Dr. Willie Jolley

Dr. Willie Jolley

Have you even had a personal setback?  Has your business ever had a setback? The answer to both questions is probably “yes!” Perhaps you had a contract lined up and you were already planning how you were going to spend the money, and they changed their minds.  Perhaps your right-hand person left right when you needed them most.  Or perhaps your biggest competition stole them from you. Or maybe your top salesperson quit without notice and took a few key accounts with them. Or even worse, perhaps you lost everything because of a one of the devastating “D’s”  (disaster, divorce, disease, downsizing or death of a loved one).  Or maybe you lost a lot of money because of a bad business decision.

Whatever happened, whether it was a large or small setback, how you dealt with the issue most likely determined where you are today. Those who realize that setbacks are simply part of the business process tend to thrive, while those who dwell on the setbacks and continue to sulk and cry about it and the challenges that it brings, routinely falter and fail.

The fact is, setbacks are part of life and are often the impetus you need to grow to the next level.  A baby crawls and then tries to walk, yet falls down!  Yet, if it gets back up and keeps getting up, will learn to walk and eventually will learn to run. The key is that the baby did not stop but continued to try to turn that setback around and not just “go” through the challenges, but also “grow” through the challenges. Often a setback is really a change that needs to occur in order to move forward. And no matter what industries you’re in, you’re bound to have things change…and as you know as a meeting professional, change is a constant and never ending part of your life!  The key is to remember that these temporary setbacks can empower you to reach even greater levels of future business success. No matter what obstacle has plagued your business, following is the four-step process that can help you survive and thrive through any business setback.

  1. Focus Your Vision

Where you focus your energy determines where you will go. If you focus on the setback and the challenges it brought you, your business can’t move forward. However, when you focus your vision on what you want your business to become—despite the setback—then you’re using the setback for what it really is: a transitionary period.

Since every business will go through some sort of change or setback at one time or another, it’s important to be able to look past the obstacle and plan your future strategies. In order to develop your new business focus, ask yourself these questions: “What is the big picture I have for my business?” “What can I do differently to keep this setback from occurring again?” “What goals (sales, product development, customer retention, etc.) do I want my business to achieve in the next three, six and twelve months?” “How can I use this setback as a learning experience?” Use the answers to these questions as your guide to develop your new business focus.

  1. Make a Decision

Both success and failure are decisions. So once your vision is in place, you need to decide you’re going to win despite the setback. The truth is, successful business people choose to be successful. They understand that decision and choice are integral parts of the success formula. No matter what setback they encounter, they decide to overcome it and prevail.

Decision is taken from the Greek word to cut! If you make an incision you cut in, and if you make a decision you cut off.  In order to win in business you must make tough decisions and make the clear cut chooses.  Sometimes you will have to cut away negative people. Sometimes you will have to cut off habits that you like but that are not serving you well.  Whatever you will need to make decisions that turn your setbacks into comebacks.

Some decisions you’ll have to make in order for your business to overcome a setback include:

Who are my advisors? Negative advisors who focus on the setback won’t help you overcome it. You need to decide to associate with positive advisors who share your vision.

Is my new goal big enough? Just because you had a setback doesn’t mean you have to start over small. Make a decision to see the big picture first. Then you can work your way backward to meeting that goal.

What steps must I take to meet my goal? Plan out and decide specifically what you will do to meet your new goal. For example, if your goal is to increase sales by 33%, write out what you will do to accomplish that and the timeframe you’re allowing yourself to meet the goal.

  1. Take Action

A decision without action is simply an illusion, and an action without a vision is mere confusion. Yet a vision plus decisive action can change the world.

Once you decide on the various factors to making your new business vision a reality, you must take action on each and every one. Unfortunately, many business people never act on their decisions. While they have every intention to make their new business vision a reality, they lack the determination and persistence that comes with taking action.  I have an illustration from one of my books that says it wonderfully, “Two little birds are sitting on a telephone wire, and one decides to fly away. How many little birds do you have left?  The answer is two!  Because until you take action on your decisions, nothing happens! You must take action!”

By taking action on a decision, you’re also taking responsibility for the setback. And once you take responsibility for your actions, you’re ready to move forward and attain your next goal. Remember, you might not be responsible for getting knocked down, but you are responsible for getting back up. Only those who act achieve their goals.

Another critical action step is to decide to grow yourself on a daily basis. The professional realizes that school is never out, and that you must commit to life long learning!  I know you are busy, but you must always take time to sharpen your saw. Abraham Lincoln said, “If you have 6 hours to cut down a tree, take an hour to sharpen your saw and you will cut your work time in half.”  Read and listen to positive information daily. In fact on my website we give people an all access/ backstage pass to get free eBooks, audios from my nationally syndicated Sirius XM show and positive motivation and music to continue to grow you and empower you!  Go check it out and enjoy the resources with my compliments!

  1. Keep the Desire

Desire is the degree of energy you’re willing to exert in order to reach your goal. In other words, how badly do you want your business to survive and what are you willing to do in order to achieve it?

Many business people who take action quickly give up because their desire falters. Either a new idea strikes them and they lose focus, or they encounter another minor setback and become discouraged. In order to reach the new business goal you have set for yourself, you must have the desire to consistently follow-through with every action, even if it involves a degree of risk. While taking a risk may be intimidating, especially after a setback, it’s a necessary ingredient to reaching your new business goal.

Keep in mind an old business saying: “It’s impossible to reach second base if you are afraid to leave first base.” Decide how badly you want to achieve the goal and then keep going after it until you achieve it.

Remember, having a business setback is not an “if” proposition; it’s a “when.” And when one occurs in your business, you need to make a conscious decision to view it not as a problem, but rather as a learning opportunity. You must decide what you’re going to do about the setback and focus on the solution.

Every super successful businessperson has had setbacks; however, they realize that a setback is not the end of the road, but rather a bend in the road…and the only ones who crash are those who fail to make the turn. By viewing your business’ setback as a chance for future growth, every business challenge can have a positive outcome, and every setback can be seen as nothing but a setup for an incredible comeback.


This is an article by Dr. Willie Jolley, Hall of Fame Speaker, Sirius XM Radio Show Host and Author of the International Best-Seller “A Setback Is A Setup For A Comeback!”Click here to check his profile page on our website, and read about his biography, speaking topics, keynotes, or clients.