Just before Channel Nine’s The Voice hit our screens, I was chatting on the phone to a friend who’s a close mate of Delta Goodrem’s, and she was raving about how utterly blown away she was at the taping of the Blind Auditions.

As she described this beautiful, young girl who sang like an angel and happened to be blind.  I immediately got goosebumps and asked if her name was Rachael?

A weird and wonderful 6 degrees of separation situation as I realised it was Rachael Leahcar, which most South Aussies now know.

I have no memory of how she came to our attention at the time, but working years back at SAFM, Adelaide’s own Rachael came into our studio with her mother, and sang her now famous version of Edith Piaf’s Non, je ne regretted rien. Amazing.

It’s easy to get caught up in that extra element that makes up a part of the sum total of this special young lady, her blindness, but she is so much more than that.   She has star quality well beyond her disability and her ability.

She reminded me of some exotic, fragile little creature that might have jumped in a time machine, direct from some tucked away little music venue in Paris, circa 1920.  She just has this otherworldly aura about her.

At the time, well before her burst onto the Australian TV stage, she was just another hopeful trying to feel her way round a career she should have, but with the usual ‘where do I begin’ navigational issues.

I offered to send her demo to Jaydee Springbett at Sony, who some of you might remember from his stint as a judge on Australian Idol, and who tragically passed away last year.

The point is, that I doubt she ever received a call from him around that particular time, but although the mere mention of the word Sony was thrown around, no doubt would have got her hopes up.  And then, nothing.

Rachael, and most of the other contestants share a bond, which is that of rejection.  It’s something that nearly every successful person has copped not once, but over and over and over again, before they made it!   But unlike many others, not just singers but everywhere in life, these guys kept coming back.

We get so mislead in our heads that a successful person we’ve heard of must have just been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.  Or destiny just gave them a good ride.  But it rarely works like that.  At first anyway.

The real inspiration from this story is not simply that of Rachael’s unearthed talent, it’s one that we should all really learn from.  How many things have we put off, procrastinated about, or completely let go because of our fear of rejection?

How many times have we attempted to do something to get closer to a dream, yet through one knock back, one response that wasn’t exactly what we’d hoped for, or one other’s negative opinion about our idea have we just fallen in a heap?  Too scared to push on again.

And the sad thing about how much many of us fear rejection so much is that we avoid it at all costs, and by default end up avoiding nailing the one thing that could transform our lives and lead to so much happiness.

I’ve been putting this new spin on rejection to work lately and have found myself become less and less afraid of it.  I’m getting closer to feeling like rejection is actually a rather exciting little hurdle and one that doesn’t necessarily mean no.

Every time I get close to really letting go because of my fear of rejection, I simply Google someone I admire and read up on all their early rejections.  I then run round in my head all day thinking, well, so far I haven’t had nearly as many knock backs as poor old blah, blah, blah had in their day.’

*See next post for 50 SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE WHO FAILED AT FIRST  – tell us your story of overcoming fear of rejection OR share what’s holding you back?


  1. Subject: just wanted to say..

    Message Body:
    Love your Advertiser column. I am also in Adelaide and loved the morning radio show you did in Adelaide. I often laugh at how it is usually relevant to something happening in my life coincidentally. Like this week when I discovered ‘a light bulb moment’ that my nineteen daughter was not travelling too well with her uni degree she started this year but was not saying anything. Your column on failing was great. I will rip it out of the paper and stick it under her nose or on the fridge and maybe she will read it. After I enquired with her about her studies and took my enquiring further she went “from yeah everythings okay” to “I’m failing two subjects and cant come back from it this semester”. She also said she was advised to withdraw from the subjects she was failing and have a withdrawal marked (she was also advised she could explain that as having “personal issues”)as it would not look good on her record. I had already told her before reading your column not to do that
    finish the semester accept the fail and repeat. This generation are always looking for excuses not to fail. So when I read your column it was funny. Also I remember the Virgin Airways article you wrote years ago and that week my family had flown Virgin and my daughters, then younger, commented on the women in the ads and they were 10 and 16 then. Love your work.

    This mail is sent via contact form on Amber Petty

  2. Oh Liz, what a lovely letter to read, thank you! I LOVE when someone has something going on in their lives that resonates to my column that week. So your daughter, I tell you what, I know that we need to encourage the kids always to try their best and that schooling is so important, but there were a few subjects that I did back then, and I just couldn’t not get my head around them at all. And the problem was that because they were ones like maths…important I know, all my focus went on the fact that i was so bad at it and I’ll just jam my circuits with stress which would mean I just couldn’t move forward. My brain freezed with fear and nothing anybody tried to say or explain would make sense. I now look back and wish that I had of placed alot less importance and focus on it which it dragged down my self asteem and took too much time away from thinking about the things I was good at. You know what I mean? Some subjects aren’t meant for us but because the kids haven’t really formed completely in terms of ‘what are they good at’, ‘who are they as people?’. we just keep hoping they’ll work it out. Fast forward 20 years, and sometimes those subjects just don’t matter that much. Such a hard time though.

    If you’re interested, google 50 SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE THAT FAILED AT FIRST. It’s a great list to read and quite inspiring.

    Do you mind if I post your comment on my blog when I get the post up? I can take your name off if you don’t want it public. I just like having stories attached that add other people’s stories that relate.

    Thanks again Liz

  3. Message Body:
    Hi Amber,

    I just wanted to say I really enjoyed your article which apears in todays Advertiser (16/05/12). Your message is so true and no more evident than in Rachel Leahar – not only is she a great talent, but also a true inspiration to all of us. Your article is a reminder that rejection is not the end. I always try and emphasise this very point to both my daughters – my eldest is studying Journalsim and hopeful of forging a career in the male dominated world of Sports Journalsim, and my 13 year old is a talented young Soccer Player and currently a member of the SA Under 14 State Squad and vying for a spot in the State Team which will participate in the National Championships later this year. I know both may face some sort of rejection during their attempts to fulfill their dreams in such competive environments and so I have cut out your article to show them there is always hope. “Rejection – A Badgde Of Honour” further highlights just what can be achieved if you never give up. Thanks again
    Amber for your excellent article. Keep up the great work.

    Kind regards,


  4. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh LUI, that’s the sort of feedback which I love to get. I’m so pleased it resonated with you. I truly have started to embrace rejection of late. Well, let’s say I haven’t had it yet, but am throwing a few big ideas out there and there’s no doubt I’ll get a door shutting at some point but I made a promise to myself not to treat it as a knockback. I want to take on the parts that might be helpful criticism, but then use it to prove to myself that I’m passionate enough about my ideas that a knockback is not about me being on the wrong path. I’ll send you another thing to print off to read relating to rejection. It’s fabulous. Thank you again Lui. All the best to your family, who sound amazing.x

  5. Great piece Amber, currently going through a fair bit of rejection in work…this gives me hope to keep trying, look at it from a different angle, etc.

    • Thanks Bek, hope you’re not getting too down about it. Hard not to sometimes. There’s also the side of rejection where if it’s not flowing well, is it that the universe is trying to steer you in another direction? Sometimes a rejection turns out to be the push you needed to to what you really wanted. Not always the case but I’ve been in this situation. I hope it gets better for you sweety.xx

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