“Most things disappoint till you look deeper.” – Graham Greene, English novelist
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their share of disappointment this year. We’ve all been discouraged at some point in our lives, but this year it was magnified times ten!
From career and business expansion to travel and wedding plans to health and wellbeing, our expectations for a wonderful year beginning January 1, 2020, were crushed. How we handle the twists and turns of this year determines our capacity for success in the next.
The maze of success.
Which makes me think of the maze puzzles I used to do as a kid. I would draw a line from the starting point with my pencil winding my way along the pathways to the finish. I would try but never succeed at avoiding those dead-end walls that would stop me in my tracks and force me to find a new route.
Every dead-end wall is a failure of sorts. Just when you think you are home free on the right pathway, you run into a wall. It’s frustrating. However, it is what comes afterward that counts. Do you get mad and give up? Do you retrace your steps back to the point where there was a choice for an alternate route? Do you look ahead to the finish and try to work backward to reach the point in the maze where you are?
Failure and disappointments in life are like those dead-end walls. They can be a self-awareness tool to develop patience, teach you the rewards of persistence and enable you to become a better problem solver. Or they can be insurmountable barriers to the achievement of your goals.
Throughout the maze of success, there are events and people that block dreams and crush expectations. The only way to avoid these dead-end walls is not to enter the maze at all, which means never trying.
Each year, we enter the maze with a mindset to reach the finish line and achieve our goals. However, this year, after everything we have been through, we might enter the maze with a new perspective. We can still have our dreams and expectations AND pay attention to how we handle what does not go our way. We can be aware that success is the result of our sustained enthusiasm regardless of our failures and disappointments.
Self-leadership is key.
Happiness tomorrow depends on how we lead ourselves out of the misfortunes of today. There is no getting around this. Like you cannot ignore the walls in the maze, you must address the fiascos of 2020 to move past them. In the end, it is how you lead and expand your sense of self that counts, despite the calamities. This may have been a heck of a year for setbacks and obstacles, but it wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last.
Think of 2020 as the prep for how to get a master’s degree in fulfillment. Otherwise, without any focus on your personal development, you will suffer as Bill Murray’s character did in the movie “Groundhog Day.” Murray plays Phil Connors; a narcissistic, self-absorbed TV weatherman caught in a bizarre time loop. Every morning, he wakes up reliving the same lousy day repeatedly until he realizes that nothing will ever change until he does. The message is that we are always free to choose to be our best or our worst in any circumstance. What we choose will impact our experience of life.
The only way to avoid being touched by failure and disappointment is to have no dreams or expectations at all. Some people claim this is how to live a stress-free life. Maybe. However, I believe a little bit of stress is good and that true contentment comes from making meaning out of our dashed dreams and expectations and learning from them. We may not always get what we want but we can always become who we need to feel successful and happy.
Success is rooted in what you do when you hit the wall.
If you can give your difficulties positive meaning, you will grow into a more robust and secure person. You will have already succeeded by laying the groundwork for future success.
You win in your career and life when you recognize that the source of security you are looking for is already within you, not in your performance, achievements or relationships. All of these things are good and worthy. However, you are the shelter you seek in the storm. Learn to direct attention toward your personal growth and development when you hit the wall. Practice controlling the one thing you can control in an out of control situation – yourself and your choices.
Work Your Inner Genius: Give yourself the gift of introspection. Trust that you are the smartest person in the room about what you need to move forward. Use that expertise to better yourself and have a more positive impact on others.
- What was your biggest failure or disappointment this year?
- How much energy did you put into blaming circumstances or people? How much energy did you put into developing yourself to meet the challenges more effectively?
- Think back to the moment where you could have made a different choice in the way you reacted. How would your life, results or attitude be different today?
Thanks for reading. Til next week,