How Do You Overcome Setbacks as a Leader?


Some people seem to bounce back from a setback, whether it’s work related or personal, more easily than others. Even if they experience a run of bad luck, it doesn’t seem to get them down. Are these people just more optimistic than the rest of us, or do they have a strategy to help them overcome any problems that might arise? 

The secret to bouncing back from setbacks seems to simply be resilience. When we describe an object as resilient, it will generally return to its original form, even after being stretched or compressed, such as a stress ball. A person’s fortitude can work the same way – no matter how many knocks it takes, it will always remain strong.  

Developing Resilience

So what makes someone resilient? Having a strong network of friends and family can be a major factor. This community of people who love and support you can help you overcome any issues that crop up, and ensure that your resilience levels develop.

There are ways that you can work on your resilience too. To ensure that you’re able to move on from a particular issue, you can try and create, and then carry out, realistic plans for the future. It can furthermore be useful to speak to a counsellor, talking through your problems. 

Generally speaking, resilience isn’t an easy trait to master. In terms of learning resilience, the process typically requires a challenging life event. You also need to choose to move forward and overcome the setback you’re facing, which calls for a certain level of discipline and personal commitment. 

Developing resilience isn’t an overnight process either. It can take years to really perfect your resilience levels, which can be a stressful period of your life! But the important thing is that it can be done. So how do you improve your resilience, so that you can overcome setbacks? We’ve explored four ways to develop resilience below:

1. Learn From Your Mistakes

When it comes to building resilience, one of the most important things you can do is learn from previous mistakes. There shouldn’t be a setback that you can’t recover from, though the process will require a certain mindset. Essentially, you need to learn from failures in order to become better. Don’t let setbacks beat you – find the lessons and insights in difficult situations, and utilise them to make you stronger.

This obviously won’t be easy, particularly when the setback is caused by outside factors, but it is possible to find wisdom, even in incredibly challenging circumstances. Being able to find the right frame of mind is a crucial part of resilience.

2. Write Down Your Problems

You’ve probably heard that just the act of writing a problem down can be cathartic. And this isn’t just a cliche – unburdening yourself, even just on paper, can be a great release of stress. If you’re struggling to make sense of your emotions, or feel like you’re facing a problem that’s beyond your ability to solve, write these things down. Then, do your best to push the issue from your mind for a little while. You can then return to your writing, feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the problem.

Of course writing your issues down won’t really solve anything – this will usually require some form of action. But if it makes you feel better, and prepares you for the road ahead, the act itself is useful. 

3. Let Others Help

There will always be times in your life when you need to rely on others, but it can be hard to accept their help. The best thing to do is put yourself in their shoes – you’d want to help them, so why wouldn’t they feel the same way? Sharing problems can help you feel less stressed, give you someone to bounce ideas off of, and will often mean the issue is resolved faster.

And as a leader, if you’ve already created a workplace culture that values teamwork, as well as helping each other solve problems, you will always have someone to turn to. Just as you’ve worked with your colleagues to overcome an issue, they will be happy to return the favour. And once you’ve worked together to get past a setback, you yourself will be more committed than ever to helping others in future.

4. Continue to Grow

When you start to learn from your mistakes, as discussed above, you will then start looking for lessons in everyday events. You will have put yourself on the path of personal growth, and things can only get better!

The best leaders have already started down the path of personal growth, but it can be easy to lose sight of your goals when you face setbacks. You therefore need to commit yourself to growth each and every day, focusing on improving yourself one day at a time.

Overall, the great thing about developing resilience is that you can always bounce back. No matter how many setbacks you face, you can develop and grow, getting better at facing issues as each one arises.


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