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6 Ways to Stop Bad News From Hijacking Your Leadership (and Your Joy)

Tired of hearing bad news all the time?

Even in growing and ‘successful’ organizations, leaders receive a disproportionate share of bad news.

Why is that?

As I tell my staff team all the time, we get paid to solve the problems no one else knows how to solve.

Sure, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; there are lots of incredibly smart people who are not on staff who solve problems in our ministry every day. But to a certain extent, if you’re a leader, your job is to solve problems. And often, they’re big ones.

Which means you’re the one who daily absorbs a lot of the tension on behalf of others.

And if you’re like me, you go through seasons in which you think to yourself, “Can’t anybody tell me some good news?”

Eventually, bad news even impacts your spirit.

Ever wonder if there’s a better way to handle it?

There is.

While there are many ways to approach bad news, here are six that have really helped me as a leader.

 1. Name reality—even if it’s brutal.

As Jim Collins has famously said, it’s a leader’s job to confront the brutal facts and name reality.

That’s hard to do. Because instinctively, most people want to pretend bad news isn’t true. It’s just easier to live in denial.

But pretending something isn’t true doesn’t make it false. But many leaders try anyway.

Which is always a mistake, and as Collins points out, often a fatal one.

The best leaders jump on all the facts and direct their course accordingly.

2. Don’t let the bad hijack the good.

Bad news is a hijacker. If you let it, it will steal your joy.

If you’re like me, a bit of bad news can hijack your mood, your motivation and even your day.

launched a leadership podcast a few months ago and people have been incredibly (and I mean incredibly) supportive. I always encourage people to leave a review, and so far many have. People have said some amazing things. Of all the reviews, only one listener has really said anything moderately critical, which is totally that person’s right (she had a valid point).

But guess what I’ve done? I’ve almost memorized that one critical review (I’ve read it so often).

So … of the 128 reviews so far on iTunes, why didn’t I memorize 10 (or 127) of the positive ones? What’s wrong with me?

Likely the same thing that’s wrong with you … I let the bad hijack the good.

When you let the bad hijack the good, you kind of invalidate all the good.

I’m not talking about not reading the negative or ignoring it. I’m just saying, don’t let it trump everything else. There’s a lot of good out there. Really.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.