In life and in business, a lot of bad stuff happens to you. Customers may desert you; competitors may steal your ideas; vendors may cheat you. You’ll get stiffed in some business deals. Whether in business or not, we’ll all certainly run into our share of defeats and disappointments, disloyalty and deceit.
There’s many ways to deal with these awful happenings, but I’d like to share my friend Ann’s advice: “Get over it, and stay over it.”
Now this advice may sound somewhat flippant, but it’s not. Into every life – and every business -the proverbial “stuff” happens. Some of it is very serious. It’s not just going to go away, and we can’t just walk away. When bad things happen, we have to deal with it. But there’s a difference between dealing with something and wallowing in it.
Don’t we all know people to whom we’d like to shout Ann’s advice? Employees who harp on situations resolved long ago? Kids who keep whining even though you’ve told them “no” 10 times? Spouses who bring up old spats like a broken record? How about those people who still blame their parents for their problems, though they’re in their 30s, 40s or even older?
“Get over it!” I’d like to yell, “And stay over it!”
Yet, we too may find ourselves stuck on old issues. If we tried making a big change – introducing a new product, opening a new location – and failed, we may be paralyzed, afraid to ever try anything new again. If we entered into an important relationship – a partner, supplier, spouse – and were cheated or mistreated, we may find ourselves mistrusting everyone. It’s easy to nurse old wounds.
But old hurts can block new ideas, new chances for success – or happiness. When we’re stuck in the past, we can’t move forward. To improve our businesses, and our lives, we have to find a way to forge ahead. So no matter what failure or setback we encountered, we have to learn how to get over it. Once we do, we have to teach ourselves how to stay over it.
That’s not easy. So how do we follow Ann’s two-step program?
• Get over it. To get over something, first you have to deal with it. You can’t just pretend it never happened.
Real problems have real consequences, and they have to be resolved.
Business failures or setbacks typically leave us with financial, credit or legal messes that have to be cleaned up. It may take a while to get those straightened out, but doing so is part of the process of getting over it. Neglecting them is a sure way to stay mired in the original defeat.
Getting over it also means trying to figure out what happened and why. It’s easier to move forward when you see what you’ve learned from a bad situation, what you’d do differently next time, what you can do – if anything – to make it better now. Perhaps you need to apologize to those you’ve wronged or forgive those who’ve hurt you. And, if necessary, say your goodbyes.
• Stay over it: This is where it really gets tough. In the short term, even when you’ve been very badly hurt, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’re over it – for a day, a week, or a month or two. But how to you put it behind you permanently?
Yes, I know, some things are impossible to forget. Failures, losses, disloyalty – you can’t just pretend they never happened. And you wouldn’t want to. It’s important to remember your past, what you’ve learned, what you’ll change.
But remembering isn’t the same thing as holding a continual pity party. Old hurts are like scabs – they heal best when you stop picking at them. When you find yourself thinking about old disappointments – feeling angry, afraid, or sorry for yourself – make yourself stop. We all have internal conversations with ourselves. Now’s the time to tell yourself, firmly, “Stay over it.”
“Get over it – and stay over it.” It’s a good message to give yourself – again and again. Because once you’re over those old defeats, you’ve got a better chance for new victories.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2009
Rhonda Abrams is the president of The Planning Shop, publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Her newest is “Successful Marketing: Secrets & Strategies.” Register for her free business tips newsletter at www.PlanningShop.com.