Manar Al Hinai: If at first you don’t succeed, turn disappointments to your advantage

Disappointment in business is inevitable, but how you handle it is key, writes Manar Al Hinai.

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I like to mix up my exercise routine. Constants in my schedule are horse riding and Pilates. Last year, however, I wanted to try something new and more intense than my usual options, so I signed up with a CrossFit trainer – a strength and conditioning programme for athletes – after a friend of mine encouraged me to get involved.

I could not wait to start my first class. I read before and after testimonies where people swore that their bodies had completely transformed within a couple of weeks; they spoke of becoming stronger and being able to endure longer periods of exercises such as running.

Two weeks later, I had become fitter, but I had set the bar too high to avoid disappointment. I had hoped for a drastic change in a very short time, which was insane.

I voiced my frustration to my trainer and I am glad I did so because I’d convinced myself I must be doing something wrong. She told me to have patience, and keep at it. It was not until I’d completed my first month that I really noticed a difference. Another two months passed and I felt like a completely different person; I ran faster and took shorter breaks in between exercises. So how do I feel now? I am addicted to CrossFit and cannot stop.

Just as with my CrossFit experience, disappointments in business are inevitable. You can’t have it your way all the time. Perhaps you did not close the deal you wanted or you did not achieve your yearly targets. Dealing with something as inevitable as disappointment is an important skill to master, just as learning how to manage your finances is or how to manage a team. It helps you stay focused on the end goal and not to lose hope when things go wrong, in turn leading you to miss out on great opportunities.

Here a few tips on dealing with business disappointments that might arise:

• Do not take it personally

Let’s say you bid for a business deal and you don’t win the bid. Do not take it personally. In fact, thank those in charge and state that you are keen to work with them in the future and they should contact you if any other opportunity arises. Instead of looking it as a failed attempt, consider it a learning experience that will help you better your position and offering in the future. Also remember that even the most successful people had to face setbacks numerous times in their careers.

• Do not be afraid to ask

When things don’t go our way, we often forget to ask why a certain decision was made. Let’s say that you pitched to handle the marketing activities of a hotel and they responded by saying that they would rather work with Company X. Take the opportunity to find out what the differentiating factor was: was it the price? Was it the quality of the services offered? Was it the size of the team? That feedback could help you when you make a bid for the same company in the future or when you are approaching a similar company within the industry.

• Watch out for your team’s morale

A leader’s energy is often transferred to their team members, so be careful of the kind of vibe you emit. If you’ve lost a deal, or did not achieve your annual target for a reason beyond your control, do not complain or share your disappointment. It is too easy for your emotions to affect your team’s morale negatively and, in turn, affect their perception of the company. They may even start considering other work options.

• Stay focused

Don’t let a setback pull you down. If one thing does not work out, start working on your next goals. Don’t stop. Use the time to regroup and see how you can better tackle future projects.

Reach out to your mentor

Do not process your emotions on your own. When you feel disappointed, this is the best time to reach out to your mentor to analyse what happened and let them guide you through the process. Learn from their advice and experience; it’s likely they have been in your situation and this will leave you feeling less isolated.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer, who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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