Sometimes, rejection is the first step toward acceptance.

CreativeLive CEO Chase Jarvis feels the word “no” can be just as much a motivator as a deterrent to the person hearing it. It’s what pushed J.K. Rowling to keep submitting her first “Harry Potter” manuscript after 12 publishers passed on it. Bloomsbury Publishing — that 13th company — agreed, and the rest is history.

On the surface, “no” dampens spirits and halts momentum; it can feel like a step backward. But for those blessed with hindsight, it might’ve been the spark your life or career needed.

Hearing “no” can be a chance to reset. It’s an opportunity to identify a problem and cultivate a solution. Rejection can spark determination and create clear intentions. In short, “no” is often the light that leads down the path best traveled.

Opportunity Instead of Opposition

Kathryn Shaw, an economics professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, did a study on almost 3 million small retailers in Texas. The research revealed that the most successful of those companies were run by leaders with previous entrepreneurial experience.

“No” is a barrier that leaders and companies run into constantly. My company encountered it a lot in its early days. I heard it from investors, board members—even friends—and it never got easier. But it was after the pain of rejection dulled that power began to surge.

Non-acceptance inspired me to look inward at what I wanted to accomplish. I got outside my own point of view to rephrase and retell my story. I wanted to see the naysayers’ perspectives so we could come to a place of compromise and not contrast.

Rejection can be repurposed into progress. Explore the following approaches to turn a “no” into an opportunity to get better.

Rejection can spark determination and create clear intentions. In short, “no” is often the light that leads down the path best traveled.

Rethink your idea of collateral

When financial institutions meet your idea with a “no,” it’s because they’re purposely hedging their bets. They operate under particular benchmarks and figures; if you don’t present those exact numbers, the answer will be a hard-and-fast pass.

Banks won’t hesitate to deny a loan to someone if they don’t think they will be recouped. If things look to be headed that direction, it never hurts to recraft your case. Instead of focusing on your lack of traditional collateral, try bargaining with your company’s value or the clients it has lined up.

Attempt to resituate the word “no” into a motivator to clinch that big order. With that new evidence, a relationship can start to be built. One that, hopefully, leads to a “yes” somewhere down the line.

Readjust your language

People don’t usually reject general ideas. They say “no” to specific requests that intimidate or worry them. Sometimes, it’s the words being used that don’t strike the right note.

For businesses running up against brick walls, a renewed narrative can be just the trick.

Try to center the language around the specific idea you’re presenting. If the previous language read cautiously, make an upbeat revision; if you’ve been pitching a personal story, try making it more universal. Not everyone will understand why your idea is so great initially — all you have to do is communicate until they do.

When I started my company, people were put off by the fact that we sold only one thing. What they didn’t yet see was that each piece was unique in its own right; they never realized the number of possibilities the limited offerings actually presented. It took a long time for me to adjust my communication until I was telling the most compelling story of my business.

Revisit the situation

Sometimes a “no” really is just that. Sometimes I imagine a new design, and I relay that dream to the manufacturer only to be told it’s impossible to import that particular color bar from Europe. Sometimes you come up against cultural differences, material shortages, or you simply have your heart set on something that doesn’t yet exist.

An actual “no” can be the toughest to get motivated about. But this, actually, is what all those other rejections have been training you to face. This is when you’ll have to use your creativity and your ingenuity to either solve the problem or dream up something new.

That begins with understanding why the “no” happened. Use the opportunity to understand your industry, your suppliers, and your materials more deeply. “No” can then serve as a launchpad for a new chapter of your story instead of the closing of a previous one.


Every “no” is an important milestone for your business. It will cause you to shift, adapt, rethink, and dream again. Embrace those rejections like the opportunities they are. Seek out more of them, and the approvals will take care of themselves.

“No” isn’t the end. It’s just another way to get there.

Lee Rhodes founded glassybaby in 2001 after a chance meeting between a tea light and a hand-blown glass vessel during her seven-year bout with cancer. Rhodes developed the idea for glassybaby’s one-of-a-kind votives and drinkers with the core mission of helping cancer patients she met during treatment afford basic needs. Ten percent of the company’s entire revenue goes toward a charitable organization. Rhodes was named Entrepreneur’s 2011 “Entrepreneur of the Year,” EY’s Pacific Northwest “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2014, and received the Women of Valor Award from Sen. Maria Cantwell and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The first time I experienced workplace bullying, it took me about 6 months to recognise it. I’d always see the best in people and would rather blame or doubt myself than believe somebody was purposely trying to undermine my self-confidence. When I finally realised what was happening, I got really mad – at myself. I completely bought into what the bully said and did, but worse, I had become the biggest bully in my life – where they left off, I took over – and amplified it for good measure!

To make myself bully-proof, I knew I had to recalibrate and stop giving myself up, shutting myself down, doubting myself or making someone else’s judgments more valuable than me.

I wondered what it would take to enjoy being me so much that I never again cared about what other people thought, said or did? Could I end bullying without becoming angry, jaded or cynical? I wanted a kinder world, and I realised, it had to start with me being kinder to me.

Here are my tips for becoming bully proof at work and in the world, and never letting anyone or anything stop you!

Choose to be happy

Happiness is powerful. Imagine never giving up your happiness, no matter what occurs? How much power would a bully have then? None! If they are having no effect, would a bully continue? Not for long. As Eleanor Roosevelt so famously put it: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

And as my mentor, Gary Douglas, succinctly says, “Happiness is just a choice.” No one can make you unhappy. The choice is always yours. Practice choosing happy. Literally say: “For the next 10 seconds I choose to be happy.” If you really get stuck, ask someone under the age of 9 about how to get happy and they’ll give you plenty of ideas.

Don’t fixate, out-create

Fixating is how you trap yourself in a mental stranglehold. When we feel trapped, we give ourselves two choices – fight (react) or flight (avoid) – neither of which are empowering. What if you out-created rather than fixated? Out-creating is where you allow yourself to see easy and elegant ways of dealing with things without going into reaction or getting upset. Anytime you catch yourself fixating, reacting or avoiding a bully, ask, “How can I out-create this with ease?”

Bullies need something to push against, and the energy of your avoidance or reaction is exactly what they are seeking. When you do out-creation, there is no longer a wall of energy for them to feed off and they have nowhere to go.

Cut out self-judgment

This might be the moment you take to ask yourself, “Who really is the biggest bully in my life?” After all, we really are our own greatest critics. If you truly desire to change bullying in the world – change you first. Empower you. Stop assuming and believing that you are wrong. It might seem like an impossible habit to break, but I know you can and I have some tools to help.

First: Gratitude.  Gratitude and judgment cannot co-exist.
Second: Acknowledgement. Look at how awesome you are and what you have created in your life.
Third: Wonder about what else is awesome about you that you can choose to be in the world.

Ask these three questions every day, several times a day:

  • What am I grateful for about me?
  • What is right about me that I am not getting?
  • What am I capable of that no one else is?

Add more to your life that allows you to be you

To steal another quote from my mentor, “The purpose of life is to have fun. Are you having any?” What creative pursuits, hobbies, or interests can you add to make life more fun? How many more ways can you enjoy being you and expressing yourself?

Bullies get their kicks from making you feel wrong for being you. But what is the value of a bully’s opinion in the face of a life deeply enjoyed?  You guessed it – nothing!  Enjoy being you, have fun. You’ll soon realise it isn’t worth giving up being you for anyone or anything.

Get out of your comfort zone

Bullies pick on difference. Why is this? Because that difference is exactly what is great about you that they don’t want you to be and probably feel threatened by. If you are willing to stretch out of your comfort zone, you will begin to embrace your difference, rather than hide it. You will discover more capacities and ways for you to thrive.

When you turn up your difference in the face of bullies, you also inspire others to do the same. Ask yourself, “What difference can I choose to be today that I haven’t chosen before?

Nurture your body

Are you kind to your body, or do you judge it? Oops! Time to change that? Being judged or bullied doesn’t work for you and it definitely doesn’t work for your body. Start taking one hour daily and one day a week to nurture your body. Use this time to reconnect, have gratitude for your body and most importantly, enjoy your body.

The nurturing you give your body, it will give back to you tenfold. You could even go through all questions and tools in this article and apply them to your relationship with your body. I wonder what that would create?

Do things you think you can’t

One of the greatest bullying tactics we use against us is, “I can’t”. A great trick to get yourself out of the habit is to ask a friend (someone who truly has your back) to say, “You are right, you can’t,” any time you say, “I can’t”. Try it out and notice how often you think, “Shut up, yes I can!” It’s shameless, simple reverse psychology and dynamically effective.

The other thing you can do is ask yourself daily, “What can I do that no one else can?” and then just try something. Have an adventure. Say yes and know that you’ll figure out the rest!

Be honest with yourself about what you desire

Most of us don’t grow up being encouraged to create our lives as we would like, beyond outside influence. We are taught what’s normal and appropriate and how to create our lives based on other people’s expectations and ideals. What if you were the one who finally asked you, “If I could choose anything, what would I choose?” and “What would I like my life to be like?” If you’re willing to be honest and vulnerable with yourself about what you truly desire to create in the world, your true voice will always shine through.


A workplace can be one of many places where you get to enjoy and explore being you and using your capacities to create what you know is possible. Bullies may try to stop you, but are you truly stoppable? When you commit to embracing and enjoying all that is great about being you in the world, bullies will become very insignificant players in the awesome tapestry of your life.

Amanda Holland is a freelancer who works with businesses, companies, entrepreneurs, experts and thought-leaders across the globe. When she realised that her childhood dreams of becoming a modern day Indiana Jones were more exciting in her head than in reality, she decided to go on an adventure and work in a city where she didn’t speak the language – Kobe, Japan. After returning to Australia, Amanda became a Right Voice for You facilitator, a specialty program from personal development organisation Access Consciousness.

The pressures of modern business life are often draining. We juggle priorities – work, family, friends, interests – and often the pace feels overwhelming. Whether you are going through significant changes at work, or just in life in general, here are some tips to build your resilience.

Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back or recover well from change. I am sure you all know someone who is resilient.

They have the ability to carry on regardless of what life throws at them.

They see changes as opportunities for growth, and have a calm confidence in their own ability to cope. So what characteristics do these people possess that enables them to do this?

The research around resilience points to four key characteristics you need to find:

1. Confidence

Resilient people feel competent, they have effective strategies for coping with stress. They have strong self esteem, they focus on their skills and abilities and they have a learning and growth mindset. When things go wrong they ask themselves, “What did I learn from that?”.

2. Purpose

Resilient people have a clear sense of purpose and clear values, they have a strong drive and direction with established goals. They are persistent when setbacks happen and they tend to have well developed problem solving skills. They have a strong sense that their lives add value.

3. Social Support

Resilient people build good relationships with others because they understand that seeking support can help individuals overcome adverse situations, rather than trying to cope on their own. They also provide support to others, but not at the expense of self. They nurture themselves because they understand that if they are not strong they are can’t support others.

4. Adaptability

Resilient people are flexible and adaptable to changing situations which are beyond their control, they choose their battles wisely. They cope well with change because they are optimistic – they see the opportunity rather than the threat.

So how can you go about building your own resilience? Here are some tips:

  • Work on building your positive attitudes and emotions
  • Spend time getting clarity on your sense of purpose
  • Develop coping strategies and use them
  • Establish and nurture a supportive social network
  • Look after yourself – exercise, rest, eat well
  • Create time to do the things you enjoy
  • Recognise and develop your strengths

Give these a try and see how it strengthens your ability to cope with change in your life.

I’ll finish with a favourite quote of mine from William Somerset Maugham:

 Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.

Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations. .  Ros’ expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.

For more on developing resilience, visit to pick up your complimentary copy of Ros’ report “Thriving in Change” and to sign up for her free audio series “Thriving in the Midst of Change”.

Ros also runs the Shaping Change Inner Circle, an exclusive membership network for driven leaders around the world who are passionate about making a difference, building successful businesses and leveraging the talents and skills of their people.