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7 Things Great Leaders Do To Handle Setbacks and Criticism

7 Things Great Leaders Do To Handle Setbacks and Criticism

Have you put your everything into a dream just to face setbacks? Here are seven key elements that great leaders of today utilize hit with setbacks.

1.Great leaders just let it go.

Ford’s CEO,  Allen Mulally, expected to be chosen for the job of CEO at Microsoft, as Microsoft’s stocks fell so did the hopes of him being selected. This wasn’t the first time for Mulally, as the former president of Boeing his wildly successful track record made him the most likely candidate for CEO. After all, he was the one who had pulled the company through the financial crisis following the 9/11 attacks in which the Boeing 757 and 767 had been high-jacked. When Boeing passed him up for the job what was it that kept him together in the face of harsh rejection?

Mulally decided stubbornly that he would not let others define his success. He recovered quickly from the initial disappointment and when asked about how he handled the professional setback he remarked:

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“A bad attitude simply erases everyone else’s memory of the incredible progress achieved.”

2.Great leaders see value in honesty and integrity.

Joel Peterson, chairman of JetBlue Airways tells the story of how he had gone into a deal with a major investor and overlooked a clause that would have left his company in a fix had it gone through. The investor caught the mistake in time and pointed it out to Joel although it was in his favor not to. Because of this act of integrity the setback proved to strengthen the trust in their relationship and resulted in many successful future financial dealings.

Joel says, “Our level of mutual trust became so great that he’d wire money before the papers were complete. Later, I had a chance to sort through some troubled assets for him to ensure that he recovered his investment capital. I didn’t need to, but I never forgot how he’d saved me as a young entrepreneur. Building genuine trust is a long-run investment.Anyone wanting to build a high-trust organization must start by looking in the mirror. Personal character is foundational for interpersonal trust. And organizations in which leaders have integrity stand a much better chance of building trust from the top down, and bottom up.”

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3.Great leaders use their failures to build up those around them

How did experts in motivation, sales and self improvement like Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, and Seth Godin build their current financial empires and more importantly affect the lives of millions with the gift of vision? They learned to handle setbacks, failures, and trial and error and chart a path for others to achieve success. By lifting up others and passing on the code that they had worked painstakingly to crack they grew an audience of changed lives who in turn have promoted them. Want to turn setbacks into success? Bring along others for the ride and your success will snowball.

4.Great leaders turn wounds into wisdom

Within 14 months, Coach Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts lived through the extremes of tragedy and triumph. In 2005, he lost his teenage son to suicide and only a year later was America’s most celebrated man and the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl. His stability and pose through the extreme highs and lows of his family and career was an impressive testimony to his faith, values, and philosophy:

“It’s the journey that matters. Learning is more important than the test.” His ability to find gold in disaster and  peace in life’s storms is a part of what makes him one of the greatest coaches in the history of professional sports.

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5. Great leaders take the stairs

The tough stuff is what separates the truly great from the average. Great leaders are average people who have stuck it out longer than average. Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, decided to make his dream happen at 65 years old.

He received a social security check for $105 which infuriated him. So he decided he needed to make some money and knocked on the doors of thousands of restaurants with one chicken recipe. Wearing his white suit and sleeping in his car he knew that he had to make it work because it was all he had. After one thousand and nine people said no he finally got the one yes he was looking for.

As a young man Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team. Talking about perseverance he said:

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“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

6. Great leaders don’t complain

Micheal Hyatt, author and Social Media Expert wrote, “If you can’t keep from complaining, then have the integrity to quit.”

If you feel you can do better and deserve more then prove it. True leaders will take criticism and set backs as a challenge to prove they’re better than what others see them to be. Complaining proves that you’ve succumb to a label someone else has created for you.

7.Great leaders face the brutal truth that there will always be someone petty out to tear down what they could never achieve themselves.

Mother Teresa said, “If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.  What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.”

Featured photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/francisb123/973841589/ via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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