Setbacks as a Secret Weapon

Failure can become a spring board for success.  In a recent study, it was discovered that setbacks can be the secret weapon that creates a breakthrough moment in our lives (Rick Newman, U.S. News & World Report).

Our accident was one such serious setback. It was a failed attempt at driving a motorcycle down the highway to a predetermined destination. The source of your setback can be the mistakes of others, your own doing or no known source. How you respond to your setback is up to you.

Some people give up and quit when met with a setback.  Others lean into their failure and increase their capacity to endure.

Those who give up are wallowers*.


  • Get rattled when something goes wrong
  • Complain
  • Blame others
  • Rarely question their own judgment
  • Overestimate their own abilities
  • Aren’t known for solving their own problems

Those who learn from their setbacks or failures are called rebounders*.

“Rebounders know how to solve problems and overcome setbacks, often because they’ve done it before. …So they tend to react with calm determination, and even a sense of humour, when something goes wrong. They’d rather solve problems than complain about them or blame someone else (Rick Newman).”

The eight secret weapons or character traits rebounders have that turn setbacks into stepping stones.

1.    Rebounders accept failure

When failure and setbacks happen to rebounders, they accept them as part of the process and learn to fail forward.  Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before his breakthrough with the light bulb!

2.    Rebounders manage emotional fallout

With failure comes a host of emotions. The secret is to acknowledge and control your emotions and move on as quickly as possible.

3.    Rebounders are action oriented

Tammy Duckworth lost both legs when her U.S. military helicopter was shot down in Iraq. Her first impulse was to get to work at rehabilitation and her new life. Rebounders move into action!

4.    Rebounders embrace new ideas

Rebounders throw off outdated thinking and let go of broken dreams. They re-adjust their goals to match new realities.

5.    Rebounders live with discomfort

Rebounders put up with harsh conditions if they know it`s the pathway forward. They don`t demand quick fixes but are patient and allow time to heal and restore.

6.    Rebounders “actively” wait

Rebounders while waiting for things to improve, don’t wait passively but spend time learning and improving themselves. Actively waiting tilts the odds of a breakthrough in your favor.

7.    Rebounders celebrate heroes

Rebounders learn from living and historic mentors who have blazed a trail and modeled rebounding. Ernest Shackleton is one of my heroes who rebounded after a serious setback.

8.    Rebounders possess passion +

It’s not enough to have passion alone to rebound. You need an inner drive and resilience (the + factor) along with passion to see a breakthrough.

We have the power to choose how to handle setbacks.  We can either bury our head in the sand and hope things change or lean into the storm, adjust and grow stronger during our setback. Leaning into the storms of life will result in personal growth and breakthroughs in every area of our lives.
[* these terms and some ideas presented here are from Rebounders by Rick Newman.]

How do you deal with setbacks and failure?
Are you a rebounder or a wallower?
What can you do to strengthen your rebounder muscle and experience a breakthrough?

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About Cam Taylor

I'm help people live inspired, focused and tenacious lives. I work as a coach, facilitator, author, and speaker.
This entry was posted in Adversity, Change, choice, dreams, Emotions, Endurance, failure, Growth, Hope, learning, Opportunity, Perspective, purpose, self-awareness, suffering and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Setbacks as a Secret Weapon

  1. Willena (Willie) Brenden says:

    I just printed out the whole blog page for Grami. I know she will enjoy it. She is 98 now and needs to lie down most of the time but she is still an avid reader. I know she will enjoy all of what you have written. God Bless.

    • Cam Taylor says:

      I’m so glad Grami can read these as you are able to provide them for her. I have other readers in there 80’s & 90’s because what I write is truly not age specific. Thanks for your comment.

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