Successful Setbacks - Part 1

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Setbacks are the seeds of success. If you don't learn to deal effectively with setbacks, you won't ever realize true success.

My how time flies! It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming in the new year. If you are anything like me, you have been reflecting on the past 350 or so days to assess whether or not you had a good or bad year. You have probably been replaying experiences in your head that you would give labels to, such as joyful, painful, challenging, memorable, forgettable, funny, and even "oh, I forgot about that one."

As people go through the process of assessing their 2007, most of them will fall into one of two categories. They will assess their year as either a series of successes or a series of failures. For many who didn't accomplish their goals, they will say this was a wasted year and they will set off to make new plans for 2008. They will try harder, work longer, and spend more time doing what they think they need to do to accomplish their goals.

Unfortunately, one of the most important things that they will fail to do is change their perspective on what they consider failure. They don't realize that failure is not the lack of success or making a mistake. Failure is either not trying or not learning from your mistakes (i.e. continuing to do the same thing without making any changes).

I almost titled this posting, "Failing Successfully," but I prefer the term "setback" versus failure, because failure isn't final - it’s formative. How is it formative? A setback is simply a failure that becomes a success when it is transformed into an opportunity to learn and grow. Learning from your setbacks, missteps, and mistakes positions you for success.

EVERYTHING that happens in your life is either an opportunity to learn something new, grow your character, or develop your skills. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." It's easy to claim success and be positive when everything is going well in your business or life, but how do you handle things when your plans go awry? What is your response like during those times? Do you go into learning mode or complaining mode?

The outcome of your situation is largely dependent upon your perspective. If you think your situation is a problem then you typically will approach it pessimistically. However, if your perspective is that your situation is an opportunity, you will approach it optimistically. Entrepreneurs, change agents, and social innovators need to be almost obsessively optimistic, because of the exceptional challenges that they face to succeed.

Understand that if your problems were any less challenging, it would require someone less talented and less equipped than you to handle them. You see, the skill of a sailor is not developed in calm seas. Your ultimate success requires you going through challenges and adversity to develop your character and skills.

Recently, I heard a young lady encouraging her friends, telling them, "let your frustration be your determination." Although she wasn't talking to me directly, that motivational gem has helped me to keep a positive attitude about some of the difficulties that I encounter in my business and in life.

What are some other things that can help you to have the right perspective so that you can achieve successful setbacks in your business and life? You'll have to come back for Part 2. See you soon!

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Failure is Part of Success, Edited by Rod Kurtz

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