We all have them. Those days that are so horribly challenging that we wonder if we’ll ever fully recover. More than that, we kinda, sorta, not so secretly wonder if it would be easier to quit than face the aftermath the following day. Before you give up though, consider this: Some of history’s most famous winners were first, well, losers.
“When I think about Mondays and success, I think about the fact that people have more failures than success in general, said Scott Latham, who spent over a decade in the tech industry before pursuing his lifelong dream of completing a Ph.D.
In his current incarnation, Latham spends his day as an associate professor at UMass Lowell specializing in strategic planning and business startup development. Latham describes himself as a “big history person.”
He said, “I fall in love with historical figures and then cheat on them, and fall in love with more historical figures.” For a while, Latham’s historical obsession was General Ulysses Grant and he read four or five biographies, before moving on. Before that, Latham was passionate about Theodore Roosevelt. He explains a revelation he had recently while watching The Darkest Hour the recent film starring Gary Oldman as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the early days of WWII.
“I saw The Darkest Hour and realized that we all have this positive impression of Churchill, but there was a point where he was destitute and broke. He was left by everyone but his wife,” Latham said. “Everyone has a bad presentation. Everyone has a bad meeting. They’re never as bad as you think. For people who are self-critical, it always feels like it’s the worst thing possible.”
Latham thinks there’s a lesson to be learned from someone we consider one of the most famous historical figures of all time: “Churchill was an utter failure up until that moment that he had to step up.”
You can’t win every single round, no one can. The key in this lesson from history was Churchill learning and improving, failing repeatedly until he’d honed his skills and managed to not only do his job well but to positively affect the course of history.
If you do better with actionable tips, Wes Higbee President of Full City Tech Co. says that in his work as a consultant, he “helps organizations eradicate emotional blind spots and maximize technology investments.”
Higbee offered some ways to get past the emotions involved and find your way back as professionally as possible after a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: “When you feel crappy tell yourself this is expected. When is the last time you chose to feel crappy?”
Higbee offers a simple exercise: “Ask yourself how you would like to feel, and then what you can do to feel that way.” For example, if you think about your accomplishments prior to the day of disaster it can change your perspective and help you feel better. Higbee thinks it’s important to “recognize that when you feel bad it is only because you’re focusing on negative things. Your emotions are largely at the whims of your attention which you can control. Use that to your advantage.”
When you can’t seem to control your emotions, Higbee believes that even the most simple physical changes can help — a hot shower, a warm meal, a change of environment, or a physical workout allow your mind to reset.
While you’re at it, “Have compassion for those around you, others are probably feeling crappy and sometimes they don’t realize that they’re unnecessarily making things worse by taking that out on other people. Try not to pass that on.”
As you get through your own worst moments, try to remember that others have been in the same boat. Try to reset your default to a place of forgiveness and compassion when others blow up or have a public meltdown and hopefully they’ll do the same.