Today I’m tackling rejection. Rejection as a business owner is tough. Heck, rejection as a human is tough. Yet, it’s a part of life, a rite of passage; every one gets rejected once, twice, many, many times.
In my experience getting rejected as a business owner is a bit easier than getting rejected as a human. It’s easier to just brush off a lost sale or order with the thoughts that the client/customer, just wasn’t your target. As a human it’s a bit trickier because you feel it. When a company, crush, potential lover, friend, etc rejects you, it’s personal, it makes you wonder if you’re unattractive, not cool, smart or sexy enough. Of course that’s all nonsense because it’s buying into fulfilling or rather living a cookie cutter, societal demand. Chances are you are smart, sexy and cool enough, it’s more that you and that person are not compatible.
This lesson of compatibility is difficult for many. Heck, it was difficult for me. Yet, I had to learn it at a very young age, 11 and it was when my parents moved our family from the variety of New York to the close-mindedness of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up just fine and lovingly remember my middle/high school days spent in the Heights, but I remember the transition of the move was tough and having people pick on me because of my hair and the way I spoke didn’t make it easy one bit.
What I learned from all of this is to be ME. I can’t be anyone, but me. I am so grateful that I learned this at the ripe young age of 11. It stopped me from behaving like a bratty (although, I’m sure I did in one way or another) teenager toward my parents. I did not engage in any activity that was questionable, although I did have my moments of feeling ugly–I was super chubby in a high school full of white girls that not only had money, but were in sororities. Not lying about that one! Yet, even with that, I never really ever felt odd or incapable or full of doubt. If anything, I became more independent and learned to just shake things off with, “well, I’m not changing for anyone. Either you like me as is, or you don’t like me at all, but that’s that.”
I’ve stuck with the philosophy for the past 19 years and I have no regrets. I would be lying if I said that every once in a while I don’t like my hair, or the way my arms are, but the reality is I wake up every morning, pretty happy and roaring to go. I decide who and what I’m going to do and why I’m going to do it. I’m lucky enough to love and trust myself.
Which is why last week when I didn’t get the wedding order invitation and got the, I love your stuff, but I can’t justify spending this amount of money on cards right now, emails, I totally just shook them off. The latter one, I totally understood–the cost is a bit high (although I refuse to alter my pricing for my work) and in this economy when things aren’t the greatest, I can see why stationery may seem like an impulse buy. The earlier, to be quite honest was a bit of a relief.
I say relief because in my conversation with the client, I was told one thing and in the final conversation, I was told that the client’s mother was the one paying for the items and she wanted something more fancy. I scratched my head thinking, “who’s the client here?”, but instead just said, “no worries, I understand. I am more than sure that you’ll find what you’re looking for as there is so much gorgeous wedding stuff out there.” The client did pay me my design fees and mailed me back the samples. Done and Done.
I don’t want any of you readers to think that I’m talking about my client, because I’d never do that. What I’m instead talking about is the fact that I was able to recognize that the client I thought I was working with and the client I would have ended up working with are two very different clients. The energy would have been off and where as I would have gone through great leaps and hoops for the one client, I simply did not want to work with a difficult client in the end. In essence, I was able to realize that this project might have just ended up being more than I bargained for and that I would not be able to supply what the customer needs. Another reason why I can’t take this personally just because a client doesn’t like my work, doesn’t mean they don’t like me. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure they do like me, I just haven’t met their need.
I am definitely one to rise to the occasion, but as an artist, I am also aware that connections and energy have to flow in order for everyone on board to be happy. I don’t ever want to be stressed out about an order, nor do I want my client to feel stressed out. I don’t think it’s ever bad to follow instincts on this. If an initial reaction about a client is a bit of dread, chances are you should follow your instinct. They may be nice enough, but when you’re dealing with custom design/orders, you must follow your instinct. Yes, getting paid and being proud of your work are great benefits from completing an order, but I find myself happier by knowing that I’ve made a client happy and that the client can count on me. That to me is the real result. The money and the pride that come with the result, are like the cherry and whipped cream of a sundae, but are not the priority, like say the chocolate ice cream.
In our culture where everything can be found easily and for cheap, I think this is what stands out, what really makes a difference to a customer. This is another reason, why I refuse to budge on my pricing now. In the beginning, I was just starting and I wanted people to buy my stuff, but when I look back, I’ve created some amazing pieces for dirt cheap prices. I mean, seriously, some of these people got fantastic deals!
In each of those situations, I was proud and eager and would never have said no. They were building blocks. They were also all spectacular ego boosters because everyone loved what I created and told me I was talented and needed to keep doing what I’m doing. Those orders, and a little bit of my feisty 11 year-old-self, helped to get me where I am now–to the point where I can say, thank you for your consideration, but it’s okay for you to go elsewhere.
Not only do I value my own integrity, but I want the client to spend their hard-earned money on something that makes them happy and speaks to them. I would want the same thing as a buyer, so therefore, I will gladly take your rejection and churn it into another positive energy…which we never know where it can lead.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on rejection and how you’ve channeled it into positive energy. I’m all ears!