The Rejection Experiment
100 days of rejection.
We’ve had a lot of snow here this winter. I usually shovel our driveway. This year I haven’t kept up on it as well. While driving into town I saw a guy in a truck plowing driveways. I pulled over and asked if he had time to clear ours as well.
“Sure.” He said. “Lead the way.”
He followed me back to my place and let me know that he wouldn’t be able to do it because of the angle of our driveway. The blade wasn’t able to get a lot of it. I thanked him for checking it out and then told him I had a request.
I told him I had a big snow outfit in the garage and asked him if he would put it on and make snow angels with me in the front yard? There was the moment of silence while he processed this request and then he burst out laughing while declining the request. “NO, I just got over the flu”, he said, still laughing.
“Oh, ok” I said. And then I asked him if he had not just recovered from the flu if he would have said yes, to which he laughed again and said no. “I made enough of those when I was a kid” and then he made a cold shivering action and off he went. I didn’t feel rejected after this. I think because he was so amused and laughing so much that I started laughing too so instead of feeling rejected and silly I felt good because of the laughter. A good payoff!
Ever been waiting in line and had someone take cuts? Remember when we were kids? “Hey, no cuts! Get in back of the line!”
Well today I decided to take cuts. I was waiting in line to order a cup of decaf coffee. There were three or four people ahead of me and I was at the end of the line. I tapped on the shoulder of the person in front of me. ” Excuse me,” I said. “Would it be alright if I went before you for no good reason?” She gave me a quizical look and then said, “Why not?”, and she stepped aside and let me move up in line.
“Thanks.” I said, as I smiled at her surpised at her wililngness. I noticed the woman in front of me was staring at me and looked concerned or maybe annoyed that I had just made that request. The first woman then said to me,
“Do you want to go in front of her too?”
“Oh, I do. Are you two together?”
“yes” she replied.
So I asked the second woman. “Is it ok if I go in front of you too?”
“No.” she stated emphatically. “Are you in some sort of hurry or something?”
I then explained the reason for my request and proceeded to ask each of them why they answered as they did. What ensued was an interesting and friendly conversation. The second woman seemed to resist the idea but had lots of questions, and offered some advice. Then invited me to sit with them to discuss some more.
This RE challenge was interesting as it required someone to give up something (their place in line) for no apparent reason other than I asked. One yes and one no. I enjoyed the conversation and calmed down quickly. I had been nervous to make the initial request. In fact a realized once I left my body was sweating quite a bit. It had been reacting to what it perceived as danger. I have noticed that each time I do this my body responds that way, as if there is some sort of threat of danger.
How much have I limited myself in the past because of fear of rejection? Oh man… heaps and heaps and heaps!
We recently took a weekend get-away to a snowy mountaintop winter wonderland. We skied, snowshoed and took in the incredible scenery. While there I was getting some coaching of my own. It was powerful and effective coaching and at one point upon really getting to the heart of a particular matter my coach said “Alright Fletcher, I hear what you are saying but it doesn’t sound like you believe it. It doesn’t sound like you have certainty and confidence around it. I want you to get it in your body and proclaim it to the world. I want you to go out on the balcony and shout it to the snow capped mountains.”
UGH!!! I froze up. Why can’t I just believe it in my head. Why do I have to go big with it and do something that feels so vulnerable, silly, embarrassing, and risky? Why do I have to put myself in a position to get REJECTED? Oh, there it was again. Worrying what other people would say, think, how they would respond. Oh man, Now I knew I had to do it and she (my coach) knew that I knew I had to do it.
All my reasoning kicked in. It’s literally zero degrees outside. I am in my robe with nothing on beneath it and barefoot. I could do it later. Besides it’s early morning, what if I wake someone up with my proclamation to the world? Yep, my mind was racing to find excuses to keep me safe, keep me from getting rejected, keep me in survival mode. Remember, rejection feels like death. Fortunately She didn’t listen to my excuses and insisted I take it on. It wasn’t a dare. I knew I needed to do it as part of the rejection experiment. So I did. I opened up the sliding glass door and yelled to the silent valley and the mountain tops above it that who I am is the possibility of transformation. I did it… and nothing happened. I wasn’t struck by lightening, no avalanche, I didn’t die. So… I did it again, with more enthusiasm, and then again. Hey this felt good. 🙂 In fact I yelled 4 or 5 more times to the mountains and then decided to go back in my room. Just as I turned to go I heard a sliding glass door open from one of the other units and began their own yelling. “OK” they shouted, “We get it already!”
Ha! This was perfect. The sting of rejection/embarrassment from being vulnerable and taking a risk. Brene Brown calls it a vulnerability hangover. This was perfect because I got to experience rejection and not dying. This is part of the experiment and while it was challenging and scary I came through it. The crazy thing is that when I describe it, it seems so silly, so little,and not challenging. However when I am in it, it feels larger than life, scary and threatening. Well… I am the stronger for it. A very memorable RE!
As we were leaving that snowy wonderland and heading to the car I saw a couple of the women from room service. They were in a supply room loading up their carts with bedding. I peeked my head in and asked if anyone would like to take a minute and play a round of Rock, paper, scissors. They both paused. One woman walked past me to continue working and the other woman looked at me and after a moment asked Rock, paper, scissors?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Want to play?”
“I guess,” she responded. And so we played a few rounds of it. She said it was an unusual way of adding some interest to the day. I thanked her for playing bid them a wonderful day and was on my way. 🙂 90 more to go!
I had a piece of furniture delivered to our home the other day, and as the two gentleman were moving it into the house I thought to myself “Ah, perfect opportunity for a rejection experiment.” But what do to? I went over to the window and peered out at their truck. I could ask for a ride in their truck. Now I have begun to notice what my mind does when I begin considering a rejection experiment. Once I considered asking them for a ride the next series of thoughts entered my mind in an easy casual succession: That’s not a very interesting rejection experiment, they probably are on a tight schedule and wouldn’t have time for it, why don’t you pass on this one and choose to do one later on today.
That all seemed reasonable after all those were all likely true… WAIT A SECOND! I almost fell for it. My mind almost tricked me. It determined I was about to wander out of my comfort zone. It sensed that even a mild rejection could be in the immediate future and it so kindly offered a few opinions to dissuade me from making the request. The suggestions came across in such a friendly manner that I barely noticed them and almost accepted the advice from that old friend. But fortunately I caught it. I caught resistance in it’s disguise and saw through it’s plan. I knew I had to do it. So as I signed off on the paperwork I mentioned that I had a request.
“Sure, what is it” He asked?
“I was wondering if I could go for a ride in your truck?” I responded. I expected he would say they are on a tight delivery schedule and with all the snow they couldn’t do it. Or, no we have policies which don’t allow that. Instead he didn’t miss a beat.
” You bet. Where do you need to go?”
I hadn’t thought that far ahead as I wasn’t expecting a ride. So I told him, “How about just around the block?”
“Oh, OK. No problem.” he stated.
So I got into their big white delivery truck and off we went. He told me to let him know where to go and I confirmed just literally around the block. I told him the three turns to make and we had a short chat and then we were back at my house. I explained to him why I made such a seemingly non-sense request. He thought it was pretty cool. I thanked him for his time and went back into my house. I feel good. Lessons learned and one more RE down!
Not sure why I thought of this one but when I did it amused me and I thought it would surely result in rejection. I knew I would be in a larger town in a few days which would be the perfect opportunity to do it as they had a furniture store there. When I entered the furniture store I walked straight back to the mattress department and began perusing. The salesperson was assisting a couple on the other side of the showroom so I just hung out and perused until she was available. It took longer than I thought and at one point my mind began with the thoughts… This is taking too long, I have errands to run and my partner is waiting out in the car. Fletcher, you are just going to waste her time anyway.
I actually started to walk out of the mattress department and realized that I was starting to run on autopilot. I would have walked right out of the store having justified it all. Instead I turned around and went back to the area. The sales assistant was now by the entrance so saw me. Her other clients were laying on a bed trying it out. So she had a moment to address me. “Is there something I can help you with?”
“Yes, I was wondering if I could test out one of the mattresses? Specifically I would like to bring in my blanket and headphones, play some music and take a nap for about an hour. Would that be alright?”
“You would like to take a nap?” She said with a surprised look on her face.
“Yes.” I confirmed. I would like to take a nap with my own blanket, and listen to some music. Just for about an hour or so.”
She had a laugh and then told me that they did allow people to simply take the mattresses home and try them out and if for any reason they wished to return them they could.
I explained I was really looking to just take a nap in the store with my blanket and music. At that point the woman laying on the mattress behind her piped in. “That sounds like a good idea.”
Then then salesperson surprised me by saying “Sure, I guess that would be alright, but Monday would be a better for that as it is a slower day.”
I thought for sure this would be a flat out rejection. Wow, again, it just goes to show you. You never know.