Bounce back from setbacks | Sunday Observer

Bounce back from setbacks

Setbacks are inevitable at any time. Anyone can take a dive – that’s quite normal.  Pic: Courtesy
Setbacks are inevitable at any time. Anyone can take a dive – that’s quite normal. Pic: Courtesy

We were sailing smoothly for almost a decade until the terrorists ceased the engine of growth.

I said in an interview with CNN that “the safest country today can be the most vulnerable tomorrow” – that’s a fact.

The prevailing environment poses more fierce challenges to all professionals not limiting it to the tourism industry. We need to respond as individuals and teams. Let’s get down to our own lives and what we do day in and day out. Haven’t you had setbacks along the way?

Setbacks are inevitable at any time. Anyone can take a dive – that’s quite normal. Sometimes we don’t know we are losing until the very end. And that’s not entirely your fault. There is a natural reluctance to share and openly discuss bad news or a looming crisis. You have to be a courageous professional to even hint that there are major problems in the pipeline. When it comes to bad news, your colleagues are usually equally evasive.

With this natural human behaviour, seemingly out of the blue, someone in command raises the flag, “This just isn’t working out and will end up in failure.” And everyone then latches on to it and starts firefighting or working on mitigating action planning. You can avoid the shock, and perhaps even prevent the setback, if you develop the ability and the willingness to read the subtext beneath the surface.

It’s best to consider everything in the workplace as symbolic – read between the lines. Ask the question ‘am I impacted’? If you’re not invited to a meeting, ask yourself what that means. If you don’t receive a pay raise, ask what that could represent. If the boss is consistently impatient with you and acts as if you really get under his skin, ask yourself or a trusted colleague what might be going on.

If this looming setback can’t be prevented, don’t waste time in denial. Your first few phone calls or emails should be to those who’ve gone through similar ordeals. Those conversations can bring home to you that you’re not unique and that, yes, people do survive your particular kind of setback. Even before the setback occurs, start thinking about how to deal with it from a position of strength and think seriously about all your options.

Focus on what you control

Were you treated unfairly? Perhaps so - It happens. It may be your mistake or someone else’s but the damage is done. Unfortunately, no matter how angry you may be, you gain nothing by blaming others or situations. Failure can be a springboard to success, but only if you are willing to put the blame aside and consider whether you may have inadvertently contributed to the setback. That’s the only way you can hope to avoid similar crashes in the future.

Everyone feels vulnerable after a setback, so it isn’t easy to ask for feedback, even from friends and allies. But this could be the single most enlightening step you take. At the very least, doing this will let you know what people might say about you. And because you are in a crisis, you will find that people will tend to be straight with you, even if they’re not directly related to your current career path.

Much of the advice you get during this crisis might seem simplistic. And it is. On the other hand, your problem might seem very complex to you. But it probably isn’t. It all depends on how you process it and how you react. If you think the interpretations people give you for why you suffered a setback are simplistic, keep listening; they’re probably just cutting through all the psychobabble and giving you the truth. Going to more than one person you trust will help you eliminate biasness and funnel through the best course of action.

The last place where you want to be stuck is in your current problem. That’s why so many people get hyper active after a setback.

They become enthusiastic and want to see fast paced movement. They want change. They work longer hours, suddenly start planning better, learn new skills, build new relationships and execute things more aggressively. Activities like these allow their frame of reference to shift to post-setback.

You have plenty of company. Also, realise that fear is usually a friend; it warns us to be careful. Fear becomes the enemy only when we allow it to control us. If you’re becoming overly scared, call up someone who has been in your shoes and is now doing fine. Sure, you’ll learn a lot about failure when you’re past it. But your goal is to go through it and not be fixated on failure. It’s just one part of your professional experience. You then become more insulated from such setbacks going forward.