Earlier this month, inspired by the Dutch football team doing so well in the World Cup, I wrote about team work and success. Of course I was a bit disappointed that Holland didn’t win, and it got me thinking about how we deal with disappointment or mistakes.
I believe in both business and personal life when we have a disappointment or make a mistake it’s vital to look at what happened, see what we can learn and how we would do things differently next time – then move on!
It’s not that successful people don’t make mistakes or suffer the same failures and disappointments as others, the difference is people who are unhappy or unsuccessful give up, or generalise from this episode and give it way too much importance.
Take an example of someone in business setting up a company and doing some marketing. They spend a lot of money advertising in a magazine for two months and get nothing from it. Instead of thinking: “Okay I tried this method, it didn’t work, so what have I learnt and what will I do differently next time,” they over-generalise, decide they are no good and that no-one wants them or what they are selling.
Knowing what doesn’t work is just as valuable as knowing what does, and if you can see your failures and disappointments as learning opportunities, they stop being negative, they’re just things you tried.
I love this saying I came across from US business owner Catherine Cook: “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not making decisions!”
Successful people have as many if not more disappointments and failures than unsuccessful ones. The difference is they just keep going. Think about those sports teams you support – they wouldn’t get far if they gave up when they lose.
Not everyone finds it easy to reflect on what went wrong, but you can learn. I believe passionately in the power of coaching to support and encourage people and help them learn from their mistakes, learn how to do things differently and uncover their full potential. And if you don’t want to talk to someone, there are plenty of good self-help books too.
It’s hard to move on when you’ve been disappointed or made a mistake. But learning to deal with it successfully is one of life’s most valuable lessons. And when you can get to the stage where you love your mistakes because they’re such amazing learning opportunities, you’ll know that you’ve come a long way.