Learning from Setbacks and Attacking Adversity

“Press on. Obstacles are seldom the same size tomorrow as they are today.”
–Robert Schuller

The truth is: everyone faces failure. There is no secret formula that excludes certain leaders, performers, or athletes from this reality. In fact, the great names of the world would not be as acclaimed as they are without their ability to rise up in the face of adversity.

The key to learning from failure is to stand up and try again. Believe it or not, failure can be very valuable. Even the most accomplished individuals face failures, but what sets them apart is the way they develop strategies to learn and benefit from their experiences. No one enjoys falling short of a goal, but successful people put their shortcomings in perspective and carefully evaluate them to prevent similar occurrences in the future. They may conclude that a particular approach or game plan didn’t work, their focus wasn’t fully absorbed in the task, or the cards weren’t falling in their favor that day. They don’t tear themselves apart in response to a loss.

Instead of allowing loss to cloud their vision, successful people move forward with these three mindsets:

1. You Can Always Be Better Prepared

To lose is to be human… and we are all human. Every thinking, feeling, living person experiences loss. But we can learn from our failures by making sure we are well prepared for the next challenge.

2. No One Escapes Loss; Not Even the Greatest of the Great

We tend to be most susceptible to feeling down when we expect to do well and do poorly instead, or when we expect to win and we lose. In some instances, our expectations have gotten the better of us; we may not have have prepared or focused as well as we could have. H owever, there are other times in which we have done everything in our power to win, and, for reasons beyond our control, events don’t go as anticipated. It is crucial to recognize the difference between circumstances within our control and those that are beyond it.

3. There is No Advantage in Dwelling on the Negative

Loss can make you feel miserable, inadequate, or helpless. But it can also challenge you to draw upon your strengths, get to know yourself better, examine your priorities,and reflect on where you are going, as well as why and how. A time of loss can widen your perspective or redirect your course in sport or in life. As unpleasant as it may be, loss can result in your learning how to better prepare for, influence, avoid, embrace, or cope with situations that may arise in the future. If you can view setbacks as a test of your inner strength and personal growth, then you can turn these experiences into advantages. Finding the lessons in loss can put you back in control.

It is important to remember that a loss is not detrimental. This poem supports this viewpoint:


Good Days and Bad Days

There will be good days.

And there will be bad days.

There will be times when you want to turn around,

Pack it up, and call it quits.

Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself,

That you are not afraid to learn by trying.

In the wise words of Robert Schuller, “Press on. Obstacles are seldom the same size tomorrow as they are today.” If you take one thing away from his quote, remember to press on. If you fall down seven times, stand up eight. You are not immune to failures, but you can recover and move forward with greater strength and ability.