Overcoming Past Failures

Another holiday season has come. After the presents have been given and the year comes to a close, many people will reminisce about the past year. Sadly, some people’s lives will be filled with many defeats, broken relationships, and unfulfilled dreams. These may setbacks may be relatively minor in nature (Pastor Richard S. Brown of Knoxville notes, “For many people, the holidays season bring great pressure and stress…We stress that we can’t get everyone something for Christmas?”) or they may be much more serious. Every year I run across individuals who have lost hope.

Unemployment continues to rise while self-confidence of individuals continues to falter. In my book Breaking Organizational Ties, I provided strategies for individuals caught in jobs they despise and showed them how to possess a more fulfilled life. The holiday season can leave many individual depressed and bitter. This article examines how individuals can overcome past failures this year and retool their minds during the holiday season.

The economic crisis deflates the concept of perseverance. According to the U.S. Labor Department employers added only 39,000 jobs in November, which is a sharp decline from the 172,000 created in October. With a weak economy, the unemployment rate has soared to 9.8%. The current trend of above-9% unemployment rate has surpassed the previous record. Over 15 million people are unemployed. A further 17% are under-employed. And there were a record 1.3 million “discouraged” workers in November. Discouraged workers are individuals not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available to them.

Given these statistics, good cheer may be harder to come by this year, making those “holiday blues” even more of a potential problem. According to a Mayo Clinic study, optimistic individuals report a higher level of physical and mental functioning than pessimists. Your perception colors how you view life. Can healing begin with the right kind of attitude?

Depression can develop for anybody. Christian Maslach and Michael Leiter, authors of The Truth about Burn-out, note that stress can burn out individuals and impact their mental state. In fact, many people are succeeding in the corporate environment while failing miserably at their personal relationships. If you are human, you will experience some disappointments. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how someone can get depressed. Some call it a “Pity Party.”

 You become engulfed in your own self-pity—you figure you got it bad. Can anyone hurt as much as you? During the holidays, some people are left alone to face the realities of life. This period can bring much unhappiness. Some people, however, manage to snap out of depression while others get too consumed in it and take harsher actions such as suicide. Don’t let yourself down. Take action.

The following are a few strategies for beating the blues: (a) Put things in perspective. Everyone has experienced some setbacks in life. God is not singling you out; (b) Maintain a good attitude; (c) Establish a strong support network. A positive environment will help you get through; (d) Talk to a good listener. Get it off your chest; and (e) Find a purpose for your life. Ex-Dallas Cowboys player Larry Robinson explains, “The awesomeness of who we are, has nothing to do with where we work or what we do.” With this in mind, many people will need to implement a different strategy for next year.

Highly successful people know how to retool their minds despite life’s many set-backs. Last year, many people over-promised and underachieved on their goals during the economic crisis. Certainly, depression set in for some of the 15 million unemployed Americans, causing some women to grow weary and some men to grow angry. For millions of individuals, a pity party was a regular affair.

Historically speaking, self-pity is nothing new. Even the prophet Jeremiah complained to God about the unfairness of his situation. God spoke to his concern: “Jeremiah, if you get tired in a race against people, how can you possibly run against horses? If you fall in open fields, what will happen in the forest along the Jordan River?” Likewise, individuals must be persistent during the current economic crisis and a good outlook goes a long way. Your attitude will greatly impact how you retool your life so that you can be successful in the future. 

 © 2010 by Daryl D. Green

The Confession of a Decision maker

I listen to chatter over the airwaves. Talkshow host Armstrong William leads a merry discussion on South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford.  Armstrong cannot contain himself: “How does Governor Sanford get rid of his Love Jones?” It was a question that was not easily answered. Listeners from South Carolina appeared irritated with this line of questioning.

Many felt the governor had abandoned his wife, children, and the people of South Carolina. On June 24th, Governor Sanford arranged a press conference where he confessed a year-long affair with an Argentine woman. He was missing for more than six days from his office.

At his press conference, political pundits argued Governor Sanford was attempting to save his job, not his family life. He was married and had four sons. Instead of a low-profile strategy, Governor Sanford actively engaged the media, describing his mistress as his “soul mate.”  Clearly, he had lost his mind! His wife Jenny stated, “I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal.”

Unfortunately, Sanford’s decision ruined his political career, strategic alliances, and the trust of the people of South Carolina. Yet, his personal loss was perhaps greater. He lost his marriage and the trust of his children. Therefore, some decision making carries long-term consequences for individuals and organizations.

Have you ever wondered why some people continue to make bad decisions? You see million-dollar celebrities doing it. You can see this action in government officials and business leaders. There are no discriminators. From the very rich to the poorest of the poor, we see people caught in a vicious cycle of bad decision making. Sadly, we can see it much closer than that. We witness relatives making bad decisions. Despite wise counsel, some people continue to make poor decisions.

The Decision Process

Decision making can make or break an organization. Joan Liebler and Charles McConnell, authors of Management Principles for Health Professionals, maintain that decision making is an essential element of management activities at all organizational levels. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, further argue that managers must respond to opportunities and threats. In fact, decision making is a process where individuals analyze and make determinations regarding a problem that is keeping with the organization’s goals and objectives.

Unfortunately, some people feel the decision making process is a solo operation. Some managers can be caught in this trap and disregard the expertise of their workers. Through series after series of bad decisions, the manager may continue on a merry ride of worsening consequences. Two things generally can stop this dead-end trap. The organization stops him or the organization tanks.

In going through a series of bad decisions, a wise person should gain insight. Unfortunately, some individuals who are in charge will learn nothing, thereby earning the label of a foolish manager. Every person, regardless of their background or social standing, can benefit from good decision-making techniques.

The Path Forward

Making the right decision is a difficult process. Like Governor Sanford, many managers don’t take enough time to evaluate short-term decisions for long-term consequences. No one will usually applaud your many good decisions; however, you will probably catch heat over the bad ones.

Les Brown, author of How to Become the Person You Always Wanted to Be-No Matter What the Obstacle, explains, “Your values are not set by government or church leaders. Your values give you consistency in the way you approach life…By holding to your beliefs, you can always stay on track toward your dreams.” Therefore, making good decisions goes to the heart of being an effective manager.

How do managers overcome the barriers of making bad decisions during uncertainty? Is it possible for a manager to involve their workers in critical decisions without giving up any authority?

  © 2010 by Daryl D. Green