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Mark Cole: Responding to Setbacks By Mark Cole | March 27, 2020 | 5

With the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, leaders of all kinds are being challenged to lead in uncertain times. What we’ve experienced over the last few weeks, specifically in the United States, is absolutely unprecedented. There aren’t many events in history that compare to the difficulties this pandemic has presented.

The setbacks have been widespread and significant for us all. The question is—how will you respond?

There is a famous quote by Frederick Douglass that applies well here, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

Here’s what I know: Every setback has a benefit.

Now, I don’t mean to diminish the problems you are facing currently. Trust me, I have great respect for the tremendous difficulties that many of us are being forced to maneuver. The organization that I lead has taken some major setbacks as well. But I do want to encourage you—nothing great has ever been achieved without adversity.

Psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers said, “The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top.” If you step back from the pain and loss of difficult circumstances, you will be able to see their positive benefits.

Consider these benefits of setbacks:

  1. Setbacks create resilience.
  2. Setbacks develop maturity.
  3. Setbacks provide greater opportunities.
  4. Setbacks prompt innovation.
  5. Setbacks push the envelope of accepted performance.
  6. Setbacks motivate.

Success is not the elimination of problems! It’s actually quite the opposite. Success is earned as you learn from adversity. We must learn to embrace our setbacks as a part of the journey.

Here’s a quick story, in case you’re not convinced yet. In 1978, Bernie Marcus was fired from a do-it-yourself hardware store called Handy Dan. Just one year after being fired, Marcus teamed up with a fellow businessman by the name of Arthur Blank to start a little store called The Home Depot. Today, The Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the world with over 2,200 stores and over $100 Billion in revenue.

Now I’m sure Bernie Marcus didn’t like the setback of being fired from Handy Dan—but if he hadn’t, would he have achieved the success he has today?

Finding the benefit in a setback is an ability that must be learned and cultivated. This week, as part of his virtual leadership summit, John Maxwell shared two powerful talks on this subject, and I want to invite you go to YouTube and watch Part One and Part Two of his talk.

What John shares is a powerful reminder that reframing your perspective on setbacks will help you continue to move forward, no matter how far you’ve been knocked back. While we may not know exactly what the future holds, we do know that this too shall pass.

Will you be ready to bounce back from the setbacks when it does?

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