Whether it’s a startup accelerator, scholarship, degree, competition or a job — chances are if you’re successful at some of these you’ll be knocked back more times than you know it. But what do you do when you get knocked back?
The short answer is — you’re well ahead of those who haven’t even tried. So congratulations, you’re one of the very few who give it go and that matters (I’m not just being nice here, most people miss opportunities because they have a narrow vision or don’t seek them in the first place).
When you apply for something and don’t get the outcome you wanted, there’s a few things you can do.
Accept it and improve
Reject it any never apply for anything again.
Not do anything.
If you’ve opted to 1, read on.
Ask for constructive feedback + have specific questions like how can I do X better, even make time to ask for this over the phone/in person if possible.
Keep applying for more opportunities and even the same one again.
Ask to have coffee with someone who did get in, you never know what you can learn from them. Generally speaking these people are more generous than you think, especially in the startup world.
Every single person who succeeds at something was knocked back multiple times, it’s the perserverence that results in improvements.
Remember Jack Ma founder of Alibaba was knocked back from a job at KFC and from Harvard 10 times.
Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva —pitched to over 100 investors and got knocked back. They now are known as an Australian ‘Unicorn’ with a valuation of $1 billion.
Personally I’ve been knocked back for over 50 jobs in my earlier days, multiple scholarships and door knocking. I was once knocked back for a job I applied for and subsequently invited to join the board of an affiliated company instead as a Director because I kept a good relationship. I was also knocked back from a scholarship and instead offered mentoring by one of the members of the judging panel.
Simply put persevere, lose the ego and keep working on things because you care about them. Getting knocked back doesn’t define you, how you deal with it does.