Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn
Courtesy of Ruder Finn, Inc.
By Kathy Bloomgarden
March 24, 2015

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How should every successful woman deal with rejection? is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

We’ll all experience rejection many times in our lives and careers and the pain that comes with it is unavoidable. But rejection can either break your spirit or lead to inspiration. The next time you come face-to-face with rejection ask yourself these three questions:

Was is personal or project related?
There’s a difference. Yes, sometimes we make mistakes that only we, ourselves, can take the blame for. And these instances should be recognized so we can prevent the same mistake from happening again in the future. But there is also project failure; this should not be taken personally. In today’s world, innovation and failure go hand-in-hand. You cannot innovate without experiencing failure at some point. A project failure shows you are willing to take risks and know when to move on if a project is not living up to its expectations.

Is it better to walk away or accept the challenge?
Once you feel that you are personally rejected, it can lead to embarrassment and discouragement. This could eventually make you reluctant to speak up in meetings or offer your point of view – hurting your credibility. Use failures as an opportunity to motivate and empower yourself. A lot can be learned from tackling challenges head on and pursuing new opportunities when others would rather give up. Push yourself to learn from these experiences, even when you feel uncomfortable or uncertain.

How should I react?
When facing rejection, the most important thing to do is react appropriately. Be in control of your actions. Accept your failure, rise to the challenge, and find the courage to move forward. You must interpret rejection not as a knock-you-down moment, but instead as a learning experience leaving you stronger, smarter, and more motivated than before. Identify how you can learn from your rejection and use it as an opportunity to pursue new opportunities. As Winston Churchill once said, “success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How should every successful woman deal with rejection?

How to successfully deal with rejection at work by Beth Monaghan, principal and co-founder of InkHouse.

How to shake off rejection like Taylor Swift by Beth Comstock, senior vice president and CMO of General Electric.

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