Dealing with Disappointment

Months in the preparation, I was looking forward to celebrating with my parents, our family, and their friends as they reached the milestone of 60 years of marriage. A few days before the event I contracted Covid and as a result was unable to attend. Dealing with the disappointment of not being able to attend has been interesting.

As the effects of the pandemic ripple through, I wonder if the disappointment many are experiencing through their own illness or the impact of others affected by Covid starts to impact our mental well-being.

“The principles of living greatly include the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility.”  Thomas S. Monson

With expectations come the possibility of disappointments. As a leader you will tread this line between the vision and therefore the expectation of something great and the day-to-day challenges that threaten disappointment. Disappointment, unless it is handled with the right perspective, could discourage us to the extent that we give up on our dream.

What do you do when you get disappointed? Whether it is friends or family, other team members, or circumstances that just switch on you, what will you do to lead in those circumstances?

Dealing with Disappointment Well

One person receives disappointing news and is able to process it, learn what they can and move on. For others it can be the beginning of a path that could end in depression. If you lead in any capacity, you will not be able to avoid disappointment. The question will be what will you do when it comes knocking?

I found the following useful in coping with disappointment, which I have gleaned from an article in Harvard Business Review, August 22, 2018 by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries:

  • Is the disappointment as the result of something over which you had no control? It is important to understand what has happened. Some instances of disappointment are predictable and preventable. But there are others that are unavoidable and beyond our control.
  • Intentionally look for what you can learn from your disappointment. If possible view the disappointment as a learning opportunity, as likely you will either learn something about yourself and better ways of self-management or how you could have done something differently.
  • Personality wise you may have a tendency towards perfectionism. The impact of these high expectations can be a higher than needed amount of disappointment. The vision you have in your head is never going to translate exactly into reality so managing your expectations is key to not becoming discouraged.
  • Are you experiencing a lot of disappointment particularly in the area of relationships with colleagues and team members? If so, it could be there is something up with your expectations or at least in the way you are communicating.
  • Does disappointment have an innately negative feel to you? It is important to realise that these events are points of learning and as such something positive can come out of what might at first glance seem to be negative. Make sure you take time for the reflection needed to evaluate well. It could be you need the perspective of another to help you do this.

Disappointments will come our way. It could be that I could have avoided catching Covid last week. The truth is it was probably beyond my control. More importantly I learnt it is because I have such a high value for family that I struggled with some of the disappointment. Ultimately the whole effort was to give my parents an enjoyable day to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, and by all accounts this happened.

May your disappointments lead you to a place of hope and learning.

Stay safe.

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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