Real Leaders

4 Ways to Turn Your Setback Into an Incredible Comeback

No matter where you find yourself in life, you will experience setbacks. Yet, if you want to have a comeback, you have to be willing to change. 

We’ve been through a series of setbacks over the last year — a pandemic, economic downturn, massive job loss, racial strife, and social upheaval. Unfortunately, it’s been one setback after another. Yet, I’m here to proclaim that it’s now comeback time! The key to a remarkable comeback starts by elevating your thinking and having a positive outlook and a mindset that expects better times down the road. When I wrote the book A Setback is a Setup For a Comeback, it led to a call from Ford Motors in 2006 when the company had just experienced a huge setback. Ford was on the brink of bankruptcy and needed a big comeback.

I worked with Ford for three years, and in 2009, they rejected a government bailout and went from losing millions a month to making billions each month. After my time at Ford, I started getting calls from Fortune 100 companies around the world — General Motors, Verizon, Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson Dubai, Coca-Cola South Africa, and many more. Here are the lessons I learned from working with these companies that will help you create your amazing comeback too.  

As business leaders, we know that setbacks happen to everyone – even the most successful among us. The determining factor in what your result will look like is how you will handle the setback. If you give up and let the problems bury you, you may as well put up a tombstone and let your dreams rest in peace. But if you change your perspective, avoid getting flustered, and start to see your setbacks as a setup for a comeback, you can change course and go on to win.  

In my office, I have eagles everywhere to remind me to model the habits and actions of an eagle and not an ostrich. For example, when a storm hits, an ostrich sticks its head in the ground and says, “Let me know when it’s over!” But the eagle does the opposite; it takes flight and flies into the face of the storm. It flies through the storm and refuses to give up. Eventually, the eagle soars above the storm and gets a panoramic view of the whole situation.   

 The eagle acknowledges severe problems at a specific point, but instead of getting stuck in the moment, it looks down the road and realizes, “there is a solution ahead.” Business leaders need to develop a bird’s-eye view of their companies too. 

Right now, the lesson for leaders who face serious challenges ahead is not to hide and hope it will pass, but to fly high and keep looking forward. This strategy helped Ford and many other major brands survive during troubled times, and it can work for you. Always have the mindset that your best is still to come. Here are 4 ways you can apply now to start turning things around:

01 Vision

You need to develop a big vision for your future. Start thinking about what your life would look like if you had a magic wand and could tap your future and make it extraordinary.

02 Decision

You must decide if this setback is a “setback, period” or a “setback, comma.” A period means “end of the story, no more to this story.” Yet, a comma means “there is a pause in this story, but keep going because the best part is yet to come!”

03 Action

You must take action to turn this setback into a remarkable comeback. Two little birds are on a telephone wire, and one thinks about flying away. How many little birds are left? Two! What? Yes, until you take action on your decisions, nothing changes.

04 Desire

How badly do you want to make it happen? You must want it badly because life will test you and try you. So, get that big vision, make tough decisions, take massive action, and have great desire.

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