Briefing Notes: Setback Mindset, How to Get it Right

Published: September 6, 2020

The 38th | a Resilience Edition


We all deal with setbacks personally and professionally. Some are small, easily shrugged away. Whereas others can feel monumental. Life-altering.

Experiencing setbacks has nothing to do with whether we feel resilient or not. It’s just a part of life. 2020 certainly has presented, for many of us, a perfect sandbox in which to experience all kinds of interruptions, obstacles, and failures.

Despite setbacks being the “norm” there are ways we can shift our mindset to transform the situation from a defining moment to a circumstance that leads to forward momentum.

Dr. Lisa Webb of Body & Mind Consulting suggests six strategies for shifting our mindset so we can use that setback to our advantage.

    • Owning and feeling the negative emotion, instead of denying or ignoring how we feel. Ignored feelings don’t really go away.
    • Rebuilding our self-confidence and belief in ourselves by focusing on action.
    • Putting “fuel in our tank”. Keeping our internal engine strong helps us see things in perspective.
    • Being selective in who we allow in. Though we may not necessarily want to cut out people from our lives during a setback, this is a good time to practice “selective hearing”.
    • Limiting the time we rehash the past so we can let the past be the past.
    • Looking back on our lives and recognizing the strength that got us this far.

Nothing is lost. Most of us have a personal story of a failure that led to something greater.

Bottom Line
It may sound idealistic, but I’ve often found that times of adversity or seeming failure are really opportunities in disguise. Interruptions aren’t endings but beginnings. It’s about our mindset.


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  • How to make peace with our past. Two mental strength exercises that can help us stop from dwelling on the past. Because we can’t move forward if something in our past is holding us back.
  • Your personality is changing. Here’s how to change it for the better. The idea that our personalities are biologically programmed and totally unchangeable is not quite true.
  • Audio: Unlocking Us | Brené Brown. She’s back with a conversation about Day 2! It sounds easy enough, but Day 2 is no joke. It’s the messy middle. It’s the point of no return. And it’s where we’re all in right now.


“While it is important to be optimistic about the things you control, being optimistic about the world outside of your control often just sets you up to suffer that much more when things don’t go your way. Another way to think about this is that it’s best to be pessimistic about the actions of the world around you, but optimistic in your own ability to surmount those obstacles — outward pessimist, inward optimist.”
—Mark Manson

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Before industries go fully robotic, we’re going to see some unique man-machine mashups. This reminds of those exo-suits Sigourney Weaver wore in Aliens. A Utah-based robotics company called Sarcos, which just locked an additional $40M in Series C funding, is looking to a near-future in which robots don’t replace humans outright but instead augment the strength and endurance of increasingly smaller numbers of workers. They’re making robotic exoskeletons that give mere mortals superhuman strength. That’s just plain cool.


… when this phone was all the rage? Happy 20th birthday to The Brick, the Nokia 3310, a reminder of less-connected times. When Facebook didn’t exist and you can ignore the internet for long stretches of time. No tweets to send, no news feed to refresh. When your phone was primarily…. well, a phone.



🎙 There’s a good chance you’re a member of a Facebook group. Maybe you’ve purchased a product and as part of that purchase, you were invited to join a private group hosted on Facebook or some other independent platform. Or like me, you may be part of an online community gathered around a shared interest. Online communities have exploded in the last few years, giving rise to a need for someone to manage, facilitate, and coordinate community activities. In the latest episode, we explore the inner workings of the role of the Online Community Manager with help from Shannon Paris, Community Advocate at What Works.

Listen to Episode 139. Or read the highlights and show notes.


Briefing Notes is researched, written, and edited by me alone. Each issue takes hours to produce and requires paid subscriptions to numerous journals, magazines, and books to get the widest source of information. If you find value in the newsletter, I’d so much appreciate you subsidizing my coffee habit 😊 It helps with the research and the writing!

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The arrival of September caught me flat-footed. I was waiting for that trigger that usually comes this month to kick me into high gear as we start the last third of the year. It didn’t happen for me this time… or maybe it just hasn’t yet.

But I’ve chosen to give myself grace. 2020 is not a normal year. These are not normal times. And I can excuse myself for having abnormal rhythms. I’ll get there soon enough.

How have you welcomed September?

Let me know. Or send any comments about anything in this issue. Or about anything really. I’m game.😉

Stay safe. Stay sane. Wear a mask.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

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