July 16, 2019

How Rejection Breeds Creativity

The Behance Team points to Stephani Germanotti as a model for how to turn your rejection into a dramatic boost for your motivation and focus. Actually Stephani dropped out of a promising degree in musical theater to pursue a gig with Def Jam. After six months, however, they released her from her contract. She turned inward to examine the sources and influences of her music and re-invented herself as Lady Gaga.

In a series of experiments, researchers led by Sharon Kim of Johns Hopkins University found that when rejection happens, how we respond to it matters.

[Group] “rejected” participants significantly outperformed those that were included in a group. But that wasn’t all the researchers found. Embedded in the personality questions was a measurement of how individualistic or collective participants viewed themselves (called independent or dependent self-concept). Those who had test results that labeled them as independent showed even greater gains in creativity after feeling rejection. Consider the difference between those who respond to rejection by sulking versus those who respond by rollingup their sleeves and thinking “I’ll show them.”

In working with dozens of authors, these findings fit with my experiences, especially when working with an author who doesn’t enjoy full family support in the writing project. The entire article is clever. Keep going!


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