Well, that's just super
Disappointment is universal (and not limited to football games)
Later today, an estimated 100 million television viewers will gather to watch Rihanna perform live.
And while the nine-time Grammy winner certainly draws a crowd, there’s this other event happening before and after her performance that lots of people seem to be even more excited about:
Super Bowl LVII.
Not included in that group: me.
Don’t get me wrong; I love watching football.
But I’m also a huge Niners fan.
And their come-from-behind, against-all-odds rise to playoff contention under the leadership of a rookie QB who (quite literally) was the last player picked in the draft.
Since getting the nod to start, quarterback Brock Purdy has led our team to victory for nine straight weeks, so like many fans, I had high hopes as they headed into their final playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Alas, the Eagles clinched their place in the Super Bowl by absolutely crushing my beloved Niners.
But to be fair, it felt like the 49ers never even had a chance:
First, our rookie sensation QB injured his throwing arm in the third play.
Then the backup-backup-backup quarterback Josh Johnson suffered a concussion that removed him from the game.
Our defense struggled, we had more turnovers and penalties than we’d liked, and none of the calls seemed to go our way.
And when it looked like our star running back, Christian McCaffrey, was next up as emergency QB, the “49er Faithful” became a little less so.
That 31-7 loss hurt.
After my Niners flamed out, I was disappointed and lost interest in the Super Bowl.*
Here’s the thing about disappointment: it’s universal.
And it’s not limited to football games.
Whether you’re just beginning your career or are a seasoned veteran of the workforce, you’ve likely experienced a few professional setbacks.
But the career disappointment you feel doesn’t have to be all bad.
Here are three ways to deal with things when nothing seems to go your way:
1. Mitigate it before it happens
You can’t stop disappointment from happening, but you can mitigate its effects. One of the best ways to do this is by setting realistic expectations and remembering that progress beats perfection.
Break down your annual BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) and create quarterly, monthly, and even weekly milestones. If you see things through an “all or nothing” lens, you’re setting yourself up for inevitable heartache. No one — not even the greatest athletes, leaders, and thinkers—achieves a perfect record. So instead, aim for progress over perfection, tracking your smaller wins along the way. Even if you fall short of your stretch goals, you’ll still have made fantastic progress that should be celebrated.
2. Shift your perspective
Didn’t get the promotion you’d hoped for? Lose a client? Yes, it’s a bummer, but it doesn’t mean you’re worthless and the universe is out to get you. Sometimes a lack of progress simply means you’re going in the wrong direction.
Maybe this is the nudge you need to strike out on your own or make a professional pivot. Instead of viewing the incident as rejection, shift your perspective and consider it redirection.
3. Use the “failure” as fuel for further growth
Failure and success aren’t mutually exclusive; they’re connected. As counterintuitive as it sounds, you’ll grow far more from a supposed failure than when everything goes your way. The key is your ability to adapt and understand that a failure is only a mistake if you fail to learn.
Remember, there is no growth in your comfort zone. To achieve personal and professional development, you must take risks—even if that means you might fail. By adopting a growth mindset, you view every interaction, every project, and, yes, every failure as a chance to improve. And by reframing failure as an opportunity to learn and an ingredient of success—rather than a negative alternative—you’ll adjust your mindset to a more positive one where you see failure as a necessity.
And speaking of career growth…
Ideally, your career is dynamic and filled with plenty of incredible opportunities.
But even if it is, it can be hard to decide the best way to evaluate those choices and pick the ones that will help you move the needle professionally.
In my latest Forbes article, I share how to know whether you should pursue a career opportunity—or pass on it.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or eagerly awaiting the start of the Niners’ next football season, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders craft their stories to communicate and connect better, magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
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*Even though I’m disappointed that the Niners failed to make it to the big game, I’ll still be watching it with friends. (But mostly for Rihanna’s halftime show.)