Lean on your failures

I had a tough week. This is why I am a few days posting this.  Why was it a challenging week? To make a long story short, I lost a sensitive negotiation.  Not like I paid too much for my phone subscription.  More like the type of negotiation negatively impacting my long-term personal and financial success.  Yeah, that type of bad.

You are probably thinking right now, why am I reading the negotiation blog of someone who loses during negotiation. Straight answer? You do not want to listen to someone telling you that they win all the time because they are lying. Nobody wins all the time. Napoleon, one of the greatest strategist of all time, did not win all the time.

I read a lot of negotiation books. If not all the ones worth reading about. I do not remember one talking about dealing with failure. This is crazy. Failure in life is like change. That is the only constant. You are sure to experience it, a lot!  And I am convinced that your long-term success depends on how you overcome your failures. 

I finished reading “Plan B” from Sheryl Sandberg. In the book, she explains that learning to manage challenges is the most important skill to achieve success.  That really resonated with me.  I lost an important negotiation.  I could drive myself crazy rethinking every single detail and wonder what I could have done differently – Ok, I did a bit of that anyway. Spoiler alert, that was not helpful.  But really what matters is how I bounced back:

  1. How to bounce back fast?  Any time spent crying about my “sad” situation is a waste. Regardless of how bad I think my situation is, it is not.  Most of us always have something to be grateful about.  I am 80% over that negotiation and still have some work to do, to be totally over it, but here is how I got to where I am.
    • Let the frustration out. There is nothing wrong with being upset about your situation. Find a way to let it out. The solution for me was to hit the gym, sweat it out on a punching bag and write this blog post.
    • Focus on the future.  Answer the question “what have I learn from this? and how what will I do differently next time?”. Be solution focus.
  2. How do I take the high road?  Did I mention that the other person cheated during the negotiation? When someone cheats to beat you, you are tempted to hit back by any means necessary.  The complete opposite of the high road.  So what to do?
    • “When they go low, we go high”. Michelle Obama said it during the Democratic convention. I remind myself this short sentence everytime I am tempted to act in a way I would regret.
    • “I will not hate you”. Cheryl Sandberg also tells the story of a mother who decided not to hate the man who murdered her husband and the father of her son.  Her reasoning: revenge and hate will not bring her husband back and will make their life worse.

Moaning and hate are powerful emotions. They can take you over and take you down a dark path.  They for sure can help you find strength to achieve short-term gains. But I doubt that in the long term they bring anything good to your life.  I am certain that no great leader in this world will say that his/her success came from feeling revengeful or sobbing.

This is not my first failure and it will not be my last. But I get to decide how I let this failure impact me.  Will I become someone who trusts nobody because I am scared? Or will I become someone who keeps on spreading positive vibes?  I chose the later. Because amplifying is bad karma.  And we all know that karma is a …

Ken Treloar