“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” – Eliza Tabor Stephenson
Here’s a really hard truth: Sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. Kind of a bummer, huh? I found this out recently. I went after something, didn’t get it, and was disappointed. I was prepared, had good people in my corner, felt confident that I performed at a high level…but it didn’t happen for me. I sincerely felt that what I put forth was, if not my absolute best, really, really close to it. But, in the end, I lost out. So, now what?
Disappointment could be fairly easy to avoid. If you’re comfortable with your current station in life, don’t take risks, don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable and have no expectations, you can’t really be disappointed, right? The English poet Alexander Pope said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Taking that literally, it helps define what I said above in this paragraph. However, taken figuratively, what Pope is saying is that if you expect nothing, you’ll get nothing. It’s not a statement of positive parable. It’s not saying, “Hey, man, just don’t have expectations and you’ll never feel crappy.” It’s saying that by having no motivation, no hope and no level of expectation for the positive, you have nothing. That, in itself is disappointing.
I didn’t intend to write this post to break down 18th century poetry. Our goal is to uplift, so in that regard, I offer a few ways to turn that cold water of disappointment back into burning metal.
1.) Internalize that disappointment. Allow yourself to feel it. Don’t try to push it down and store it away. It sucks, and it’s okay to feel like it sucks. Trying to stuff it away by slapping an immediate smile on your face is lying to yourself. Feel it.
2.) Analyze it, but don’t beat a dead horse. Think of things you could have done better, and outline ways to reach that end.
3.) Truly let it go. Fight off those feelings of resentment. Resist the urge to point fingers and dream up conspiracy theories. You lost. It’s okay. Now, get better.
If we strive for greatness were going to fail along the way. It’s inevitable. Your decision is this; do you choose to be Roosevelt’s Man In The Arena, or follow Pope’s expectations of nothing?
I’m rolling with Teddy.
Have an awesome Thursday,