05/06/2014 12:47 pm ET Updated Jul 06, 2014

Rejects, I've Had a Few

I recently applied for a grant from a prestigious professional women's organization dedicated to empowering women. My mission is to empower women, and I am studying to train as a certified coach. The grant would have provided beneficial support to help me in my goal to help make a difference for others.

I was rejected. But not dejected. Annoyed, yes. Giving up, no.

Everyone experiences rejection. My first sort of rejection was the day I was born, the second baby of the new year. The first baby born received all the prizes. I received no prizes, and my parents lost out on a year-end tax deduction. My CPA father liked to say, "She was poorly engineered and badly accounted for."

I've dealt with plenty of rejection. But don't start plucking the violin strings. I've had plenty of success as well. Here are my top four rejection stories, all with better endings (at least for me).

1. Dumped by a boyfriend who said, "The excitement is gone." Years later he was run over by a bus. And I married my prince.

2. Turned down by the New York parent company to the PR firm where I worked in Atlanta who said, "She's too much of a flake to make it here in New York." I moved anyway and ran my own public relations agency in New York for over 20 years.

3. Kicked off the cheerleading squad for not being pretty enough despite being the best team member at splits and dance movements. Ugly ducklings blossom, and I still can dance those moves.

4. A long-term client decided not to renew my contract on a program I worked tirelessly to create, build and run successfully for more than a decade because they wanted to "go in a fresh new direction."

Many of us experience rejection at work: sales fall through; clients choose other companies; customers change loyalties; actors are not selected for roles; and bad reviews happen. And then there is personal rejection: the heartbreak of a breakup, not being selected for a team, turned down for a scholarship or a job, being let go.

If you experience rejection, don't be bitter. Be better. Every time a door has slammed in my face, I just go knocking on other doors. There are no dead ends, just dead ears. I consider many of my rejections misguided decisions by the other parties who failed to realize all the potential I have to offer.

It also means you may need to take time to refine your presentation or message to convey it better next time. The only failure is giving up, Rejection should not lead to dejection; it's just a bad bump in the road and bruise to the ego. Bruises heal over time. Thin skin can toughen up.

Fortunately, rejection is occasional. But maintaining confidence should be constant. The next time you experience rejection, don't dwell on "would have, should have, could have." Take your lumps and learn from them. Then smooth your ruffled feathers, polish your pluck and strut yourself all over again.