Dealing With Setbacks In Your Business


You’ve just lost a major customer. An investor has pulled out at the 11th hour. You’ve failed an essential industry exam. How do you deal with such set-backs?

Are you immobilised by regret, disappointment, stress or worry? Or are you the resilient type who can quickly shrug off disappointments and refocus on action to build the future?

Chartered Psychologist, development trainer and executive coach Graham W Price teaches his clients how to become more resilient so they can focus on action rather than dwelling on past or present losses.

Some coaches and development trainers argue there’s no such thing as failure, only learning opportunities. But Price believes it’s usually unrealistic to expect us to review setbacks in a positive way, and the problem with trying to ‘reframe’ setbacks into something positive, is that it reinforces the idea that situations can only be accepted if they’re positive.

Price advocates acceptance rather than ‘reframing’, viewing the latter as a bonus if we can do it. The key to resilience is to be able to accept negative situations and events, at the same time as focusing on action to change them or otherwise improve the future.

Almost all negative thoughts, such as regret, dissatisfaction, unhappiness, disappointment, upset, stress or irritation involve wishing something were ‘already’ different. In other words we’re wishing something that’s happened hadn’t happened or we’re wishing that a situation that exists right now didn’t exist right now. Both are wishing for the impossible.

And yet that’s precisely what people want whenever they’re dissatisfied about anything.

Wanting things to be already different is called ‘resisting what is’. The opposite is ‘accepting what is’, which simply means not wishing things were already different. Being able to ‘accept what is’ is the basis of resilience. It allows us to focus only on action to improve the future.

Price developed a technique to train himself to ‘accept what is’ all the time. It’s called Positive Acceptance and is now widely accepted with thousands of people trained to practice it. Positive Acceptance is a simple four step process:

1. Create a habit of noticing whenever we’re wanting something to be ‘already’ different (easy enough as this is almost always what we’re doing whenever we’re dissatisfied about anything)
2. Recognise this is irrational as we’re wishing for the impossible
3. Drop the thought (surprisingly easy once we’ve carried out the first two steps)
4. Re-focus on action to improve the future, to the extent this is practical and worthwhile

Price suggests we initially practice on small things (burnt toast, red traffic lights, missed trains) and then build up to bigger things. With practice it becomes more automatic. With further practice it becomes more unconscious and negative thoughts eventually stop arising.

Feelings or emotions can get in the way of ‘accepting what is’. It’s hard to engage in any type of rational thinking when we’re upset, angry or anxious. Price suggests we wait for feelings to subside before engaging in Positive Acceptance. It can also be useful to deal with uncomfortable feelings using a similar acceptance-based approach.

A variation of the Positive Acceptance technique can be used to deal with worry. Whenever we’re worrying, we’re wanting something to be different in the future from the way we think it might be and we believe we can’t control it. This is just as irrational as wishing things were already different. So his variation of Positive Acceptance is to again recognise we’re having an irrational thought, drop the thought and refocus only on how we can gain greater control over whatever we were worrying about.

Price encourages his clients to refuse to maintain irrational thoughts that involve ‘resisting what is’ (or what will be) and to instead focus on action to change the future. He claims by practicing these techniques his clients become hugely resilient and much more satisfied and effective.

Learning to ‘accept what is’ all the time removes dissatisfaction from our lives. Most of the time dissatisfaction is debilitating and de-motivating. It can be replaced by much more effective motivators such as having clear preferences about how we want the future to be and making a contribution to others. These motivators don’t detract from resilience and taking action and they’re not debilitating.

Once we’ve developed this level of resilience setbacks can be taken in our stride, while we focus on any lessons learned and taking action to rebuild the future.

Click on the film below to find out more about Graham W Price.

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