People welcome setbacks like they would a trip to the dentist or a flat tire. In other words, they do not. Setbacks are understandably viewed as impediments to progress and dream crushers. Yet they are an inevitable part of life. We cannot all be perfect one hundred percent of the time, can we?
One of the secrets of success is to refuse to let temporary setbacks defeat us – Mary Kay Ash
On this week’s episode of Teaching Change, Jerrid and Courtney talk the good, the bad and the ugly of setbacks. Setbacks are awful by their very nature and are often accompanied by feelings of disappointment and failure. Yes, setbacks suck! This is something most of us know from life experience. Due to the negative connotations of setbacks, we try to brush them off as quickly as possible and move on with our lives. However, as Jerrid and Courtney discuss in this episode, it is vitally important to acknowledge the setback and to embrace the emotions it solicits. On the surface, this may make people uncomfortable. No one likes to feel down in the dumps if they can help it. Nevertheless, confronting the emotions head on allows you to process what happened and to forge a clearer path forward.
Courtney divulges that she is not above a good, old-fashioned pity party. Darken the room, pop in a sad movie and she is all set. This is Courtney’s cathartic way of working through her emotions so that she can gear up again and tackle the issue at hand from a more wizened, informed perspective.
In their discussion of setbacks, Jerrid shares Thomas Edison’s quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This quote highlights the silver lining in weathering a setback. Jerrid explains that we will all eventually fail at something in our lives but it is how we react to those failures that make all the difference. Jerrid recalls an interview he conducted while working on his dissertation. An entrepreneur depended heavily on a government grant for his business operations. The grant was rescinded, and he was forced to lay off a sizeable portion of his work force. This experience taught the entrepreneur that more diversification was needed in his funding sources to prevent the same situation from happening in the future.
This is where the ability to reflect becomes an essential business and life skill. Both Jerrid and Courtney believe reflection is an important component of achieving success: review what happened, analyze cause and effect, and devise a plan of action. Courtney mentions the traditional business reflection tool SWOT which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Jerrid mentions the point system which derives from the creative design philosophy. He also discusses the traffic light activity. After a program or project, Jerrid and his team place their observations into three categories: green, yellow and red. Anything that went fantastically well goes in the green column. Things that were okay but could be improved are reserved for the yellow column. The red column is for items that need to be totally rethought or reworked.
Ultimately, an organization that presses pause and allows time for reflection will build resiliency in its system. Thus, mistakes and setbacks will be viewed as part of the process and not the end.