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Dealing with Disappointment

Successful people face and learn from disappointment

When I left the Marine Corps, rich dad recommended that I get a job that would teach me how to sell. I was very shy, and learning to sell was pretty much the last thing I wanted—but it was the one thing I needed.

For two years, I was the worst salesman on our team. I often blamed other factors for my inability to sell—the economy, the product, even my customers. My rich dad wouldn’t hear it. He, like always, got to the heart of the matter. “When people are lame,” he said, “they love to blame.”

Rich dad was trying to teach me that the emotional pain from disappointment is so strong that a person often pushes the pain onto someone else through blame. In order to learn to sell, I had to face the pain of disappointment. In the process, I learned how to turn disappointment into an asset rather than a liability.

Fear of disappointment holding you back?

Whenever I meet people who are afraid to try something new, in most cases the reason is because they are afraid of disappointment. They are afraid they might make a mistake or be rejected.

But the reality is that if you want to be successful in life, not just get by, you need to be able to try new things. And if you do that, be prepared to be disappointed.

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Most people turn disappointment into a liability by saying things like, “I’ll never do that again,” or “I should have known I would fail.” They let disappointment hold them back. They have stopped learning. They have built a protective wall rather than a foundation to build on.

Disappointment is part of success

But just as inside every problem lies an opportunity, inside every disappointment lies a priceless gem of wisdom. The key is knowing how to deal with, and learn from, disappointment.

Rich dad helped me learn how to deal with deep emotional disappointments. He said, “The reason there are few self-made successful people is because few people can tolerate disappointment. Instead of learning to face it, they spend their lives avoiding it.”

Rich dad believed that disappointment is an important part of learning, by extension, success. Just as we learn from our mistakes, we gain character from our disappointments. The following are some words of advice he gave me about disappointment.

Expect disappointment

“Only fools expect everything to go their way,” said rich dad. “Expecting to be disappointed does not mean being passive or a defeated loser. It is a way of mentally and emotionally preparing yourself to be ready for surprises that you may not want. This allows you to be calm and dignified when things don’t go your way, which in turn allows you to think better.”

Success takes time, and along the way there is much disappointment. You have to be ready and willing to keep pushing and learning.

Have a mentor standing by

When things go wrong, who do you have to call? Just like we have emergency numbers for fire and police, we need someone we can call when we have financial emergencies.

Often before I go into a deal or venture, I call one of my mentors and ask their advice. This allows me to learn from others’ disappointments and apply their lessons to my situation.

Be kind to yourself

One of the most painful aspects about making mistakes or failing at something is not what other people say about us, but how hard we are on ourselves. Most people make a mistake and beat themselves up more than anyone else would.

I have found that people who are hard on themselves mentally and emotionally are often too cautious when it comes to taking risks, adopting new ideas, or attempting something new. It’s hard to learn anything new if you punish yourself all the time. So be kind to yourself.

Tell the truth

One of the worst punishments I ever received as a child was when I accidentally broke my sister’s front tooth. She ran home to tell my dad, and I ran and hid.

After my father found me, he was very angry. “The reason I’m punishing you isn’t because you broke your sister’s tooth,” he said. “I’m punishing you because you ran away.”

Financially, there are many times I could have run from my mistakes, but running away is taking the easy way out. We all make mistakes and face disappointments. The difference lies in how we process them. This starts with facing the consequences of our actions and telling the truth about why we failed. Only then can we grow and learn.

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Original publish date: February 18, 2014

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