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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

What We Can All Learn From Hillary Clinton About Bouncing Back

video Hillary Rodham Clinton
Women in the World in Association With The New York Times

In her first interview since the election, Hillary Rodham Clinton inspired, wowed, and moved the audience gathered in a large auditorium at the Women in the World Summit 2017. And while I’d be hard-pressed to cite just one takeaway from her sage words, for the purpose of this article, I accept the challenge.

Prior to the panel, interviewer Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist, explained that he’d put a call out to Twitter: What should he ask Mrs. Clinton?

Not surprisingly, what people most wanted to know was how she was doing. Presumably many of them had seen the photos of Clinton in the woods near her home, and they’d perhaps seen some activity from her Twitter feed, but they couldn’t truly know how she was faring after her defeat.

She admitted that the loss was “devastating,” but responded, “I am doing pretty well all things considered… I just had to make up my mind that yes, I was going to get out of bed and yes, I was going to go for a lot of long walks in the woods and I was going to see my grandchildren a lot and spend time with my family and my friends who have rallied around me in an amazing way.” 

The answer demonstrated a deep humanity and rawness, and hearing her candid acknowledgment of just how difficult it was in the days immediately following her defeat was nothing short of motivating.

It’s the ultimate show of resilience, isn’t it? To fail and, no matter how hard it is, to pick yourself back up. To make the decision to get out of bed each day, even when staying in it and curling into a ball seems preferable. To keep going, even in the ugliest face of failure, and surround yourself with people who matter and activities and practices you value.

We’ve written before about failure and how even the smartest people face it sometimes. We’ve heard stories about this successful leader or that accomplished CEO and their blunders along the path to achieving great things.

And we know that there’s good advice about how to overcome it and push through, but to hear Clinton speak of her extraordinarily difficult experience put it all in perspective.

Although she touched upon the self-reflection and analyzation that accompanied her post-election moves, the most inspiring and, I think, educational aspect of her story is the mere fact that, sometimes, dealing with it looks just how she describes: You acknowledge how painful the situation is, and you make a choice to move forward anyway. That’s what leads to healing—and ultimately growth.

When you have a major career setback, or when you lose your job or learn that you’re not getting promoted, it’s OK to take time to process it. It’s OK not to act like everything’s fine and to admit, instead, that you’re intensely impacted. And it’s OK to face each day with a certain amount of “ugh,” so long as you get out of bed and turn to the little (a walk in the park) or large (quality time with family and friends) things to hold you up.

After all, if Hillary Clinton can do it, so can we.