A World Without “No”

Rejection is easily the most painful part of the writing process. Not only is rejection itself inevitable but — unless you’re super fucking enlightened — so is the feeling that a rejection of your work is a rejection of you as a person.

Photographer and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis urges freelancers to“get used to hearing ‘no’”. He invites you to imagine a world where you have a 90% rejection rate. That number sounds high until you consider that it would mean landing 10 new clients for every hundred emails you send out. At that rate, it wouldn’t be long before you have more work than you know what to do with and your “no” problem becomes a “yes” problem.

Image: YouTube

Now take that a step further, imagine a world where you never have to get a “no” from anyone, a 0% “no” rate. Sure you, you would be spared the sting of rejection and fear of failure, but consider the downside:

In a world without “no” you become a slave to whatever you think you want. You no longer have the ability to learn from failure and setbacks, and you can forget about your dream of doing work that matters because you’ll never be told that your work isn’t quite there yet and therefore, you’ll never be pushed to improve.

“No” isn’t just part of the process, it is the process. What you call style or voice in your work is largely shaped by all the wrong turns and dead ends that forced you to make aesthetic choices along the way. (Ryan Holiday wrote a terrific book on this phenomenon, The Obstacle is the Way.)

“No” isn’t just something to be tolerated while you wait for a “yes,” “no” is something to be embraced. “No” saves you from wasted time and effort and from roads better not taken.