Letter #1- The “No” Button

downloadGrowing up as the only child to a single mother, you never accepted the word “NO” as something meaningful or restrictive. That word always had hypothetical rather functional meaning, and never bothered you.  You could get away with murder, as they say in America. But in Russia, as you know, we don’t judge winners, and you’ve always been a winner — a leader, a center of attention, the life of the party, a girl with thousands of friends and with teachers who admired her. You selfish ways of doing things, managing my relationships, dictating your own rules to others, were always accepted and sadly even encouraged by family and friends.

Remember your first rejection when you were 22 years old (just two years ago.) You college boyfriend, whom you had been dating for some time, told you that he wasn’t going to marry you. More than that, he was going to break up with you that summer!!! Huh? Was he out of his mind? NO, REALLY, WAS HE OUT OF HIS DAMN MIND? Remember feeling a hurricane of anger and disbelief filling every cell of you body with a poisonous desire for revenge. Your response to a loss of control was unmanageable anger and self-destruction. And you started to blame yourself for every little fall, every disappointment, every wrong decision and consequential action. You became part of a problem, not a solution.

You developed an imposter syndrome: “First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud. Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression . “ (American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/index.aspx)

You almost embedded rejection in your “programming function.” The big NO became expected and even welcomed into your personal and professional lives. You own self-inflicted misery would probably have killed you one day, except that you finally realized, after another painful personal disappointment, that your life needed to be, and could be, changed.

Skip to 2007 – first outside sales job in the Metro NY area. Another relationship was over, and nothing was holding you in the cold, snowy Constitutional State.  You had no idea what you were doing. No special sales training and no preparation for more rejection. A constant fear of failure was giving you daily migraines and nightmares.

At one of the monthly sales meeting, you were giving your first sales presentation, in front of your colleagues as a part of the usual exercise, feeling like dying from the anxiety and stress. Nerves got the best of you, and you failed miserably at the whole thing. But this time, you felt differently. You finally got tired of “being sick and tired,” and at the end of the presentation, you have  realized…that YOU NEEDED TO ASK FOR HELP. You gave my big ego a “leave of absence” and reached out to your peers (who loved your dearly) for critique and guidelines.

Finally, you stopped blaming myself for every world catastrophe, and you started looking at the road ahead of you, instead of looking in the rearview mirror. Paraphrasing  Jeffrey Gitomer (you will meet him in person, later) you resigned from a position of General Manager of the Universe. You gave up in order to receive a blessing – the blessing of learning my lesson.

Patricia Fripp, the most successful public speaking coach of all time, once said,

The answer is always NO if you don’t ask.

But what if you do ask, and the answer is still NO?

  • Or, better yet, you work really hard to receive a positive result, and you hear NO again.
  • You and your team train really hard, but you still lose the game.
  • You work every stage of a project – from prospecting to closing (or almost closing) – only to lose that project to the competition.
  • You interview for the job of your dreams, but you don’t receive that phone call back.
  • You meet a guy (or a girl) who you think is perfect for you, but he (or she) doesn’t want to do anything with you. (This one happened to me recently…well, I am certainly not everybody’s cup of tea. )

The list of life’s situations, where you do not get the results as you wanted and expected, is endless. But also endless are life’s opportunities.

Remember this legendary phrase of Mike Corleone from “The Godfather”? (It will become your favorite movie)


Exactly: “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Not a lot of business decisions are personal, and their consequences do not necessarily point in your direction.

And if they are not personal, you can deal with them with a clear head and an understanding of the nature of possible risks and rewards. The simple principle of finance model says (finance folks will appreciate this) that bigger risk usually means bigger rewards, but at the same time it can lead to bigger losses. In this case, ALWAYS vote for calculated risk decisions.

Failures in sports are inevitable. Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever walk on this planet said:

At the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (2014) expected their men’s hockey team at least to bring home medals, considering they were playing at home with the help and support of millions of Russian fans. We got NOTHING…NADA, ZERO, НИЧЕГО. Whose fault was that? Players, coaches, fans, expectations, pressure? I don’t know. I do know one thing, though: most Russian fans, including your mother, still don’t want to hear anything about our mighty hockey team, bluntly blaming them for their loss. We don’t like losers in Russia; it is a tough country to grow up in. But we all share a huge, unconditional love for this amazing, courageous and exciting sport, for its legacy and our country. Soon after Sochi, in April of 2014, the Russian team became the World Champions.

Business projects’ losses are the lessons we learn every day. That is why you will conduct meetings called “Lessons Learned” at the end of each project, whether it was successful or not. There is always something positive in every negative instance.

For every job we don’t get, we get another, a new opportunity to explore.

For every relationship we lose, or don’t succeed at, there’s another one, around the corner. Think about it. There are 7 billion people living on this planet. There has got to be someone out there for you. (You haven’t met him yet, I have.. You will learn about him in my last letter, just be patient.)

Just open your heart and your mind, and don’t get caught up in your own drama or self-pity. Nobody likes whiners!!

Rejection is painful and sometimes can be deadly.  By losing we win our blessings.

Remember, Tashie, the biggest blessing is that your heart knows how to love, how to give it and how to let it go.

5 thoughts on “Letter #1- The “No” Button”

  1. wow! Losing isn’t pleasant, failing isn’t pleasant. But hoping is, dreaming is, loving is, wishing is, enthusiasm is, friendship is.
    I want to get on the wagon of movement, feel the rush of positive pride, and have the love of those around me that I cherish. Like YOU.

    1. Lisa, you are my shining star that I will be grateful for the rest of my life! Remember I was born on your son’s birthday! Love you, always

  2. Thanks for the blog! I actually just stumbled upon you on Tinder and really enjoyed reading the letter about “Primum non nocere.” Something that we can all take to heart for oneself as well as interactions with others. Keep up the writing!

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