If you think you’ve read this before, you may have. If you’re reading for the first time, welcome to my world. I’d like to think that I’m learning along the way and that when I’m faced with new challenges I create new solutions. But sometimes, just sometimes…disappointment comes back around to greet us like an unwanted house guest…we take it in, but hopefully we have established new boundaries and “house rules” on how long we’re going to let it stay!
Here’s a repost from July of 2009 entitled “How to Deal with Professional Disappointment,” (ironically, about he same disappointing time in the process of planning the State Fair this year) where we lost many of our livestock competitions due to lack of funding. The story is similar but the heartache is exactly the same…allow me a moment to wallow and reflect and then smack me and tell me to move on! Thanks for indulging me!
Anger doesn’t fix any problem; profanity is a waste of breath and blame is an exercise in self-righteousness that really has no place in the workplace. And I know because I’ve tried all three! So what is the answer to overcoming a large-scale let down in business? It’s the same as it would be in your personal life; and as a psychologist once told me, “disappointment is just disappointment…nothing more than a noun; a word like ‘frustration’ or ‘aggravation.’ When you disappoint someone else it doesn’t mean death for anyone, it’s just disappointment. Acknowledge the fact that you’re disappointed and move on.”
Yeah, right! It sounds very easy on paper but quite frankly, I need a little more time to process than that. I need a day or two of wallowing and self-talk that allows for some pondering, questioning and praying. I don’t think I’m that unique.
On Friday, I received an email that informed me that the single largest initiative I’ve been preparing for the 2009 fair has fallen apart. Like a house of cards in a windstorm it’s destroyed. Had it not been the very anchor I had based the entire “vibe” of the fair on, I would have just rolled…but it dropped me to the depths LIKE an anchor when I got the news.
Part miscommunication, part overzealousness on behalf of the manufacturer, whatever the case I am gravely disappointed and somewhat at a loss for a “plan b.” Sick to my stomach is a better description. I remind myself, it’s not world peace. Then I plead, “but it was MY world peace.”
My world peace is a greening initiative that I feel could change the face of fairs and recycling and energy use…it is a world-changing endeavor that I am still eager to find a solution for. The machine I was expecting is a rarity and its use was unique for our application. I was hoping this machine would change how people perceived the fair, change the demographic of who was interested, and possibly be the innovative new idea that crossed agriculture with technology and saved our fair! Big ideas I guess can result in big failures.
How much energy can one expend and how much heart can you have left after such a huge let down to forge ahead? The answer is: there is no limit to what you can expend and you can give it everything you’ve got. After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the memo from the testing director of MGM read, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” He kept that memo over the fire place in his Beverly Hills home. Astaire once observed that “when you’re experimenting, you have to try so many things, that you may go days getting nothing but exhausted. And there is a reward for perseverance.”
Blah, blah, blah you might say…I did..I’ve tried every motivational quip and rah-rah antic I know…but the winner for me this weekend was silence and contemplation and a bit of perseverance. The quieter I got about the issue the more I came to realize that I can only do what I can do. I’m not (thankfully) single-handedly in charge of greening my world or my city or my fair so maybe there are people and resources that exist that I haven’t yet met. Maybe there are phone calls and pitches still to be made and there is hope that my efforts thus far have mattered. There is hope that even with a disappointing outcome, what I did mattered. I’m not rolling over to accept defeat; I’m rolling over and looking for a way–where there is no way. It’s painful and “uncomfortable” as one friend put it, ha, uncomfortable what a great word for “part humiliation, part disappointment, part exasperation.” I’m holding onto uncomfortable for today. But just for today…
A quote by Samuel Beckett, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”