Dealing With Setbacks At Work
August 11, 2015
It doesn't matter how good you are or how experienced you are, from time to time you will have to deal with a setback at work. Just when you think everything is on course and momentum is building… bang! Something will jump out in front of you and block your path to success. Most often you don't see it coming. You're completely blindsided.
It happened to me just last week. One of our stations had a bad month of PPM. I take these things very personally (I know! I need to work on that). For our young, passionate, hungry team these results came as a blow. We have spent the last 12 months fighting hard. A year ago we had almost lost the war and any comeback seemed almost impossible. The team dug deep, rallied together and came out swinging. If we were going to lose we'd do it fighting. Fighting hard. The tide changed and we won some battles. The momentum and energy felt invigorating. We were learning and growing together. We started to believe "We can do this!" We can turn this around. We can win this war. Then it happened. Out of nowhere the bad report card landed with a thud. Something had gone wrong. We had not only lost this battle, but had taken a significant hit. It was devastating news. It was a huge setback.
Setbacks will happen frequently in your pursuit of success. You may get passed over for the promotion you wanted, lose a big spending client or watch top talent leave. Whatever the setbacks, you'll have them, and when you're confronted by a setback you tend to feel like your progress forward has been blocked.
How you chose to deal with your setbacks shows the world what kind of person you are -- or aspire to be. Our attitude is what differentiates us. The attitude of a loser is to let their feelings immerse them. They become upset and angry. They hold onto those feelings and whine about how things are unfair. The attitude of a winner is different. The disappointment may feel the same but the way winners chose to approach their feelings is fundamentally different. A winner's approach is deliberate and calculated. Winners acknowledge their feelings but they don't dwell on them. They use them in a positive way to move forward.
When setbacks throw themselves in your way you need to be able to bounce back quickly. Try this approach: The 5A's to work through when a setback occurs:
- Acknowledge. You shouldn't dismiss how you feel. Emotions are powerful and need to be respected. It's natural to be upset or angry when a setback strikes. Take time to step away from the situation and experience the emotions you feel. Once you acknowledge the emotions you're feeling only then are you ready to move forward. Channeling your emotions into whatever you do next.
- Accept. Setbacks are a part of life. The journey to success is paved with unforeseen circumstances. There will always be setbacks and challenges to face. A setback won't determine your future unless you let it. Setbacks are just temporary. It's too easy to blame others for the setback or to make excuses. You must come to turns with the fact that it happened so you can put it behind you. You will slow yourself down on the journey to success if you're carrying all that extra blame baggage.
- Ask. Seek out the advice of those who may be able to help you. People whose input you respect and would be useful. Ask them for their take on the situation. They will probably offer you a different perspective. Helping you see the setback from different perspectives will help you see things with greater clarity and rationality.
- Assess. It's important to ask yourself "What can I learn from this setback?" "What do I need to differently?" Like success, failure has its significance because it creates an opportunity to learn something new and to develop your skillset. By channeling your disappointment in a positive way you are also presented with an opportunity to develop your own character. Positivity will help propel you forward.
- Action. You must do something. Setbacks will only stop your progress if you allow them to. Once you have understood your feelings, gained valuable thoughts from others and assessed your options you must decide the action you are going to take. Build yourself a plan for how you will move forward. American football coach, Vince Lombardi said "The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall". Setbacks can't stop you, if you get up and try again.
When setbacks occur remember… Acknowledge, Accept, Ask, Assess and take Action.
If you never face a setback the chances are you're not really trying that hard. Anything worth having should take considerable effort and commitment. It should feel both enjoyable and tough. It should be unbelievably rewarding but equally frustrating at times. Only those who push themselves to their limits -- to the edge of their comfort zones -- will be faced with setbacks. Setbacks aren't the end, they are the start of a new beginning. The start of a new chapter. Success takes persistence. When setbacks occur remember the 5A's and stay positive. Your future will be whatever you chose it to be.