I’ve been thinking a lot about disappointment recently and how I handle it. You see personally my partner and I have been hoping to buy a house but there seems to be insurmountable hurdles at every step. Every time we think we’re one step closer we get knocked down and have to change direction. But disappointment is not just a personal thing, it’s very real in the business world and the constant need to get back up quickly and change direction is a great mindset to have when it comes to business set backs.
In one of the several business groups I’m in, I recently read an entrepreneur explain that she launched a new product that nobody bought. It was, for all intents and purposes, a failure. She was quite rightly disappointed and vented to us in group and of course, like any of us she had a good cry and a couple of stiff drinks.
The story doesn’t end there though, we all commented back and forth because we knew the product and it really was a great idea – she knew that it was too, her instincts and business experience said that in her gut but she had obviously miscalculated something, she was disappointed in herself and could have quite easily written it off as a bad idea. She didn’t. She had the guttural sense of where her destination was but understood that the route she thought she would need to take was in fact wrong.
Think of it like encountering a road block on your drive home from work. You don’t park up and call getting home too hard never to return again – you assess your options and you find a different way.
This is the mentality of all the successful people I have ever met. In this instance, upon further investigation it would seem that her market research hadn’t been as thorough as she had led herself to believe (she had assumed a lot more than she realised and then just ran with her expectations) as it turns out she had targeted the wrong audience. Within a few weeks she had re-launched to something pretty successful and it is still ever growing.
There are many famous people who have well documented histories of this mentality. Walt Disney, Tim Burton, Oprah Winfrey almost any sportsperson or athlete. They experienced disappointment, road blocks and flat out failures BUT they still kept their desire to succeed in their field strong, they diverted, re-routed and failed again at times but they kept going and now I am pretty sure we would all consider them successful.
With so much disappointment recently with the house scenario and with a non paying client I have not always found it easy to keep my goals in mind. I have of course, thought about throwing in the towel, cried into a whiskey and wondered if life wouldn’t be easier if I just stopped trying. But that’s not the person who I want to be, the goals will remain the same whether I give up or not (I would simply have to assume I was incapable of achieving them and that my friends, is like a little death of something special) So every time I feel those things I tell myself;
“Don’t change the destination when you encounter a wall Amy, change your route.”
It’s not always easy but the truth is this, sometimes you don’t get the things you want in the way that you expect. Disappointment can be a bitter pill to swallow when you feel everything you have ever wanted and worked for is on the other side of that disappointment, so close you can almost taste it.
Yes, it is hard to be disappointed yes but you definitely don’t get all the things you have ever hoped, dreamed and worked for by giving up, by settling for less. Pick your kick in. Pick which one you would prefer, the disappointment now at trying another way or the disappointment you will feel when you’re 20 years older and looking back.
You know what they say about failure? There are many books on this very subject! Fail fast, fail often and fail forward which basically means that you keep going even when something doesn’t go to plan. Even when you feel utterly disappointed. The key is to accept that it wasn’t as hoped quickly and try an alternative, change something, deal with it fast, so that you may still make progress towards the end goal.
We have altered our location scope, our type of house, our budget – anything really to stop us from obsessing over what we cant have because our destination isn’t a postcode, it’s sharing a postcode that we own. I may have had a non paying client but I dealt with it quickly, freed up space to take on a new client and got a deposit for works.
We will all fail, and we will all experience disappointment. It’s the way you choose to manage that moment that will determine whether you eventually succeed or not. Are you going to let disappointment keep you on your knees or are you going to let yourself feel it for a bit then dust yourself off and keep moving forward regardless?
I’d love to know about your experience with disappointment and whether you believe in the fail forward mentality.
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Thank you for reading,