Courage in Action: Facing Setbacks Head On Without Whining

Eric Harvey is a career mentor to me when it comes to publishing.  He is the CEO of Walk the Talk Company and the author of several great leadership, life and career success books.  His latest is The 10 Commandments of Leadership, coauthored with Steve Ventura, another friend of mine, is terrific.

Eric and Steve believe that courage is an essential characteristic of all leaders.  I agree, and go one step further.  Courage is an essential characteristic for creating your life and career success.  According to Eric and Steve, courage can be defined as…

  • Following your conscience instead of following the crowd.
  • Taking action against hurtful or disrespectful behaviors.
  • Sacrificing personal gain for the benefit of others.
  • Taking complete responsibility for your actions…and your mistakes.
  • Following the rules – and insisting that others do the same.
  • Challenging the status quo in search of better ways.
  • Facing setbacks and disappointments head on — without losing your drive and spirit or adopting a victim mentality.

Pretty good list.  How many of these statements are true about you?

I really like Eric and Steve’s last point.  Tweet 32 in my career mentor book, Success Tweets says, “Stuff happens as you go about creating your life and career success.  Choose to respond positively to the negative stuff that happens.”  In other words, face setbacks and disappointments head on.  Don’t lose your drive and spirit.  Don’t become a victim.

Here’s how I see it.  Career success is all up to you, and me, and anyone else who wants it.  We all have to take personal responsibility for our own life and career success.  I am the only one who can make me a career success.  You are the only one who can make you a career success.

Stuff happens as you go through life: good stuff, bad stuff, frustrating stuff, unexpected stuff.  Successful people respond to the stuff that happens in a positive way.  Humans are the only animals with free will.  That means we – you and me – get to decide how we react to every situation that comes up.  That’s why taking personal responsibility for yourself and choosing to respond positively to the negative stuff that happens to you is so important.

Personal responsibility means recognizing that you are responsible for your life and career success and the choices you make.  It means realizing that while other people and events have an impact on your life and career success, these people and events don’t shape your life and career success.  When you accept personal responsibility for your life and career success, you own up to the fact that how you react to people and events is what’s important.  And you can choose how to react to every person you meet and everything that happens to you.

The concept of personal responsibility is found in most writings on success.  Stephen Covey’s first habit in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, “Be proactive.”  I have a little book called Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People, also by Stephen Covey.  It is one of the most-read books that I have.  I like it because it provides a little snippet of advice from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People every day.

The daily reflection for September 24 goes directly to the career advice in this tweet, and it gets to the heart of taking personal responsibility for your life and career success.

“It’s not really what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.  Of course, things can hurt physically or economically and can cause sorrow.  But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all.  In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well.”

Dr. Covey provides some great career advice here.  We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to both the positive and negative experiences we have as we go through life.  Successful people choose to make lemonade out of lemons.  Unsuccessful people choose to complain about the bitter, tart taste of the lemons they are handed.

I know the “lemons into lemonade” line is a cliché.  However, clichés become clichés because they have an underlying truth.  The important point is that we human beings are blessed with free will.  As such, we can choose what we do and how we react to the world around us.  We can choose a positive, productive path, or we can choose a path of self pity and inaction – and hurt only ourselves in the end.

The 7 Habits advice for September 25 carries on in the same vein…

 “Proactive people can carry their own weather with them.  Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them.  They are value driven; and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.”

I love the concept of carrying your own weather with you.  Choosing to react positively to the negative people and events in your life is the best way to carry your weather – and to take personal responsibility for your life and career success.  It’s raining here in Denver as I write this, but I have a smile on my face and it’s sunny in my heart because I’m doing something I love writing about life and career success.  Even though the weather outside is nasty, my personal weather is sunny and pleasant.

The career mentor point here is simple common sense.  Successful people know that they can choose how they respond to everyone they meet and everything that happens to them.  They know that “the devil made me do it” is never an accurate statement.  They also know that no one can “make” them mad.  In short, they follow the career advice in Tweet 32 in Success Tweets.  “Stuff happens as you go about creating your life and career success.”  Choose to respond positively to the negative stuff that happens.”  If you want to create the career success you deserve, remember Stephen Covey’s advice.  Carry your weather with you.  In this way, whether it rains or shines on the outside, it will be sunny on the inside.  Choose to react positively to the negative people you meet, and the negative things that happen to you.  When you do, you’ll find that you’ll have less negative things happening and fewer negative people entering your life.

That’s what I think.  Now, what do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.

Your career mentor,


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copies of two my career mentor books, Success Tweets and  Success Tweets Explained.  The first is a tweets book, the second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to http://www.SuccessTweets.comto claim your free copies.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.




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