Think Like an Optimist

There are times in life when you have to put on a brave face. You may feel like crying, but you need to smile. You may feel like yelling, but you need to listen. You may feel like running away, but you need to stay put and be someone else’s rock. At this point, you may be nodding and thinking, “Oh yes, I know that feeling. I’ve experienced that with my toddler, demanding boss, team at work or in-laws” — there are so many times when you must put on a brave face and just get on with things. This isn’t always easy to do but there are techniques that can help. In coaching, I often see clients face this problem when they are job-hunting.

Anyone who has ever looked for a job knows that it can be enormously difficult. Not only does your self-esteem take a hit from the constant rejection, but the never-ending “hustle” of having to promote yourself wears on you. Yet, when you do get that interview or coffee date or invitation to network, you have to be your best self. There is no room for self-doubt, sadness or frustration.

Janine was one such client. She came to me seeking leadership coaching but then revealed that she was looking for another job. She had to do this quietly as she didn’t want her current employer knowing that she wanted to go — she was worried about retribution and political fall-out. (Can you guess why she wanted to leave?) Yet as a mid-career, mid-level manager, it was extremely difficult for her to put herself out there and deal with rejection after rejection. She would send an email to someone in her network and get no response. She would attend an event and exchange business cards, and no one would reach out. She would submit résumés and get no calls — just form emails informing her that she was “not a good fit.” Janine scoffed at these emails. She knew that she could do the job easily and was qualified in both education and experience, yet it felt like death by a thousand paper cuts as each rejection compounded on the ones before.

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