The ability to handle disappointment is one of the more valuable life management skills. The capacity to take disappoint in stride and continue on toward your goal is incredibly powerful. The knack of turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones, the gift of seeing in crisis the opportunity for positive change, these are priceless aptitudes.
These aptitudes can be taught: As a first time father, I already am disciplining myself to allow my toddling son to solve things himself, resisting to use my adult powers to “magically” smooth the path for him. He needs to experience disappointment, to learn to gather his resources, plumb the depths of his resolve, and figure out a solution. Allowing him the space, the opportunity, to experience the learning curve that disappointment provides is one of the greatest gifts I can give him.
My role as father is similar to my role as a leader in business: Advice and counsel I have in abundance. I will provide support in spades. I will be a sounding board and a mentor but I will not do the job, I will not take your monkey onto my back, I will not do your job for you.
“The Lord helps those who help themselves.”
“Things turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out.”
I am concerned that as a country we have come to expect our government to insulate us from the realities of everyday life which, yes, can be harsh. At the life threatening extreme, yes, I want my police and fire department, my EMT.
My issues are that we seem to
1. want to be protected from our own foolishness, our own lack of preparedness, over and over and for extended periods of time (incredibly expensive trailer park cities just being dismantled from hurricanes occurring years ago?), and
2. portions of our community more and more expect to be shielded from mere inconveniences. Instead of becoming a burden to our communities as a last resort, some seem to consider the government to almost be their personal concierge.
A political figure recently got into hot water for calling us a “nation of whiners.” While I would not phrase it that way, I am concerned about our resiliency, about our willingness to accept that the responsibility for the success of our lives lies first and foremost with ourselves. That we should never accept outside aid without also mentally accepting the ethical duty to pay it back or pay it forward.
Below are two articles on disappointment. The second is a column by Bill Maxwell of the St. Petersburg Times. It has a political theme (Obama), which I am not endorsing either way, but I point it out because it contains relevant thoughts on disappointment. (Full disclosure: I voted for Obama in the primary and I have contributed to his campaign.)
Links to Articles: