Facing Setbacks: Learning to Find the Opportunities

 “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” – Henry Ford   

Henry Ford

Henry Ford was no stranger to setbacks. His first car company, the Detroit Automobile Co. went out of business shortly after its inception after customer complaints of high prices and poor quality. He walked away from his 2nd car company. And his 3rd effort had to be bailed out by investors after a rocky start. Of course, the Ford Motor Company is now one of the largest automobile companies in the world. 

Could Ford have given up when he faced his 1st setback? Of course. But he chose not to. Even after a 2nd failed attempt he still remained focused on achieving his dream. It took a 3rd effort to finally realize his dream of starting a successful car company.

Many times in life we are confronted with what we initially perceive as a setback. But one thing that I have learned over the past couple of years is that many times these so-called “setbacks” actually can turn out to be new opportunities.

Ironman 2012

In 2012, I trained extensively for Ironman Louisville. I spent as much as 20 hours per week swimming, cycling and running. I dedicated myself to achieving the dream that I had set for myself. And in August 2012, when the big day came, I failed to achieve that dream. I had to withdraw from the race during the cycling portion. I was devastated.

My initial reaction was that it was over. Forever. I had failed at my dream and I was not going to go back through the rigors of training that much again. But over the next few months after the Ironman I realized that this was a great opportunity for me. A lot of people had followed my journey on social media and had witnessed me lose a lot of weight and have success after success. This was the 1st “setback’ that I had faced on my health and fitness journey. And I knew that there were still a lot of people following my journey to see how I would react.

So what I initially saw as a setback actually became an opportunity for me. I had been preaching for almost a year and a half that you could do anything that you set your mind to achieve. That even in times of adversity we had to keep moving forward. And up to that point it had been easy for me because I had achieved all that I said I would. But now I could apply my own principles to my own journey. It was an opportunity for me to show that I practice what I preach.

Ironman 2013

I re-dedicated myself to Ironman training and in August 2013 I successfully completed the race after 16 hours 24 minutes and 42 seconds. As proud as I was of myself for finishing the race I truly believe that I was more proud of the fact that I faced down a “setback” and turned it into an amazing opportunity.

What about you? How do you respond to the “setbacks” in your life? Do you get frustrated and just give up? It’s easy to want to do that. I admit it. I was there. But I want to challenge you this week that when you face a “setback” to take a moment and truly look at it with an open mind. Look at it from all possible angles. I’m convinced that once you do you will find many new opportunities that you might otherwise have missed.

Keep moving forward!

What opportunities can you find this week in what you once perceived as setbacks?

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2 Comments on “Facing Setbacks: Learning to Find the Opportunities

  1. When I lost my job at KFC in the late 1980’s I was devastated. But, it moved me to start my own business as a speaker, author, and coach. I’ve never been happier as an entrepreneur. Which leads to the moral of the story: a setback is often the catalyst you need to move you to something fabulous! Thanks for reminding us, Mark!

    • Thanks Cathy! You’re doing such amazing work and truly changing the world one word at a time!!

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