We live in a culture built on success, programmed to reach our targets and goals with specific timelines and strategies for success.

What happens if we experience a setback along the way?

When working with entrepreneurs and enterprise leaders, we often talk about making course corrections that requires a change in thinking.

There is no doubt, at times, things will NOT go according to plan.  We may find that something needs to be changed or reworked in order to continue on the path towards success.

If we take a look at the soft skills defined by emotional intelligence (EQ) one of the core factors that apply is  Decision Making which includes the following sub skills:  

Problem solving 
Reality testing and
Impulse ControI

All of these skills are required when we begin to look at failure as an opportunity rather than a setback.

In fact, failure is a critical component when we consider the ultimate goal of success.  When we encounter a roadblock it creates the chance to brainstorm new ideas, involve team members or strategic partners and usually the outcome is better than the original plan.

Let’s take a look at each of the skills and how they contribute to our ability to embrace failure.

Problem Solving

By definition this is a skill we use when we have to consider alternatives or find solutions to obstacles.  One of the characteristics or traits related to solving problems is flexibility. Solutions based thinking is a skill that usually involves connecting with members of our team or strategic partners for input on the “how” to best navigate a new plan. Creative problem solving sets a foundation for transforming a challenge or failure into an opportunity. 

Reality Testing 

Every plan must have realistic goals and objectives. Thinking “big” will create momentum but the execution of the plan must have various stages or steps to realize the goals.  We often use the SMART principle as a reality test. Is the plan Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely? Applying this skill to a failure opens the door to creative solutions and keeps us grounded in the possibilities.

Impulse Control

By definition this skill would also include patience and confidence in the plan. There is a skill involved in knowing when to take action and when to stay the course.  When things don’t go according to plan give yourself permission to pause and reflect on the options before changing direction.

Just think of the long term benefits when we keep it real:

Increased employee/stakeholder engagement
Encouraging innovative, creative thinking
Confidence in risk planning and management

Giving ourselves permission to celebrate our failures encourages resilience  and outside the box thinking. 

Here is a great visual for the concept; the “zipper”

At the base there is a stable connection between the two parts which relates to our corporate vision and mission. When you pull the zipper closed you mesh together various different concepts, expertise and theories. If you hit a snag along the way you are able to change direction, regroup or find a solution.  Ultimately, you close the zipper to the top creating one cohesive strategy for success.

When we reflect on the outcomes and enjoy the journey, we usually find that we are in a better place than when we originally started. 

Celebrate your failures. They take you one step closer to success.

Trish is an EQ certified coach and Master Coach Practitioner through the Certifed Coaches Federation.


  • Trish Tonaj

    Author, Artist, Speaker, Founder/Host ShareYourStories.online


    Trish is an, author, artist and speaker on mentorship.   She has published 2 books: Breaking Barriers 10 Entrepreneurial Women Share Their Stories and A Diary of Change 12 Personal Tools. With a love for writing she has co-authored a complimentary e-magazine W2 = Wealth and Wellbeing. She is the founder/host for the #ShareYourStories series and invites you to participate with your feature.  https://bit.ly/37N3XQw