One afternoon, a boy was walking through a field when he came upon an apple tree. “It sure would be nice to have an apple to eat right about now,” he thought as he stood below the tree.

The windfall apples scattered on the ground were inedible, as they had been half-eaten by various critters. There were a few pieces of ripe fruit hanging from some limbs, but most of these branches were just out of reach.

The boy was unable to climb the tree and unable to jump up to grab a piece of fruit. As he walked away, empty-handed and hungry, he mumbled, “Stupid tree. I bet the apples aren’t any good.”

Was he disappointed in the height of the tree or in his failure to find a way to pick the apples? In either event, circumstances were beyond his control.

These days, it often feels like disappointments are everywhere. So many parts of our lives have been disrupted, and the future seems very uncertain at times. It would be simple to give up hope and just let the chips fall where they may. But don’t give in to that mind-set.

Disappointment is part of life. It happens to everyone. To avoid being disappointed is to avoid being human. The more expectations you have, the more disappointments you will encounter, especially if you go outside your comfort zone. People who expect the best are often let down the most.

Maybe it’s missing out on a promotion, losing an account or frustration with the “new normal.” Disappointments come in all sizes. Some may be small, others life-changing. How you handle such occasions will determine how fast you are able to move on with your life and career.

When disappointment happens, let yourself experience the emotions that come with it. The important thing is not to dwell on your disappointment so long that it turns into discouragement.

Try to put a positive spin on your disappointment. I’m not a big believer in the blame game. This is a good time to have a sounding board, someone with whom you can talk things over.

Reframe your thinking and expectations. No one is perfect, so don’t set standards that you can’t meet. Examine what it will take to make you happy and feel fulfilled.

Look at the big picture and get some perspective on what went wrong. Learn from it. Can it be corrected or changed? If that is not an option, then you may have to change course and move on and learn from the experience.

You can’t let disappointment cause you to procrastinate. Procrastination robs you of the one commodity that you just can’t replace: time. It throws off schedules. It exchanges accomplishment with inaction. Overcoming procrastination helps your to-do list become your all-done list.

Don’t lose hope and allow yourself to get beaten down. Believe in yourself. Make a plan to move forward. Set a small goal or plan that you can accomplish to get the ball rolling and feel confident about yourself.

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment,” said my friend, the late Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

The minister of a church discovered at the last minute that he hadn’t invited a sweet older lady congregant to come to his garden party, so he called her up and asked her to come out.

“It’s no use,” she informed him. “I’ve already prayed for rain.”

Mackay’s Moral: Don’t let disappointment cloud your thinking.


Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail