Dealing With Failures & Setbacks - Reading Time: 4 Mins


Regardless of how you live your life, you will always encounter difficult situations in life. By dealing with failures & setbacks, you become smarter, better and faster. I understand when you are in the thick of things, it is often difficult to think about the future. Which is why I found Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) Loop a useful tool. It allows you to make rapid decisions with very little time to think and the execution of the idea.

Channel Your Inner MacGyver

Recently, I had to “channel my inner macgyver” to work on a deal after my former business associate suddenly dropped off.

I was left with less than 24 hours to find someone to fulfil the strict requirements needed for the deal. This was a make or break moment. Which lead me an aha moment. by tapping on my own personal network & relationship with the person to join me on this deal.

Fortunately, I had spent time cultivating my relationship with that person. He knew that I am a hard worker putting 110% effort into whatever I do and that I will find a way to make it happen. It was literally a leap of faith to convince someone to join you on a ride at such short notice. Therefore I'm really thankful and grateful for that person for joining me on the ride to get the deal done.

Reflection Of What You Can Learn From It

Once you are out of the heat of the moment, it is always good to reflect & write down what you have learnt. Think of it like running a Blameless Post Motern or an After Action Review if you are from the military. You reflect on what has happened and what can be done better to prevent future incidents and reduce their negative impact. It also helps to refine your processes and message conveyed to people you work with. So you can become better, smarter and faster while executing this activity to reduce the chances of it happening again.

I always love to joke that ”Murphy strikes more than once”. Which when you are in that situation, you absolutely hate it. However, you learn to set up processes within the system to help you deal with unexpected events through automation or delegation to someone who could do the job better than you. You will always encounter hiccups even with the best plan. Therefore, you must learn to overcome the incidents with the people, available resources and a calm & stoic frame of mind.

Practising Stoicism

When you had encountered failures, setbacks. You can vent your anger and frustration out. Because you are entitled to vent it for just 5 mins - 10 mins. Ideally, you should work on practising Stoicism to shrug it off and not be afraid of failures, setbacks & rejections. To be calm to formulate a plan of action and execute it with the failure, setback & rejection as a lesson to move forward.

Showing emotion in situations that requires your immediate action can sometimes lead to bad decisions with drastic consequences. So always seek to be stoic to work on figuring out a way to make it work. I know I don't preach on the importance of Stoicism. I believe this is a great operating system for life if you plan to be an entrepreneur or work in a startup. As it can be a roller coaster ride of both highs and lows, with moments of intensity that requires you to be cool & collected to deal with problems in the startup or your business.


In this article, you are taught to figure out a way to mitigate the fallout of a situation based upon the cards you are dealt with from the setback, failure and rejection you had gotten. By relying on yourself to think and figure out a way regardless of the situation. Next, you had learned to focus on conducting a self-reflection like an After Action Review to take ownership of the failures & setbacks, regardless if you are directly or indirectly involved to become smarter, better & faster.

If I was given a choice to go back in time, I won't want to avoid these failures, setbacks or rejections As it has contributed to the growth of who I am now. In fact, I wish that I can become smarter, better & faster by getting more failures & setbacks. Without having too many consequences from it.

Learning to practice Stoicism is useful in learning to deal in a high-pressure & intense environment. While being cool & collected in these times of social & economic upheaval because of covid19 to deal with the cards you are dealt with. My personal favourite book for Stoicism is Meditations by Marcus Auriellis the Roman emperor & a Stoic philosopher.

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