David Strittmatter

For every setback there is a comeback

Failure isn’t falling down but refusing to get up again


  • A setback is just temporary
  • Developing a positive mindset is key
  • You can only fail if you don’t get up again

Practical advice:

  • Give yourself time after you failed
  • Make clear what you really want & seek alternative ways
  • Take massive action & ask friends for help

Dear friend,

We all have to deal with failure at some point in our lives. Failure is virtually inevitable. Recently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic even more people need to cope with major challenges and face setbacks.

Many of the people who we call successful are great examples of why failure is an inherent part of the game and cannot be bypassed. Their success stories teach us that we only fail when we don’t get up again. For every little setback, there’s a major comeback.

In today’s blog article, I want to share with how I’ve dealt with setbacks in the past, why it’s vital to maintain a positive mindset in the light of failure and how to create an opportunity out of it.

For every setback there’s a comeback

After the first year of university, I wanted to do an internship in management consulting. I applied for seven small consultancies and was very optimistic that I’d receive at least a few invitations since I’ve already accomplished my first internship in a strategic marketing position. However, I didn’t receive any invitation for an interview. Moreover, it took many weeks until I received all rejections.

Of course, this was a major setback for me. I worked hard to get very good grades and land the preceding internship to have the necessary prior work experience.

Even though my plan didn’t work out, I wasn’t desperate. I knew that I could still do an internship in management consulting and that I have the opportunity to do something else in my summer break now.

So, I activated my personal network, asked friends whether they knew someone or an interesting open position. Eventually, everything worked out better than I expected: I convinced a finance manager of the German software company SAP and, thus, could work for a company that I had wanted to see from the inside since my youth.

This lesson – among many other personal experiences – taught me that failure is just temporary. Once you get up again, reconsider what you really want, devise a new plan to achieve your goal, and take massive action, you can make it. Maybe it will take a little longer or you have to do something that you don’t like that much for a little amount of time, but eventually, you’ll come back even better.

A positive mindset always wins

As you might know, I’m a big fan of optimism. Not only positively minded people have more fun, but also they’re more successful, have higher chances of goal achievement, and develop better relationships.

With regard to dealing with failure, though, optimists have a decisive advantage. In a crisis, they tend to see the opportunity instead of misery.

When I fail at something, I know that suddenly plenty of new opportunities are created. When I don’t get the offer for the position I’m aiming for, I know that suddenly I have the chance to aim for several other positions that I abandoned because of my first priority.

Moreover, failure allows you to reevaluate your situation and learn from mistakes, accelerating your long-term progress. Additionally, a setback shows that you aren’t ready yet or that you didn’t give enough. Hence, you know that either you’re living life to the fullest and reach your personal limit that you need to expand further to achieve your goals, or you haven’t reached your potential yet and need to invest more time and effort to make it.

Transform failure into opportunity

Give yourself time

After you failed at something, give yourself time to be disappointed and rest (for at least a few hours or until the next day). No matter how positively minded or optimistic you are, you need some time to let the setback sit.

Make clear what you really want

Once you’ve digested the setback, you should make clear what you actually failed at. In order to evaluate your situation, you need to clarify what you really want. For instance, two years ago, I wanted to work for a management consultancy in my summer break, but what I really wanted was to gain work experience that helped me to come closer to my goal to land a full-time offer at a major consultancy. So, actually, there’re plenty of other possibilities to achieve my real goal.

Seek alternatives

After contemplating what you want, you need to search for alternatives to obtain that. When doing so, you should aim even higher since if you failed again, your learning curve would be steeper and your situation would be better despite the setback.

There’re various ways that will bring you closer to your ultimate goal, you just need to be creative. For example, if your grades aren’t sufficient to land an interview at a company, you might find other ways to bypass the standard recruiting procedure, such as working for another company or another boss who can help you to get into the desired position through his/her network.

Take massive action

Once you have devised your plan, take immediate and large-scale action. Not only you will achieve your goal (faster), but also you will feel highly motivated and relieved after the first steps taken.

Be creative in your approach. Ask friends and family for help. Activate your network. Use Google and harness community-forums. Every problem has already been solved by another person. You just need to find the right person who can help you. Additionally, always think win-win, and don’t hesitate to ask for a favor. Everything great in this world hasn’t been achieved by a single person. We need each other to make our world a better place, so please, don’t be shy and ask for help. Most people love helping others.

Ultimately, always keep in mind that you can only fail if you don’t get up again.

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