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How to Build on Setbacks

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

I was interviewed recently by a student in the executive entrepreneurship program at Lancaster University. This young man asked to interview me because he'd been a participant in one of my mentoring sessions and something I shared had peaked his curiosity. In describing my entrepreneurial journey, I had explained how I had overcome quite a few setbacks. And I had gone on to say they had been pivotal in molding my character and preparing me for success.

Image by Shraga Kopstein

One of the examples I shared with him was a challenge I'd encountered while I was in high school. The school I attended required us to wear uniforms, white shirts and khaki trousers. In those days in Guyana, we didn’t typically buy “off the rack” slacks for school uniforms. My parents would buy the khaki fabric and we would have the trousers tailored. But rather than wear what was standard, I sketched out my own designs. And I imagined and created all sorts of new ways to add flair to my trousers. Inevitably, I would be called into the principal's office and scolded for deviating from the norm. But I always held my ground.

After much debate, I would reluctantly be permitted to continue adding creative touches to my uniform. What I learned from those encounters was that rules are set with the best intentions. But if we follow them unquestioningly, they could stifle our self-expression and creativity. And it could result in a mindset and culture of blind compliance, lazy conformity, a society of authoritarian rule and dehumanized existence.

Boldness, creative imagination and innovation are essential if we are to design the lives we want. They are necessary ingredients for producing great works of art and beauty, and equally for producing great products and services for enriching lives. They are prized attributes of the entrepreneur.

In my case, early setbacks with authority figures impressed upon me the need to trust my instincts and not shy away from confronting obstacles head on. I looked forward every day to wearing a uniform that wouldn’t cause me to blend in, but would rather allow me to be myself. That little bit of freedom did a whole lot of good for my self-esteem. And in the simple act of designing the uniform, I could create the conditions that were more acceptable and enjoyable for me to successfully navigate and pass through that phase of my life.

Setbacks are not designed to break a person. They can be reframed as having been designed to create a person. They can be interpreted as being in your path to encourage you to step into that crucbile of adversity to discover how you can harness your inner strength to overcome obstacles and build your knowledge, experience and resilience along the way. Setbacks always provide the opportunity for you to rise from the depths of pain and frustration to discover more about your gifts and strengths, and the ways in which you can be uniquely you.

I’ve lived through and surmounted numerous adversities. I understand the power of pain and patience. My mission is to help you become increasingly irresistible and financially invincible. Guided by belief, intentional and steady steps, you can make your future brighter, build your wealth and realize the freedom you deserve. Today is your day to take that first step. Contact me here.

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