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5 Ways Leaders Conquer Disappointment

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Standing at the baggage carousel waiting for my black bag with a bright blue ribbon to come out was stressful. Knowing that there was a connecting flight and a busy airport scene did little to reduce the anxiety level of whether the suitcase would finally come down the rubber pathway. The sweat began and the panic settled in. Then the ultimate action occurred- the carousel belt stopped and there was no more luggage to be produced. It happened and my heart skipped a beat. My bag was lost at the beginning of a highly planned and anticipated trip to Italy.

Many of us have lost luggage but it is never easy. Many of us are facing disappointment in our jobs and careers. Many of us are dealing with health challenges or personal issues. Disappointment is an ever-present part of our personal and professional lives. But how leaders choose to deal with their disappointment is key to conquering it.

Five Ways Leaders Conquer Disappointment:

1. Recognize What Is Happening

Often when we are faced with a disappointing situation we don’t always read it accurately. When my luggage didn’t arrive at the Genoa airport I initially was in shock. I needed to accept the fact that my black bag with the bright blue ribbon was nowhere to be seen. Similarly when leaders are not given the promotion they thought was coming or they weren’t chosen to work on a high visibility project, they must acknowledge the truth. Don’t embellish just see what is actually occurring.

2. Take Time To Grieve or Be Upset

This is not a step to skip. When facing disappointment a leader should give themselves time to feel. As I saw the conveyor belt shut down and my luggage not arrive I was shocked and paralyzed.

  • Listen to your fast heart beat and try to take smaller breaths
  • Tell yourself it is ok to be upset
  • Try to move from shock to calmness
  • Lean on someone who you can trust to help you deal

3. Brainstorm Ways To Overcome The Difficult Situation

There is no time like the present to decide what to do. Brainstorming ways to conquer your disappointment can help a leader find a suitable solution. If you weren’t promoted and need to know why, reach out to your boss about what happened. Stay open so that you can hear why a particular decision was reached. Then ask for input on how you can get promoted. Or if you weren’t chosen to work on a particular assignment try to find out the thought process behind your boss’s choice. Learn ways to be better prepared for the next project.

4. Put A Conquering Plan Into Action

Once a leader understands what they have to do to become a stronger candidate for the next round of promotions or project choices they put a plan together. When my luggage didn’t arrive I needed to have a plan to locate it.

  • Speak to any stakeholder who could help you accomplish your goals
  • Write down actions you need to take and timeframes
  • Create follow-up mechanisms so you won’t miss out
  • Don’t deviate from your plan

5. File Away What Was Learned

With any disappointment there are always lessons and tips to be learned. Ask yourself what you should be doing differently the next time. What strategies do you need to change? My big takeaway is never to check luggage when I have a connecting flight.

By the way, my black bag with a bright blue ribbon finally arrived four days later just in time for my next flight to my next destination. And yes it did eventually make it home.

What ways have you learned to conquer disappointment?

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