Ok, you blew it; this wasn’t just a small faux paux, this was a hot mess. You went to buy a car with a specific budget in mind, and before you knew it the salesperson talked you into something you absolutely couldn’t afford---all because you couldn’t say no.

The result? The bank is after you for back payments. Your spouse is furious, and your credit took a major nose-dive. If you’ve ever done something like this, you’re not alone.

Not all debacles are about our mistakes; they can be the result of just “doing life.” You miss your flight, forget to pay a bill, or miss a deadline at work.

The problem is we get all ramped up about the mess-ups without realizing what we can actually learn from them if we’ll just stop, slow down and take some time to regroup.

“Stuff happens” in life, and everyone faces a fiasco now and then; the key is how we respond to the challenges life throws at us. Leaders learn to grow from them and turn them into something redemptive. How? By being teachable, resilient, and developing the right attitude. They look at the debacle as an opportunity to:

Practice humility
Humility draws others to you. It’s a virtue that needs to be cultivated and practiced. Humble people recognize the value of others, evaluate themselves with honesty, and understand that no matter how good one is, there is always someone better

Demonstrate resiliency
People who are resilient recover quickly from difficulty. They realize that setbacks are a part of life. They possess strong problem solving skills, they’re flexible and they adapt easily to change. They welcome challenges and work at developing a positive attitude by learning to focus on the good and letting the bad go

Admit their failures but learn from them
Oprah Winfrey has always struggled with her weight. She doesn’t lose or gain an ounce without it being plastered all over TV, magazines and the Internet. But she doesn’t stop trying. Her openness and honesty about her failures gives others hope to press on. It’s also allowed her to do something hugely redemptive for millions of people

Look at what they can do differently
When things fall apart we can blame ourselves or blame others. That won’t move us forward. What will is focusing on what we can change: our own thoughts, actions, attitudes and beliefs. Leaders are willing to examine themselves to see how they can improve instead of making excuses. In other words, they look at their stuff, own it, and are willing to make the necessary changes

Set a good example
How we behave in the face of a debacle will speak volumes about our character. When things go south it’s easy to get upset and take it out on others or beat ourselves up. Setting a good example in the face of a debacle means you model the right attitude

Watch your self-talk
What we tell ourselves impacts our mood and feelings. When something bad happens it’s easy to engage in negative internal monologues that bring us down. Instead, try coming up with some positive counterstatements that will move you forward

See the bigger picture
When a major debacle occurs it can seem like it’s the end of the world. Keep in mind that the story isn’t finished yet, even if the bottom seems to be dropping out at the moment. You really are right where you’re supposed to be. Be willing to develop alternative plans to get you where you want to go. Think about how you can turn the debacle into something redemptive, either for yourself or for the good of others

Life is clearly unpredictable, and none have seen the last of the debacles we’ll face in our lives. But when we consider the possibilities for growth that await us, we’ll get excited about taking on the challenge.

How about you, what debacles have you faced, and how have you turned them into something redemptive?

Author's Bio: 

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and Consider This. Her show airs on several radio stations as well as the Internet. They can be downloaded from www.ritaschulte.com/category/podcast or heard on Women’s Radio Network, as well as iTunes at Heartline Podcast. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, and Christianity Today, Kyria. Her book Shattered: Moving Beyond Broken Dreams releases in September 2013 by Leafwood Publishers. Follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on FB http://www.facebook.com/RitaASchulte and twitter @heartlinepod.