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Several years ago, Christopher, one of my clients at the time, attended a breakfast workshop I was giving on how to develop profitable centers of influence/introducers. Almost on a whim, I had added a final slide recommending having a Setback Plan. “It can be a frustrating, uncertain process building business relationships and wondering who and when someone will come through for you. Pretty much every week you need to detach emotionally from your efforts and do your best to remember you are planting a garden. The rewards can be remarkable, and these things usually take time.”

Afterward, Christopher came up to me and I asked him what he thought was most helpful. “That last slide,” he confided. “A plan like that would really help me,” I remember being really surprised to hear this. I’d been coaching him for several months and I had no idea he was so troubled by people’s silence and the rather slow process of developing great relationships. He’d never mentioned it before.

In the end, he couldn’t wait. 18 months later Jeremy left his business development position, and a year after that he took his own life. I’m sure there were many reasons for this tragedy but in his eyes, cumulative ‘failure’ was certainly a big part of it. About a year after Christopher left his position, one of the key relationships he had been developing in Chicago had a referral for him for a $30m opportunity and called me because he couldn’t get a hold of him.

At no point do I pretend commission-only sales are easy or that it is for everyone. So much of it requires persistence and being able mentally to bounce back. That’s why we all need a Setback Plan.

Typical setbacks to good business mojo can happen from getting sick for a few days, to hurting your back, going on holiday, or a significant outside event happening like the Pandemic or the markets crashing. It can be a significant happening for you or a loved one – the death of a parent; major health change or turmoil with work; or your child having trouble at school. And it can be a combination of events. These sound rare and sometimes they are, but then at other times in our lives, events like this come one after another.

You want to have some kind of plan for this rather than flailing in the dark every time and letting your great habits derail. I know it’s almost a cliché but, as you’ve heard many times before, it’s not what happens to you in life but how you handle it that counts.

Here is a process to take and make your own. Experiment next time you have a setback to bounce back from and keep the bits that work for you:

1. Forgive yourself and others for the setback. Breathe. Remind yourself: “This happens to EVERYONE. Everyone. Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
2. Vent your frustrations. Do this like letting air out of a tire. You don’t want to repress negative feelings and store them in your body, but you also don’t want to keep venting endlessly either and fueling the wild negative fire.
3. Find ways to feel even slightly better than DON’T sabotage your goals much (psychologically it’s okay to rebel a little – sometimes us A types do have the plugin too tight).
4. Allow time to recover. Mourn a little if necessary.
5. Accept your reality. This might be the hardest part. Try not to resist or deny ‘reality’. The longer you do, the longer it will take you to progress again. Try to dwell on the people who have exceptional responses to hard times – the ones who transform their lives from circumstances where the social convention is often to be crushed.
6. Consider the timeline to recover. Accept this as best as you can.
7. When you feel somewhat ready, think on paper. Write your responses to: “What can I do about this now?” or “How can I solve this problem?”
Think about what you can control and do that’s positive in your life.
8. Very, very proactively seek out sources of any and all inspiration (because you probably won’t feel like it and they will do you a world of good): books, songs, people, films, comedies. It’s a curious thing, but when we’re feeling low, we tend to avoid people. Yet what can often help us the most is actively reaching out to other people. We especially need reminders that everyone up to something big has to endure tough times (and the bigger the quest often it seems like the tougher the times).
Remember the words of world champion athlete Amanda Allen: “When I thought I couldn’t go on, I just did the next most important thing. I just kept turning up.”
What is the next most important thing that you just need to ‘turn up’ for?
9. High achievers know: it’s not what happens to you; it’s how you handle it. Look in the mirror and ask: How am I handling it? Do I need to go back to #1 on the list?
10. When you are ready, write down some lessons learned from this episode to build your foundation for the future, e.g., “This too shall pass.” “I’ve been here before and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.” “My body heals at its own pace.” “If others have pulled through this and gone onto shine, I can too”. “Less time for ‘a’ means more time for ‘b’.”
11. EASE back into your good habits on your Habit Tracker.
a) First with your power habits, then your next priority.
b) If you need to lower your targets to get back in the game, do it now. Just get back on the field – whatever that looks like and even if it scares you greatly. Just turn up.
c) Ask yourself: Which activity will build my self-respect/morale quickest?
d) If you have a peer group, do not compare yourself to any of them. Compare yourself ONLY to your recent past self, your own expectations, and your goals. Listen to your inner hero who wants great things from you, not your inner critic!
12. Don’t get complacent or smug about starting back on track. That’s your ego getting in the way. Prove it to yourself by staying on track week-in and week-out and using the setback as mojo.

Please send me feedback and ideas you have for your own plan so more people can bounce back faster from life’s inevitable slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

You can handle it!
Matt Anderson
Founder & President
Matt Anderson International
1177 Oak Ridge Drive, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA
Phone: +001 (312) 622-3121