Unfortunately, I missed this year's Grace Hopper Conference where my role as participant and blogger would have been a different hat than the one I wore at last year's event as a workshop leader.
A senior technical leader reminded me of the 15-day rule that I shared during my talk on collaborative risktaking and how it had helped her move beyond setbacks this past year.
She thought it would be helpful for me to layout the process that I use--good idea!--so here it is.
My 15-Day Rule
Anyone who's been in business for any length of time has experienced setbacks, and if they say they haven't, they're either lying to you or aren't taking enough risks that make a big enough difference.
Years ago I developed my own plan for getting over setbacks--the kind that make you feel as if someone just punched you in the stomach.
I developed my own rule not because of the initial pain (although bad enough), but because I played it out in my head for days, weeks, and even months later. Internalizing setbacks makes us fearful and way too reluctant to move our lives forward and take risks again.
It doesn't matter how many days you spend on a particular step in the process, only that you learn to release and move on within a set timeframe--15 days works for me.
Days 1-3: Release
What to Do: Deal with the emotional side of disappointment and anger. Cry. Sleep in a fetal position for 12 hours straight. Watch sports or movies all day in your sweats or jammies. Eat your favorite food (yes, chocolate can be considered a meal). Use cuss words that you never (or rarely) use, just don't direct them at your local cafe barista.
What not to Do: Go on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to voice or vent your anger. Try not to make a public display of your emotions. If you are a public figure, it may be difficult to not call a press conference to voice your side of the story. But try. We're only talking three days.
Days 4-5: Celebrate
List all the great things that you've contributed to something bigger than yourself; invite folks to share how you've transformed them, their relationships (supporting their dog through obedience training does count), their environment at work, or even their business or organization.
Invite people to be creative in sharing their appreciation with you. Their thanks might come via email, video, audio, a blog post, a poem or a handwritten letter.
You might consider throwing a small, dinner party or a bigger, informal gathering where someone other than yourself cooks for the group.
Day 6: Pamper
Get the full 9-yards--whatever makes you feel and look good. A new haircut, 90-minute massage, facial, pedicure and manicure, a new shirt or blouse that makes your "eyes pop". Spend a half day at your favorite cafe reading a new book, breaking in your new Kindle, iPad, Nook or other electronic toy.
Days 7-10: Assess, Discover and Learn
You're now ready to take a step back and see the bigger picture of what worked, didn't work, and what you will do differently in future. Here are a few questions to get you started.
- What top 3 things--the heavy hitters--impacted the outcome?
- What could you have controlled but chose not to?
- Who could you have influenced but didn't?
- What risks did you not take that might have changed the outcome?
- What risks did you take that never felt right to you, i.e., forced?
- Did you ask for help too late or not enough times along the way?
- What were your missed opportunities along the way?
- What advice did you wrongly heed?
- What advice did you fail to heed but will in future?
- What heavy hitters were identified during your team's debrief?
Days 11-14: Refine Your Approach, Reinvent, and Rebrand
This is when you pull together what you've learned and refine your approach for future. You might want to consider tapping the expertise of mentors and coaches or an advisory board who will provide you with their perspectives.
This is when you decide whether it's time to reinvent and rebrand yourself within the next 3 or 6 months. Your decision will be driven by the outcomes of your self-assessment with that of your team and support network.
Day 15: Closure
Congratulations--you've reached the point of letting go of the past and moving towards your future.
Make it a great one in 2012!