In his book Fueled by Failure, entrepreneur and philanthropist Jeremy Bloom shows readers how rebound and reprogram themselves after defeat and how to use the lessons from those failures to achieve winning results. In this edited excerpt, the author reveals his method for successfully bouncing back from a setback or failure.
If you’re going to succeed in business, you can’t dwell on defeat or missed opportunities, and you can’t allow them to define you. When it comes to dealing with adversity, John Maxwell describes how people deal with negative situations in his book The Difference Maker: “I’ve found that there are really only two kinds of people in this world when it comes to dealing with discouragement: splatters and bouncers. When splatters hit rock bottom, they fall apart, and they stick to the bottom like glue. On the other hand, when bouncers hit bottom, they pull together and bounce back.”
The most evolved bouncers I know hit rock bottom, methodically dissect what happened, resist the urge to allow the loss to define them, and decipher learning to refine their road map for success. Although certain personality traits are characteristic of a bouncer or a splatter, the good news is that understanding how to constructively deal with adversity is a learned skill, not something you’re born with.
The most important step to overcoming adversity and negative feelings: Don’t wallow. Instead, set a deadline for accepting what’s happened, at least emotionally. This emotional acceptance stage is crucial—and so is the deadline. This stage is defined by the amount of time it takes for you to accept your new reality. You’ll have to give yourself a deadline for getting through this period.
During this time, you’ll take these steps:
1. Replay what took place in your mind.
2. Go through emotional phases that will likely include despair, anguish, anger, and a desire to retaliate. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and try not to hold back.
3. Examine what went wrong prior to the failure or defeat and consider what signs you may have missed that might have led to failure.
4. Look at what you could do differently in the future.
The third and fourth points on this list are critical. Examining what went wrong can take two paths. The first path looks back and leads you to understand what contributed to your failure. Was there a flaw in your preparation? Did you lose focus? Were you distracted by outside noise or doubt? Were you mentally prepared? Did you feel too much pressure?
The second path leads you down the road ahead to what you can do differently next time. Areas you identify as contributing to a failure inevitably can be improved upon, and understanding what contributed to the negative outcome is a key to getting a better result. During this time, ask yourself: “What did I learn in this experience that I can apply next time?” Try to imagine yourself in the same situation and think about how you might prepare for it differently or how you might act on opportunities or react to specific obstacles.
Then take what you’ve learned and move on. It’s very important to set a defined deadline for yourself to move past this stage. Limiting the time that we allow things to consume us strengthens our ability to control our thoughts and actions.
That’s the key to using failures to fuel your successes. Setting deadlines for dwelling on failures can play a major role in whether we succeed at our future goals, or even go after them in the first place.
Setting a deadline gives us:
- Practice for disciplined control over our minds;
- Something to look forward to;
- A sense of resolve.
Of course we’re not all alike, so how long you need to recover might be different. Not every failure or disappointment is so big that you need 48 hours to process it, while some might be much bigger and need much more time. It’s healthy to employ a variety of time frames, depending on the severity of the experience. For example, if I lose a client, I’ll give myself an hour to deal with it, put together a go-forward plan that includes ideas on how to get them back, then leave any feelings of lost confidence behind.
The time you’ll need is predicated largely on three factors:
1. Significance of your goal
2. Time invested
3. Having another goal, or several other goals
People who’ve invested every dollar of their personal capital in a business venture only to see it crumble may very well take more time to move on than someone who started a company on a whim. My challenge to you is to set shorter deadlines. It will feel uncomfortable and unnatural, but you need to work your way through the process without taking too much time to dwell or fall back into negativity.