Have you recently suffered a setback at work or home that knocked you off your feet? Despite good intentions and the best laid plans, situations often don’t turn out the way we anticipated. Have you ever wondered why for some people, this becomes debilitating whereas for others it becomes motivating?
“Get up!” Coach Gasperak’s voice rattled my brain like a basketball pro’s thunderous dunk. Only that I wasn’t playing basketball and Kevin Durrant was nowhere to be found. I was lying face down on seven lanes of asphalt at my high school track as nearby runners were streaking past me.
Moments before, my heel had clipped the top of the fifth of six hurdles while competing in a 300-meter race and I went sprawling onto the track. I had been comfortably in second place and on pace for a personal record. Because I was going faster than usual, my stride was a bit off. I made a split-second decision to leap over the next hurdle with my right leg rather than make a small stutter-step adjustment, which would have allowed me to lead with my favored left leg. Bad decision. I became entangled with the hurdle as I tumbled to the ground.
Stunned, my attention was immediately drawn to my left arm which had acquired a lovely salt-n-pepper style rash from grinding the asphalt. At that moment, I had a choice. I could pity my circumstance and focus on the pain or I could dig deep, get up and finish the race. I was still processing what had happened when I heard Coach Gasperak’s booming wake-up call. His command jarred me out of semi-consciousness as I instinctively jumped up and leaped over the final hurdle to finish the race.
I ended up finishing in next to last place instead of first or second place. Imagine my disappointment after having been so close to a fantastic finish! However, it wasn’t the only time I had experienced such a setback.
Looking back on this experience and others, I realized I had learned three things:
1. We’re not alone in making mistakes.
We all have setbacks and disappointments. Some are more visible while others are more concealed. Beating ourselves up over them or hiding from embarrassment tends to be unproductive. It diminishes us whereas acknowledging mistakes empowers and enables us to learn from them and attempt to do better the next time.
2. We have a choice how to respond to setbacks.
Do we typically settle or do we search for another way forward? We often make subtle, yet significant choices that affect the results we’re getting. Our habitual patterns of response to setbacks essentially become our training. The more we train our minds on how to approach setbacks, the more automatic our response becomes.
3. Challenges offer opportunities to discover our inner strengths.
I like a challenge and sometimes like to take chances. Whenever I successfully make it through a challenging circumstance, I feel much more confident and in control of my life.
For the many unanticipated events in our lives, both within and outside our control, there’s almost always a lesson to be learned and an opportunity that lies ahead. Rather than beat ourselves up for mistakes, a healthier and more productive response is to “get up” even if we need to stumble forward. We all have a race to finish!
Have you or your team recently encountered setbacks that you’re struggling to get up from and move forward?
I would love to partner and help you successfully get past any hurdles you’re currently facing. Feel free to book a complimentary Discovery Session with me.
About the Author:
Mike Gellman is a seasoned coach, speaker, facilitator, and trusted adviser with 15+ years experience in Fortune 500, nonprofit, and family-owned organizations. He’s the author of Pipe Dreams: 7 Pipelines of Career Success and CEO of High Five Career Coaching which facilitates transformational business and career success among socially conscious, purpose-driven organizations, leaders, technical professionals, and athletes.