We've now all been taught that failure is good and the road to learning. If you go into any B&N or online bookstore and type in failure, you'll get thousands of hits. (B&N.com brought back 4171 results under "failure" for their book category; when I narrowed it down to "business" books, I got 381.)
But what about self disappointment? How do you recover from letting yourself or someone else down?
Of course we can reframe this as just a type of failure and therefore subject to all those 381 books and the iteration mindset, but it still feels wrong. And you still feel bad...as if you've let yourself down, which you have.
I'm not going to pretend there's one answer or one way. What I would do is figure out the why. Why did you disappoint yourself or someone? Did you feel pressured into saying yes when you should have said no? Did you over-commit and/or not communicate your expectations? Did someone not communicate with you or were you mislead as to the scope of the work? Did someone make a mistake?
If you took on too much or were not clear as to what you were agreeing to, then there is a clear lesson and something you can learn from and not repeat.
The saddest self disappointments are when you thought you could do something...and could not. When you reached for something you weren't quite ready for or believed in something and just couldn't make it work. Or when you really wanted something, gave it your best, and fell short.
How do you walk away from knowing you weren't good enough?
It's really hard. You can either choose to learn from it or dwell on it...and you'll probably do some dwelling on it regardless. The key is not to stop there.
If you tried something new (aka started a business) and it failed, what did you learn? Can you do it better next time? Do you still want to? If you reached for something (aka a job) and didn't get it, what can you do differently next time?
At the end of the day, self disappointment is the worst kind of failure: it's deeply personal. But as many wise people have said, if you learn something from it, it's not truly a failure or a mistake, but an opportunity.
Have you disappointed yourself? How did you react and what did you learn from it?
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