There is not one among us who does not regularly have a setback in some aspect of their lives. How many of us have been involved with a sporting team and in the first ten seconds of the game have lost a crucial wicket, had a try scored against us under the posts?
Setbacks are those ‘gone backwards’ time’s; a time of loss, of lost momentum, confusion, loss of energy and focus etc. There has been a momentum forward and then surprisingly we encounter a block, a loss, resistance or an apparent failure. We are thrown back to before where we previously thought we had been.
Setbacks can be financial, relational, health-related, professional/career, spiritual and psychological. It is important not to confuse a setback with the plateauing which is a natural part of growth. As we acquire a new skill or a new level of fitness there is a natural time of ‘pause’ where the body/mind consolidates your growth in preparation for your next level of achievement.


The setback can demand of us some serious energy from deep in our reserves to recover and regain momentum. The setback can dent our confidence and make us second-guess our own approach to our abilities. Having committed so much personal or professional energy to something to find oneself back on the ground with the ‘life’ kicked out of you can be so demoralising…it can be the ultimate challenge to get back on the horse and re-enter the game.
Setbacks are an integral part of life. They are to be expected, even planned for. Knowing the hit on the footy field is coming more than half prepares you for the reality of it. The setback is a time of potential learning, refocusing, regathering and strengthening to go forward even more effectively. The setback is positive in that it means you are reaching out, you are taking risks (professionally and personally) and deliberately stepping out of your comfort zone. If you are constantly setting your bar of expectation very low you will rarely experience the setback but you will also not be growing and certainly not becoming the best ‘you’ you can possibly be.
The underbelly of the setback is resilience. When you face and work through the setback you grow stronger, wiser and more focussed; more resilient! As for so many aspects of life that we can learn and grow from it is NOT the event in itself that we must focus on but rather what we do with it.
There are some setbacks that we have no control over partially or wholly. The out of the blue traffic accident that leaves you in a moonboot right in the middle of a series of speaking engagements in distant cities is neither wished for nor planned. Some setbacks result from our poor choices and call us to some serious self-reflection. Some setbacks have a message within them that we can learn from. All setbacks can be a growth period with new wisdom for the road ahead. The power of the lesson learned from a setback is that it comes NOT from the world of theory but from your lived experience.
The setback must not define us. In the midst of the setback there can be a small ego voice inviting us into a soft easy role of a victim mentality; the poor me at the side of the road. At this point remember one of the greatest speeches:

The Man in the Arena

The Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt


  1.  The first thing to do when a setback comes your way is to stop, reflect and seek the wisdom that lays within its enforced pain. Even physically stopping, taking a break, having a short holiday or even the small stopping of going for a walk, getting out into the fresh air etc can immediately reframe the situation and help you re-story it from ‘disaster’ to ‘what can I learn here’. Sometimes the stopping cannot take place immediately – but as soon as you can, find the space for reflection upon your experience.
  2. Your period of reflection will lead you to ‘unpack’ what happened and what you can learn from it. What caused the setback and why? What can you learn from this? What were the contributing factors? Some would have been out of your control but some will be very much within your sphere of influence. The physical space (whether in time or actual space) will assist in perspective and balance.
  3. Reach out to your Wolfpack – to the brotherhood, to your mentors and supports. Those who journey with you will know you well and will be able to engage in that needed balance of personal support during a tough time and invitation and challenge to learn from it and to ‘get up again’ with new insight, energy and purpose. As setbacks are a part of daily life you can be 100% sure that each of your Wolfpack (mentors, friends, supports) have faced similar situations.
  4. From your reflections and seeking of advice realign, re-equip, reskill, refocus and plan anew. This may lead you into a period of seeking to develop a new skill, nuancing a skill you already have, looking for new mentors or distancing yourself from people who are actually dragging you down. Sure as part of all of this there will be a period of ‘licking your wounds’ – of being gentle with yourself but here there is that healthy tension between time to regenerate as distinct from hiding away (running away) and wallowing in self-pity
  5. Have the flexibility to change and the courage to implement that change. From the setback, identify your learnings and from these, plan your new short-, medium- and longer-term goals. You are in fact nuancing your game plan in response to the setback; that is called wisdom


Setbacks are a constant invitation to develop and continually modify your framework for achieving your best self. Five easy to follow steps to follow with setbacks;

  1. Purpose – what is your purpose? The setback is an invitation to re-examine your purpose and to redefine it.
  2. Root cause – go to the places that scare you and ask yourself why? Pause and reflect on your experience and be open to learning from the causal factors.
  3. Wolfpack – gather help and support around you
  4. Outcome – redefine your outcome
  5. Reskill – increase capability

On your own or with a few mates, answer the following:

  1. Think of a setback that you feel you never recovered from. Looking back now, what learning was there within it for you?
  2. What is an aspect of your life where you are good at working through setbacks and grow from? What aspect of that can you transfer to other parts of your life?
  3. Who in your Wolfpack can you most trust to share a setback with knowing they will understand and both support and challenge you from?

Stay Legendary
Grego and Pricey