The Power of Rethinking

For Mental Health Awareness Month (May), I have been reflecting on a power that all humans possess, that sometimes escapes our recognition. This is our power to determine what circumstances mean. 

Frequently, I encounter barriers to success that dishearten and sap my motivation. Most recently this occurred when I introduced a series of workshops to a group of young professionals at the end of delivering a free workshop. While I got high marks for the value of the free workshop, I only had 1 person sign up for the paid series and this necessitated its cancellation. Initially, this disappointment created second-guessing, made me feel ineffective, and I temporarily reduced my own motivation. It was only through my mindfulness practice that I moved beyond this initial reaction. Eventually, I saw this event as having the following value:

  • I got affirmation that my workshop was valuable and information about what was most beneficial and potential improvements. 
  • It takes more than a beneficial, free, 2-hour workshop to convince people to spend money for more.
  • I need to more effectively demonstrate why someone should pay for my services.
  • While I love supporting the growth of young professionals, they may night be the best target audience. How can I get in front of decision-makers within organizations?
  • This is an opportunity to practice what I preach: to be mindful and rethink this situation without beating myself up.

This reassessment has led me to new ideas and renewed energy about my path forward.

Challenging circumstances are inevitable in life. They can be in the form of personal setbacks, professional failures, and organizational crises. What sets successful people apart is their ability to mindfully choose their response to these circumstances. While it is common to get caught up in negative emotions when faced with challenging situations, it is crucial to transcend those emotions and learn from them. Negative emotions like fear, anxiety, anger, and disappointment can overwhelm us when we face challenging circumstances. These emotions can cloud our judgment and hinder us from seeing the opportunities that may arise from the situation. We can let them control us or choose to channel them into positive actions.

One way to choose a positive response is to not resist but welcome the challenging situation. This acceptance allows us to acknowledge the reality of the situation and move forward constructively. Accepting challenging circumstances also opens our minds to new perspectives revealing solutions to which we were previously blind. Every setback or failure provides an opportunity to learn and grow. We can choose to examine the situation and understand what went wrong, what we could have done differently, and how we can avoid similar situations in the future. This reflective process can help us develop new skills, knowledge, and resilience.

Another beneficial approach is to utilize a coach or a trusted mentor who can help you process and see past disappointment. Sometimes we need others to help us get unstuck, to call us out on our human tendency for negative orientation, and to see the gifts that are present in every situation. Seeking support from others can provide us with the emotional and practical help we need to navigate the situation successfully. Reframing the situation positively can help us see opportunities and strengths that we may have overlooked.

Personal success is often measured by how we respond to challenging circumstances. Those who choose a positive response are more likely to achieve their goals, develop stronger relationships, and lead fulfilling lives. They are also more likely to be resilient in the face of future challenges. In today’s competitive world, those who can adapt and respond positively to change are more likely to be both successful and find personal fulfillment. 

At the organizational level, success depends on the power of choice. Leaders who can choose a positive response to challenging circumstances can create a culture of resilience and innovation within their organizations. They can inspire their teams to take on new challenges, learn from setbacks, and work together towards common goals. This creates a can-do problem-solving culture that serves both the team and the organization.


In conclusion, our power to choose our response to challenging circumstances sets us apart and enables personal, professional, and organizational success. As human beings, we choose the meaning of situations. A “negative” event is only negative if we label it so. It can equally be seen as something that didn’t work out but gave us great insight enabling future success. How can you rethink events that you have felt negative about?