10 Ways To Be Resilient And Overcome Setbacks To Move Ahead

Shutterstock photo

It's not enough to try to bounce back after a failure or mistake. View it as an opportunity to vault ahead of where you were.

Ama Marston, who co-authored "Type R," calls it transformative resilience.

"Success really depends on transforming challenges," Marston told IBD. "Just bouncing back will keep us stuck in the past and limited by the status quo."

Here's how to do it:

Free your mind. An organization's views on being resilient are closely tied to its attitudes toward failure, says Chris Maslin, director of the Asheville, N.C.-based Biltmore Center for Professional Development. If it's willing to accept failure as long as the process is well-researched, it's open to learning from setbacks. That spurs innovation, too.

"Fail fast, fail cheap and learn from it," Maslin said.

Find your baseline. Figure out what your default response is to something negative. Examine it when you're not in crisis and look back at a prior incident, says Marston, founder and CEO of London-based strategy and leadership advisory firm Marston Consulting. If you see it as an opportunity, great. If you turn it into a catastrophe that's insurmountable, be aware you'll need to change that view the next time trouble arises.

Look ahead. If you've lost your job or let a big contract slip away, your mindset will help you rally.

"Look at how you can use this to propel you to the next great thing," Maslin said. "The longer you mope, the less momentum you have to find success."

Change your sightline. After you've devoted time and energy to a project, when you have a setback the tendency is to tweak it and continue down the original path. Look more broadly. Maybe that product failure means you should gear it to another market you hadn't considered.

"If you can shift your focus, maybe you'll find some new opportunities," Marston said.

Gain knowledge. Ask yourself what you can learn from a setback so it makes you better down the road.

"If everything that happens is viewed through a prism of learning and growth, then the trauma of failure is reduced," Maslin said.

Talk to others. Recognize that everyone fails at some point. It's what you do with that setback that's vital, Maslin says. Discuss it with your mentors to learn how to rise higher next time.

"If you try to process it internally, you're going to be stuck in your own head," he said.

Show the way. View problems as mere challenges that will get you further ahead down the road. You'll get others to adopt the same mindset.

"By starting on ourselves, we have this immense ripple effect and impact on those around us," Marston said.

Set deep priorities. Rely on a strong sense of purpose. When former Alcoa ( AA ) CEO Paul O'Neill took over the company in 1987, the firm had some recent accidents. So he talked about worker safety rather than profits and revenue growth. Investors were concerned by the new priority. But O'Neill used that as a way to change the company's thinking. That mindset soon spread to other parts of the business and Alcoa thrived.

"He used purpose as a driving force for the business," Marston said. "By the time he left, he had transformed the way business was done."

Look back. Biltmore has its team review each project, Maslin says. Everyone participates, and rank doesn't matter. One of its businesses failed recently. The review didn't point fingers, and no jobs were lost.

"That reinforced the culture of resilience," Maslin said.

Get ahead. Resilience is particularly vital now because it's such a big factor in innovation. You don't discover new things without a few missteps along the way. Accept those mistakes and plunge ahead, and you'll get better results later.

"Resilience is a core competency for innovation," Maslin said. "Companies will die on the vine without innovation."

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story


Other Topics


Latest Markets Videos