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The Anatomy of a Setback and a Comeback


Rick McDaniel is an expert in helping people make a comeback in their lives and is the author of the new book Comeback: Overcoming the Setbacks in Your Life (WestBowPress, 2012).  Rick has earned three degrees, including an advanced degree from Duke University.  He has traveled and spoken on five continents and authored three previous books.  If you have experienced a setback and are ready for a comeback, find out more about Rick at


Life is full of setbacks.  You cannot avoid them, no matter who you are.  The good news is that comebacks are possible; in fact, they happen all the time.  The challenge: how do you overcome your setback and have an incredible comeback?

Walt Disney is a personal hero of mine.  He fascinates me because of his creative energy and visionary leadership.  What you might not know is that he experienced seven very disappointing setbacks in his life.  He had several comebacks, and now the Disney name is the gold standard for creativity and excellence.

Warren Buffet is another person who has experienced setbacks. His latest setback is prostate cancer.  Early in his life, he had a setback when he was not accepted to Harvard.  Yet Buffet has had such a comeback that he is one of the richest people in the world. I have no doubt that he will tackle his latest setback with the same energy he has used throughout his life.

There are steps you can take to turn a setback into a comeback.     

Learn the Lesson

Too many try to push the setback behind them as quickly as possible, which is precisely why so many go from setback to setback.  If you want to have a comeback, you must look for the lessons in the setback to avoid making the same mistake again.  

Not every setback is the result of a direct action on your part; you can do all the right things for your health, for instance, and still end up sick.  But if you look deep enough, there are possibly decisions that you made that could have resulted in the setback.  Even if you discover something that seems to have had very little impact on the setback, this discovery will help you in the future from having a setback.    

Make the Change

A comeback will always begin with change.  If you want a comeback, you are going to have to change.  Unless you change what you presently are doing or not doing, things are going to remain the same; there will be no comeback.  You have to be willing to do things differently from how you’ve done them up to this point.

Change happens when you receive new information or gain new knowledge.  Change happens when you get a new attitude.  Change happens when you choose to be committed to your comeback.  

Exit Survival Mode
Some have been in survival mode for far too long.  It can be hard to decide to actually do it – to exit survival mode.  But there comes a time when you have to get past licking your wounds and get your bearings.

Believe it or not, many people become comfortable in survival mode because it can be quite a pity party, where they dwell on how they’ve been wronged, how things are not fair, or how things haven’t gone their way.  For your comeback to begin, you can’t be in survival mode.  There is no growth, progress, impact, or comeback in survival mode. 

Restart Your Dream Engine 

Setbacks do not control your life; you control your life.  You decide you are going to dream again. Think back to when you were a kid, and you thought, “One day I’m going to be a professional baseball player,” or “When I grow up, I’m going to go to the moon.”  Kids have the wildest imaginations and very vivid dreams.  Don’t let those old dreams fade away; turn them into reality.  

No matter what has happened, don’t allow your setbacks to define you anymore.  Become determined to move forward into your dream.  Ask yourself what it is you want more than anything.  Then ask yourself how you’re going to make it happen.  To make the dream a reality, the desire must match the discipline.  

Develop Momentum 

Momentum is your best friend because it makes you better than you are.  Slowly begin capturing the momentum by regaining control of one thing at a time.  A little momentum turns into a lot of momentum, which produces emerging energy and limitless passion that positively fuel a comeback.

Comeback_book_imgIt can be hard to get going if you don’t know where you need to begin.  Figure out the first step and start doing it; that will put you back on the road to success.  Each hurdle you successfully get over will build the momentum that will lead you to your comeback.  

A comeback takes work; however, it is possible, and everyone from ordinary people to celebrities to professional sports teams have proven that it’s possible.  You, too, have the potential to write a great comeback story.  

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