4 Valuable Lessons I Learned from a BIG Setback

My wonderful mentor Kathleen Seeley, the Founder & CEO of Massively Human Leadership as well as a key leader for The Canfield Training Group team, and I were able to connect recently.  I filled her in on events that have transpired in our business over the last six months, including a big deal that completely fell apart this fall – a deal that we thought was going to take our business to the next level but unexpectedly came crashing down.

Through this story, Kathleen shared a golden nugget with me, as she often does.  I admitted to her that this past mistake occasionally resurfaces in my mind to make me question if I’m “not a good business woman” and her response was wonderful…

“We all stub our toes when we’re moving things forward. You’re a good business woman because you learned from your mistakes, not because you never make them.”

While this certainly was not the first time I’ve heard this concept – after all, this is the basis behind all of the growth mindset training Sam and I do with Pace – but hearing it from a successful woman I admire and applying it directly to this specific “crash & burn” experience was a good reminder that we all need encouragement and direction sometimes to keep us on the right path.

After our motivating conversation, I decided to reflect back on the experience again and put into writing what I officially learned from this setback so that I could share with others.  These are the valuable lessons I learned:

1. Surrounding yourself with an encouraging, positive group of people will make a huge difference when you encounter struggles

When the deal first fell through, Sam and I both spent a few days feeling discouraged.  But we quickly leaned on the supportive people around us.  My husband, who is my greatest cheerleader, immediately reminded me that this path of growing a business is not going to be easy, but that also means that there are great opportunities for growth –  that it’s all part of the journey.  One of my amazing accountability partners, Kim, who is the CEO of Marketing Rx, sent me the most encouraging video, affirming how we are doing the right things and on the right path.  Another entrepreneur friend of mine, Valerie, was quick to reinforce that I did the right thing by standing up for myself.  I let all of this encouragement from my loved ones wash over me. Then, I re-grouped and shifted my focus onto what I could learn from this experience and how I could do better next time.  After all, the only person in control of how I responded to this setback was ME.

2. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. 

There were red flags we saw early on…for example, people not doing what they said they would do and disrespecting our time.  But we continued to move forward with them anyway, because we wanted the opportunity.  Sam and I have made a firm decision that we will never again sacrifice how we like to operate for an opportunity to grow our business financially.  Our new rule is to look at any new opportunity and evaluate: “Would we work with these people, would we sign this contract, would we move forward with this if our business were already at the place we want it to be?”  If the answer is no, then it is time to move on.  No opportunity is worth sacrificing your integrity and happiness.

3. No one else can tell me what is so, only I can to decide what is so for myself.

Throughout the deal, I let other people influence me in how I should handle the situation.  Afterward, even though I still believe our actions were in the right (and several trusted advisers affirmed this for us), I had regrets because some of our communications with the deal-maker went against how I like to conduct myself.  Getting advice from successful people is never a bad thing, but I have to decide for myself what aligns with my values and who I am.  At the end of the day, I want to always feel good about how I handled a situation, regardless of others’ opinions.

4. Always remember to be clear about your expectations and to value yourself in any working relationship

This experience taught me a lot about being clear in my expectations – and never underestimating that when you give someone an inch, they may take a mile.  I believe in graciousness and kindness, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t value yourself in every relationship you have.  It’s vital to be clear up front about what you will accept and what you won’t.


Now that months have gone by, I can see that I have a whole new perspective about this experience than I did when the deal first fell through.  And to be honest, I am now grateful this happened, because it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing with our business in the first place.

I want to thank Kathleen for the great reminder that how we view setbacks, mistakes, and failures is completely up to us.  They can either stop us from moving forward, or we can focus on the valuable lessons learned from them and keeping moving forward to seek out new opportunities.  My goal is to always choose the latter.

What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned from past mistakes?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


Add A Comment