Can Rejection lead to Enhanced Creativity?

In an interesting study at John Hopkins University, the researchers led by Sharon Kim have tried to see the impact of rejection on Creativity.  What they found is incredible and interesting.

When they calculated the results, the researchers found that “rejected” participants significantly outperformed those that were included in a group. But that wasn’t all the researchers found. Embedded in the personality questions was a measurement of how individualistic or collective participants viewed themselves (called independent or dependent self-concept). Those who had test results that labeled them as independent showed even greater gains in creativity after feeling rejection. Consider the difference between those who respond to rejection by sulking versus those who respond by rolling up their sleeves and thinking “I’ll show them.”

The key is how we react to rejection and hold ourselves to respond to that.  If we can access the strength in our cores, and push the limits of novelties, we might come up with something that is great.  If you know that what you do has value and is worth your effort, then getting rejected by the “crowd of experts” may be a good thing.  For, they do not understand your work as yet.

“For people who already feel separate from the crowd, social rejection can be a form of validation,” says Johns Hopkins Carey Business School assistant professor Sharon Kim, the study’s lead author. “Rejection confirms for independent people what they already feel about themselves – that they’re not like others. For such people, that distinction is a positive one leading them to greater creativity.”

Stories of many – for example Amitabh Bachchan – are popular, about how conventional wisdom told them that they were bound to lose.  But they hit back and persevered to win.  And, win big!

In this very interesting talk by India’s cricket opener some years ago and now MP, Navjot Sidhu discusses this instinct of fight back against rejection and heavy odds.

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