll win as your confidence goes up.

And of course, it’s always nice when you get a “Yes.”

Enjoy that success, friend.

Best of luck,

— Sah

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If you want a tour guide to everything mindset and digital, I'm your guy. I cover self-improvement, travel, entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, technology, and media. Find more of my stuff at https://sah.substack.com/

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