Dealing With Setbacks

by Bob Rausch, Ph.D.

Overcoming Setbacks Over the years I’ve spent thousands of hours coaching hundreds of people. They all had one thing in common; they were dealing with setbacks in life. Some of those people were dealing with serious loss, while others were so overwhelmed with stress that the most insignificant thing, like being stuck behind a slow motorist in the fast lane, would cause uncontrollable frustration.

One of my favorite authors, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes believes that great ships are not made for the safe harbor; they’re made for stormy seas. If we are going to be energy driven leaders at work and home we need to adopt the attitude that, like great ships in the storm, we are capable of handling the difficulties of life. That’s the first step in overcoming setbacks and adversity.

I hope you find these steps useful in overcoming setbacks and adversities in your life:

  • Made to handle setbacksAccept the fact that you have been strengthened by past difficulties to the point that you are strong enough to handle anything that comes your way. Remember, “A diamond is only a chunk of coal that stuck to its job.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
  • Minimize the impactYou minimize impact by recognizing that all setbacks are designed to help you learn and grow as a leader.
  • Consider your setback in logical, not emotional, terms Ask the question, “What do I need to do to move past this problem?” Expressing anger, fear or frustration only serves to drain energy that is needed for more productive behaviors.
  • Make it a learning experience“What am I learning from the setbacks I experience?” The more you accept the problem as an opportunity to learn, the stronger you become when faced with future setbacks. Its okay to forget difficult times, but don’t forget the lessons they teach you.

If you found these tips from Bob Rausch, Ph.D. of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at


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