Imagine for a second…

A goal you want to achieve. Take a second… Got it?

This goal, it should be something that you know you’re capable of. Not only that, but your ability to achieve this goal is connected to how you see yourself as a person. It’s a part of your identity.

And you’re so excited that you can’t stop talking about it: You told your friends; you told your family. People are already starting to congratulate you on your future success.

And then… You fail.

Instead of basking in the warmth of wonderful Success, you’re left out in the cold with crotchety old Mr. Disappointment.

How does that feel? Pretty bad, probably.

The question is, where do you go from here? How do you handle loss?

Loss is something that we all have to confront, yet dealing with it in a way that is healthy and constructive is something many people struggle with.

But an important factor in business success is the ability to fail, face disappointment, and keep going with enthusiasm. So let’s talk about it…

When dealing with disappointment, the first thing I do is nothing. Well, not nothing. I sit and experience the loss. That’s it.

I don’t start writing a narrative about why it happened, how it affects my identity, or what it means for my future.

I just sit and take it in, because I believe one shouldn’t try to fix a mistake while in “mistake mode.”

In poker, “mistake mode” is called being “on tilt.” This is when you lose a hand and, instead of taking a breath and then continuing to play intelligently, you get flustered; you play erratically to win your money back, and just fall deeper in the hole.

And we don’t want that. Losing sucks. Disappointment sucks. It’s okay to feel bad, but that’s not the state of mind for improving things. That comes later.

First — after sitting with my loss for a while — I get back in touch with my okay-ness. I say, “Hey, I’m fine. I didn’t get what I wanted, but everything is okay.”

There’s a tendency to take the disappointment of one cycle and apply it to another — to your life, your self, etc. — when in reality the two things aren’t related. Most often, our losses aren’t due to our abilities or inabilities. They’re a reflection of the actions we took, or the circumstances we were in.

When I start feeling okay again, only then do I think about how to handle it: What’s the next step? How can I re-channel my energy? What can I learn from my loss that will make me more successful next time?

They say, “You don’t fail, you learn.” Almost every successful figure tells stories about their many “failures.” But they kept on trying.

If you’re too focused on the loss and how it reflects on you, then you don’t get value from it. It keeps you from trying new things, and only then is loss really a problem.

And that’s my process: Sit with it. Get okay. Find value. Get back out there!

We all lose. We all feel down. But if we aren’t afraid of loss, and if we have a process for dealing with it, then we can try more often and with greater variety. We can aim higher, because we know we’re okay with missing.

What about you? How do you handle loss and disappointment?

by Ezra Firestone