Moving Past Failure and Setbacks as a Leader

overcoming setbacks

Failure. None of us like it, but it’s something we all experience. As a leader, it’s important to learn how to find and maintain inner peace and stability when experiencing setbacks and failure in business. We know it’s true, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do.

Darren Fisher, SPEARity CEO, recently shared a message about finding peace in the midst of life’s ups and downs.

It’s Time To Retrain Your Brain

If you are used to panicking and stressing out when you experience failure, your mind is going to automatically want to go in that direction every time you feel a failure or setback coming on.

Imagine that you are hiking on a train. It’s a well-known trail so it’s easy to walk. There is no longer grass growing on the path because so many feet have been along the path over the years. There are no branches blocking the path. It’s just easy to follow.

Now imagine, that you reach a fork in the path. The well-worn path leads to the right, but you also see that you could venture off the path and move to the left. You would have to walk through tall weeds and push branches out of your way, but it’s possible to get through if you tried.

What would happen if you started to walk in that new direction every single day?

You would begin to create a path. The weeds would get trampled down and you would probably snap twigs out of your way as you went. Eventually, the new path would be just as easy to go down as the old path. And to take it one step further, if everyone started to hike your new path instead of the original one, eventually that original one would become overgrown and harder to walk down.

The same is true for your brain.

If you have always responded in panic and fear from failure in the past, your brain is going to “go there” every single time because it’s easy. You have a pathway in your brain that leads your thinking in that direction. This is how habits are formed. But it’s possible to change the way you think, learn new habits, and begin to handle failure and setbacks in a new way.

Here are some tips that can help.

Identify your auto-response

The first step is to identify how you typically respond to setbacks and failures. Do you get tense inside and lash out at the people around you? Do you look for someone or something to blame? Maybe you feel the need to grab a beer or a handful of cookies? Or, you may retreat from everyone and let your mind take you down the familiar path of feeling like you aren’t good enough? Do you quit because the going got tough?

There are a lot of negative auto-responses people have when things aren’t going as planned. When you begin to identify what your responses tend to be, it helps you become more aware of them so you can start to make adjustments. When you catch yourself going down that same old path again, you can stop yourself and choose a new response.

Evaluate the situation

It’s easy to make emotional decisions when things aren’t going well. As a business owner, it’s important to learn to resist that urge. Emotional decision making often leads to poor decisions.

Take a step back and evaluate the facts about your situation. Look for what is true. Where did things go wrong? What could have been done differently? Is there a way to salvage the situation or is it time to a complete pivot?

Looking at all the facts without letting your emotions take control can help you see what path you need to take as you move forward.

Find a healthy outlet

Running a business and leading people comes with stress. You can let that stress consume you or use escape activities like drinking/drugs, shopping, or binging on Netflix to deal with it; or, you can find healthy outlets for your stress. While escape activities might feel good in the moment, they aren’t productive at helping you long-term. Developing proper self-care habits can help you feel good even when things aren’t going well.

It can also help to find a hobby that lets you get out pent-up frustration and stress from work. This could be running, exercising, sports, or hiking. I watched a show called Forged in Fire which is a competition where bladesmiths forge bladed weapons. Think blacksmithing. They are heating up metal and hammering it. Multiple contestants mention that the hobby helps them to alleviate their stress.

Find what works for you and then do it intentionally.

Keep things in perspective

When we focus on the difficult situations we’re facing or failures we have experienced they have a way of taking control. In reality, there are usually good things happening around us as well. If you’re facing a setback in business or with your team, take a few minutes to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Be intentional about finding the things that are going well to help you keep things in perspective. This can also help as you make decisions to recover from, overcome, or move past failure.

It’s kind of like the story of the two shoe salesmen who went to Africa to see if it was a good market for them. One reported there was no market because no one wore any shoes. The other reported that there was unlimited potential because no one wore any shoes. Be like the second salesman. There is opportunity in our struggles if we will just look to find them.

Connect with people who will help you improve

We weren’t meant to do life alone and the same is true for business. Look for people who you can learn from. Look for people who have been where you are right now and risen above it. Find a coach or mentor who can help you stay motivated, recover from failure, overcome setbacks, and continue pushing forward toward success.

If you want help in this process, contact us today to see how SPEARity’s business services can help you improve as a leader and grow your business.

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