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A different take on setbacks

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

A different take on setbacks

Scott Miker

I love reading success stories and motivational books.  I tend to find the ways that the individual used principles from the systems and habits approach to improvement in order to succeed.

Most of the time there is alignment.  They started small and just kept working and working until they hit a breakthrough; they changed up their routines and didn’t allow themselves to fall back on bad habits, etc.

But sometimes I get a much different take on something than what I expect.  I love these times because it stretches my mind.  Sometimes it proves something I believe as wrong.  Sometimes it just gives me gain insight into something I know nothing about but made inaccurate assumptions. 

In Can’t Hurt Me, written by Navy SEAL David Goggins, he gives a great perspective on setbacks.  He starts by saying, “Chaos can and will descend without warning, and when (not if) that happens, there won’t be anything you can do to stop it.” 

We all have setbacks.  We all have things go against us at times.  Sometimes it is something completely outside of our control and sometimes it is something we had a part in.   

Sometimes these events rock us to our core, and other times it is just an annoying, frustrating obstacle. 

He goes on to say, “If you’re fortunate, the issues or injuries are relatively minor, and when those incidents crop up it’s on you to adjust and stay after it.  If you get injured or other complications arise that prevent you from working on your primary passion, refocus your energy elsewhere.” 

Then he says, “If you’re a guitar player with a broken hand, sit down at the keys and use your one good hand to become a more versatile musician.” 

I admit that this isn’t one of my strong areas.  When these types of setbacks happen, I tend to slow down and try to heal but I don’t look at other areas that I can sharpen. 

I heard a story years ago about famous musician and professional surfer Jack Johnson.  He had been surfing at an extremely high level when he got injured.  So he started to play the guitar and got better and better and better. 

Then when he healed he suddenly had this incredible ability to write and play songs along with his ability to surf.  Ultimately he went on to have an incredible music career. 

But what about you?  What are areas where you had a setback and didn’t use that to boost another area of your life?  I have done it many times and reading Goggins viewpoint drives home just how much we waste when we don’t recalibrate and keep pushing forward.   

The key is to keep making progress.  We have to keep driving forward.  If we have a career setback, how can we adjust and keep moving forward?  If we have an injury how can we keep exercising and keep developing our abilities? 

Doing this will help us get through difficult times and develop us into a better person after the storm calms.  But this isn’t the natural way that most of us think.  So we have to start to change the patterned response after a setback in order to keep moving forward and keep making progress towards the success we desire.