How do you react when your plans, dreams and ambitions crash and burn?
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Thankfulness & Courage When Things Dont Work Out
By now youve noticed: things dont always work the way you planned or hoped!
Recently, a huge project we have been working on for weeks almost completely fell apart on us. Thanks to a partnership with the Dallas Housing Authority, we operate an employment training program for residents of one of the largest housing development projects in the city. Thanks to the community-mindedness, hard work and commitment of Baylor Health Care System and their Human Resources department, the hospital agreed to hire everyone in our first employment circle recruited from the housing project. We began with eight eager women. After the six week training process, our group shrank to four. During the first week at work, two of our trainees walked off the job in the middle of their shift! Not a happy development. No one is happy here, and no one wins. The two remaining trainees are still in the system. Thanks to Baylors commitment and our own tenacity, we are about to try the process again. Talk about a learning experience!
What do you do when you experience failure? How do you react when your plans, dreams and ambitions crash and burn?
What follows is not so much advice as it is a confession of my personal strategy.
- Cling to your core values. No matter what occurs, I continue to believe in people. Experience, environment, bad decisions, lack of opportunity often combine to disfigure a persons life. People fail. People make foolish mistakes. People do dumb things. People get scared. People can be evil. But, at the center, people can make progress. People can achieve. People can change. There are no disposable people. My worldview is shaped by the immovable, unfaltering belief that people are created in Gods image. This core value keeps me moving no matter what happens in the details of life. Determine your core beliefs concerning your situation. Then,
dont surrender them under any circumstances.
- Revisit your operating principles and modify your methods where necessary. Sometimes I fail because my process is flawed or downright dumb! Taking a long, hard look at how we recruited our circle, what we communicated regarding employment expectations, and how much one on one time we gave the trainees has been helpful in our current recovery. Facing the fact that learning must never end, even for leaders, adds a layer of humility to the entire process of getting back on task. What needs to change next time? What ought to be added? What needs to be dropped? How do we build in new incentives and help remove harmful obstacles? Evaluate your actions and your strategies. Be willing, and even eager, to change anything about either. Seek the counsel of others.
Evaluate your own effort. Did I really give it my all? Did I keep my heart in the job from start to finish? Did I let the team down? If so, when, where and how?. What do I need to do next time to increase our chance of success? Often the very best way to evaluate my effort is to ask a trusted, candid observer for feedback. At just this point your core values will be tested as your ego rises to defend your cherished operating principles. Dont allow yourself to stop here. Press on with courage and determination. The payoff will be great.
Failure can make people better. After a week focused on giving thanks, I believe we can learn to be thankful even for failure. Such thanksgiving calls for courage. But then, courage in the face of failure is exactly what it takes to build a better life, a better community and a better world.