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Bounce Back: How to Quickly Recover From Setbacks and Train Your Brain For Success

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One of the things I’ve noticed about the highly successful entrepreneurs I’ve been around is how quickly they bounce back from their mistakes and setbacks. After I noticed this, I started paying attention to people I know who are not so successful at getting what they want. And, sure enough, they were not good at recovering quickly from disappointments. They spent time beating themselves up, blaming others or circumstances, thinking about all they lost or could lose, or asking, “Why did this happen to me?” They let the problem turn into self-doubt.

Great athletes know that they can’t waste time like that. A pro golfer makes a bad shot and has just a few minutes to pull themselves together as they walk to their ball so that their next shot isn’t as bad or even worse.

A pitcher who throws a bad pitch but doesn’t have time to moan and groan about it. They must bounce back within seconds and prepare to throw the next pitch. In a sport like volleyball or pickleball, an athlete has just split seconds to recover and receive what’s coming at them.

Related: 18 Ways to Bounce Back from Failure

Don’t just shake it off

A friend of mine trained in Aikido years ago. She had to take a test to earn her black belt, and part of the test was a “randori, ” meaning three other students would attack freestyle all at once. Yikes! Of course, she was taught strategies to handle this, but she told me that a big part of her training was learning to recover instantly whenever she made a mistake. If she didn’t, the next attacker would come in and nail her!

But the idea was not to just “shake it off.” She said, “If you made a bad throw, the key was to dig deeper at that moment, to call up even more energy and more determination, to let that mistake bring in even more power.”

Successful entrepreneurs don’t just “shake it off” and move on. Like the Aikido example, they use that mistake or setback to get stronger and smarter. They spend the time they have learning from the problem. Then they take those lessons learned and apply them. Focusing on the lessons versus the problem leads to more self-confidence rather than more self-doubt. You’re reinforcing that you can learn and improve and that you’ll know how to handle this situation better because you now have a new tool or more wisdom in your toolbox.

Related: 6 Ways Small Businesses Can Bounce Back and Recover Post-Pandemic

Money likes speed

In business, you’ve typically got more time than a split second to recover from a problem, and there isn’t some guy in the wings waiting to nail you if you blow a presentation or lose an important client. Usually, you have hours, if not days, to figure out what to do next.

Unlike a racket ball player or being in a randori, you usually have time to think it through before your next play. Still, successful people don’t waste a lot of time. They recover very quickly, whether they have to or not. One of my mentors always told me, “Money likes speed.”

This isn’t to say that you can’t rant and rave for a few minutes. In fact, if I let myself have a few minutes of feeling totally angry or upset, it helps clear the air and my head. But I don’t let myself stay there. I move as quickly as I can to figure out the lesson this problem offers me. Then I’ve trained myself to ask two questions: “Okay, so how will this make me stronger and better? And what is my best response right now?”

Related: How to Face Your Fears and Bounce Back

Train your brain in advance

Learning to bounce back quickly wasn’t something most of us are born with, and I’m no exception. It’s something I had to train within myself. As I teach all my students, it starts with consistently training yourself to have a strong, positive mindset. This means feeling confident and optimistic no matter what is happening around you! It means not waiting for things to go your way before you feel upbeat and happy.

You don’t have to be 100% perfect at it, but you need to train your brain so that a positive mindset becomes your normal state. Does that sound impossible? It’s not, but it does take practice.

A positive mindset is a deep-seated belief that’s wired into your neurology. It’s not just a random happy thought every once in a while. It’s your default way of thinking and feeling. And that’s what will help you bounce back quickly. Think about your current default mindset: If all day long, you wonder whether your venture is going to work or doubt that you have what it takes to succeed or worry about what will happen to you if you fail, how do you think you’ll respond to a major or even minor difficulty?

Related: Ask This One Question If You Want to Succeed

On the other hand, say you consistently feel optimistic and have thoughts like, “I can do this,” “I’m destined to succeed,” and “I’m getting better and better every day,” aren’t you more likely to bounce back quickly when you hit a brick wall?

Not recovering quickly from setbacks can sabotage your success and undermine your self-confidence. It wastes precious time and can lead you to make bad decisions. The key is strengthening your mindset before everything hits the fan so that your default mindset is positive and solution-oriented.

When you experience a setback or make a mistake, give yourself a nano-second to whine about it. Then bounce back with these powerful questions: “How will this make me stronger and better? And what is my best response right now?”

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