Finding Your Confidence After a Setback

Nov 8, 2018

When we take risks, we’re vulnerable to unforeseen and sudden circumstances that can jolt our self-confidence in a big way. We all want every venture to work out exactly as we planned the first time. In reality, creating and trying something new involves trial and error, significant learning, effort and resilience.

Talk to everyone who’s anyone, and they all have stories about the times things didn’t work. It’s all part of the journey and usually a fundamental part of your success.

When we perceive these circumstances to be a ‘failure’ it can cause insecurities and doubts that are challenging to overcome. A simple change in mindset can help you turn these challenges into valuable learning experiences, presenting new opportunity.


Change the narrative of the story

The best way to process this idea is to redefine your definition of a setback:

noun: setback; plural noun: setbacks;

  1. A reversal or check in progress.

Don’t focus on the word reversal – accept that your progress has temporarily halted. Analyse what’s gone well , what hasn’t and re-strategise with a new improved plan so that you can keep going.

When we consider something to be ‘negative’ it can keep us trapped in self-destructive thought patterns. By changing the story around what you consider a setback to be, you can see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

If you fall into a negative thinking pattern with thoughts like ‘this always happens to me’ or  ‘I can’t do this, I’m not good enough’ it’s likely you will find patterns and situations in your life that support that story.  Changing your narrative around the situation will promote a positive, healthy attitude that will support you on your path to greater success. Remember to ask yourself ‘what can I learn from this?’.


It’s not personal

To really push ourselves to new heights, we must operate at the edge of our competencies. It’s all about taking calculated risks, and with risk is the possibility we might not currently have all the tools and knowledge to make it work the first time around. It’s important to remember its not personal. You’re not the first person in existence to suffer a ‘setback’, nor will you be the last.  Here are a few wildly successful people’s takes on failure.

Steve Jobs:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” 

Woody Allen:

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”


The reality is, sometimes you lose. And you’re never too good to lose, you’re never too big to lose, you’re never too smart to lose, it happens. And it happens when it needs to happen. And you have to embrace those things.”

Theodore Roosevelt:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

In the digital age, we are taught to fail fast and fail often. The key is to move quickly and give yourself the ability to be agile.  Adopting  a growth mindset is a great way to stay on track. Believe your learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. This mindset thrives on challenges and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence, but an opportunity for growth.

Recognise, question, create

As the old saying goes ‘if at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again’.  Take yourself through these three key steps before continuing on your entrepreneurial journey –

Recognise – pay attention to your  mental state and well being. Are you creating a negative story or a positive one? Are your thoughts around the situation helpful, or holding you back?

Question – the evidence, look for opportunities for innovation and growth. Seek out key learnings that can be taken away from the experience.

Create – something new and positive based on your experience.

By adopting a positive mindset of learning and growth, you will be able to keep an eye on the bigger picture of what you are striving to create.

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