When I cast my vote in the UK’s 2015 General Election, I was upbeat and felt like I was going to make a difference. I felt my vote counted. I woke up Friday morning and everything had changed. All the prediction and polls turned out to have been wrong, and I felt like my vote counted for nothing. But, we have a democracy, and although 63% of voters did not want the winning party, 37% – the largest percentage – voted for a Conservative government.
Still, this was a major curveball. The result was very unexpected, even by the winning party.
So, what should we do when things go wrong?
Firstly, we should look at our expectations. When we take a close look at what we were expecting to happen, it gives us a place to start learning. Were we being realistic? Was there anything we could have done better? Were my expectations based on idealistic views rather than reality?
It is quite common to have increased expectations built on hope rather than firm knowledge. When this is the case and our expectations are not met we can get angry, feel out of control and feel like our efforts are all futile. But once we can answer the previous questions and address our expectations, we can then start to consider a response. Then, we can think about how we are going to benefit somehow from this sub-optimal situation.
Secondly, and most importantly, we need to take responsibility. Now, looking at my example above, I of course cannot take full responsibility for how the whole country voted. But I can take responsibility for my part in it. So, if there were something more you could have done, or something you could have done differently, then there was another opportunity to influence the outcome.
Lastly, you can take action. You can do something within your power to tweak the odds of a more favourable outcome next time. It might even just come down to preventing other people making the same mistake. Getting angry might feel good early on, but it’s not actually productive, and in the long run it gains you nothing and certainly does not turn any fortunes around.
Going back to the 2015 General Election, I am primarily left-wing. I believe in people and compassion. I believe a society that looks after the frail, weak and vulnerable is something that should be cherished and strived for and we should be proud of it. I’m not going to make this article into a political broadcast, however I can see by the voting system and what we have been left with, that things need to change. I cannot tell you how or when. But I can say that change is needed and very soon.
When things go wrong, taking stock, stepping back and understanding where things went wrong will give you the foundation to stand on while you take responsibility and turn any anger or frustration into positive action. The Liberal Democrats and Labour party have just received an expected and an unexpected kicking (in that order!) with the Election results – however, so have I. The past few months I have been taking things easy, expecting the universe to keep giving even though I haven’t been giving back as much as I could or should have. That’s not like me, and it is time I move forward again; find the gift in today’s bad news and turn it around and grow from it. Maybe the losing political parties in the UK will do the same thing!
There is a gift in everything, you just need to find it.