What to Do After
You’ve Lost the “Big One”
By Daniel R. Castro
you’ve lost the “big one”—the deal that was supposed to
catapult your career to a new level, separate you from your peers,
make you Vice President of your company, or maybe even pay off your
mortgage. But the “big one” got away. Now what?
rug gets pulled out from under you, the usual reaction is shock and
disbelief. After all, you have been working on this project for what
seems like forever and thought everything was perfect. Then, suddenly,
your client didn’t have the budget or a competitor underbid you.
After the shock and disbelief wore off, you became angry, depressed,
and disillusioned. Don’t worry; that’s normal.
challenge comes after you cycle through these emotions. You need to
decide your next step. Only you can decide whether you are going to
bounce back from your loss or spiral downward into more failure and
Now is the
time to make these three critical decisions: (1) What to focus on; (2)
How to persevere; and (3) What to believe and expect. These three
choices can make the difference between seeing all your professional
dreams coming true and being stuck in a dead-end job.
Take Control of Your Choices: You’ve
surely heard the old saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try,
try again.” This is sage advice, as long as you determine why you
failed the first time and make the necessary adjustments. For example,
consider what Walt Disney experienced. Most people don’t know that
Walt Disney suffered a great business defeat early in his career. Walt
Disney had created a cartoon character called “Oswald the Lucky
Rabbit.” He signed a contract with Universal Studios to create
animated short films about Oswald that would be shown before the main
feature film at theaters. The short films enjoyed great success, but
in his youth and naivete, Walt did not realize that he had signed away
the rights to the character to Universal. The movie studio did not
renew his contract, and then announced that they owned the exclusive
rights to produce films using “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit.”
Disney decided to start over from scratch. Instead of sulking in his
misery, instead of turning bitter, instead of filing a lawsuit, Walt
focused on what he had left—his gifts, talents, and abilities—and
his incredible imagination. Drawing inspiration from his miserable
surroundings—a mouse and rat-infested garage—Walt created a cute
little mouse character that he named “Mickey Mouse.” And the rest,
as they say, is history!
What can you learn from Walt Disney? When someone or something
pulls the rug out from underneath you:
Don’t look backward at what “could have
Don’t dwell on your anger or it will consume all
your creative energy and brain cells. You need those to come up
with your next move.
Avoid litigation if at all possible. The only
people who get rich in litigation are the attorneys.
the future. Focus on the gifts, talents and resources you have left.
Even if you made a huge business mistake, “they” may take away
your office, your status, and your income, but they can’t take away
your determination to succeed, your inherent abilities, your
intelligence, or your creativity. Choose to focus on the positive and
go find the next professional challenge.
Have Creative, not Blind, Persistence: Persistence
in pursuit of your goal is a good thing—as long as it’s the right
kind or persistence. Blind persistence is lunacy. Creative persistence
is genius. Persevering against the odds doesn’t mean blindly
ignoring the road signs. If something isn’t working for you, change
Honda is a classic example of creative persistence in action. In 1945,
Soichiro was making piston rings at a small plant in Japan. When the plant and the city were destroyed by a
U.S. air raid, Soichiro collected the metal from left over military
vehicles and airplanes and moved his plant to a new location. However,
the end of the war brought an end to demand for piston rings, and his
business failed. He survived the war, but could not survive the end of
At the end
of World War II, Tokyo and most industrial cities had been destroyed.
Gasoline was rationed and hard to find, so he came up with an
idea. In 1946, he began to sell regular bicycles with installed small,
military surplus engines on them. When his supply of surplus engines
ran out, he began making his own. He was short on capital, so he wrote
letters to bicycle shop owners throughout Japan , explaining his idea to make motorbikes and asking them to invest. A
few did, so he started manufacturing his own engines and motorbikes.
motorbikes he made were too big and bulky and didn’t sell well. But
Soichiro listened to his customers’ feedback and adjusted
accordingly. He stripped his motorbike down and made it much lighter.
His new design won the Emperor’s Award, and in time, this little
motorbike captured 60% of the Japanese market. Soichiro even began
exporting them to Taiwan. In 1948, Soichiro established the Honda Motor Company, which is one
of the biggest manufacturers of cars and motorcycles in the world
you learn from Soichiro Honda? True survivors know the difference
between blind persistence and creative persistence. Make sure you
don’t just persist with blinders on, be open to the feedback you
hear, and make the necessary changes to lead you to success.
don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Find people who are already
succeeding at what you want to do and learn their secrets. Read books
or articles written about them and figure out what made them so
successful. What path did they take? What did they learn from their
successes and failures? Most famous business leaders developed a
method or system to train their executives, management team, and their
successors. Learn it, study it, and duplicate it. Then improve upon it
to make it uniquely yours.
Take Control of Your Beliefs and Expectations: The
decisions you make from here are largely dependant on your
expectations of the world and of yourself. What you are expecting
determines whether you will
or will not be able to see
the possibilities all around you. Those who survive and prosper in the
midst of adversity are able to see and hear opportunities that no one
else can. Make sure you can, too.
and behavioral scientists have long-known that we tend to see what
we’re expecting to see and filter out what we’re
not expecting to see. For example, if you are looking for the
copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you are not likely to see the
copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn sitting right there on the
bookshelf in front of you.
Why? Your mind creates a model of the universe based on your
expectations, and you tend to make decisions based on that model. What
you are expecting literally determines what you can and cannot see.
should you expect from this point forward? Expect to write the final
chapter in the book of your life the way you want it written. Don’t
let someone else write it for you. Expect to win—in the end. Three
days after Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer, he boldly
declared, “I want you all to know that I intend to beat this
disease, and further, I intend to ride again as a professional
cyclist.” Was he a prophet? Did he receive a message in a dream? Did
he know something the rest of the world didn’t? The answer is none
of the above. He truly believed he
could make a come-back—and he did. His beliefs and expectations
allowed him to see possibilities that others could not see. Likewise,
your beliefs and expectations literally
determine whether you will be able to see the possibilities that exist
all around you from this point forward.
Future is Yours: When you
lose “the big one,” take active, conscious control of your
your perseverance, and your beliefs
and expectations and you will take control of your future. Reflect on
what went wrong and make the necessary changes to prevent it from
happening in the future. Maintain your belief that you will be
successful and expect your ideal end result. If you see yourself on
the 100th floor in a corner office, you’ll get there. If
you expect your one-employee company will be worldwide one day, it
will. Sharpen your focus, harness your creative persistence, maintain
your beliefs, set your expectations, and enjoy the positive results.
Read other articles and learn more
about Daniel R. Castro.
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