Whether you’ve been in business for a week, a year or a decade, you have undoubtedly experienced more than just a few setbacks. We’ve all had major setbacks in our lives and businesses, and we generally respond to setbacks with our world-conditioned responses involving pain. We have pain, we have trauma, and we have turmoil, challenges, etc.

Please understand, I’m not minimizing any of these things, I’m looking to elevate awareness so we can learn and use these circumstances to create positive results.

The key is that we honor what’s happening when it’s happening. Today, I want to spend a couple moments helping you to go deeper into a realization that can change the course of not just your career or your business, but truly your life, emotional regulation, happiness, relationships, financial situation, how you show up in the world and all of these things that are tied to how you handle a setback.

How to handle setbacks has to do with how you view setbacks and how you label setbacks. Setbacks are a perception. I remember when I was a kid, there used to be a phrase that went around: “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

I never really understood that, but I was recently talking to a client who is a friend as well. They recently did a trip to Africa and did some really good mission work down there helping out in a local village. When you start traveling, you see different ways of life and certainly different economic levels. That’s one reason my wife, The Lovely Christy, always says travel creates perception.

When you see certain areas of the world (or even another part of your town), suddenly, you are reminded that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. This is always good to remember, but sometimes we don’t apply it to our own goals, and what we can create in our businesses. Remember that what you produce in life with your own business, with your situation, with your own personal finances is a reality. Someone else would love to have your success from several years ago!

Growth and greatness happen in how we move on and learn from setbacks.

We always set goals based on our current state of mind, but a goal can also be limiting. How can I say that? As you evolve, as you raise your consciousness level, as you understand more and you become more aware, as you step fully into your greatness, you might blow right by the goal you created with a limited mindset.

I just had this conversation with a friend of mine who owns a real estate company with several locations. His company is going to close more than $2 billion in real estate transactions this year.

In our conversations, he said he didn’t believe he would have ever made this goal if $2 billion was the goal he set out to accomplish. He would have fallen short; at that time, he could never have imagined reaching that goal, so he never would have tried hard enough for it. Yet, here he is today at the $2 billion mark.

Sometimes it takes a setback to help us catapult past a goal or limiting belief about what’s possible in our lives and business. Let’s explore an exercise together to help you evaluate your perception regarding a perceived “setback.”

Think about three of the biggest setbacks in your life. They don’t have to be the ultimate three. If we were on the phone or a Zoom call and I said, “Tell me about three setbacks in your life,” these are three that come to mind relatively quickly. What are these three setbacks?

Next, I want you to answer four questions about each one.

1. What was it?

Just write a simple sentence or short paragraph outlining the challenge, disappointment or problem which you were faced with.

2. What did you do?

When it happened, what did you do about it? How did you handle it? Did you go drinking? Did you take a vacation? Did you cry? (I know I have many times). Did you journal or write or curse?

What specific actions did you take when you had this setback handed to you? Let’s be crystal clear, any and all of the responses are perfectly OK. I personally don’t drink anymore, but I used that “strategy” many, many times in my life. Trust me, just speak your truth in this exercise.

3. What did you learn?

Now, you’ve moved past it, and you’re in a different place with it. You might’ve chosen something that happened recently, and you might still be going through it. Then you would say, what am I currently learning? What are two or three lessons from this that are valuable enough to bring forward in your life and career?

Now the biggest question…

4. Would you change it?

I think this is one of the most powerful questions we can ask when it comes to setbacks in our lives. This helps put things right into perspective. We can’t have the complete power of the lesson without having the power of the experience. Setbacks help form us as leaders as well as help us create our method of operation regarding challenges.

When it comes to any challenge, whether personally created or the world brings it our way, we have the opportunity to stop and say, “You know what? I think this might serve as a great opportunity to increase my awareness regarding (fill in the blank with any lesson).”

But then, we generally very quickly will say: “I don’t want to go through this. I don’t want to have a challenging relationship. I don’t want to have a financial setback. I don’t want to reinvent my business. I don’t want to change my pricing. No, I don’t want to fire customers.”

Setbacks are part of the cycle of life. They are simply a part of your own evolution in the human experience and as a leader. So go with me on this and make sure you do this exercise.

What was the setback?

What did you do?

And what did you learn from it?

Would you change it?

Setbacks are an incredible education. They’re just not one we would sign up for. However, they’re going to happen, and as leaders and people of influence in life and on our teams, we don’t have the luxury of burying our heads in the sand. We can’t sit and pout. Again, I’m not minimizing the feelings you have around your setbacks. But growth and greatness happen in how we move on and learn from setbacks.

Doing this exercise for every setback you face will help in starting to change the way you think about them. I know it’s hard to imagine setbacks as something you should appreciate and think back on with positivity. But these hurdles are a huge part of who we are. It’s tough work, but then again, leaders like you are tough and ready to do what’s needed to take your team to the next level. Now go do it!

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