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Beth Graybill

  /  Articles   /  Dealing with Setbacks

Have you ever experienced a setback in your professional or personal life?

Job loss

An unexpected transition

Getting passed over for a promotion

A breakup

Loss of a friendship


Difficult medical news

Unexplained circumstances

What was your response to this setback?

Our oldest son, Kal, has a neuro condition called Chiari. For the past 8 years, he’s been told by neurosurgeons that he would eventually have to give up his favorite sport—ice hockey—due to this condition. When Kal was 11 years old, we received an unexpected note in our mailbox. It was from a local university baseball coach who knew our family well. The note from the coach said:

“I know how you must feel. My plan was to play in the big leagues one day. I was SO CLOSE, and then I got hip pain that forced me to go to the doctor. This pain eventually meant that I had to stop playing baseball. But what I realize now is that there was a bigger plan for my life. I became a coach and now I have the opportunity to impact many more people than I would have been able to impact as a player. So, hockey ending for you is part of the plan, part of the story for your life.”

Kal had his second neurosurgery when he was 14 years old. The surgery was so successful that the neurosurgeon released Kal to play all sports—including ice hockey. We never dreamed this would be the outcome. And yet that time “in the middle” was painful for Kal. His damaged dream of playing the sport he loved was a setback.


So many of us experience setbacks like this—in our personal and professional lives:

  • We experience setbacks in our personal lives—the loss of a dream-like playing baseball in the major leagues or getting that dream job.
  • We experience setbacks in our organizations—poor leaderships decision, a difficult year of business, employee challenges, a new season of change.

And yet these setbacks are part of your story. They are part of your growth and development as an individual, as a leader, and as an organization. Your setbacks are actually the very moments that propel you forward.

One more thought: a season of setbacks may leave you feeling a little stuck, or disoriented, or needing some direction. If this is you, then it’s okay to ask for help. Find a “coach” who can give you perspective, hope, and the reminder that these setbacks are just part of your story. And if you’re not sure who to turn to, then let me help! Shoot me an email to let me know you’re in the middle of a setback, and I will follow up with some next steps: