Setbacks are inevitable, yet there’s a simple technique for turning any failure into a win.
I was on Zoom with an old friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in years. We were recording this week’s episode of Starting Now and it was such a great chat that the planned 30-40 minute conversation quickly ballooned to 90 minutes. But with even more left to cover, we decided to leave the remaining conversation for another episode.
We ended the show, I stopped the recordings, and we kept talking. Another hour had passed before we were ready to wrap up and that’s when we discovered that the unthinkable had happened.
The podcast audio inexplicably failed to upload.
The service that I use to record clean, remote audio had timed out during the upload. Instead of an excellent 90-minute episode, we were left with 2 seconds of audio. Just 2 of the 5400 seconds that we spent talking had been saved.
But instead of raging out and breaking my hand (again), I had a moment of clarity.
I don’t have to re-record the podcast. I get to.
The Stoics call the notion of embracing fate Amor Fati. As the name implies, Amor Fati is more than simply accepting what happens, but, instead, embracing and loving it – both the good and the bad.
By reframing this obstacle as an opportunity rather than a hindrance I, surprisingly, found myself blissful. I truly enjoyed the conversation and the reconnection with an old friend. Maybe that was enough.
Sure, it was frustrating to lose something that I was so excited to share with you, but there’s no utility in dwelling on that loss.
I’ve embraced Stoicism for many years now. I feel that the writing of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius is immensely beneficial, but even I was surprised by how little this setback affected me.
Perception is everything.
Beyond embracing the problem, it also created a tangible, positive outcome: it prompted me to make my podcasting workflow more resilient.
As a developer and web hosting provider, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time creating systems for backing up data.
I have backups coming out of my ears.
While that’s not very minimalist, being serious about backups ensures that the level of trust that our customers and business partners place in us is completely warranted.
Despite all that planning and preparation for other aspects of our business, I didn’t have a backup system in place for recording my guest’s audio.
I failed to satisfy entrepreneur rule number one: prepare for the unexpected.
Well, now I get to talk to my good friend once again since he graciously agreed to record round two.
I get to refine and improve my podcasting workflow.
I get to become more resilient.
That’s the name of the game, isn’t it? Becoming more resilient. Hell, it’s literally the name of this email newsletter.
Despite our best efforts, setbacks are inevitable and that’s why we’re striving every day to become more resilient.
No one is immune to failure, but what matters is how we respond to that adversity.
So this is one more opportunity for me to practice Amor Fati, to not only endure, but to love the good, love the bad, and keep on going.
The next time you face a setback I hope you’re able to embrace it as part of your journey. But, of course, if you find that you need someone to talk to, I’m always here.
PS. One of the things that I’ve always felt internal pushback about when it comes to Amor Fati is the fate part. I struggle with any implication that we don’t have free will, but that is an immense topic and something that deserves its own conversation at another time.