Dealing with disappointment

In life we have all experienced disappointments.  When you experience a disappointment in life, you can either allow that experience to leave you feeling as if you are a failure while setting yourself up for more disappointments, or you can see every disappointment as an opportunity to redirect your life towards success.

Speaking for myself, I have had more than my fair share of disappointments in life.

Thursday September 11, 1980 was my 11th day of my freshman year of high school.  During first period my teacher wanted me to go to the principal’s office. I had torn down a poster in the hallway before class, punched a locker and thrown a notebook into the garbage can in the classroom (I was having a bad morning).  I knew that going to the principal’s office would mean Saturday morning detention.  I also knew that Saturday morning detention would mean certain grounding from my parents – and I didn’t want to be grounded.  That is why I decided to refuse to go to the office which lead to my teacher summoning the principal to the classroom.  When the principal arrived and instructed me to come with him to his office, instead of getting up and walking out of the room, I sat in my chair and kicked him in the shin.

My actions resulted in my being dragged from the classroom to his office. Subsequently, I received expulsion from high school while narrowly escaping being charged with assault.

Nearly twenty years later, I landed my dream hob.  I was a customer service representative for an Internet company.  What was special about this job was that I got them to hire me when they were not hiring anyone, despite my visual disability.

Six months into that job the company downsized, and I lost my job.

17 years later, I entered the Springfield Writers Guild summer writing contest.  I spent several days creating and then crafting a entry for the contest. I submitted it in time for the contest.  When the contest started, and I read the other entries pieces, I felt mine was good enough to place in the top three and win a prize.  When the contest was over my entry did not place first, second or even third.  I felt disappointed that I had not won.

How I turned those disappointments into opportunities.

When I was expelled from high school, I felt disappointed that I was not allowed to attend the same high school as my peers.  I could have allowed my disappointment to convince me that I was a bad kid.  If I had done that I could have went down a very dark path where I could have wound up on the wrong side of the law.   Instead, when I was placed into a special education program for kids with behavior problems (today probably referred to as ADHD) I looked at my surroundings not as a place for failures, but as a place to start over and build a new life and reputation for myself – and I did just that.  Two years later I was allowed to return to my high school where I earned honor roll grades for one quarter. I was also recognized by the rotary club as most improved student in 1984 and graduated with my peers.

When I was lost my dream job of being a CSR, I felt disappointed about the lost job, but I refused to allow my disappointment convince me that no one else would hire me because of my disability.   I could have allowed that disappointment fester into depression, but I didn’t.  I knew if I could convince one small business to hire a disabled man I could do it again.  That summer I convinced a Christian radio station to hire me as a board operator, then at the beginning of the fall semester, I convinced the Dean of the Allied Health department to hire me as the administrator of her computer lab!

When I didn’t place in the top three stories in the Springfield Writes Guild contest, I felt disappointed as I felt my story was a good as three of the other entries.  I could have let that disappointment discourage me from writing or at least entering any other contest.  I knew my story was solid.  I took a fresh look at it, tweaked it a bit to meet the criteria for the Joplin Writer’s Guild contest, and submitted it to JWG fall contest.  This time the same story that didn’t place in the top three in Springfield, placed second at the Joplin Writs Guild contest.

The biggest take away I have gained from every disappointment in my life.

The only way you can go through life without any disappointments it not to take any risks.  If you take that course, you will still experience the sting of disappointment as you watch opportunities pass you by and success elude you.

Disappointment is just a fact of life.  Let’s face it, if we never experience disappointment then our victories will not be as enjoyable as they are now.

Next time you experience a disappointment in your personal or professional life, I believe that you have two choices: you can view the disappointment as either a set-back or a set up, it is all up to you!