A negative review. Product failure. Or hitting send on a newsletter going out with a massive typo. You know that feeling when a wave of negativity smacks straight up against the brand you pour your heart into on a daily basis, and you can’t help but wonder why the heck did I let it go wrong?
And for one moment — you cannot help but find yourself starting to question your worth?
I feel you. Because two weeks ago when I launched Brandfetti (a podcast I had been planning and simmering on for 7 months), it all suddenly, unexpectedly, and fantastically went wrong.
Allow me to briefly rewind and fill you in on what the series of craptacular events were on launch day — May 29th 2019.
At first, things were DAMN exciting. The support was overwhelming, and by 9pm I was jumping up and down because within 12 hours, we were ranked just shy of the top 50 podcasts. But following a restful slumber, fast forward to May 30th – I woke to find that the Apple Podcast link we’d just sent out to our network, and promoted all over our social channels, was no longer active.
“Your podcast has been rejected.” – love, Apple Podcasts.
At first, I was upset. How did I not look into it deep enough to ensure everything was right before I launched? How did I not see this to have prevented it? Why did this have to happen to me? But then, after a good 15 minutes of Anita feeling a bit sookie, the more profound question came — why am I allowing this one craptacular event become the measure of my value?
The thing is, life is never meant to be a linear path. Things will happen, be it in our professional or personal life that will sometimes test us or push us away from the path we had envisioned. Majority of the time, we can’t control it.
But what we can control? HOW we react to these situations.
So how do we stop these minor (yes, in the grand scheme of things, they usually are) setbacks from questioning our worth, and instead find a way forward?
Getting a grip
After seeing that Apple had decided to rescind their approval), my frustration lasted a good 15 minutes before I mentally shook myself and asked: why am I feeling so frustrated?
Because I poured my heart and soul into Brandfetti for the better part of 6 months, and in my head — unless the launch went seamlessly, it was going to be a “failed launch”.
And then it became clear:
I had begun to attach the measure of my value, and the perception of my impact based off the occurrence of a craptacular situation.
And I know I’m not alone. I think as business owners, as mums, friends, sisters, humans — it’s easy for us to slip into this inertia where a bad review, comment, email or situation begins to make you question you or your worth. Why? Because we take pride in what we do. We love delivering on our promises. And every spare moment is spent thinking about just how you can make every aspect of what you do better.
But it’s important to remember that just because a crappy situation occurred, doesn’t mean you don’t deliver as much value. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about your clients. And it certainly doesn’t mean you are worth any less (read: you do not suck).
In typical psych-enthusiast fashion, and because I KNEW there had to be a way to challenge this negative mindset, I did a little research into a concept called the “Ellis Approach”.
Developed by Dr Albert Ellis who is a psychologist himself, he explains this process as the ABC model.
A — Activating Event: Something happens in the environment around you.
B — Beliefs: You hold a belief about the event or situation.
C — Consequence: You have an emotional response to your belief.
This concept is centered around the idea that the way we feel is influenced by how we think. It talks about how we blame external events for our unhappiness. When really it’s our interpretation of these events that truly lies at the heart of our psychological distress.
What does that mean? It means that the feeling of being down when a situation doesn’t go our way, doesn’t actually have anything to do with the situation itself. The feelings stem from the belief that we ourselves have associated with those events. So it’s not the external events that we need to take control of, but rather the underlying beliefs we hold about those experiences, if we want to empower ourselves to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
This is done in two steps:
Step 1 — Identify it
The first step is to identify that belief. Sometimes it could be an I should, I could or I must xyz in order to feel abc.
For example: “I must get 10 clients in order to feel like I’m doing something right.”
For me in this particular instance the belief was: “I must launch seamlessly to be valued and worthwhile.”
When we hold these beliefs it’s hard to respond to these situations in a healthy way. And these beliefs then will linger into disappointment, recrimination, regret, and anxiety.
So what do we do when this happens?
Step 2 — Challenge it
To snap ourselves out of it, we need to turn that false belief into a rational one. In other words, mentally slap yourself if you have to and shift into healthier thoughts. While sure, a perfect situation and no mistakes would have been A+, it’s not realistic to expect success in every endeavour.
While a seamless launch for the podcast would have been awesome sauce, things do happen. And that’s okay.
Mistakes happen too and that’s okay.
And sometimes priorities do come up and you do have to choose — and that’s okay.
We’re all human. That means, not only do we have zilch hope in controlling every aspect of our lives, but to be honest, no-one expects that of you anyway. From the top CEOs to the busy mama’s on the school run, it’s not about never making a mistake or hitting the nail on the head every time. It’s about how you choose to move forward when the inevitable becomes reality.
Never a failure, always a lesson.
Our self worth, be it in business or our personal life, should never, ever, ever be defined by a craptacular situation or the unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves for perfection.
The way you see any event, situation or mishap is entirely up to you.
Instead of beating yourself up about it, pause, shift your mindset and think — what can I learn from this?
Rather than thinking “why me, why now?”, decide to take a more productive approach — ok, this happened, how can I make the best out of this situation?
For me? I took a breath, reset, and decided to use that experience as a bite of value for my Brandfetti listeners. Sure, I could’ve swept it under the rug, acted like everything was fine, and hoped no-one noticed. But instead? I laid it all out there. Did an impromptu episode about it while we were down for the 4 days. And released it as a mini-relaunch when we were back up.
So next time the universe throws you a curveball, remember this: you’re the driver, not the passenger. And you (and only you) get to choose what to make out of every situation, be it good, bad or ugly.
Anita Siek is a Premium member and ex-Lawyer turned Copywriter and founder of Wordfetti, a strategic copywriting and communications studio helping brands stand out through the understanding of psychology and words.
She has also hit go on her new podcast, Brandfetti: a no-fluff podcast dedicated to being in your ears every Wednesday with golden nugget value on content marketing and Copywriting, a glimpse behind the curtains on her personal business journey, and a peek at how some of our most loved brands have stood out in their industry through content. (Have her in your ears here: iTunes | Spotify)