Turning Setbacks into Comebacks

He’s being called “the best guy golf has ever seen” and is “setting a standard for his generation.” Twenty-two year-old Rory McIlroy lit up the U.S. Open on Sunday, shooting an all-time tournament low. He smashed records and tied others, leading many to dub him the next Tiger Woods. He’s poised to take the golf game to the next level, and all eyes are on him when the next tournament rolls around.

It’s hard to believe that only two months ago the headlines told a very different story. McIlroy blew a four-shot lead entering the final round of the Masters in April, and that meltdown could very well have defined McIlroy’s career–if he had let it. Instead, McIlroy remained poised and handled the loss with humility, and as this interview points out, an attitude of determination proving he wasn’t finished with golf yet.

After watching the McIlroy story, I got to thinking about other successful personal brands that have suffered setbacks. What struck me was how some of these people made comebacks–restoring their personal brand to the same greatness it held before their meltdown, or raised it to an even higher level. Take a look at these examples:

  • Steve Jobs – He actually got fired from the company he started. However, he kept doing what he loved to do and eventually found himself back at the very company that let him go. Hear it in his own words in this video.

Lesson: Rejection may come when you least expect it, but it doesn’t have to define you.

  • Conan O’Brien – After landing The Tonight Show gig, O’Brien was replaced after only seven months. He could have been bitter and we probably would have understood, but O’Brien often joked about the situation before his own show began last fall.

Lesson: Don’t lose your sense of humor when the chips are down.

  • Mark Cuban – The Dallas Mavericks owner didn’t have a major meltdown, but he did have a turning point. As this article points out, many people considered Cuban a whiner and publicity hog before the NBA Finals this year. However, with every interview he turned down and camera shot he avoided, people were taking notice. They were even starting to like him. Cuban proved it’s never too late to improve others’ perception of you, all the while making your personal brand stronger.

Lesson: If you want to change how others view you, start taking small steps today to move you    in the right direction.

You’re going to have setbacks, and it won’t be pretty. You’ll get turned down for the job. You’ll fail miserably on a work project. You may even come up with the best idea you’ve ever thought of only to have your boss shut it down in half a minute. However, if these guys can make comebacks with the whole world watching, I think our chances are pretty good.


Amanda is an account executive at MarketWave, a marketing and public relations agency in Addison, TX, where she works on everything from media relations to writing and editing client materials. Prior to MarketWave, Amanda worked as a publications intern atSouthwest Airlines before hired on with the company and working full-time at the airline for two years. Amanda gained experience writing for Southwest Airlines’ inflight magazine, Spirit, while working on her master’s degree in journalism from the University of North TexasMayborn School of Journalism. She’ll graduate in August 2011 with a degree focused on strategic communication and a minor in marketing. Amanda is a member of the Society of Professional Journalistsand is passionate about traveling, writing and nonprofit organizations. Connect with her on Twitter (@amgleason) and LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Turning a Business Card Into a Relationship
  2. What’s Your Purpose?
  3. Being Online Means Being In Line for a Job

2 Responses to “Turning Setbacks into Comebacks”

  1. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    I’ve always viewed set backs as direction changes. Sometimes that’s hard when your heart is set on a direction that gets changed, but it never fails that a perceived set back eventually results in a new and better direction that I wouldn’t have considered. The above scenarios are excellent exemples for us all to refer back to.

    • Thanks Lew for your feedback. I definitely agree with you, which is why I think it’s important to know where you want to end up, but not to focus on one certain way to get you there. It seems like if we become stuck on one path, we may miss other great opportunities that come our way or that disguise themselves as setbacks.

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Dan Schawbel

    Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, is a world renowned personal branding expert, the international bestselling author of Me 2.0, as well as the publisher of the Personal Branding Blog.

  • Connect With Dan

  • Chelsea Rice

    Chelsea Rice is the editor-in-chief of the Student Branding Blog. She began her work for just before graduating from Boston University, where she studied journalism and minored in international relations.

  • Connect With Chelsea

  • Recognition

    • Recommended resource - The Washington Post
    • "A terrific way for students to learn about branding" - Lindsey Pollak
    • "Worth checking out" - Psychology Today
    • HR World's top 100 management blogs