After being turned down by an investor, Jia Jiang faced crippling anxiety whenever he faced the prospect of rejection. Determined to conquer his fear, he created his Rejection Therapy project, hoping to be turned down 100 times in 100 days.
If this sounds familiar, it might be because Jiang made headlines when his colorful request of a Krispy Kreme employee turned into the random act of kindness heard around the world. You see, Jiang walked in to his local Krispy Kreme and asked an employee, Jackie, for a bizarre favor: He wanted five colored donuts in the shape of the Olympic rings. And he wanted them in the next 15 minutes. Not only did Jackie deliver the donuts — but she didn’t charge him for them!
Now that his 100 days’ journey is over, we caught up with Jiang to find out if he’s conquered his fear and how he thinks people should get over rejection.
Photo: Jia gives a TED Talk about rejection. (Facebook)
ACT: For our readers who aren’t familiar with the idea, what is rejection therapy?
JIANG: Rejection Therapy is a game that requires people to seek rejections on purpose by making difficult requests to strangers. The goal is to desensitize the participants from the fear and pain of rejection.
ACT: You’ve been on a 100-day journey to face 100 potential rejections. How has your opinion about rejection changed since day 1?
JIANG: Here is what I learned about rejection that I didn’t know before:
+ In life, rejection is certain. Once you accept this fact, it will be easier to anticipate and to overcome moments of rejection.
+ Detach yourself from the results of a request, and you will become more confident and increase your chance for acceptance, or a “yes.”
+ The worst part of rejection is the fear of it. Do not let the fear prevent you from making your request.
+ Rejection is nothing more than someone else’s opinion. We should never consider it as truth about ourselves.
+ If we talk to enough people without giving up, a rejection will become an acceptance.
ACT: Which requests were you most surprised to see people agree to?
ACT: Why do you want to interview President Obama about rejection?
JIANG: I am an entrepreneur whose life-long goal is to help the world overcome the fear of rejection. President Obama overcame all kinds of odds to become the first minority President in the United States. I want to interview him to get his take on rejection and use it to inspire other people.
ACT: What advice do you have for someone who is, like you once were, facing a fear of rejection?
JIANG: No one can overcome any fear by staying at home and thinking about it. You have to go out and face rejection. Rejection is really just someone’s opinion. It says as much as about the rejecter as you. Don’t take it personally. Even if you are afraid of rejection, you still need to go out and do it. The price for not putting yourself out there is rejection by default.
ACT: What the best way to get over a rejection (whether it’s from a crush or the college of your dreams!)?
JIANG: The best way to deal with rejection is to know what rejection is — an opinion. With that understanding, things become a lot easier.
The second thing is to use rejection as motivation. We hear stories that great writers such as C.S. Lewis and athletes such as Michael Jordan constantly use rejection to motivate themselves to perform at a higher level.
Lastly, keep trying. There is no such thing as permanent rejection. It’s statistically impossible to have everyone in the world reject an idea or person. Rejection is just a number. If you keep asking, you will get a ‘yes.’
ACT: You’ve survived the 100 days of rejection! What’s next?
JIANG: I am working on a book, accepting speaking engagements and continuing to write my blog — I want to keep inspiring others to overcome their fear of rejection.
Half Of Us
Help learn how to deal with anxiety and loss with Half of Us.
The Rejection Project
Check out Jiang's blog and learn more about his rejection project.