How amazing would it be to never have to handle experiencing a disappointment? It could be great! However, when I think about the times I have experienced being on the receiving end of information I wanted to be different, I can tell you the unanticipated outcome has generally turned out better than I anticipated it would have. Does this have to do with my attitude? Sure, it does. Yet this is only one of the dimensions which contribute to the initial disappointment turning into a better situation.
I don’t know about you, but I have never met a perfect person. Although sarcastically we know people who claim to either be close to perfect, even these individuals have been known to have experienced at least one major disappointment in their lives. They may not admit this, but if you asked them enough questions, you would ultimately determine there was a point in their past where a major disappointment contributed to who and where they are today in their lives, or professionally.
In my experience, people who take more risks and push themselves to higher levels of achievements will typically be the ones who are regularly experiencing hearing outcomes they would have preferred to be different. However, they continue to strive to seek a different outcome. If they are an athlete, they do this in a simplistic explanation by training and eating differently and are more strategic about how they work towards altering their performance metrics. They also seek guidance from people who have had success, or via experts in areas they can benefit from.
Businesspeople will take a similar approach to athletes in terms of modifying their performance outcomes to be more ideally suited towards their goals, and to minimize their performance metrics being disappointing to them. Or, to the people on their team who are counting on them to succeed. Independent of what type of career or industry you are in, I’m certain you can think of a time when you were on the receiving end of news you wanted to be different. Perhaps you had to deliver less than desirable news to someone you lead? No one wants to be in either of these positions, but it is a reality, and they will occur. Even when it appears you have a fool-proof plan to prevent it from happening.
I was reading a quote from Ray Kroc the founder of McDonald’s hamburger chain, and it struck me as being simplistically brilliant. Paraphrasing the quote, he said “a person is either green and growing, or ripe and rotting”. I’m sure you would want to be known as someone who is represented by the first part of this quote, but if you are in the latter part, your share of disappointments might be due to the fact you have become stagnant? Yes, being green and growing as an analogy can certainly contribute to experiencing disappointments, but I’m of the opinion I would rather be growing, and if part of the growth equation includes disappointments, as I know for a fact, I will learn from them. More so from the disappointments I might experience if I’m on the “ripe side” and rotting. Why? Because you know when you are “ripe and rotting”, and if you remain on the green and growth side, you can continue to learn and experience the opportunities which will come from your growth. I want to emphasize this is also independent of which decade in life you are in. Potentially it’s even more important to have a growth mindset as your decades add up, as we want to keep our brains sharp, and not succumb to thinking we don’t need to learn anything new because we are too old to do so.
In considering whether there is an ideal way to handle either experiencing a disappointment, or perhaps disappointing someone else, below are some suggestions you can consider or share with someone else who might need them. Especially if they are a leader or sports coach who are on a regular basis contending with having to handle the aspects associated with the concept of disappointment.
- Keeping negative news directed towards you in perspective can take practice. It can be hard to hear, but intently listening to what is being said can provide you with valuable clues which you can benefit from, especially when you take time to process hearing the information.
- Sometimes we can prepare and brace for hearing less than desirable news. However, consider if there was anything you could have done to make this news a self-fulfilling prophecy? Unfortunately, there are times when we will self-sabotage a situation, so hearing the news shouldn’t be too surprising. The takeaway is going back and considering the “why” did you self-sabotage the scenario?
- There are very few circumstances we can’t learn something from. This includes being on the receiving end of the news you would rather not hear. The trick is to commit to practicing having a growth mindset, as this will contribute to how well or poorly you will handle experiencing the negative information you are receiving.
- When you are hearing disappointing news, are you quick to blame someone else and are immediately defensive towards the bearer of the news? Sure, it’s possible another person or others contributed to what you are hearing, but factor in the “why” are you the one who is hearing this news independently? Perhaps hearing this news in this manner might be favorable to you. Why? Because you will have an opportunity to privately come up with a plan on how to leverage this information in a favorable way, potentially with the person who is sharing the news with you.
- When someone disappoints another person, it might not on face value be what they consciously meant to do. Consider they may have done so as a cry for help, or potentially for attention they have not been able to garner via other attempted methods. It’s also possible the person on the receiving end feels worse than the news bearer, and their act of disappointing you is going to cause more mental angst than any action you can apply to prevent this circumstance from occurring again.
- Factor in that when you are on the receiving end of disappointing news, that this is a moment in time. Circumstances can change, time will fade and heal your mental wounds eventually, and that you are not defined exclusively by what you are hearing. You can change and grow from the news you are hearing at any point in your life. Believing this is key and grant yourself permission to allow this to be potentially a new way of thinking which you will benefit from.
One of my colleagues in the past used to say in situations that warranted either bravery or a different perspective to “put on your big girl pants”. Anytime I personally come across a disappointing scenario, both this and Ray Kroc’s previously mentioned quote pops into my mind and allows me to remain optimistic. Although none of us wants to experience disappointment, there are upsides to this concept, you simply must be willing to look for and appreciate what they are.
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