The magic of rejection

What is the “magic” that makes some organizations successful (my favorite baseball team!) when others fall on their face (my favorite football team!)?  Fairy dust? Money? Voodoo? Leadership? Just blind luck?

I want my favorite organization (Cook County Farm Bureau®) to have the “magic” to enjoy unbridled success for members.

In April, I took an Executive Leadership online course to explore the topic. Of no surprise, disruptive change and the extreme pace of change was forefront. Change is inevitable. The organizations and leaders that have the skills to steer through change will survive and adapt. And those that don’t change become Blockbuster Video, Blackberry, Woolworths, Circuit City, Montgomery Wards, Pan-American Airlines, Pullman Company, MCI WorldCom, Oldsmobile, Compaq Computers, and DeLorean Motors.

Did those companies plan to fail or fail to plan?

Something that prevents organizations from changing and evolving is leadership’s inability to handle rejection by individuals, boards, customers and members.  As an example, one of my classes featured a video of Jia Jiang, a young man and a Chinese immigrant living in Texas. Jiang blamed his fear of rejection as the reason he has not created a successful company. 

Rather than let this fear control his life, Jiang decided to teach himself how to accept rejection without fear (and he videotaped each rejection). The result was a fascinating video collection which he calls rejectiontherapy.com (100 days of rejection). Here are few great video examples he posted:

Rejection 2: request a “burger refill”

Rejection 6: play soccer in someone’s backyard

Rejection 19: Make an announcement on a Southwest Flight

Rejection 39: Race random stranger

Rejection 49: Interview a panhandler

Rejection 83: Exchange rejection with a smile

Watching these videos certainly caused me to cringe… I am so anti-rejection! However, the lesson was not lost on me: those people that are successful must be willing to take risks and fail. How many times did Thomas Edison create a version of his incandescent lightbulb before it actually functioned as theorized? What if Michael Jordan had decided not to play basketball after his sophomore year of high school? What if Dumbo had not flapped his ears? What if Wile E. Coyote had given up after the first time he blew up?

Recently, CCFB President, Jim Gutzmer passed onto me minutes and documents from a now defunct organization, the Cook County Truck Gardeners and Farmers Association. (Some readers may remember or have been a part of this Association) On April 1, 2009, action was taken to dissolve the Association due in part to the lack of active membership and the inability to muster a quorum at meetings. That is true membership rejection. I looked at the purpose of the organization created in 1902 and it is strikingly similar to that of the Cook County Farm Bureau’s purpose.  I’m sure they did not plan to fail, but did they fail to plan?

Your Board, Teams, and Staff have been actively discussing the Cook County Farm Bureau delivering on the promise of membership made when the individual joins the organization.

Success requires a well-designed plan, an eye on the future, understanding of strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your opponents, hard work by team members, a willingness to do the small things great, leadership vision, and the ability to articulate that vision, a cohesive, positive culture, and perhaps a little bit of luck? Will your Cook County Farm Bureau have the “magic” in the future?

We will try new things, new approaches, variations in communication, and offer new programs for farmers, landowners, homeowners, millennials, prime timers, consumers, and friends! On occasion, we might fail, but we will learn from those failures. Heck, we may pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Abracadabra, hocus-pocus, shazam!

Bob Rohrer can be reached at brohrer@cookcfb.org