How Leaders Filter Out Negative Self-Talk

A strange thing happened on our way to our second consecutive Super Bowl victory in Seattle. On first and goal on the one yard line, with just seconds remaining, Russell Wilson threw an interception. The air in Seattle was instantly sucked out of our city. Talk about heartbreak. Defeat is always toughest when you are one inch away from victory. The following hours, days and in some cases weeks, were consumed with "whys" and "what-ifs," reliving and rehashing the loss.

The ability to deal with difficulties, mistakes, failure, and loss is crucial to the road to success. How personal leaders deal with setbacks often determines their future possibilities. Many people get stuck when they make a mistake or suffer from a loss. They often get consumed and overwhelmed by regret. 

Regret is an appalling waste of time and energy. You can't move forward if you are dragging around your past. I've observed that some leaders upon suffering a big blow and professional loss turn it into an irreplaceable season of guilt, resentment and self-pity.

When we experience losses, we need to learn from them and let them go. 

Here are six powerful ways to filter out negative self-talk and focus on the lesson moving forward:

  1. Put some energy into healing - Allow for rest and recovery. Some losses require time.
  2. Think about your strengths and what you can do right, right now - Rather than rehash a loss focus on personal strengths and putting your energy into what you can control right now. You'll notice your energy levels go up. 
  3. Practice the 24 hour rule - One of the healthiest ways to treat a loss is the same way we should treat a victory. When we experience victory, we should celebrate for no longer than 24 hours. When we experience defeat, we should let it get us down for no longer than 24 hours. 
  4. Gain hope - The best way I gain hope is to get around hope-filled people. Seek out an inner-circle of positive friends. 
  5. Fill your emotional bucket - My five "go to" ways to fill my emotional bucket: spiritual solitude, inspiring music, 35 minutes of vigorous exercise, walking outside, reading possibility literature. 
  6. Move forward toward the future - Some losses require time because they cut deeply into our confidence. We need to grieve. We need time to heal. But many small losses should not warrant much time and energy. 

Your future is bright. Your best days are ahead of you. Remember, losses are one part of the journey on our road to success. Don't be too hard on yourself. I like what the late great author Erma Bombeck once said in a speech to sales leaders... "my successes in life have been built on a mountain of failures." 

For information on keynote presentations, team workshops, and one on one coaching, contact Steve at: or call: (425) 681-9871.

The purpose of Leadership Quest is to help professionals develop their personal leadership, vision and emotional intelligence. Everyday I strive to help leaders and teams achieve their desired goals in sales productivity, leadership, time maximization, and life-balance.