Have You Suffered a Setback because You Broke the “Rules?”


We’ve all broken them. Maybe it’s improving your ball’s position on the golf course. It might be driving 70mph in a 55mph zone. Or maybe an embellishment on a resume. If you’re not caught, you might lean toward the old, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” philosophical question.

But what about when you are caught and the mistake or broken rule is significant and carries a big penalty?

An indiscretion steers your marriage toward the rocks off a cliff. Fudge the quarterly forecast on your company’s biggest account and you might get demoted or dismissed.

Game over?

Wrong. The game – your life, your marriage, your career – is not over.  There’s still hope. Adversity doesn’t initially build character … it reveals it. A setback doesn’t mean you’re stuck in reverse. It means you have the opportunity learn from the mistake and avoid repeating it.

Power Is Intoxicating

When some of us are at the pinnacle of success in our lives, it can make us feel invincible — “the rules don’t apply to us any longer.”

Richard Nixon, no doubt, regretted ordering the dirty tricks that resulted in Watergate. Nixon was positioned to be one of this country’s greatest presidents – perhaps the greatest in terms of foreign policy.

Two decades ago Tiger Woods was the world’s best golfer and the king of endorsements. Bad judgments in his personal life and a series of injuries derailed his quest to break Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major championships. Woods just turned 40 and appears to be gaining the knowledge that ‘time’ is undefeated and ‘integrity’ is not just a word to describe his golf swing.

Those are just two examples of giving into to the dark side. Nixon’s paranoia and Woods’ conceit knocked them from atop the first-place podium. They forgot the rules or believed the rules merely applied to everyone else.

Winning can be intoxicating and the air thins at the top. It might take years for you to reach the top. Remember, it can take just seconds of indiscretion to drop you to the bottom.

Where To Go From Here

If you’ve yet to stumble off a cliff with a Big Mistake, good for you. Hold onto your integrity and stay the course. If you have, it’s time to analyze what went wrong and why.

  1. It goes without saying, your first step should be a genuine apology to those you hurt or disappointed. Saying sorry is never fun, but healing is hopeless without true repentance.
  2. Think about the sequence of events that led up to your big fall. Identify at which points you could have made a different choice.
  3. How likely you are to repeat those decisions that got you into trouble in the first place? This is your learning opportunity.
  4. Now think about what values and morals are important to you. How do you want to be known going forward?
  5. Choose the top 3 or 4 values and tattoo them onto your arm – just kidding! But you should write them down somewhere you can see them or program them into your smartphone calendar to pop up every morning.

Rebuilding your reputation after a fall from grace will take some time and consistency. The good news is that if you truly have the determination to use your values as your guidepost when making future choices, you’ll feel good about yourself — and others will notice.

Remember: You can’t change the direction of the wind … but you can change how your sails are set.

Next, we’re going to talk about accountability and how you can use it to your advantage, so stay tuned!

Do you suffer from past mistakes that are holding you back? What steps are you taking to move forward again? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Have You Suffered a Setback because You Broke the “Rules?”
We've all made mistakes in our lives, sometimes big ones that have had a disastrous impact on our lives. Here we talk about how to get your life on course again.