If you work long enough, you’ll be part of an epic failure that petrifies you. You won’t know how to deal with it, and likely, you’ll respond by trying to hide it or deflect the blame to someone else.
That will not make you stronger, happier or healthier.
Many positive thinkers might tell you to ignore bad news,
not think about it, and just assume the best. But the worst-case scenario tends
to grow in its enormity when you haven’t faced it. In How
to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie shares a foolproof
technique that Willis H. Carrier (founder of air-conditioning giant Carrier)
used to conquer worry thoughts.
Early in Carrier’s career, he was put in charge of
installing a device at a factory that his employer owned. After Carrier had
spent twenty thousand dollars on the installation, the device failed.
Initially, he was petrified with worry, but after a few days he realized that
worry wouldn’t get him anywhere.
The first thing he did was to clearly define the worst-case
scenario: He’d lose his job. The second thing he did was to accept that idea
and declare that life would go on—there would be other job opportunities. The
final thing he did was resolve to do better than the worst-case scenario.
With a sense of calm he fessed up to his boss about the
situation and asked for additional funds to fix the botched installation. In
the end, he kept his job, and the device was soon in working order. He beat the
worst, and from that day forward, he dealt with all his worries the same way.
The next time you are
filled with worry, try Carrier’s strategy:
1. Define the worst case. Ask
yourself honestly, What’s the worst thing that can
happen? Once you do that, you’ll find that your imagination is getting
the best of you. The reality is usually not that bad, once you clearly define
it. It has the most power when it remains a mystery.
2. Accept it as
survivable. Act as if the situation were a foregone conclusion, and let it go
as a lesson to be learned. At the very least, admit that there will be some
negative repercussions, regardless of your best efforts.
3. Make a goal out of
beating the worst-case scenario. Develop a set of responses that can help you
trim your losses and mitigate damages.