4 Ways to Get the Most from Sadness

Any leader who is upbeat all the time, in my opinion, is out of touch or faking it.

Real leaders have real feelings.

You might see the good in failure. But you don’t have to feel good about it.

Sad is useful:

You can’t lead and be happy with the status quo.

Sad feelings indicate you don’t like something. Do you really like loss, falling short, or disappointing a client. It may be a learning experience? It’s still painful.

Sadness at poor performance indicates you don’t like performing poorly. I’m not talking about drowning in self-pity.

You don’t want to work with anyone who is happy with poor performance.

#1. Improvement often begins with sadness.

#2. Sadness motivates. Happy people tend to be less motivated than sad people. (Reported by University of California Berkeley)

#3. Sadness expands your capacity to serve and relate to others. The solution you find by pressing through sadness opens your heart and often helps others.

4 ways to get the most from sadness:

#1. Don’t rush to escape sadness. Accept it. In order to process sadness, you must first accept it. Those who try to suppress thoughts report dreaming about them. (Reported in Scientific American)

#2. Bring up sadness when you see it. Effective teams have social sensitivity. They notice when something feels wrong and they discuss it. (Reported in NY Times Magazine)

#3. A little dab’ll do ya. Don’t indiscriminately spew your sadness on everyone. Manage your influence. Let your team see a bit of your distress, but share the full brunt of your sadness with trusted friends in private.

#4. Understand and accept current realities. If you screwed up, accept that it happened. Dig into why. More importantly, determine what you’ll do better next time.

You might feel sad that you fell short, but be glad for opportunities to learn and grow.

How might leaders respond to sadness in leaderly ways?

Note: This post isn’t about depression or the feelings we experience during intense loss.