3 Lessons Barbara Corcoran Knows About Getting Up After Rejection

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Barbara Corcoran
Love, Heartbreak

Failure will never teach you anything if you don't pick yourself up afterwards!

When rejection hits, all most of us want to do is withdraw and lick our wounds, cast blame, fight it out, or hide away until our emotional pain soothes. We want to keep the news to ourselves to protect our self-esteem.

Barbara Corcoran knows another way. The investor panel member of ABC's top-rated reality show Shark Tank rejects many would-be entrepreneurs. Corcoran's advice to those who take the hit? It's all in how well you get back up, how long you feel sorry for yourself. When you get back up fast, you stumble on something that takes you forward.

She's well qualified to advise. She took the hit on more than a few occasions on her entrepreneurial path. Ironically, Corcoran—then at age 60—initially came in second for her Shark Tank panel role when the show launched in 2009. First? A much younger, bosomy blonde.

The hit of rejection is something many mid-lifers know well. Not only women, but men, too. Men also feel the pain of younger colleagues and business competitors. In your business—at work and in love—mid-life rejection and how you deal with the pain of it determines success.

Let your insecurities take over and you withdraw, hide, disconnect, and look for more justifications of how wrong your rejector is. All that self-pity and blame can only keep you stuck. You've got to get back up fast.

Corcoran says, "learn to fail well." Coming in second for Shark Tank turned out to be the "lucky charm" for her to get back up in first place. How did Corcoran do it?

1. Don't take it personally.

Sure, when she got news of her rejection via email, Corcoran says she did what she does really well, saying, "I got pissed." But she didn't feel sorry for herself for long. She put the brakes on taking it personally and took responsibility for giving herself the best chance possible.

2. Connect.

Corcoran wrote to the producer of Shark Tank and thanked him. Yes, she thanked him; she didn't blame or accuse him. She revealed her own vulnerability to him, that she was "much more accustomed to coming in first," and she considered his rejection a "lucky charm."

3. Speak your truth. 

She didn't simply argue her case; she knew that she would shine in a head-to-head showdown in the studio. She booked her ticket and told the producer to expect her. He called in his first choice. Six seasons later, Corcoran's competitive audition is in the archives. "Thank God I did that," says Corcoran. "Thank God I spoke up for myself."

Barbara Corcoran spoke her truth openly, aware of what the producer and the prospective audience was looking for. She was clear about the role she intended to play in the show, and she courageously put herself forward, confident in what she had to offer.

Your style may not be Corcoran's style. When you're aware of your unique gifts and attributes that you bring to any situation, that's when you can get back up fast from the hit of rejection, to connect, and speak your truth with authenticity.

Suzanne Beveridge is MidLife Expert and Coach to women and men in their 40s and 50s who say it's 'now or never.' She helps you succeed in life doing work you are meant to do. Visit Suzanne at her MidLife Wisdom website suzannebeveridge.com or connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.