Rejection Proof: An Experiment Of Mental Fear

How many of us like the word “no”? In most contexts, not much. In fact, we dread it so much that we avoid scenarios that have a chance at the word emerging. The fear of rejection is so perverse that we’ll default into the hand we are dealt rather than making any confrontation.

Nobody felt there more than Jia Jiang. After not meeting his childhood expectations of entrepreneurial success, he decided to quit his job and start designing an app. He and his team thought it would be a massive success and quickly attempted to find investors. Unfortunately, no matter how hard they tried, Jiang kept receiving “no” after “no”.

For Jiang, all the rejections were overwhelming. But instead of accepting them as any sane person would do, he decided to try something different. He began a hundred day challenge to make odd requests to strangers to overcome his fear of rejections. And he certainly got rejected. A lot.

The requests varied from asking for $100 to being a StarBucks greeter to getting Krispy Kreme donuts in the shape of Olympic Rings. Jiang would upload his asks on YouTube and keep experimenting with crazier and crazier requests.

Rejection Proof is a culmination of Jiang’s journey. It starts off in an autobiographical fashion, describing the path and motivations that led him to start this challenge, and how he dealt with the fame from it. And then Jiang is able to shift the chapters into conceptual lessons he learned. He’ll jump around between rejections as examples for thematic purposes. You’ll learn what constitutes the fear behind rejection, ways to position for a “yes”, and why it’s always worth asking what’s on your mind.

I personally loved this book just off the concept alone. Who is crazy enough to make strange requests to complete strangers for 100 days straight just to get over his fear of rejection? It’s amazing to me that Jiang was willing to do this and document his journey and lessons.

I think Rejection is a fear that anyone faces. Even if we don’t believe so, we filter out the requests we make because we say “no” to ourselves before anyone else. But Jiang shows that even with crazy requests, people are willing to help you. Actually seeing the experience of what this is like removes part of the curtains I put over myself when it comes to asking others of things.

The book leaves you in a fun mood. I’ve had many moments where I’d just laugh at the weird ideas Jiang would come up with (and when they’d still work!). And I think it’s worth learning to have fun with rejection the way Jiang has. It makes us less dreadful of the ever-present “no” so that we can push through for those few moments of “yes”.

A good introduction may be Jiang’s TED talk which you can watch here. If you’d like to jump into the book itself, here’s an affiliate link to buy it on Amazon. It’s a relatively short read.