How Rejection Became My Friend

Hey. I'm going to talk a little bit about rejection today. I'm going to tell you the funniest story of my first public embarrassment moment. You see, I'm a really proud person, and I grew up really proud, and really dreamy about being successful, being big, being everything.

Then I remember I was told from a very young age to don't cause trouble, to not cause trouble because every time I speak, and I speak my mind, my parents had a fear that I would offend people all the time, so I was told not to cause trouble. Well, of course that made me really angry during my teenage years, and by the age of 23 I said, "You know what? I'm going to go and start over my life in a place where no one knows me." My girlfriend and I ended up going to Hong Kong where we can start over, and just be whoever we want to be. Being born in Montreal, we left Montreal. She was born in Hong Kong, so it's easy for her. We left Montreal with a thousand dollars in our pocket. I did not speak the language. I did not have the work experience to warrant somebody hiring me with a visa, and on top of that, I didn't have a university degree. So before I even left, everybody was dooming me on my failure, that there is no way that I can make it because there are four things stacked up against me in a big world with a lot of people. But nonetheless, I said, "Stuff it. I have to go. I have to do something," because I was just too imprisoned here where I was. So at 23 years old, I left for Hong Kong, and believe me, it was fantastic. My girlfriend and I spent three weeks together, hanging out, being whoever we want. Guess what? After three weeks we ran out of money completely. But the good thing for her is she did end up getting a job because jobs are everywhere. It's the land of opportunity. That's Hong Kong. But for me, I couldn't work there because I don't have a work visa, so it would have been more challenging for me. Nonetheless, the first morning she went to work, I went downstairs. Got the newspaper. Checked through the want ads, and there was one article that said, "Admin assistant for an exclusive health and beauty spa." I thought, "Okay. English-speaking ad." But it asked for a university degree. I added a university degree on my resume, and I faxed it off to them at that time. Now, this was back in the early '90s. I got an interview two days later, and I met this lady named Wendy who was from Australia, and we hit it off right away. What she was most impressed with was the fact that I'm Chinese with perfect English. She thought, "Oh my gosh. A dream come true." She hasn't been able to find anybody like me. Of course, they hired me because of the "skills" that I had. Well, little did they know, because they did not ask me if I spoke Cantonese or not. All she kept saying was, "Your English is so perfect." Right? "I am so impressed." When I first started the job, I knew that I was going in there to bridge the Chinese community with the management community, right, where I can bridge the two together. But problem is, I didn't understand Chinese. Basically, I knew that I was going to go in there and just give it my all. I knew that people were going to love me. I was going to give more than they even asked, and I would show my value. After three months came that moment where one of the German beautician companies that had this revolutionary facial machine that could reverse your years by 10 years, came and gave a presentation to the entire company of 200-something people about how this machine is so revolutionary. There was my first public translation gig three months in. I remember thinking to myself, "I'm doomed. There's no way I could learn Chinese in three months. No way. I could pray all I want. I could do all the affirmations I want. I could even visualize all I want. There's no way." Right? I stood up there on that day in front of 200-something people and all the bosses of the company, and here this guy was talking about this technical machine, and I had no clue how to answer, and how to translate. I remember, five minutes into it people started realizing that I did not speak Chinese. I stood up there knowing that I was going to be slaughtered publicly. Thank goodness within 10 minutes of me trying to do sign language, one of the sales managers got up and she said, "Do you want me to help you," and she ended up helping me. You see, the thing is I ended up staying in that company for four and a half years after that. What I realized, and what I really learned is, that most people were actually more impressed with my attempt to do something like that than they were rejecting me. They weren't rejecting me. They were laughing, yes. It was not funny. They were laughing out loud, but I didn't take it as ... I even laughed at myself. I realized what I learned is, the fear of rejection, if I didn't take that on and just give it my all no matter what happened, I would never have had the opportunity to stay in Hong Kong for seven years and Singapore for four years. I wouldn't even be able to see the gift that doing that gave me, which is respect from people in a very real way. It's something that no one would actually knowingly do. So you see, I want to show everybody in the world that fear of rejection is simply an illusion in our mind, and there is a way of navigating through that. I don't want to people that take decades to figure that out. I want you to know exactly how I've navigated through that from the age of 23 to now, and there is a simple formula. That's my story for today. This is how I make my life optimal and I make my life hum.

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