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How do you handle setbacks? Do you get angry? Scared? More determined? How you think about setbacks (things that don’t go the way you want them to) reveals a lot about your attitude.

There isn’t one successful person who hasn’t had setbacks. They are a part of life. Sometimes, no matter what you do or how well you perform, things will just not go your way. I used to get really upset about deals falling through, clients not showing up, or another home appliance going on the fritz.

Yet, the more I worked on myself, the more unattached I got to outcomes. All you can do is deliver your best effort. That’s it. If it doesn’t work out, try again. The secret to quickly overcoming setbacks is to focus on the value you are bringing and not on the outcome you get back!

For example, if you are working with a customer and you’ve provided all the value you can, you’ve done your job. If the customer doesn’t buy, it’s because s/he wasn’t ready or it wasn’t a good fit. You can’t force or manipulate that customer into a sale or you’ll end up with a larger problem down the road. Be happy that you now know it’s time to move on and focus your attention on the next customer who will buy from you.

Too many get stuck on why that customer didn’t buy or why things aren’t going well instead of directing their attention towards what they can do to improve the situation. Wherever your attention goes, your energy flows. If you only think about what isn’t working, you’ll end up with more things that aren’t working because that’s what you’re fixated on.

If, instead of ruminating over a lost sale, you thought, “Next!” and focused on bringing value to another person, you’ll soon have a new customer because that’s where you are placing your concerted energy. Of course, if you continue getting unfavorable outcomes, it’s smart to investigate your approach in case you need to modify it. Even the best sales professionals can find areas where they’d like to improve. They never think they already know it all and they don’t put limits on their potential.

I took my son to a Karate tournament over the weekend and watched as this courageous wheelchair-bound athlete completed his weapons kata. I found him after the competition, patted him on the shoulder, and told him what a great job he did. The young man just stared at me. We made eye contact for a few minutes, I smiled, and turned away. He didn’t say anything, yet he never broke eye contact, which is rare for a younger teenager. I wanted him to feel validated. I don’t know if it worked, yet I put it out there because that’s all I can do.

This young man could have let that wheelchair rob him of his opportunity to practice karate. Instead, not only did he take on the challenge, he also joined the Karate Competition Team. He might not of won all his matches, but he did his best and that’s all he needed to do.

Willie Jolley, a well-known motivational speaker and radio host once told me that a setback is a setup for a comeback and the singer, Billy Ocean, once said, “When the going get’s tough, the tough get going!” I’ve embraced both concepts and I encourage you to do the same.

Tim Shurr
President, Shurr Success, Inc.