After 40 years in the work world if I know anything I know this: you and I are going to lose sometimes, and more often than we would like. Some will be big losses but most will be skirmishes. If you’re a lawyer you’re going to lose a few big cases. A doctor will miss a few vital diagnoses. A carpenter will have measured wrong more than once, and so on. How will you and I react? Well, we have a right to be disappointed, sad, mad, and a variety of other “feel bad” emotions. We will be seduced into the world of blame and we will likely be the harshest on ourselves. And we may want to blame a number of other things or people. Certainly we have to deal with others who will want to blame and criticize us. So what can we do?
The following action list is a helpful general guide but the most important thing we have to realize is that what we do about the loss is what matters most! How we react will tell us and others more than the loss. Please believe me. You might get empathy but there will be little or no sympathy. Only you and I can take us off the hook. We are in control and everyone is watching. If we choose the road of feeling sorry for ourselves, the ironic thing is that people like to pile on, usually in a negative way. More people push us away than pull us toward them, unless we:
- Choose to examine the outcome as a serious student. Do not look for absolution. Without being defensive, get motivated to openly learn. Be objective. Collect data. Get honest feedback. Do not act victimized in any way. Other than our family and friends, most people don’t care if we won or lost. They will be attracted to helping if we’re a serious learner.
- After a brief period of feeling sorry for ourselves, consciously choose to end the pity. We must not let our minds control us. If we “mind wander” we will likely go to “should’ve, …could’ve…” All this may be somewhat cathartic but not of much real value going forward.
- Put the learning into specific principles and actions. Identify things to apply and practice so we don’t repeat the things that contributed to the loss.
- Say thank you and be grateful for the loss so we get the opportunity to win again. Celebrate being in the mix. Show tenacity and mental toughness. Most people love those who get off the ground and dust off.
- Smile and find the humor in the learning process. Forgive ourselves and others if mistakes were made. We’re alive. And as the old adage says, “You only trip if you’re moving.”
And by the way, don’t feel bad if this feels like it is easier said than done. It is.
Live the Triangle,