We lost all gas coming into our house this week and that meant no heat and no hot water. After waiting eight hours for the gas company to arrive (we were not considered a priority as it wasn’t a leak), heat was restored but they were unable to get our hot water heater working. A day later we finally had our hot water back. This was topping off a year of some challenges and disappointments that so many of you too experience. Some of these letdowns may be related to our professional life while some may be more personal obstacles. It doesn’t really matter which. What matters is how we face these setbacks and how we turn around and propel ourselves forward.
These are seven strategies to lead through disappointment:
1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE DISAPPOINTMENT
To face my fear of being cold and not being able to shower, I needed to first give it a label- I was stuck in a house for hours with no warmth on a cold, winter day. I had other plans for the day but I needed to just stay put until help arrived. When this household mess took over, I initially wanted to “poo poo it” but realized it was better to be honest and say this is beyond frustrating.
2. DESCRIBE ITS IMPACT
I had other plans for my day. I was going to be with family and celebrate. I was going to enjoy the excitement of the season. I was going to even go shopping with the thousands of other crazies. None of this was happening and I was stuck inside a cold house waiting and waiting.
3. TELL OTHERS ABOUT IT
Then it dawned on me to reach out and tell my kids who were in their warm homes. My husband was with me suffering. When I told others not only did I feel less alone but they offered a space heater! And that made such a difference.
- When we are experiencing challenges, reaching out to colleagues and co-workers can be so helpful
- Going through a setback alone can be overwhelming so sharing it with others is key
- People away from our situation may offer small positive steps
4. TAKE TIME TO BE ANGRY
There’s nothing like screaming out in anger. It feels so good and is a great emotional release. When you face a disappointment, it’s perfectly acceptable to feel angry. Just make sure not to target the anger towards a team member or friend.
5. BRAINSTORM STEPS TO DEAL WITH THE CHALLENGE
Leadership is about being resilient when faced with less than perfect conditions. To be resilient we need to be creative and hearty. What does that mean? It means leading by problem solving in an innovative way. It involves thinking out of the norm and allowing our imaginations to drive our direction. When forced to stay home I decided to focus on my yearend financial strategy, going through all my final expenses and invoices. Ask yourself:
- What is my next best move?
- What will help me dig out from this setback?
- What could I be doing differently to empower me to grow and learn from this situation?
6. COMMIT TO A “MARCH FORWARD” TIMELINE
This next step is so important and not always taken seriously. To every action we need to connect a timeframe. There is no way to measure how well we are doing if we don’t build-in some target dates. When the gas company asked us if we wanted to upgrade our line, we could have said sure and done nothing about it. Instead we committed to putting in the new gas line next month, rather than the spring. Taking any action is what gets leaders through their disappointments.
7. HONOR YOUR SUCCESS
When we lead ourselves to a healthier place where we can continue our chosen direction, we need to give ourselves a big “way to go!” We all have disappointments but we all don’t respond to them in a solution-oriented way. When we discover that new direction celebrate with a colleague or friend.
How do you lead through disappointments or setbacks?
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