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Bounce Back from a Set Back

By Terry L. Brock

Dateline: Amsterdam, Holland. I’m back in this enchanting city known for lots of bicycles, beautiful canals, charming people and yes the traditional windmills, wooden shoes and tulips. While there are not many windmills, the people really don’t wear wooden shoes and the tulips are gorgeous, this city reminds me of the importance of bouncing back from setbacks.

It all started for me a few years ago when I first visited Amsterdam. Being a naive tourist who was mesmerized with this delightfully Dutch city, I was sitting on a park bench enjoying a lovely afternoon. I was on my first trip around the world and planned to collect several pictures and video as I went to ultimately share them at a conference in Hong Kong where I was scheduled to present to a group of senior executives from around the world.

As I was enjoying the moment on the park bench, I was approached by a man who distracted me asking a question. At least I thought it was a question as he repeated something in a language I didn’t understand. Being the naive tourist that I was, I jokingly tried to explain that I didn’t understand and only spoke English. Suddenly the man turned to walk away abruptly. It was at that moment that I turned to my left and noticed that my bag with my camera and video camcorder along with other valuable notes and items was gone! I had fallen for the oldest trick in the book. One distracts you to look to the right while his accomplice steals your bag on your left.

I quickly jumped up to watch for a fleeing thief, but these thieves were fast and knew their craft. My bag was gone, never to be seen again. I went instantly from blissful enjoyment to shock and outrage. What could I do? I needed that equipment for my programs. What about all the pictures and video I had already captured for the event? What can I do now? These and a thousand other desperate questions raced through my mind in those first few moments.

When a setback or even a tragedy hits, there is an initial moment of being stunned. That quickly turns into outrage and anger. This is natural. The critical difference is what you do about it to bounce back from that set back. How you react at that pivotal moment in time will determine your future.

Here are some steps that can help you and your business if you are faced with a situation where you have to bounce back from a set back.

1. Preparation. This is what you can do right now. Realize that stuff happens on this planet. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when it happens. Just understand that it is going to happen to everyone and this event was your experience in the setback department. So, create abundance to withstand setbacks. In business that means having more than you need. Don’t go for just enough. Go for abundance to be prepared for inevitable setbacks.

2. Allow Time For Realization But Get Back Quickly In The Game. You’re human. Feel that pain when the setback hits. I had to take time to think about what had just happened when my bag was stolen. However, don’t take forever. Deal with it quickly and get over it. This leads to the next step where you…

3. Think Of Alternatives Be Creative. Be resourceful. Teddy Roosevelt said, Do what you can, with what you’ve got, right where you are. Sure, there will be lots of, if only I’d and If I only had a ____ type of thoughts. However, you begin to bounce back when you’re creative quickly. Brainstorm with others through Relationship Marketing. Brainstorm with yourself. Out of a lot of many possibilities can emerge some viable, sound answers to your problem.

4. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). This sounds easy and is often met with cynicism. However, it is true that if you maintain a doggedly determined positive attitude to find solutions amidst hardship, you’ll be better able to bounce back from that setback. You have to get really serious about making a difference in your situation. Do whatever is necessary to bounce back. It might not be fast, but with determination, the right skill acquisition and the right PMA, you can overcome any setback. Napoleon Hill said, Every setback carries with it the seeds of equal or greater benefit. Keep this in mind at that critical, hurtful moment when the setback happens.

5. Develop Your Own Ability To Out Produce The Problem And Create More. This is what helped me at that moment after my loss in Amsterdam years ago. I remember that Nazi Germany knew they were defeated in WWII when they would destroy some American planes only to see those planes replenished in abundance the next week. The Americans outproduced the Germans. I determined then and there first, to be more careful when in public places, and second, to do what I could to create more wealth. That helped me at the moment as I had a renewed determination to be a better businessperson and overcome this setback.

As an interesting side note, I made it through as I purchased another camera and was able to get a lot of good pictures to deliver a dazzling presentation for the executives in Hong Kong. They asked me back for many more programs!

However, the best part was how I chose to get back at the thieves who stole my bag. I made it a point to return to Amsterdam the next year. I went back to that same bench with a new camera bag, a better camcorder and better camera. I wrapped the strap around my neck and held on tightly to it with one arm as I sat down. I dared them to come try and take it from me again. It was like spitting in their eyes! Of course they didn’t come back (they were wise to stay away!) and I had a renewed sense of victory!

Bonus For You: See sites from Amsterdam and my video version of this article by going to and click on the Terry’s Blog Latest Update button on the left. You’ll love it!

Do what you need to do to bounce back from your setbacks. Yes, setbacks will happen. Plan for it. Then outproduce the challenge by being creative and resourceful. My friend Willie Jolley says, a setback is just a setup for a comeback. Keep that in mind as you overcome your own setbacks and prepare for an even bigger bounceback!
Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at [email protected] or through his website at

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