April 17, 2021

POSITIVELY SPEAKING: Disappointment? Join the club

So, I get an email last night from a reader of this column …

“You always write about optimism, now that you have cancer, what do you think?

What do I think?

Let me begin with this … If you want to avoid disappointment, don’t do anything. Do not try to live your dreams. Stop reaching for the stars. Never build a business or try to compete. Don’t apply for the promotion. Refuse to take a risk. Don’t try to beat cancer. And above all … never fall in love. If you want to avoid disappointment, it’s easy, just be the anti-Nike and Just ‘Don’t’ Do It. Problem solved, right? Not hardly ...

The best of life is available for those who go for it.

The rewards of life go to those who risk, and when you risk, you will often be disappointed. I’ve suffered more emotionally crushing moments in my life than I can recount. It’s all part of the game. You win some, you lose some and some are rained out. Some disappointments are minor, and you move on quickly, while some stay with you for an exceptionally long time. So yes, I’ve suffered great disappointment, while also enjoying great success. You can’t have one without the other.

By coincidence, previously, on a day where I got the call from another reader about disappointment, I personally suffered a major disappointment.

About an hour before the call, I suffered a business setback that was stunning. It was something I didn’t expect, and the disappointment lingered for an exceptionally long time. I was pursuing an opportunity that I was convinced was a sure thing and had been working on it for months. I felt assured by the client that they were eager to take advantage of my proposal. It was a great program and there was every reason that the group I was courting should have said yes. When I was told no, it was like a punch to my gut. I was given no reason for the refusal other than “we just think we’ll pass at this time.” When I came home from the meeting with my tail between my legs, my wife consoled me for a few minutes then said, “Get on the tractor and mow the grass” … and I did.

The grass doesn’t stop growing because I’m disappointed.

Life goes on. I had to pick myself up off the floor, get on the tractor and get cutting, and for me, the tractor is a great place to plan (or plant) my next move.

So, you are disappointed? Join the club. You are not alone. You were laid off from your company or your spouse left you. Your team didn’t win the big game and your diet isn’t working as fast as you’d like. Your son or daughter was cut from the team or didn’t get into the college you’d hoped. There are different levels of disappointments and different people feel them to different degrees. But the fact is that we all suffer disappointment, but here’s the key …

It’s not important that you were knocked down. All that matters is that you get back up again.

It is all a matter of personal resilience. As my dad always said to me, “You gotta keep on keepin on.” So, I was deeply disappointed that morning. At 11:20 a.m., I felt like I was punched hard by a friend, but by 3 p.m. the same day, I was planning my next move. The pain of the morning was eclipsed by the optimism of the afternoon. I was still hurt and disappointed, but I made a choice to leave my unfulfilled dream of the morning behind and embrace the future of my next idea. I made the choice to move on.

Always fish with more than one pole.

The more baited hooks you have in the water at one time, the more chances you have of landing the big fish. Be creative. Have more than one idea, project, or proposal. Pursue more than one job. Apply to multiple schools. Never rely on a single outcome and never allow the disappointment of one day, stop you from taking a chance on the next. Keep going. Keep trying and never give up.

There are only two things you can control in life …

So back to the reader question. Having cancer has not changed my attitude or optimism. I’m focused on living a happy and optimistic life. I believe I can beat this cancer and am working to do so.

You can’t control the weather … or how others feel about you … or the decisions others make that influence your future. You can control your attitude and your attitude will drive how you respond to the inevitable disappointments … and you can also control your effort. Be optimistic and work hard. Next time you won’t be disappointed.

Gary W. Moore is a freelance columnist, speaker, and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com