What is Rejection?

So part of any endeavor is the certainty of something we might call “rejection“. There may be folks out there that have won at everything they’ve ever tried to do, but that’s not me, or most people I know.

I know I’ve experienced more rejection than success, at least at orchestra auditions. The good thing is, you can take 100 auditions, get “rejected” 99 times, and it just takes that one time to win a job! I talked with a friend of mine recently that said he took 33 auditions, and won once. But that job was the Detroit Symphony! Needless to say, he thinks it was worth all that “rejection”

But maybe all those other auditions were just primers for the one he would eventually win. Maybe he had more to learn, or he wasn’t the right fit….yet. But this brings us to another aspect of my little discourse, persistence.

I won my position in the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra at age 30, and the St. Louis Symphony job at age 38! I was no teen wonder, but I kept at it. It feels really great and your appreciation is high when you’ve worked long and hard to achieve something. So listen, learn, and don’t give up.

But I’d like to adjust our language to use another word that may be just as accurate, and more positive as well. How about, tempering? When they make a sword, they heat it over and over, pounding with a hammer on an anvil between each firing, until it’s done. For some swords, maybe it takes a little more tempering. But does it matter in the end, as long as you get a great sword?

You may have heard the story about Thomas Edison, who had 1,000 unsuccessful attempts in making the light bulb. So maybe we can call it,a slightly less than successful attempt?” Does that create a different feeling than saying I was rejected?

If all is takes is a change in vocabulary to create a more positive, more empowering attitude to move forward, then I suggest we change what we say about all those “slightly less than successful attempts” as we work towards that light bulb.

After all, the only sure way I know of avoiding any “rejection” is to not try anything. Just stay safe, watch a lot of TV, sleep a bunch, and you never have to worry. Sure, that sounds pretty boring, not much of a life, but hey, we sure don’t want to take any chances and maybe, feel some disappointment! 

But maybe the only way to feel the satisfaction, the joy that comes from success, any success, is to step up to the plate, and take a swing. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Batting .300 is really good in baseball, and that’s 3 out of 10! You may just have to face the possibility of 7 “rejections” for every hit.  (don’t you love all the sports analogies?)

So now, we’ve discussed Competition, and Rejection. What could be next?

I’m afraid to say it out loud….


(part 3, coming to a theater near you, summer 2023)



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