Seven Ways Great Leaders Overcome Setbacks & Build Resiliency

Attractive young grinning business owner in office with polka dot blouse, folded arms and confident expression in front of group of employees at conference table

Have you ever tried to force yourself back into the swing of things after a setback? I’ve experienced plenty of setbacks – what I’ve come to call “woe is me moments” – in my life. Almost every leader does from time to time. What makes great leaders so great though is that they experience setbacks merely as part of the process – as in “two steps forward, one step back” – rather than total failures to be ashamed of. More than that, strong leaders know how to bounce back – fast! 

Learning how to deal with setbacks is essential for any successful leader. So how do we get back on our feet after getting knocked down? There are 7 ways great leaders bounce back from failure and rise above their circumstances. Let’s look at each one of them together.

1. Start Something New

The first step to break out of a “failure funk” is to start something new. For example, you can turn your attention to a different aspect of your business to refocus your attention. If you suffered a setback in sales, maybe you can redirect your attention to some new marketing activities you haven’t prioritized in a while. Or you might want to design a new program that opens your business up to a wider market segment than before. This innovation and creativity can light a fire in you that motivates you to get out of bed every day and get right back in the saddle. 

2. Remember Past Victories

Celebrating your victories is always a good idea, but it’s especially useful to celebrate what you’ve already accomplished when you are getting over a setback. I personally keep an “at a boy file” of positive feedback and accolades from my clients on my computer for times just like this since it goes a long way to picking up my spirits and getting me back on my feet whenever I experience a failure of some kind. More than that, it also reminds me of what I’m good at and helps me regain my composure before I get stuck in that “failure funk”. They say hindsight is 20/20, so why not remember your past victories to reconnect with your passions and get back into the flow again?

3. Get Organized

Sometimes setbacks can throw us off track and wreak havoc on our regular routines. A good way to deal with this is to get organized. Start by removing all that clutter from your desk and immediate work area. Take some time to review all those emails clogging up your inbox you weren’t otherwise going to read. While it may seem like procrastination and wasting time, it’s a powerful way to regain focus and take control over your life again. Once you clear through some of the chaos, you’ll be able to get really organized by creating new action items and To Do lists.

4. Prioritize Your Time

Something else you can do is prioritize. Unless you aim at something, you will probably hit nothing. And that can work against you, especially when you are still getting over a setback. If you aren’t careful, you might also find you’re exerting yourself on low-value, low-priority tasks since they’re probably easy for you to do and won’t sap what little energy you may have. Once you have your new To Do list, identify which actions will give you the greatest return on your investment of time and then focus your energy on those first instead of the other way around!

5. Reset Strategic Goals

As you regain focus, you can also to reset your strategic goals. When you do, make sure to write them down and develop clear action plans to achieve them. We always advise our clients to plan their futures from the future with the end in mind and then work backwards until they have clearly defined 30, 60, and 90-day micro-goals. Just because one thing may not have worked as you expected doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve great results another way. You just need to identify the specific projects you want to accomplish and then strive towards accomplishing them. This will help you rise above your setbacks and propel you forward.

6. Reward Your Progress

As you make progress towards your strategic goals, reward yourself with personal incentives that motivate you to keep going. This can be as simple as allowing yourself to spend a few minutes decompressing on Facebook or watching a short program on TV after diligently working on your near-term priorities for a couple of hours straight. Or it can be a bit more involved like leaving work at 5:00pm to have that nice dinner out instead of staying until 7:00 or 8:00pm like usual because there is so much to do. Everybody likes to feel like a winner, so celebrate the early wins and major milestones you achieve by treating yourself to the simple pleasures that make you happy as you gain momentum and get back on track.

7. Treat Your Body Right!

One other way to bounce back from a setback is to treat your body right. The stress you experience not just from the setback itself but also from the work required to recover will take its toll on your body if you aren’t careful. That’s why it’s so important to eat right, sleep well, and exercise. You don’t have to go vegan or give up your favorite foods, but try adding a bit of healthy and removing a little bit of unhealthy – like snacking on high-protein nuts or carrots mid-day instead of potato chips from the vending machine or cut out one soda or cup of coffee a day. Equally as important as your diet, getting enough sleep prepares both your body and mind to accomplish your goals. And finally, get away from your desk and get some fresh air while walking around the block or use the stairs instead of the elevator if you don’t have time to go to the gym or really work out.

Bouncing back from failure is definitely possible if you are committed to achieving great results. Your resiliency to taking any of these seven steps can help you bounce back even quicker so that you can move forward with your life again. This is what great leaders do because anyone who hits for the fences is going to strike out from time to time.

Have you suffered a setback in your business recently? Need some guidance to get back on track?

We firmly believe that breakdowns can be your access to breakthroughs, so give us a call at 310.589.4610 or email us to see how we can help you achieve greatness again. You can also visit the Executive Coaching page of our website to see how we might help.

Posted in Accelerated workplace, Accomplishment, business, Change management, Coaching, Executive Coaching, Leadership, success, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

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