When bad things happen, it’s easy to feel like a victim. Circumstances can feel out of control, and many of them actually are. But asking this question forces you to accept whatever has happened and to shift your mentality towards harnessing it in a constructive manner. While this is empowering, it may take a long time before you’re ready to ask what you can create from it.
I don’t want to sugarcoat this. So rather than immediately asking this question, I recommend looking at a four-step process. For minor setbacks this process may be fast, for major ones it may be long — there’s no “right” timeline.
1. Accept whatever has happened: The first step is to accept whatever has happened. Acceptance may seem as simple as saying “well that happened,” but often we need to go through other phases to get there. It may look a bit like the Kubler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.
2. Give yourself time and space to recover: When Steve Jobs got fired, he admitted that he “really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down, that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me.”
Like Jobs, most of us need time to process our setbacks and “land” from them before we can think about creating from them. Stuffing your emotions may seem helpful in the short run, but it will ultimately hold you back. Instead, be compassionate with yourself and allow yourself space to heal or grieve. Go through it, not around it. Acceptance and recovery takes time.
3. Get in the right frame of mind: As you recover, now is a good time to start rejuvenating yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Take small steps that help you get into the right frame of mind. Go to yoga or kickboxing class. Pray. Read a new book. Don’t worry so much about the future; just do what you need to do to regain your positive energy.
4. Ask the question: Once you’ve taken the above steps and are feeling a strong sense of self again, now is the time to ask the magic question: What can I create from this? Try brainstorming all of the different ways your setback could become the best thing that ever happened to you. It may be hard at first, but eventually you will turn a corner start begin brimming with possibility.