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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Beyond Blessed: Never Stop Learning

Friday night, May 18, certainly goes down as a memorable life moment that I was honored and privileged to share with fellow graduates, university faculty,  friends, and family. It marks the culmination of years of effort and investment, both on my end, but more importantly on the part of others. I am not a self-made man, but simply the return on investment nurtured by so many incredible people. I was proud to have the love of my life, Sweet T accompany me across the stage at the Amberton University graduation. What an honor to celebrate this achievement with someone who has stood by me, encouraged me, and believed in me. This would not have been possible without you. I think back to all the teachers, recent and long past, who shared their time and knowledge with me. And I recollect the counsel and support of family, friends, and mentors that got me to this point. Without you all, I would not have been able to accomplish this goal and achieve this moment of joy. I am beyond blessed. 

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I’m not one who thinks that college is for everybody or that believes you need to get a degree to be successful in life. I know far too many people who have found success without ever getting a degree. But, for many, a college education opens doors it wouldn’t otherwise. And as one of our speakers noted on Friday night, knowledge and an education is something no one can ever take away from you. Regardless of what you do or what your calling in life is, I urge you to never stop learning. Be a life-long learner.

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It is true that I didn’t take the traditional route to get here. That’s been true for most of my journey on this road called life. I learned long ago that life doesn’t always follow a straight trajectory. Perseverance, resilience, determination, and a ton of prayer can get you from here to there. You just got to find a way to keep on keepin’ on. And you’ll definitely need the support of others along the way.

I am eternally grateful to the sea of teachers, instructors, and professors who helped me along the way. Yours is truly a worthy profession. Thank you. To my myriad of mentors, who the Lord so graciously provided: Thank you. To my family and friends—thank you. To my precious Mom and my parents-in-law–Thank you.

To my bride—Sweet T—Thank you.

With the completion of one adventure another one awaits. While I’m not entirely sure what the next stretch looks like, I do know that God is good and that as the next chapter is written, He will be walking alongside me. Never lose your sense of adventure.

Yes! I am beyond blessed. My prayer is that you may be also.

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Here Comes The Sun

Absent for days, the sun finally came out in full force Thursday afternoon here amid the Piney Woods of East Texas. Marshall is centrally located and accessible through multiple highways, including Interstate 20, U.S. Highways 59 and 80 and Texas State Highway 43. A hubbub of non-stop truck traffic hauls goods all along these East Texas thoroughfares to all points everywhere U.S.A.

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In the aftermath of Harvey, long lines are stretching into the streets at local gas stations throughout Texas only to find numerous pumps running on empty. News of sky-rocketing prices bolted across the worldwide web from Marshall to El Paso, from Houston to Dallas, and all parts in between. Social media went haywire, pushing everyday folks, who were perfectly content with the amount of petrol in their tanks the day before, out of their front doors to fuel up. With the temporary unavailability of Houston’s refineries, many gas retailers are reportedly hauling in fuel from Oklahoma. Oklahoma!?

This too shall pass…

George Harrison “Here Comes The Sun”

Amid the harrowing scenes of despair and destruction, my heart has been encouraged seeing pictures and hearing stories about people helping their fellow neighbors get through a sea of dire situations. This is the America I know. My guess is that it’s the one you remember too.

Don’t forget in the darkness what God revealed to you in the light!” Mark Walton Jones