Resilience, defined as “toughness” and “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties,” is one of the most important qualities for succeeding professionally. When you're rejected, it can be crushing -- especially if you’ve invested a large amount of time, energy, and sacrifices into the project.
Nobody knows this better than Mark Aramli, inventor of the BedJet. In February 2015, he appeared on an episode of the ABC show Shark Tank to pitch his BedJet invention, an ultra-fast cooling, heating climate comfort system for beds. If you happened to catch the Shark Tank episode, you’ll recall the pitch was an epic fail: All five celebrity investors shot him down.
“They hated me and they hated the product,” Aramli said. “They told me no one would ever want the BedJet.”
Refusing to be discouraged by the rejection (and already having spent 1.5 years developing the product), Aramli promptly emptied his life savings, mortgaged his house, and loaded up his credit cards to get his product into production.
And his bet paid off.
Within the year, BedJet was of the highest rated products in the entire mattress category on all of Amazon. By the end of 2016, sales soared to 300% from year prior, and are on track to double again in 2017. Had the Sharks invested, they would have nearly quintupled their money in less than three years.
Aramli’s Shark Tank experience is an extreme case of rejection -- most of us won’t ever be rejected by five billionaires on national television. But the BedJet’s redemption goes to show just how powerful resilience can be.
How can you take a cue from Aramli’s story and get better at cultivating resilience in your own work life? Here are his five strategies for cultivating resilience.
1) Don't Dwell
After rejection, you’ll likely feel down on yourself.
“At this time, it’s important to recognize that all successful people have failed multiple times along the way -- it’s the norm,” Aramli said.
Realizing failures and rejections happen on the path to success is a crucial part of letting go, so you can free up time and head space to being productive again. Rejection is a part of progression.
2) Keep Your Confidence High
“Don’t let rejection shake your personal confidence -- it’s your most important asset,” Aramli said.
Retaining confidence in your abilities, ideas, and skills helps you move forward toward success.
“After our big fail at Shark Tank, it would have been all too easy to shut down and lose my motivation in the business,” he explained. “Instead the rejection motivated me to prove the doubters wrong.”
3) Learn From Your Mistakes and Course Correct
A key part to being resilient is treating rejection, or any major setback, as a learning experience. Focus on what the rejection taught you. There may be one or multiple important takeaways. Identify the course corrections needed, and implement them.
“(When we went on Shark Tank), we were pre-production with no revenue, and those particular investors love seeing revenue track records,” Aramli said. “Consequently, we didn’t try to pitch again until the product had shown some legs in the marketplace.”
4) Don't Give Up
When you have a good idea or something you feel passionate about, persist -- but do it smartly, Aramli advises.
“If you have real evidence to support that your idea will make it, then push on,” Aramli said. “In the case of BedJet, I had nearly a year of market validation and incredibly positive results from market testing. The Sharks were the only ones along the way to not like the idea. When billionaires say your idea is no good, remember those people only needed to be right most of the time and not all the time to achieve their success. In the end, the only opinions that matter are those of paying customers.”
5) Don’t Hold a Grudge
“Don’t take rejection personally, and don’t hold a grudge against the people who rejected your idea,” Aramli said, noting reruns of BedJet’s Shark Tank episode run regularly on ABC. “If I held a grudge, I would be a pretty unhappy person fairly regularly.”
(It doesn’t hurt that the episode, despite the rejection, is a plus for the business. Aramli said a Shark Tank rerun can usually be attributed to a spike in BedJet sales.)
With these five tips in mind, remember that rejections along the way are inevitable. Resilience separates out the people who bounce back stronger than before. As Aramli’s story shows, persisting after rejection can pay off.