It happens to all of us.
Even successful people falter every once in awhile. Although it may just be a temporary stop or a slowing down of the momentum we had, it’s something we all experience. Maybe we were on a roll and making great progress when we started hitting bumps and losing speed.
From time to time, we might even feel like we’ve run straight into a wall and halted to a dead stop.
This not only causes discouragement, but induces doubts about our path, our mission, our goal. We may start to wonder if we were ever on the right track to begin with.
However, there’s a proven, tried-and-true method to overcome any loss in progress, or should I say “perceived” setbacks.
Channeling my inner geek here for a minute and using physics terms, slowing down is simply negative acceleration, or going backwards against forward progress. Although not all of us are physicists, we all feel this resistance against our forward progress whenever we encounter setbacks.
Earl Nightingale said: “We become what we think about most of the time.”
So when a setback hits us, what are we usually thinking about?
What’s on our minds?
What are we doing, saying, and exposing ourselves to that’s feeding those thoughts?
These questions MUST be considered because as stated before, setbacks happen to everyone. And as you may have guessed, they will keep on happening throughout our lives.
A foolish person never considers a plan for the consequences of his actions, never gives a thought to the possibility of failure, and never admits that such precautionary measures are not only helpful, but necessary to achieve greatness.
With that said, we need to know ahead of time on how we’ll answer those questions. What will our response be in a time of crisis? Are we simply reacting, or are we choosing to make a specific decision? Do we know the specific actions we’ll take when we encounter setbacks?
Let’s consider the extreme scenario: something catastrophic happens to us. None of us would ever wish for it, but let’s hypothetically consider what that would be like.Assume all our progress towards our goal has been completely erased; 100% gone. There’s nothing left in all that we’ve worked for.
Picture that scenario and feel all the emotions associated with it.
Now ask the above questions and consider the answers very carefully.
How would we see ourselves in that moment? Are we crying and sulking about, hopeless, having given up completely? Or are we quick to action as soon as we’ve had our time to mourn, devising a plan to bounce back to where we were, and even further?
I’ve heard an interesting quote from a former acquaintance of mine that shows the mindset most people have. It also shows the lack of the successful mindset in our society today. He asked me: “What is the easiest and most effective way to frighten a wealthy person?” It was an obvious rhetorical question, but he answered with, “Threaten to take away all his money.”
I didn’t give it much thought at the time he said that. But later it dawned on me that his mindset was one of not only scarcity, but paranoia, constant fear of potential dangers, and pessimism. As a side note, it’s because of this difference in our mindsets and life philosophy that we’re former acquaintances now.
Going back to his question however -- if the person in that situation is truly wealthy, he would have no fear of his wealth being taken away. In fact, that would be the last thing that anyone can scare him with. Having the knowledge that a truly wealthy person has regarding how to not only attract but maintain wealth, he knows he can reclaim everything he has lost.
He simply applies the earlier quote from Earl Nightingale and thinks about how to become wealthy again, which is most likely the same way he became wealthy in the first place.
Regardless of what our endeavors may be, the lesson to take away is simple and twofold: setbacks will happen to all of us, and the only thing that matters at that point is our response to the earlier questions.
Our response will dictate how quickly we bounce back from the setback, and if we bounce back from it at all. “To manage setbacks in the future,” Susan McQuillan writes in Psychology Today, “try to keep challenging situations in perspective. Trust your instincts, and try to see every situation, no matter how painful, as an opportunity for further growth and self-discover.”
There are countless examples of people that have suffered one type of setback or another and came back much, much more successful than they could’ve imagine. Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison -- the list goes on.
In addition to taking action to correct course and planning ahead, these successful individuals and others like them had another commonality: they never identified with their failures.
Instead, they kept in mind what their goals are, where they want to be, what they want to accomplish. “It is impossible to live without failing at something,” says Harry
Potter author J.K. Rowling, “unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all–in which case, you fail by default.”At the beginning of the article, I mentioned perceived setbacks. They are the most fully realized examples and manifestation of what Earl Nightingale meant what he said “We become what we think about most of the time.”
Once our mentality is on track, we are ripe to take decisive action and bounce back even stronger than before the setback happened.