Turning Retail Disappointments Into Retail Successes

Turning Retail Disappointments Into Retail Successes

When you are committed to excellence in the retail industry – chances are you take a fair amount of risk and put yourself out there as a leader who take initiative, surfaces solutions, someone who is innovative, unique and in search of the most productive and energizing way to drive results. When you strive for remarkable results you will, undoubtedly, find yourself – on occasion – disappointed at your results.

Everyone handles disappointment differently, but a retail leader is defined by how they choose to react to a disappointing situation. When things become uncomfortable, we tend to push them away, excuse them, or assign blame instead of dealing with them. Great leadership, in these moments, to motivate themselves; learn the lessons this obstacle taught and figure out how to better approach things. They also know that through authentic storytelling,  they can share this lesson with their team to help support them away from experiencing a similar disappointment in the future.

“The difference between the strong and weak: the strong don’t use the past to receive pity or to guilt & manipulate; we rise above, silently.”

As most of us know, life teaches us lessons that can either greatly please us or profoundly disappoint us, but regardless –  the lessons will be extremely valuable. We need to learn to accept that disappointments are – on occasion –  inevitable no matter how hard we work to avoid them. Without disappointment and the lessons it delivers, is there a better way to learn and grow?

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The best remedy to deal with disappointment is to acknowledge and work through the emotion(s) it evokes. It is normal to feel frustrated or angry, but instead of wasting time wallowing in self-pity, it’s best to recognize that this is a part of life and although this will happen time and time again, each time it does, you will only become stronger and more resilient, which will make you a stronger leader.

How To Bounce Back From Failure

  • Define Success On Your Own Terms: Failure is a subjective term. If you have very rigid and black and white ideas of what it means to succeed and you don’t give yourself a break, you will often feel disappointed. If there’s one thing that’s certain in life, it’s that very little is certain, so why commit your sense of self-worth to something that may or may not happen on the first try? Success and failure are fluid – you almost have to experience failure on a certain level to achieve true success especially if you are a retail leader who strives to deliver more than “good enough”. In retail, an industry that is so quick to change – this is an absolute. Understanding what defines your personal sense of accomplishment is critical to moving forward once you experience disappointment.
  • Find Value In Failure: It may sound kooky but if we insist on beating ourselves up because we failed – and not learning from the why and how – we aren’t growing and evolving. We are just choosing to be in a perpetual state of self-inflicted disappointment. Our team members will see this lack of adaptability and resilience and they will take their cue from us. The fastest way to stifle the growth of your team is not to treat failure as a lesson to learn and grow from. One of the absolute greatest achievement in life is the choice to be empowered, not paralyzed, by disappointment or failure. There is no greater success than the ability to take 100% responsibility for your professional [and personal] happiness.

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  • Act On What You Have Learned: Everything can be useful when we learn from it and then do something better with the lessons we have learned. In retail, we know that consistency is crucial to creating positive change. Unfortunately, the only formula for creating the lives we visualize is – to just go for it. No one can tell us what to keep doing and what to do differently. We have to gauge for ourselves what’s working and where we could improve; and then we have to keep going, knowing full well there are no guarantees. Understanding that the lessons gained from disappointment are key to ultimate achievement use them as a catalyst to keep moving forward with a new perspective and a renewed sense of purpose.
  • Accept That Failure Isn’t Personal: The universe and other people aren’t against you. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that when you experience profound or frequent disappointment. As much as we’d like to believe hard works always pays off, sometimes there are things beyond our control that have nothing to do with the actions we did or didn’t take or the choices we did or didn’t make. Some things are just harder to achieve than others. Again, the key is to learn from disappointment and reinvent your efforts to move forward with an updated plan of action. We can always find room for improvement, but sometimes the best thing we can acknowledge and accept is that results aren’t always commensurate to our efforts – today. However, we increase our odds of creating results if we choose to move forward – regardless.
  • Create Your Own Luck & Opportunity: Psychologist Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor found that extroverted people who are open to new ideas and possibilities tend to consider themselves “lucky”. He suggests that their willingness to engage with people and consider different opportunities outside their comfort area, coupled with their ability to encounter adversity without falling into despair, positioned them for good fortune. If we maintain optimism, we will inevitably see the opportunities in life.
  • Find Opportunity In Adversity: One of the keys to being a really great retail leader is that we are pathologically resilient. Seeing that there is a way to overcome each and every obstacle we face in the business keeps us positive and focused on achieving all our goals and objectives and leading our teams to see the benefit of identifying the lessons and shifting priorities in each challenge we face as a team and as individuals – and showing them that there is always a way to win.

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  • Calm Heads Prevail: Don’t do anything rash or silly when you experience disappointment. As simple as this may sound, honor your attempt, be proud of the effort and even more proud of your commitment to carry on. Know you chose disappointment over regret and that you are still in the game; that you didn’t quit and a passionate understanding that you are the master of your destiny not just simply a spectator in it.
  • Manage Your Focus! [Focus On Gratitude!]: Most retail leaders [and people in general] are conditioned to focus on the few things that are not going right in their professional lives and ignore all the successes or potential successes that they have to be grateful for. When retailers are grateful for all that they have, while in pursuit of all that they want, disappointments will become your ally rather than your enemy. They push you to deliver greatness and, ultimately, support your success.

View Disappointment As A Catalyst For Success

The most talented and motivated retail leaders view each disappointment and failure as a catalyst for greater success. They refuse to be negatively effected by them and instead use it to quickly assess the components of their action that didn’t work and reinvent them to their benefit. And then they persevere.

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If you don’t risk disappointment, you can’t achieve anything significant in life. How we manage disappointment determines the eventual outcome – meaning we are in control of our fate. And how we manage our disappointment and, ultimate, success will absolutely be a big part of our professional brand. The greatest disappointment of all is not giving everything every single ounce of your best effort.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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