Wouldn’t it be nice if everything you touched turned to gold and just worked? And everyone loved it? BUT, guess what? That leadership development strategy you’ve been working on for the past three months? The CEO didn’t like it. Your carefully constructed and painstakingly recruited project team? About to be decimated due to budget cuts. And that multi-million-dollar business deal you were sure you’d nailed? Fell through at the last second because someone changed their mind…In the business world, you don’t always get what you want, right?—even if you’re the boss. (if you don’t believe me, just ask your boss). In fact, you can often feel like you’re caught in the middle between helping your company advance and pressures that are beyond your control. That’s when setbacks happen.
The Psychological Impact of Setbacks
When you’re a relatively inexperienced leader or if you suffer from anxiety, these types of setbacks can be demoralising and humiliating—especially because so many people are aware of them. Sometimes, you might even feel like you’re a failure in the eyes of your own team. And that can compound your negative emotions and anxiety even further.
Setbacks produce a form of psychological pain that can warp our perceptions. As a result, we feel less capable of achieving specific goals, plus, we perceive those goals as much more challenging to attain. What’s more, we believe that whether we succeed or fail isn’t within our control.
It should be clear that when you fall prey to these kinds of misperceptions, they negatively impact your ability to do your job and most likely affect your quality of life.
Foster Resilience to Turn Setbacks into Stepping Stones
Of course, setbacks are part of life and business. Successful people haven’t gotten to where they are without failures and disappointments, but what sets successful people apart is their resilience—in other words, their ability to bounce back from failure, maintain good workplace mental health, and keep moving forward in a constructive manner.
The good news is that you can learn how to become more resilient—and heal that psychological pain that’s distorting your perception of your abilities. Here’s what you need to do:
- Analyse the setback. Take a high-level look at the incident and objectively analyse what factors contributed to your failure. Was it really due to something you did or didn’t do? Or was it an external factor?
- Learn from your failures. Once you’ve determined why something didn’t work out, brainstorm what you could have done differently to produce a better outcome. Knowing you’ve learnt something from the setback will help empower you to take positive action.
- Manage your self-talk. You can’t let that voice of self-doubt influence your confidence or actions. Every time you hear yourself thinking negatively about yourself, stop, and instead, think something positive about your achievements and your ability to learn from past experiences.
- Keep moving forward. Avoiding challenges isn’t going to do your career or your confidence any good. Every time you do overcome a challenge or meet your goals, it helps build your confidence and strengthen your resilience.
Bouncing back from a setback isn’t always easy. But with the points above in mind, you can become more resilient and better prepared to give every business opportunity your best effort.
Remember: realising you’re only human is actually productive. It means you’re capable of learning, adapting, and moving forward after any disappointment or setback.