[This post is part of a series on turning rejections into motivation. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
We’ve all been demoralized and discouraged by rejection. Have you ever been energized and motivated by one? Has one ever been the driving force behind a major projects in your life?
So-called failures are often the learning opportunities launching the successes of many of the most successful people I’ve known or heard of. I presume you’ve found that pattern too.
Rejections can work the same way, motivating you to succeed beyond what they expected you to. In my case, some of the most rewarding parts of my life and greatest achievements were motivated by rejection.
One of the first people Matt and I, Submedia’s co-founders, spoke to about the technology was a patent attorney. Neither of us had started a business from scratch, certainly not one requiring millions of dollars of funding, contracts with subway systems across the country and around the world, and so on. We were two guys in our mid-twenties with an idea.
I no longer remember the substance of what the lawyer said about the patentability of the idea or what working with him would be like, but I remember his thoughts on the business side. He said we shouldn’t bother with it because it was too big for us and we wouldn’t be able to do it. He was trying to discourage us.
Now starting Submedia, like starting any company, involved risks, challenges, and so on; and we didn’t have the skills at the time to handle everything, but people had started other companies and as far as we were concerned if they could do it so could we. Looking back now I’d add that if we couldn’t do it but enjoyed the process it would count as success to me.
In any case, I don’t think he could have galvanized and motivated us more. I don’t think it was to prove him wrong — as a result of his words, I kept his card to remind me. I’ve had no interest in telling him of our success. I couldn’t believe people operated with such fear and I wanted the world to know you didn’t have to be governed by it. Building a company would help share that perspective.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great patent lawyers and Submedia has spent a small fortune on its patent portfolio, but I never spoke to that guy again.
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