Four Rules to Coping with Setbacks

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Leadership is a high-performance sport. You have to learn to deal with disappointments, you have to train for the long haul, keep yourself healthy and peak at just the right time. No one gets to the top without dealing with falls and setbacks. So what are the rules of this high-performance sport?

Just Say No to “Give-Up Reflex”

Learned helplessness is the “give-up reflex.” People learn to give up when they perceive or experience no control over repeated bad events. People who have learned to be helpless have little resistance to adverse situations. So things move downhill quickly. If you fall into the helpless trap, you cannot perceive a setback as an opportunity. Learning from mistakes, failures and setbacks is a key requirement of healthy leadership. Just say “No” to helplessness.

Always Anticipate

Being good at anticipating the next move, your own or your competitor’s, is critical in every sport. Horse show jumpers are taught that once they make the commitment to jump, to leave the ground, they need to anticipate their next move while they are in the air. They don’t wait until they land to decide which way they are going. You can see in this picture that the rider is in mid-air but is already looking to the next jump and directing the horse there. A cardinal rule in the jumper world is to never look back. You waste time and kill the momentum. That’s the kind of forward-moving thinking you need as a leader. Train yourself to anticipate what might happen next and don’t dwell on whether the fence fell or not.

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Thrive on Uncertainty

We’re all anxious these days because there is so much uncertainty. Being anxious is your body and brain telling you “things have changed,” moving you out of your comfort zone. It is this state of discomfort that can drive you to change your perspective, to think differently.

Anxiety can actually be good for you. As adults, it is the moment you are most open to learning. If you recognize anxiety and don’t let it pull you to a negative response, it can be the springboard to see opportunity and take positive action.

The Glass Is Always Half Full

A sense of gratitude helps build optimism. Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality and optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life. But they understand that seeing the “glass as half full” gets them to a better place faster.

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