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Why even the best employees need to experience failure

April 7, 2015, 11:30 AM UTC

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 Perry Yeatman, CEO of Perry Yeatman Global Partners.

Like it or not, dealing with rejection is an important part of professional development. I have dealt with it and I don’t know a single successful woman who hasn’t – professionally, personally, or both. So clearly, being rejected in and of itself doesn’t have to be an indicator of future failure. In fact, channeled properly, rejection can be something that makes you all the more determined to win or advance the next time. That has been true for many of the female CEO’s I’ve worked with.

Furthermore, rejection didn’t just motivate them; it also made them more resilient. And it helped them realize that no matter how successful they’ve become, they will never be perfect. Recognizing and remembering that even you – as great as you may be – won’t always come up with the best answer, is no small feat. However, it’s an important lesson to learn—especially in leadership, where success revolves around effectively working with teams. Leaders need to be aware of both the benefits of their strengths and the pitfalls of their weaknesses.

That said, I’m not suggesting you should seek out rejection. I’m just saying you shouldn’t be afraid of it. Its most likely going to happen to everyone at some point–and likely more than once. And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it probably means you haven’t been taking enough risks. So don’t fear rejection, instead focus on how to recover. And for that, my advice is simple:

  1. Learn to view rejection as one of the best learning opportunities you could have.
  2. When rejection does happen, don’t shut down or blame others. Instead, seek honest feedback, reflect, and learn from it.
  3. Once you’ve learned all you can from the situation, decide what you’ll do differently in the future.
  4. Pick yourself up and move forward.

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

You’ve made a mistake at work. Now what? by Stacia Pierce, CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises.

How rejection made me a better employee (27 years later) by Liz Wiseman, president of Wiseman Group.

How to bounce back from rejection at work by Kathy Collins, CMO at H&R Block.

The upside of failure by Cathy Baron Tamraz, chairwoman and CEO of Business Wire.

3 steps to overcome rejection at work by Shiza Shahid, co-founder and ambassador of Malala Fund

How to avoid overreacting at work by Mary Civiello, president of Civiello Communications Group.

Why the best leaders are defined by their failures by Alyse Nelson, CEO and co-founder of Vital Voices Global Partnership.

5 stages of rejection (and how to deal) by Beth Fisher-Yoshida, director of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program at Columbia University.

Keep making mistakes at work? Here’s how to recover by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

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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