A Setback is a Setup for a Comeback

The frustration of the COVID Pandemic is now evolving. Some states have seen a steady trajectory toward reopening. Some businesses are seeing a bit of normalization in their operations happening. But most of the country is experiencing a bit of roller coaster ride as infection numbers ebb and rise again. The sensation that we are taking one step forward just to experience two steps backwards is real. It’s frustrating and can be disheartening.

After spending weeks and preparing for “the new normal”, business owners who thought they were ready to reopen, are now facing new obstacles and more external limitations. Different cities and states are reverting back to more restrictive stages of re-opening due to the pandemic threat. Businesses who were ramping up are now feeling whiplash as local municipalities react to the virus’ threat. Setbacks add to the stress which comes with normal business operations. If you as a business owner are not prepared to deal with setbacks in the short-term,  can cripple your business for long-term.

The noted Mayo Clinic explains that un-managed stress builds as you experience setbacks. Adding more stress to an already difficult situation can seem overwhelming. “Don’t get discouraged if you sometimes fail to handle a stressful situation as well as you might like. Change takes time, and setbacks are part of the learning curve. Learn from the experience, and plan to handle it better the next time. If you lapse back to your old ways, don’t give up. Focus on what you can do to regain control of the situation” (MayoClinic.org, 2020). You have to equip yourself to handle these setbacks because if you aren’t in the right mindset, you can never get you team on board.

The Mayo Clinic has some suggested strategies to combat the stress of setbacks include;

Seek professional help: “Many books, websites and support groups are dedicated to helping people get through tough times. You also may find it helpful to talk to a counselor or mental health professional. Sometimes an outside perspective can make all the difference”.

Make time for yourself: “Just 10 to 20 minutes of quiet reflection may relieve your stress and increase your tolerance for chronic stress. Listen to music, relax, and try to think of pleasant things or nothing at all. If you feel your muscles tense during the day, take a mini-break. Breathe deeply, inhale, pause for a second and then slowly exhale.”

Exercise regularly: “Exercise can help keep depression and anxiety away. Exercising about 30 minutes a day can benefit your body and mind.”

Eat smart: “A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can give you more energy to keep stress under control. Caffeine may give you a jolt of energy, but it will wear off quickly.”

Get plenty of sleep: “Aim to get plenty of sleep each night, which can help you deal with stress. Most people need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night.”

Resist over committing: “Rather than looking for ways to squeeze more activities into the day, find ways to cut back. Remember, it’s OK to say no to new requests or commitments. When you say no to a new commitment, you’re honoring your existing obligations and ensuring that you’ll be able to devote high-quality time to them.”

Be prepared: “Anticipate challenges. Whether it’s preparing for a project at work, planning a family gathering or handling a sick child, being prepared can help you face stressful situations with confidence. If necessary, set aside extra time to relax. If you have many tasks that need to get completed, make a to-do list and determine which tasks are most important.”

Banish negative thoughts: “If you find yourself thinking, “This can’t be done,” snap back to attention. Think instead, “This will be tough. But we can make it work.” Putting a positive spin on negative thoughts can help you work through stressful situations.”

Keep laughing: “Humor is a great way to relieve stress. Laughter releases endorphins — natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude. Studies suggest laughter may have many benefits that may include boosting the immune system, increasing circulation and easing pain.”

Preparing your team.

Once you have your self in a good position to deal with the added stress of setbacks. It is time to get your team on the right track. Be open with your team and keep lines of communications open. Be kind and show empathy. Provide them additional tools to help them manage the setbacks and in every case be honest about how you are feeling.

Glassdoor.com reminds us to do the following when helping your team manage change;

  • Engage your team
  • Empower decision making
  • Leverage talent
  • Keep the team moving forward
  • Share success

Preparing your family

Your team doesn’t stop at your employees. Your family, probably your most critical team members need to be included in any plans to offset the setbacks. Once again, inform and educate your family of the challenges and obstacles you are facing and be honest with them about the concerns and consequences continued setbacks can bring. Don’t alienate your family. Bring them along the way. Include them in the process of dealing with setbacks. They may have a perspective that may help you cope. Keep communication open and make sure that the most important people in your life are a part of your way forward.

Prepare your customers

Those anxious to do business with you will also be facing disappointment if your business has a take step back to address local needs and restrictions. Keep them in the loop. Communicate with them in any way you can. Email, direct mail, signs and other notices letting them know what has happened and how they can help. Be clear on expectations and enroll your customers to become the forces that helps you navigate the setback. Make them a part of the process and keep clear lines of communication open even if your business has to close again temporarily.

Solidify your Leadership

Ultimately, you have to stay flexible. As a business owner and leader, you have to remain agile and open to setbacks. Success.com outlines eight ways a leader deals with setbacks;

  1. Expect setbacks
  2. Set time limits for disappointments
  3. Manage your blind spots
  4. Less emotion and more information
  5. “Now what” is a constant option
  6. Focus on tomorrow
  7. Learn what must be learned
  8. Manage your self-talk

“A setback doesn’t have to be the end of the story. In fact, a setback might be exactly what you need to get where you want to be” (Johnson, 2016). Johnson also reminds us that a “setback is just a setup for another COMEBACK”(Success.com, 2016).

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