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8 tips on overcoming even the most crippling setbacks

CNBC logo CNBC 1/24/2019

a group of people sitting in chairs: Team of creative people having meeting modern office © Provided by CNBC LLC Team of creative people having meeting modern office Everyone experiences challenges. It's how you react to those challenges that determines whether you'll be successful.

Top leaders and advisors from The Oracles, a mastermind group of high-level entrepreneurs, share the sometimes unimaginable setbacks they overcame on the way to success, as well as their advice on how to make it through whatever life throws at you.

1. Keep pushing and adjusting

I pitched investors for three years before I landed one. While most people probably would've stopped after their 20th, 80th or 100th rejection, I just kept pushing, no matter how uncomfortable it was. I revised our pitch deck again and again until it was strong enough to find the right partners.

If you do something, do it with passion and purpose. The best way to prepare for whatever the future holds is to do everything to the best of your ability. Enjoy the journey. There will always be setbacks You may have to go against the grain for years. The experiences we value most in life are often the most challenging. They push you out of your comfort zone and help you grow.

—Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva

2. Show up and help others

If you're experiencing hard times, just keep showing up and adding value. Over-deliver in every relationship — business or personal — until you focus more on what's ahead, rather than behind you.

After a partnership ended, I focused on adding value for others in every deal I made. Helping others reach their goals became my obsession. Eventually, I no longer compared or measured opportunities against my past mistakes. I measured them against the future's limitless potential.

Matt Mead , founder and CEO of EpekData and BrandLync , divisions of Mead Holdings Group, Inc.

3. Focus on what you can control

Early in my career, an important partnership dissolved and I went through severe financial hardship as a result. I got through it by reminding myself that things will get better if I keep trying and moving forward.

Focus on something you can do or fix, no matter how small. Break down tasks into manageable pieces, and complete them one by one. Then take time to appreciate each accomplishment along the way. If you do, you will make it through and come out on the other side.

Guy Sheetrit , CEO of Over the Top SEO , who provides customized SEO marketing solutions for e-commerce, local, and Fortune 500 companies

4. Have faith and act

I've encountered many setbacks in my personal life and businesses, from health challenges to business failures that left me struggling financially and wondering how I would make it. Faith is what has allowed me to overcome these obstacles. Faith requires you to trust that everything will work out, even though you may not know how.

No matter what life throws at you, it is an incredible opportunity to grow. It comes down to how you perceive your challenges — and what you do about them. Keep a positive mindset, and reframe challenges into your greatest gifts. Find meaning in your challenges, and take action to make things go your way.

Stefan James , founder of Project Life Mastery , internet entrepreneur, life and business coach

5. Find others who encourage you

When the credit markets dried up in the 2008 financial crisis, the firm that offered to buy my business couldn't proceed with the transaction. I poured everything into saving the deal and the business, losing financially as a result. Later, we experienced a parent's worst nightmare: We lost our two-year-old son. The grief was overwhelming, and the complete personal and financial loss was debilitating. It was a very dark time for us.

Thankfully, our church family came alongside us with love, prayer, and support. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and enrich your life. Making it through that chapter allowed me to persevere and grow like never before. As a result, my business has too.

Thomas Carter , founder and CEO of DealBox Inc

6. You can handle more than you think

When I was 22 years old, my partner was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer. Life as we knew it stopped. Everything that once mattered seemed insignificant. We woke up every day for over a year determined to get him well.

He is no longer with us, but I am forever grateful to learn the true meaning of perspective. Now when I face challenges, I remember the strength it took to get through that time. It also showed me you will find important lessons in every challenge if you look for them.

You just have to look for them rather than play the victim. It also reminded me that life is finite. So, make the most of it and stop sweating the small stuff.

Amy Sangster , co-founder of Infinite Prosperity

7. Don't make failure an option

I was reeling from an impending divorce and facing life as a single mother. Through the final six months of my marriage, I used every free moment to study for my broker's license. I gave myself 90 days after the divorce to finish the class, pass the test, and start my own brokerage.

I opened my business in my home office with one listing from a neighbor. She believed in me more than I believed in myself, which helped catapult me to one of the most successful female-owned independent brokerages in Atlanta. Ten years later, we joined forces with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, one of the country's largest real estate companies.

Through it all, it never occurred to me that I would fail. It just wasn't an option. The worst situation taught me the best lesson: There is no substitute for mindset, work ethic and discipline.

Glennda Baker LeBlanc , associate broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

8. Accept responsibility

In my early 30s, I experienced several setbacks at once, including a divorce and the loss of my business. Finally, my best friend, my bulldog, Rocky, passed away. I miss him every day.

I learned three important lessons. First: I stressed a lot and lost sleep, but none of it killed me. Second: I learned to accept responsibility where I could. It was hard but magical. The third lesson? Dogs don't live long enough.

Chris Collins , bestselling author of five books and founder of Syndicate X

The Oracles is a mastermind group of the world's leading entrepreneurs who share their success strategies to help others grow their business and build a better life. Interested in joining? Apply at TheOracles.com .

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