If you want to succeed, then learn how to bounce back

If you had been able to ask Steve Jobs how he felt in 1985 when he was fired from Apple, what would you have expected him to say? His friends reported that they found him curled up in a foetal position on a mattress in his unfinished house. This is far from the pervading image we have of him now, as the black turtleneck sweater clad icon to whom we might relate to now.

However there was something about Jobs that enabled him to not only found Pixar (sold to Disney) but to return to Apple and turn it into one of the most profitable companies in the world.

This is not a new story. Countless entrepreneurs have been in dire straits before finding the success that would eventually dominate our views of them. Walt Disney was nearly $4m in debt when he created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the blockbuster hit that enabled him to set Disney on the road to the organisation it is today. Henry Ford had a string of failures before developing the vehicle that would make his fortune and establish the Ford Motor Company.

Popular business authors would attribute this to bounce-back-ability. However, what is it?

One of the most significant elements is that they choose to keep trying. They couldn’t choose what happened to them, but they could choose how to feel about it. By using the power of perspective they were able to change the way they looked at what had happened to them and to change how the obstacles before them appeared, making them less daunting. Sometimes the inspiration doesn’t come straight away. As Jobs commented when he spoke in 2005:

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me…”.

Who is going to disagree?

They also choose to keep themselves out of the equation. They fail, but they look for reasons why and how they can avoid failure the next time. What they don’t do is associate themselves with the failure e.g. I screwed up. Consequently, they are never consumed and overwhelmed with what has happened. When you attach yourself to whatever has happened, you have to get over both the situation and yourself.

Do you ever find yourself feeling like that? If so, change your perspective, don’t get hung up on the fact that you just blew the deal. Richard Branson likes to say that:

“business opportunities are like buses, there is always another coming around”.

So all the time that you spend worrying about what has happened takes energy and cognition away from opportunities that might be just around the corner. Why would you plan to start a new opportunity with suboptimal personal resources?

We can be our own worst enemies in this respect. How often do you hear people say that change is impossible because it is too big? You want that promotion, to develop that business idea or to simply do something less stressful. But what holds you back? Often it is simply the fear of the unknown. When we don’t know we invent. We invent reasons why we shouldn’t do something and focus on these, instead of looking at the reasons why we should. Much of the human condition seems to be about maintaining the status quo, finding reasons why we are better off not changing or imagining dramatic downsides to our future goals and plans that affirm we are better off not changing at all.

Just as well Steve Jobs didn’t think like this or we probably might not have the iPhone or iPad.

If you find it hard to bounce back. Think about the following:

  • When you hit an obstacle in life, recognise that you have a choice. You can decide to roll with it or even profit from it or you can decide that you will be a victim of the situation.
  • Try focusing on what you can control, change or influence – get over the things that you can’t.
  • Bear in mind things could have been worse. A life filled with people and things that we appreciate is easy to enjoy….this is within your power.

Sometimes people need help and this is where coaches like myself can help. It isn’t just about thinking about what needs to change, it is about committing to change and then going out and DOING something about it.

Regular readers will know I believe that you should #startsomething or #changesomething. In other words – ACTION.

If you take a small step towards you goals every day, they will eventually lead to an outcome that is important and valuable for you. It could be that you want to found the next Apple, or just spend more time with the family. If you don’t start you’ll never get there. If you really want to change maybe you should give me a call if you don’t know how.

Let me leave you with a quote from Mary Kay Ash (look her up if you don’t know who she is, look her up, but another successful person who didn’t find success easily).

“For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.”

This is bounce-back-ability.