When A New Year Goes Wrong

You know the story.

For some of us, December is kind of a haze. The fog clears on New Year’s Day and the first week of January the year is laid out before us like a King’s banquet.

And then stuff happens. For some of my clients this week, it was:

  • A crashed website
  • A key employee puts in their resignation
  • A big deal falls through

And I heard,

  • “I can’t believe this is happening to me!”
  • “I’m never going to get my business ready to sell with John Doe leaving! It took me years to train him!”
  • “I need that revenue!”

Everyone gets a few minutes of self-indulgent pity, and then I ask (as my coach has asked me in the past)

“What is AWESOME about (fill in the blank from above)?”

The first time I heard that question, I literally thought my coach was on drugs. There was nothing “awesome” about an unexpected tax bill and I owed twice as much in April as I planned for.

When I looked at her in disbelief – we stood at an impasse – like two toddlers fighting over the last cookie in the cookie jar. Neither of us was going to budge. Then realizing I PAY her to HELP me, I dove in. These are some of the things that came up:

  • I made more money than I had planned that year
  • My business was more successful now than it had been a year ago
  • I was helping more clients than I ever had

No, the animated birds from an old Disney movie didn’t sing around me when I wrote out that check to Uncle Sam. But it helped me to stop telling the story to anyone who would listen and more importantly, to myself, that this “terrible” event occurred.

Carrying and repeating those stories create patterns in our brains. And our brains don’t care if they are good stories or bad stories. The FACT was that I owed more money – how I THOUGHT and FELT and what I DID in response was up to me.

Some of the “awesome” responses I got from my clients were:

  • We found a new provider who is more responsive and will help us prepare for our next product launch.
  • I was worried that John Doe would have stayed through a company sale. Now I can find someone better suited for some of the new challenges we are facing.
  • I’m not sure we are really ready to service that client. We need to rethink our product and who we are trying to pitch to.

Someone once told me after going through this exercise that it sounded like “justifying failure.”

I like this quote by Napoleon Hill,

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” 

Without identifying what is “awesome” about falling down, we cannot move forward or reap the “benefits” of the failure.

Just as for us humans, we do not learn the skill of walking until we gain the physical strength from pulling and pushing ourselves up each time after we fall.

Being able to walk is the benefit of falling down.

And sometimes, it really is that simple.


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