She had just finished giving her presentation, which she had been preparing for weeks. She could feel all the eyes in the room on her. She knew she had failed and she felt miserable.
She dragged herself to her seat and slumped down in the chair. She didn’t dare look up for fear of even more embarrassment.
She felt depressed, disappointed, and most of all dejected. It would take her weeks to recover from her presumed failure.
Everyone goes through times when they feel they have not been at their best, when they could have been better, when they should have done more.
But when our response to our disappointments become bigger than the situation, that is when we find ourselves in trouble.
Here are some thoughts to remember about failure and blame:
No matter what happened, you can’t spend your life blaming yourself. Things go wrong; people mess up. Remember that you are not what happened in that moment—there is much more to you than one mishap. If you allow for something negative to grow bigger than it should be, you’re shrinking all the positives that make up who you are.
Failing is not the end of the world. The faster you accept that failure is part of life, the faster you can get on with being the person you are meant to be. You will never be 100 percent sure everything will work—sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. A mistake is an event, not a person!
There is a lot you cannot control, but there is one thing you can. You can always control your reactions—to failure and to everything else. Wasting your time and emotional energy on what is beyond your control is a recipe for self-loathing. Invest your energy in the things you can change and the things you can control—namely, your behavior and responses.
The only person who can move past failure is you. The root of any experience comes from the relationship you have with yourself. If you internalize every disappointing setback with contempt and self-loathing, a life of solitary confinement and discontentment awaits you.
Eliminate the nonessentials. When things go wrong—and they do from time to time—stop and identify what is truly essential. See what is important and what is not, and eliminate the guilt and shame that keep you from moving forward. Remember you cannot accomplish anything if you are stuck in blaming yourself, so concentrate on what is essential and get rid of anything that isn’t serving you well.
There will be times you don’t like yourself. When we don’t know who to blame we blame ourselves; when we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves. But that’s OK when you know you can improve and that there will be second chances. Concentrate on doing what you know and doing your best.
The way you think about yourself determines your reality. We imprison ourselves when we allow outside negative circumstances to dictate how we should feel. You can dwell in that cell, but only you can exonerate yourself. You are not being hurt by the way people think about you—much of which is a reflection of how you think about yourself to begin with.
You can hold on to disappointment, hate and even the bitterness, but you have to let go of the blame. The blame is what’s tearing you down.
Lead From Within: If you spend a lot of time blaming yourself, ask yourself this question: If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, wouldn’t you have gotten rid of them a long time ago? Stop blaming yourself and give yourself a break.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.
04. Aug, 2015
I agree with you Lolly that blame (self or without) is a great challenge to performance and growth. Giving in to blame and staying in stifles growth. Failure is a great step to learning, as a result there is need to rise after stumbling and look ahead.
04. Aug, 2015
I spent years in the mental state of self blame following a seventeen year marriage that ended in my ex husband divorcing me. It was a subtle mindset that grew until most recently I uncovered it while trying to figure out why I was so stuck. It’s great to walk blame free and know that I deserve a good life. My whole atmosphere has changed for the better. Great post!
Susan Mary Malone
04. Aug, 2015
There was a time earlier in my life when I would have argued with you about this. Thank goodness, I learned the truth of what you’re saying! It truly makes a difference, as we all will fail. What you said is key: “The root of any experience comes from the relationship you have with yourself.”
05. Aug, 2015
Thank you Lolly for this post. I tend to be hard on myself and blame myself heavily for any mistakes I made. I am now learning that it is ok to make a mistake and most importantly to learn from the mistake. Also, to not dwell too much on them, focusing on the pessimism side of things because no one is perfect and mistakes actually mean we are doing something. It seems fictional to go through life coasting through to the end in perfections without bumps and downs along the way. That is not life at all. For now, still not perfect but learning. So, thank you very much for the post and I will keep every points in mind.
07. Aug, 2015
We all go through “coulda, shoulda, wouda” moments, “[but] when our response to our disappointments become bigger than the situation, that is when we find ourselves in trouble.”
If we train ourselves to learn from mistakes, each moment becomes a Possibility.
…..Marlon Brando can pull off “I coulda been somebody” laments with class, but most of us are better when Off The Waterfront. 😉
Great week to you!
07. Aug, 2015
Very nice article, Lolly, I like the storytelling in the beginning. And I love your hints – it goes beyond leadership and business area. It’s greatly applicable also in one’s private life.
09. Aug, 2015
There’s a big difference between reacting and responding. It’s called choice. Take a moment to review an event before playing the same old blame card. We can all learn from our mistake. The only real mistake is not learning from our mistakes.
13. Aug, 2015
Its true, the human nature is to find faults of others and blame.Blaming hardly gives any solution rather makes oneself and others a situation of misbelief within.
There is always a second chance even third chance. So, its important to learn from mistakes and experiences…try not to repeat..!! Well said.
18. Aug, 2015
Blame, guilt, these are strong emotions that are hard to ignore and even harder to let go. Unfortunately, they can become so deep that they do not allow us to evolve, to see the good in every situation. I really like the article, and especially your conclusion: If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, wouldn’t you have gotten rid of them a long time ago?
21. Aug, 2015
Lovely post Lolly! It reminded me of a post that Karin Hurt did recently about a presentation at the National Speakers Association Meeting – where a speaker did blow it – on a big stage – in front of peers.
And the peers? Encouraged the speaker to try again.
So the speaker summoned great courage – spent some time preparing and focusing on the message – while fighting giants of fear and failure I’m sure…
And did it again – much more successfully!
01. Apr, 2016
very ,very interessting post… love the conclusion the best way to react ( If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, wouldn’t you have gotten rid of them a long time ago? Stop blaming yourself and give yourself a break.)