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How to Bounce Back from a “NO”

How to Bounce Back from a "NO"
You’ll soon regain your strength with these 4 insights from Juliet Russell.

I was inspired this week by a post on social media quoting Meryl Streep, after she got turned down for an audition for being too ugly.

Resilience is a core skill to nurture if we want to be an artist and live a creative life

Her response? “I’m sorry you think I’m too ugly for your film, but you’re just one opinion in a sea of thousands and I’m off to find a kinder tide.”

She now has 18 Academy Awards.

Resilience is a core skill to nurture if we want to be an artist and live a creative life.

At some point we all face a “no” when we want a “yes”. What’s important is that you let it inform you, not define you.

Strategies to build your resilience

1. Clarify Your Sense of Purpose

When we get clear about what we want, it becomes much easier to discern which opportunities are right for us and which aren’t. When starting out, I would pretty much say yes to anything singing related that would help me to learn and this was a great way to build experience. However, it only served me for a time. To progress, I had to define what I actually wanted and this meant only saying yes to the opportunities that were aligned with my goals and values. Once you get clear about what you want, it’s easier to develop the traits and skills that support this.

2. Do it Better, Then Do a Better Thing

Sometimes when we get a no, especially a significant one, it can feel like a big rejection. It can also be frustrating that we’re not in control of whether we stop or pass go.


Jay-Z was famously turned down by record companies – and look where he is now

But we could be.

Jay-Z was famously turned down by record companies. He took to selling his music from the boot of his car and step by step built not only a sustainable music career, but the hugely successful Roc-A-Fella imprint.

Last week I read Do Disrupt by Mark Shayler after meeting him at an event. His whole approach is that it’s not enough to do things better, we need to do better things.

If you improve on something it becomes better, but it’s still the same thing. Thinking really differently involves a leap.

Jay-Z did it better and then he did a better thing.

What better thing could you be doing?

3. Act On What You’ve Learned

Even in a difficult situation, if we look hard enough we can always find a gift – a hidden jewel of information, insight or knowledge – something to help us grow.

Get feedback. If you’ve had a no, ask why. Usually you’ll find out where you could improve. Great! If it resonates, act on it.

We all need to invest time in developing our skills. Being excellent at what you do takes time and discipline. Knowing what to do is great. Doing it brings the reward.

Of course, you could be like Meryl, you have all the talent, you we’re just in front of the wrong people for you.

Find some different people.

4. Put It Into Perspective

‘Aaagh! I’m a failure’. ‘I’ll never be a singer’. ‘I’m not good enough’. ‘I should get a proper job’.

A good trick is just to add a "So what?"

I’ve thought all of the above (Actually, maybe not the last one).

Hearing “no” can hard, but is it really that bad? A good trick is just to add a “So what?”

I didn’t get the lead role. So what?

Only 49 people have liked my latest Vimeo. So what?

I was flat on that high note in the second chorus. So what?

With a sense of purpose, doing a better thing, acting on what you’ve learned and a sense of perspective, you’ll soon be bouncing back.

Kelly Clarkson put it brilliantly in ‘What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”*

* This phrase is attributed to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger”.

My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry

Robyn Keech Robyn Keech - Tough

First of all, it’s great to hear a really well written original song. The chorus is catchy and memorable, and I love the layered harmonies. You have distinctive sound and a good dynamic range. I like that you use a different timbre in the verses to the chorus and this really supports the dynamic. In the verses, the lowest notes disappear a bit. Try to be really close to the mic for low notes as the proximity brings out the bassier frequencies.

Also, make sure you give the vocal enough volume in relation to other instruments – you’re singing your heart our so I want to hear you above the drums.

Overall I really enjoyed it. Physically you and the BVs could all be giving a bit more performance, but it’s a very strong vocal performance and a great song. Well done.

November’s Vocal Coach in Residence: Juliet Russell

Juliet Russell has completed a unique tour which sees her joining forces with a different community choir in locations across Britain. Hundreds of voices performed Juliet Russell’s new album, Earth Meets Sky, creating a series of unique live performances. These have been recorded, filmed, and broadcast throughout the tour on social media. Visit her Website for more information.