It can be very challenging to stay on track - to calmly look for ways to learn from a setback and develop a plan to help us restore our equilibrium.

We have to ask ourselves whether the alternative of abandoning hope is useful, especially when we compare it with what we might learn.

Resilience, optimism and the importance of self-belief

The research shows that keeping our belief in ourselves is the most important issue in resilience and optimism. But what we learn from our setbacks is a valuable added benefit.

Researchers have found that top performers in sport generally have an unsentimental approach to frank feedback. They seek it out and they have little interest in praise, because that won't lift their performance.

Top performers have a strong belief in themselves, so they don't feel they need to defend it. Inviting criticism of their performance is like creating a setback, simply for the opportunity to learn.

Seeking out feedback to improve individual and team performance

If we are turned down for job after job it's understandable that we might abandon hope, but clearly not useful.

Is there something we could learn by calling the last people who interviewed us and asking for suggestions for next time? We may not like what we hear, but it could provide us with the breakthrough. It's the same for proposals and business cases that don't generate the interest we expected.

If your sales are down ensure the whole team looks for what you can all learn from each setback and develop a plan. Keep updating the plan as your learning continues.

Self-belief, feedback and our personal relationships

We can use the same ideas in our relationships.

Let's say we have agreed to argue more constructively and have developed some specific rules, and then have a major row. We can reflect on what went wrong and learn from it, rather than assume that the relationship is unsalvageable.

Psychologists have found that taking that long-term view combined with generous goodwill are outstanding features of successful intimate relationships. It's surely the same for people who work together.

(Those thoughts are from the commentary section of my book 'The Village That Could - the 15 ways to develop your resilience'. It's mostly a fable to make the ideas memorable. The commentary provides some suggestions on putting the 15 ways into action.)

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