Dealing with disappointment and delay
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Today I’m talking with Kevin Eikenberry, co-author of Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership and Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group.
Leadership Freak (LF): Kevin, would you talk to me about a disappointing time in your career.
Kevin Eikenberry (KE): Well Dan, I have a farming background so when I went to work for Chevron Chemical Company, it made sense to work in their Fertilizer business. There came a point when business wasn’t rosy. Chevron looked to trim costs and several of us were offered chances at other jobs.
LF: How did that impact you?
KE: I wanted to do more training. I had already figured out where in the Corporation that happened. Not only that, I had made the right connections, built the right network and had everything in place to have that change happen. Until the VP called me into his office.
KE: Others had taken jobs and I thought the same was going to be true for me. The VP said, “You can’t go.” We have lost too much talent and knowledge.
KE: I was crushed. I understood but it still hurt.
LF: So what happened?
KE: In the reorganization I received a new, challenging position. My new boss told me that when certain metrics were reached, he would do anything he could to help me get anywhere in the organization. It would take at least a year to get there.
LF: Did it work out?
KE: Ten months from that day I had a job in the corporate training group – the job I had been denied.
LF: Looking back, how do you feel?
KE: It was challenging but those 10 months were invaluable to me – I learned about persistence, patience, and I learned great leadership lessons. I learned about communicating across distance and leading change.
Kevin worked through delay and disappointment with persistence and patience.
Have you experienced delay and disappointment in your career?
How do you know when to pack-up and leave or to persist?
- Artie Davis
- KC Ward
- Alicia Jones
- Kevin Bruny
- Josh Wood
- Chin E
Sounds like a great story! Would love to give it a read!
Thanks for dropping in.
I think the book is one to read and then pass on to someone newly promoted. Stay tuned, I’m reviewing it Tuesday.
The current state of the world economy the past few years I’m sure has increased the volume of delay and disappointment across many business sectors in general. As VP of Operations of a church consulting and design-build firm, I have witnessed it first hand.
Kevin is rigjt on the money. Persistence and patience are crucial to survival in today’s market. Without that we can reach a level of discouragement that blinds us to opportunity. It’s not easy to be persistent and patient. But it is possible.
Love the little phrase, “blind us to opportunity.” I think challenges, difficulties, disappointments, and delays can consume our thinking and then the problem of blindness sets in!
Seconding Dan’s comments Scott!
Agood lesson to be learned. Hang in there and do your best!!! Howie
I love the fact that you interviewed Kevin Eikenberry as I read both of your newsletters/blogs daily and have noticed much improvement in my life because of this practice.
In love and light,
What a great thing to say! Hope your weekend is a good one.
If you live with Dreams and Aspirations, sooner or later you will meet their cousins Disappointment and Delay. Life rarely happens on exactly our time line. Things get in the way.
For me, as in Kevin’s case, I’ve learned to look at the reasons that Disappointment and Delay have come to visit. If the reasons are valid and the duration of their stay are reasonable then I do my best to make the most of the experience. If they are not reasonable then it is time to take action and find a new path over or around them.
The great thing about life is sometimes you get to meet another cousin Early Opportunity” too. I met Early Opportunity in a preview copy of Bud To Boss. It’s a great book. You can find the review I did of it here if you would like to learn more: http://bit.ly/eGfUJ9
All the best … Joan
Your comment is both encouraging and instructive.
Make a change if the duration of delay seems unreasonable. Nice
I went over to read your review. Nicely written.
I concur, From Bud to Boss is a great tool.
Thanks Dan – best wishes for a great weekend … Joan
Interesting. I believe that most of us have been through this process at some point in our career. Unfortunately, for some, the promise keeps moving farther away in time and a decision is made to move on to other opportunities.
Moving on or staying the course is such a challenge. In one sense, we may quit just before a break-though. Thats whats so devilish about delay.
On the other hand, we may end up spinning our wheels.
I like what Joan suggests, make a determination if the duration of delay seems reasonable.
As a small business owner, with the good fortune to not have a lot of employee turnover, (You can picture me knocking on wood at this point) I have always been concerned about not being able to advance people. It is something we are now trying to work on and determine how to determine what each person would like to do if they had the proverbial magic wand.
Thanks for sharing part of your story. I appreciate it.
Early in my career I worked as a Recruiter in a fast growing consulting firm. I worked hard, networked, and did all the “textbook” things you are suppose to do to get ahead in corporate America. It worked! I was promoted to manager, then soon I was training all new recruiters in the region. Then there was a corporate restructure and my middle management position was eliminated. I had the choice to go into a sales position or to go back to recruiting. I was devastated!
I chose the recruiting position which meant that I was going to be working under someone that I hired and trained. What a humbling experience! There were many days I had to refocus (okay I cried like a baby) and get back on track. How could I make this work for me?
I used this disappointing change of events as a way to educate myself and network. As a recruiter I was on the front lines of the industry. On a daily basis I was able to network and build valuable connections at other firms. I was able to take everything that I learned back to my company and developed new training methods and introduced new recruiting techniques that weren’t being used in my organization. Pretty soon I was being flown in to meet with corporate executives and I was promoted to VP of Recruiting! This was a position that I pitched, defined and developed-it was tailor made for me!
Disappointment in leadership requires patience. As with any failure or setback you have to take a cooling off period, but then jump right back into the game! You are a leader!
Congratulations! What a great story.
How good is it that you designed your own job! I found your story motivating and encouraging.
None of us can progress or grow as leaders without experiencing and overcoming setbacks and obstacles. It almost defines our career paths!
I believer you are right. If our failures don’t break us, they make us.
“from bu to boss,” ei! it’ll be nice to have one here in the orient 😀
I think, that the point is, if the disappointment can be transformed to challenge. Staying is ok, if you can find a new perspective and motivate yourself. If the only feeling is one of being stuck and bitter, then it might be best to find something else?
Thanks for your insights.
It’s interesting that he got the job that he really wanted within a year. How many of us work or have worked for people that don’t have the integrity to keep their word and help their people.
I noticed the trust factor in Kevin’s story also. I suggest that the first time the person over you lies to you, begin the process of moving on. Now, if they acknowledge it, and if you are inclined, give them a second chance.
A nice reminder that timing is everything. Is just that it’s not always on our timing that things work out.
Disappointment is a normal part of life… without failure we would never learn.
Delays and disappointments for me have centered on new opportunities. Even with 10+ years of progressive experience, I only hold an Associate’s degree. (Going to school at night) My circumstances did not allow me to have the ‘normal’ school/career path. Thus, I feel I must prove myself even more to make up for that. I usually do very well once in a position, it’s just getting to that part.
In order to overcome these setbacks, I strongly believe in the idea of grit – determination, positive attitude, and perseverance, to get past disappointments. Take advantage of every learning opportunity, even when you do not know what you should be learning. If you are not passionate about your work, even the tough parts, it’s time to pack it in.
Disappointment happens to all of us at some point in life, if we look at source and rationalize the circumstances sometimes we can change the outcome. Best to walk away and come back refreshed, try and try again you will succeed! Whether you lead or follow the reality is always there just in different format!
I am glad that I not only visit but get your tweats – I send many of your tweats back out for two reasons – 1) so others get it and 2) so I have a history of the great nuggets. Thank you.
I see two real life lessons in this short read – lessons we all need to learn. The sooner we learn them, the better our life (and perspective on our life’s work). The first is we don’t always get want we want. Even when those in authority over us say no, not not or wait it does not have to be the end of our world as we know it. God has something better in mind for us but first we must learn something before we are ready for it. In this example it was patience, persistence and leadership.
The second lesson is that only we can determine our response to disappointment in the workplace. Choosing to respect those in authority over us and learn from them will always serve us well – in God’s timing and plan for our lives.
I believe disappointment and delay is just a part of life. However, any time one experiences these feelings, you have to take a step back and objectively evaluate the situation. Was the delay or disappointment a product of unrealistic expectations? Was it due to failure to properly prepare? What did I do to cause or allow this to happen? If you have done all you can and have realistic expectations, then you work through the delay or disappointment knowing life just happens. One thing I have found to be especially helpful is to use each of these opportunities as a learning exercise and draw from each of these situations, experiences to make me better!
Good Post – We All Go Through A Time In Our Lives When “Patience and Faith” Need To Take Over…(Sometimes, it is easier said than done!)
I applaud Kevin’s New Boss for be clear to Kevin on the expectation, and the possible outcome. As a Leader, I am big on managing one’s expectations. (actually, leader or no leader, managing expectations in business is extremely important.) (2) points on Leadership that I took from your post today – Clear Communication and Managing Expectations.
Thanks for the post and my early morning leadership caffeine!
dDisappointments happen to us all, we have to learn to manage our disappointments and look for opportunities to grow thru them.
in our current economic enviroment the workplace becomes more challening and yet exciting as we strive to be sucessful in life and work.
Any opportunity to grow encourages me, this is a book I think I would enjoy reading
As an entrepreneur, I have certainly experienced delay and disappointment many times, though usually for me it is due to current events in life. The year of my car accident was a huge delay in so many areas of life as I spent over a year in physical therapy to regain use, feeling and strength of my left arm/hand. And as therapy trudged on and my recovery was slow, I experienced a lot of frustrations. I was doing everything I was supposed to, and it was not working fast enough for my liking and I spent a lot of time not able to do my design work since it requires nimble hands. My husband deployed that year as well and business barely survived. Not to mention delays in moving, building a studio for my design work so I can be more efficient, etc.. Disappointment in not being accepted into a juried show after being specifically invited to apply by the owners themselves. Disappointment that another business I was seeking a partnership with was not as presented and would cause me to take a huge losses instead of mutually grow our markets. Lot of work, lot of preparation, lot of expectation based on solid information. And sometimes it doesn’t pan out. Sometimes people let you down.
It might not seem the same as moving up the corporate ladder, but in many ways, such examples are. Sometimes the sequence of events needed for a window to open just hasn’t taken place yet. Sometimes it’s not the opportunity that’s not right, but the people involved. And sometimes resulting unexpected experiences bring in skills and perspectives we need. I look at things like this in life in the same light I do Edison’s experiments with the light bulb. There will be failed experiments. I’ll let myself mourn if I need it and get it out of my system. From a psychological standpoint, that’s important. And then get back to it and try again, or re-evaluate and see if I need a different direction. Sometimes the wind shifts and we miss it, while still trying to make something happen that’s no longer viable. So… regroup, confirm or find the new breeze and put together a new plan.
Thanks for sharing from your heart and experiences, Julia. You are advocating a new perspective on delay. I like that.
As an example, take a look at the Dow Jones stock market graph. A day may look dismal. A week view may look better, but not always. But step back further and see it from a year view and you will notice, although there are dips and crescendo’s the general trajectory is up.
I was working in a grant funded program for a Technical college. Because I was at an outlying branch, I knew there was no where for me to go, and the funds were disappearing for our program. They were going to cut one position and I decided it should be mine. From there I went into my own business, got some additional certification certification, and started building a clientele. My past experience and contacts helped, but it really does take about 3 year to get a personal business where you want it to go. It required patience, perseverence, being brave to try knew things, and a major building up of my own self-confidence. But it was worth it! I love what I’m doing.
Have you experienced delay and disappointment in your career?
Sans disappointment and delay how do we appreciate delight (euphoria even!) and dispatch.
Oh wait, now life’s roller coaster is going too slow, oh the anticipation, whoops, now too fast this way and we are having far too much fun! Who ever said you get to control the speed of the coaster? Not in my instruction manual…just says hold on tight! What a ride!
Because one constant in life is a dash of unpredictable chaos (dept of redundancy dept), you never know when what goes round will come round again or how your very well-planned career/life path may veer, hit potholes, have several forks to pick from or even get lost. Even with chaos, we can choose how to respond, which paths we want to try and how to dig out of deep potholes…if we want to dig out.
KC’s comment about ending up under the person you trained makes the statement “the people you meet on the way up will also be the people you meet on the way down” brings a different level of appreciation and acceptance as well. Every connection, every interaction, every moment has potential…perhaps not now but in a year or five or…
How do you know when to pack-up and leave or to persist?
When, over an extended time period, you do not look forward to something each day, when there is not one tiny encouragement you can give others (or yourself), when you are no longer growing, learning AND understanding (remember we all plateau—that is a great introspection time)…ultimately, when it is no longer fun, then its time to move on.
Last one out, lock the door and turn out the lights…there’s another door and another light switch round the corner…
It is truly leadership post that challenges and tests values in odd moments.I too have experienced delay and disappointment in my career and in fact still I am facing but the taste is better than before. I am the alumni of Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines of 2009 batch, when recession was on the peak. I never thought to be where I am now. The better part of the impact of those challenging moments are that I have opened up my boundary of success. Though I could not achieve monetary success what was part of my aspiration, but I could connect myself with the top academicians, professors, consultants and top business school of the world. That is so encouraging and inspiring that I feel that I am better than many. I have time to pursue my dreams, interest and hobbies. I am in line with achieving dreams that is usually not possible for a person to achieve because it takes courage to take risk and sacrifice comfort and complacency.
I believe that time is more important than money and I have time. My learning and sufferings made me to become more humble, down to earch, connected with the people and over and above better human beings that I always wanted to become.
So, it is the time that makes you. Odd and unfavourable moments shape your career. So, they should be integral part of life to become successful and effective in life
I will be surprised if anyone can say (honestly) that they have not experienced delay and/or disappointment. When I was in my graduate program, I had an internship at the local mental health center in a place called the “Family Life Center” where we did mental health counseling with families. There were some management/supervisory issues there – the “underground nickname” we had for it was “Family Death Center” – and I ended up taking an “incomplete” in my internship and seeking something else. The supervisor at the time said “you can come back any time you want.” Well, when I decided to return, there was a different supervisor on board and he said, flatly, “I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with the baggage, you can’t come back.” I ended up doing my internship at Florida State’s career center, which eventually was a springboard to my job at Fordham University in New York City coordinating the internship program, so it all worked out … but to this day I don’t exactly put the whole situation in the “that was a silver lining” kind of category. Everything about it (the supervisory approach, my role in not being more assertive and in taking the incomplete in the first place) still makes me scratch my head!
When to pack up and leave? My main opinion on this, and it is key in my head as I evaluate what next steps to take professionally whether at my current organization or at another … is if I don’t change the internal things about myself that are contributing to my dissatisfaction currently … why take that same baggage (hmmmm I sense at theme here!) to a different organization/position?
Dale Carnegie said: Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.
I think most of us have to accept a bit of boredom along with the excitement in our work lives, but if we have stopped being able to throw ourselves into it at all, it’s probably a sign that we need to consider moving on.
My first reaction to Family Death Center was eeep, yikes! Maybe the only silver lining…hmm, you now know what not to do on several levels?
Doc, somewhere I still have the cartoon that one of my fellow interns drew with that moniker on it – it was definitely dark survivalist humor at the time.
Reminds me of the ‘closing door/opening window’ adage. Or is it ‘closing window/opening door’? Regardless, good message. (now send me a Kindle!)
Dropping in to say thanks to all for your engagement and interest in Kevin’s book. While I’m here, I get excited about all the learning that happens when people share their stories. I hope many of you will join us in the new Bud to Boss Community, where we will be inviting folks to share their experiences so we can all learn and grow as leaders.
Dan, what you are doing here is phenomenal. we are grateful for all you are doing to support our book launch.
Becky — for the Kevin Eikenberry Group
Good to see you Becky.
I thought I would add the link to the Bud to Boss community.
Here’s a delay some of you will understand and others just won’t: motherhood. With the time and focus demanded from a rising career, and the time and focus demanded from a baby, something really does have to give. I had to check my ambition at the door, cut down on hours, and raise my kids. As they are approaching more self-sufficient ages, I am starting to think about positioning myself again. This was a hard transition at first, but one well worth it. And hopefully I will be the better for it professionally, too.
I completely understand that delay. I returned to a (new)career only two years ago after 8 1/2 years home full time with kids. My three daughters are now 10, 7, and 4. I found my years as a stay at home mom and homeschooler to be deeply satisfying. I am also enjoying the opportunity to pursue my own creative interests again. Both are important. Your work as a mother makes a difference AND you can make a difference in the world outside your home. I would love to journey with you through this transition, Katie. I hope you’ll find me at weavinginfluence.com!
Hey, Dan and Kevin, good interview. I love the testimony of how it worked out. It is never as bad as it seems. Joseph, of the Bible had many detours and delays, but God had a plan. He has a plan for His children, today, too.
I am in a similar boat right now. Looking for a new place to go after losing a great manager and receiving a not so great one as a replacement. Each day I think, do I stay or do I go.
I know that if I am thinking this it is probably best that I go. Still extremely disappointed at what might have been and trying to stay positive for what is probably just around the next corner.
Good luck to you, Jason. When I look back at some of the least palatable supervisors/work experiences I have had in my life, I realize long afterwards that there was a lesson I was meant to learn in that. Best wishes as you seek that “just around the corner” positivity.
I learned an invaluable leason early in my career that I feel is very appropriate to the question of should you pack-up and leave or persist.
Ultimately it has to do with the “perception is reality” paradigm. I was denied a job that I felt I was best qualified for and my manager at the time talked to me about perception is reality. The hiring manager’s perception of me was affected by their lack of knowledge about me and what I had to offer.
I became more involved in other parts of the business, inluding mentoring newer employees, and within 6 months I received that promotion. All because I improved their perception of me and my value to the organization.
So my answer to you or anyone else regarding the leave or persist question is based on whether you feel you can improve someone’s perception of you. But if you decide to persist, it can’t be fake. It should involve you bringing real value to the organization.
I feel I am able to evaluate external situations and make pretty shrewd sense of them as far as their value or detriment to my business. I wish that I knew when to keep spending my time and effort with people, and when to just leave them go. In my line of work, however, there are no firings – just do I put the time in or not? Unfortunately, I think I waste a lot of time…
Hey, Dan and Kevin! Thanks for the interesting interview. This is a great story about patience, persistence and believing. While it’s never easy to go through challenges in the workplace, it always seems like we come out better people on the other side!
Have you experienced delay and disappointment in your career?
How do you know when to pack-up and leave or to persist?
I am sure everyone can relate to delay and disappointment in their career. If you have not chances are that you are at the bottom and quite happy with little or no responsibility and want to keep it that way and would not be reading this blog.
In my career I have had made choices to pack up and move on that were in retrospect great moves and others that were maybe not the best choices. With that being said it would be hard to judge what worked and what did not work because until you hit retirement. When I made the choice to pack it up even though some days I may think I would rather be back where I was if I had not made that move I would not be where I am today.
As long as you are trying to move forward and have a goal in sight and be persistent with the over all goal as Kevin demonstrated you don’t always have to leave and start over but keep on pushing.
I’ve experienced both delay and disappointment. The delay happened as I was rising through the ranks at a large company. During a forthcoming re-org, I fully expected to be promoted. Turns out that someone else received the promotion. I was crushed and thought about leaving because the deparment was on the smaller side with no other similar positions in the queue. I went out of my way to be overly helpful to my new manager, since I thought she was deserving. Turns out that less than 3 months later, she stepped down because she didn’t appreciate the work a manager did as much as what she did before. (I bet she would have benefitted from this book.) And, I was promoted. I learned that communication around career progression is definitely a critical part of the conversation between employees and leadership.
When to pack up and leave is a very personal decision. There’s a lot of things in play for me…loyalty to my leader, how the position & company align with my values, how the situation aligns with my overall goals and what other opportunities exist. I left a company during a merger because the politics and BS were just too much. I loved working for my boss and stayed for a while. But in the end, logic had left the building and so did I. 🙂
I think ‘delay’ has been the thing I have witnessed firsthand, but not because of myself. My dad turned down promotions and opportunities for job movement just because he thought that stability was good for the family. Now, when he’s finally ready to take the next steps, he can go wherever he wants because of his qualifications and experience.
I’m enjoying and learning all at the same time. What a blessing.
I wanted so bad to become a sales manager, I felt I had been working all my life to lead and teach others. My former manager had promised me a promotion if I could meet certain territory sales level, so the next 5 years I worked as hard as I could, I met the goals set and the promotion did not come, then he decided to retire, my new manager had a different goal in mind for me and I did not get the promotion. I felt bad after some many years or hard work, after doing what I was told do, I started looking for new opportunities, at the same time, I even worked harder at my job, when the financial crisis came I still made 30% growth, and then one day I got a call from my manager and I was offered a promotion however the promotion came with a new territory, so the one I had worked hard to develop I had to leave for a new one, new sales people and customer that I did not know — but it gave me a chance to proof myself that I could it, moving forward still in developmet we already won long term contracts/business, my people are excited about growth, my family is excited as well, we are doing better than before, all because we decided to make the change. Change is not easy, change comes with pain, with happiness, with excitment, with a sense of meaning. This book will help me greatly. Thank You
Persistence is a great attribute and I’m glad you’re addressing it in “From Bud to Boss.” One of the hardest things is to know when you need to leave a bad situation and when you need to just wait it out. I can’t wait to learn what Ken has to say in his new book. Thanks for the short but sweet interview.
Dan & Kevin,
The message is clear and unequivocal in this circumstance, prepare, plan, adjust, and re-load…Success will follow in most, if not all cases. The question of when or how long is very subjective and I think that assessing the individual situation/scenario requires some combination of past precedent, current conditions and a vision for your future. Great, quick synopsis of how to deale with disappointment short-term with a long-term view! Thx for sharing…
I am really beginning to become a big fan! Great stuff, keep it coming.
I’ve done a lot of persisting recently. One of the biggest pitfalls for me is impatience and leaving too soon. Delays develop integrity and eventually greater opportunities. There can be some huge benefits to staying where you are at!
You are so right. I suppose if one has to err it’s better to err on the side of persistence. Even if things don’t work out, character development has its own benefits.
Look forward to this read as it is a common question for new leaders to make the transition from peer to supervisor. Especially when we tend to promote for technical competence and not the full scope of leader qualities.
I’m excited about this book!
Sounds like a great read with lots of good leadership nuggets. I’d love to read it!
good luck and thanks for tweeting this post!
I graduated May of 2002 with a degree in Finance. The stock market had plummeted 45% over the previous 3 years. No one was hiring. I felt much like I imagine someone with an asbestos sales degree would have felt during the 1990s. After a few months of fruitless searching, I tossed my pride into the gutter and accepted a part-time teller position at a local bank. Good-bye, dreams of money management stardom.
Fast forward 10 years. Turns out, that teller position provided me with an incredible opportunity to observe hundreds of individuals…more particularly, the nuances of how hundreds of individuals (of all different wealth levels) managed their finances. This knowledge provided the foundation for my current career. Thank goodness for “failure”. Also, thank goodness for a bank who took a chance on an idiot kid who thought he was “too good” to be a bank teller.
You have a tremendous blog, tremendous thoughts. Thanks for what you do. I have to read your stuff each day. Thanks again.
Thanks for your encouraging words.
So true..7yrs out of law school and 5 jobs later, I’ve learned that knowing when/where to persevere is key. Having too many options was my enemy. I was fortunate enough to be able to return to one of the 5 jobs. Also, very few lawyers understand the value of leadership–they leave it to the “business types.” I’ve discovered that leadership is as important in our field as it is everywhere else. Thank you for all your insight!
Thanks for adding to our conversation. They say everything stands or falls on leadership. Challenging and powerful idea.
Best to you,
I finally had the experience needed and applied for my dream job in the company. The whisper word was already out that there was a hiring freeze and possible cutbacks. It took eight years to get back.
Wow. This book is very much needed – glad to see someone has tackled this topic. With so many new managers entering the “management” ranks it is important for them to have something to reference – especially on topics around empowerment and coaching. Both, which are hard for new managers. Clay-
I have been thinking about how I can integrate my passion in the area of coaching into my day job for a while now! I’m at my best when I am coaching one of my team mates. This story is both inspiring and refreshing. The long wait followed by the happy ending gives me the hope that there will be light at the end of my tunnel too!
Equally energized in the knowledge that at increasing number of people are finding an opportunity to shift out of the rut of their day job and do something they are really passionate about.
Your blog always challenges me to look at life through a different lens! Keep at it..