What I Didn’t Learn About Rejection From Metallica

Friday, May 6th, 2011

do what you love

This week has been filled with angst, rejection, insecurities, and pity parties at my house. All of them mine.

I’ve worried that “nothing will work”, that I’m “not good enough”, and that I’m “putting myself out there for nothing.”

I considered not bringing any of this up, because none of it is very positive or happiness-filled. But the truth is that my pursuit of happiness requires a lot of risk taking and dream chasing. It means pitching and proposing and asking and, inevitably, being told no. A lot. Or worse – being told nothing. A lot.

Rejection has an amazing ability to eclipse success. It can make me forget about what is already good, great even. Rejection works like a fun-house mirror on who I am, what I do, and why I do it. It’s a bitch, in other words.

My husband attended one of my pity parties yesterday. He was a fabulous guest – listening, supportive, careful not to disrupt the mood or take over the agenda with talk of positive thinking or reality. He gave me everything I needed in that moment. And then he gave me perspective.

“Remember Metallica,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“They toured for years before getting a deal. Fans loved them and they still couldn’t get a deal.”

“Really?”

“Yeah!” he assured me. “And think about Creed. Creed sold CDs out of the trunk of their car, tons of them, before they got a distribution deal.”

“Thanks, baby.”

“Any time!”

I felt so much better. I was reminded that some people have a tremendous amount of success quickly, and some don’t. But most importantly, I was reminded that the rate of “success” isn’t always personal or a reflection of talent. Commercial success absolutely isn’t a measure of personal worth.

This morning I came to the computer with a great idea for a post: “X Things I Learned from Metallica.” I pulled up Google and began to do a little fact checking and digging.

Turns out my husband was very, very wrong about Metallica. The band formed on October 28, 1981 and signed with Megaforce Records on May 3, 1983. Later that year they released a little album you might have heard of called Kill ‘Em All. Two years between band formation and first major record distribution is not too damn shabby by any standards.

So much for my motivational metal band.

As it turns out, I didn’t learn anything new yesterday at all. I was, however, reminded of a few simple truths that most of us already know.

4 Things I Didn’t Learn When I Wasn’t Learning About Metallica

1. Do what you love no matter how much it pays.

You could find yourself doing it for two years or ten before getting your “big break”. The big break may, in fact, never come. You might as well fill that time doing what makes you happy.

2. You get to define success for yourself.

Will it take a Grammy nomination or a win for you to call yourself successful? Do you need a contract or a check? A certain number of visitors to a website? Or will you decide that getting to spend most of your time with a smile on your face is a fabulous sign that life – your life – is good? None of these definitions is inherently right or wrong; you get to choose the one that makes sense for you.

3. Most great success stories include massive amounts of rejection.

The Metallica website might not be littered with stories of rejection, but most autobiographies are. People fail. People get told no. The more often you ask, the more often you will get told no. But…

4. The more often you ask, the higher your chances of finally being told yes.

Keep going.

rock out

Rock out.

7 Daily Happiness Affirmations

Start your day with 30 seconds of positive intention, free when you join the In Pursuit of Happiness Newsletter.

  1. Sheila says:

    Well, I mean, it makes sense that Creed spent a lot of time selling cds out of their trunk….they kinda suck.

    You, however, don’t. So there’s that.

    Another person who is not Metallica but failed a lot? ABE LINCOLN. And he wound up being a total bad ass, don’t you think? (Let’s forget about that whole “someone hated him enough that they shot him” thing for right now, okay?)

    YOU are a success….you’ve grabbed life by the balls and telling the haters to suck it. Yeah sometimes your hand gets sweaty and starts to slip but ultimately, you’re doing this.

    And that’s what matters.

    XOXO

    • Miss Britt says:

      I *like* Creed!

      “YOU are a success”

      And that’s the thing, isn’t it? That it all comes down to perspective? Hell, on any given day I might feel differently about my own success!

      • Sheila says:

        My husband likes Creed too. Blech. (Though, yeah, I did listen to them in high school a little bit.)

        I know what you mean about perspective….I get like that too….but that doesn’t mean I can’t remind you when you start to forget :)

  2. Megan says:

    There are times when I wish we didn’t have access to so much information. I think it makes us a little crazy because we end up comparing ourselves to other people more than we might in “real life.” If you think about how many people are out there blogging and the actual number of people who are turning that into a book, movie or other high-profile career, the percentage is probably fairly small. But since you don’t read a million blogs, it feels like everyone is doing better than you are. At least it seems that way to me sometimes.

    True success is overcoming the fear of being unsuccessful. – Paul Sweeney, Author

    • Miss Britt says:

      You so get me. Completely.

      And I *SO* need to work on my fear of being unsuccessful, right up there with my fear of admitting I want to be successful, because that seems kind of taboo sometimes, too.

  3. Penbleth says:

    You and your family are going a great adventure, it’s not surprising there will be times you wonder why or if it is wise or worth it. Don’t listen to doubters, yourself included. This will be a great thing for your family, seize it.

  4. Vikki says:

    When I compare myself to others, that’s when I feel the worst. I need to stop doing that. Seriously. As for Metallica, I’ve never heard one of their songs (don’t judge) and I’ve never read anything by or about them but I have read lots of stuff by you so it would appear that you do, indeed, rock.

    • Miss Britt says:

      ME TOO!

      Regarding the comparing to others and feeling the worst and needing to stop.

      Not regarding Metallica, because I am an American and it is very unAmerican to have not listened to Metallica.

      In other words, this was a nice comment and all, Vikki, but you ma’am are unAmerican, it seems.

  5. Lisa says:

    I really admire your guts – you put yourself out there despite your fears, which is something I can’t do…yet. It’s scary and maybe sending that one pitch makes you want to throw up you’re so nervous and sometimes it doesn’t work out – but sometimes it does, and from my perspective you’re doing it. Because I don’t see you selling CDs out of your trunk and all the behind the scenes rejection that would cripple me. I see you plowing through that, and I only know it bothers you because you’re also brave enough to share that with us. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are those of us who admire the success and confidence we see in you as much as you do that which you see in others.

  6. Lisa says:

    *whispers* I’ve never listened to Metallica either.

    But my husband has so that totally gives me some kind of heavy metal green card!

  7. Hockeymandad says:

    Metallica rules, and they did live out of a van for a while. Distributing the underground tape “Search & Destroy” before they got a record deal. Anywho…I think the moral to take away from using Metallica as an example is perseverance. Realistically, they did not experience full global success until the video for One debuted on MTV and that was in 1988. If you read the story of the band, you’ll also find many obstacles they had to overcome up to that point and they have faced many more since that first taste of real commercial success. They are still together(Lars and James) today and still selling out arenas and just doing what they love 20 years later. I think if you are able to do what you love for 20 years, you are a success no matter who knows your name or what it is you are doing.

  8. Brandi says:

    Hockeymandad hit the nail on the head…..’Tallica rules!!! Love. Love. Freaking love them!!!

    PS – pity parties or not, I still think you rock :)

  9. Robin says:

    Thank you for this. I REALLY needed to read it. :)

  10. I had to come out of the lurker closet to say Creed should still be selling cd’s out of the trunk of their car. Blech! :)

    That said, this was something that struck home for me on the morning of my college graduation. Soon I’ll be updating my resume and sending it out in hopes of finding a niche in an entirely new career – at 44 years old. It’s scary as hell, but I have to believe it’s worth the risk.

    Thanks for reminding me :)

  11. Poppy says:

    You have a goal in mind, something that means success to you.

    Other people already see you as successful.

    I hope you are taking time to appreciate the successes you have already experienced. It’s about the journey, too. Not just the ending.

    And I don’t think Jared is wrong. A year and a half is an eternity to some people. :)

  12. Marinka says:

    Rejection is awful. And we all go through it. I’m thinking about your comment about how it eclipses success and it reminds me of something I learned in NOLA at Mom 2.0–don’t compare your worst to someone’s best. There will be hard days and weeks when it seems that our work is like hitting your head against the wall. But it’ll leave a pretty mark on the wall at least.

  13. [...] Skip to content HomeAboutThe BlogBritt ReintsArchivesHappy MarriageOld FavoritesThe Big MoveContactRV TripMap and ScheduleMeet Us ← What I Didn’t Learn About Rejection From Metallica [...]

  14. Kathryn Stockett received rejections from sixty-four agents. Not publishers, agents. Maybe you’ve heard of her? The author of bestselling and about-to-be-a-Spielberg-film The Help? She has spent nearly three years on the NY Times bestseller list. Sixty-four agents didn’t get her. That’s a lot of rejection and a lot of success. She worked her butt off, and you do the same. Hard work is always rewarded. Sometimes it just takes time. You’ll be okay.

  15. P.S. I can’t believe you’re bypassing Minneapolis on your way through Minnesota. There won’t be any snow or cold at that time of year, and it’s the best time of year to be here. Go further north, just a bit!!

  16. Jack says:

    Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
    Samuel Johnson

    That is one of my go-to quotes.

  17. [...] TweetEmail“don’t compare your worst to someone’s best” – Marinka, in a comment on this blog [...]

  18. when you wanna have a pity party, call me and i will tell you who intelligent you are, how funny you are, how pretty you are, how strong and generous and kind and WORTHY you are.
    i’ll make you see yourself through my eyes if it kills me…

« « How Much Money Is Enough? | It’s Okay Not To Be Okay » »