Ready to level up your business? Professional disappointment might be the key…

It’s never easy to face disappointment. No matter how tough you are, disappointment is bound to make you feel, well… BLEEP-y. (Feel free to insert your favorite, most colorful word here.)

And it’s precisely because of that BLEEP-y-ness that most of us immediately try to get rid of disappointment. There are few tried-and-true methods, like assigning blame or rushing in headlong to fix the situation. Many of us will do a little bit of both, even if we know deep down that neither of these are usually the best approach.

Professional disappointment is a special kind of beast because it hits us in a very sensitive spot: Our identities. Specifically, it threatens the identities we’ve built from the hard work we have done as entrepreneurs. Because of this, professional disappointment can be especially difficult to shake off.

As business owners, we are often our own worst critics. Sometimes that can make it even harder to overcome disappointment. Moving forward can be a delicate process, but when we approach it constructively, you can be stronger when you emerge.

Here are three steps to conquering professional disappointment and using it to your advantage.

1) Acknowledge the Disappointment

This first step might be the hardest one because you’ll have to accept the disappointment for what it is. Much like grief, a healthy processing of disappointment requires us to recognize that we are feeling something deeply unpleasant. It’s okay to simply acknowledge the discomfort of disappointment without trying to fight it or ignore it. In fact, it’s best to allow yourself to feel the emotions and understand that they are a natural and normal part of the experience of disappointment.

2) Understand What Happened

Still with us? Great. Now it’s time to put on your Problem Solving hat. Find a quiet, calm place where you can have a few uninterrupted moments. Then take stock of all of the variables that may have led to the disappointing situation. Now that you’ve acknowledged the existence of your negative emotions, they will have less power over you. It should be easier (though probably still not fun) to dig deeper and consider the events that led to this disappointment. An honest evaluation of the situation will help you move forward and avoid similar disappointment in the future (as we’ll see in Step 3).

3) Commit to Learning from It

Once you’ve acknowledged the disappointment and gained an understanding of the actions and factors that led to it, evaluate what you can do to eliminate the chances of this happening again in the future. Going forward, what will you do differently? What will you do better? Think about the outcome you desire, and then consider the kinds of actions that will help you achieve this. Don’t miss out on a valuable opportunity to learn from disappointment.

For entrepreneurs, learning to manage and harness professional disappointment can mean the survival of your business.

Even the most resilient business owner may find it difficult to make lemonade out of lemons, but professional disappointment doesn’t have to be devastating. By embracing our professional disappointments as learning experiences, we may not escape unscathed, but we will come out of the experience smarter and stronger.

About Emily D. Tisdale, Founder & CEO

Meet the brains — and heart — behind LEAP for Women. Emily is LEAP’s guiding force, committed to supporting women entrepreneurs at every stage in their journey.

She loves LEAP because:

We’re an authentic resource for women who want the nitty-gritty details of running a business. I want everyone to have the same amazing resources I had.

A resident of Indiana, Emily prides herself on being a transplanted Hoosier and enjoys watching Colts football and spending time with her husband and their two children.

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