By Jack Cumming

Last night, the students at a boarding school near us gathered around a bonfire to burn their college rejection letters. It’s a longtime school tradition. Nowadays, they print out emails to burn, but the symbolism endures.

Rejection Stings

We all can benefit from burning our rejection letters. Think about the many times you have had a great idea to take senior living to the next level. Was your idea welcomed? Did you ever see it tested in practice? Or, did you experience the pain of rejection? It happens to all of us. It happens often.

Rejection is painful, especially when it’s not warranted. Many of those college rejections were not warranted. There can be no doubt that some of those rejected would have benefited more from the college experience than others who were admitted. It’s hard not to take it personally.

Not Now; Maybe Later

It’s the same with those ideas of yours that go nowhere. Don’t forget them. They may still be valid with more accepting, more aware management. But, for now, get rid of the pain of rejection, symbolically burn the rejection letter, continue your role in support of residents, and return to your loyalty toward your boss and your boss’s bosses.

One maxim of business is that the role of a subordinate is to help the boss to succeed. You did that by offering your idea. Congratulations! It wasn’t accepted. Sad! Get over it and move on.

It’s a Mosaic

The time may come when you no longer see a future where you are now. Those interactions, positive or negative this one filled with the pain of rejection mount up like tiles in a mosaic. Either the emerging picture is one of beauty that exhilarates you, or the emerging picture is that of an exit door.

The ability to handle rejection with grace is a pillar of emotional intelligence. Those boarding school youngsters were learning that skill while sitting around a bonfire watching the flames of rejection spiral into the nighttime sky. We all residents, staff, and executives can benefit from a rejection bonfire.