8 Ways Setbacks Can Bring You Success

Dr. Ankit Sharma, PhD

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Setbacks Can Bring You Success

One thing that separates successful people from ordinary people is that the former ones never forget that even the worst Setbacks Can Bring You Success. They never lose hope & carry on. Failures & setbacks are inevitable parts of the life journey. There is no successful person who has never tasted the bitterness of setbacks.

Take the instance of the discovery of Penicillin. Sir Alexander Fleming faced a huge setback while working with the influenza virus. Later, that setback leads to the discovery of Penicillin. Examples like that are thousands where setbacks yielded a huge success. That’s why in case of setbacks, it is our duty not to lose inspiration & move on.

How Setbacks Can Bring Success

Setbacks Can Bring You Success

1. Setbacks Provide Learning Opportunities

If we look carefully after facing some unexpected setback, we will find many learning opportunities. To quote famous inventor Thomas A. Edison, ” I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” While working on something, we follow a plan. Often that plan doesn’t work.

Instead of being sad & demoralized, we must analyze the situation carefully to find out what happened. If we can discover the reasons for that setback, we can develop another plan to avoid that setback next time we try. That way, Setbacks Can Bring You Success. It offers you valuable learning opportunities which you never considered to be vital.

2. Setbacks Strengthen Your Improvisation Power

We often have setbacks even after a full-proof plan. Setbacks can come in unpredictable ways & can disrupt every aspect of our efforts. In such cases, we must rely on our improvisation power. While working on something, we can only plan some things. We can plan things which can control, but we have no plan for the things we cannot control.

If the aspects we cannot control cause a setback, we must apply our improvisation power. We must modify our plan to ensure that the effort, time, or resource we invest in the project doesn’t go in vain. We must try to defend progress from collapsing altogether. In case of a setback, we must apply the best of our improvisation power to navigate our efforts more constructively.

3. Setbacks Can Help You To Prepare Better

If you faced a setback, you could have prepared better. Recognize the skills you need to develop or acquire knowledge to attain the success you want.

Remember in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Ironman, De. Strange, Spiderman, Star-Lord & his team failed to stop Thanos. But in Avengers: Endgame (2019), Ironman devised a plan to stop Thanos & stop him from snapping.

We can’t time travel to amend our lack of knowledge or skill, but we can prepare ourselves better to develop those skills to avoid a similar setback altogether. Like Thanos, setbacks are also inevitable. But we can always prepare ourselves to counter it.

4. Setbacks Can Make You More Determined

Setbacks happen frequently, so they should be familiar. How you manage them will affect & inspire the actions you take next. If you take up a growth mindset & see setbacks as learning opportunities, you will become more determined & stay committed to what you want to achieve.

Remember the story of King Bruce & Spider? After repeated defeats to England’s army, King Bruce of Scotland was ready to give up & escaped to a solitary cave. He saw a spider in the cave repeatedly trying & failing to spin her web. After several attempts, she eventually succeeded.

King Bruce was inspired by the spider & marched on the battlefield after assembling an army & became victorious. The spider’s determination transmitted to King Bruce & he finally got the victory.

5. Setbacks Will Give A New Perspective

Often, encountering a setback can be hard. But it may offer you a new perspective. It may offer you a new outlook by which you will reassess the situation at hand or look at it with a new perspective. You may think about things with a fresher mind & newer outlook to find new ways to move forward.

Experiencing a setback isn’t uncommon. If not for setbacks, we couldn’t have microwave ovens like Penicillin. A failed experiment with a high-powered vacuum tube called a magnetron & weird result produced by the experiment forced American Engineer Percy Spencer to how the result could be used alternatively. The fresh perspective from the failure inspired the engineer to invent the microwave oven.

6. Setbacks Allows To Adopt A Growth Mindset

Most successful people adopt a growth mindset after a setback. They believe that your fundamental qualities are things you can develop through your efforts. They see the setback as an opportunity to learn & grow, not as a sign of their imperfections.

To adopt a growth mindset, we must accept the value of learning from an attempt, regardless of the outcome. It’s not about instant precision; it’s more about facing challenges & making progress.

Certainly, it is easier said than done, particularly when you feel down about being criticized by a colleague, ruining a presentation, or even being fired from your job. But the key is considering how your setback can inspire you to change.

Don’t let the setback define you; let it trigger your actions. What can you learn about yourself from that unfortunate setback? What changes could you make that make a difference?

7. Setbacks Helps You Be Humble

Almost all of us know How to Deal with Setbacks, but a few of us know how they can help us to achieve our desires. Often these setbacks can make us feel humble. Continuous triumphs can often generate a sense of contentment & arrogance within us. A setback is a stern reminder that we are just like everyone else.

Often, we find many Billionaire businesspeople & celebrities to be very humble. Billionaires like Tony Hsieh, Warren Buffett, & Azim Premji, celebrities like Keanu Reeves, Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman & Tom Hiddleston, among many others, are known to be the humblest person despite their achievements. It is because they reached where they are now after a series of setbacks.

8. Setbacks Redefines Success

Maybe you always thought success is having that promotion at the workplace or achieving a perfect performance review from your superior. Maybe you thought success meant you will be able to buy your dream house before you are 30. Those are excellent goals, but the problem is, when you don’t achieve the things, you consider to be milestones of success, it can be really hard to move forward.

A better approach is to redefine the meaning of success. Is it about your professional achievements, or is it about your personal life? We often get engrossed in small goals and overlook our legacy—what people will remember us for. Setbacks often help us to focus on our long-term goals instead of short-term & redefine success.

Things Setbacks Can Teach Us

Often setbacks & failures can teach us more than success. It can show how Setbacks Can Bring You Success & many other things. Here are some of them:

  • Setbacks teach us what works & what doesn’t.
  • Setbacks help to redefine priorities & goals.
  • Setbacks allow us to seek inspiration & inspire others.
  • Setbacks inspire creativity & make us reconsider our approach.
  • Setbacks teach us about ourselves.
  • Setbacks help us to know an opportunity.
  • Setbacks teach us the significance of patience.


Q: Are setbacks blessings in disguise?

A: Though setbacks are often seen negatively, they are blessings in disguise. They can teach us many things & help to rediscover ourselves.

Q: What do we need most to overcome setbacks?

A: To overcome setbacks, we need inspiration, determination, resilience & adaptability, among other traits.

Q: Is there any books to help while facing a setback?

A: There are many books of such nature & topic. Some of them are:

  • How to Fail at Almost Everything & Still Win Big by Scott Adams.
  • Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John C. Maxwell.
  • Three Feet From Gold: Turn Your Obstacles Into Opportunities by Sharon L. Lechter, Greg S. Reid.
  • The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday.
  • Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, & Finding Joy by Adam Grant,Sheryl Sandberg.

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