Monday, March 15, 2010

Dealing with Setbacks

Every now and then, life throws us a curve ball. And it can be a painful experience. For example, you are really looking forward to something (e.g. relationship, business venture, opportunities) and everything seems to be going right for you when suddenly, you get a rejection or an answer which is contrary to what you have been expecting. I know how that feels as I have had my fair shares of the curve balls thrown at me.

Before we start trading curve ball stories with each other, let me get something straight. This post is not about inviting readers to write in their 'curvest' (if there ever was such a word) ball story to win a carton of Premiere tissue paper. This post is about how to handle the curve ball so that we can still be in the game. One of my favourite movie heroes is Rocky Balboa and he has a saying that I love a lot. "It ain't over till it's over."

So, how do we deal with a curve ball? Firstly, recognise that it's exactly what it is: a ball (metaphor you can use to substitute with 'events', 'problems', 'situations') Don't give it more value that it deserves. By giving it more value, we are magnifying it so much that we feel helpless about situations in life. Many times, people give themselves excuses such as "I can't do this because something or someone did something to me. Life is just not fair." And they burst out in tears.

Well, I'd love to humbly suggest an alternative way to deal with this curve ball situation. It's a principle in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) called reprogramming. The next time you get served a curve ball say something like, "Because something or someone did this to me, all the more I'm going to get (what you want) in life." Sure, it may be just a sentence. But don't our sentences and words give meanings to our lives?

I'll share a personal story with you about how Lighthouse Education was started. Ken, my wife and I had this idea that we needed more capital to set up this company. So, I approached SME Bank in Miri to apply for a start-up loan. We did a lot of hard work to prepare the proposal, presentation, business plan and we even gave a 30 minutes business presentation to the bank manager. Throughout the presentation, the manager gave us the impression that things would be positive and we would have no trouble getting our loan. By the way, we only wanted to borrow RM50,000 as start-up and initial working capital. The waiting period was 30 days so during this time, we went about our respective duties, eagerly anticipating the much needed cash.

1 month later, the moment we have been waiting for arrived. I called up the bank only to be told that we didn't get the loan. At that moment, I felt like I've just been hit by a stun gun. I politely put down the phone and I called my wife. I told her, "Our loan application has just been rejected. Because of that I'm sure Lighthouse will be a great success! Let's make it happen." Now that I think of it, my wife would have been pretty worried about my logical senses at that moment. Next, I called up Ken and told him exactly the same thing. And guess what, the pain of knowing that there won't be RM50,000 waiting for us as we start our business was not that painful anymore and a sense of pride was slowly building up inside of me. It's like a voice in my head telling me "Hey! You can do it! Now, make it happen!"

Well, to cut a long story shorter, we just went ahead with Lighthouse Education & Training and we are so glad that we did exactly that. The joy of knowing that we no longer needed the loan gave us a strong boost to our level of confidence.

I'm not writing this to impress you but rather to impress upon you that when you get served a curve ball by life, the immediate response from you is crucial. Make the choice to say the following: "Because something or someone did this to me, all the more I'm going to get (what you want) in life."



  1. Thanks Luke for the sharing. I am at the point in my life thinking of venturing into something that will be of value to society. Your post is a great inspiration.

    Thanks and all the best with Lighthouse...

    Well done to you and Team.. God is Good.

  2. Hi Molly,

    Thanks for your comments. All the best in your new venture. Trust in the Lord and He will make your path straight!


  3. Thanks for the inspiring sharing, Mr. Bong. I gonna apply this in my badminton learning. "Before the Shuttlecock hit on the floor, i'm going to hit it with my racket." :)

    May i know the NLP Principle is written by who? It seems like a combination of scientific and computer words. :)

  4. Hi Lina,

    NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. It was founded by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. I was exposed to it when I attended Anthony Robbins' UPW04 in Singapore. When I first learned it, it literally blew me away.

    You can read more about it here: