Leadership In a Word: Disappointment

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Sometimes when you get disappointment it makes you stronger. – David Rudisha

A word about disappointment

In 1858 the Illinois legislature–using an obscure statute–sent Stephen A. Douglas to the U.S. Senate instead of Abraham Lincoln, although Lincoln had won the popular vote. When a sympathetic friend asked Lincoln how he felt, he said, “Like the boy who stubbed his toe: I am too big to cry and too badly hurt to laugh.”

Lincoln’s reaction is a good reminder that we all at times can feel the sting of disappointment. In leadership, it’s much the same. We have those times when we feel let down or disappointed when things don’t turn out the way we planned. In short, life happens.

When disappointments come your way as a leader, here are three truths you need to remember.

Disappointments are inevitable

That statement is not meant to discourage you but rather to motivate you. No leader is immune from times of disappointment. It comes with the territory. So here is what you need to know – you are not the sum of your disappointments, setbacks, or failures. They are not your roadblocks, they are your stepping stones. The inevitability of disappointments coupled with the right attitude and outlook will set you up for the inevitability of your success. Don’t give up!

Disappointments are proportional to your risks

Simply put, the more risks you take, the more disappointments you will experience. Thomas Edison knew about this first hand. He suffered many setbacks and losses. It was his attitude in the face of those disappointments that set him apart. Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. It was his positive attitude that caused him to succeed even in the face of adversity. Don’t allow the size of the risk or disappointment keep you from chasing after your dreams.

Disappointments are opportunities to regroup

The outcome of every disappointment is not meant to be fatal. Sometimes there is a greater purpose to the disappointment – something beyond what you see at the moment. Don’t allow your present negative feelings to cloud your thinking or how you can make your situation better going forward. Let the disappointment be your teacher, and move forward with the wisdom you’ve gained.

Disappointment quotes

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way.” – Robert Kiyosaki

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” – Thoreau

“Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment, put your head down and plow ahead.” – Les Brown

A final word

Thomas Edison also said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Disappointments will come your way as a leader, but don’t be discouraged or sidetracked. See the big picture and know that your disappointments are only momentary.

©2018 Doug Dickerson

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About dougdickerson

I am Certified Leadership Trainer, author, columnist, and speaker. Husband to Alicia, father to Katelyn and Kara, and "Pop" to terrific grandsons Tyson and Gideon. I am an avid photographer, love the outdoors, and like to travel. I'm passionate about sharing my leadership insights and helping people reach their full potential.
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