Bill Cottringer

One of the realities of today’s economic downturn is a hard one to swallow, at least with any honorable degree of courage, humility and gracefulness. This is the reality that you can still be a good person, and an effective leader with the right intentions and abilities, who just didn’t get the needed results and then get unfairly ‘spanked’ with a termination, demotion or otherwise replaced in a changing organization trying to survive.

How can you stomach this seemingly indigestible event? Here are three sound suggestions worth considering from those who have traveled this uncomfortably bumpy road that seems to lead to a dreadful dead end and want to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel.


When negative things happen to us, such as being demoted or replaced at work, we have an insatiable need to understand and explain the why, how and likely consequences of these unwanted things. Martin Seligman’s solid research on optimism demonstrates that you seal your fate when you explain these negative experiences as being (a) directed at you personally (b) over-flowing into everything else in your life, and (c) lasting forever.

On the other hand, you get better results when you talk yourself into to seeing these things as impersonal, limited in scope and of impermanent duration. As hard as that may seem, the positive payoffs can keep you from staying stuck in the negativity of what is happening to you and free you to become open to a litany of unexpected future positive possibilities. Seeing optimism as one of the great basic truths of life is the door opener.


When negative things happen, like career or job failure, there are usually many inter-related causes way beyond the designated ‘scapegoat’s” sphere of influence. But that reality doesn’t reduce your responsibility for taking ownership for the part of the failure you did contribute towards, in order to learn a valuable lesson to be more successful the next time. Admittedly, this is hard to do because we all want to fix blame on failures outside ourselves; but without this honest soul-searching, nothing really changes for the better and the negativity continues to hold you hostage.

So, whatever hole you are in or how deep and dark it is, first stop digging and then start looking for the things you did to help the others push you into the hole. Do that with courage and hope, mixed with acceptance and understanding, and you be building your latter to climb out without even knowing it.


Despite your current level of awareness of the realities you are part of, you may not really know all the behind-the-scenes ‘why or how’ reasons that are driving the negative event. And despite your illusion of being able to control your life and destiny with all the right actions, life is more in control of you than you are of it.

This humble realization is the ultimate key to success in anything. It is what allows you to turn your current failure into a future success, including doing something altogether different in totally reinventing your work purpose and venue. And this often occurs when those who helped influence the failure or even orchestrated your demotion, are basking in temporary success and feeling good about it, but are really on there own way to the inevitable failure lesson. In this light, you really want to consider yourself ahead in the success game, learning what you really need to know to be successful.

A big part of the hold that a negative work experience has on you, has to do with your chosen perspective as to how you want to view it. These three suggested approaches above aren’t made lightly or from a safe distance.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living on the river and in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, The Prosperity Zone, Getting More By Doing Less, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, Life’s Lessons Summarized and Reality Repair Rx coming shortly. He can be contacted with comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or