Early rejections

In his paper on Self-Efficacy, psychologist Albert Bandura writes:

“In his delightful book, titled, Rejection, John White provides vivid testimony, that the striking characteristic of people who have achieved eminence in their fields is an inextinguishable sense of personal efficacy and a firm belief in the worth of what they are doing. This resilient self-belief system enabled them to override repeated early rejections of their work. Many of our literary classics brought their authors countless rejections. James Joyce’s, the Dubliners, was rejected by 22 publishers. Gertrude Stein continued to submit poems to editors for 20 years before one was finally accepted. Over a dozen publishers rejected a manuscript by e. e. cummings. When he finally got it published, by his mother, the dedication read, in upper case: With no thanks to… followed by the list of 16 publishers who had rejected his manuscript. Early rejection is the rule, rather than the exception, in other creative endeavors. The Impressionists had to arrange their own exhibitions because their works were routinely rejected by the Paris Salon. Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime. Rodin was rejected three times for admission to the ‘cole des Beaux-Arts.

The musical works of most renowned composers, were initially greeted with derision.

Stravinsky was run out of town by enraged Parisiens and critics when he first served them the Rite of Spring. Entertainers in the contemporary pop culture have not fared any better. Decca records rejected a recording contract with the Beatles with the non-prophetic evaluation, “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out.” Columbia records was next to turn them down.

Theories and technologies that are ahead of their time usually suffer repeated rejections.

The rocket pioneer, Robert Goddard, was bitterly rejected by his scientific peers on the grounds that rocket propulsion would not work in the rarefied atmosphere of outer space. Because of the cold reception given to innovations, the time between conception and technical realization is discouragingly long.

The moral of the Book of Rejections is that rejections should not be accepted too readily as indicants of personal failings. To do so is self-limiting.”

If you aspire to work in creative work, brace yourself, and expect a certain level of rejection. In fact, if you’re not experiencing a certain level of rejection, that might mean you’re not putting yourself out there as much as you could be either.

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