Don’t give up! Recovering from life’s “splats"
When you hit a roadblock, it’s understandably discouraging – no one likes to falter. But it’s not the roadblocks that stop you, it’s how you choose to react.
In his book, Monday morning motivation: five steps to energize your team, customers, and profits, David Cottrell tells this story to illustrate what can stop people from achieving success:
A man meets a guru on the road and asks “Which way is success?” The bearded sage doesn’t speak, but points to the left. The man thrilled by the prospect of quick and easy success, rushes off. Suddenly, there’s a loud SPLAT!
Eventually, the man limps back, tattered and stunned, assuming he took the wrong turn. So he repeats his question to the guru, who again points silently in the same direction. The man obediently walks off, and this time there’s a deafening SPLAAAT!
When the man crawls back, he is bloody, broken, and irate. “I asked you which way to success!” he screams at the guru. “I followed your direction, but all I got was splatted – twice! No more pointing! Talk!”
Only then does the guru speak, very quietly. “Success is that way. Just a little past splat.” (p. 159-169*).
I like this story because it emphasizes that, as much as we don’t like them, some “splats” are inevitable. We have to remind ourselves that it’s OK, and even expected, to fail sometimes. In fact, a leader once said he wanted our team to fail – he said that, if we don’t occasionally fail, we’re not trying hard enough.
The challenge some people have is letting the splats change their direction, or even stop them. And it’s easy to let that happen. But if you have a positive mindset, you can move past the splat – and reach success. It’s not always easy to do that, so here are a few ways to move yourself to the right frame of mind:
- Be accountable. Acknowledge what happened and your role in it, ask yourself what more you can do, and focus on finding solutions rather than blame.
- Move up the mood elevator. Don’t stay on the lower floors for too long. Move toward curiosity, and think about what you learned from the experience and how you’ll do things differently.
- Assume positive intent. If another person contributed to your splat, remind yourself that it most likely wasn’t intentional. Don’t forget to assume positive intent with yourself, too.
Now that you’re in a positive mindset – try again!! Armed with new knowledge and some experience under your belt, you’re bound to get further than you did the last time!
*Cottrell, D. (2009). Monday morning motivation: five steps to energize your team, customers, and profits. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.