Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Disappointment Is A Feeling That Always Disappoints

One afternoon a boy was walking through a field when he came upon an apple tree.  “It sure would be nice to have an apple to eat right about now,” he thought as he stood below the tree.

The windfall apples scattered on the ground were inedible, as they’d been half eaten by whatever creatures had encountered the tree.  There were a few pieces of ripe fruit hanging from some limbs, but most of these branches were just out of reach.

The boy was unable to climb the tree and unable to jump up to grab a piece of fruit.  As he walked away, empty handed and hungry, he mumbled, “Stupid tree.  I bet the apples aren’t any good.”

Was he disappointed in the height of the tree or in his failure to find a way to pick the apples?  In either event, circumstances were beyond his control.

These days, it often feels like disappointments are everywhere.  So many parts of our lives have been disrupted, and the future seems very uncertain at times.  It would be simple to give up hope and just let the chips fall where they may.  But don’t give in to that mindset.

Disappointment is part of life.  It happens to everyone.  To avoid being disappointed is to avoid being human.  The more expectations you have, the more disappointments you will encounter, especially if you go outside your comfort zone.  People who expect the best are often let down the most. 

Maybe it’s missing out on a promotion, losing an account or frustration with the “new normal.”  Disappointments come in all sizes.  Some may be small, others life-changing.  How you handle such occasions will determine how fast you are able to move on with your life and career.

Famous opera singer Beverly Sills said, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.

When disappointment happens, let yourself experience the emotions.  For example, I want to remember how I felt so it drives me to never feel that way again.  The important thing is not to dwell on your disappointment so long that it turns into discouragement. 

Try to put a positive spin on your disappointment.  I’m not a big believer in the blame game.  This is a good time to have a sounding board, someone with whom you can talk things over. 

Reframe your thinking and expectations.  No one is perfect, so don’t set standards that you can’t meet.  Examine what it will take to make you happy and feel fulfilled.

Stay optimistic.  Positive thinking has no negatives.  Positive thinking changes the way we behave.  I firmly believe that when I am positive, it not only makes me better, but it also makes those around me better.  I have found that good attitudes are contagious. 

Maybe it’s a good time to take a break and regroup after being disappointed.  Stress often gives a little thing a big shadow.  Find your stress reliever.  One of mine is sports – attending a sporting event (when we could), playing golf or swimming.  I’ve been known to play tennis and run marathons too.  Find your stress reliever and use it.  It could be music, reading, gardening, bird-watching or even parachuting.

Look at the big picture and get some perspective on what went wrong.  Learn from it.  Can it be corrected or changed?  If that is not an option, then you may have to change course and move on and learn from the experience.

You can’t let disappointment cause you to procrastinate.  Procrastination robs you of the one commodity that you just can’t replace:  time.  It throws off schedules.  It exchanges accomplishment with inaction.  Overcoming procrastination helps your to-do list become your all-done list.

Don’t lose hope and allow yourself to get beaten down.  Believe in yourself.  Make a plan to move forward.  Set a small goal or plan that you can accomplish to get the ball rolling and feel confident about yourself. 

“We must all suffer one of two things:  the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment,” said my friend, the late Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

The minister of a church discovered at the last minute that he hadn’t invited a sweet older lady congregant to come to his garden party, so he called her up and asked her to come out.

“It’s no use,” she informed him.  “I’ve already prayed for rain.”

Mackay’s Moral: Don’t let disappointment cloud your thinking. 

About the Author Harvey Mackay, Founder & CEO

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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