Thursday, October 29, 2009

How To Recover From Failure

Today David Silverman posts about how CEOs recover from failure. Link here.

At a time when many people have suffered setbacks or failures in their careers or relationships, the post is especially apt and, hopefully, useful.

As Silverman puts it, the key to overcoming failure is to keep moving.

His examples remind me of a thought that forms the basis for Martin Seligman's book, "Learned Optimism." Seligman reported on experiments where rats were put in a cage with two levers, one serving up a food pellet, the other serving up nothing. The rats had no difficulty figuring out which lever to press.

Then the researchers changed the experiment. They made it that neither of the levers yielded any food. At first, the rats tried to figure out the game. They went from one lever to the other. When they finally concluded that their efforts were doomed to failure, they gave up. They stopped trying.

According the Seligman, that is the mindset that afflicts people who are depressed. Clearly, Seligman, as a cognitive psychologist, recommends thought exercises to overcome the feeling of desperation.

Silverman, and others, offer what I consider somewhat better advice: keep moving. When you get to a point in your life when you believe that anything you do will lead to failure, you need to keep moving, to do something. Just don't give in to the despair.

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