The key when faced with a setback is all about how you handle it...so be mindful..
SETBACKS - an important topic to address from a career perspective...EVERYONE has experienced setbacks first hand and seen peers and loved ones deal with their own career evolution. The reality is setbacks during your career WILL happen. You should expect them. Some argue if you've not experienced setbacks, your not trying hard enough!
Let's be clear about what a career setback is for the context of this blog - it's defined as an unanticipated or sudden reversal in progress; a change from better to worse. At the core setbacks include some sort of loss - job; power; or status. It also can result by falling short of attaining of something - client; promotion; sale; or desired / targeted outcome.
Most who suffer career setbacks go through a period of emotional turmoil - shock, denial, and self-doubt. Past the emotional turmoil - a setback - regardless of how dramatic - can be used as a springboard to success. The key to the success is dependent on how you respond to the setback.
Before we go to the strategies to turn a setback to success, we know of some very public / high profile setbacks and "comebacks"...
Steve Jobs - being fired by Apple early in his meteoric rise to fame AGAIN at Apple.
Eliot Spitzer - Governor of NY to resignation to talk show commentator / hired political consultant.
Henry Blodget - a Wall Street analyst, victim of the dot-com bust to business consultant.
Martha Stewart - Wall Street / Main Street darling to serving time in federal prison to business owner.
Tiger Woods - golf phenom to dare-say, golf has been? (still to be determined).
Michael Milken - "Junk Bond King," trouble with the federal government and landed in prison to philanthropist.
Jerry Brown - the youngest governor in California history and well positioned for presidential success. and fell off the political map for years back to Governor of California.
Robert Downey, Jr. - acting phenom to addict to recovered addict to resurgent acting star.
For the "rest of us" setbacks can look like this:
Adapted from "7 Spectacular Career Comebacks--From Real People" - Suzanne Lucas - CBS MoneyWatch
Patti - worked for a major pharmaceutical company for 9 years in various HR functions. Unfortunately, when her company was acquired by another, her job ended up on the chopping block, but not until she'd laid off many of her coworkers.
Maura - finished art school when she says she "wasn't mature enough to realize that I controlled my own destiny." She took corporate jobs, which helped pay the bills, but didn't give her the creative control she wanted. While on leave, Beth's company laid her off.
Darrin - "took a job" to pay the bills and was soon fired because he was not suited for his role.
Meredith - at 24, managed a department of a large fitness center. Her P&L and customer satisfaction stats were the best in the state. However, the company had a reputation for discriminating, and Meredith was called to testify. She "testified under oath about the racist name-calling that took place, among other things." Three hours later, she was fired.
Paul - father died when he was 5; his mother died when he was 13. "From the years 1983-1988 I moved around among three states, seven foster homes, and a group home for wards of the state. I suffered from insecurity, instability, abuse and emotional neglect. Not an ideal start."
Debbie - at 26 she was hired into what sounded like her dream job--as the managing editor for a small publisher. However, it was more like a nightmare. "Despite the title managing editor," she writes, "the only thing I had any control over was the organization of the paperclips in my desk."
As noted, setbacks WILL happen. The key when faced with a setback is all about how you handle it...so be mindful...
Mistakes to Avoid...
Blaming Others - The knee-jerk response is to latch out and to start pointing the finger at others. Note: when one fingers goes outward three fingers and maybe a thumb are pointing back at you. A not-so-subtle reminders we should PAUSE before lashing out.
Not Being Introspective - Another benefit of "pressing the pause button" will allow you to reflect / to become introspective (more details below). All too often, when setback occurs people feel compelled to get back in the game and not waste any time. Doing it without much reflection / introspection / leaning in on your faith could be a set-up for future setbacks...
Refusing to Seek Advice - "I got this." Also all too often, the people who take time to go inward have a tendency to only being introspective without any outside input / feedback. Many times, its the insight / perspectives of third parties who can provide the "aha moments". The third parties should go beyond the family / "inner circle". After all, the "inner circle" just watched you go through your setback and did not prevent it from happening...!
Being Inflexible - See a pattern? Assigning blame. Having a closed mind.
Having a Poor Foundation to Begin With - Sometimes the setbacks are inevitable. Not having a professional network, a mentor, or coach who all could have insights / perspectives to head off career-limiting decisions would be ideal!
All said, setbacks will happen! According to Louis Pasteur, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” So, with that in mind, how do you navigate the setback? It's about perspective! There are THREE directional perspectives that will serve you well are you navigate the post-setback...
1. Retro - Reflecting (NAME!)
- Embrace Your Emotions. (NAME IT!)
- Get Support.
- Figure Out Why You "Lost".
- Analyze the Cause.
2. Current - Absorbing (CLAIM!)
- Acknowledge it. Own it. Feel it. (CLAIM IT!)
- Take time to know who you are!
- Connect With Others (You NEVER know who you can meet if you put yourself out there!)
- Adjust / Change your mindset.
- "Lean in" on who you are!
3. Future - Visioning (AIM!)
- Have an Open / Growth Mindset. (AIM IT!)
- Identify - Strategize New Paths / Different Future / Redefined Success.
- Close the Gaps (IE. Get educated! Go back to classroom! Learn a New Skill!)
- Re-Calibrate Your Goals.
- Evaluate Your Options.
- Seize the Right Opportunity (That's where the open mind comes in.)
From Setback to Comeback!
Remember the "real people" we spoke about earlier? Here are their happy endings:
Patti - turned her hobby into a business: Patti Cake Bakers. She makes custom cakes in suburban Philadelphia and has more time for her family, working on her own terms. She says, "I may not ever be the next Cake Boss, but this sure beats staring at spreadsheets all day!"
Maura - landed a new job that fit more with her creativity, but didn't last, as the recession forced a second layoff. This time, instead of looking for a new job, she saw the unemployment as a silver lining and started her own business, MajÃ¤bra Creative Partners. "Two years later, I'm proud to say that my business is growing, and I love my job. Plus, I can't get fired. So in retrospect, I've got nothing bad to say about being let go. In fact, I should probably send a few thank-you notes."
Darrin - taught himself HTML, developed a website for the company he worked for, and began freelancing. He'd done genealogy as a hobby for a while and developed a revolutionary new way to host family trees on the internet. He wrote The Next Generation, which became the "Cadillac" of online genealogy software. Now with 10,000's of users, and translation into 20 languages, he says, "Life is pretty great."
Meredith - friends and family asked why she didn't sue, Meredith realized what she really wanted was a job she loved. She threw herself into looking for a new job and, she writes, "I succeeded! 6 weeks after my termination, I was hired by a company that is known for respecting and valuing its employees. It is quite a career shift, but I am so OK with that... I have never been happier! I have been able to re-evaluate and figure out exactly what I wanted to with my life, and with my career."
Paul - School and religion provided Paul the opportunity to stabilize his life. He said, "In school, I found a niche in research and academia, which led to further graduate and doctoral studies. If I had not stayed in school, I could well have ended up homeless, as foster kids don't have many options once they turn 18." Paul is now a tenured professor at Montreat College in North Carolina, teaching Greek and biblical studies. He also published his memoirs, The Long Winter: One Man's Journey Through the Darkness of Foster Care.
Debbie - To make ends meet, she took a temp job, which turned into a real job at a Fortune 100 company. Even though you'd think a big company would not appreciate creativity, Debbie's skills and talents were recognized and put to good use. And as for the publishing company? Within 90 days, her replacement and her staff had all been fired or quit as well.
So what are the 20 "lessons learned" from those above and countless others whom have navigated their setbacks and come out on the other end better off?
1. Lean in on your emotions...if it means going through the emotional cycle...do it...
2. Also, lean in on your faith...it will sustain you.
3. Take care of yourself (through exercise, counseling, and so on).
4. Spend quality time with those you love!
5. Have a positive outlook about the future.
6. Eventually turn your attention to next steps and prepare for new opportunities.
7. Invest time in thinking about your career and personal interests, before looking for the next thing.
8. If you've found an audience that appreciates your talents, stick with that audience.
9. Take the knowledge and skills you have and apply them in a different area.
10. Keep your connections and your skills up-to-date.
11. When you've done something bad, sometimes it's better to switch to something really good.
12. Learn from your errors, and jump back into the area you know best.
13. Don't let a your blunder ruin your life.
14. Don't overlook old foes as potential sources for future success.
15. Take responsibility about what role you had played in the setback.
16. Confirm if you could have prevented what happened if you’ve done certain things differently.
17. Seek opinions from different people and be open to “tough love” from some of them.
18. Experiment with new ways of working.
19. Work at finding a good fit.
20. The setback was one of the best things that ever happened!
My best to your quest!
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted relationships where individuals, teams and leaders NAME, CLAIM and AIM their gifts to achieve optimum performance.
Interested to Learn About Yourself or Your Team? Mark is a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach and TotalSDI Facilitator and happy to discuss your situation / team.
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About Mark Myette
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted
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