Turn that setback into success!

By Ahmed Wafi

Everyone has their ups and downs but it’s how you bounce back that counts.

You’ve been having a couple of good months in the office and then suddenly, it all seems to be going wrong. Your boss is constantly on your back, your colleagues don’t seem to want to cooperate, your clients are finding fault. When before all this you were the star employee!

Inhale... exhale. What you’re experiencing is called a setback, which is pretty common at work and presents itself in many forms. It can be like the above scenario or a more major one like being retrenched, forcing you back into the job search all over again.

But whatever the setback, the good news is you can get into full swing again. It will be hard though and you might even feel that you can’t catch a break, especially if the setback is followed with more unfortunate events that can dampen your motivation at work.

But look at it this way: A failure can also be the start of something new. In an interview with cio.com, founder and CEO of SlashDB, Victor Olex said, “A career setback can truly be a blessing; I can attest to that.” He talked about the 2008 financial crisis that caused his software development job to end abruptly, leaving him scrolling through the job market. He persevered, looking for opportunities to get back on his feet... and eventually found it in SlashDB, a company he calls his own that has been running strong for almost seven years.

More setback-turned-success stories? Mark Cuban, world-renowned businessman and TV personality, spoke about how he quit or had been fired from three straight jobs after graduating from university. Look at him now.

Then there is Bill Gates and what he went through to become one of the main pioneers of the future. “Once you embrace unpleasant news not as a negative but as evidence of a need for change, you aren’t defeated by it, you’re learning from it. It’s all in how you approach failures,” Gates writes in his book Business at the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy.

This year’s (and arguably all-time) biggest comeback? It’s got to be Tiger Woods. Following his high-profile scandal, Woods collapsed while practising swings in his backyard in 2014. His back succumbed to his recurring injuries and he could barely breathe. He had to have eight knee and back surgeries (including a spinal fusion surgery) before he could play again. Critics were skeptical though but at the Masters tournament last Monday, Woods celebrated his 15th major tournament win. “You never give up, that’s a given. You always fight. Just giving up’s never in the equation,” said Woods.

See, bouncing back from a setback is possible. If this is you at the moment, here are a few things you need to do.

Ask what caused the setback
Going back to the case of Victor Olex, his layoff was caused by the financial crisis that is completely out of his control. However, in many cases, it could be due to a lack of knowledge or a failure to plan. Analyse the situation you’re in and try to anticipate anything going wrong.

Don’t be too quick to point your finger
Even if the setback was caused by someone else, blaming them won’t do you any favours; it might even put you in a worse spot! Maintain a positive energy, keep your head up high, and move forward.

Remember that this might happen again
It’s important to keep in mind that since it’s happened before, it can happen again. But this time you’ll be better prepared. Apply the lessons learnt from the previous setback.

Keep fighting
‘Keep fighting’ was the phrase hung above the dressing room of Leeds United Football Club during their glory years that saw them march to the finals of the European Cup and established themselves as one of the best teams in the world. It’s also a pivotal quote to live by that is reflected by many successful people. Having that never say die attitude will always get you further in both your personal and professional life. Remember, it’s a bad day, not a bad life!

Picture courtesy of David J. Phillip/Associated Press

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