Disappointment and Forgiveness

Last week someone I have a great deal of respect for let me down. Their actions disappointed me. If the feeling had a flavor, it tasted like the color gray. This was hurtful. But the real disappointment came with my belief in this person.

The unfortunate fact is people will disappoint us throughout our life. Our strength will come when we forgive them. And I will grow to forgive them, too.

This situation caused me to think about my role and ponder the question; “Have I ever disappointed someone?” My initial reaction was to feel a little pressure. We are challenged everyday to live in the present and not in the past with regret or the future with anxiety. My goal in asking that question was to reflect on my actions and learn to avoid the ones I will regret; and not to carry regret into the future.

Leadership begins with self-awareness. Dr. Tim Irwin writes in his book IMPACT about the 5 steps of failure, or as he calls it, derailment. The first step is a Lack of Self-Awareness. Self-Awareness starts with giving pause to the everyday momentum and reflect on your everyday reactions. I specifically used the word reactions, because these are emotional driven, versus responses, which are (mostly) logically or intellectual.

During this reflection, ask yourself if there is a situation you wish you would have handled differently. You cannot change the past, with the exception of asking for forgiveness, but you can change how to act in the future.

If we avoid this step of personal reflection and self-awareness, we risk proceeding to the next step Dr. Irwin writes about, which is Arrogance or misguided confidence, followed by Missed warning signals, Rationalization and Derailment (page 57).

Looking at the end results – Derailment – you can see it does not happen overnight. We slowly get off the path and eventually end up upside down in a ditch calling OnStar.

Take time to reflect and debrief after the different decisions you’ve made and you will lower your chances of living with regret and risking total derailment.



  1. Yes to awareness being the first step to creating change and leading effectively. Wondering if you answered your own question, “Have I ever disappointed someone?” If yes, what did you do about it…specifically in a business context? Interested.

    • Hi Ellie,
      Yes, I have disappointed people in the past. I have addresses it two different ways,

      First, if they tell me I missed their expectations, I apologize and ask more about their expectations and the process of defining them. I learn a lesson and make sure I understand their expectations and communication my intentions to avoid the situation from repeating.

      The other way is when I realize I missed the marked and I call and say, “If feel I missed the mark and given another chance, what I would do different.” This brings focus to the improvement and not the problem and through self-awareness, I recognize the problem before a client does. I have used both ways in the past. Because I had missed the mark.