Setbacks and criticism — don't let them derail you

"Mama said there'd be days like this. There'd be days like this, Mama said." So go the words of an iconic song from several decades ago.

Everyone has those days. You lose a valuable client. A vendor pulls out at the last minute from a major project. A legal hurdle derails a major construction project just as the earth moving equipment arrives. Your manuscript is rejected with a scathing critique. Your performance of a lifetime is shredded by a mean-spirited reviewer. How do you overcome these setbacks?

There's are no cookbook answers, but here are some tactics to try:

Remind yourself that because someone says something doesn't make it true. J. K. Rowling, who wrote the "Harry Potter" series, was viciously rejected by almost two dozen publishers. She is now one of the wealthiest women in the United Kingdom.Don't let the judgments and decisions of other people undercut your sense of wellbeing. Your peace of mind is a precious gift. Don't give it away.Man up when you make a mistake or are at fault. Acknowledge your error, learn from it and then move on.Keep things in perspective. In a year or two, will these events really matter? The answer is in all likelihood that they won't.

While on a recent book tour, I became acquainted with a law enforcement officer who spent his career as an undercover narcotics agent. He talked about a time when he killed two individuals in self-defense. He viewed the events with sadness, but acknowledged that they occurred in the line of duty. I asked him point-blank, "How do you deal with these events night after night and day after day?" And he told me that he cultivated the ability to put miseries in a box and close the lid. He could then walk away with no regrets and no remorse.

Like this officer, you must find a way to put setbacks behind you and move forward with grace, dignity and humility.

Aug. 20, 2015


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