Setbacks Are The Best Motivators Of All!

Are you able to get up when you’ve been knocked down? It’s a key to progress. Here’s a powerful ‘helping hand’ to get you off the floor. It’s lifting me daily. Give it a go!

The undefeated martial arts world champion had the 200 advertising and media agency CEOs spellbound as she told her story of resilience. Her world changed instantly while at the height of her sporting prowess. The diagnosis: cancer. Then a letter arrived, from her ‘sensei’ (teacher) – her most valued mentor and coach. In it, just one sentence.

So, what are you going to do with this?

For Nadine Champion, it completely changed the way she approached her illness. She turned this massive setback into a challenge – of resolve, perseverance, and personal growth.

The magic in the sensei’s counsel is its wisdom about mindset. If we change the way we look at something, we can use it to our benefit. Even setbacks. Even cancer, as Nadine explained (she is fully recovered, by the way).

Now, my current so-called setbacks are ‘garden variety’ moments of turbulence along life’s flight path. For me they are real, and appear mountain-like. And the older I get, the harder it becomes to spring up off the ground when they deplete optimism and hope.

Here’s an example. A fitness and wellness ‘campaign,’ going so well – “best ever” and I felt GREAT! – and then kapowed by flu, travel, pressure and general loss of mojo…. Well, it’s agonisingly difficult to get those trainers back on, to not order the ribs, and to keep the cork in that bottle of shiraz. That setback impacts everything for me. Everything. But now I have the sensei’s voice in my ear.

‘So Chris, what are you going to do with this?’

Sensei- I am going to work on my discipline: strengthen that aspect of my DNA. Discipline is all about doing what you need to do, when you need to do it, even when you don’t want to. I CAN improve. I can make progress again, and get back on track. Set short-term, achievable goals; make a plan; make a start; stick to it.

Another example. As a fearless hunter and gatherer helping provide for my tribe, a recent week was a disaster. Two days MCing a major conference in the Hunter Valley (where I heard Nadine), then two days judging industry awards, and a day counselling two executives wanting career help, and a start-up that needed a strategy. My ‘take’ for the week (e.g. what did the cash-register tell me?)? Three bottles of red wine, and one cigar. You see, it was all pro-bono. Lean in close as I tell you this startling truth…. bottles of wine, and cigars, do not pay private school fees!

So I was down. Frustrated. Felt trapped. Why do I agree to do these things? Until I heard the sensei’s voice.

‘So Chris, what are you going to do with this?’

Sensei – I am going to be grateful, for what was an amazing week. I learnt so much – listening to the conference speeches, and seeing all those award entries. It sharpened my offer and helped me stay at the edge. I also made many new contacts and relationships. And I built my profile. It was a wonderful week of marketing, business development, networking and learning for me. How lucky am I!

“If you’re green, you grow. If you’re ripe, you rot.” Doug Smollan told me that seven years ago.

Setbacks, however small (and in Nadine’s case, however big) are a gift: an opportunity to work on yourself in your never-ending journey of personal growth and challenge. To some of you, this will sound wanky and trite. Fair enough. To me, it’s very real.

Of course, I’d prefer not to have them – the setbacks. It really does get harder over time to pull yourself off the floor when the turbulence hits.

But If we take the sensei’s wisdom – So, what are you going to do with this? – we have a compass point for action: what can we do next to change our mindsets and energise ourselves forward, with lightness of step and a heart beating with renewed vigour.

So, dear Possumite, what are YOU going to do with this?

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21 Responses to Setbacks Are The Best Motivators Of All!

  1. Jayne Albiston October 10, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    Brilliant and timely.Thank you.

    • Chris Savage October 11, 2017 at 10:13 am #

      Thanks Jayne.

  2. Jennifer Gottlieb October 11, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    Thanks Chris for the reminder to “pick myself up and dust myself off” when I have these days/weeks
    Always love your blogs

    • Chris Savage October 11, 2017 at 10:48 am #

      Thanks Jenny!

  3. Zoe October 11, 2017 at 10:32 am #

    Inspiring Chris! Thank you. Asa wise frog once said “It’s not easy being green” X Zoe

    • Chris Savage October 11, 2017 at 10:48 am #

      Ha! Thanks Zoe….

  4. Kelly October 11, 2017 at 10:41 am #

    Thank you Chris I concur with Jayne a perfectly times post to arrive in my inbox. just the kick in the right direction at the right time

    • Chris Savage October 11, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

      Good to hear Kelly- thanks!!

  5. David Pring October 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks Chris a great timely reminder to us all, you need a Vision and or North Star, life does not go in straight lines and we need to keep the inner critic or judge under control, through the quality of questions we ask of ourselves and our reports, “So what are you going to do with this”. Keep blogging Chris the “Good Oil” is always well received. Cheers

    • Chris Savage October 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

      Thanks David

  6. Dr Donald Alexander October 11, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    After extensive operations for bowel cancer, the surgeon said to me- make every day count for the rest of your life-that was 9 years ago and I have lived up to that response- like your story Chris we can overcome adversity with a positive attitude, Donald

    • Chris Savage October 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

      Thanks Donald… appreciate you sharing that story! Keep well. Chris

  7. Caren Doyle October 11, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

    Thank you Chris. After discovering that my son has ADD 6 odd years ago I was determined not to give up on him when others did. He recently received a scholarship (based on his academic results first and then his soccer skills) at a football academy in the UK and is leaving Sept 2018 just before his 16th birthday. It might be harder as we get older, but it’s always worth it!

    • Chris Savage October 12, 2017 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks for that moving story, Caren. Chris

  8. Colleen October 11, 2017 at 6:33 pm #

    Chris how is it that you always seem to touch on exactly what I am needing to hear at the time? Thank you as always

    • Chris Savage October 12, 2017 at 10:03 am #

      Colleen- good to hear from you. Hope all is good with you in SA. Chris

  9. marisa October 12, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    Great read and yes set backs can be a great lesson if we allow them to be and not make our selves wrong and beat ourselves up in the process. So what I am doing with this… hammering through my Integrity List and been reading daily intentions and today’s one is: Now is the Moment of Power… I am expanding safely by remaining balanced and aware taking action in the present. Thankyou

    • Chris Savage October 13, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks Marisa!!!

  10. Clare Robinson October 12, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    Awesome thanks Chris – very timely, good reframe to gratefulness! Always helps to shift the way you think about things. Hard sometimes when you get busy being busy vs taking a step back to smell the roses….

    • Chris Savage October 13, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks Clare!!

  11. Michele June 10, 2018 at 9:04 am #

    Learning that setbacks are great moments of learning has built my resilience to cope with whatever life serves me. After I have first spent long periods on the floor beating myself up! These periods of time are getting shorter…..I think!
    As Jung says, ‘I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become’. This blog is one of my favourites Chris.

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