One of our colleagues, Bob Ernst, sent me this illustration:
Success doesn’t happen in a straight line. If you are like me, you’ve spent a great deal of life expecting things to steadily improve, but as life continues, you realize that life has a way of happening that alters progress. Like the drawing suggests, we circle. We stall. We fall down. We backtrack.
In fact, if you are like me, you resist taking some risks or making some changes because you don’t want to circle, stall or fall down. Then life answers anyhow and sends something that causes a setback. In other words, you can try to avoid difficult things happening but chances are they are happening anyhow.
Here’s the gift of experience: failures and setbacks will only be fatal if you let them.
After you have lived through a few setbacks, you learn there will be better days. If you have faith in that knowledge, you are quicker to get back up and go after the better days.
After you have lived through a few setbacks, you learn not to fear negative consequences of change and of risk. You take a swing at things more readily. You take more shots. You’re willing to consider the question, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” and have faith that if the worst happens, you will survive.
Setbacks provide learning and experience that help you survive. Play a little looser. You can live with the results.