Professionally or personally we have all experienced defeat because something did not go the way we had planned. Wikipedia defines “disappointment” as “the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows a failure of expectations to manifest. It differs from regret in that the individual feeling regret focuses primarily on personal choices contributing to a poor outcome while the individual feeling disappointment focuses on the outcome.” Interesting, right?
Here is a Case Study of the seemingly endless series of disappointments a famous American endured during the first 50 years of his life…
• At the tender age of 7, his family was driven out of their home, and he had to work to help support his parents.
• At the age of 9 his mother passed away.
• At the age of 21 his business failed.
• At the age of 22 he ran for the legislature, then lost his job and was turned down for law school.
• At the age of 23 he borrowed money to start another business but was bankrupt by the age of 24.
• At the age of 25 his fiancé died.
• At the age of 26 he had a nervous breakdown and was bedridden for six months.
• At the age of 28 he was defeated as speaker of the state legislature.
• At the age of 33 he lost when he ran for Congress.
• At the age of 38 he ran for Congress and lost…again.
• At the age of 44 he ran for the US Senate and lost.
• At the age of 46 he tried for his parties Vice President nomination. After receiving less than 100 votes, he lost.
• At the age of 48 he ran for the US Senate again and lost.
• At the age of 50, he was elected as the 16th President of the United States.
He was Abraham Lincoln! And because he never used any of these personal or professional disappointments as an excuse to give up, he changed the course of our country forever. Lincoln helped to reshape and dramatically change the deeply rooted prejudices that once tormented the people of his country.
So take a cue from Abe – you can allow your disappointment to be a weight, or you can give it wings. If you choose to fly then take action now: Think back to one major disappointment you experienced recently in your professional life and asked yourself these three questions:
1. What happened?
2. What should have happened?
3. What breakthrough can make it right?
By consistently and repeatedly asking these three questions, I have planted the seeds to some of the biggest marketing breakthroughs in which I have collaborated. When I look back on my own marketing accomplishments, I am sure that my disappointments were the inspiration I needed to storm through the gates that others are happy to sneak past. When you change how your view disappointments – miscommunications, disregarded expectations or spoiled intentions – and regard them as learning opportunities, you can happily expect a breakthrough soon after.