I’m a business coach, and it’s really tough for me to give guarantees about what will happen in your business. I’m also a mom, and it’s really tough for me to guarantee my children’s lives will turn out the way they hope. In fact, the only thing I can guarantee with confidence is that you will experience setbacks and disappointment on the journey!
I’ve had a few setbacks and disappointments in the last few months that would have really shut me down in my early years as a business owner. Now they just feel like a part of the cycle. I recognize the disappointment. I strategize around the setbacks. I take time to internalize any lessons I need to learn. And then I forgive. I love myself. I embrace my imperfect self. And I keep moving. It’s taken me several years to get to a good point with this process. And it is a critical skill for long term success in business.
Here’s what 15 years of entrepreneurship has taught me about staying positive in the face of setbacks and disappointment. If you can embrace these truths, you’ll experience a lot more joy in the journey.
Truth #1: Individual events do not make or break your business. The disgruntled client, the team member that quits and leaves you hanging, the bad event, the expensive marketing campaign that didn’t produce, the (insert in your personal setback) feel like they will put you on the brink of ruin in the moment. We tend to be a little dramatic with our setbacks in the beginning. But in reality, there is no single event that will make or break your business. If one client is disgruntled you are not going under. If one client is ecstatic, you are not guaranteed success. Business results are the culmination of many small events.
Try this approach: Before you dive into the disappointment, list all of the things that are going well in your business. Try to get some perspective. Once you’ve moved past the emotional, “everything is falling apart” phase, then you can circle back to the setback and learn from your mistakes.
Truth #2: Your personal worth is completely independent of your success or failure in business. Connecting your self worth to your financial success or job performance is a very dangerous road! Because there is always more you could be doing, it’s hard to feel like you are ever enough. I recently read a book about Poland in WWII. Those people literally lost everything in a matter of months. There are so many factors outside of our control. If your worth is tied to your performance, you will take deep dips in every personal setback.
Try this approach: Spend quiet time each day listing the things you love about you. When I experienced disappointment this week, I literally wrote myself a love letter. I listed all of my wonderful qualities. All of the good I do in the world. I celebrated my tenacity and courage. And it gave me the ability to feel empowered and positive in the face of setback.
Truth #3: Every setback has value. I invite you to find the value in each of your setbacks. My setbacks have each made me a lot of money. An angry client taught me how to be more clear in the sales process. A bad investment in a marketing strategy taught me how to create simple, inexpensive and effective marketing campaigns. A messy parting of the ways with a team member taught me how to hire better and to trust my instincts when it wasn’t working out. An event that didn’t produce what I’d hoped taught me the value of positioning myself in rooms with the right people. My setbacks cost me money at first. But they’ve made me money in the long run.
Try this approach: Express gratitude for the lessons. I love to journal, and if you’ve spent any time with me, it’s probably come up in conversation. Make a list of the lessons you learned and express gratitude for them. It’s funny how acknowledging the lesson and being grateful helps cement it in your mind. We all have lessons to learn in life and business. My goal is to learn them the first time! But even if it takes me a couple of times with the same lesson, that experience will still make me more successful and more profitable.
I know the setbacks and disappointments are not the fun part of business. But they are a part of business. And while the disappointments won’t break your business, handling them like a pro will make your ultimate success.