It’s happened to most of us at some point: Someone did something that left us feeling mad, hurt, betrayed, lied to, cheated on. Maybe it was a business colleague, a competitor, a partner, or a friend or family member.
Whoever it was, whatever the circumstances, it’s human nature to want to strike back. When we’re deeply hurt, it’s natural to want to get even.
But it’s almost always the more prudent path to turn the other cheek. The best leaders get mad—sometimes very mad—when it’s called for, but they don’t concern themselves much with getting even.
That doesn’t mean they don’t feel mad or get the wind knocked out of their sails, or that they don’t have the same human instincts as the rest of us. It just means that they understand the high price of grudges and payback.
Here’s some of what they can teach us on the subject:
Grudges hurt us. Holding onto a grudge drains us, consumes our time, and takes up precious emotional space. As someone once said, it’s like drinking poison and then waiting for your enemy to die. So unless it’s your intention is to become bitter and beaten, better to let it go.
It’s better to practice moving on than standing still. Don’t waste your moments, weeks, years, brooding or plotting about getting even. It will only hold you back from what you are meant to do, keep you stuck and unable to getting back to the business of being you are meant to be.
Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. The most destructive vice we can have—even more than pride—is self-pity. It’s a mindset that destroys everything else around it. Don’t give it an inch.
Forgiving doesn’t have to mean forgetting. Failure to forgive shows our own weakness; forgiveness shows strength. But you don’t have to choose to be a sap. You can forgive without forgetting or, if necessary, forgive while letting go of the relationship.
Remember that this too shall pass. Dwelling on what’s wrong, brooding on what happened—whatever form it takes, it distracts you from your focus. Remind yourself that change is inevitable and life will find a way to move us past even the worst of times.
Put it behind you. The best gift you can offer yourself is to put things behind you and not look back. As the song says, shake it off. Work on your own growth and the lessons you can learn.
Learn to manage your emotions. Allow your reaction to be fast and furious if that’s your style—vent it out with full emotion and then let it go. Manage your emotions with intelligence, knowing that an immediate reaction can be helpful even if you don’t plan to stay there.
Don’t allow resentment to feed on weakness. When resentment keeps us from our best selves, it becomes counterproductive. Don’t feed something that will just leave you feeling defective and deflated.
Focus your passion on positive things. Once you’re through the initial anger, don’t waste your passion on anger. Use it to bring good into the world.
The best we can do is to accept what has transpired and have the dignity to move on. Life has a way of hitting us with hurtful things sometimes. Whether it’s a competitor or a cheater, the test of our character is how we move on and forge forward.
Lead From Within: We assume that the admirable leaders and successful people do not carry around demons like the rest of us. But they do, of course. What sets them apart is how quickly and decisively they can banish those demons and move on.
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.