How to Deal With Setbacks and Failures

1970 Steve Wozniak was working for Hewlett-Packard. Steve Wozniak originally designed the Apple I computer while working at Hewlett-Packard and he offered it to them, under their right of first refusal to his work. They declined to take up the offer! Hewlett-Packard, who originally started out as an electronics firm, at that stage did not see the future in personal computers and wanted to stay in the scientific market. He and his friend, Steve Jobs, went on and started Apple Computers.

You have probably experienced exactly the same on your way to become successful and turn your dreams into reality – projects failed and plans went haywire and it looked as if all your dreams have gone up in smoke. And now you feel discouraged, even unwilling to try again. Worse, you might even believe your life is over and your success lost forever. Let me share with you the truth about setbacks and mistakes that will free you from the crippling fear of failure forever.

The truth is: everyone makes mistakes…everyone fails at something, sometime…and there is no shame in failing since…it’s called learning. You are supposed to make mistakes and learn from your mistakes since it is PART OF YOUR LEARNING EXPERIENCE.

People make three critical mistakes when they have failed: they blame themselves; they blame someone else; or blame their circumstances. Blaming is wasted energy and it’s not going to help you one bit. It is important to maintain the right perspective on your mistakes, shortcomings, and failures of the past. You only failed if you believe you have failed. What others consider a failure can be the beginning or your greatest opportunity. It’s all about your mindset:

If you think you failed, you are defeated… 
If you are defeated, you will feel like a failure… 
If you feel like a failure, you will act like one!

If you are locked into a failure-mindset, you are in a never ending cycle of misery. You will keep under-performing and failing, thereby confirming your belief that you are destined to be second-rate, to be mediocre, to be a failure. You can never focus on success because you are always thinking of failure. Since you are operating in fear, you are prone to make more mistakes. In essence: You are not dreaming of success, you are having nightmares about failure!

This cycle drains you of vital creative energy, leaving you emotionally empty with no creative spark. And so the cycle continues until you have developed a constant and lasting attitude, mindset, or life script of failure that will: distract you (from your success and your destiny); drain you (from all the creative energy that you naturally posses); and even destroy you (as you ultimately manifest what you believe about yourself).

So, what do you do if something in your life didn’t work out in the past? If business ventures failed, ideas got shipwrecked and didn’t work out? IT’S CALLED LEARNING AND IT’S OKAY!!!!

Plans and ventures that did not work out as you planned or hoped for is just what you call it – if you call it a learning experience you will learn from it and grow; if you refer to it as a setback on the way to your goal you will refocus, regroup, adjust your plan and move forward! Who you are today is determined primarily by who you believe you are.

What about Hewlett-Packard who missed the opportunity that later became Apple Computers? Did they later realize their momentous mistake? Absolutely! What did they do? Corrected it, build on the learning curve of their mistake, and became the largest supplier of personal computers in the world. Their mistake became the impetus that propelled them to become super-successful in the field of personal computers! 
Someone once said there are some people who live in a dream world; there are some who face reality; then there are those who turn one into the other.


Henry J. Venter, Ph.D., is a psychologist, speaker, and author. If you found this article helpful then subscribe at for his free newsletter and more life changing insight. The complete transformational change program “The Ultimate Success Guide: 7 Practical Steps to Change and Transform Your Life” features an extensive and step-by-step process that leads you to the success you always dreamed of.