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Successfully Overcoming Setbacks

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

“A crisis does not produce leaders; it simply draws attention to their presence.”

In his article “Adopt a Growth Mindset to Handle Setbacks Better,” J.D. Meier writes. “Life is full of unexpected challenges and setbacks, both in our personal lives and professional careers.

As someone who has dealt with many major setbacks over many years at Microsoft, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward.

However, I also know that setbacks can be opportunities for growth and development, and with the right mindset and strategies, we can learn to handle setbacks better.

Whether you’re facing setbacks in your work, relationships, or personal life, it’s important to remember that setbacks are not the end of the road. It’s all about getting back up and keep moving forward, no matter how challenging the situation may seem.” (1)

Leaders will sometimes manage negative thoughts and emotions when pushing through personal setbacks; how much more so when navigating the recovery from setbacks with teams experiencing the same things?

Navigating our way to a new normal requires being comfortable with the necessity for change. Studies have shown that people generally accept occasional changes within their organizations; they struggle with having to change with them.

Inherent in overcoming setbacks is changing to establish new habit patterns. John C. Maxwell says, “There is no setback so severe that you cannot recover in some way, but it takes a certain mindset to make that recovery possible.”

  • Overcoming setbacks requires the discipline of a personal commitment.

  • Overcoming setbacks requires some resiliency, which isn’t always easy to develop.

  • Overcoming setbacks entails a learning process; you have to decide to win and learn something positive from the experience.

Tracy Kennedy writes, “Let’s face it. Life is full of setbacks, failures, obstacles, and challenges. Setbacks are not in the way of your life. They are a critical part of your life. They are redirecting you to where you truly should be. They are not throwing you off your path. Instead, they are reminding you which way the path lies.

Philosophically, I believe that life is working for us, not against us. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that my setbacks are opportunities for learning and growth. I believe there are no mistakes on our journey, even when it feels that way. But that doesn’t mean I don’t completely understand how it feels when a setback smacks you straight in the face. It can hurt, but it can also be the best gift.

Right now, this setback may feel like the end of the world. I promise you, it is not. Instead, it’s a chance for you to define your destiny. You get to choose what happens next. Will this setback take you down, or will this setback be the very thing that defines who you are? It’s completely up to you.” (2)

In Closing

John Wooden said, “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So, keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make makes you.”


(1) “How to Handle Setbacks Better”

(2) “How to Deal With Setbacks And Use Them For Future Success”

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co. ***

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