Many may not want to ask the question, What does discouragement mean? as it could spur discouraging thoughts and emotions! It can bring on feelings of waning confidence or lost hope. Or disheartening notions of resignation or frustration, giving up. But discouragement is important to acknowledge, especially for the sake of mental health and well-being.
Life doesn’t stop just because you’re discouraged. We can gain feedback, resilience and perspective from asking, then pondering, What does discouragement mean? It is then important to take note of the lessons learned. We can gain feedback, resilience, perspective all while learning.
Feedback from Discouragement
If we can get beyond merely being discouraged, we can look for the feedback our discouragement can give us. It can create a deeper sense of self-awareness and development. There is a way to play it safe, but as Dave Brubeck, (1920-2012) jazz pianist and composer says, making mistakes is the chance you take to create something you haven’t created before. The popularity and innovation of his music proved this.
Here are some steps we can take for feedback:
- Ask: what are our strong and weak areas? How can we leverage our strengths and improve our weaknesses?
- Identify areas for improvement and development.
- Develop a plan to avoid potential pitfalls and future failures.
- Consider alternative approaches and solutions to avoid similar outcomes.
- See what’s working. For example, in order to know how to sell, you have to miss a ton of sales and learn from those experiences.
Resilience from Discouragement
Tiger Woods suffered comminuted open fractures (when a bone breaks into more than two pieces) to both the tibia and the fibula in his right leg after losing control of his vehicle outside of Los Angeles on Feb. 23, 2022. He was fortunate to come out alive. There was a chance of amputation at the very least.
Woods defied the odds, immediately starting rehab, reverting to a mentality he learned from his father. His dad was part of the military special forces and took the mindset of living meal-to-meal when you had no idea how long a firefight could last. Applying that to golf, Tiger repeated the same drills day by day, also getting through the pain of his five back operations. Woods also worked with mental coaches to develop his focus, concentration and mental toughness.
Pre-accident he called his ten surgeries the wear and tear of doing his sport. He knew there was a cost. Woods had developed resilience throughout his years of playing and training. Even though Tiger Woods showed signs of resilience at the PGA tour in February 2023, he didn’t win. But he had the will to compete and this won’t be the last we see of him.
When Tiger’s golfer son was discouraged with a bad shot, he told Charlie Woods that his next shot should be the most important shot in his life, even more important than breathing. Charlie is thirteen years old at this writing and his father is guiding him through the waters of discouragement, similar to what Tiger’s father did for him. It is what we all need to apply: Get up and keep going.
Perspective from Discouragement
There is no one perspective for any situation as there are many ways and viewpoints to consider. Part two of the book Stop Circling covers multiple avenues of obtaining different perspectives. Our personal perspectives are shaped by our experiences, core values, personal beliefs and emotions. As life’s circumstances unfold, perspectives may change, sometimes drastically.
Recently, two friends and colleagues notified us, on the same day, of life-changing physical events. One had experienced a massive stroke and another had just discovered a malignant tumor on his spine. Our point of view changes drastically when faced with impending mortality and lack of mobility.
Both men had strong faith and looked toward the future with renewed possibilities through their prognosis and treatment. Strng core values included their faith (see Appendix in Stop Circling) and provided much-needed perspective.
Lessons Learned from Discouragement
It is important to go back and repeat these steps of seeing what did and did not work. When performing a solo concert on an elevated stage for a community out-of-state event, I remember well the feelings of discouragement I experienced. We had a successful soundcheck and the sound system and monitors were set for the concert. Then, I did not realize the sound person was not staying through the concert.
When I started performing, playing and singing solo, I realized I was not hearing any of my performance accompaniment tracks through the monitor. The sound was coming through the room, but the speakers were far above and in front of me. I had to listen very intently for a full ninety minutes while performing to hear the changes of fairly intricate rhythms in my instrumental tracks. I was playing an acoustic grand piano and singing, producing the overtones we love to hear, but I needed to hear over them! It was extremely difficult and exhausting.
What I learned was that no one had any clue what happened, even my agent. They loved the concert. The pit was still in my stomach as I smiled and shook hands with the crowd. I knew how important it was not to berate personnel or the venue but. I also took note to pay more attention to every detail from the tech crew and included in my rider that a tech person would always be present throughout the concert. I had assumed this fact, but was mistaken in this instance! I also learned that I could do the same thing in a pinch—I had proved that successfully! Fortunately I’ve not had to prove that point again!
I hope this helps you in some way when you ask the question of yourself, What does discouragement mean? Specifically, what does it mean to you?
Discouragement is important to acknowledge, especially for the sake of mental health and well-being.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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