Rejection, Resilience and Reinvention!

January 12, 2021

Carrie Abernathy

Carrie Abernathy CMP, CEM, CSEP is an award-winning event strategist who has been active in the world of meetings for over 15 years. Carrie was co-founder of the Association for Women in Events, the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force, and is a speaker, blogger and coach at A Woman with Drive. Carrie also co-hosts the talk show “Events: From Black to White,” which explores equality in the events industry.  

Let’s not sugarcoat it, the past 12 months have been difficult for everyone, especially the industry closest to our hearts: the business of meetings and events. It is easy to find ourselves a bit dejected and perhaps a bit confused. There was no rule book written for a year like 2020, and there’s no clear guide to move us forward in 2021. However, we’ve weathered storms together in the past, and we will move through this and dare I say, end up better than ever. With a little perspective and positivity, 2021 can be your best year yet! Let’s talk about the 3 “R’s” that seem to be a common theme this year.

Rejection

I’ve talked to so many colleagues that have felt the sting of rejection in the last 12 months. In fact, many of the people that I coach have either left their jobs or are soul-searching their next steps because they were told “no.” Rejection can make or break us, and it is up to us which path we take. Not every job, project or client is right for you. The important thing to remember about rejection is that it is all about how you react, respond and carry on!  

It’s okay to feel down when you’ve lost a job, been released from a project or told “no” by a client. But your next step is your most vital. I suggest to my coaching clients that you let yourself FEEL the rejection. Burying those feelings do no good and can only come back to haunt you and the work you do. You must embrace the lesson and utilize it to reinvent yourself. 

I once was released from a job that wasn’t a great fit for me or the employees I managed. I knew it, yet I fought the lesson. When I was able to finally see clearly (hindsight is 2020!), I was able to realize that I had some inner work to do before I could lead a team of that caliber. I was able to make the lesson work for me, and I worked for the lesson. Embrace your failures—they are the character-builders that made you the amazing human that you are!

Resilience

If you are here, you ARE resilient. Give yourself a pat on the back, because you’ve survived. What’s next? With a little tenacity and perspective, you can not only survive this pandemic, but you can also learn to THRIVE through and beyond it. Resilience isn’t about gritting your teeth and bearing the pain of whatever you may be going through. Resilience is looking at what pains you and learning to change your perspective to find the beauty in it.  

I love to talk about resilience, and one of my favorite lessons comes from resiliency trainer Stacey Copas. At 12, Stacey was in an accident and has now been a quadriplegic for more than 30 years. She had to work hard to adjust her mindset to her new normal and thrive despite the new challenges she faces.

I always suggest my teams to look for the gift. Is the gift of a global pandemic more time to reassess our current lifestyles? Is it more time with family? More time to welcome self-care or assess our mental health status? Whatever the silver lining is, hold on to it and use it as your inspiration to power through.

Reinvention

Here is my favorite part of a challenging time: the opportunity to reassess and reinvent! Now is one of the best times to take assessment of ourselves, our work efficiencies and perhaps our entire business model! Since we’ve all been asked to pivot, this is a great time to take stock of what has always worked for your clients/attendees, and what perhaps never has. 

Has your organization done things or employed a certain vendor because “it was always done that way”? It is a powerful time to look at our organizational systems and processes and make sure they are truly working and will get you to and through the next 10 years.  

This is also a powerful time for self-assessment. A common theme has been self-care throughout 2020, but I challenge 2021 to be the year of self-awareness. Are you where you want to be, living the life you want to live? How do you want to feel when you sit at your desk every day? I often talk to groups about how being the best and happiest version of you at home means you also bring the highest achieving version of yourself to your work.  

Remember: Rejection is fleeting; resilience is vital and reinvention is in your power! It is within our control to change our perspectives so that we can move beyond challenging times and bring the best version of ourselves to 2021 and to our family, clients and colleagues.

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