Four Steps For Overcoming Disappointment
During an interview a few days after a heartbreaking loss at this year’s Super Bowl, Seattle coach Pete Carroll admitted that he awoke in the middle of the night and just wept.
It was a memorable moment in a week of memorable moments, for many reasons.
Besides the admission by a coach from the rough and tumble testosterone-filled world of professional football that he had been brought to tears by the setback, one cannot help but wonder about the long-term effect on a championship dynasty if not derailed, then at least delayed.
Of course the determining factor as to whether or not it is delayed as opposed to being derailed is dependent upon how the team and coaching staff both individually, as well as collectively, react.
When you consider the initial response to what was a huge disappointment on a monumental level, you might be inclined to lean towards the latter. Especially given that many players immediately following the defeat, questioned the coach’s play calling, while one coach was openly critical of player execution.
This is why Step 1 in the 4 steps for overcoming disappointment is so critical.
1. Look Beyond The Immediate Moment
Winston Churchill once said that “success is not final” and “failure is not fatal,” but it is the “courage to continue” that really counts.
While having the courage to go on is without a doubt an attribute, it is the attitude by which you continue that determines future success.
Churchill’s “not final-not fatal” perspective, speaks to the importance of looking beyond the immediate moment, regardless of whether it is in the bright afterglow of victory or the agony of defeat.
The fact is that even in victory it is important not to let a moment of success define you, because it is in this place of contentment with one’s achievement, that apathy and a loss of motivation can occur.
Instead, you must use the experience to continue to build towards even greater accomplishments.
The same goes for failure.
In much the same way you should use victory as a springboard for future success, so too must you use a setback as a means to achieve a desired outcome.
Ironically, some believe that it is easier to overcome past disappointments than past successes.
Referencing the world of professional sports such as football, this is perhaps one of the reasons why repeat champions are a rarity. Much has been written about the many championship teams who have failed to even qualify for the playoffs let alone successfully defend their title the year following their big win.
Regardless of one scenario being easier to overcome than the other, one thing is certain . . . having the right attitude is the key.
In this context, the words of Seahawks’ coach Carroll speaks directly to this point when he said; “One moment does not define you; the journey does.”
2. Accept That Some Things Are Out Of Your Control
The wisdom behind recognizing the difference between what you can and cannot change is important.
Sometimes in your life and career, you will do everything that is technically right, but not get the expected result.
To the majority of football fans, Carroll’s decision to throw the ball on the doorstep of the opposing team’s goal line was unfathomable. But for those who profess to truly understand the game, it was a smart decision that should have, but did not, work out.
There is no doubt that the coach’s call will forever be debated by everyone who follows professional football. This being said, one thing that everyone can agree upon is that the defending player who intercepted the ball made an amazing play.
This of course is the unknown variable that turned what appeared to be certain victory into a crushing defeat.
No one could have anticipated the chain of events that led up to that fateful moment, when a little known first year player was, at the last minute, sent on the field to defend. He made the play that would catapult him onto the front pages of newspapers around the world, and into gridiron folklore.
There were of course other contributing factors at work that in one brief moment, conspired to turn the sports world on its ear. If any one of these were removed from the equation – such as the New England coach calling a time out instead of letting the clock run down, there would have likely been a much different outcome.
Once again, contemplating things that never were in an effort to understand what did or did not happen, is an exercise futility. Accept that there will always be factors that are beyond your control, and that all you can do is bring your best whether to the playing field or the boardroom.
3. Know When To Let Go Of the Past
Amid all of the controversy of what some have referred to as being the worst play call in football history, Pete Carroll’s words regarding the importance of the journey, demonstrate that there is an intention to let go of the past.
In letting go, I am not suggesting that one forgets the past. After all, what has happened before – good and not so good – has brought you to this present point in your life. It is therefore important to remember and learn from your past experiences so that you can continue to build your bigger future.
However, there is a big difference between remembering the past and living in the past.
Like trying to prove or disprove a negative, the futility of which puts you no further ahead than when you started, replaying a past failure over and over again will not change the outcome. The only thing you will accomplish is falling pray to a could have-would have-should have mindset, that will invariably undermine your future efforts. Instead, you must get beyond what has happened to embrace new opportunities.
4. It Is Not What Others Can Live With, But What You Can Live With
In the end, it matters not one iota what others may think in terms of the decisions you make. What does matter is how you feel about your efforts. Can you stand by your choices?
If you can truly look in the mirror and see within yourself someone who did their best to deliver the optimum results, then that is what counts.
While there will be many opportunities and outcomes over a lifetime, the values by which you make decisions are the ones that ultimately define you. Remain true to your values and persevere, and you will one day find yourself atop the pinnacle of your hopes and expectations.
Do you know the difference between the fear of success and the fear of failure?
My guide How To Make 2015 Your Breakout Year will not only help you to recognize the common obstacles that befall all of us, it will also enable you to take action within the framework of your own unique gifts and abilities to make this year your most successful ever.