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  • Writer's pictureEdgehill Consulting Group

Setbacks are inevitable, failure is optional: How to keep the wind in your sail!

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Have you ever left a meeting or gotten off a call and felt like you had the wind knocked out of your sails? You walk away deflated, bewildered and not sure where to go next. If you haven’t, then perhaps you are not reaching far enough. If you have, the important thing to remember is that this feeling is temporary, and it does not have to be viewed as bad. If you can stay present and respond to the “set-back” keeping your end game in mind, then temporary glitches might just be the impetus you need to make a healthy change in your business or in your life.  

Remember, growth is all about focusing on the possibilities versus dwelling on the limitations. Personally, I am learning this the hard way starting my new business Edgehill Consulting.  I know that I need to focus on growth and stay positive, but sometimes it is hard.  If there is one thing I have learned, it is that the feeling of discomfort in my gut is a good thing vs a bad thing because I know that…

- to grow I must get uncomfortable

- to transform I must put myself out there and 

- to achieve my vision in life I can’t be the caretaker of the status quo

Take last month for instance. After working tirelessly all summer to launch a new business/website for Edgehill, our brand consultant said “I still don’t I get it.” Meaning…the vision and value prop are not clear enough. In addition, she questioned why Edgehill was contemplating the launch of another brand.  Should the company be managing two brands vs going deep on one?  It reminded me of the scene in the movie BIG where Tom Hanks simply says about a potential product launch… “I don’t get it.”


I had to literally force myself to BREATHE.  

I had to remind myself of the same lessons I coach my clients on ….

- discomfort is the source of learning

- fail Fast and Often

- learn from your mistakes

- surround yourself with people that are willing to tell you what you need to hear

As the 20th century management consultant Peter Drucker famously stated, “efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” As a business, it is always Edgehill’s goal to achieve both objectives. As executive coaches and experienced experts in Lean and Agile methodologies, each Edgehill team member strongly believes that the most efficient way for any business to become more effective is to be flexible and open to changing conditions in the marketplace.  But being open to change does not mean that you can’t apply process and discipline.  By continuously implementing the four steps of the P-D-C-A Cycle (Plan –Do – Check – Act) you can stay flexible and be disciplined.  Sometimes the simplest frameworks provide the most value. I truly believe that the P-D-C-A Cycle is fundamental for business (and personal) success and growth so I am excited to share it here with you!


So, how did Edgehill handle the disheartening information about not having the right value prop and the question of whether or not as a company we could manage two brands? This is our story as seen through the fundamental stages of the P-D-C-A Cycle.

Long story short, Edgehill had spent three months working on our new website and thinking about the launch of our business. In our minds we had spent a lot of time in the PLAN stage. We were excited to DO. We thought we were ready to meet with new clients and show the extended world the services that Edgehill can provide in the areas of executive coaching and Lean, Agile & Design Thinking skills. We decided to start slowly with a silent launch in late September so that we could work through kinks in real time and see what type of traffic we naturally generated. We asked friends and colleagues to CHECK our product during this time so that we would be aware of major flaws before reaching out to a larger audience. 

And man did we get feedback - the wind was knocked right out of our sails. It was during this phase, the oh so important CHECK phase, that our brand consultant feedback came back – and it was not really what we wanted to hear. So, did we throw up our hands and say that we just wasted three and a half months on a website that may never be seen? Throw in the towel and say our future clients will just have to figure things out even if they are confusing? Ignore the problem and pretend like the meeting never happened?

NO WAY! This is where the real fun came in. This is where the wheat got separated from the chaff! We decided to ACT on the feedback. We listened to the expert, paid attention to her metrics and doubled our efforts to revamp our website and branding strategy as needed. We determined we were going to be efficient and effective in our approach. We reminded ourselves that well-thought out changes represent golden opportunities in the business world. We know and we teach that failing fast and learning from failures increases a company’s speed to market. We know all of this AND SO WE EMBRACED IT! This put the wind back into our sails and we know that in the long term we will be stronger for it. We will also choose to continuously loop back around the P-D-C-A circle so that we can consistently meet our big goals of helping leaders and companies transform, creating positive customer outcomes and creating cultural alignment (end human suffering at work is my mantra).

BOTTOM LINE: Business, like life, is constantly evolving. There will always be highs, lows and periods of relative calm and periods of setbacks. By consistently employing the four steps of the Deming Circle (P-D-C-A) you can decrease the frequency and duration of the lows and create more control/flow over the results you are driving.  Most businesses I have encountered are in a “do-loop” of D-A, meaning they spend most of their time doing and acting/re-acting, but very little time planning and checking.  My experience in business, life and consulting with companies is that spending time in the P-Planning Phase and the C-Check phase always pays dividends in the future.  

There is no way to completely avoid the wind being blown out of your sails, but it sure does feel great when you put it back in there!

Call To Action:  

Where are you spending your time as a business?  


Discuss it with your team.  It is simple but transformational.  

And remember that …

Setbacks are inevitable, failure is optional

Keep the wind in your sails!

Amanda Aghdami

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