In a conversation with a leader of an organization recently, I learnt that her list of the three most impactful people in her life features a bad manager – the worst manager she’s ever had.
She said the experience was so bad that she still woke up from bed many years later determined to create the opposite experience for anyone who worked for her. She is known for her ability to lead and manage people now – so, the experience clearly worked out in the long run. :-)
But, it speaks to the interesting thing about bad experiences. Understanding them always involves holding two truths together. On the one hand, it is natural to work to avoid the ones that are avoidable. On the other hand, their presence can both be instructive and provide the sort of perspective that helps us appreciate good experiences.
Perhaps the best way to approach tough situations lies in embracing this contradiction. Do your best to ensure good outcomes – but, don’t beat yourself up if they don’t turn out as you’d expected. If you take the time to reflect and learn from the pain, it more than pays off in the long run.