You merely read the title and there’s already an undercurrent of skepticism in your beliefs: why, pray tell, would anyone advocate a discussion beyond a simple "no"? Of all the things we’re taught in childhood, the answer "no" has always signified something absolute, almost as though one of the Ten Commandments said "thou shalt always obey every "no"!
While laws and rules exist for a reason and there are multiple situations in which the following must be accepted as an answer, what I am referring to, instead, is a tenacious and relentless attitude toward your dreams and aspirations. Resilience is a key predictor of success, especially in the professional realm, as it often manifests itself in the ability to see a task through completion, even in the face of initial failure. While the starting line of any race is inundated with people, there’s almost never a crowd in the last mile. Success is akin to crossing the finish line, and if you’re anything like Sakshi Malik was during the Olympics, you win by a few seconds and lots of determination. Aggressively following your goals, in the face of setbacks or “failure” is a key predictor of success. The ability to hear “no” is yet another.
Learning an important lesson is the opportunity cost of hearing a “yes” when asking for something. It’s the “no’s” that almost always bring with it the most important lessons. You see, it’s these instances that we must celebrate, for there’s always something valuable to be learned. More often than not, we anticipate the dreaded answer and never muster the courage to ask for that promotion or apply for that dream job. Here’s the thing, if you never take a leap of faith because you're anticipating failure, you have failed long before you started. You owe yourself a chance to fail. If at first you fail, try again because if you’re always winning, you perhaps never gave yourself a challenge worth pursuing to begin with.
Our inability to hear a “no” or some variation of it stems from our need for external validation. This is probably why we give up on a dream that seems too outlandish, never quite realizing that any unfamiliar situation by definition is bound to make you feel like a fish out of water. Those who seek to remain emotionally neutral under pressure or when faced with a challenge, tend not to take themselves or their failures too seriously. A large part of cultivating the willingness to fail, and eventually succeed, requires you to remain aggressive toward goal setting and seeing it through fruition.
Think back to the time when you were applying to colleges; it was common wisdom to apply to “safety” colleges, those that you knew with near certainty that you would get into, and “target” colleges, those that required you to set yourself apart with a hop, skip and jump…and then some more. We never rejoiced upon getting accepted to our safety colleges, for those acceptances never quite posed a challenge or encouraged us to apply ourselves beyond the bare minimum that was required to be done. It was for these target school applications that we stayed up until the crack of dawn, memorizing the subjunctive tense in Spanish or understanding concavity and the second derivative in Calculus. Imagine if you never applied to these target schools in fear of being rejected?
If your dreams are the seeds you have sown in the soil, the lack of ample sunshine shouldn’t deter you from watering the soil altogether. Every refusal or roadblock is a chance to go back to the drawing board and redefine. Beyond the land of the should-haves, could-haves, shortcuts and excuses are tangible plans that need to be carried out with determination. Giving up on your aspirations is like amputating an arm because you injured a finger. You see, a "no" doesn't mean never, it merely means you're not asking the right question, or the right person.