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A Setback is a step back to a come back

January 14, 2013

When I was growing up, among the many things I wanted to be was a pilot. Why, because I used to find planes fascinating. I still do and I'm not ashamed to admit it. This therefore means that I get overly excited any time I board a plane, and for me, the bigger the bird and longer the journey, the greater the enjoyment. I know by now those who suffer from aerophobia (the fear of flying) must be thinking I'm crazy, but then again, when don’t they ever think I am? It is ok, I forgive them for that....besides the year is still new, so why bother with baggage this early? I leave baggage to the planes.

Anyway, so it was with great pleasure and excitement that I boarded this Jet, together with over a hundred other passengers. In a short while, I knew this bird would start its majestic "run-of-honor" as it taxied to its take off point ready for the signal from the control tower that would allow it to lift off in all it's grandeur and elegance, with its nose sharply pointing towards its designated flight path, taking with it all the humans and cargo safely stashed in its belly.  
As it taxied slowly heading backwards further away from its take off point, I found it interesting that it had to go so far back only to return to the same point, but this time moving at a speed of over 500kph at lift off, gradually increasing in speed as it searched the sky for its designated route. 
 
 
This process of going back all the way before take-off somehow reminded me of the athletes who do triple jump. Anyone ever seen what they do? They go back quite a distance, then come running fast before triple jumping. They do this in order to gain momentum and the thrust to push them to hit the desired levels. Same thing a plane does. Interesting.
 
As I sat there listening to the humming sounds of the Jet cruising way above the clouds, and even higher above the ground, I somehow had this inexplicably nagging feeling that there was something this magnificent bird was sharing with me… And no, I am not a bird whisperer. It is not until five hours later that I finally got my Aha! Moment, which I will now proceed to share with you.
 
Sometimes in life we experience some major setbacks of which if we are not careful, we can give up for good. For instance, you could have started a business and when you thought all was well, something happens that shakes your business to the core. Maybe a competitor comes in with a business model that you can't compete with; or the government raises taxes for raw materials used in your industry; or the government slaps an embargo on countries with whom you've been doing business., etc. Setbacks in business are numerous and you must agree with me that these particular ones would not be easy setbacks to deal with should one find themselves facing them, but whatever the case, you have to find a way out.
 
A classic example of one of the above mentioned competition setback is what is happening to the Airline industry in the region, especially in Kenya and Tanzania. With the introduction of a low cost airline whose mission is to provide affordable air travel to everyone, the existing airlines who had somewhat monopolized the region are now finding themselves in some very unfamiliar territory. As much as they say all is well, they would better stop burying their heads in the sand and go back to the drawing board, otherwise, for sure competition will push them out of business. They need to go back to the furthest end of the runway and pick up their speed in order to take off into the skies of new strategies (No pun intended).  Actually, if you ask me, this would be a great opportunity for them to comeback hard with strategies that would revolutionize the industry. 
 
Setbacks also happen in our personal lives, especially relationships.  For instance, maybe you and your spouse are not as close as you used to be before. Maybe things have gotten so bad that you live together in the same house, not as a couple, but as housemates. This could be due to many factors such as one of you cheating, or being too absorbed in your work, or problems caused by relatives, etc. Fill in the "etc" with whatever your reason is. Whatever the reason, if your relationship with your spouse has suffered or is suffering a setback, you have a choice to either walk away from it (if you are non-forgiving), or to go back to the furthest end of the runway to start picking up your speed as you take off into the skies of a renewed relationship. Please note: I did not say a NEW relationship. I mean the same relationship you have with your spouse, but renewed.
 
Of course I cannot forget the many challenges and setbacks we encounter in the workplace, whether you are an employer or an employee. They come in form of supervisors, fellow employees, suppliers or even the customers we serve. Sometimes things can get so rough at the workplace that one feels the only option they have is to quit, even though the decision could be premature sometimes.  Either way, whether you stay and ride the storm, or you decide to jump ship, you will have to go back to the drawing board to come up with new strategies. 
 
From my little experience of setbacks, what I have learnt is that if you see them as obstacles then yes they will be just that to you. A wise man said that obstacles are the things we see when we shift our eyes from our goals. If we can maintain optimism when faced by setback aka obstacles, then you will view them as opportunities and that is exactly what they will become.  As long as you have defined your goals clearly, focus on them and don't let setbacks pose as obstacles for you. Remember, quitters never win and winners never quit. Choose which tribe between these two you belong to; either the quitting tribe or the winning tribe.
 
I think it is befitting of this article to wrap up with one of my favorite quotes:  A Setback is a Step Back to a Come Back. The next time you face a setback, do not be afraid; take a step back that will set you up for a win.
 
Wishing you all winning week.
 
PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 13th of January, 2013, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"
 

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I great read.

Thank you Hellen for reading.

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