Would You High Five A Setback?

Some of us believe that success (whatever that means to us individually) is a one-way journey. Forward. Is that really true? When a setback forces us to retreat and find a new way or to rethink our strategy – is that backwards movement also part of moving forward?

Every step of the way can be a cause for celebration, if we choose it to be. That includes failures as well as achievements. Sound counter-intuitive? How have we been conditioned to believe that forward movement is the only good movement? Why is going backwards so…bad?

Have we gotten stuck in the idea that forward means a straight line? Can forward mean a zig-zag or even circles? Is a general trend of direction just as significant as a direct route without detours?

What if we could value the detours on our journey to wherever we want to go? Could these detours be making us richer, deeper and more capable people? Do we build our resilience muscle in moments of victory or moment of disappointment?

Reframing what setbacks mean can turn our conditioning upside down and free us from limiting beliefs that continue to anchor us in place instead of progressing us forward. Reframing is a choice to give any negative belief a new, positive meaning.

This is only possible when we believe that the “meaning” of everything is entirely subjective. Meaning is up to us.  It is our chosen perspective (although sometimes unconsciously chosen until we become aware of it-at which moment, we have a new choice). Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning is an excellent resource on this topic. Here is an article on the famous psychiatrist and his work.

So what this comes down to is this: Did we get disappointed with ourselves in any way this week? Good. Did we learn something new or remember something we forgot as a result? Great.

Let’s give ourselves a high five!


Today’s 5 minute action item- write down a setback you had this week. Describe all the ways it made you feel. Be honest. Getting comfortable with what is uncomfortable is very powerful. It builds resilience and endurance. Success isn’t the result of things only going our way. It’s also the result of embracing what didn’t go our way. Use the few minutes of writing to allow what didn’t work to be instead of resisting it.




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