How to handle the disappointment that comes with lost opportunities
Posted on August 20 2015
I'm not whining. It just is really hard.
But, as I'm sure you've picked up by now, it's also one of the most rewarding and magical experiences of my life.
In the last three years, I have been faced with many disappointments - everything from lost sales opportunities, to rejections by press and craft fairs.
Most recently, I was interviewing for a job at Instagram... yes, a full time job at Instagram. Russ was going to take over much of the business operations like order fulfillment and supplies sourcing, and I was going to work at the visual communication mecca. It's not so much that I want another job, it's just that I love Instagram so much that I was willing to re-arrange my life to include it. Also, a steady income would be pretty nice.
I got the call yesterday that they decided to go with another candidate with more social media experience.
I thought I'd feel sad. Or disappointed. Or rejected. Or even a little mopey.
I was elated.
And at that moment when I hung up the phone and did a little happy dance over not getting the job, I realized that my world view had changed in a very fundamental way:
I see lost opportunities as a way the universe has decided what's best, even if I can't see it at the time.
Because every single time I am disappointed by an outcome, I am able to look back with appreciation for how much more fucked up my life would be if I was really in charge of the way things went.
The first example was when we applied for Pool Trade Show in Las Vegas and were rejected. It would have been thousands of dollars down the drain. We just weren't ready. We didn't know what we were doing, we didn't have the production capacity, and we didn't even know how retailers communicated.
Then we were rejected for the Renegade Craft Fair 2013 Christmas show... I was devastated at the time. But it was our first Christmas, and nothing could have prepared me for the insanity of that first Christmas. We sold out of everything. (actually, we sold out of everything last year too, but at least I had boundaries around my expectations, so when stuff sold out, I didn't do a lot of hand-wringing... another lesson I have learned) If we had been accepted to the show, we would have ended up sitting in folding chairs in the middle of our booth, drinking whiskey and pondering how we just threw away $550 on booth fees for an empty booth.
And then there was the time when I went in to pitch Standard & Strange here in Oakland, and was met with the same reception as if I had just defected on the counter. I left that pitch shaking with soul-crushing disappointment... only to go to Marion & Rose's Workshop the next day and have a truly wonderful chat with Kerri, who has become a regular customer and a good friend. I think my experience at Standard & Strange really helped me see how special the experience of meeting Kerri was.
I could truly go on and on... the fact that we were cut from WIRED magazine's Christmas print edition last year meant we at least made it through mid-December before running out of Bacon Soap... the rejection from Renegade's SF Christmas show last year (we showed up for the LA Renegade show nearly empty handed, since we had sold out of of everything already)...
If I had a dollar for every disappointing event that ended up for the best, I would build a business on that.
So when I heard that I didn't get the Instagram job, I was so relieved.
Getting traction has been hard, but it hasn't been so hard we just aren't getting it at all. We're expanding, and that's a beautiful thing. But we're expanding manageably, despite my best efforts, and that's an even more beautiful thing.