How do we overcome discouragement?
Last year, I experienced a product launch that had fewer sales than expected.
Barely any, in fact.
My first reaction, as with most human beings, was to get discouraged, depressed, and tempted to quit.
You might be surprised that a business/marketing “expert” like me would have business failures anymore. By this point, shouldn’t I be experienced enough to have only success? Or at least launches that somewhat meet expectations?
In truth, the very experienced business/marketing experts have usually experienced more “failures” than anyone else. What makes them so experienced is the willingness to keep trying different things, keep failing if need be, and keep learning from their “failures” and trying again, a bit more knowledgeable each time.
One of the most respected marketing gurus, Seth Godin, says:
“The rule is simple: The person who fails the most will win. If I fail more than you do, I will win.... So, if you fail cataclysmically and never play again, you only fail once. But if you are always out there putting your work into the world, creating and starting things, you will learn endless things. You will learn to see more accurately, you will learn the difference between a good idea and a bad idea and, most of all, you will keep producing.”
While I was in my state of discouragement, I kept asking myself: "What would I say to a client who was experiencing this... and what therefore should I do to also recover?"
This is the word that came to me:
Besides intentional deep breathing (a good reminder!) I got curious about what else it could mean. During those few days, the following acronym started to form.
It turned into a 7-step resilience process that I still use. Whether you decide to use it, or to use another framework, I think it’s important to have a process readily available to you, that you can quickly use when you need it.
Try the BREATHE process the next time you feel discouraged from a “failure”…
B = Breathe
Take a few gentle, deep breaths.
Get some oxygen into the body and brain. You'll feel a bit better right away.
Such a simple practice, but it's one that can really change the direction of your day.
R = Rest
When feeling discouraged, take a pause, rather than push.
Rest awhile. Maybe take a nap?
Or even simply take 3 minutes, with your eyes closed, continuing to take gentle, deep breaths.
After resting, reboot your energy. I’ve written about my own Energy Reboot Process.
E = Extract the good
Ask yourself: “What did I do well?”
No failure is ever 100%. Even in a “failed experience” there was something in that situation that you did well. Look for it, and don’t take it for granted.
What other good you can extract from this failure experience? What could you be grateful for?
For example, when I was feeling discouraged, I thought about the many people in my audience who also sometimes feel discouraged in trying to build their business. If I only have successes, I will not be able to relate to my clients and students. I’m grateful to be reminded of this perspective.
In your case, what good can you extract from the experience?
A = Ask for guidance
If you believe that divine guidance is available to you, then ask in the way you know best: pray, or journal, or meditate, etc.
Also consider asking help from trusted advisors in your life, which could be your friends, family, colleagues, coaches, groups, etc.
Simply message someone you trust and say “I’m feeling discouraged… can I seek some guidance from you?”
In case the person isn’t available, send the message to more than one trusted advisor.
T = Trust
Come back to your deep knowing that all will work out beautifully for you.
Trust in the process of Life’s unfolding for the highest good of you and everyone else.
Give thanks for that wonderful Truth underneath everything that happens in your life.
H = Help someone
Go and be helpful to someone.
It could be just looking at your calendar and seeing what appointments you have coming up that day or week. Take a moment and set an intention to be helpful in those appointments.
It could also be as simple as going into a Facebook group and being helpful there. Comment supportively on a few threads.
It could be reaching out to a past client of yours, and sharing a helpful article or video with them.
It could be reaching out to a supporter of yours, someone who has been engaging with your Facebook posts, and thanking them genuinely for who they are, and what they do. Appreciation is helpful.
It could be getting (back) in touch with a cause that you feel is important to volunteer for. Studies have shown that volunteering is helpful for mental health (especially in countering loneliness and depression) and can even boost your physical health.
Or simply pray for someone’s well-being.
No matter how you do it, go and be helpful to someone, whenever you are feeling discouraged.
Get outside of your own problems, and you’ll find a truer perspective.
E = Experiment
Now that you’ve recovered some of your energy by doing the above actions, it is time to go and experiment once again.
Remember that life is not about having only successes, for we won’t really learn and grow in the ways that are most important (our inner strength and wisdom)... unless we experience failures.
If you aren’t failing, it means you aren’t trying enough things to uncover your vast, true potential.
So go for it: experiment with the next step, create the next thing, announce the next launch.
Know that no matter what, you can always BREATHE.
You can always recover your perspective and joy.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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