How Do You Come Back from a Setback?

J. J. Watt is one of the most dominant players in the National Football League…when he is healthy. Watt’s career has been riddled with injuries:

  • 2015—season-ending injury, multiple torn muscles
  • 2016—season-ending injury, herniated disc
  • 2017—season-ending injury, fractured leg
  • 2019—missed 8 games, torn pectoral muscle

Despite this extensive list of injuries, Watt stays positive and embraces the right mindset. Through his injuries (and recovery) he maintains a healthy perspective. In a 2018 interview, Watt commented on his recovery and the struggles:

“When you look back at it, you realize there’s definitely beauty in the struggle. It’s hard to see that when you’re in it. But when you look back at it, you appreciate what you went through and the people that helped you to get on the other side.”

Sellers, like professional athletes, face their own versions of season-ending injuries. These injuries take shape in various forms: a lost sale, slumps, recessions, tough competitors, or global pandemics. An athlete’s recovery requires mental strength matched with physical determination. The same is true for struggling salespeople. You need to embrace the right mindset and make the effort.

During recovery, athletes lose their endurance. Atrophy sets in and they need to work harder to regain what they lost. Sellers experience sales atrophy as they recover from setbacks. Sellers need to make up ground. Sellers need to recover what was lost.

As you come back from your setback, take the same approach as J. J. Watt. Watt’s approach for regaining his endurance is simple—do more. During scrimmages, Watt sprints an additional 15-20 yards after each play and then runs back to the huddle. Watt is pushing his body to the extreme every single play, and then he pushes a little harder. J. J. Watt is a tough timer.

You might be thinking, “It’s only 20 yards,” but consider the ratio of his extra effort to his initial effort. The average play in the NFL is 4 seconds. Sprinting 20 extra yards is roughly 4 seconds. But then he spends an additional 8 seconds running back to the huddle. Watt is doing 300 percent more than his teammates to get ready. What if you did 300 percent more?

Take a similar approach as you come back from your setback—do more. Increase your activity. Make more calls. Work longer hours. If you want to earn more, you need to do more. And as you do more, take comfort in knowing you will soon reflect on your tough time in brighter days. And on that brighter day, you, too, will look back and see the “beauty in the struggle.”

If you want to be a tough timer, visit our new website: The website is filled with downloadable content and articles to help you sell like a tough timer. Also, you can check out the trailer for my new book, Selling Through Tough Times (McGraw-Hill).

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