Cognitive science professor Barbara Sarnecka wanted to weaken the power rejection has on motivation. In her research lab at the University of California, Irvine, she started a tradition where she and her graduate students could share their names to a spreadsheet whenever they were rejected. It could be for grants, journals, post-graduate job opportunities, anything. The idea was to shift professional perceptions around success and failure. A common norm is for people to keep rejections to themselves and share only successes; no one wants to be the first to reveal failure. Consequently, people fall prey to distorted perceptions about themselves and others. But here, one is welcomed for being rejected. “I had always assumed that once you were successful, you would just continue to be successful eternally somehow,” said graduate student Darby Vicker, once she saw on the spreadsheet that even her professor was rejected for grants. Every time the 100-rejections mark is reached, Sarnecka's lab gets together to host a party, wearing laurel wreaths and Roman togas, to celebrate rejection - together.

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