We all dream of success and love talking about moments where we achieved something that we set out to do. It feels good to puff out your chest and show pride that the work you put into accomplishing something has paid off. The feeling of exhilaration from reaching even a small mountain top is a natural high unlike any other.
On the other hand, we all know this is brutal business, and if you get complacent during the climb, it will knock you off your pedestal in a moment. A good friend of mine in the business was recently let go after three years calling small-college sports. He was both blindsided and devastated by the news. He had put his heart and soul into the position for three years, and one day without warning, the rug was pulled out from underneath him.
My friend’s story is not uncommon. I went through a variation of the same story three years ago. There’s even a cliché saying that you haven’t really started your sportscasting career until you’ve been fired. Beyond job terminations, the vast majority of us experience rejection in sportscasting far more than success. Since I moved to Minnesota, I’ve applied for well over a dozen jobs with various stations and teams within the metro area. While I’ve landed some good freelance gigs, and a fulltime job outside of the metro, my effort to get a foot in the door with the major players in the market have been futile.
I don’t share these stories to discourage anyone or because I want anyone to feel bad for me, or anyone else. However, disappointment is inevitable and how you handle it can ultimately decide whether you eventually achieve what you set out to do. Everyone is different, and there is no one right way to deal with tough moments. But here are a few suggestions for success based off of my personal experience and talking to numerous broadcasters through my podcast:
Have A Pity Party: When I lost the Presentation College play-by-play position, I was crushed. The night it happened, I texted a few of my best friends and went out to the bar where I proceeded to devour two pounds of hot wings and enough beer to drown a fish. That’s obviously not a healthy way to deal with disappointment, but I think it’s important to take a week or so to feel sorry for yourself. Once that time is up, make yourself climb out of the hole and move forward. Maybe I’m just weird, but for me really taking in and embracing the hurt helps to motivate me to grow and improve after the fact.
Don’t Take It Personal: Full disclosure: this is the part of handling rejection that I am not good at. I have a tendency to hold grudges when I feel slighted. While it can be tough, employers don’t turn us down to make us feel bad. They are trying to do what’s best for their organization in their own eyes. Maybe they want someone with knowledge of the local area. Maybe they are under pressure from their boss to hire a specific type of broadcaster. Either way, it’s about fit and a subjective judgment of what they feel is best. Accept that for what it is, say thank you for the consideration, and move on.
Don’t Let It Scare You Away From Future Opportunities: This business can be just like dating. You put yourself out there only to be rejected, and sometimes instead of looking for the next fish in the sea, you just stop trying. Don’t let failure or rejection hold you back from pursuing other opportunities! You never know when the next opportunity could be your big break. It’s a numbers game, and if you stop trying, it only hurts your own odds of success.
It Can Be The Best Thing To Happen: A common thread with many of the broadcasters that have appeared on my podcast is that getting rejected or fired often is the best thing that ever happened to them. It forces people out their comfort zone and can have a re-focusing effect that leads to bigger and better things.
It Makes It Feel Better When Things Go Right: Every day that I’m not in a full-time broadcasting position is frustrating. I would rather not have to grind through cold sales calls or deal with the high pressure environment that surrounds a sales department. When I’m at my lowest points, I always take a moment to remember the times when good things did happen: the thrill of getting my first play-by-play job out of college, leaving that job to become the lead voice of a small college, all the little moments where things went right along the way. None of those experiences would have felt as rewarding had there not been times of struggle leading up to that moment.
How do you overcome rejection and frustration? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.