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Turn disappointment into determination

by HARVEY MACKAY
| July 7, 2024 1:00 AM

His baseball team was behind by one run in the ninth inning; two were out and the bases were loaded. He was the leading hitter on the team. The crowd sat on the edge of its seat as he approached home plate, raised the bat over his shoulder, pounded it on the plate and straightened his cap. And then he watched the pitcher pick off the runner on third base. Game over.

Disappointment is part of life. It happens to everyone. The more expectations you have, the more disappointments you will encounter, especially if you go outside your comfort zone. People who expect the best are often let down the most.

Disappointments come in all sizes. Some may be small, others life-changing. How you handle such occasions will determine how quickly you are able to move on with your life and career. Disappointment is often an opportunity for growth and learning.

I have experienced my fair share of disappointment throughout my career and life just like everyone else. One instance that comes to mind is when I was working on a major deal that I was confident would come through. I had invested a significant amount of time and resources into making it happen. However, despite my best efforts, the deal fell through at the last minute due to factors beyond my control.

At first, I was deeply disappointed. I had set high expectations for the success of this deal, and its failure was a tough pill to swallow. But I didn't let that setback define me. Instead, I took some time to reflect on the situation. I allowed myself to feel the disappointment and to understand it, but then I shifted my focus to what I could learn from the experience.

I asked myself a few key questions: What could I have done differently? Were there any warning signs I missed? How can I better prepare for such outcomes in the future?

This introspection helped me to reframe my disappointment as a learning opportunity. It also reminded me that while I can control my actions and decisions, I cannot control all outcomes. This realization was liberating and helped me to adjust my expectations moving forward. As a result, I became more resilient and better equipped to handle future disappointments.

My advice, first and foremost, is to allow yourself to feel the disappointment. It is a natural response, and by acknowledging it, you are validating your emotions, which is a crucial step toward moving forward. I want to remember how I felt so it drives me to never feel that way again. The important thing is not to dwell on your disappointment, because it can cloud your judgment and prevent you from seeing the path ahead.

Famous opera singer Beverly Sills said, "You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try."

Seek support. Talk to someone you trust - a friend, a mentor or a colleague. Sometimes just voicing your feelings can help you see things from a different perspective and start to find solutions.

Try to find a positive angle or a lesson learned. Every disappointment carries with it the seeds of knowledge and experience that can lead to future success.

Make sure your expectations are realistic. Setting the bar too high can lead to frequent disappointments. Aim high but remember that perfection is not the goal - progress is. Optimism is a choice. I choose to stay positive because it not only benefits me but also positively influences those around me. Believe in your ability to overcome challenges and view each disappointment as a steppingstone to greater achievements.

Sometimes, treading back is necessary to reduce stress and gain perspective. I engage in activities that help me relax and recharge, like sports or other hobbies. Once you have processed your emotions, start planning how to move forward. Set new goals or adjust your strategies as needed. Action is the best antidote to disappointment.

Reflect on what led to the disappointment and how you can avoid similar situations in the future. Use this as an opportunity to strengthen your skills and decision-making. Remember, disappointment is not the end of the road; it is just a detour. By handling it constructively, you can emerge stronger and more resilient.

Don't let disappointment lead to inaction. Handling disappointment is not about avoiding it, but managing it in a way that propels you forward rather than holding you back.

Mackay's Moral: Don't let today's disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow's dreams.

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Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website, www.harveymackay.com, by emailing harvey@mackay.com or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.