Rejected Idea, Now What?

Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash

So it happened… You have put all this work into an idea you thought was great. You even prepared and practiced how to share the idea with your supervisor, spouse, friends, investors, etc. You gear up for the big day, begin to share and maybe don’t even get to finish before a big “NOPE” is stamped right over all your hard work, thus killing your ambition. Ok, that may be kind of dramatic but in the moment, it feels like that. So what do we do now?

There is a great book that everyone should read called, “Good Idea, Now What?” that I’ve had the joy of reading before. What great insight for when you have a great idea and how to move forward. When all of us get a great idea or ambition, we want to share it. Sometimes we don’t even consider the possibility that others won’t like our idea because it’s so good (according to us). But what happens when your idea is rejected? What now? That’s why I wanted to write a little post called, “Rejected Idea, Now What?”

Immediate Action Post-Rejection.

Well you shared your idea (or maybe started to) and got shut down. There’s a lot of feelings and emotions (sometimes big ones) that are associated with that. What do you need to do “post” rejection? I have 3 things for you to do right after your big idea get’s rejected…

Number ONE: Focus on what you can control.

You cannot control how somebody else perceived your idea or responded to it. They may or may not be “for” you but it’s not a reflection on you yourself. The point is, you cannot control their reaction. What can you control? YOURS! Don’t blow up; take a walk. Don’t smart off; politely relay that you were disappointed. Don’t storm out; politely excuse yourself. You cannot control how they respond but you can control how you respond and what you can do.

Number TWO: Don’t give up just yet!

Some of us just throw in the towel at the first sign of rejection. That’s understandable because it stings! But don’t give up. Just because an idea is rejected does not mean it was a bad idea. It also is not a reflection on you. The person who rejected your idea might not have even meant to hurt you at all. So don’t give up and don’t think it’s a reflection on you.

Number THREE: Stay Humble!

And a 3rd thing we all must remember: STAY HUMBLE! Just because you think it’s a great idea doesn’t mean it is. You feel like it’s a personal attack because you’re so heavily invested in that idea. Be humble enough to understand that your idea might need some more work or it just might not be a good one after all. What about after things calm down? How do we move forward? Let’s talk about that next!

Moving Forward.

Some time has passed and now you must decide how to proceed. This can be a place we feel stuck, especially after putting so much work into your initial idea… So what now?

Adjust and Adapt your idea.

Maybe your idea came off as “half-baked” and your supervisor or leader needs you to spend time refining it. Maybe the way it was initially laid out contradicted the mission and vision of your organization. Can you adapt or adjust this idea to fit? If you can, do so and then present again. It might be a really good idea; it just needed tweaked.

Know when to let it die.

There comes a time when you have to decide whether to push the idea or let it die. Sometimes the best thing to do is put in in the vault and come back to it later. And I know that we nobody wants to hear this but we have to say it: maybe your idea was just not good; plain and simple. In the teams I lead I like to say, “The best idea wins.” We say that because there’s nothing personal to a rejected idea. Since we are a team, all of our ideas are one another’s, not our own. It creates healthy dialogue and also allows ideas to die without taking it personally.

Wrapping Up.

There’s of course more we could say about rejected ideas. Let us never kill our creative drive in the face of rejection. If we want to boldly push forward we are accepting the fact that we WILL have a rejected idea; often! That’s what we sign up for when we create. So keep creating and eventually we come to the really good idea that could change our family, organization, the world. Stay creative!


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