Everybody faces disappointment. Even those who seem to experience one win after another very likely overcame one disappointment after another to achieve that winning status. But disappointment does not have to defeat you. And sadly, it does cause a lot of people to give-up on their hopes or dreams far too quickly. So here’s what you can do to overcome the disappointment that will inevitably come.
Step One: Identification
A. Identify what happened that you did not want to happen, or what did not happen that you wanted to happen. Just naming the thing is a great first step. Sometimes we find it embarrassing or painful to admit name the source of our disappointment, but it cannot be overcome until we are willing to drag it into the light of day. As long as it can hide in the shadows, it can continue to work against us. But it the harsh light of day, we can identify its vulnerabilities and begin to overcome it.
B. Identify why you were disappointed. This is not merely about what happened, but about why it struck the chord it did in you. What was your stake in it? Was their some dream, hope or aspiration that was damaged or undone? Did your reputation take a hit, or was your ego shot down? Had you convinced others of a potentially positive outcome, and now you are responsible for their disappointment or loss as well? Get the truth out in the open!
Step 2: Evaluation
A. What did you learn from this experience? Some good diagnostic and often revealing questions can include:
- How could my preparation and planning have been better?
- Is there some deficiency in my skills or other learning that can be addressed?
- How could I have executed the plan for a better outcome?
- Was there a communication breakdown somewhere that could be fixed?
- What part of this disappointment do I need to own?
B. To whom do I need to apologize and rebuild trust? This short list consist of:
- Yourself. You have permission to fail. It’s how we all learn and grow. Pick yourself up and spray something on those scrapes and get moving again.
- Others negatively affected. If you have built good relationships with these people, they are likely to be forgiving since they are probably also imperfect. You may even find out that their level of disappointment in much less than your own. Also, taking ownership of your part in something that is disappointing rather than deflecting and blaming others will earn you some change in your pocket.
Step 3: Determination
A. Celebrate what you learned from this experience. Give yourself permission to do something you enjoy with people you enjoy being with as a reward for learning from your disappointment rather than wallowing in regret and shame. (For more on regret and shame, click here and here.) It will serve as a marker driven into the ground of the day you learned something of great value
B. Address growth areas you identified in the Evaluation step. Now that you have named what you learned. Do something about it. Learn new things. Get relevant training. Broaden your skills base or further develop already acquired skills. Communicate more strategically and clearly. Let your experience make you more discerning be reflecting on what you learned regularly.
One Last Thought
You do not have to be defeated by disappointment. But if you do not deal with it, just hoping it will fade over time, you will either be disappointed with great regularity in the future, or will become so jaded that the abilities and gifts you have to offer the world will be lost.
So deal with it! Identify, Evaluate and Determine that this disappointment is not going to slow you down for even one more minute. Just say to it, “Thanks for the lesson. That was awesome! I gotta go.”