Do You Step Up or Back Down?

Let me ask you:

Have you ever made a decision that didn’t work as planned?

Has anyone ever let you down?

Has recent economic news put a damper on your perspective?

It may be painful to bring those things to mind, but I’m asking you to do it for a good reason.

Because life brings us misfortune as well as fortune. Some of it is beyond our control. But it’s not what happens that matters. It’s all about how you react when the world throws you a curveball.

What do you do? Do you step UP to your setbacks-or do you back DOWN?

If you think about it, you have only two choices when faced with any obstacle: Rise above it (step up) or let it beat you (back down).

The following story is one I’d rather forget. But it’s a perfect illustration of this concept in action.
I had been looking forward to a meeting with the new CEO of a multi-state retail chain (with 450 stores). I had worked with the previous CEO for six years as the chain’s insurance agent, and we had become good friends. Sadly, he passed away.

The purpose of this meeting was to bring the new CEO “up to speed” on the status of their insurance program and have him sign the renewal contract for the coming year.

Their account was complex, but by managing their program efficiently, my company had saved them millions of dollars. And I felt confident I could assist the new CEO in achieving similar savings.

I decided to bring Doug, the newest member of our team, with me to the meeting. After all, it would be a great way for him to see how a major account, where everything was going well, really worked.

Imagine my consternation (and embarrassment) when the new CEO declined to come downstairs to the conference room to meet with us. Instead, he sent his assistant with a message that a decision had been made to go in a new direction with their insurance program.

That was it! No warning. No thanks for all our past accomplishments and cost savings. I was devastated. Still, my response was professional. I simply said, “Call us if we may help you during the transition.”

We were there for all of 10 minutes. Needless to say, it was a long and somber drive back home to Orlando.

But during the drive, I took the first step toward moving past that failure.

Step 1: DO make a decision to bounce back!

This sounds so simple. But it can be the most difficult step in the process. The truth is, deciding to step up is where it all starts. Everything you do next can be traced back to that fateful decision not to sit there and take it, to do something about it. Remember, not making a decision IS a decision-a decision to do nothing.

On the drive back to Orlando, I decided not to try to win back the account we had just lost. But I did resolve to find another client just as big.

Step 2: DO take action on your decision.

Move on. Get over it. I’m not trying to be harsh here, just giving it to you straight. This is an important step in getting past negative outcomes. My dear grandmother used to say, “Where a door closes… a window opens.” I was blessed to be raised by my grandparents. They were people of integrity and rock-solid beliefs. From them I learned how to see windows opening. The first step is to acknowledge that the door has closed, no matter how difficult that may be.

When I arrived at the Orlando office, I immediately called my staff together. I told them we had lost one of our biggest accounts-but that we would be coming up with a plan to find one just as big within the next six months.

Step 3: DO close the past to open your future.

Bring the good parts of the bad experience with you (the learning, the rewards), and let the rest stay in the past. Today is tomorrow’s yesterday, just as tomorrow is today’s future. ALL yesterdays become the past, which is done and gone.

Although, to this day, I feel a bit disappointed about losing that big account, I am able to think back and remember the good work I did with the company. I remained friendly with them, and actually did help with their transition to a new insurance provider. But I never tried to “win back” their business.

Step 4: DO believe to achieve.

Settle into a mindset that all experiences, good and bad, are relevant. Believing that you can learn something from a failure, overcome it, and move on is essential to your well-being.
A few months after losing the account, I did land another big client. That’s one way I moved on.

More important, I learned that nothing is a sure thing. I had taken it for granted that the new CEO would renew our contract. I no longer make such assumptions.

Step 5: DO NOT dwell.

It is okay to acknowledge that something went wrong. It is NOT okay to hold onto it. Dwelling on the setback and overanalyzing it will amplify its negative effects. Just let it go.

Soon after my initial shock at losing that account, I realized that going with another insurance provider had been a business decision by the CEO. It wasn’t personal, and didn’t reflect on the good work I had done with the company. I didn’t hold a grudge.

Step 6: DO NOT quit.

Don’t let one disappointment discourage you from moving forward. Even if it was your “fault,” that does not brand you as a failure.

Backing down or quitting is a losing proposition. Yesterday is gone, and you can’t change what has already occurred. But you can change how you deal with your yesterdays. And you can build on what you learn from every experience, good and bad.

That’s my seven-step “how to” guide for stepping up and moving past a failure, rejection, or setback. I’ll admit that most, if not all, of these steps can be tough. But I want you to try to follow each and every one of them as best you can. Like any success technique, you might not get it right away. But practice makes perfect.

[Ed. Note: Are you ready to learn even more ways to deal with disappointment and bad situations? How about proven goal setting strategies that will help you become the high achiever you know you are? Go here to find out more about Bob Cox’s program, The Billionaire in You.]
  • Alan

    What happens when a ‘misfortune’ results in an injury? Suppose you never recover from it fully? What if your medical treatment was bordering on non-existent and that, combined with your lawyers incompetence, led to the collapse of your claim against the person who injured you? What if it seems that you need to use all the strength you have left not to pick yourself back up, but to stop yourself being dragged down even further? What do you do when one misfortune seems to lead to another and then another and another and another? In spite of everything I try to maintain a positive attitude, but over ten years later I still seem to be trying to pick myself up. Will I still be doing this when I die of old age (if I live that long)?