I failed to land a pretty significant client opportunity this month. It's one I'd been pursuing for the better part of a year. I poured time, energy, company resources, and a lot of myself directly into it. The way I knew the players, the industry, and the issues, you would think that I worked for this company.

When we got the call that they'd decided to go a different direction, it was what I imagined it would feel like to get unexpectedly kicked in the chest by a bucking horse: The initial shock as the wind gets knocked out of you is so great that it takes the pain a minute to catch up. But when it finally does, it's excruciating.

For the 48 hours after "the kick," I found myself angry, disappointed, and not hiding it particularly well. 

Part of my professional trademark is a certain level of unflappability. It's a calmness under pressure that's come in extremely handy over years of managing complex crises. So I finally had to stop and ask myself, "Why is this particular loss causing me to unravel?"

I'll spare you the psychological journey: It wasn't because of how much I had put into the pursuit only to come up short -- the thing I'm still most proud of is how hard the team and I fought for the work. But it turns out, what actually got to me was the embarrassment of being so certain, and ultimately being so wrong in front of a team I respect; colleagues who I've asked to trust me.

What's crazy about that mentality is that people get things wrong all the time. And that's especially true of leaders. We make so many decisions every day about things that impact far more than just ourselves, and unless the available data is perfect (spoiler: it never is), not every bet you make as a leader will pay off.

So how do you shake yourself out of it when the thing you've been championing blows up in your face? There are three steps that have always served me well (which I've had to remind myself of this month).

Accept the loss and own it.

Too many of us believe we need to be perfect. We have this irrational fear that if we make a miscalculation, then people will be unwilling to put their trust in us. But the reality is actually the opposite. When you are wrong and you admit it openly, it makes you more relatable, and actually makes people want to trust you more rather than less. It also shows that you have the ability to see your own limitations, and potentially where you should look to bring in help in the future. Be deliberate about admitting to being wrong every so often, and you will not only take some of the pressure off personally, but you'll also find that it improves the culture of trust and innovation within your organization. You will make it clear by example that calculated risks are encouraged, even if they sometimes don't result in a win.

Learn what you can from it (and share those learnings with others).

Your staff, peers, and others will accept it if you make a mistake and will likely respect it if you own that mistake. But you'll quickly find that they're less impressed if you continue to make the same mistakes. Championship teams lose games on the way to the finals, but they run the tape back and examine the plays. They learn how to close gaps and, in the end, they are stronger, better, and more efficient than they were before the loss. It's because they took the opportunity to fortify the areas where they were previously exposed. This applies just as much to our professional losses: What sign did you not pick up on that your pitch would miss the mark or that that new hire wouldn't be in a position to succeed at the job? Learn as much as you can and share it all so the people around you can learn too without having to make the same mistakes for themselves.

Get back on the horse.

Often the hardest part is not allowing yourself to dwell. The last thing your mind believes you should do when you finally start to recover from the horse that put you on your back is to climb back on top of it. It's terrifying. What if you fall again? The trick I've learned is to move quickly so you don't give yourself too much time to doubt before hopping back on. Just do it. If you're going to fall again, fall quickly and get back up. If you continue to own it and learn from it each time it happens, you'll be an all-star rider in no time.

Above all, the thing to remember is that life goes on. When I anchor myself with these repeatable steps, it gets a lot easier to roll with the punches and to get right back into the game.