Today was a day of setbacks.
I was supposed to run a 5k race today, but became very ill last night and chose not to attempt the run having had limited sleep from a terrible overnight.
I am not one who handles setbacks well. Even when there is a legitimate reason, I do not forgive myself easily for failing at something–anything. And though I am very self-aware about this, and know exactly how it affects me, still I have struggled for all of today to shake the awful feeling of having failed, either by choice or circumstance.
Thankfully, our family didn’t have much on the agenda today, and I had a very relaxing afternoon. We went for a walk together tonight, though, and while it was pleasant, I became very irritated with my son for failing to listen to me when we returned home. I was short with him and didn’t handle it very well–another setback.
As much as I would like to say otherwise, I encounter such setbacks regularly. As I thought about how my leadership is reflected in how I address them, I came to a few conclusions:
First, I have extremely high expectations of myself and of others, some of which I fail to communicate effectively. When this happens, it seems to the other party that my expectations have come from nowhere, because I have not done well to prepare them for what should be done. This was the case, in part, with my son when we returned from our walk.
Second, my expectations of myself lead me to internalize setbacks. I always think first about what I could have done differently. I put little stock in what the outside world thinks of my setback, but my own microscopic lens on myself can be crippling if I do not focus it properly.
Third, the way I do this (especially as it pertains to a specific goal or accomplishment) is to ensure I overcome, or that I can achieve a better outcome, or make another attempt in short order. In terms of the race I was set to run today, I regret having missed it, but I am signed up for another in just 3 weeks’ time, so it will not be long before I have a chance to redeem myself.
Finally, I think about how I might have been leaving something “on the table” in terms of my previous attempts. For example, maybe I should be thinking about running a 10k instead of a 5k, and perhaps the setback I had these last 24 hours is just the impetus I need to do and become more, not less.
I have learned more in my life from my successes than my setbacks, but I am determined as a leader to use both to become better.