Though seemingly impossible at first, there are strategies you can use to overcome setbacks and disappointments.
Photo: ADOBE STOCK

Have you suffered a setback? Did a promotion you were expecting go to someone else? Has your department or business been overlooked for well-deserved recognition or an award? Are your revenues down? Has a deal you were counting on gone south? If you answered “yes” to even one of these questions, you know the pain of disappointment.

When I was a professor, one of my goals was to win a Faculty Excellence Award. While I was a finalist several times, I was never selected. Each time was deeply disappointing, but the last time was the worst. My colleague, who had received the award before, won again. When I heard the news, I went into my office and cried. It hurt. To be honest, it still does.

I’ve yet to meet a human or a business that hasn’t suffered multiple, sometimes severe, letdowns and adversities. They are a part of life. I have, however, met people and businesses that weathered setbacks far better than others. It’s what you do when faced with bad news or disappointment that matters. Resilience — the ability to recover quickly — is a key factor in the health of a business. It also plays a huge role in attaining satisfaction and success.

Ways to increase your resiliency:

1. Acknowledge how you are feeling. Rather than ignore how you are feeling, allow yourself to experience negative emotions. Accepting how you feel positions you to move forward unencumbered. Failing to admit emotions adds extra, albeit unseen, baggage you have to lug around wherever you go and makes it even tougher the next time you encounter a disappointment.

2. Confide in a trusted, compassionate friend or colleague. When you don’t get what you were hoping for, self-doubt and shame are common reactions. Dr. Brene Brown teaches that the antidote to shame is compassion. I can tell you from first-hand experience that compassion is generally all I need to move forward when I’m embarrassed or have experienced a setback.

Receiving a rejection letter from a highly desired publisher was a bitter disappointment to me. I went to dinner that evening with a group of supportive friends. When I shared with them, they hugged me, encouraged me and told me, “That’s one person’s opinion. Think of [New York Times bestselling author] John Grisham — he got turned down by all those publishers!” I left reenergized and able to push forward. When you turn to a trusted confidant who supports you unconditionally, you will bounce back more quickly too.

3. Trust yourself. While it doesn’t feel good, a negative experience is not your stopping point. You will push through this. You are strong. You are resilient. You will make it and come out better on the other side because you will be wiser.

4. Refuse to get stuck. The only way you truly lose is when you allow a disappointment to stop you in your tracks. Self-pity, recriminations and replaying what happened over and over in your mind diverts your energy from solving the problem and moving forward. Refuse to allow setbacks, frustrations or bitterness to take root in your life or in your business. They are dangerous weeds that choke out good plants and the harvest to come.

5. Seek help when needed. When you are unable to overcome something quickly on your own, work with a therapist, counselor or coach to help you move forward faster. In business, you don’t have the luxury of taking forever to recover, no matter how devastating the setback.

Living an authentic life and moving through what threatens to hold you back empowers you to lead others to do the same. Your business needs the best of each of you to thrive and grow.

Sherene works with organizations that want to boost their Leadership IQ so they can enhance effectiveness, increase employee engagement and raise productivity. sherenemchenry.com