Have you achieved everything you've asked for or wanted in your career?

Every promotion, every raise, every opportunity to get staffed on a great project?

Well, neither have I.

We've all had setbacks and they can feel really disheartening. What really matters is what you do with it.

A High Potential’s Approach to Setbacks

I was reminded of this recently at the end of an event that I was running.

One of the female participants approached me and said, “That was really helpful. I recently found out that my company isn’t including me in the high potential group. I want to do everything I can to move my career ahead anyway and maybe I'll get into that high potential group.”

She asked me if I could recommend a coach for her, which I did.

What struck me about our interaction was this young woman’s resiliency and determination. She didn’t mope when she hadn’t been identified as high potential. She didn’t shrink back. Instead she sought out ways to focus, grow and move forward in her career.

Success is no accident. It requires perseverance. And this young woman is on her way to greater success with her high potential approach to a setback.

Make Sure You’re One of the Top

This reminds me of the time when my daughter was trying out for the under 16's national basketball team. She didn't make the team and was devastated.

My husband, who was also her high school coach told her, “You’ve got to do two things. First is, do some soul searching and figure out if this is really what you want.” At the time, she was a year young for the under 16 team, so she had another opportunity to make the team the next year.

And then he said, “Secondly, if this is really what you want, then you've got to go and invest. Find out what you need to do and then do the work so you're not the person competing for spot number 12 on a 12-person squad. Make sure you’re one of the top five and clearly in the team.” And that's what she did.

What I Learned from My Own Career Setback

I remember one of the times I didn't get a really big promotion. I was very upset. And I asked myself, “Okay, is this something I really want?” The answer was “absolutely.”

I went to my boss and my boss's boss, we laid out a game plan, and I got to work investing. This meant shifting my mindset and behaviors to spend time on the right things, prioritize personal and professional development, and not just do busy tasks to check things off my to-do list.

These were the changes I needed to make if I was going to get promoted the next year… which I did.

Next Time You Have a Setback

So, whenever you have setbacks, do two things.

First, do some soul searching and thinking about whether this is something you really want.

Second, if it is, then go and invest.

So how about you?

What do you do when you have setbacks?

I'd love to hear what your strategies are for moving forward. Leave me a comment and let me know.