I Hate Rejection!

I hate rejection. Rejection sucks. Even though I’ve been rejected more than I care to remember in my life, every time it happens it’s like someone rips my heart out of my chest. It’s not that nothing good happens between rejections. Truth be told, a lot of wonderful things happen. I’ve had more successes than failures. Rejections remind you that you’re alive and willing to try new things. It still blows though. Nobody likes to be turned down.

My recent bout with rejection stems from being on an extensive job search for my next career opportunity. It’s funny what your mind tells your inner you when you get rejected. You better have plenty of positive mantras stored up to respond to all the bullshit lies your own brain spits at you. Maybe it’s your ID or your EGO that’s hurt and offended? Or maybe it’s even my SUPER-EGO? How dare they didn’t hire me? What are they thinking? You loser. Nobody likes coming in second. Do they?

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Rejection fosters resilience and nurtures perseverance. Even when I was a kid studying classical piano, I hated coming in second. I strived for first, even though I didn’t always get it. By the time I was a junior in high school I had opportunities to study at Berklee College of Music, Julliard, and Oberlin. At the end of my junior year I had earned honorable mention in an international piano recording competition. Honorable mention? You might as well not have mentioned me at all, I recall thinking. Turned out that the Lord had other plans. I certainly can’t play like I did back then now. But I keep trying. 

Rejection sucks. After I spent some time in radio and tv broadcasting I learned some more about rejection, as if my first Valentine (a girl named Sandy)  turning me down in 2nd grade wasn’t sad enough. I put together audition tapes, only to have someone else get the job, or not even warrant a call-back (that’s when employers used to call instead of reject you via email or text). Those were the days.

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Certainly, as an aspiring writer, I have had my share of rejection. Almost published doesn’t count for much. Getting published in a newsletter or on an online site doesn’t quite compare to writing the Great American Novel. No sir. 

Spending nearly 25 years in the food business, I faced rejection daily. Every shift provided the potential for rejection. What if the food wasn’t perfect tonight? What if somebody had a bad dining experience? What if people didn’t come back? What if nobody shows up to eat tonight? In the restaurant business you earn your stripes every single shift. You’re literally only as good as your last meal served. It doesn’t matter if you served 1000 meals well on Saturday night. When you open the doors Tuesday evening with a loud whimper and resounding thud, the high from Saturday dissipates quickly. You go from hero to hell-hole in a hurry. The experience that went sour dampens previous glory. Keep in mind, for a good chunk of that 25 years, I ran an iconic, world-renowned Texas restaurant. Yet there was never time to rest on our laurels. For every Saturday night that had crowds standing three deep and snaked around the corner, came a Tuesday night marked with tumbleweeds blowing down Oak Street. Who cares if you were featured in Southern Living Magazine last month or that you were named Best of Fort Worth consecutive years running. That was then. This is now. Sick, right?

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I don’ think the team that lost the Super Bowl feels any better than the team that finished last in the league. Do you really think Tiger Woods is happy that he’s improving his game even though he’s no longer winning like he once did? I bet not. As great a player as he may be, Bron-Bron ain’t happy losing to the Golden State Warriors. I promise you that.

But rejection isn’t all bad.

Rejection has a way of making you more determined to succeed. You bounce back up. You get back in the saddle. You press on. Rejection builds your resilience and perseverance.

I’ve spent a good deal of the Spring job-hunting, hoping to find the next big thing God wants me to do. One recent search led to my being selected to the final round of six candidates, out of 400+ vying for the job. Then there were four. Then only two. Everything in the process went well. My interviews sparked chemistry. My assigned project was an immense success. On Sunday morning I was hopeful. But, Tuesday they informed me that they offered the gig to one of the other candidates. Disappointed? Yes. Dejected? Sure.

There are no good feelings about not getting the job. But, I’m not defeated. I’ll brush myself off just like I did when I learned how to ride a bike and pedal forward.

How about you?

Blessings.

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The Revolutionary Musings of an Optimistic Cashier

There is a young man who I’ll call Walter who works at one of the local big box discount stores. He is cheerful and friendly, talks to people with ease, injecting humor into his brief interactions with customers.

On this particular morning, I maneuvered around the store, finding the large palettes filled with cases of bottled water. My wife prefers the bottled water they sell here because it has a better pH level. I prefer it because it’s cheap. Lord knows, I’m acerbic enough.

I loaded six cases into my gray shopping cart, scolding myself for not choosing one of the larger red carts. The bottled water is wrapped in thin plastic that often tears, causing some of the individual bottles to commit hari-kari by leaping from the safety of the plastic nest onto the tiled vinyl floor.

Standing in line, I grimaced because things were not moving very fast. Never fails, I thought. One checker. And a chatty one at that. I listened to Walter, who I remembered meeting during a previous visit, engage in conversation with the older Asian woman as she rummaged through a small, yet cavernous, pocket purse. The tall black man next in line shook his head as we both looked on as the woman continued performing her desperate search and rescue for long-lost exact change. I felt like buying her groceries just to speed things up. Life was ticking away.

Then Walter asked her, “How is the time change treating you?”

She paused, slipping him a flustered gaze as the man in front of me and I sighed in unison.

“I’m trying,” she responded. “What was the amount again?”

“Twenty-one forty-two.”

She went back to digging.

“I wish they would just do away with Daylight Savings Time, “Walter shared. “It has outlived its usefulness. Times have changed. Wouldn’t you agree?”

She ignored him.

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My heart jolted with joy as the woman handed him three dimes, two nickels, and two pennies. Walter thanked her and handing her the receipt, pattered through his spiel about the online survey and the code at the bottom that might land her a free five-hundred-dollar shopping spree.

The man in front of me set down his red carbonated soda, salted peanuts, and chocolate candy bar. Walter rang up the items, chatting with the tall man who I surmised was a little older than me. The man handed Walter a ten. Walter made change, prattling non-stop. He threw in his philosophical commitment on revolutionizing the world by eliminating Daylight Savings Time. I wondered how long he intended to hold his paying customers hostage with his verbal tirade. The older man chuckled at the hardships this young buck presumed to endure. “Changing the clock ain’t too hard for me, “the man said, “Been doing it all my life. You do it and you move on. Simple as that. Have a good day now.”

He left Walter teetering on the edge of speechlessness. But not for long. “How are you, sir?” Walter welcomed me to the register.

Finally. My turn. At this point, I had begun doubting the value of the cheap water I was buying. Perhaps it wasn’t cheap enough. But, I admit, I found the young man’s upbeat, cheery attitude refreshing. Being a Gen-Xer, my demeanor isn’t always dazzling.

The Revolutionary Musings of an Optimistic Cashier

“And how is your day going today?” Walter must have sensed that I don’t always wake up on the right side of the bed. “Are we adjusting to the time change?”

I glanced over both my shoulders to see if my invisible friends had turned visible. Nope. Nobody there. Good.

Clearly, Daylight Savings Time was having a profound effect on Walter, who I surmised to be a young Millennial. He did not seem quite young enough to be one of the Generation Z kids that I had seen protesting on TV recently. I could be wrong. Maybe Walter felt inspired and decided to start his ‘Kill Daylight Savings Time’ initiative. No doubt, us old folk were messing up the world. If only a generation would come along that knew what it was doing. Kurt Cobain was probably turning in his grave.

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“Whoa. That’s a bunch of water. Thirsty? “

“Not really.”

“How many cases we got there?”

“Six.”

“What are you going to do with all that H2O?”

“Drink it.”

Walter nodded. “Makes sense. But not all at once, surely.”

“Right, ” I said, presenting my best happy face. “Not all at once.”

“How long does that last you?”

I glanced at the three people waiting in line behind me. I feel your pain. “A few weeks,” I sneered.

“Got it.” A beep sounded each time he scanned the bar code of the case nearest him. “One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. I believe I got ’em all. That’ll be eighteen dollars.”

I handed Walter a twenty. Smiling, he opened the register and handed me two dollars in quarters. “Sorry, I’m out of ones right now. I hope quarters are okay. My manager is working on getting me some fresh money. If you want, you can wait.”

I shook my head. “No, that’s cool. Thanks.” In a world of plastic money and virtual payments having a pocket full of change had become a rarity.

“Have a momentous day.” Walter handed me my receipt. “Don’t forget to go online and fill out the survey. You could win free money. Be sure to tell ‘em that your cashier talks way too much. My name’s Walter.”

“Thanks Walter. My day has already been life-changing. Good luck getting adjusted to the time change.”

“I’m done with it. Daylight Savings Time is outdated. We do not need it anymore. It’s not like we’re living during American Revolutionary times.”

“No, we’re not.”

I am sure the winding line of people waiting patiently behind me were relieved to see me leave. But not as glad as I was to be going. Is this how revolutions get started?

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Imperfect People Coming to Grips with an Imperfect World

Before I get too far into this post, let me take a moment and give God a shout of praise! As some of you may recall, I have spent the last 18+ months working on my graduate degree in Managerial Science. Last week my final assignment for the semester came due and I fretted over my grade. Going into the last bend, I had a perfect grade and the reality was that my final paper could only hurt my grade. I am happy to report that I earned a perfect A+ 100! on my paper summarizing the history of operations management and examining current trends and issues facing modern management professionals. I am thankful for the strength and ability God gave me and the support my beloved Sweet T provided through the last couple of weeks. One more semester to go! Woohoo!!!

As you might gather, I am a passionate lifelong learner. I like doing new things. New, unique adventures along this journey of “my life” are something I genuinely look forward too. Keeping my mind engaged is something I’ve learned is key to my physical and spiritual health, as well as my mental wellness. That’s why I enjoy solving puzzles and trying to figure out mysteries or studying history. Recognizing where you’ve been is an important part of knowing where you’re going. We cannot undo the past, but we can certainly learn from it.

Psalm 121

Turmoil is nothing new. We live in turbulent times, filled with discouraging divides, and featuring polarizing perspectives. Everyone has support of their own herd’s echo chamber. We claim victory when the people forming our tribe agree with our POV. We hear, but we do not listen.

Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Listening

Listening appears to be a lost art. It is difficult to do when you’re always talking or busy thinking about your response rather than seeking to understand, before being understood. This is true in our individual one-on-one relationships and in our broader community relations. We have our personal circle of loved ones made up of family and friends. We are also neighbors, residents, and citizens of the places we call home. None of us live in a vacuum. Each of us must strive to stay connected despite our differences.

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When I check social media, I find a lot of venomous rage and shade thrown towards those of opposing views.  It’s always been easier to chew someone out over the phone than face-to-face. Sure, it takes courage to speak truth in kindness to another person when we disagree with them. Of course, just because we have an opinion, doesn’t mean someone else wants to hear it. That’s a hard pill for us to swallow.

We don’t all agree. That does not mean we cannot have civil discourse about tough issues that challenge how we live. On the contrary, I believe it makes having a genuine conversation—one that involves twice as much listening as it does speaking—about hard realities imperative. I think if we can get beyond all the hubris and ballyhoo, we might find that we are not as far apart as we’re led to believe.

We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. Love God with your everythingness and love others, including those you disagree with, with the same passion you love yourself. Be the salt and the light amid an ever-increasing darkness.

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 Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)

 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

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