“Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden
Despite all the things we say about positive attitudes and self-talk and the like, the reality is that as long as you’re a resident of this planet, things are going to happen that don’t mesh with your master plan. It could be failures or mistakes on your part, or it could be something done by a completely unrelated party. Regardless, how you deal with things not going your way will play a huge role in determining whether, in the end, things go your way.
Here are 3 things to keep in mind the next time the universe seems out to get you:
- Be patient. Sometimes as leaders our first instinct when something goes awry is to immediately respond with some kind of big pronouncement about how great we are as an organization, or to throw out some emergency-type-sounding actions we’re going to take to immediately address the situation. Yes, if the building is on fire you need to immediately get out, but most of the time that’s not the case. Most of the time you don’t need to fire off a hasty response; take as much time as you have or need to come up with something better.
- Find the opportunity. People usually roll their eyes when we refer to “problems” as “learning opportunities”, but the reality is that’s exactly what they are. When something doesn’t go right, ask yourself why? What can that teach us about ourselves as an organization or as individuals? What can that teach us about outsiders (customers, competition, etc.)? And what specifically will we do differently the next time we’re in a similar situation?
- When you respond, have a plan. It seems obvious, and after reading #1 and #2 it probably is, but it’s worth explicitly stating: don’t just say or do some short-term, clichéd disaster recovery type of thing. Think about what really happened and how it impacts your organization’s long-term vision. What needs to happen to get back on track? What do we need to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again, or at least is very unlikely? Make it clear and make it as specific as possible. Don’t just say, “We need to do better” – nobody knows what that really means.
Every situation is different, and there’s never a one-size-fits-all road map for dealing with every negative thing that could ever happen in your organization. But taking your time, finding something positive to build on, and clearly identifying how you’ll move forward is close. Good luck.