I am sure you have experienced the pain of disappointment. An unexpected circumstance threw a wrench into your well-laid plans and caused you to fail. The good news is that, If you are willing to look beyond your sorrow, you will find that disappointments can be the key to greater rewards.
Disappointments are part of every aspect of our lives. As you know, the greater the want, the bigger the distress. Dictionary.com defines disappointment as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations”. It also blames “a person, event or thing that causes disappointment”. The associated pain with not getting what you want can present you with three powerful gifts. What is required is an open mind.
The Three Gifts
1. Teach you important lessons
Most of us resort to designating blame for our disappointments. This may temporarily ease our pain, but blaming others, circumstances or ourselves is a waste of time. It is the adult form of pouting, but it does not differ from what children do when they don’t get what they want. There are inherent lessons in failure and they can range the entire gamut of possibilities. You might discover you were not prepared enough or that your expectations were unrealistic. Perhaps you need to discard a person toxic to your efforts. Maybe you are starting to see the need to switch to different tools to work toward your goal. If you will look past your sorrow, you can learn and gather important information that propels you towards the second gift from disappointment….
2. Clarify your vision
One of the most important lessons I learned from failures was that I was not specific enough about my goals. My desire to “someday write a book” was not a goal, it was wishful thinking. Frustrated that I was not taking any steps towards my writing goal, I realized I had to stipulate what I wanted to do. My desire in 2001 became “to write a book about my Cuban immigration story by the end of 2006”. I then put a plan together that had me writing a page every day. I published my memoirs, Boxing for Cuba, in 2007. I have applied this same understanding to everything I hope to have or accomplish. Although success is never guaranteed, I have seen greater results.
Check your goals. Are they specific or are they wishful thinking? Do you have a plan of action? Are you taking steps daily that help you along the path of what you desire?
While clarifying your vision, you will uncover the third gift your sadness has for you……
3. Strengthen your resolve.
Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player, was a 5’10” tall, fifteen-year-old sophomore in high school when he failed to make the Emsley A. Laney High School varsity basketball team. He could not yet dunk a basketball. Michael was designated to the junior varsity where, according to legend, he got more playing time than had he played on the varsity team. This, along with his daily practice routine, sent him on his way to greatness.
This story serves as a real-life example of how disappointment can strengthen your resolve. After the failure dust settles, you might find you remain committed to your goal. This is a good thing because it removes any uncertainty or second guessing about what you are trying to accomplish. You will feel renewed and recommitted to your goal once you realize what you experienced was only a setback. Like Jordan, you will work harder and focus your energy on what makes you better.
Strengthening your resolve might also mean changing course. A wise man once told me that wisdom is knowing when to quit banging on one door to open so you can go knocking on another. Just because we want something does not mean it was meant for our greatest good. We often find that failure can open doors towards other goals that make our lives more meaningful and fulfilling. Every time you have reached for a specific goal and failed, you are left with a choice to make; keep trying or change course. it is hard to give up on something you have spent a lot of energy and resources on, but sometimes, the wisest action is changing course. Quitting is only a defeat if you stop trying altogether, it is a triumph if you make adjustments and pursue new directions.
Everything in life teaches us something valuable. Failure teaches us more about life than successes. This is so because the hurt from disappointment makes us reevaluate ourselves in order to succeed the next time. But beware, it you wallow in the blame game, you will not grow, and you will guarantee your next failure.
Remember, sometimes it is good to be relegated to the junior varsity. This can prepare you to do better when you finally get to be on the varsity team.
Peace be always with you.
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