The Setback Cycle: How Defining Moments Can Move Us Forward With Amy Shoenthal

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Table Of Contents

Welcome, everyone, to another episode of The Break podcast, where we delve into the depths of resilience, flexibility, and overcoming life's obstacles. I'm your host, Mike, and today's conversation promises to be nothing short of enlightening.

Today, we're exploring a topic that resonates with each and every one of us - setbacks. Life's unexpected twists and turns can knock us off course, but it's how we respond to these challenges that defines our journey forward.

You know, we often envision our paths as linear journeys, guided by societal norms and expectations. But what happens when life throws us off course? That's where our resilience truly shines. And today, we have a special treat for you - a glimpse into the world of setbacks and how they can propel us forward.

Our guest has authored a captivating book titled "The Setback Cycle: How Defining Moments Can Move Us Forward." Through her extensive journalism career, she's discovered a common thread among leaders and founders - the ability to rise from setbacks with renewed vigor.

So, what exactly is a setback? It's not just a bump in the road; it's a reversal of progress, a check on our journey forward. But it's within these setbacks that we find the fuel for growth, the resilience to navigate life's twists and turns.

Today, we'll explore the concept of setbacks with our guest, delving into the neuroscience, psychology, and real-life stories that illuminate the setback cycle. From the squiggly, misshapen S of our journeys to the realization that success isn't always a linear path, we'll uncover the secrets to becoming unbreakable in the face of adversity.

So, buckle up and get ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Because after today's conversation, you'll see setbacks not as obstacles, but as stepping stones toward a brighter, more resilient future.

If you want to connect with our guest, Amy Shoenthal, you can find her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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  • (1:45) Amy's book The Setback Cycle and the definition of setback
  • (4:48) What a setback cycle looks like
  • (6:55) Our brains are hardwired to learn more from setbacks than from success
  • (9:30) Reshma Saujani's setback story
  • (13:13) Lessons/blessings from setbacks
  • (15:59) Phases of the setback cycle
  • (18:03) Tactics for moving through setback cycle phases
  • (18:41) The alarm clock checklist
  • (21:17) Sleepwalking through a setback
  • (26:50) Storytelling as sense making
  • (31:48) The upside to uncertainty
  • (33:49) Amy's layoff story
  • (37:15) Severance negotiation
  • (44:24) ABC's of scenario planning
  • (48:53) Toxic positivity
  • (49:13) Amanda Goetz's setback story


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  • "The definition of setback is a reversal or check in progress." - quote from Amy
  • "A lot of people feel like they are holding up a heavy wall and all of a sudden the wall falls down and crushes them. But once the wall falls down, you realize the whole room opens up and all of a sudden, the opportunities are endless." - quote Amy shared from Amanda Goetz
  • "You have to let stuff break to become unbreakable." - quote from Amy
  • The Ceclian Inheritance - a recent book Amy read
  • The Heaven And Earth Grocery Store - another book recommendation from Amy
  • "Don't ignore the signs. Embrace the chaos, embrace the mess. Take what you can learn from it and move forward. And know that if you got through this, you will get through the next one." - quote from Amy
  • The Setback Cycle - Amy's book
  • Connect with Amy on LinkedIn, Instagram, and her website.