You’re a technologist, and you want to know how to start a company or a product, how to generate a division or develop a new opportunity.
Get rejected: Fail.
You’ve heard it before, and you wonder if it’s a truism. Of course it is. But it’s also true. You need to believe in yourself, your idea, and your direction, despite and thanks to failure.
My friend, Monica Byrne, did a piece for the Washington Post on the rejections she has faced. She calls it her anti-resume.
Even if you don’t know how to believe 100% in your idea, pretend to often, then doubt yourself just long enough to make it better. Faith and failure go together; if you didn’t fail, you would not need faith.
Faith can make you stupid; don’t get me wrong, and The New York Times published a superior piece about the experience vs. audacity problem in Silicon Valley recently. But faith can also energize you and help you ignore the niggling voices telling you your idea isn’t good enough.
Rejection is a special kind of failure. It’s other people not choosing you, or your idea. It might teach you something different to do, or it might make you doubt whether you can ever succeed at what you’re doing, but the process of self-examination and self-qualification is invaluable.
You’ll note, if you look at Monica’s anti-resume spreadsheet, that she has drafts and versions in there. She did not wait until it was perfect. (As if that ever happens for writers. In my own daily fiction pages these days — 30 years of writing, and I am still trying and #failing — I have rewritten a scene foundation three times. Still not good enough. Won’t ever be perfect.)
Iteration is important, and it takes humility. Failure and rejection are precious. Treasure them.