Written by Myra Stacey, KNOW Women

Turn Setbacks into Stepping Stones to Successes

If there is an answer to whether every setback is a setup for a comeback, this collaborative article will not be short of shouting yes. These women, who have conquered the worst of life’s challenges in stride, have not cowed down but turned even the toughest of failures into stepping stones of success. Their journey through life has often seen instances where they break through something that seemed impossible, only to find a new window of opportunity waiting for them. From their experiences, they give advice and inspiration that shows how to get to great heights by being resolute and persevering.

All show how any woman can rise up and blaze her own new trail: Morgan Arbez, founder of GRIT Distribution; Mona Amini, Mon’Vie Mind Wellness; Corey Brausch Hurley, Seven Willows; and Sherry Jackson, Envisage Wellbeing, LLC. Their stories paint a picture of inevitable growth and achievement regardless of how challenging the situation is. These amazing women, in their own right, have also been through life’s greatest trials and have become victors in adversities. Their stories are replete with how they achieved the impossible: turning failures into stepping stones. They shared advice and insight from their personal experiences of how resilience and grit could help a person succeed at anything.

Can you share a moment of failure or challenge that felt insurmountable at the time? How did you navigate through it, and what was the turning point for you?

For two years I battled with the fact that my ex-husband engaged in 13+ on going affairs with women in our fitness community. We owned and operated a CrossFit Gym together and while I was busy building the business, he was busy tearing it down. I hid from it, blamed myself for years and thought that if I were just prettier, smarter or ‘better’, he would love me. One day I decided that I was worth more than this, that it was time to focus my energy on becoming the best version of myself, so, I kicked him out.

Morgan Arbez

GRIT Distribution

Facing repeated challenges in executive roles where I initially believed I could drive positive change, I encountered systemic barriers within the hierarchical and healthcare systems that hindered my efforts. This recurring experience led to feelings of imposter syndrome. However, with thoughtful self-reflection and reality checking, I came to understand that these setbacks were not a reflection of my capabilities, but rather the limitations of the organizations I was part of.

Mona Amini

Mon'Vie Mind Wellness

I lost my mother in law and my mom within four months of each other. Dealing with loss, grief, managing estates, supporting my husband and parent, while running a business and managing client work felt like a mountain I couldn’t climb. I took everything one day at a time, one email and one client project at a time. My turning point was realizing that this was a time to gain clarity on what is and isn’t working in my business and my work/life balance.

Corey Brausch Hurley

Seven Willows

My very first significant challenging moment occurred when I was 12. Back then, I was a serious competitive figure skater. That year, I was the favorite to win the regional competition, which meant I could compete at the national and potentially Olympic levels. I was cocky, and walking into the arena, I fell and tore the ligaments in my ankle. The long recovery forced me to think realistically about where my ambitions were leading me. Although becoming a national champion and possibly competing at the Olympic level was still possible, I realized that dream would not take me where I wanted to go.

Sherry Jackson

Envisage Wellbeing, LLC

In 2018, I had a work stress induced panic attack. Not that uncommon, unfortunately, except it was shortly followed by a diagnosis of PTSD as a result from burnout that would force me to lean on others in a way I never had to before. Navigating newly identified triggers (like a phobia of my own cell phone) and a lot of therapy and support, I had to slow down in a way I never had allowed myself to before. In the quest to be unproblematic, need nothing from anyone, and control EVERYTHING in the company, I had siloed myself into a corner that felt impossible to escape from. But letting go ended up being the best thing that happened to my career and my team, who were all waiting for their chance to shine.

Kira La Forgia

Paradigm Consulting

In what ways has a setback or failure unexpectedly opened new doors or opportunities for you?

When I ended my toxic marriage, my health dramatically improved along with my confidence. The love of my life showed up with impeccable timing, showing proving that the love I knew was possible all along, truly was meant for me. It required burning my old life to the ground in order for a beautiful new life to unfold. I have now been able to build the business and life that I always dreamed of.

Morgan Arbez

GRIT Distribution

Despite setbacks and challenges, I remained committed to aligning with mentors and organizations that share my values and morals, ensuring that I never repeated the mistake of compromising my own principles. By thoughtfully evaluating where I could effectively drive change, I strategically built a network of trusted colleagues and chose opportunities that resonated with my own values. This helped to set the framework to where I am today in practice and leadership.

Mona Amini

Mon'Vie Mind Wellness

This setback caused me to create new offers that could better support my audience and referrals while I was in my soul’s winter moving through grief. This allowed my creativity to bloom and I gained clarity and sharpness on my talents.

Corey Brausch Hurley

Seven Willows

That experience taught me invaluable lessons about following my inner compass and embracing change, even when it means letting go of long-held dreams. It was a defining moment that shaped my approach to challenges and opportunities throughout my career.

Sherry Jackson

Envisage Wellbeing, LLC

Over the years, I’ve learned that every time we fail, it’s just an experiment that gives us more data that we get to analyze and optimize for a better outcome. Reframing failure as an opportunity to innovate or solve a puzzle has been so freeing as an entrepreneur. Letting failure and setbacks show up as lessons makes me braver, more innovative, and build more meaningful relationships with colleagues and collaborators. “Let’s see what happens!” is much easier to stomach than “What lessons can we learn?” for me.

Kira La Forgia

Paradigm Consulting

How do you redefine or measure success in your life and career, especially after facing setbacks?

For many years, I had no self respect because I was living out of alignment with my values. I couldn’t face myself in the mirror. Now, I define success by my ability to confidently look myself in the mirror, knowing I truly gave my best effort. Regardless of anyone else’s opinion, if I can look myself in the mirror, I can respect myself and that is all that matters.

Morgan Arbez

GRIT Distribution

Setbacks and failures are actually essential tools that prompt us to pivot and change effectively. They’re invaluable for learning, providing lessons on what to avoid and guiding us toward better paths in both our professional and personal lives. To achieve greatness, it is crucial to maintain a strong mindset that promotes resilience and ambition without compromising our well-being.

Mona Amini

Mon'Vie Mind Wellness

I measure success by how many times I get back up, pivot, change, and re-strategize – no matter how many setbacks I have. As long as I get back up, I can make it through. The only thing guaranteed in this life is change!

Corey Brausch Hurley

Seven Willows

Success is peace of mind. No amount of wealth, fame, or success can substitute for peace of mind. Worry, doubt, stress, and anxiety rob us of the pleasure and the perks of our achievements.

Sherry Jackson

Envisage Wellbeing, LLC

Because of my mental health history with PTSD and burnout, success to me has many layers, with care for myself and the people in my life at the top of the priorities list. Second to that, being able to keep pieces of your day that make you feel fulfilled and excited is so important to feeling successful. If we are having a slow revenue month, but the team is fulfilled and engaged, that feels better and more motivating than a high revenue month where everything is a dumpster fire.

Kira La Forgia

Paradigm Consulting

What advice would you give to someone who is currently facing what seems like an insurmountable obstacle or failure?

Set small, micro goals that you can achieve daily such as check the mail, walk 5000 steps or drive a new route home. Setting small achievable goals daily will help you build credibility and confidence with yourself. Before you know it, the momentum you are building will propel you further than you realized!

Morgan Arbez

GRIT Distribution

There is a famous quote by Winston Churchill: “if you’re going through hell, keep going” which underscores the importance of resilience in challenging times. In the realms of entrepreneurship and business, maintaining well-being is crucial; it enables sound decision-making and prevents hasty, emotion-driven choices that could lead to problems down the line. Mindfulness tools are vital for maintaining this balance, allowing for moments of pause and reflection to navigate the entrepreneurial journey more effectively.

Mona Amini

Mon'Vie Mind Wellness

Just know that time still goes by, change is the only thing guaranteed and it’s okay to pause. We sometimes worry and think that if your business doesn’t keep moving, it’ll fall and won’t recover. It’s not true.

Corey Brausch Hurley

Seven Willows

First, I know without a doubt that any challenge we experience is something that we can handle. We are never given any situation or opportunity that we don’t have the resources or ability to make it through.

Sherry Jackson

Envisage Wellbeing, LLC

Ask for support, seek out community, and take a walk! Perspective is everything and it’s good to have people in your corner that can give you a different viewpoint when things feel too heavy. If the problem is truly insurmountable, then you likely have a lot more control in what happens as a result than you think. Whatever you do, don’t let the negative pieces destroy your spirit or courage. The world needs women in business: whether the success or fail should be celebrated.

Kira La Forgia

Paradigm Consulting

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